Thursday, April 30, 2009

Numbers for April...

April was a Personal Record cycling month for me:

  • Most miles ridden in a month: 1161.97 miles
  • Most hours ridden in a month: 63 hours, 6 minutes, 45 seconds
  • Most KJ burned in a month: 50838 kj
  • Total TSS Score: 3463

I also set new power numbers in the following time frames:

  • 5 seconds - 1391 watts
  • 1 minute - 643 watts (which is still low)
  • 5 minutes - 434 watts
  • 20 minute - 373 watts
  • 1 hour - 333 watts (though my FTP should be around 355 watts for a full hour effort)
  • 2 hour - 301 watts

Race results for April

  • My first stage race - 11th overall on GC, 1 stage win and a 2nd place in another stage
  • Estacada ITT - 2nd place CAT 3 class and a personal best for the course

I actually spent a bit more time on the bike than the numbers tell because time spent on the trainer warming up for the ITT at the Cherry Blossom Stage Race as well as at Estacada are not included in those numbers (add another 1.5 hours, some KJ and a bit extra TSS to the totals). There is also another hour or so of riding around warming up where I didn't have my Powertap turned on.

With the weather getting nicer outside and the cycling season still very early...I can see breaking these numbers again in May or June.

My big goal after the Team Time Trial at the end of May will be to lose a few pounds (5-10 pounds) heading into July where I plan on competing in the Cascade Classic Stage Race. Since there is a lot of climbing involved in that race I want my power to weight ratio to be as high as possible to both help my teammates as well as get as high as possible on the GC.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Monster Cookie Ride...Cookies Good :)

Today was the Monster Cookie Ride in Salem that's put on by the Salem Bicycle Club. This is the second time I've ridden this, though the first time was several years ago. The Ride starts at the Capitol building, goes through Salem out on country roads to Champoeg State Park and back. The total ride is approximately 62 miles (a metric century) and for most is a nice casual ride with friends...or for some a huge challenge/hurdle as they have never ridden that far before in their life.

Today many of the club members were there to ride as well as approximately 15 members of the race team. Two years ago it was dubbed "The Monster Cookie Beat Down" as many team members rode it "Hard" for most, if not all of the was a beat down and considered one of the hardest rides many had ever done.

This year we really didn't have an idea of how we were going to ride it...though I think many were ready for it to be "Beat Down #2". The ride started out fairly easy as we made our way through Salem together as a team keeping the pace sane. As we started making our way out of town the pace started to pick up. We had a nice pace line going with rotations taking place in the 24 mph - 26 mph range.

We decided to stop at the first stop for those that didn't get to make a "Pit Stop" before starting...but only one really had to go, so we decided he could hold it until the mid way point. So off we went again...unknowingly leaving behind a teammate who had turned his back for about 10 seconds to talk to his parents who were at the rest stop already....Opps. He saw us leaving but had to lay chase and I guess never really caught the group until the midway point. I say "I guess" because about a mile out of the rest stop there was a log jam on the road and I made my way around it with another teammate...two others bridged up and it was "Game On!".

For the next 35-40 minutes we were a 4 man rotating pace line taking pulls at 26 mph - 28 mph flying along the road. This was great for me because it was a pre-cursor of things to come for the Team Time Trial next month. We were taking 30 second to 1 minute pulls up front keeping a very fast pace until we hit the midway point of the ride. At this point we pulled in, ate some cookies and waited for the rest of the team to pull up, fuel up, relieve themselves and get moving was a bit cold and once we stopped with the hard efforts we cooled off quickly.

Back on the road we were moving as a team again, but the first several miles were very rough roads. We came across a particularly bad pothole and I tried to lead the team around it, but I think they were in an eschelon due to the cross winds and one member rode right through the middle of it getting a flat tire. After a very quick change tube change we were off again.

We worked together as a team until the only hill...I call it a hill, but it was more of a short incline (60-70 foot climb)...on the course. Several members on the team knew there was going to be some separation here...including myself. Two of my teammates from the first high speed breakaway took off up the climb as did I. When I crested the hill, I looked back and we had a 50-60 foot gap on the rest of the of my teammates smelled blood and it was "Game On" again :) The three of us went into full on TTT mode and started to pull away.

