Wednesday, July 28, 2010

St. Cloud Times Article

(Mike Schroden maneuvers the rocks on a training ride in Quarry Park and Nature Preserve. Shroden is training for another 24-hour off-road bike race. (Jason Wachter,

Cyclist pushes himself to extremes

Through mud and muck, over roots and rocks, Mike Schroden conquered the elements in his first crack at an event most cyclists won't even attempt in their lifetime.
The 29-year-old St. Cloud resident finished third in the 24 Hours of Summer Solstice off-road mountain biking race June 26-27 in Toronto, Ontario.
Yes, 24 hours.
"Know what I'd like? To be top five," Schroden said, recalling his thoughts before the race in Toronto. "I thought, realistically? Is this realistic? Maybe I'll learn experience, but the area was unfamiliar and I knew that it could be strong competition."
For the last two years, Schroden has trained — physically and mentally — for this and other 24-hour off-road mountain biking races in hopes of adequately preparing himself for the USA Cycling 24-Hour Mountain Bike National Championships that will be held Oct. 9-10 in Moab, Utah.
In Toronto, Schroden went shoulder-to-shoulder with strong competition — but not strong enough to keep him from surpassing his goal.
"There was definitely quite a bit of traffic," said Schroden, who co-owns Revolution Cycle and Ski in St. Cloud along with friends Ben Doom and Harry Forsyth.
He also has committed time to creating and supporting the Dutri Club, a club organized to support duathlon and triathlon athletes in the St. Cloud area.
The 24-hour race featured 2,200 riders. There were four-person teams, two-person teams and solo riders. Schroden was one of 100 solo riders in the 40-and-under age division.
To place third, Schroden completed 17 10.5-mile laps of the course from noon June 26 to noon June 27. In front of him were two individuals who each completed 19 laps, one faster than the other.
But the journey to third wasn't simple.
A long ride
Before becoming involved with 24-hour mountain bike racing, Schroden participated in cross country racing, longer point-to-point bike racing and long-distance mountain bike races. Cross country is shorter two-hour racing and road racing and the other events were 40-, 60- and 100-mile races.
But 24-hour races brought Schroden's cycling to a whole new level.
"He's done really well and in the biggest (24-hour race) in North America, he got third," Doom said. "He loves the endurance events: The longer the better."
Schroden's training program had to be adjusted significantly.
"Basically, I had to restructure my whole training program and how my body works," said Schroden, who was sponsored by Cannondale Factory Racing. "I had to get my body to go and go and go like the Energizer Bunny."
Schroden had to train himself to overcome issues with nutrition, exhaustion and physical elements.
"Obviously, the main goal is to stay on your bike and stay awake during that period," Schroden said. "You travel as many miles as you can in the most efficient way."
In order to prepare for 24-hour races, Schroden has taken it to the next level with training.
"The time spent training has increased over the last two years," said wife Angela Schroden. "(Before) he would ride his bike two to three hours a day and now he progressed to eight-hour training."
In addition to increased time on the bike, Schroden also pays careful attention to his diet and sleeping habits.
"I experiment with different foods," Schroden said. "(I've used) energy gels, some other foods easier to eat on the bike and foods that digest fairly easy to not upset my stomach."
Fatigue factor
Although Schroden doesn't alter his sleeping habits to prepare for the 24-hour races, other factors affecting his energy are taken into account.
"Ten days prior (to the race) I was monitoring my sleep," Schroden said. "I limited the amount of caffeine I took in. I was eating extremely well and mentally I knew what I was getting into."
Thirteen hours into the race, Schroden's mental and physical training paid off.
"At that point I wasn't riding as smooth," Schroden said. "I wasn't staying focused. At one point I clipped a tree... I just noticed there wasn't something right and I actually started talking to myself."
Within 35 minutes, deprivation was solved
"(It) was all I needed," Schroden said. "It was like a full night's sleep, pretty much."
After regaining energy, Schroden was back on track with quicker lap times, increasing his speed as time passed.
Schroden's wife contributed significantly to his success.
"He needs food made, beverages available, his bike cleaned, emotional support," Angela Schroden said. "I did all those things at the race and realized that it's not just a one-person job."
Staying awake for the entire 24 hours, Schroden and his wife stayed in contact while she constantly kept tabs on his progress throughout the race.
On lap five, Schroden was informed he was in fourth place. By the next lap, it was third.
"It was really motivating to get that response from her," Schroden said. "From there, I kept on plugging along and mentally stuck with it. That kept me on the pace I needed to be."
The road ahead
The race in Toronto established a foundation for Schroden's future races.
"Besides getting third, I gained valuable award in knowing what I need to do in the future as far as nutrition and bike setup," Schroden said.
"(I know) changes as far as what I need to do and keep time limited when I come into the pit and what I can expect to happen 13, 14, 15 hours in."
Schroden will participate in two more races before competing in the national championships. He will be competing in the Wausau (Wis.) 24, and the 24 Hours of Seven Oaks race in Boon, Iowa.
About 5,000 racers will attend the national championships, some solo and others with two- and four-person teams.
"I hope to have a top-10 finish out there. That would be excellent," Schroden said. "I think it's realistic, but it's a pretty high goal.
"I know the competition will be tough and there's a lot of people that train for that particular race all year long. I'm figuring things out still, but I'm figuring them out pretty quick."
Training for and participating in 24 hour races only scratches the surface of Schroden's involvement and passion for biking.
"He's a hard worker," Angela Schroden said. "Owning (Revolution Cycle and Ski) takes a lot of work — mentally and physically. His heart is into his shop that comes first, before his training, and his training is very important as well.
"He has to be aware of his time spent and how to organize. He gets up at 5 in the morning, does his training and works 10 hours."
Doom, who frequently bikes alongside Schroden, puts it simply.
"His drive helps him," Doom said. "It's easy to say, 'I'm not going to ride today.' He's able to control his mind so well. (He has) overall drive and ability to control his brain.
"(It's) his overall attitude. He's always positive on the bike. He's a fun guy to ride with because of that."
While placing third in one of North America's largest 24-hour mountain biking races was a particularly rewarding feat for Schroden, it's only the beginning of his endeavors.
"It was a valuable learning experience ending in a good result, too." Schroden said.