Results have been posted for Florida Polytechnic TT Series #2. Special guest Amanda Coker crushed the 8 mile course with a time of 17:45! This is the fastest time of the year so far! Click below to see more:
A logo worth a 1,000 words, literally:
The significance behind my coaching logo comes from a little tale from about 5 years ago. It became my goal around the turn of 2012-2013 to land a podium spot for the 2013 Under 23 National Time Trial. In gearing up for that, I set out to ride my fastest 100 miles ever. In early February 2013, I heard of an event called the Gran Fondo Brevard. This was a unique event where any bike was allowed and it was treated like a 110 mile race. Immediately in my mind, I created a goal to make this event an opportunity to ride 100 miles solo as fast as I could. So I went all in for this, pulling out my Cervelo P5, skin-suit, aero helmet, and shoe covers. My previous 100 mile solo best was 3 hours 49 minutes back in November, 2012 so immediately, I created a goal to beat this. I was going for a 28.0mph average speed for the 100 miles.
No one knew of this goal I created, nor what my plan was for this event, but I was determined on accomplishing this goal regardless of who showed up or what conditions the event might offer. I did not care what anyone else was doing nor did I care I was one of the few people on a time trial bike. I was here on a mission and nonchalantly rolled up to the start line. This event was 110 miles, so my goal was to warm up for 5 miles then hit it with everything I got for the next 100 miles and get my fastest 100 miles ever. 5 miles in, I set of at 35mph and launched into the 100 mile effort. I did 29.5 miles in the first hour to distance myself from the group and had one other guy follow my wheel. Right after this first hour, I blasted through an unexpectedly sandy turn at 30mph and slid out. With some blood and road rash, I hopped back up and went right back into cruising mode. I dumped a few cold bottles of water on my wounds and continuing moving along. I only spoke a couple words to this guy and realized he wanted to hold my wheel as long as he could to also go for the win. Around 60 miles in, I was not about to make any negotiations and attacked up a bridge and broke away into full throttle mode. I managed close to 29.0mph for the first 50 miles and was on my way to crushing my 100 mile goal. I was feeling on my A game and better than I ever have before. Taking up the entire highway and coming down from the bridge at 45mph, I surged on; where this picture below was taken.
Around 70 miles in, I was notified that I was going to be disqualified for riding a time trial bike by the motor cop who was following me. Full of rage and disbelief, I rolled my eyes and had a brief mental talk in my mind to not let anything get in my way from my 100 mile goal. Out on the highway alone now, storms starting to roll in and the sky darkened. Headwind began to take place and for a moment, I contemplated my options of abandonment. Immediately in my mind, I began to think to that song “Perpetual” by VNV Nation I had just heard the week before for the first time. The lyrics began to flow through my entire body and the driving beat kept me going and focused like I was possessed by mother nature.”Through the storm fronts we will ever surely pass”. Every crackle of lightning and rumble of thunder fueled me and I kept the pace rolling. I thought of the VNV Nation motto “Victory Not Vengeance” and fueled my anger into accomplishing my goal, not throwing a fit and quitting the race. I turned to the spiritual power of mother nature to power me through this ride all the way to the end. Bring on the wind, lightning, and storm fronts.
Around 95 miles in the wind shifted a little bit to a tailwind and I began to see my goal right in front of me slowly come into fruition. As the 105 mile mark rolled in, I completed my 100 mile split in 3 hours and 34 minutes. An amazing feeling of euphoria began to flow through my body as I had accomplished my goal I set out for. When I rolled through the finish line at the Gran Fondo Brevard, I did not get announced as the winner nor did I get any social recognition. Only a few individuals knew what was going on and that I had just ridden 100 miles in 28mph solo. The race promoter made it a stand that I was not crowned the Gran Fondo Champion. 15 minutes later, Calixto (the guy who latched on in the beginning) came rolling through the line and was announced as the Gran Fondo Brevard champion.