Three teammates gave chase, two oh so close to latching on...but just couldn't do it before the "Popped" and off they went...but one did make it and he held on for about 10 minutes or so. We kept the pace high and eventually put 4-5 minutes on the group (over approximately 25-30 minute of hard riding). The 4th caught us again once we got back into town. From there we rode back for our final Cookie of the day waiting for teammates and talking about a GREAT ride :)

This was definitely a "Beat Down" of a ride today...Actually I guess it was survival of the fittest :) My legs are toast...though I'm feeling better now that I've re-fueled and have been sitting for a while.

This week finishes the most time and miles I've logged on a bike ever in a week...16 hours 43 minutes on the bike...320 miles ridden...Total TSS Score 930...and 13072 kj of energy burned (approximately 13840 calories burned).

Tomorrow a nice easy recovery ride...then a couple of hard days and a taper to see what I can do at Estacada #3 on Sunday. I really want to break 46 minutes on the 20 mile course, so hopefully I'll have fresh legs and be able to put in a really hard effort.

Off for some rest and maybe more food :)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Weight Loss

One of the big reason I starting riding bicycles long ago was weight loss. In college I participated in intercollegiate athletics throwing the shot, discus and hammer. I was always a big guy, by the time I was a freshman in high school I was 225 pounds, by my senior year I was 245 and in college my weight varied from 245-260 pounds.

With that said, I never worried about weight because I was always lifting weights and in a sense needed the weight for throwing. I was always muscular (max bench 455 pounds, max squat 650 pounds) and weight loss, eating healthy, endurance sports were the last thing on my mind.

Then, my eligibility ran out and I stopped throwing, which meant there wasn't much reason to work out. Over time my weight went up, my muscle mass went down and my body shape changed...over time though it's hard to notice until that one day you look in the mirror and go "Oh My God! I'm so freaking fat"...time to do something about it.

My time came a little over two years ago after a trip to Las Vegas with my wife and two close friends. We took a lot of pictures, but I avoided most of them...however, one I could avoid showed me just how far I had fallen.

In this picture I'm sitting right around 290 pounds give or take a few depending on breakfast that day :) By this time I was starting to feel like I was wearing a fat suit, which wasn't good. It limited my mobility, made doing things I liked hard and my self esteem was through the floor.

Another concern for me was my family history with obesity. My mother is approximately 5'1" tall and at times weight well over 300 pounds. My father was always between 260 and 330 pounds. My brother who is 3.5 years older than I am was up to 330 pounds. To combat their weight issues my mother had gastric bypass surgery, my brother a lapband procedure and my father...well, he didn't care whether he was fat or not but is paying for it now with daily insulin shots, a stroke and many other health related issues.

This was not the route I wanted to take and I knew I needed to do something about it.

When we returned from our trip I decided it was time so I ordered a new custom framed bike (from Doug Curtiss at ) which was something I had always wanted, and began riding my trainer inside (it was January in the Northwest after all). I started easy with 45 minutes a day 5 days a week. After a month I bumped that to 1 hour a day 5 days a week. Then 1 hour a day 6 days a week and just continued from there.

On top of this I decided I needed to do something about my diet.

For me I signed on with to monitor my daily caloric intake and found out I was eating 5000 - 6000 calories a day with very little activity to go with it...hence the increase in weight.

So I decided on some drastic action with eating. I limited my diet to a -1500 calorie a day deficit to go along with beginning workouts. This is very drastic but something I needed to do. I also shunned junk food and started eating better foods: more meats, vegetables, fruits and nuts.

The weight started coming off pretty quickly. By April of 2006 I had dropped 30 pounds and was starting to feel better. By the time my bike had come in (Mid June) I had dropped 40 pounds and had increased my riding a fair amount...I was up to 9-10 hours a week on the bike. By the end of the summer I had dropped my weight down to 235 which was a weight I wasn't sure I'd ever see again.

Then in the spring of 2007, after putting a few pounds back on over the winter not riding my trainer (back up to 270 pounds) I got back into riding with the new year and joined Portland Velo in the spring. By this time I had dropped my weight back down to 245 but had found a group to ride with and new inspiration. I started riding with the A19 group, but after 3 rides had moved up to the A21's where I rode the rest of the summer. This extra motivation dropped my weight to 223 pounds by the end of the riding season.

Again, winter hit and the weight went back up...Ugghhh...but I had decided it was time to start racing again after dropping down to 223 in September. However, my weight jumped to 240 over the winter and I had work to back to very restrictive calorie reduction and lots of working out 12-14 hours a week. By April of 2008 I had dropped to 194 pounds....a weight I hadn't seen since the 8th grade!

