Pat Kapp’s Saga – Your Life Is Changed Forever
told by his coach, Len Pettyjohn
Pat is currently an active 72-year-old male cyclist from LaQuinta, California, and a long-time figure in the So Cal racing community. He was riding the Palm Springs Century in February 2007 when he felt sensations of indigestion at the 15-mile mark and found himself being passed by riders who normally couldn't even hold his wheel. After 35 miles, Pat crawled into a SAG wagon that carried him back to the start area where his wife, Francoise, was waiting. They drove to the Desert Center Hospital, where Francoise made sure Pat’s problems were quickly addressed.
Within minutes, Pat was told, “You're having a heart attack,” and was in surgery to place two stents in clogged arteries. The next day a third stent was placed and a fourth was considered, but the fourth artery was too small for a stent. While in post-op a cardiac nurse with a gentle touch informed Pat, “Your life is changed forever.”
Six months post surgery, Pat was back on the bike, but never at the same level. His life really was changed forever. In November 2010 he had a spinal fusion with hardware on L-4, L-5, and S-1. Another year of rehab and little riding followed, until Pat declared in late 2011 that he was going to get fit and start racing again. His goals were the 2012 Southern California Senior Games, the USA Cycling Masters Nationals, and the Huntsman Senior Games. By his own admission his prior training with a heart rate monitor was haphazard and consisted of long days on the bike and a Saturday “fast ride” with the young guns. In his first test (the So Cal Senior Games) he finished last place twice. His foray to Bend, Oregon, for Master’s Nats in September was the same…last place in the 70+ crit.
After that race in Bend (where I finished second and Pat finished last), Pat approached me at lunch and asked if I had a coach. I gave him my card and told him I work with Hunter Allen and Peaks Coaching Group and that we train with power and we deliver results. Months passed. Finally Pat called around Christmas. He wanted to hire a coach and was interested in our conversation after Nats. I reminded him that power training required a power meter. He pointed out he was familiar with an SRM because he “sponsored” one for his daughter (who's a very good pursuer, by the way).
Pat formally started his coaching program with me in February 2013 after we went through a lengthy process of approvals from his cardiologist, wife, and children. I wanted everyone to understand that we would be taking Pat through a pretty rigorous progression of increasing stress. With his family completely supporting his endeavor and a new SRM in his hands, I was able to coax hamster level power outputs in the first 30 days.
As an engineer Pat was quickly on board with the technology and the program. He was hooked on the increasing power, quicker recovery, and variety of different stress loads. Progress was slow for the first few months; however, by mid-May we saw substantial power gains, and then the numbers started to fall in every single power metric from one second to one hour. We had a short taper week before the So Cal Senior Games in early June, and Pat waited anxiously for the four races -- two TTs and two circuit races.
Following the first race day, my phone lit up with texts and emails from Pat. He was second in both the TT and road race. The next day he got the same results (two more silver medals), but now he was upset that he got beaten in the sprint.
Pat back on track!
Yeah, his life has changed forever…