Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cascade Classic Day 3...

Today....I called it quits on the race.

I woke up and could tell I had nothing in my legs and I knew I'd get dropped from near the start of the race. The way I figured it was better to just call it good and not race then trash my legs even farther in the heat to try and battle my way into 80th place again.

My stomach still didn't feel well and felt nauseous for about 1/2 my 3.5 hour ride home from Bend. I also had a headache for the better part of the day that 3 Advil helped with but didn't eliminate.

In all honesty, I'm not sure what happened this weekend. Two weeks ago I set a 20 minute power PR....this week I couldn't get within nearly 70 watts of that for 20 minutes. I'm not sure if it was the altitude (one race started at 5400 feet and ended at 6400 feet, the ITT topped out around 4500 feet, the crit was around 3500 feet)...the heat with temps in the upper 80's, lack of sleep (only got around 12 hours total for the weekend) or over-training that made me turn in such a crappy performance for the weekend...maybe it was a combination of all of them...not sure, but I do know it was a horrendous performance for me.

I've taken the last 3 days off the bike and am starting to feel a bit better, but am still contemplating competing in the State ITT championships this weekend. I've got until Wednesday to sign up so I'm waiting to see how I feel tomorrow after a ride before signing up. Hopefully the legs come back quickly so I can compete and try and get a state title...but after this weekend, I'm not so sure my chances are all that good for turning in a descent performance.

Cascade Classic Day 2

I think I'm going to put this day down as possibly my worst race day on the bike ever. I couldn't get anything going all day and by the end of it was suffering.

The ITT came pretty early in the morning with a start time of 9:17 am. I went through my normal warm up and didn't feel too bad all things considered. Got everything put away and headed for the starting line.

The countdown started and I was off....Going hard from the start...a bit too hard. By the first 1/2 mile I had to slow down to regain my legs/lungs. I was breathing super hard, but only had a HR of 148 - 150 bpm and couldn't get it to go up. After a minute or two I felt things returning to normal and slowly picked things up. About 2/3 the way up the climb (on an out/back course) I was passed by my trailing 30 second man...the first time I think I've ever been passed in an ITT.

I was actually making pretty good ground on my 30 second man, who was just in front of me and that I had passed shortly after the guy behind me passed me. My legs were on fire, but it felt like I was pedaling in mud.

At the turnaround I put everything I had into the descent, but found that I was under-geared for a portion of the course using a 52x12 for my biggest gear. I spun out on one section doing 44 mph and really needed an 11 tooth rear cog, which would have given me a few more mph at several points on the downhill.

In the end my effort was good enough for 52nd place on the day with a time of 24:54 on the 10 mile course. The worst ever in an ITT by me ever.

After the race my legs were feeling a bit like Jello, but I still had the crit to compete in later in the day. Needing some food, some of my teammates and I went for a late breakfast where I had a pretty good Denver Omelet with some hash browns. However, they didn't settle well, or I was having some issues with digestion because by the time the crit came around, I could still feel them sitting in my stomach...and they didn't feel good.

The CAT 4's finished, so I jumped on the course to get a little warm up. Coming around on my first warm up lap racers had already started lining up getting ready to race. So from the start I was pushed to the back of the pack.

Once the whistle blew and we went through the first set of corners, accelerating out of turn 2...I knew I was in trouble. My legs had nothing in them, no top end at all. I got out of the saddle and accelerated as hard as I could staying in the packs draft. As the race went on, I slowly moved back, farther and farther until I was dangling off the back.

The final breaking point was when a "TALL" rider in front of me lost the wheel of the guy in front of him and I couldn't accelerate around him to latch back on the pack. From that point the four of us there were all off the back and later got pulled at the 20 minute mark in the 30 minute crit.

This was the first time I've ever been pulled from a crit and in reality the pace wasn't that bad and nothing I shouldn't have been able to handle, but with not acceleration left in my legs I couldn't do anything to stay alive.

After the race I showered and met up with some teammates to watch the pro's race...which was pretty cool. A breakaway of 4 got away early and stayed off for a long time, almost lapping the field...at which time the leaders of the main peloton picked the pace up and started pulling 5 seconds a lap back on the breakaway...catching them with 1.5 laps to go. Crazy how fast those guys can go when they want to.

Back at the hotel, all I could do is sit in amazement at how poorly my day on the bike had gone. I guess ever body has one...today was it for me.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cascade Classic Day 1

This is the first time I've raced in the Cascade Classic (taking place in Bend, OR) so I wasn't completely sure what to expect with the courses. The only thing I had to go on was the profile maps posted in the manuals they handed out and posted on their web site...and those basically told me it would be a hard race.

Todays race didn't exactly play into my "Strength's" if you will...the meat of the course was great for me, however the finish was a 10 mile or so climb with approximately 2000 feet of climbing. The initial stages of the climb were pretty shallow, but it progressively got steeper as you went along.