At this weight I feel really good and have been able to keep it off over the past two years. I had a great racing season last year moving from CAT 5 to CAT 4 on the road and this year with more training and more power have been able to move up from CAT 4 to CAT 3. The highest weight I hit this winter was 212 pounds for a short period but spent most of the time at 202-203 pounds which was a major victory for me.

This is a life long battle for me and will always continue to be hard, but having teammates to be competitive with, racing and not wanting to get shelled every race and pride in knowing I can do it help with motivation to keep the weight off. Also knowing if I don't I have diabetes, obesity and many other health related issues to look forward to are huge motivating factors.

For those that don't think they can do it....they can and I only hope that I can provide motivation for others to do the same with their lives :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

P.I.R (Portland International Raceway)

Last night was the 3rd race out at Portland International Raceway...a 1.9 mile closed automobile race course that they open up for bicycle racing on Monday and Tuesday nights during the summer. I've never raced in the road race before, but have raced short track XC out there in the past. The track is a pretty simple layout, just one really tight corner, two long straights and a couple of wide turns. The pavement is smooth and has very few objects on it that could cause flats so it's a nice venue to race on.

As wide as the track is you would think there would be enough room for people to maneuver, spread out and keep things safe for all those racing. However, there are some aggressive people that come out to race and from the looks of it could care less about their body, bike or anybody else for that matter...they want a line and they are going to take it...even in lap 2 of 12...Makes no sense at all, but some people are just JERKS regardless of whether it's on the track, in their car, at work, at home...just doesn't matter it's just in their nature. People need to rember that this is supposed to be fun and is in a family wife was videoing the race (at least the start finish) and has some guy clearly swearing at the top of his lungs because because somebody was in his way as he was spinting for a meaningless 25th place.....NICE.....there were a lot of kids right at the finish line that got to see a great showing of sportmanship there :(

Way to represent cycling there buddy!

As for the race it's self, it was very sketchy....the field size in the CAT 3/4 field was huge with 102 racers. That was probably the biggest field I've raced in to date and it was just crazy large. The nice weather brought everybody out to race tonight (temps in the upper 70's, clear skies and an east wind of around 8-10 mph).

The pace of the race was fairly steady for a lap or two, then breaks started to try and get away so the pace would pick up, then they would get caught and the breaks would shut down compressing the pack every time. Lots of wheels crossing, but thankfully the crashes were held to a minimum (just one on the 2nd to last lap). As with all races like this there were lots of people griping about people not holding their line, the pace going slow, etc....people just need to learn to shut up IMO and race. Worry about keeping your self upright and just race, quite trying to be the "Boss" of the field and race...if you don't like the way the guy in front of you is riding, move to the front, back or away from that's really a simple concept that many people just don't understand.

OK...rant over!

We had a large contingent of riders in the race (11 if I remember correctly) so we had good numbers. We met before the race started and everybody picked up rolls for the race. Some were going to chase mid race sprint points, some were going to chase breaks and we had two designated as lead out guys for the person we had set up as the final sprinter.

Going into the 2nd to last lap the pace started to pickup and the field started to stretch out just a little, but it was still an up and down pace. I started to work my way up the field as I was the primary, last lead out guy for the sprinter.

On the last lap, as always, the pace picked up to a very high pace as we crossed the start/finish line for the last time tonight. As we rounded the first corner one of my teammates jumped to the front, picked up the pace and strung out the pack keeping things a bit more sane. As I worked my way toward the front, I looked left and could see our sprinter doing the same. Down the back straight our 1st lead out guy was starting to run out of gas. I was sitting around 4th or 5th in line at this point and our sprinter was getting moved up front because nobody wanted to continue the pull at this point.

My original plan was to wait until we got to the final stretch to put on the heat and give a nice strong lead out...however with nobody willing to take over lead out duties at this point and the pack starting to bunch I decided it was better to string out the pack instead of have a mass bunch I took the lead much farther out than I really wanted to (A little over 1K from the finish). So I put my self into lead out TT mode and dug deep around the corner and onto the straight.

