Speight: Hello everybody! Here today we have our first featured Athlete of New England, Ansel Dickey. Ansel, tell us a little bit about yourself…
Ansel: I’m 23 years old & I grew up in Truro, Cape Cod. I went to Cardigan Mountain School in New Hampshire and then Killington Mountain School for high school to ski race. I signed my first pro cycling contract out of high school and raced professionally for 6 years traveling the world. However, I just recently stopped my competitive racing career and started my own business.
S: What’s your business?
A: It’s called Vermont Social, we specialize in digital marketing and photo video work for businesses, schools, and Non-Profits in Vermont and New England.
S: So if you could wrap your sports up in one line what would it be?
A: Riding bikes way to fast both up and down hill.
S: What genre of biking do you participate in?
A: I raced pro road biking, (think Tour De France type racing). But I love all genres, my favorite being gravel and mountain biking.
S: Do you think you could go tell us your quiver of bikes?
A: I have a Cannondale Super X SE, which is a cyclocross bike modified to be better on gravel roads. I also own a Cannondale CAD 12 aluminum road bike. It’s awesome because you can beat the hell out of it. I have a Cannondale Slate SE which is a full-on adventure bike for those gnarly class 4 roads. Then I have a Cannondale Trigger 2, which is an all-mountain 150 mm travel in the front 145 mm in the back. It shreds and I love it. Then of course I have a bunch of junk bikes….
S: Ansel, I remember going on my first bike ride with you when we were in 6th grade and I kicked your ass! What happened since then?
A: Oh my god, I remember that ride and then afterwards walking around Cardigan school for 2 weeks barely being able to make it up and down the stairs I was so sore! I don’t know what happened! Honestly, I was kind of a lazy kid growing up although I was always good at sprinting, did soccer, ski racing, and lifting weights. But then I broke my leg ski racing in high school. I started biking as rehab, and after 3 months of biking I realized I was way better at cycling then ski racing. That year I started road bike racing and pretty much won every prep school race I entered. That really got me hooked. I was completely addicted and went all in. I made the national team a few years later. I pretty much climbed every wrung in the ladder to get to the top.
S: So breaking your leg changed your athletic path then?
A: Combo of that and Peter Vollers the real-estate lawyer and x pro bike racer who really fostered me into the sport. He provided a lot of inspiration and taught me the ropes of how to become a great athlete.
S: So what do you even get out of cycling?
A: At first, I biked because I loved the fitness aspect of it, I felt like I was on top of the world. It’s a low impact sport and you can do it for 5 hours riding as hard as you can. And that sort of fatigue is addicting to the right type of person. Also you can explore so many roads around you that the average person doesn’t even knows exist.
S: Do you like winning too?
A: Yes, when I was younger, I’m still Hella young and don’t want to sound ignorant, but when I was 18-20 years old I loved winning and the ego boost it gave me, but something changed when I was exiting racing; it felt fake and guilty. I didn’t like the ego boost any more. It was more about the adventure and community aspect then it was about the strive to win.
S: Seems like you have matured a little bit. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. How many hours a day, week, month, and year do you train?
A: Right now I do some form of exercising, biking, running, core work, skiing which averages about 8-10 hours a week. I always judge this stuff via hours, and not mileage. I also use a program called Training Peaks. It’s a great program for managing your work outs. I always ride with a power meter and heart rate monitor. So my average 8-10 hours of exercise per week will fluctuate throughout the year, winter a little less, summer a little bit more. It will bump up to 15-20 hours when training for a race like the Rasputista or Vermont Overland.
Day: 1-2 Hours
Week: 10 Hours
Month: 40 Hours
Year: 520 Hours
S: Are you still doing a lot of interval training?
A: Yes if it’s coming up to a race, but I don’t do it nearly as much as when I was training professionally. For instance, when I was training professionally every ride was structured and had a different type of interval segment.
S: So what do your intervals look like now?
A: My favorite race prep intervals are straight up V02 hill repeats. The ride is 3-4 hours. Pedal tempo for first hour and 30 minutes, then spin easy for 0:10 minutes. Then find the steepest hill around you, it needs to be at least 4 minutes long. Do 5 VO2 hill climbs. My wattage is 450-480 but everyone’s is different. Your rest period is 5 minutes before each hill climb. You’re going to feel like death after your intervals, but you get to ride another hour and 30 minutes tempo. Then you end the ride with 3 all out sprints 30 seconds long. If you do this work out 2-3 weeks out from your race, it’s like sharpening the edge of the knife for your legs.
S: What does VO2 stand for?
A: It’s the maximum amount of oxygen your body can intake to your muscles, liters of oxygen per kilo of body weight, mine is 78 lance Armstrong is 86.
S: Where do you get tested?
A: I got tested at CCNS Charles and Coaching.
S: So are there any books that have influenced you athletically?
A: The Feed Zone Cook Book by Allen Lim. It’s a great cook book with guys who started Scratch Lab nutrients company. Getting my nutrients dialed in really inspired me to bring my athletics to the next level. Nutrition is the other 50 % of the athletic training equation.
S: Seriously 50%?
A: We are living organisms, what we put in our body is what we become / who we are.
S: Do you take any supplements?
A: Nordic Natural Fish Oil, multi vitamin, Whey Protein Isolate, and Optygen HP which is to help your V02 max. I think supplements in general are a slippery slope, what’s the defining line between taking a supplement and doping. All I take is natural supplements, but no drugs can replace good training.
S: What’s the best purchase that has most positively impacted your athletics?
A: When I first got a power meter that was a big improvement, and 2nd best investment was a coach which cost me $200 a month.
S: What failure has set you up for later success?
A: Big failure was not making the world tour in cycling and quitting pro racing. Doing a sport that hard really teaches you the work effort to succeed in other areas of life.
S: What’s been your biggest challenge so far?
A: Organization and procrastination!!! It could take me 2 hours to do a project, but I’ll work for 10 minutes then get distracted, work for another 10 minutes then get distracted, because I got hella ADHD!
S: What’s the best investment you have ever made?
A: Probably myself, you have to invest in your health and fitness. You are only as good as your health is. You have to take care of yourself before you can conquer life.
S: Any new belief or habits that’s improved your life?
A: I’m more conscious of what head space I’m in and have been cutting back on the amount of coffee I drink.
S: What advice would you give to the Everyday Athlete of New England?
A: Most important aspect of success and fitness would be consistency. You need to adopt training as a life style to see results. Don’t bite off too much of what you can’t eat at first, start out small and work your way up.
S: What’s the worst advice you hear in your sport?
A: That weight lifting is bad for cyclists.
S: What’s your weight lifting look like then?
A: Typically I’ll do a lot of lifting in the winter time. I’ll focus on structural and functional balance and I won’t bench press or squat. But if you lift there is a neuro muscular stimulus that you get from lifting which translates to making you stronger on the bike. I’ll do a lot of core and full body free weights, love single leg squats, and hex bar deadlifts. But during the season I’ll use an exercise band between the knees before every ride.
S: Last question: if you had a gigantic billboard with anything on it, what would it say?
A: You are what your focus is, whatever you decide to focus on is what you become.