The beginning of the race started with a nice 600 foot climb right out of the gate that covered 3 miles or so before going into a long 1600 foot descent. One guy...who as far as I can tell stayed out front on a break the entire stage...took off on this hill and was later joined by two others that bridged the gap. The rest of us were pushed pretty hard by the lead riders as we averaged 15.5 mph or so up the climb and I sustained 374 watts for just under 10 minutes on the climb.

After the long descent things smoothed out and leveled off for a while until we came up to the first feed zone. They had neutral bottles they were handing out to riders, but they had the neutral bottles after the section where team helpers were handing out bottles to their team members...which made for some interesting feed zones. It was almost a fight to get into position and get a bottle before you exited the feed zone. I do thank all the volunteers for helping out with this since I'd still be lost somewhere in the outskirts of Bend suffering from heat stroke without them.

The next 25 miles were a series of rollers through the middle of nowhere, Oregon. The pace would pick up...then suddenly slow down with everybody yelling "Slowing" while hitting the brakes pretty hard.

The second feed zone was a crazy affair...but they did have more people there handing out bottles so it was a bit easier to get on (kind of)...however, as usual the leaders got their bottles then hit a hard tempo as the pack strung out. I found myself way back after the second feed zone and came up on one of my teammates (the only one with a real shot of finishing well on this stage) and he was way back with me and there was separation from the main pack. So I went by him to help pull him back to the main pack. Along the way I picked up another teammate of mine who was trying to help but had spent a lot of time up front pace setting so his legs were a bit tired at this point.

The last 21 miles of the race were a series of hard accelerations and slow downs...up to the point I got popped off the back on a steep section. The guys up front shot off like rockets and completely shattered the group into bits and pieces. From here my race was basically over...and I knew it was coming before it actually came, it was just a matter of where and when...so I rode tempo up the climb to the finish. Along the way I passed a good 10 - 15 riders along the way including two of my teammates that were shot out the back later up the hill.

All in all, not a bad day considering my legs felt like mud for the first 15-20 miles. I finished the 71 miles in just a bit over 3 hours and 15 minutes and feel pretty good all things considered.

Tomorrow is the Individual Time Trial in the morning and a 30 minute crit in the afternoon. These two stages play more into my strengths and I'm hoping go well.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Crashing sucks...

This weekend I went on a ride with several members of my team...another big climbing day at 87 miles with about 5500 - 6000 feet of climbing, most of which came on a single 17ish mile 3300 foot climb. I'm soooo sick of 15+ mile climbs as they never seem to end...and I'm far from a climber :)

At the top of the climb we all re-grouped since it was an out and back then headed back down the hill. Not more than a minute into the descent I came up on the tightest corner at around 40 mph and overshot the corner. I was able to ride the dirt for 30-40 feet before either going too far into the ditch or hitting a rock...not sure which, but I went down...apparently doing a cartwheel in the process.

This was my first crash in several years...and in some ways, it's good to get it out of the way.

As I laid in the ditch I did a once over of my body and other than a few scratches and my side hurting a fair amount I was fine. No broken bones...nothing separated...just a nice hematoma on the right side of my abdomen that has swelled a bit and a bit of a cut in the same place. I'm guessing I landed on a rock.

Once I stood up, I did a once over of my bike and nothing was broken, but the rear derailleur hanger was bent in a bit so my granny gear was inaccessible for the time being...though I later did stop and give it a good pull to allow me to use it again.

For the next 30-45 minutes I had zero power. I was getting throttled on any small climb and was just trying to hang on in pace lines. It's amazing how much even a small crash can take out of you.

As we continued I started to feel a bit better, but never got back to the original feeling I had before the crash...but felt good enough to stop getting dropped to bad on the climbs.

All in all for the day we rode a little over 87 miles in 4 hours and 41 minutes with 5500-6000 feet of climbing.

With my abdomen still swollen today I decided to not race PIR this week...which turned out to be a good idea since there was a pile up in the field tonight that one of my teammates got caught up in, but wasn't hurt other then a small amount of road rash...but his brand new "Flashpoint 60's" need to be re-trued due to the crash...big time bummer on that one.

Hopefully my crashing is done for the next several years and considering I only had minor injuries I should be good to go by next week for the Cascade Classic. In some ways this is probably good because it's making me take it a bit easier on the bike. After the ride this Saturday my CTL jumped to over 123 and my legs were feeling a bit "toasty"...so I took both Sunday and Monday off...went out for a ride today (a little over 2 hours) and it's still in the mid 117 range. I'm going to try and keep my intensity up over the next two weeks, but start reducing some of the longer rides to taper off...which will hopefully bring that down into the 110 range or so which should give me fresh legs for the Cascade Classic.

Now if I can just get this swelling to go down :P

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

New PR's...