Going through the corner I was holding around 35 mph which was fast enough the guys behind me were having a hard time holding their lines, but it strung the field out all the way around the corner which is what I wanted. As we hit the finishing straight we came into a nice cross wind that was hard to hold the pace up I held on as long as possible. I was able to keep the lead up to about 1/3 the way down the final stretch where I had to pull off the lead.

As it turns out this worked out perfectly because our sprinter was 3 riders back from me and when I pulled off it made the guy behind me lead out for a short while until he died. The guy in front of our sprinter jumped to the inside and our guy went to the outside where he had a bit of shielding from the wind. From that point it was up to him where he threw down the power on a great sprint taking home the victory on the night by a good 3 bike lengths.

In the end it was teamwork that brought home the victory and everybody had a part to play. This is where racing on a team is great and having people that know what their role is. You may not be "The Guy" at every race, but you are part of a team that works together toward a goal of winning the race. When done correctly, it's a thing of beauty :)

So far this year...our team is 3 for 3 in the CAT 3/4 class out at P.I.R :D

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Estacada TT #2...

What a beautiful day for a race with temps in the low 70's, light wind, clear skies....The Sun!

The course was almost too beautiful to race on today...In a Time Trial you just don't get to see enough of it with your head tucked and pushing with everything you have to enjoy it, unlike a regular ride or even some road races.

Yesterday we had such a hard ride (for the power nerds my TSS was just a bit over 277 yesterday over 71.5 miles) I really didn't go into this race with high expectations of a fast time or placing well. I just wanted to go as hard as possible and pull in a time around 48:00 which was my fastest time last year. I'm much stronger this year but due to having dead legs...I didn't set the bar to high today.

Warming up my legs felt OK, not too bad, but not great either. My opinion of how my legs felt change rather quickly after accelerating out of the starting gate...I could feel it :(

Down the first hill an onto the first flat my HR is usually around with an average heart rate of 147 for the 20 mile race. Normally I'd average around 160 BPM for a race like not only were my legs feeling it, but so was my cardio system.

On the way out we had a tail wind...which is a bit of a change from normal since the Estacada TT's usually have swirling winds since the road follows a canyon...however today the wind was pretty consistent. With a tailwind out however...that meant a headwind back. I was keeping an eye on my time and distance and passed the 5 mile mark just over 11 minutes, so I was actually ahead of my pre-guessed time...probably due to the tail wind.

At the turn around point the traffic control people were not doing a great job. When I got there they had two cars stopped in my direction and two the other direction so I had to weave my way around them and ended up shooting past the turn around point by 15 yards then had to accelerate hard to get back up to speed...probably lost a good 5-10 seconds there.

Now with the head wind my legs were really feeling it...all the hard efforts put in yesterday were felt with a deep burning sensation in my legs and butt. However, with all TT's it's just a matter of pushing through the pain and churning over the pedals.

I had two pre-set markers in my mind remembered for the way back...a side parking lot that was just over 2 miles from the finish and the 1K marker. The 1K marker is both a blessing and a curse at Estacada...It means you only have 1K to go, but you have to go up a nice little hill before getting there with your legs and usually lungs burning. You want to push harder to get every second but your body just says...Ummmmm...NO!

Finally the 200m sign and things flatten out just a bit and actually start going downhill just a bit so you can really push hard that last 200 meters. The finishing stand was a very nice site today :D

In the end, with the dead legs, a low HR and all around pain left over from yesterday I turned in a time of 47:09 which was a full minute faster than my best time last year (under similar conditions). I finished 2nd place in the Men's CAT 3 class 21 seconds off the winning pace...much better than expected, especially with legs that felt like they were filled with lead.

I'm looking forward to Estacada #3 in two weeks...hopefully on some fresh legs in good conditions...If I get those two things I think I can break 46:00 for the 20 mile course, which is a very nice time at Estacada.

My team had a good day overall...I know one my teammates won the Men's CAT 4 class and another took 2nd in his age catagory. Not sure how everybody else did though...but a good day for Portland Velo today :D

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Saturday group rides are always fun, but some are just more fun than others. With the weather being warm and dry the call was on...The Timber route was on...which always seems to come around on the first nice weekend of the year.

The ride is called "The Timber Route" because we leave Longbottoms Coffee and head out to the town of Timber (west side of the Oregon Coast Mountains off of HWY 6). Actually we go about 5 miles past the town of Timber to HWY 26, but it's all the same :) The route today covered (for me) just over 71 miles with about 3000 feet of climbing...the only really steep part is the actual climb up to Timber.

