Sunday, November 14, 2010

Breaking wheels...

This fall has been a bit tough on my wheel sets.

I've only been out on weekend group rides but the second time I took my single speed out I broke two rear spokes and pulled a spoke out of the front rim. Not a good way to start the winter riding season.

The following weekend was nice and I was able to take my normal road bike out. It held up find on the Saturday group ride, but taking it out for a ride on Sunday resulted in another broken rear spoke.

Not feeling like rebuilding the wheel myself I took it into a local shop to get rebuilt only to find out that I had cracked the hub flange on my powertap....GREAT!!!

Upon further research the shop found out that Saris/Cyclops would either rebuild the hub with all new parts or just replace the hub...depending on what they felt like doing. However, since it was out of the warranty period it's going to cost me $300.00 to have them do so, but they will also reinstate a year warranty on the hub. So...it's not all bad. I'm not waiting on the hub to be returned to the shop and have the wheel built.

On a side note, I'm looking at purchasing a new wheel set for my road bike. One of our team sponsors is Corsa Concepts so I'm looking at having them build up a set of their 2.3T wheels with a Powertap on the rear wheel.

So far the training over the winter has been going fairly well for the winter. I haven't been doing as many hours on the bike/trainer this year as in the past, but have had some good intensity with short intervals. I'm going to slowly ramp up my time on the bike/trainer over the next two months in preparation for the upcoming season. With cross season winding down I'm expecting to see more teammates show up for the group rides Saturday mornings...which should make the pace pick up a little as the winter moves along.

This past weekend was a good ride since we had a few more people join the 21+ group and we had a few short climbs thrown in for good measure. It was probably the best ride I've been on for the past two months and climbing on the single speed is always an adventure, but a good power builder :)

So far most of the weekend rides have been wet since we are in a La Nina year and they are expecting it to be wetter than normal with some saying much wetter than normal. So I'm expecting a lot of wet rides this winter...Not great fun, but it gets you ready to race in the rain should that be the case in the spring.

Anyway...Hopefully the broken spokes are over for the year...since I'm getting my Powertap wheel rebuild and I replaced my single speed wheel set with a new set of wheels.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

First rain ride of the year...

The weather has turned...lots of rain this weekend and showers are in the forecast for next weekend. With that in mind it was time to break out the single speed for the first time this season.

In some ways I like to ride the single speed...it's simple, builds both power and aerobic capacity and works on my spin. The only real downside is that I get bogged down on steeper hills and struggle when the pace really picks up in the pace line...but that just makes me stronger for the first part of the race season.

This weekends group ride was 43 flattish miles, with just a few short rollers so it wasn't a hard ride by any means. I however did have issues with my wheels. My single speed is a cheaper bike and hence came with cheap wheels. Last year I broke several spokes during the winter and this year started with a bang.

About 5 miles into the ride I heard a "Pop" and knew the sound all too well...broken spoke. Since I was already on the road with a 32 spoke rear wheel it wasn't too big of a wheel. I loosened up the rear brakes as much as possible and continued on the ride.

About 30 miles into the ride I hear "Pop"...another spoke down, again on the rear wheel. This one was a little ways away from the front and actually balanced the wheel out a little.

Then with about 5 miles left on the ride I heard a big "Pop"...this time coming from the front of the bike. One of the spokes on my 3 year old Neuvation M28's pulled through the rim...so that wheel is completely shot now.

So, one ride...43 miles and 3 broken spokes...a great start to the winter riding season. I'm going to be shopping for some new wheels before next weekend so I'll be ready to ride again and be able to put the power down again on the shorter climbs.

I'm about 2 weeks into the new training program and so far, so good. My legs are a little sore today but nothing that won't be gone by tomorrow. I feel like I'm starting to drop a little weight which is a good thing...so I'm hopeful the shorter more intense rides will be a good thing this winter.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Winter Training...

It’s time to move to my winter training schedule now that the days are too short to get riding in after work and the daily rain we get in the winter will be starting soon. With that in mind I’m going to try something a little different this year for my “Trainer” riding sessions.

In years past I’ve done 4-5 days a week on the trainer and one group ride per week (and if the weather was nice a second outside on Sundays). The rides were longer in duration during the week usually in the 2 – 2.5 hour range with longer intervals with the intent of putting the focus on getting ready for Time Trials the next season. These have worked fairly well, but this past season I felt like I was missing a little “Top End” compared to years and lost some of my top end power only getting over 1400 watts on a couple of occasions this summer and never over 1500 watts as I had done the previous year. I’ve also found it hard to maintain focus for 20 minute intervals while on the trainer, which I feel resulted in a less “Quality workout” overall.

I’ve also been moving much of my training time to the trainer recently due to the normal end of season reasons and have been having difficulty with motivation, especially when it comes to the longer 2 hour rides.

So with all that in mind, I’m changing my strategy for my indoor trainer rides this winter. Instead of 5 - 6 days a week, I’m going to ride each day of the week with two hard interval rides, two easy recovery/endurance based rides, one tempo paced ride and one group ride. My trainer rides will not go over 1.5 hours in length, but not under 1 hour and my group rides will hopefully be around 3 hours or more in length on Saturdays.

The change will allow me to focus more on “Quality” trainer workouts with higher intensity, though shorter interval durations than I have completed over the past two seasons. The 7 days a week is to make sure my caloric expenditure stays high for the week since weight gain is always an issue for me during the winter. Even with riding 7 days a week my weekly caloric burn will be less than previous winters.

