Favorite races, worst ride ever, and training tips: 30 Questions with FasCat athlete Phil Gaimon
Former WorldTour racer and current KOM chaser, Phil Gaimon has been a FasCat athlete for nine years now, working with the the Big Cat himself, Frank Overton. Here, the YouTube star takes a pile of questions that the FasCat coaches compiled and lobbed at him. Enjoy!
1. What are you training for this year?
KOM attempts on tap in Europe, west coast, and home.
2. How do you use your Whoop to achieve your goals?
Measuring my recovery and tracking sleep has been to maximizing my time and training for several years now.
3. What is your favorite length of segment to go for and why?
Epic climbs are fun, but my legs love to blast for 10-20 minutes.
4. What is the worst ride you’ve ever done, and why?
I tried to ride from Orlando to Miami a couple years ago because I was visiting family for a week and it was hard to train in the cities. It was 200 miles which should be reasonable given flat terrain down there, but headwinds, road closures, heat, and lack of water had me eating pizza at a 7/11 and calling my wife for a pickup about 40 miles from my goal. So I got all of the misery with no satisfaction.
5. What’s the most hours you ride in a week? What’s the average weekly total?
I usually do one or two 30 hr weeks every year. Over the last few years I think I average 20-22.
6. What’s your ftp in watts and w/kg?
380 and 5.6.
7. You’re a notorious weight wienie. What gear do you indulge in that adds weight?
Well there’s my KOM bike (Factor O2 VAM) where I’m likely to remove cassette cogs that I don’t need and it’s never seen a saddle bag, and there’s my training bike that got a few Ultegra parts and I prefer oversized bottles, and I carry the Ottolock in case of coffee stops.
8. What is your warm-up protocol for a KOM?
Same as I would for a TT back in the day, I only look at heart rate. I ride around for 20 minutes to loosen my legs, and then slowly increase my effort until I see 130 bpm. I’ll ride easy for a minute, then increase to 140 BPM. I’ll do that all way until 160s or 170s when it might get to 5 beat increments or I feel ready to rip. (Video on this question here.)
9. Wax or oil?
Wax was a surprising game changer in the last couple years.
10. Rolling Stones or The Beatles?
Depends on my mood, so both!
11. When are you going to give mountain biking a try?
Soon! I’ve just never been good enough at MTB to enjoy it.
12. I was thoroughly entertained by your Try-athlon video with Lionel Sanders. Sure, your swim was awful, but you weren’t a bad runner- Once you get on a mountain bike, how about an Xterra triathlon?
I like running but I don’t think I’d like running training, and I know I’d hate trying to get good at swimming.
13. As someone known for their climbing ability, any tips for finding balance between staying light and performant while also keeping your health in a good spot?
My main thing has been to weigh myself every day, eat healthy, and always stay on top of it. Losing weight sucks and costs performance, so it’s easier for me to stay close to my target weight, but also I’m not trying to chase the lightest weight I’ve ever been. I never feel like I’m fighting it.
14. Best flavor of cookie that’s not chocolate chip?
15. Are you going to write a new book?
Yes, as soon as an ending happens to me. I’m always taking notes, but “Worst Retirement Ever” has to be a book.
16. Aero or lightweight?
I’ve always thought that lightweight stuff was fun, but I’ve learned that in most cases, aero is more important for speed.
17. If you couldn’t eat cookies what’s next in line? Brownie. No nuts RA Best US race?
Either existing or extinct The Univest Grand Prix was a really cool U25 event in Pennsylvania that still exists in a smaller form/different name. Redlands Classic has to be my favorite since it put me on the map for the first time, and Tour of California was a great experience as a home race for my last few years on the circuit.
18. Favorite team training camp moment/memory?
The first camp on Garmin-Sharp, when going WorldTour finally hit me and I was in the room with guys I’d only watched on TV.
19. If there was one race you could do again, more about the most fun not to change result, what would it be?
Tour of California was fun as a rider and spectator.
20. Favorite dog?
We adopted a pitbull named The Creature who’s two now and currently in a ball on my lap. Her antics have ruined my social media, but we also have a 13-year-old bulldog that my wife found on the street in Miami long before I was in the picture. Nala is the undisputed queen.
21. How many times has Ben Foster dropped you on a bike? But in all seriousness what made Ben a good training partner? And what do you look for in a training partner?
Ben definitely got the better of me during some our workouts over the years. The struggle for every pro is finding someone who’s fast enough to ride with them, but not so fast that they have a heavy race schedule and their own strict training plan to adhere to. The other trick for me is that I live in LA where everyone my age has a job and all of the fast riders are half my age. What I’m looking for is someone who can keep up, and wants to talk about anything but bikes. A had a good one for a few years there, but we have to keep in touch on Facetime since he moved away.
22. Do you think it is more important for a beginner or an experienced cyclist to hire a coach?
Assuming the beginner has goals to progress, I think what you learn from a coach can make your whole arc a lot steeper from the very beginning. Take out all the forums and guess-work and hard rides that make you slower.
23. What is your favorite type of coffee?
Plain espresso shot is my go-to.
24. When you’re deep into an effort, what do you think about?
The best thing about hard efforts is a clear mind, so I don’t think much, but I do remind myself sometimes that if I get the KOM, I never have to go all out on that climb again.
25. Favorite sponsor interaction from 2022?
Jukebox sent me some cookie stickers that are 3 feet in diameter. I don’t know what to do with them.
26. Did you know you took the Roanoke KOMs from Coach Ricky? How would you suggest he gets them back from you?
Might as well flag my rides like everyone else does. I won’t notice.
27. How did you get involved with No Kid Hungry?
The first year it was just a coincidence that my chef friend Jeff Mahin, who was making the cookies for my fondo, had started a chef cycling charity to benefit No Kid Hungry. I was just trying to get an event off the ground and hadn’t given much thought to the charity aspect, but I think we raised $20,000 that year. I did a school visit a few months later and learned more about No Kid Hungry, and realized that the $20,000 was probably most impactful thing I’d ever done. Since then I helped raised over $500,000. Now I’m hoping to have a similar impact with the Sierra Club, focused on conservation and climate action.
28. What did cycling teach you about the world that you think most people, including your pre-cycling self, have a hard time grasping?
Cycling gave me a work ethic that’s really hard to explain. I had a friend say recently that I’d trained really hard for something last year, and I showed them my training logs from last summer (which was a lot), and then from 2012, which was about twice as much.
29. Top three favorite climbs?
Mauna Kea, Mt. Washington, Brasstown Bald.
30. You still seem to ride pro hours, but when you get busy, what are some of your favorite time-crunched workouts?
There’s nothing like a long endurance ride for my legs and my brain, but Sweet Spot over-unders get me going if I need to get a good workout in. It tickles my love for smashing up a hill but I can still complete the workout if I’m not feeling my best.
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