My 2020 in cycling

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What a crazy year 2020 has been! Just Wow. It is now time to leave it behind us and move forward to a better 2021. I will take you through my year in cycling, the good and the bad. It was definitely a year to remember with so many issues domestically and internationally. From the virus to the internal issues in United States. I am so ready to move on !

I finished 2019 with poor result at my first World Time Trial Championship in Borrego Springs, CA. More info can be found on this link . Essentially, I was at my peak performance , had a crew for a first time but at the end I did not get the desired result. The conditions were super tough with temperatures down to 38 F at night forcing many racers to quit and daily temperature quickly ramping up to above 80 when the sun came out. To top it off my shoes disappeared from the pit area and I was forced into smaller backup shoes that resulted in super bad Achilles problem and swollen ankles after 300 miles in 19hrs.

Photo Credit Irma Baloh

In 2020, my biggest goal was to finally try multi-day race. My eyes were locked on the Transcontinental Bike race in Europe. It was perfect route , starting in Brest (mid point of PBP) and ending in Varna, Bulgaria, about two hour drive from my place of birth. Spiegel Bikes provided me with a stunning machine- The Spiegel Diablo. Infinity Seat were also on board and helping me a lot. Lets not forget Marquee Cycling for small parts and bar tape, AMP Human with their anti cramp cream & Skratch Labs for their nutrition. My cousin designed some of my logos and designs. My friend Carmelo with the web page. Also Pactimo was on board as well – they have some great gear. Jerseys were made for Transcontinental with Owayo with the help from Hamid from Northern Virginia Randonneurs. And finally Andy Jackson from Peaks Sports Consulting. He has been instrumental in my fitness improvment.

I was hurt for a while in the beginning of the year after the injury in Borrego Springs. As a result I lost a lot of my fitness. The goal was to build solid base and begin the serious part of preparation in March. I started the year easy, Zwift , mixed with some outdoor rides. After few 100 km rides I did a 200 km with NVR Randonneurs late February, then 200 km in the beginning of March. Coincidently , I arrived late for my last 200 km before the start of the Pandemic and avoided contact with other riders.

I decided to stick with my coaching program with Andy and not change a thing about it. We knew very little at the time. Who would expected the world to change overnight? On the plus side, I wanted to not alter my daily routine so I can stay sane. My mental pill is cycling. This is how I cope with stress. If I had to change anything , i wouldn’t change a thing.

I scored 242 W on my first FTP test under Peaks Sports Consulting. At the end of the training plan and just in time for TCR, my fitness was at all time high and my FTP increased to 292 ( 17.22% or 50 some watts. Andy system works and the below picture of my fitness clearly supports this claim.

It was hard work and I didn’t do everything perfect but the improvement was still solid. I realized that for this to work well, one need to follow the plan diligently.

Randonneuring also helped me stay sane. NVR provided a ton of events and I ended up finishing 9 RUSA Sanctioned events & permanents – 4 x 100 km, 3 x 200 km, 1 x 300 km & 1x 400km plus many more 100 km training rides. With Transcontinental cancelled , I was itching for new goals to keep me motivated. Eventually I decided to enter Virtual Race Across the West. What a brutal event that was after all. I still don’t believe what I put my body through. It was perfectly aligning with the end of my Training Plan in June so why not.

Furthermore, I decided to work on my “weakness” – climbing. I went over to WV and climbed the tallest hill there – Spruce Knob. A lot of fun. I ended up doing 5 repeats, 116 miles and climbed 15 000 feet ,finishing with 28th Overall on the segment while averaging 270 Watts.

Then came VRAW. What a pain fest that was. Nobody really expected it to turn out the way it did. Especially the astronomical amount of climbing. But I had another motivation – Racing to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer in honor of my mom called one of 8. The foundation is based in Bulgaria and we were to have event and meet at the finish line of Transcontinental. Everyone showed outpouring love and support ! This was truly one of the best moments in 2020, having the opportunity to help and bring awareness. We raised about $2200 that will sure help many cancer survivors and aid with diagnosis and early prevention. Thank you from the bottom of my hearth to everyone that donated.

As for the race- here is the full story. The short story is that I raced consistent pace and was always in the top ten. My only issue was the humidity and heat since my AC was not working properly. Second in my age group, 12th overall and 9th across all men.

We then jumped into the Maryland Cross State Record S-N. Everything was cancelled so I decided to do what most were doing this year due to safety. That went well, I broke the record & performed as well as I hoped. The only issue was the nasty headwind. Averaging 210 W for 7.5 , I was hoping to get about 22 Mph but the strong wind was not in my favor and there was nothing I can do about it. Still super happy with the experience and my rookie crew. Rookie crew but with a ton of Ultracycling Experience – Hamid , the RBA for NVR Randonneurs and his wife ,super RUSA Volunteer / rider Shab Memar. Also special thanks to the official Misha Heller for doing all the WUCA work. I would love to do W-E. It is a little over 400 miles and will take much more time, planning , crew members and preparation.

I also managed to complete my first Fran Fondo.

What a great experience at the Asheville Gran Fondo in North Carolina. It was safely done as a solo event. We had to upload our data to RidewithGPS for final standings. I was going super hard on the timed sections and recovering in between. At the end I made new friends ,raced hard and finished 2nd in my age group and was in top 5 on most of the segments. Qualified for 2021 Grand Fondo National Championship event !

The next morning I climbed Mt. Mitchel – the tallest peak east of the Mississippi river. What a blast that was. I really enjoy riding on Blue Ridge Parkway. Super nice pavement, patient drivers and great scenery. Sadly, foggy on the top so not much to see but awesome experience.

My final go was doing the 6h Virtual Revolve on Fulgaz. Another well paced event that scored me 3rd Place. Super happy with this performance.

We kick off 2021 with Virtual World Time Trial Championship on the actual Borrego Springs course via Fulgaz.

Biggest goal this year might have to be Bike Nonstop US if all of my stars align. Considering the current Pandemic, its the best replacement for TCR I can find. Much safer, I am on my own so there is no contact with others and is much safer than TransAm ( same organizer). Its on most of the available trail system from Portland to Washington DC. A big undertaking and a lot of things need to go right for me to do it. Its a whooping 3476 miles and will likely take 16 to 20 days. Or more 🙂 In the meantime, Pedal on