Right now I’m concentrating on 30 second intervals at 150% of FTP. Over a 1.5 hour interval workout I’m completing (16) 30 second intervals and (10) 20 second intervals. The rest of the ride is completed at a high tempo pace, so recovery is limited during the entire training session. Overall this has resulted in higher average wattages compared to the threshold workouts I was doing in the past and similar caloric burns (though a bit lower) with 30 minutes less spent on the trainer.

So far, even though I’ve only been doing these for a few weeks, I’ve already seen my max power output go up and my ability to hold a high tempo pace on group rides remain at the same level. My peak power on my last group ride was just under 1500 watts and I was only a few watts off of my 5 second peak, without anybody there to push me hard. I’ve also been able to hold a pretty hard tempo on group rides taking very long pulls up front….so….so far so good.

I’m not sure what the long term effects of this type of training will be, or how my shape will be when the race season comes around in February…but as long as I can keep my weight down I think I’ll be able to push a little harder in races, especially during surges that take place separating the contenders from the non contenders. The question is whether I’ll be able to hold on for the 2.5 hour races considering the shorter duration of my workouts over the winter.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

End of the season

Well the cycling season has ended for me. I actually did two more races than planned with the OBRA Road Race and Crit championships. All in all it was successful, but could have been better.

The good:

Dropping my weight back down into the 180’s (though I didn’t stay there long enough). This is a trend that I need to stop…and I’ve been on my way back up since the start of July and am already over 200 pounds again. Though I’m keeping an eye on it already and am working on slowly dropping back down to 190 so I don’t have to “Diet” myself down during the race season.

Winning the first “As The Raven Flies” TT series with a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finish at the race. This was the first year for the series and I hope it’s brought back. The course was a lot of fun, but very difficult for a TT and I hope it will build in participation over the next few years.

Taking 2nd in the newly located “Piece of Cake” road race. This was my first time racing in the Piece of Cake, which as it turns out is my type of race…flat with lots of cross and head winds. It was my first attempt at a break away during a road race and for the most part it paid off well.

Winning the CAT 3 OBRA TTT Championships again with an awesome team. This is the 3rd year in a row our team has won this race, each year with a different combination of riders. I’ve been part of two of them and look forward to the race again next season…whether it’s in the CAT 3’s again or in the Masters 160+ division.

Lots of great rides with the team. Almost every weekend I was participating in the weekly team rides. We completed two centuries this year with my longest ride ever being 114.02 miles back in early June. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of a “Race” attitude during many of the rides for more intensity, but at the same time, it was fun to ride with so many great riders.

The bad:

Letting my weight get beyond 220 pounds in the off season and having to yet again, work my butt off to get back down to a weight low enough to be competitive. As already mentioned, I need to get this under control now, before I’m 220+ pounds again this off season.

Not getting in enough “High” intensity work during the season. I never felt like I had a great top end at any point during the season. Part of this was due to a change in team rides from years past. This year they were more “Group ride” oriented than “Hammer/Nail” oriented. I missed the see how hard you can make a ride…rides of years past. To me, that’s an integral part of training and it was missed this season. In the past I've used the group rides to push myself against others and build that top end on the rides, without those super hard rides, I suffered a little.

Not racing enough. I only raced in 13 races this season, passing up on several early season road races due to my weight. I only competed in one crit and 4 road races during the season which was my lowest total over the past two seasons. I really want to come into next season at a weight that I can climb at which will allow me to be more competitive early in the season. I may also race a few more crits next season, at least the smaller ones, just for more experience, which I think the lack of hurt me at the OBRA Crit Championships.

What’s next:

The off season training has begun already. The days are getting short enough that riding after work outside isn’t plausible since the best I can do is a “Pressed for time” 2 hour ride now. Also, the rain seems to have moved back in sooner than past seasons…So I’m already back on my trainer. I’m hoping to get a better base built up over the next 4 months by pushing myself harder on the trainer than last season. This will allow me to hit the intervals harder and be faster for early season races. I’m also hoping to get some harder group rides going next season with the basic idea being that our group rides being harder than the races we compete in. This will help a lot with the “Top End” form we need when it comes to races, something I feel was missing this season, at least by myself and will get more members of the team ready for the intense efforts needed to stay in and place well in races.

Race more next season. My original plan was to race more MTB races this year, but I was unable to afford a new MTB so that put a major hold on that idea. I may try and race more MTB races next season…but unless I can pickup a new MTB, that won’t be in the plans. However, I do plan on racing more single day races as well as a few more Crits next year, while competing in the same TT’s that I did this year (Jack Frost, As the Raven Flies, Estacada, OBRA TTT and OBRA TT). I don’t think I’ll do any stage races next season though, unless I can get some extra cash flow over the next few months.

This is something I’d like to do…but I’m not sure how many others on my team want to do it. I’m hoping to get a very strong 40+ Road Race team together next season since we have at least 6 very strong Masters level racers. I’d like to work as a team to get as many people on the podium as possible next season. The Masters races are generally dominated by the Team Echelon guys…but I feel if we come into the race season in shape…we can give them a run for their money at any venue.

I want to work on my TT position. I’ve been working on it for a while and feel it’s still off by a little ways. I think I’m getting closer, but knowing my power numbers and seeing my times on the bike…they don’t match up. This means I have position work to do because I’m losing too much power in my current position compared to what I can put out on my road bike. I need to find that balance between power and aerodynamics which I have yet been able to do.