Everybody on the team seems to love this ride and it brought out some faces we hadn't seen in a while which is always great...of course it made for a big group today (around 30 members of the team) but that always makes for a fast ride.

The ride started out at a nice leisurely pace as we were all talking and just strolling along until Steve Brown decided it was time to pick up the pace :) We went from 21 mph to 25 mph to 27 mph in just a matter of minutes and it was on. We kept pushing the pace until we hit Hwy 6...then we started climbing and things started to break up a bit. There were a couple of new guys that were up from California (?) who were friends of Dave Haags. They were pretty strong riders and lit things up from time to time.

We held a good pace until the re-group site at the store before the turnoff to Timber...a nice "Pit Stop" since they have port-a-potties outside for relief.

From there we kept the pace sane until we hit the steep hill to Timber then all bets were off. My goal on the climb was to stay with Mr. Brown up the climb...something I haven't been able to do before. He set a fast pace up the hill and we were quickly joined by Mr. Rosier. About half way up we came up on two riders who didn't stop at the store trying to get a head start I'm guessing :) We went around them and Mr. Rosier decided to pick the pace up even was a race to the summit :) That's one of the great things about group tend to push yourself farther than you will on solo rides.

As we crested the top it was Mr. Rosier, Mr. Brown then myself all together...goal accomplished...down the other side it was myself and Mr. Rosier as we made our way to Hwy 26...the turnaround point. As other riders made their way down the hill we gathered and started the way back up the hill for the fun descent and the race down the hill.

The descent is my bread and butter I guess since I love to fly downhills. I jumped up front and took off with a few in chase :) Screaming down the hill through some nice switchbacks is what I live for, after a few minutes of descending we were at the bottom...down 1st :)

From there I sat up and waited on the they caught me...the pace picked up and it was basically race pace from there back to HWY 26. It's mostly downhill rollers and a lot of fun. This section is filled by guys attacking the field trying to get away to be the first back to Hwy 6...but nobody ever really gets away and few know the road well enough to really know when to go. As we headed up the road the 1st time I made note of the finishing corners and kept an eye out for them. As we kept going I knew it was coming up then I noticed a sign and the drop I sprinted out away from the pack, down the hill and kept the power on making it to the "Stop Ahead" sign first...those are our sprint lines :)

From there on we stopped at the store for a minute to re-group and head back to Longbottoms. for the most part things were a little slower on the way back, but the pace was still high, higher than usual.

I peeled off the group a little early since I live on the west side of Hillsboro and already had 68 miles on the day. At the end of the day I had 71.4 miles with an average speed around 20.5 mph. I did set two new power numbers for my self on the day...5 seconds (1391 watts) and 5 minutes (434 watts)...I guess it was a "5" day for me :)

Now I'm trying to rest my legs since I have a 20 mile Time Trial at Estacada tomorrow which is going to hurt....A Lot!!! My legs are a little toast right now, but back to back hard days followed by an easy or rest day are always good for the legs :P I'll give it my all tomorrow, but if my legs are will be a great training ride. I still think I can give a good effort tomorrow, but only tie will tell.

Overall....a great day on the bike :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mid month numbers...

Well it's the middle of April and I was just looking at my workouts for the month and thought I'd throw some mid month numbers on my blog:

Total ride time in April: 33 hours 52 minutes 13 seconds - 614 miles ridden
Total ride time in March: 55 hours 9 minutes 19 seconds - 967.54 miles ridden

At my current rate of riding, I may end up surpassing 60 hours on the bike this month. Last week I had 16.5 hours and 295 miles on the bike, coming off of a stage race...which is why I was so tired on Monday and probably why this week has been a bit sub par training wise.

I'll have a mild taper over the next two days leading into my first long ITT of the year at Estacada on Sunday. The weather looks to be perfect with temps possibly as high as 80 degrees...does it get any better than that for April in Oregon?

As for the team, Portland Velo is off to a great start this year in the Team Competition for Best All Around Rider/Team. For the first several weeks we were leading in Oregon, then dropped down to 4th overall...this week it looks like we got a bump back up to 2nd overall. It would be great to bring that one home in only the teams 3rd season...however, there is a very long season ahead of us :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

I'm tired...

Last week was a hard week on the bike for me. I totaled just a little over 16.5 hours of ride time with some good Threshold work and some VO2 Max work....this all after racing a stage race last weekend.