“Victory not Vengeance”, I told myself as I rested in the car after cleaning up my wounds. Rather than cause a scene, I turned to one of my number one supporters and sponsors from First Green Bank, Ken LaRoe to right back what was wrong. He had a “friendly” talk with the race promoter, who clearly changed the rules in the middle of the race from saying time trial bikes were allowed, to time trial bikes were not allowed. Ken was behind me 100% and had my back. There was a nice prize of $750 for first place which I wasn’t about to surrender too. After a good couple hours of getting the drama settled out, things were finalized and I was crowned the “time trial winner” and awarded the $750. Being the “time trial winner” and the $750 was nice, but it wasn’t the ultimate satisfaction I got out of the day. It was the fact that I came out with my goal of riding 100 miles at 28.0mph and conquered it.
This day at the Gran Fondo was a unique opportunity to challenge myself on the bike to my fullest potential for 110 miles. I could have let the people pursued me into riding a road bike, I could have stopped after I crashed, I could have stopped after the event promoter tried to disqualify me. NONE of those people or struggles let me stop my goal that I set out for that day. In fact, they only empowered me more to conquer my goal. I knew what my goal was that day and I knew that I had a few powerful people supporting me to help me in the event of injustice. I did not need a flock of sheep for validation nor did I care. The rules ended up changing for this event for the years to come, so I am glad I got that opportunity to push myself to one of my best performances ever.
The biggest take way from this experience is to set your goals for yourself and go all in with these goals regardless of what anyone thinks or what anyone else is doing. Prove it to yourself before anyone else. Stand up for yourself when you need to and don’t back down. The road to glory and triumph can get ugly and messy sometimes but if you channel that into empowering yourself, there will never be any regret.
This situation and others have driven me as a coach to motivate and push people into accomplishing their goals. The Perezluha Coaching logo represents that the process of becoming a champion isn’t represented by a pretty podium picture. Its tongue out and seeing how bad you really want to accomplish your goal. It is the suffering, pain, and conflict that can ultimately result in the best performance of your life. The beast in you, will connect pain and suffering with strong adrenaline and fluent focus to fuel your performance.
It is also a huge reminder to always strive for Independent Confidence versus Dependent Confidence. Independent Confidence is a confidence you possess by yourself seeking no validation from anyone except yourself. With Independent Confidence, you can go anywhere on this planet and will be ok being on your own. Dependent Confidence is where one needs recognition from the pack and needs to prove goals to others. Rest assured, working on your Independent Confidence will never fail you and will become stronger in any situation you ever endure on your own. Stay tuned for more on the topic of Independent vs Dependent Confidence.
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January 5-7, 2018 Heartland of Florida Cycling Camp-Tour-Excursion was a success! We will be doing this camp again in 2018. Stay tuned! See more below:
Hammer Nutrition is a proud sponsor of our upcoming Florida Polytechnic Cycling Camp-Tour. Fueling for long distanced riding is crucial and Hammer products such as Hammer Gel, Hammer Heed, and Hammer Recoverite are perfect fuel during and after each ride. Never forget to pull out that gel and fuel your body when its cold out! With 300 miles and 3 days of riding, Hammer Nutrition will be a key part of this cycling camp.
This Cycling Camp will traverse from the heartland of Florida over to the Gulf of Mexico with awesome views as shown here.
Register today for an amazing cycling tour experience this winter!
This could turn into a Novel
The Most Important Week of My Life
This past week, I took on the challenge of one of the biggest things I’ve been holding off which has been visiting my Uncle and getting in the right state of mind. It was emotional, but moreover, it has been a spiritual and phycological journey that has empowered me to take on my passion of being a coach for my career. The coaching means so much more to me now than simply getting one faster or stronger on the bike. It is my mission to impact someones life, improve their mindset, and motivate them to accomplish anything. The greatest dreams are reached with a lot of patience and hard work. One of my biggest dreams was taken on with my Uncle, riding from Florida to Alaska and back. There were many times I wanted to give up on that trip but pushed on until the end, with no regrets. Without Danny, one of my biggest influencers, this dream would have never happened. And everything I have accomplished up until this point, may not have happened either. I did not have a coach that came up with this goal for me. However, I did have my Uncle who was 100% behind me in supporting my goal, which leads me to my Coaching philosophy of letting the athlete go after anything they want to accomplish in life. For some, this may have nothing to do with winning a bike race. Now, almost one year after my Uncle’s paralyzing accident, I am in a spot to coach my Uncle into keeping his mind strong and focused on strengthening his body with the dream of one day being able to use his legs again.