All in all…not really a season I can complain about. Actually having a job this year didn’t make any difference in my training and my work schedule allows training time during the season, which shouldn’t change next year. I’m looking forward to getting stronger during the off season and even some wet weather group rides with the team on my single speed…as crazy as that may sound :D

Monday, August 23, 2010

2010 OBRA Crit Championships

On a whim this year I decided to race in the OBRA Crit Championships. I'm not sure why I decided to race this year because I haven't raced in a crit in over a year...but I just felt like racing it this year.

So off to Albany I went to compete in the Masters 40-49 category.

The course was a nice 6 corner crit with good wide turns and nice road conditions. This allowed good speeds through the turns and a better overall flow during the race.

Going into this race I had no idea what my race shape was since I haven't been doing any VO2 max intervals and all of my riding has been basic hill climbing and some occasional efforts during group rides. Give crits are all about constant accelerations...I just didn't know how I would fare.

Once the race started, I moved to the front with the basic plan of getting into break aways, starting break aways or chasing breaks down that got away.


It didn't take very long before riders started shooting off the front of the pack. Staying up front I jumped in every break I could until I started to feel it and needed a little break.

About 15 minutes into the race I found myself out front by myself with a good 30 meter or so gap on the field. I kept pushing it hard, but couldn't make any ground on the field and they slowly brought me back in.

For the next 5 minutes or so I stayed in the pack and waited for other chances to get into a break. With about 10 laps to go we had a small group of 4 that if we worked together could have had a chance of staying away. At one point we had 30 meters or so on the field, but nobody in the group wanted to rotate or pull through, which led to being pulled back into the field pretty quickly.




From this point I decided to stay in the pack and see if I could place well in the field sprint and just tried to maintain field position.

I moved around a little but stayed near the front, somewhere around the top 10-15 riders trying to hold position.

With a few laps to go things started to pick up. One rider caught a pedal in a turn and almost went down (and would have taken the eventual 3rd place finisher with him). A few laps later (with one or two to go) it started getting really dicey and some bumping started taking place. I was on the inside and got bumped a little but was able to accelerate out of it. Unfortunately at this time a small gap was forming that separated me from the front 10-12 racers and it was a gap we never made up.

Coming around the final corner the leaders had taken off full sprint while I was still 20 meters or so back, so my race was essentially over, with no real sprint finish. I think I finished somewhere between 12th and 15th.



In the end I felt like I had a good race, but lack of doing any crits or similar races hurt when it came to the final lap. I knew better than to let the gap develop, but not being in that situation for over a year it didn't dawn on me at the time. I felt pretty strong overall and gave a lot of effort going for break away attempts...and had I been there for the final sprint feel I could have placed well, how well I'll never know.

I can't really complain though considering I was worried about getting pulled/dropped from the main field...so all is good.

This was my last road race of the season, so now it's time to wind down the miles a little and start building a base up again for next race season which is approximately 6 months away. One area I need to improve on is dropping weight again...a constant battle for me. I'm currently sitting around 200 pounds or so and last winter jumped up to 220, working my way down to 187 by the "Meat" of my racing schedule. I'd like to come into the season around 190 pounds next year so I'm competitive in the early season races....so I have a lot of work to do when it comes to monitoring my weight and building my base.

Overall...a good year, but I know I have some areas to improve on. I may even do a few extra crits next year for good measure so I can get another shot at the OBRA Crit Championships :)

Monday, August 9, 2010

OBRA RR Championships

So this year I decided to race in the OBRA Road Race Championships. I've avoided this race for the last two years because they were oriented more toward climbers, which is something I'm not great at. This year however, aside from the beginning climb the course suited my abilities fairly well....the big issue was getting over the first climb with the lead group, or close enough that I could latch back on.




The elevation profile shown below gives you an idea of the course. It was supposed to go the other way, but due to some fresh road resurfacing they change the direction with the profile showing the correct view (I turned the photo around)

The race started out well enough with the pack riding together to the end of the neutral zone. From there the pace picked up and I was hoping a few big guys would jump to the front and the pack would allow us to get 30 seconds or so on them before the climb started giving us a chance to stay with them.

As expected a few guys jumped and I jumped with them. After a minute of trying to get away the field wasn't having anything to do with it and the pulled us back in before the first climb started.

The first climb turned out to be a game changer for almost every class that raced this past weekend. It was a 1.5 mile climb that averaged around 10% for the climb. Anything over about 5% I struggle on, but I knew that it was a game changer so I actually covered up my wattage on my powertap so I couldn't see how hard I was working. I stayed with the pack as long as possible and took myself to the edge of blowing up, then backed it off just a bit. I fell off the pace about midway up the climb, but then started passing others that had blown up trying to stay with the leaders. Looking back on my powertap numbers, I set a new 4 minute power record of 445 watts and took just over 8 minutes to make it over the top of the climb.

Once over the top, I felt pretty good all things considered and was able to push it hard on the downhill. As I went down the hill I started picking up riders as I passed them, thus forming a chase group. By the time we hit the bottom of the downhill we had around 9 riders that were working together hard in a rotating pace line.

We could see the chase car just up the road and we were slowly pulling them back in. After 10 minutes of chasing we had pulled them to within around 35 seconds or so, but by this time our chase group was both tiring and dropping riders. The longer we went, the more riders dropped off until we hit the turn into the side wind with 5 riders.

We were still pushing it hard, but the lead car was slowing starting to pull away. Mid way through the back side of the course we had lost our 5th man and were down to 4 riders. We still had the chase car in sight and by the time we started the 2nd climb we were no farther back than about 50 seconds. However, the other riders I was with were getting tired so I started taking longer pulls up front.

By this time the chase for the front group was over and they pulled away from us.