My legs don't feel too bad overall...but I feel like I've slept half the day away, even though it's only 10:30 in the morning (I'm usually up around 6:30 every morning).

It's days like these that are enjoyable because I can ride just to ride, no goal other than to go easy and smell the spring air. The weather today look a bit hit and miss, so I'll probably take my single speed out for a ride since it's my bad weather bike and it makes sure I don't push too hard on the day.

The rest of the week is looking great weather wise with temps in the 60's and 70's...spring is here :)

My plan for the rest of the week is to put in a good 12-14 hour week and get out on my TT bike at least 3 times this week. My first long TT of the year is coming up on Sunday at the Estacada Time Trials. This will be a 20 mile out and back TT (10 out, 10 back) along a beautiful course just outside of Estacada, OR. Usually there is a wind on the road, but it's a swirling wind so it hits you from all directions.

Last year my best time was 48:00 flat and I'd like to run in the low 47's this year. It will be a good test of where my power is at for an hour compared to last year and my first test as a CAT 3 racer.

Should be fun :)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The weather held :)

Saturday is generally group ride day...unless I'm racing. However, the weather can play a role in which bike I ride (my road bike or my single speed/wet weather bike) as well as whether I actually get out and ride or stay home and ride the dreaded trainer.

The weather forecast for Saturday was hit and miss with the general consensus being showers throughout the day. Looking at the Doppler radar there wasn't a hint of showers in the area and nothing showing for at least a couple of the road bike it hopes it didn't rain and I'd have to clean it yet again (yes, I'm a clean freak when it comes to my road bike).

The plan was to ride the first part of the regular Portland Velo group ride, then a group of us on the race team were going to break away for some additional miles. The route today was scheduled to head up Pumpkin Ridge, as well as a few shorter climbs before that. Pumpkin Ridge is a local hill climb that makes for a great training climb. It's 6.5 miles long (then turns into a gravel road) and averages around 3% - 3.25% grade for the climb. There are a few flatter spots along the climb, but it makes a great baseline for training since conditions are generally consistent from month to month (i.e. very low wind).

Heading into the climb I put forth some hard efforts to get the blood pumping and some VO2 max work in, before testing my fitness on Pumpkin Ridge. My previous best time up the climb was 23 minutes 45 seconds which I did earlier this year on my Time Trial bike when I first got my Powertap.

Today my legs were feeling a little tired (already had 11 hours this week on the bike and still recovering from the stage race last weekend) but not to bad. My goal today was to get in a good threshold effort to see where I'm at, then ride the rest of the ride at a tempo pace with the rest of the team. So I let everybody know I was going to go hard on the climb and if anybody wanted to go with me they could, or they could chase, or just flat kick my butt up the climb :D

I started out a bit hard on the climb but settled into my TT pace within the first 2 minutes. My pacing overall was good and I'm starting to learn the ups and downs of the road being up it 8-10 times now. I tried to keep my eye off the Power meter and just focus on my pedaling and minimizing the pain in my legs :) Watching my Powertap doesn't seem to help me much when doing threshold efforts because it jumps up and down so much and holding high power levels on the dowhill/flatter sections is always I just focus on pushing's what works for me and since I use a disc wheel in TT's I need to learn to push without reading a power meter.

Near the top of the climb I was greeted by a nice dog (there are several that reside at the top of the climb) who gave me a little motivation as he ran along side of me for a 100 meters or so before giving up and heading back down the hill for the next set of riders.

Total time for the climb today: 23 minutes and 7 seconds...a new PR for me by 38 seconds. My average power output for the climb was 372 watts (an increase of approximately 10 watts), which is good overall...but with the Team Time Trial coming up and knowing how fast my teammates are...I want more power!!! In the end though this shows I've made some good improvements over the past month or so, and can still make some significant gains before the TTT.

Overall today I was able to get in 62 miles in just over 3 hours and 20 minutes with some of my teammates. It was a great ride with some great company.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Team Time Trial

Last year this was one of the most painful experiences I had on a bicycle, yet it was one of the most enjoyable.

The Team Time Trial consists of four riders working as a team to get the best time on a closed course. You can draft other members of your team, but can not draft other teams. Teams are separated at the starting gate leaving 1 minute apart. The fastest times are when the team works together with a rotating pace line and the strongest riders taking longer pulls instead of faster pulls...the team is only as fast as it's slowest member.