After a rather sketchy and uneventful night at PIR on Tuesday (19th overall on the night) I went out on the regular Wednesday morning group ride. Most of the normal group of riders were there, with a few that normally can't show due to work able to make it today.

The route we decided on took us up Pumpkin Ridge which is a nice 6.5 mile, 1000 foot or so climb. It only averages around 3.25% grade wise but is a good hill for 20 minute intervals since it's a fairly steady grade overall (though the middle is fairly flat with a small, slight downhill section).

Previously my best time up the climb was 23:07 at which time I averaged 372 watts for the climb and for the most part did it solo on a group ride.

Today one of my teammates who's been climbing very well lately showed up for the ride and really pushed me the whole way. We did a little drafting off of one another up the climb as well, which helped with the overall time, but it didn't make much of a difference overall since speeds are lower going up the climb.

At the time I didn't know what my time was, only my 20 minute average...which was 391 watts. When I returned home and downloaded my Powertap data (I set the interval mode for the climb) we had climbed it in 22:20 and my average power output for the entire climb was 390 watts.

I hadn't done this climb in a while so it was good to hit it hard and see where I am leading up to the Cascade Classic in a few weeks. This is an 18 watt jump over my previous 20 minute max effort and I also set a new 10 minute effort at 404 watts during the climb. I've also recently set new 1 minute power numbers and have been close on my 5 minute numbers a lot....so things are looking good for the upcoming stage race.

Now if I could just lose 15 pounds in 2.5 weeks without any loss in power :D

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Trip around Mt. Hood

Given the holiday weekend, many people had Friday off....so one of my teammates had the sadistic idea of riding what was to be the "Hell of the Cascades Race" loop which from where we started was just a little over 91 miles and somewhere between 7500 - 8000 feet of total climbing.

Here is the "Races" elevation profile, which has a little less riding than what we did, though it starts in the town of Odel, which was our 1/2 way point:

The ride started out in Welches, OR at around 9:30 am with fairly low temps at the time. We had 7 team members and 3 club members joining us on the ride. A right turn out of Welches for maybe a mile than a left turn up Lolo Pass Rd. This was the first climb of the day and immediately started climbing for a while...approximately 2000 feet of climbing with several miles of 6%-8% grades.

Being the first climb of the day and everybody feeling good we all hit it fairly hard...harder than we should have. One of my teammates took off like a "ROCKET" up the climb just destroying everybody in the process. However, he has been recovering from a broken collar bone among other injuries and has been stuck on his trainer for the last several months so getting out was good for him :)

I did my best to stay within threshold on the climb, but went over for about 15 minutes of the climb...not bad, but probably a bit hard considering the day ahead.

At the top of the climb we had a 5 mile gravel descent (though there were a few small hills thrown in as well). We started down the hill keeping things in check given the gravel road, then went up a small incline. At the top there was a minivan stopped in the middle of the road that I didn't pay much attention to thinking they were changing a flat tire. Then a teammate said "We should help them"...then I turned around and noticed the car in the ditch...some good observational skills by me :S

The Minivan had a strap hooked up to the car, but couldn't get them out due to it being high sided on some rocks. So we helped dig out some of the rocks, then got in front of the car and pushed while the Minivan pulled. After a bit of rocking it we were able to get it out of the ditch...Good deed for the day accomplished!!! :D

From there we continued our gravel downhill descent...which then turned into a "Euro" type narrow, twisty road that was a lot of fun to go down.

Once at the bottom of the road things leveled off for a while with it being a slight downhill, but a few rollers into the town of Odel. It was here where we re-fueled loading up on water and a little food.

From this point the ride turned into a death march. We had a 25 mile, 4300 foot (or so) climb out of Odel up HWY 35. I've never done a climb this long before and it just seemed to go on forever. A few teammates took off over the first small incline and I didn't want to push it too hard knowing we were going to be climbing for a while (though not sure for how long). We had a short downhill from there where we caught back up to them.

From there we had 6 of us together and 4 back and we stayed together for a while until the heat, hill and dehydration started kicking in. One of my teammates fell off the back after a few miles (later to find out he was putting out 200 watts with a HR of 180 BPM). Another rider, one of the club guys dropped off the pace a mile or so later. The rest of us kept pushing the pace working our way up the mountain.

About 15 miles into the climb we stopped off at a river to take a break, dip our hats into the water and cool off. It was now around 95 degrees out and we were all over heating a bit. We were also starting to run low on water and we still had a long time to go. At least one of my teammates was smart bringing an iodine pill to drop in a bottle so he could fill up on some river water...which ended up going to one of my teammates who was almost out and hurting pretty bad at the time.