Through the feed zone I was able to pick up some bottled water from my wife, that was very welcomed at the time. Downing the bottle it was time for the downhill. I lead our chase pack all the way down bombing the course to the flat middle section where we started rotating again until the next downhill where I led the whole way again.

At the bottom of the hill we had just over 10 miles to the finish line. It was a gradual 2.1% average climb, so nothing hard. We started out with a good steady pace until we saw a 1k to go sign (that happened to be 5 miles or so from the finish). At that point we started playing "Cat/Mouse" games and slowed way down. We continued our slow pace for another 3 miles or so picking up one of the dropped riders in front of us and having two riders catch us from behind...so now we were back up to 7 riders.

The two that caught us picked the pace of the pack up and were pushing harder than the rest of us, so we did some small rotations but much of the pack had lost the will to pull and I think were trying to rest for a final group sprint.

The real 1k to go sign finally came into view when one of the guys jumped. Everybody else went with him and we started jockeying for position for a final sprint...just for the fun of it. Knowing I was a sprinter, most wanted me to be the first to go so they could draft off me and try and pull around. I waited for a while until another guy jumped...then went into a full sprint. I put about 4 bike lengths on him before looking back to see where he was and letting up a little on my sprint crossing the line 1st in my chase pack....but 13th overall.

For the most part I'm happy with my performance. I couldn't have done anything differently to have placed higher since I couldn't hang with the better climbers on the hill. I pushed as hard as possible on the flats with the cross wind and the downhill, but couldn't make up enough ground to catch the lead groups. So overall...a good race.

If I could have been 15 pounds lighter...I might have stood a chance :P I was a good 10 pounds over my more ideal race weight (as seen by not so thin middle section in the pic below)...so theoretically I could have been lighter, but I was in good condition so I can't really complain.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

July numbers

July was a good month for getting in lots of miles. I didn't have any races and for the most part my race season was over. The weather has been awesome with no rain during the month so I've been able to get out whenever I wanted.

I've mostly been riding 3 hours on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with either a day off or a short recovery ride on Friday...then group rides on Saturdays and medium paced rides on Sundays. I averaged around 15 hours a week on the bike and 270 miles or so.


Here are my numbers for July:

Total hours riding: 63 hours 45 minutes and 37 seconds
Total miles ridden: 1174.49 miles
Total TSS: 3717
Longest Ride: 102.02 miles

Power Numbers: Not great this month due to no racing

1 minute power: 570 watts
5 minute power: 409 watts
20 minute power: 361 watts
1 hour power: 315 watts

Next Race: OBRA State Championship Road Race.

I fully expect to get my butt kicked at this race with a 1800 foot climb about 10 miles into the race with one section that's about a mile long and averages 7%-8% for that section. I'm in OK shape, but not really race shape right now and am about 10-12 pounds heaver than my lightest point this year....so unless I'm near the front at the top of the climb (Doubtful) it's going to be for fun since those I could help will be in front of me and I'll be chasing them instead of helping them.

Such is life...should be fun anyway :)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June Numbers

June was a good month for me on the bike. I completed my final "A" race of the season, had my longest ride of the year, had more miles this month than any other month this year and since summer finally decided to show up I was able to get out and ride almost every day, which means I was able to get away from my trainer.

I'm currently putting in 15-17 hours a week with the nice weather. Basically 10 - 10.5 hours during the week and another 6 - 7 hours on the weekend with group rides and recovery rides.

Here are my numbers for June:

Total hours riding: 59:46:42
Total miles ridden: 1141.92 miles
Total TSS: 3297
Longest Ride: 114.02 miles (My longest ride ever)

Power Numbers:

1 minute power: 534 watts
5 minute power: 423 watts
20 minute power: 340 watts
1 hour power: Unknown, but likely around 330 - 340 watts during the State ITT Championships

Races:

State Championship Individual Time Trial: 3rd place in the Masters 40-44 age group

Next race: The OBRA Road Race Championships (maybe, depending on how I feel at the time)

Monday, June 14, 2010

OBRA ITT Championships

Yesterday was the OBRA (Oregon Bicycle Racing Association) Individual Time Trial Championships.

This was my second "A" race of the season aside from the TTT championships which took place 3 weeks ago. Originally the ITT championships were slated for the last week of July but due to some scheduling issues were moved up to the 2nd week of June. Overall, this was a good move because it's when many people are still in peak condition from the road race season...however, having it so close to the TTT I had to decide which one to peak for the most. Since the TTT is a team event and it was my best chance at winning a championship I chose that one.

Regardless of peaking, I still felt pretty good for this race. I hadn't been able to ride outside much over the last three weeks because of all the rain here in Oregon. We had surpassed our monthly average in the first three days of the month so I got to continue my relationship with my indoor trainer for most of June.

Looking at the start list I knew I wasn't going to be able to win my division since two of the fastest TT guys in the state were in my division, however 3rd place was a very distinct possibility. Last year Karsten Hagen beat me by 2 minutes 34 seconds and Paul Boucier beat me by 2 minutes and 48 seconds. This year Paul was the 2nd rider off, I was the 4th to last rider and Karsten was one minute behind me (two riders).

With the start list in mind, my goal was to hold off Karsten Hagen off as long as possible. I really wanted to ride under 55 minutes this year, but the weather wasn't conducive to super fast times because of a strong headwind on the return trip. Other than the wind the weather was great with temps around 70 degrees at start time.

Once underway I felt pretty good. I was able to keep my HR in the mid 160 range all the way out to the turn around point, which is better than I've done all season. My average speed was also right around 29 mph at the turn around which meant the return trip was going to be hard. One bright spot is Karsten hadn't passed me yet, so I was doing well up to this point.


