7/3/2014 1:58:00 PM Arizona State Champion Dr. Brad Williams wins Bike The Bluff Arizona Championship Road Race
Competing for Bicycle Ranch Racing, Williams, 53, covered the 58-mile course in 2-hours, 38-minutes, 12-seconds. Michael Dritlein, 40, unattached, and Ramon Garcia, 49, competing for TREK Store West Phoenix, both finished 1 second behind Williams. Courtesy photos
When Verde Valley orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brad Williams finished 10th a year ago in Show Low's annual Bike The Bluff Arizona State Championship Road Race, he knew he could do better.
He was right.
A year later, the Cornville cyclist is the new Category 5 Arizona State Champion.
Competing for Bicycle Ranch Racing, Williams, 53, covered the 58-mile course in 2-hours, 38-minutes, 12-seconds. Michael Dritlein, 40, unattached, and Ramon Garcia, 49, competing for TREK Store West Phoenix, both finished 1 second behind Williams.
The 9-place jump in the rankings from a year ago is a result of the old tried-and-true formula of hard work.
"I had a lot more training. I was a lot more serious about it this year," said Williams. "I felt really strong, and at the end I was the freshest."
"A lot more training" for Williams equates to an average of 250 miles a week and as many as 280 miles a week.
"I like to get 40 to 50 miles a day and I have some longer days when I have more time. A long ride for me is 80 to 100 miles."
Not only was this year's preparation more physically demanding, but Williams also went the techie route to acquire daily bio-feedback on the specifics of his training.
"I didn't just go out and ride hard," Williams explained. "One big factor was that I got a power meter, which I think is really important. What you want to do is keep below your lactate threshold when you are recovering and you want to do a certain percentage of your max output at other times. My PhD is in exercise metabolism and I actually work with Olympic-level athletes so it's kind of fun to use all that data and apply it to what I do.
"You really have to train your body so I focused on training and recovery, intervals, 20-minute interval days, 2- to 5-minute intervals, sprints, hour-long rides up Mingus and just varying all those things and listening to my body. Also, I changed my diet and focused on non-processed foods; a lot of avocados, tomatoes, fresh fruits. I think that put me over the top the past few months."
Most importantly, he credits having top-level training partners such as Phoenix pro William White, and local riders Tim Miller and Jeremy Wilson, who Williams describes as a core asset in the Verde Valley cycling community.
"Jeremy was a huge help. We would have our 'puke-fest Wednesdays' and the goal was to try and make each other puke on those days. We would ride really hard. He helped me get over the top and gave me some really good advice on race strategy."
Tim Miller and Jeremy Wilson are only active Category 3 riders in Verde Valley and Wilson says Williams is clearly misplaced as a Category 5 racer.
"This is only his third race. That is the only reason he is Cat-5," said Wilson. "That guy ... his age, his experience ... he is ridiculous. There are not that many 53-year-old guys who can ride like him. He can climb and he can sprint as fast as a 20-year-old. I've been with Cat-1 racers and he is an amazing, very impressive cyclist. Just riding with him has made me a better cyclist."
Category 5 racers, Williams explained, "is a novice category, but in a sense it is one of the most difficult because you have people who are phenomenal athletes; it runs the gamut of people who have just been biking for a couple of years to people who were former mountain bike champions or triathletes, so you have some really strong people."
Moving up to Category 4, he said, only involves competing in 10 sanctioned events. "It doesn't matter how well you do. But, in Cat-4, you have to perform, you have to win some races to move up to Cat-3 and from there you have to continue to perform well to move up."
Once he graduates to that next level, Wilson predicts Williams "will blow through Cat-4."
Next up for Williams, he will join his wife, Brenda, at the national duathlon championships in three weeks in St. Paul, Minn. The competition involves a 5-kilometer run followed by a 32.4K bike ride and then another 5K run.
Williams may be the new Arizona State Champion in cycling, but in this duathlon, he may not even be the best competitor in his own family.
Brenda Williams is an elite-level runner. She won the women's division in the Sedona Half Marathon in February, and finished third among the men, running the 13.1-mile distance at a pace of 6:45 per mile.
"She is super fit," Williams said. "We are really looking forward to this event."