A Land of Hope of Dreams
Pittsburgh has always been the land of hopes and dreams for me. Since I was a child when I wanted to become a Pittsburgh Steeler. Then into my running dreams and ultimately the goal to ride to Alaska and back with my Uncle. I have come to Pittsburgh almost every single summer since I was 15 years old and spent countless hours training and sometimes I didn’t even know what for. 9 years ago the dream was born and naturally the bicycle came into my life. I had always looked up to greatness from the Pittsburgh Steelers then to my Uncle, two time Race Across America winner. He had always been strong, always the one to push me and take my goals to the next level. Slowly, my mental capacity began to grow and no goal or mile ridden across the country seemed unreachable.
Never would I have imagined I would be here, coaching my Uncle in rehab after his paralyzing accident. Up until this point, I was still on the road to coming to acceptance with the fact that my Uncle had become paralyzed from the chest down. It is a haunting and unimaginable reality I am finally coming to acceptance with. I was hesitant on coming up here to visit him, but I slowly began to realize that this would be the biggest challenges I would have to face and as much as I broke down at times, I turned to my deep spiritual and phycological self to push me through this and make right with what was wrong. I am determined to make a powerful impact as a coach and help my Uncle on his road to recovery and getting him as strong as possible, with or without getting his legs back. Still, we never lose hope of the dream of getting his legs back. This will be one of the hardest dreams to triumph. However, we are up for the challenge and will keep doing whatever it takes on his new journey back to life.
Given that I just graduated from college this past semester, meant come this August, I knew I would have to take on the challenge of taking steps towards Manhood. Coming to acceptance with my Uncle’s accident was number one. Next is taking my coaching career to the next level and dropping bad habits I’ve had and making positive changes in my life. Cycling is now becoming a more spiritual journey to me than chasing prize money and race wins. I still want to be competitive but realize that competition is just a small part of my existence as a cyclist. I started to think what is it that I really want out of cycling. Seeing my Uncle in this paralyzed condition was like a god-sent blessing, reassuring me that taking on my career as a coach is what I want to pursue. For my Uncle, this will be the hardest coaching program anyone would have to go through. Starting from ground zero. No working legs, no abdominal strength, just arms and some chest. Diminished lung capacity. Danny more than ever, needed me at this moment. I began to make up short term and long term goals for Danny. For anyone who has every had a dream, I encourage them to never back down from that dream. When I think back to the days in high school, I remember the slow waiting process and the entire final years of high school as I waited for the graduation to arrive. I was anxious and footloose. I turned my anxiousness into short term goals and began training myself to ride to Alaska upon graduation. I remind myself how fortunate I was to be able to push onto that dream being a fully able bodied person. I told Danny to never lose hope and that there is a long term dream of getting his legs back. This will be a harder challenge than any bike trip than we have done, but Danny is in for the long haul. For now, we must set up short term goals and continue to better his body each day. Danny is starting from scratch now and he can only get stronger for here onward.
Technology these days is only progressing and there is still hope. Hope is never gone. So while the long term goal is in his mind, comes the short term goals to reach that long term goal. I told Danny to take it day by day. Life is now not about cycling, nor solely about hand-cycle motions. Start to look at what upper body muscles we need to work on, to help improve daily tasks of living. To strengthen these muscles and start to train his body to become more efficient. Take any help from technology when needed. This does not mean using an electric wheel chair. This means putting in the hard work while letting technology make training smarter so he can solely focus on rehab and getting strength back where it counts. Don’t be bold headed and stubborn. Find creative ways to overcome small obstacles such as the height difference from wheel chair to bed is one of many ways to make life just a little bit easier. Danny now has to learn a lifestyle foreign to him and realize that there is more to life than just a bicycle.