After the turn around I struggled a little getting back into a rhythm with the headwind. One of the guys I passed on the way out passed me back shortly after the turn around. However, this was a good thing as it gave me somebody to pace off of. He originally put about 10 meters on me, but I was able to match pace with him over the next mile or so, then we hit a wooded section with less wind and I closed the gap and eventually passed him again for good.

Back in a descent rhythm I was still going well. Around mile 18.5 Karsten finally passed me, which put him 1 minute up on me at this time. Again, this wasn't all bad because it gave me somebody to pace off of again. I was able to keep him within 30 meters or so for about 3 miles before he finally pulled away enough that I couldn't pace off of him any longer.

Coming into the final stretch I still felt OK and pushed it hard over the last mile heading into the finishing stretch around 27mph - 28mph, crossing the line with a time of 56:02. It was a minute slower than I wanted to run this season, but given the wind it wasn't bad.

The one bright spot was that I could compare my times against Paul and Karsten to see if I had improved over last year. Our time differences were: Karsten had 1:32 on me and Paul had 2:30 so I had made up some time over them from last year. Overall, everybody's times were a little slower than last year and it looks like on average they were about a minute slower overall.

My time of 56:02 was fast enough for 3rd in my division (40-44) which was also the 2nd fastest group on the day...so I felt good knowing I gave it my best shot, performed better than last year and still came away with a medal. It's my first bronze medal, but now I have a matching set :D

For the most part my racing season is complete. I'm planning on doing a lot of base miles over the next two months, trying to get in 16-19 hours a week on the bike and just enjoy the ride for a while. I'm not going to specifically train for anything, but use hills for intervals and try and drop a few pounds. My next race will likely be the OBRA Road Race Championships where I'll race with the Masters. Then I'm thinking the Eugene Celebration road race to put a cap on the season.

For now though...it's all about miles and enjoying the ride on the new frame :-)

Monday, May 31, 2010

May numbers...

May was a good month overall. It was my largest training month so far this year including most miles ridden, most hours on the bike, TSS and Longest Ride of the year. Most of this was due to a long month, low number of races and some good riding near the end of the month including a couple of long group rides during the month.

Total hours riding: 53:10:10
Total miles ridden: 1064.32
Total TSS: 3305
Longest Ride: 72.96 miles

Total weight lost: 0 pounds (Leveled off over the last month due to "A" races the last week of May and the 2nd week of June).

Power Numbers:

1 minute power: 540 watts
5 minute power: 431 watts
20 minute power: 385 watts
1 hour power: Unknown, but likely around 330 - 340 watts during the State TTT Championships

Races:

State Championship Team Time Trial: 1st place, mens CAT 3....State Champions again :)

Next race up: The Individual State Championship ITT (June 13th)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pumpkin Ridge Redux...

During today's group ride, we made a trip up Pumpkin Ridge...as I've written about many times being my "Baseline Climb".

Today I had many carrots to chase...Mitch being one of them (probably the best climber on the team)...the others were club members that made it to the climb before we did since we took a longer route to get to the climb.

Since I was on my new bike I wanted to give it a good workout today...even though it was wet and got dirty (ARRRGGGHHHH!!!!).

The trip to the climb was actually pretty hard. We were holding a good pace averaging 21.5 mph on some fairly flat roads, but we had many sections where we were rolling along at 24+ mph....so I wasn't exactly fresh going into the climb, though my legs felt pretty good.

Once we started the climb Mitch and I immediately dropped the other two in our group and hammered the climb. The first 2/3 of the climb I felt like I was holding Mitch's wheel well and we were rotating up the hill trying to get a little draft along the way, but I started to fade a little about 15 minutes into the climb as he put a small gap on me.

Looking back he saw I was off his wheel so he slowed until I caught back up to him and kept pushing me all the way up the climb. I'm doubting he was hurting much considering he's 155 pounds and I'm 190, but it was good to be there with him.

The whole way up the climb we were flying by other club members on the road...and getting some angry honks by passing cars (such is life when your riding a bicycle on the road).

At the top I pushed it to the end and set a new Personal Record for time up the climb. We climbed it in 22:10 (21 second faster than I've ever climbed it before) with an average wattage of 384 watts for the entire climb.

I must say the new frame fits very well and I'm glad I decided to get a new custom frame that would fit my body much better with no compromises when it comes to fit. It's definitely stiff...stiffer than my old Velo Vie, but some 25c tires and a few less PSI in the tires will take care of the ride. However, the bottom bracket area has to be the stiffest I've ever ridden on a bike. Also having more room on the front of the bike makes climbing more comfortable because I can use more positions than I could before.

Once side benefit of the new frame...I can ride with no hands if I need to and not have the bike feel really squirrelly. I've not been able to do this for quite some time.

Anyway...A great ride today (66.72 miles and just under 3.5 hours) with some great teammates and a new PR...which means I just have another number to chase after :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My new race bike

My new frame finally came in this past weekend, but with the TTT State Championships, work and continuing to prepare for the State ITT championships in 3 weeks I didn't have a ton of time to build it up....so I spent the last couple days doing a little bit here and there.

Tonight I finally finished the build and took it out for a few short trips around the block to get it fit properly and make a few adjustments here and there.

The frame is from Tsunami who is located in Phoenix Arizona (not to be confused with the Tsunami bikes that Chucks bikes used to sell before the went out of business). Tsunami bikes make custom frames out of (I believe) 7005 series aluminum then heat treat the frames after construction.

The have some stock frame sizes but specialize in custom geometry...which is the way I went because I'm very hard to fit on a bike with short legs, short femurs and a long torso.

