When Mark came to me enquiring about potentially joining CrankPunk Coaching Systems back in 2016 he was, in his own words, ‘relatively new to road cycling’.
He had been ‘participating in a few sportives / granfondos over the last few years, namely the last 3 Etape du Tours. Great experiences but my performances were rather average.’ He was looking to get some help from an experienced coach and to give his friends a run for their money in the 2016 Etape.
I created an individualised training plan for him to achieve his goals, and come July and l’Etape, he nailed it. Job done! He then took a little break to decide on his next challenged. A short while later I received an email with this heading in my inbox:
‘I’m gonna ride my bike across the USA: I need YOUR help!’
Yup. He’d made up his mind: Trans Am or bust!
I have to admit, I was surprised. This was a huge undertaking even for a very experienced cyclist. But this is what I thrive on, taking on the seemingly impossible and making it work. It’s the story of my own career and I determined immediately to do all I possibly could to help Mark get it done.
And so, we went to work. We worked on the base, on the stamina and endurance, but also on the high end stuff, the stuff that hurts, that makes you tougher, that amazes you when you get through it. I knew he’d need that mental edge in the Trans America.
Working with Mark was a delight and I looked forward to our calls each week because on top of the almost-continuous gains that he was making, we always had a laugh. I’ve coached many people who have achieved their goals, who have amazed me and inspired me, and Mark is right up there.
One very emotional moment was when Mark called me from the roadside during the ride, not yet half way through. A fellow rider had been killed nearby. We talked through it, calmed a tense situation down, and focused on completing the challenge in the man’s memory. I’ll never forget that call.
His amazing success in completing the Trans Am, way ahead of schedule, was also one of my greatest successes and I thank him for letting me share in that. Over to Mark…
By Mark Croker
I cannot recommend Lee enough!
He took me from fat MAMIL at the back / DNF’er at various Sportives and Gran Fondo’s to 34th out of a field of 120 in the 6,800 kilometre self supported Trans América Bike Race…….and less fat. From a longest ride of 160 kilometres to averaging 245 kilometres a day every day for 27.5 days.
He did this by:
- Believing in me.
- Putting together a training plan that worked to my schedule.
- Adhering to a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) methodology rather than the more OCD inducing strict adherence to power and watts. This kept my mind fresh and the training fun.
- Regular chats to check my progress and how I was feeling. An essential element of checking progress vs plan and thus enabling any adjustments to that plan, but also highly entertaining and interesting. Lee has definitely been there and done that but he has very much done it his own way. Plenty of stories and laughs.
- Actually caring about and being interested in my events. This definitely fueled the motivation. He was in regular contact during the Trans Am and was instrumental in restoking the fire after the death of a fellow competitor in Kansas, only 30 kilometers up the road from where I was camped. I was thinking very seriously about quitting. “Do it for your fallen comrade” he said. And so I did.
Lee was not only my coach and mentor but over our time together became a mate.
At the risk of repeating myself, I cannot recommend Lee enough.