We've all heard the tales of what it takes to improve in the sport of cycling, they usually sound something like; long grueling hours in the saddle, boring intervals, strict dieting, and an all-around unsustainable lifestyle. In fact, these absolutely bogus myths and old school ways of progressing one's fitness are perhaps what inspired much of what CINCH has become today. We understand that most people have a busy life outside of the sport and still want to be super fast riders and win rides or races.
Well into our 4th year of cycling coaching we've now seen some CINCH athletes make full transformations in their cycling and lifestyle. We're excited to able to now share some of these athletes stories here on the FORM Performance Blog. In this interview, we had the chance to talk to Kris Hendricks, who has been apart of our program for over 3 years.
Kris is a multi-disciplined athlete from Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is a pediatric dentist that owns and operates multiple dental offices with his wife, Ginna. Kris and Ginna, who is also a CINCH athlete, are also busy parents of three kids. In this interview, we discuss Kris's cycling journey and how he isn't letting time constraints stop him from becoming the best athlete he can be.
The story of Kris Hendricks is for anyone who has ever felt that they just "don't have the time" to consistently get better at cycling.
Question: Question: Tell us a little about your cycling background?
I started cycling during my church mission to Germany in 1998, when I was 19yrs old. I was paired up with a partner who had grown up in East Germany and didn’t speak English. Since I was just learning German, we couldn’t really communicate. He loved cycling and for months, much of what we did was ride bikes through the German countryside, morning until night. Although we became fast friends, he was ruthless towards me on the bike. If I got dropped or missed a traffic light, I had to find my own way home—an especially harrowing experience during my first months in a foreign country. I kept chasing and eventually I was no longer being dropped. I was also starting to really enjoy our cycling adventures. On those long rides, my love for cycling was born.
Fast forward to fall of 2000, about a month after I got home, I started dating Ginna. Not only did she have a bike, she let me ride it. Even though it was a size small (and I ride a large), I rode that thing to death. We married and soon after she bought me an entry level mountain bike. It wasn’t long before I was riding as often as possible in the mountains near our home in Utah.
We moved to the Midwest for dental school during the summer of 2004 and mountain bike trails were no longer easily accessible. I couldn’t afford the gas or time to travel to ride. That summer was the height of the Armstrong/Ullrich rivalry on the Tour de France. School hadn’t started yet so I has plenty of time to watch every stage. Before the tour had ended, I had used my credit card to buy a $175 road bike from a pawn shop.
After that I rode enthusiastically in the local group ride scene and even did a few races during my dental school years. I didn’t train in any meaningful way, but I rode the bike whenever time allowed.
In 2010, after residency on the east coast, we moved to New Mexico and I had single track right outside my front door. Within weeks I had signed up for some MTB events and made friends in the mountain bike community. I started to participate in a regional endurance mountain bike series called Zia Rides. The races were rugged, wild and hard. The events took place all over New Mexico, often in remote locations. I loved the planning and logistics involved with preparing for the races.
The Zia rides events stoked my competitive fire on the bike and got me interested in trying to get better. In 2012 after a particularly excruciating performance at an endurance race in Arizona, Ginna insisted that I figure out how to train for these events or stop them all together. I bought several training books and videos. I wrote my own training plans and started working out in a somewhat structured way.
Question: What lead you to join CINCH and hire Tom as your coach?
After a few years of “self training” I had improved, but had hit a wall with the amount of time I thought I needed to train and all my other responsibilities. My main source of information had come from a training manual for busy people. It basically said that as a busy person with an interest in long endurance events, you could only expect to be strong for a very short window in the year—and even that had a limited ceiling on how fast you could become. Another training book had sample training plans in it. I remember looking at the example of a person “with a lot of time constraints” and thinking how laughable it was. I was at least 10x busier than the example they gave. Adding insult to injury, many of the other MTB training plans I looked at were built on back to back Saturday/Sunday long rides. I had decided years ago that I wasn’t willing to sacrifice both weekend days to long rides; even one long ride a weekend was taking a toll on my family obligations.
While at a business conference, the keynote speaker recommended enlisting experts to aid you in business and life. That really resonated with me. I wasn’t content to stagnate in my cycling and there were many things I still wanted to achieve. Ginna agreed I should see if a coach could help me achieve my cycling goals. I started researching coaches and found Tom and Cinch online. Compared to the other coaching options I looked at, the message from CINCH resonated with me. Tom had real world credentials and a message that spoke to a busy person who wanted more out of cycling.
During my phone interview with Tom, I told him that I was afraid I couldn’t get any better given my family and professional commitments. When I said that I was concerned my unwillingness to do Saturday/Sunday long rides would keep me from being a “good” MTB racer, he simply said “F— That!” That was all I needed to hear. I signed up immediately.
Question: Once you started doing CINCH workouts, what did you notice was different about the workouts, and your performance?
I had never done a workout outdoors when I started with CINCH. It was like patting my head and rubbing my stomach at the same time. I found it really challenging to try and balance al the different objectives. I also had spent a number of years riding single speed, so all the shifting was super challenging.
My self-training had made me faster over about a 1 hour effort. Cinch really helped me develop zones where I could go longer without a massive fade in power. My ceiling didn’t go up that much for quite some time, but the floor kept raising. Even at my slowest, I was getting a lot faster.