The Geometry for the bike:

Top Tube: 57 cm
Seat Tube: 50 cm
Seat Tube Angle: 74 degrees
Head Tube: 11.2 cm (Total stack height 14 cm)
Head Tube Angle: 73.5 degrees

Frame weight was 2 pounds 13 oz with the Chris King headset installed (so take 2 oz away for the headset). Total bike weight with power tap and bottle cages comes in at 18 pounds 6 ounces. It's a bit heavier than my old Velo Vie, but fits better overall with less compromises when it comes to fit.

I'll be looking forward to taking it out over the next couple of days if the weather holds...and really put it through it's paces on Saturday at the group ride if the weather is nice.


Internal rear brake cable routing...Pretty slick and easier that I would have thought.

A close up of the rear internal brake cable routing

A picture of the head tube junction and welds on the frame.

When I have time I'll take some better pictures outside with better lighting as it looks much better than it does in with the inside shots.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Oregon TTT State Championships

I, along with 250 or so other racers were watching the weather all week in hopes of seeing sun, or at least dry conditions for the Oregon State TTT championships. Leading up to the race things seemed to be looking good for today. As of Saturday night they had a 10% chance of showers during the day...but mostly cloudy conditions.


Well....so much for the weatherman being right :(


The women and age categories were greeted to a downpour at the start of their race early in the morning. Driving down to Tangent, OR I passed through shower after shower arriving to roads that were a little wet but drying out fairly quickly.




Before I started warming up things looked really good. The roads were dry and there didn't appear to be any big rain clouds heading our way...I guess it's a good thing I'm not a weatherman since 10 minutes before I jumped on my trainer it started to rain buckets. It continued raining through my warm up, but started to taper off near the end. Looking at the rain area it appeared to have only hit the front 1/4 or so of the course and now that it passed may allow for good racing conditions on most of the course.




Lining up for the start of the race was a little, shall I say, exciting. One of my teammates waited until the last minute to show up....literally. With 1:15 to go before starting he finally rolled up ready to race.


Once we started, we all got clipped in and were off...or at least so we thought. The guy that was late didn't get clipped in and he was the last guy in the rotation, so nobody thought to look back for him. Well...we were a good 1/4 mile down the road before he was clipped in and rolling...so he sprinted to catch up to us latching on just before the first turn.


From there we headed up the only small climb on the course (I'm talking small...30 feet of climbing maybe) and were off. No teams passed us while in the starting box and we were the first CAT 3 team out so the closest team to us had a 3 minute head start and they were one of our CAT 4/5 teams. So we didn't have anybody to chase for a while. Regardless we settled into some really good pulls and a nice pace.




Coming around the 3rd main corner on the course the first "Shower" of the day hit us. It was a complete downpour including high winds and pea sized hail. Needless to say when you are moving at 25 mph - 26 mph and the wind is blowing pea sized hail and big rain drops into your face at 15 mph or so...it hurts. I found if I looked down a little most of the hail would hit my helmet and not my face which helped but at the same time put more wheel spray in my face from the riders in front of me.


2 miles or so of this and we had worked our way out of it and onto some semi-dry roads. We were able to ramp up the pace and get in some great work during this section.


Coming into the second lap midway down the back stretch we ran into the "Shower" again...more wind, rain and hail to deal with...Ugghh.


Continuing on with the race we worked our way out of the "Shower" and kept on our way.


The wind was constantly changing direction which made setting up a consistent echelon difficult. We ended up having the lead rider take the center of the lane which allowed the following riders to pick a side that shielded them best from the wind, which worked well for the rest of the race.


As we entered our 3rd lap we ran into some of the Senior Mens teams coming up on one just after they started. Already having completed two laps we gave them a bit of room to get moving figuring they would soon be going faster than us...however, that wasn't the case so we passed them. Shortly thereafter a team goes by us, which we think is the team we just passed...however, later we figure out it was a different team all together from the Senior Mens class. That confused us there for a while.


During this confusion we lost one of our teammates who blew up...and when I say "Blew Up" I mean "Blew Chunks" as he had some digestion issues or something. All I knew during the race is we were nearing turn #2 and I look back and he's nowhere to be seen...se we were down to three racers (which is what we needed to finish) and were hoping for no mechanicals.


With three racers you don't get as much rest between pulls, which tires you out quicker, but we made the best of the situation given we were all pretty equally matched when it came to our TT abilities.


Coming into the final lap we were greeted with a stiff headwind on the way down the back stretch and could only muster up speeds in the 23 mph - 24 mph range. I was very thankful to see turn #2 because that meant a minute or two with a cross wind then a good tail wind to the finish. As we made it through turn #3 we were able to pick the pace up into the 33 mph - 34 mph range all the way home.


In the end, we crossed the line with a time of 1:00:21 over a 27.3 mile course in horrendous conditions. This was good enough for 1st place in the CAT 3 mens field and should have us in the top 5 or 6 fastest times on the day. So I have been part of 3 TTT State Championships in the past three years and our CAT 3 team has brought home the title the past three years (I have been a part of the past two).


So goal #1 on the season has been achieved :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

April Numbers

This month didn't have as much riding or intensity as March. Much of this was due to a lot of rain and riding my trainer a lot. My group rides were less on Saturdays which contributed to less long rides.

Total hours riding: 47:12:16
Total miles ridden: 915.20
Total TSS: 2627
Longest Ride: 61.04 miles

Total weight lost: 5.5 pounds (down to 187 pounds...35 pounds lost since January 1st).

