The Upstate area has become the place to train during the winter for east coast based professional cyclists. Last month Greenville, South Carolina hosted Liquigas-Cannondale rider Ted King and Jeremy Powers of Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld.com. The temperate weather made five-hour rides a possibility.
It’s not just road riders who are taking advantage of the weather and great training conditions, but mountain bikers as well. Jeremiah Bishop of the Cannondale factory team recently made the trip from Virginia to get in pre-season miles. Bishop’s strength on the mountain bike is the endurance based events like the Pisgah Mountain bike stage race and the Shenandoah Mountain 100 National Ultra Endurance race both of which he won in 2010.
“It’s a traditional late winter pilgrimage to Clemson,” said Bishop. “It started about 10 years ago when Chris Eatough used to stay with his friend from his college days – Ian Davidson – who’s a masters world champion in Xterra. He’d open up his house to us.”
“My first trip was when I was a neo-pro on the Trek-Volkswagen East Coast team and it was a really good group to help me get my spring fitness. We are able to do some focused training and it’s been a routine ever since.”
Before the birth of his son he’d pack his bags for a two week training camp. Now it’s a slightly different story.
“Now the routine is to come down there for a week and get in some solid training, come back home and suss out the weather and hit the wind trainer. We return for another week of training in February.”
Most of Bishops’ training, like most pros during this time of the year, is base miles. But that didn’t stop him from jumping into the Winter Bike League ride with a young rider he is coaching, Joe Dombrowski.
“He’s a phenom but don’t tell him that – it will go to his head,” Bishop says with tongue in cheek. Dombrowski is riding for the U-23 Livestrong squad and when he was tested at the Mellow Johnny’s shop the results were amazing. It looks like the Livestrong team has another superstar in it’s midst.
Bishop prefers the Clemson area because it is quiet but also due to its accessibility to varied terrain: from hilly to flat.
“Everything from Caesars Head to flatter roads. It’s a great place. Most people don’t know there is close to five hours of trails in Issaqueena which is part of Clemson Experimental Forrest.”
The week Bishop and his friends were in Clemson training they logged 32 hours on the bike, close to 600 miles total. While the majority of the training was getting in saddle time there was some structure.
“Some high-force work with seated jumps and low-gear muscle tension work. We avoided LT (lactate threshold) work. But the next block of training will be harder – more structured with intense intervals.”
All of this training is in preparation for the mountain bike marathon worlds in June and the national championships in September which, naturally, he wants to win again. It was just announced that AEG is organizing a Leadville 100 qualifying series which Bishop says, “looks like they (AEG) have the intention of doing a top shelf, ProTour looking endurance series.”
With such marquee American riders like Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer racing and winning Leadville it is no surprise that Bishop names another well known American ProTour racer who might line up in this Colorado mining town.
“Even George (Hincapie) has expressed an interest in doing Leadville. Ben King wants to do Leadville. It’s catching on!”
If you’re in the Clemson’s Experimental Forest next week don’t be surprised to be passed by a rider slicing up the terrain on his Cannondale Scalpel – you’re not the first and you certainly won’t be the last.