After we all re-grouped at the river, we started back on our way up the climb. We again split up fairly quickly with the climbers pushing the pace. I stayed with them for the next 9 miles or so until one of them picked up the pace again...knowing I could maintain 320 watts at this point in the ride, I backed off and held a high tempo pace to get over the top...which seemed like it was never going to come. The other two slowly pulled away from me, until one of them popped...big time! He started falling back and I started catching up to him. About 200 meters from the top of the climb I caught up to him and went by him thinking he would jump on my wheel and follow me down the descent. I started the descent, looked back and he was nowhere to be seen. I think he was passed by another teammate before cresting the top of the climb.

On the way down this descent I ran out of water...somewhere around mile 72 - 74. Knowing it was a 91 mile ride I did the math and thought to my self...."OH CRAP"

At the bottom of the descent we had another climb that went for a mile or two...which turned out to lead to Government Camp...which I didn't know about at the time. Up this climb there was a waterfall on the side of the road that I was just a hair from stopping and jumping under to cool off...it looked sooooo refreshing at the time. The thought also ran through my mind...I could just fill up on water there and if I get sick...they have medications for it...but I passed on the idea and kept pedaling.

Near the top of the climb I saw a sign "Rest Stop" ahead and knew there would be water there which made me feel better. When I crested the top not only was there a rest stop, but a convenience store and a town...I was soooo happy :) I filled back up on water, had a diet Mt. Dew and a cliff bar and aside from the legs freezing up from not riding I was feeling better. We all waited to re-group at this point.

From here it was all downhill back to Welches...and I still went through a bottles worth of water.

Back at Welches one of my teammates has a house there where we were all able to take showers which made us all feel better. Then we headed out for some food...a nice 10" pizza fit the bill nicely.

With dead legs, some mild dehydration and some good memories of a lot of pain...we all headed back home. It was an epic day on the bike and a beautiful ride with some great teammates. Total ride time for me was 5 hours and 17 minutes with 92.3 miles ridden.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

PIR 6/30/09

I wasn't sure how this race would go. I was coming off of a hard week of riding and my legs were still feeling pretty tired, but it was Tuesday and time to race. I warmed up around the track and infield for a little over an hour and my legs still felt tight, but not terribly bad.

The race conditions were not the greatest. It was pretty windy with a headwind/crosswind down the back straight and the temps were in the low 80's...so water was a definite need for the night. Coming around the corner after the straight speeds would drop about 7-10 mph due to the wind.

The race started with a group going off the front almost immediately...it was only 3-4 racers, which is normal, as the rest of the pack ramps up the pace getting the blood flowing before turning up the heat. However, this time about a half lap into the race about 10-15 more racers joined them and they had the makings of a break away that could stay away.

Nobody in the main pack seemed like they wanted to chase for a while...until the break away had about a .25+ lead on the rest of the group. It was at this time people started to chase, but we didn't make much of a dent for a while. We had a small group of riders up front that were doing a lot of work chasing down the break. For a while we just could make up much ground, but after about 8 laps we finally started gaining on them. As we got closer a second group formed and jumped off the front...so we had two break away groups.

At this time those of us left at the back started chasing really hard and as we got close to the second group I put in a 34 mph effort down the main stretch to latch onto the back of the 2nd group dragging the rest of the remaining group with me. Once caught we worked together to catch the main pack, which we finally did with about 8 laps to go.

Once they were caught it was attack after attack with riders going off the front then being reeled back in. The race started to feel like a crit with all the accelerations. This was the first PIR race that I've been in where we lapped the CAT 3/4 field twice in one night...we have come close several times, but on this night we came around them a second time with 6 or so laps to go...which just showed how hard we were working on the night.

Going into the final lap things really heated up....as usual. There was the normal fighting for position but since we were going counter clockwise we had the long finishing stretch. I tried to get myself in position by moving up and made a good dent in getting toward the front but found myself about 20 riders back going through the corner...about 10 farther back than I wanted.

Once we came around the corner the pace really picked up and the sprint was on. A group separated to the left and I followed them but made a tactical error in doing so. As they pulled off they were accelerating so I jumped hard to latch on. As I came up to them they started to slow, playing positioning games. At this time I slowed and looked for a wheel to jump on for the last 300 meters or so...when I should have jumped out of the saddle and went blowing by them. In the end I think this cost me a good 5-6 positions in the final standings on the night.

Overall in the end though I was able to cross the line 9th or 10th in the final sprint and finished with 2 points on the night which put me in 12th for the night when the hot spot points were added. Not a bad night considering my legs didn't feel very good going into the race and the efforts put in during the race to catch the break away groups.

On a side note...with the tail wind I was able to hold 38.5 mph for 30 seconds during the final sprint with a top end of 39.5 mph. If I would have jumped like I should have, I would have easily broke 40 mph in the final sprint...and yes, I'm kicking myself for not jumping when I should have....Oh well...live and learn, race and learn, get better and don't make the same mistake twice :D