1 minute power: 532 watts
5 minute power: 402 watts
20 minute power: 371 watts
1 hour power: 291 watts

Races:

Estacada #1: 2nd place in Masters 40+ division

Next race up: The State Championship TTT

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pumpkin Ridge...again

Today I met up with one of my teammates for some threshold work up Pumpkin Ridge...my favorite 20 minute threshold climb.

Since the State Championship TTT is only 2.5 weeks away I'm spending all my riding time on my TT bike to get more power/comfort in the TT position. I've also been having some issues with my position and power on my TT bike which can be seen by my lack of results in the Estacada Time Trials.

I think a big part of the problem was my position on my TT bike. I've been on a quest to get lower on the bike and switched my position before the season started moving from a 11cm -6 degree stem to a 9cm -10 degree stem and reduced the spacers under the stem. I think this may have reduced my hip angle enough to take away a fair amount of power. So I put the 11cm stem back on and 1cm of spacer under the stem which effectively raised my bar 2cm's and lengthened my reach by 2cm.

Today on my first climb up Pumpkin Ridge I was able to average 354 watts for the first 20 minutes of the climb making sure to not get out of my aero bars for a true test of my TT position power. That's only about 20 watts off of my road bike position....which is a good balance between power and aerodynamics. In the Estacada TT's I was only able to average around 320 watts, so by raising my stem 2cm and lengthening it by 2cm I've picked up 30 watts of power. It's pretty amazing which such a small change can do.

On another bright side I put in my best time ever up Pumpkin Ridge on my TT bike making it up the hill in 23 minutes 01 seconds...which is 2.5 minutes better than I've ever done on my TT bike and only 30 seconds off of my best time on my road bike.

This has given me confidence back heading into the TTT, especially considering I was able to do this today on partially dead legs (several hard workouts over the last two days). Hopefully by riding my TT bike exclusively over the next several weeks I'll adapt a little better to the position and get another 10 watts or so before the TTT. We have a good team put together and should be able to mount a good defense of our State Championship for last year and the last thing I want to do is let down my teammates.

This weekend we have our first official TTT practice, which should be fun...though my legs won't be their best...but they need the hard work over the next two weeks before tapering for the big race.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Estacada #2...

Going into Estacada #2 I had good hopes of turning in a good time. I wasn't recovering from the flu, my legs felt OK (not great but OK), the weather was supposed to be nice and basically everything was set to have a good day on the bike.

The first issue was the weather. A week before the race they were saying 70 degree temps. Mid week 65 degree temps. The day before 60 degree temps. The day of....55 degree temps with some early morning rain that left the roads a little wet in parts, even though it was supposed to be dry.

I arrived to the staging area on time, got set up and had an OK warm up before the race.

Then it was time to head to the start line. Overall, I still felt good.

Out of the starting gate, everything is going well. My HR is up in the 160 bpm range for the first few minutes and I settle into a nice rhythm. From all I can tell my speeds are up from the first race, but it's hard to tell overall.

I get to the only steep climb on the course and things are still going well, until I go to get back into my big ring. My front chain falls off to the pedal side of the crank, so I keep pedaling and try and pull the chain back on, this time dropping it to the inside of my small ring onto the bottom bracket. Two more rounds of this and it finally hooks onto a ring and I can get under way again. Some lost time, but not more than 10-15 seconds or so.

Under way again and things are normal again.

For the first half of the course I haven't passed anybody so it's been a lonely ITT so far. Heading into the turnaround I see a few people, one of which is a rider from my club who is just getting into racing. He had a 4 minute lead on me at the start but knew I would catch him from the first races times. About 5 minutes after the turnaround, I pass him...the first of the day.

Then it's solo again.

It's at this point that I think I went into la-la land and didn't pay attention to what I was doing. Over the next 10 minutes my heart rate hovered between 145-150 bpm, which is basically a high tempo range, not a threshold pace for me. I'm pushing a big gear and not really thinking about it and just keep plodding along seeing another rider coming up a few miles before the finish....passing him with about 3 miles to go before the finish.

Coming into the last mile I finally get my HR above 150 bpm again and into the upper 150's on the final climb of the race.

I finished with a time of 47:57, which was slower than the first race and about 1.5 minutes slower than I should be able to do on this course. I'm not really sure what happened, but I have several thoughts.

1. My position on my bike isn't optimal. I changed things up this year going to a more comfortable seat and a shorter, but lower stem than last year. However the seat can't be moved as far forward as my other seat and I'm more compact than last year. So I think I'm not getting full power compared to last year.

2. I have done enough high intensity work to this point. My 20 minute threshold is good, still in the 380 watt range on my road bike, but that power isn't translating to my TT bike and solo efforts. I haven't been able to do a lot of high intensity group rides like I did last year, which is having a mental effect on my pushing through the pain and keeping my HR in the higher end of the spectrum.

With the TTT only three weeks away, I need to get things sorted out.

The good is that I ride much harder and don't have a problem pushing it when I'm around other people...so in the TTT I should be just fine pushing it. There is also the fact that I'm still able to finish 2nd in my category and 9th fastest time on the day just doing a high tempo ride in an ITT so my fitness is very good right now.

The bad...I just have to get over the mental thing this year and give it top level efforts. I think practicing with my teammates over the next two weeks will help a lot with this.

Overall....not a bad result, but I have a bit of a hollow feeling after this race knowing that I can go a lot faster....I just didn't :(

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Estacada #1

Today was the first of two Time Trials that take place just outside of Estacada, OR. The TT a 20 mile out and back race that has a little over 500 feet of climbing on the way out, and about the same amount of descending on the way back. Only one section is a steep climb where you have to drop out of your big ring and get out of your aero bars.