THE MIND IS POWERFUL
Finding the right mindset is the most important part of this entire situation. Taking the mind on a spiritual journey to overcome the hardest time of life. The best thing to realize, is we can only improve our future. The past is done. The accident is over. Since Danny’s legs are no longer working, the mind has to take over as a stronger power. One of the most powerful things my Uncle and I think about whenever we are struggling in life, is how much worse the situation can be. First off I ask myself “Is this better than my worst day?” Most of the time the answer will be yes. Next, I remind myself how much worse off someone can be compared with what I am going through. Danny tells himself, that the first month after breaking his neck, was the absolute worst time of his life. Danny went from knowing his legs and the strongest thing that powers his body to the fate of having legs that meant nothing. During the first month came thoughts of suicide. He had pneumonia and severe breathing problems. Since then, Danny’s mind has powered him through his hardest times, reminding himself that the worst part is behind him. He can only move forward and baby steps have progressed towards getting stronger. The complications are still much worse than I imagined. Uncontrollable bladder, diapers, catheters being changed every 3 hours, and simple tasks of getting from wheel chair to bed and wheel chair to hand-cycle are huge procedures every single day even almost a year after his accident. Knowing that the worst is behind only motivates Danny more know to continue to get stronger. The goal is to make these tasks of daily living easier, get his upper body stronger, and most of all keep his mind strong and realize whats important in life.
While taking care of Danny’s body and relearning to use only his arms and chest muscles is very important, there is even a more powerful part of Danny’s life: The power of his friends and supporters. We found out on our cross-country trips what a power the kindness of strangers can be. People really pull together when the passion and motivation is there. Now more than ever, we are both realizing that quality time and friendships are the most important thing in life. Mileage and money do not matter anymore. What matters is being extremely thankful of how many great friends and people support him. The community pulled together in such a big way, that it made Danny’s mind stronger and appreciation for friendships even greater. Danny’s paralyzation and friends that supported him made Danny realize taking care of his body shouldn’t be on a penny pinching budget.
Everything I have accomplished up until this point and with Danny have been the qualities inspired by him: never giving up, having great patience, remaining calm, not caring what others think, simplifying life, and pushing toward’s a goal until accomplished. While these are the good qualities I have learned, focusing on the bad ones are just as important. This has inspired me to really start treating all friends and people better with respect. Investing time in quality friendships over quantity and keeping these people around for life is what is most important. The people who really care about you will tell you the good and bad. I have learned the good and bad with Danny and together we look to keep our friendships stronger than ever before. I am glad I now have the ability to aid in rubbing off on Danny in a positive light as a coach. And realize, in furthering my career as a coach, that it is a never ending learning experience.
Resolution and Appreciation of Life
Safety and balancing risks and rewards in cycling should come before all else from now on. Still we should never back down from any journey or challenge we want to take, just do so with great appreciation of life in mind. Slow down and realize that the road is a silent battlefield; on a bicycle or in a car. For us cyclists there are loaded guns all around us, with cars and obstacles there on silent. Be on the defense at all times. Traffic accidents are the number one cause of spinal cord injuries and neck breaks. Focus on the task of driving or riding, use bright flashing lights, wear your helmet, and remain calm when under pressure. WE NEED TO BE PROACTIVE, NOT REACTIVE.
We will never lose hope and always appreciate all the great people on this planet. This hurdle of Danny’s paralyzation has really put life into perspective and anytime there are any struggles in life, I think of how much harder it is for Danny which makes me appreciate life and health. I am determined to make a powerful impact on peoples lives as a coach. For Danny, the road to recovery and building strength will be a long one, but ultimately, if this dream is accomplished, it will be the greatest coaching program that has ever existed.
It’s that time of year to get out there and explore!