This race really tests your fitness and is basically an hour at LT with mini intervals thrown in for good's a lung buster and leg burner.

Last year I was a member of the 2008 CAT 4/5 State Championship TTT team here in Oregon with my teammates: Jonny "The Rocket" Banks, Mitch Lee and Brian "B-Ratt" Ratliff. We were able to work together to win the CAT 4/5 class by approximately 4 minutes.

We are currently about 6 weeks from the 2009 State Championship TTT now...and it's time to adjust training to be ready for it since I'm now a CAT 3 cyclist and will be racing with some of the fastest guys in the state.

This means over the next six weeks I'm going to be doing lots of 20 minute threshold intervals and will probably spend a lot of time on Pumpkin Ridge since it takes just over 20 minutes to climb. There will also be several practice sessions around Sauvie's Island with the team to get used to riding in a tight pace line while in the aero bars together and Sauvie's Island is a great training ground since it's an approximate 20k loop that is very flat, but can be windy.

Part of my training will also include the Estacada Time Trials (#2 and #3) to get used to the pain of a long TT again.

I can't wait!!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cherry Blossom Stage Race...

For my first blog post, I'm talking about my first stage race...the Cherry Blossom that was held in The Dalles, OR on April 3rd through the 5th. The race consisted of 4 races over three days: A 37 mile road race on Friday, an 8 mile Time Trial on Saturday Morning, a 30 minute criterium on Saturday night and a 56 mile road race on Sunday morning (with over 5000 feet of climbing).

I felt going into the race I had a shot at a top 5 finish in the overall general classification since I felt I could sprint fast enough to do well in the first stage, am a time trialist at heart and it's what most of my training is geared toward, If I was in the lead after the time trial I figured I could save my legs in the crit and just stay with the main pack out of trouble...then try and hold on as best as I could going into the final day's stage.

On Friday, the first stage, the temps were mild but it was very windy (steady winds in the 20 mph range with gusts over 30 mph). This made for a strange race. Speeds were very high on the front side of the course with the wind at our backs. A few breakaway attempts were tried but my teammates kept everything in control...when they got far enough out, the pace was picked up and the break brought back in. When we hit the climb, we were heading into the wind which slowed the pack down an amazing amount and kept all the climbers in check. This was actually the most dangerous part of the race as I witnessed at least 3 crashes on the climb. The pack would be holding a steady pace, then a gust would hit the guys up front slowing them down compressing the pack causing people to rub wheels and go down. Several times they went all the way across the peloton and into the other lane before crashing, taking several riders with them in the process.

On the second lap things really strung out on the front side of the course. A couple of riders from Team Oregon tried to make a break that was quickly brought back in by my teammates...however, this split the pack up big time going from 80 strong down to 37, leaving just 5 of my teammates up front with me (we had 13 racers in this race).

Over the final climb things were still together with the lead pack, but started to get a bit dicey on the way down the other side of the climb as riders started jockeying for position. With 1k to go it really bunched up...but they opened up both lanes at 1k which helped a lot (I wish they would do this for every race). Shortly after the 1k sign I could see things getting more and more bunched up, so I sent the only teammate I had who wanted to try a lead out off to string out the pack and make for a safer sprint finish.

As it turned out, this worked perfectly. The pack strung out and lined up behind him. He held on until the turn when his legs gave out and it was left to me to try and get a high placing for the team. I came around the turn in approximately 15th place, but knew it was a long way to the finish. Many riders made the mistake of starting their sprint here, where there was a small steep hill that leveled off to a mild uphill finish. I waited before turning on the heat and followed a couple of wheels for lead outs. With around 300 meters to go I decided it was time to go as there were a few riders up the road from me. Thankfully I can carry a lot of power for a long time as I was able to pick off riders one by one all the way to the finish where I missed 1st place by about 3 bike lengths.

Overall, I was very happy with day 1.

Cherry Blossom Stage 1 Podium

Day two started out early with the Time Trial. Since I finished 2nd in day one, I was the 2nd to last rider to leave the starting gate. I set my trainer up, parked my car and rode back to the start finish line to get ready to roll. My legs felt pretty good and my warm up went well. I knew I was going to need to go very hard to get the lead after the time trial and it being such a short TT times were going to be close.