Question: As a busy business owner, do you find that the high-level workouts align with how you operate in the other areas of your life?
I think it’s a natural fit for my personality. Tom often talks about always working to grow and get better at whatever you do. That ethos really resonates with me. I’m often questioned by colleagues and family why I can’t just let things be when they are obviously successful by outside standards. That approach just doesn’t work for me. It’s like I’m always hungry for more and actually require a degree of tempering to keep things in order. I find CINCH to be the same way. In almost 3 years, I don’t think I’ve ever had a repeat workout. Even when the system is working, CINCH keeps evolving and improving. I’m also a pretty busy person and don’t like wasting time. Cinch really helps me get the most out of the time I can dedicate to the bike.
Question: You seem to pick events that are challenging but also FUN, and inclusive for the family. How do you choose your events, and how do you manage to make these events fun for the family at the same time?
At the basis of everything is the fact that Ginna and I really enjoy spending our time together. Since my first events and long before Ginna was riding, she was there with me in a support role. We also had children early in our marriage, which logistically meant that when there was an event, we usually all went together. I still have simultaneously fond and traumatic memories of camping at races a kid crying all night because he struggled to sleep in the strange environment; all the while I was trying to manage my frustration that my race might be compromised because of it.
With time, we’ve gotten very good racing with the family. It’s like anything else: get the equipment, the systems, and practice it. Also, endurance mountain bike racing is often much more family oriented, with camping and kids events throughout the day. Even though our kids aren’t as enthusiastic about cycling as their parents, they enjoy the adventures and we try to find fun elements for them too.
Question: From MTB, to gravel, to road, Kris seems to do it all! Do you find that your structured workouts help you perform in every discipline of cycling?
I’ll be honest, one of my reservations about reaching out to CINCH was my concern that it was road bike specific and I wanted to race MTB. But, when I first spoke with Tom, he assured me that he could make me a better cyclist and I could use those skills in any cycling environment. That’s certainly true.
Admittedly, there have been a few compromises to succeed and get the most out of CINCH. I needed to ride the road much more than ever because some of the workouts couldn't be effectively done off-road. There are also times when I have to turn down fun rides with friends so I can focus on my process. As I’ve improved my fitness, I’ve also exposed some skills weaknesses on the MTB, which I’ve had to workshop on my rest days.
Question: What is your favorite event that you've gone to and what made it so great?
My favorite event has to be 24hrs in the Enchanted Forest. This race has everything I like in a race: amazing trails, great camping, night riding, and a supportive and like-minded community of racers. Each time we go, we take our old airstream trailer and make a base camp with friends and fellow racers at the venue. The kids can basically run and play freely the entire weekend. There is no cell reception at the venue so you are really detached from the rest of the world.
My most memorable year was when I won the male duo field with a good friend. We were behind heading into the night and came out with the lead by morning by riding double laps and allowing the other to get a little more rest. The dawn laps were so beautiful and celebratory as we had secured the win. It was a huge effort that we executed perfectly as a team.
Question: How do you consistently pull off these amazing performances with such a busy schedule?
Consistency is key for me. I have to prioritize my workouts and I typically get them done first thing in the morning during the early hours where there are no other distractions. For me that’s the time block form 5-7am. Often that means disciplined wake up calls, warm clothes and bright cycling lights. Ginna also works hard to allow me this time by prepping the kids for school during the year. With the combination of prioritizing, sacrifice and supportive teamwork, I pretty much never miss a workout.
Question: Take us through your training load.
My baseline is 90min workouts 4 weekdays and take 1 long ride on Saturdays. On my rest weekday, I go to the gym and I take Sunday as a complete rest day.
Looking back at my training software, I ride consistently 8-14 hours a week. I really dislike indoor riding and it’s been a big challenge for me to adopt that into my training. I’ll ride outdoor down to 20 degrees and frequently do my entire workout in the dark. (Of course I use great lights) This past year, I started doing more indoor training when the weather didn’t allow for an outside workout and I came out of the winter much fitter than ever.
Question: What areas of your cycling have improved most?
Tom and CINCH have improved every aspect of my cycling. I can’t think of an area in cycling where I haven’t improved. I’ve really improved my endurance and recovery most of all. I’ve had a pretty strong hour for a number of years now, but I would really fall apart after that. While my hour has improved with CINCH, my time beyond that has really improved. My cycling floor has come up so high. Even after my injury this year, at an event this summer I had a complete bonk yet still brought in a respectable time.
Question: What is the number one tool that you find yourself using during the hardest moments of your events?
The “there’s nothing good back there” mantra has been really helpful for me. I’m that guy who has let himself fall off the back of a race many times. The nutrition has been really helpful too. I’ve learned that I need a lot more on the bike nutrition to keep fueled during a ride.
Last Question: Where do you see yourself going from here, what is the next cycling challenge for Kris and the Hendricks family?
I’m not sure where we’ll go from here. I have some more bucket list events I’d like to do, but that feels kind of secondary. Ginna started cycling this past year and I’ve been enjoying her journey into the sport. It has also really made cycling more of a lifestyle than a hobby for us. I see us collectively finding events that appeal to both of us and seeking them out. But I also see myself playing a pure support role to her as she takes on some of her own cycling challenges.
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