The clock was messed up at the starting gate so I ended my warm up just a bit early so I could be near the starting gate when my time came up. I got in line with just over 30 seconds to go, set my HR monitor, set my cyclocomputer and lined up ready to go.

Countdown is on...5, 4, 3, 2, 1...and we are off. I sprinted away so hard my rear wheel was skipping on the ground knowing I had a short, steep hill right out of the gate. The first half of the race was all uphill and started with some rolling terrain. Within 3 miles I had caught my 30 second man and shortly after that my 1 minute man. By this time I had settled into a good tempo and was holding my power well.

At the turn around point I could see the guy behind me had done a good job holding his 30 seconds so I knew I had to descend like a banshee....Off I went holding nothing back. Since I love to descend fast, this was where I make up a lot of time. The descent was a little tricky with some tight corners, but not tight enough to ever get out of the aero bars. With about 1 mile to go I came up and passed my 1:30 man and then pushed with everything I had heading into the finish...I crossed the line at 35.5 mph and finished with a time of 19 minutes 38 seconds, which as it turned out was good enough to win by 8 seconds.

Victory and time to pack up, head to the hotel for a shower, food and get ready for the crit.

My whole goal at this time was to just stay with the front of the pack and stay out of trouble since this was my first crit and in the end, it wouldn't make any difference in my overall standings. One of my teammates made a great move at the end and was able to pull off a 4th place in the crit. As far as I could tell only one crash took place and it was on the last lap when some wheel rubbing took place and a guy went down into the curb...OUCH!

The plan on Sunday was to try and keep the lead pack in sight and if need be let them go on the big 5.5 mile 1600 foot climb, then try and make up time on the downhill. One of my teammates had a really good time trial (his first) and found himself in 10th overall. Knowing he was a better climber than I am, we felt it best he stay with the lead group if I got dropped on the climb and I'd try to catch up on the downhill.

The first 4 miles of the race were cold my teeth were chattering and I was violently shivering, even while riding and being shielded by the wind by the peloton. It wasn't until we hit the first climb that I warmed up and from then on...I was plenty warm.

I felt good on the first climb and 3/4 of the way up I was still with the lead pack. However, my positioning wasn't good and I was behind a few riders where the split took place and missed the break. At this point I felt it better to stay in my zone and not blow up trying to latch back I plugged away on the climb with a small group of other riders.

Going over the top of the climb we had lost about 1 minute on the lead group and I really tried to heat it up on the long downhill...hitting 51.2 mph at one point. When we came to the end of the downhill and started up the next hill, we had the lead group in sight about 30 seconds out. We did everything we could do to catch them...but they were 10-15 strong and we were only 4 strong and the best we could do was hold ground.

The next descent was much more technical than the first and really suited my abilities....I was able to let lose and fly downhill...near the end of the descent I had the lead wheel car in sight and at the end was only about 10 seconds off the lead group. After a short Time Trial I had caught back up to them and was part of the lead group again.

However, I had expended a lot of energy in the chase and was tired. I tried to sit in and get my legs back under me before the climb and was able to get most of them...but not all.

The second time up the climb I stayed with them for about the first 1/4 of the climb where they started to slowly walk away from me. By the top of the climb I was down approximately 5 minutes from the front pack, but they were shelling rider after rider and were down to 8-9 riders by this time.

On the way down, I picked up a few of the shelled riders, but never had more than 4 in our group at any time. Knowing I could downhill very fast, the lead group did everything they could to keep me at bay with a rotating pace line down the hill carrying more speed than I could in my smaller group. At this time I knew I wasn't going to get a top 5 overall...but wanted to do the best I could to finish with the best possible GC placing.

Coming into the finish, my teammate was at the line waiting for me to come in. He had finished 3rd on the day and had a great race. Hist time moved him from 10th to 4th time moved me from 1st to 11th overall, which isn't to bad as I finished 15th on the day which isn't too bad for a 194 pound Time Trialist :)

Overall, The Cherry Blossom stage race was a well organized race in a great location with some beautiful scenery. I learned a lot during the race and got some great power numbers. With my 2nd place finish in day one I also am now bumped up from a CAT 4 racer to a CAT 3 racer...which I was looking for anyway.

I have to give it up to my teammates, they did everything they could to help me try and win this race, but the legs just wouldn't do it for me with such a climbing stage on the last day and a lack of wind to keep things together on the climb.

Next year :)