I've ridden this course seven or so times now so I know the course well and the pacing needed for the race. The big issue is always the weather. One race a year or two back had temps in the low 30's, wind, rain, snow, hail and for brief period of time sun....though most years its the wind that makes a difference. Parts of the course follow a canyon wall which causes the wind to swirl so you might enter a section with a tail wind and leave it with a head wind. Also up on the mountain side the wind likes to change direction mid day...when many riders are out on the course.

Today was one of those days. On the way out we had a headwind, not a strong wind, but enough to make a difference. On the way back we had a good tail wind for the first 6 miles, but then it turned into a head wind for the final 4 miles or so, which in a TT are the hardest without the wind.

Going into today I didn't know what to expect performance wise. Last week I would have had a good idea, but I caught a flu bug last Thursday and went home early on Friday with a fever of 101 degrees. I was in and out of a fever all weekend and had stomach issues through Monday.

Basically, I felt like crap all week long. I did a 1 hour easy ride on Monday just to get on the bike, did some really, really bad intervals on Tuesday, went out for a 2 hour ride on Wednesday and could barely hold 200 watts for an extended period of time, did intervals again (with a bit more success) on Thursday and had easy rides on Friday and Saturday.

My legs were sore this morning, which is never a good sign, but didn't feel too bad really. After warming up (extending it to an hour this time) I still didn't feel too bad. My legs may not have had as much punch as usual but their endurance seemed to be good.

Once underway I was able to get into a steady rhythm and keep my HR in the high 150's. The course was in fairly good condition but I could see more broken glass on the side of the road....which caused a flat for a teammate of mine....so I stayed to the road side of the while line just to avoid issues with glass.

At the turn around point, felt pretty good catching one of the riders that started in front of me at around mile 8.5. Shortly after the turn around point I passed another rider, then caught one more for good measure before crossing the finish line.

On the day I had an official time of 47:48 which isn't bad all things considered and finished 2nd in the 40+ masters division. That is about 40 seconds slower than my fastest time on this course, which I'll get a second shot at in two weeks when I race there again...hopefully feeling much better. I'd like to chop a good minute off of that time and get under 47 minutes for the first time.

Overall....a beautiful day to race on a beautiful course :D

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Numbers for March....

Total hours riding: 50:23:35 (my first 50 hour month of the year)
Total miles riden: 1001.89 (my first 1000 mile of the month)
Total TSS: 2952
Longest Ride: 64.14 miles (actually during the Piece of Cake)

Total weight lost: 6.2 pounds

1 min power: 577 watts
5 min power: 406 watts
20 min power: 369 watts
1 hour power: 334 watts (a new hour record for me)

My 20 minute power may have been higher but I don't have a way to measure power on my TT bike.

6 Races this month...3 road and 3 TT

TT's....all at "As the Raven Flies" (won the overall series title for 40+ masters division)

Race #1...2nd place
Race #2...1st place
Race #3...3rd place

RR's (all 40+ Masters 1/2/3):

Banana Belt #2...19th
Banana Belt #3...10th
Piece of Cake......2nd

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Piece of Cake


Today was the "Piece of Cake" road race...one that I've wanted to do for a while, but something has always got in the way. The race had a fairly flat profile and the only hills were basically rollers on the backside of the course. This is my type of race :)

Overall before the race started I felt pretty good, though until I hit the road, I never know how my legs are going to respond. I actually went a little harder than I wanted to yesterday...so I was unsure how my legs would do. I set up my bike on my trainer and got in a 35 minute warm up and could tell my legs felt OK but I didn't push them, so I was still waiting to see how they would respond.

The weather was not the best for racing, with temps in the mid 50's wind blowing a stead 10-15 mph with gusts to 20 mph and showers all day long.

The wind was what had me excited. Most people hate wind, but I like it because it lead to break aways and you just have to be up front to get in them instead of getting gapped in a field that doesn't want to respond.

So right from the start I was looking for a break away. One guy kept attacking and I knew he was looking to go, so I kept jumping on his wheel. When we made the first turn into the crosswind he went again, I jumped on his wheel and we immediately opened up a gap.

The two of us worked together for the next 3 laps building a lead of 1:35 over a chase group at one point, but going into the final lap my legs gave up and I just couldn't pull any more, nor could I hold his wheel. So off he went and I eased up and waited for the chase pack to catch up knowing there was a group of 4 behind me.

Once the chase pack caught up to me, I jumped in their rotation and we worked together.

With about 5 miles to go the whole race was stopped due to a bad crash in the womens CAT 4 field. Looks like somebody broke their collar bone and had to be taken off in an ambulance. Other than that it sounds like she is OK.

Thankfully, they were keeping time gaps of the various groups so we were not merged with the rest of the peloton which at this point was 6-7 minutes behind us.

Once underway again, I felt a little better but the time off let the legs seize up a little. After a mile or two they started to loosen up again and we were rotating making sure nobody else caught up to us.

Coming into the final turn most of the other guys started playing sprinter games and wouldn't pull any longer, however one guy came around me so I jumped on his wheel. We made the final turn and had about 1K to go to the finish.

About half way to the finish (250 - 300 meters to go) I made a hard jump and opened up an immediate 5 meter or so gap on the other 4 guys and kept that gap or increased it to the finish line finishing 2nd on the day...so even though I couldn't keep 2nd in the break away, I was still able to finish there thanks to my sprint.

Overall on the day I set new power numbers for all times beyond 40 minutes:

40 minutes: 347 watts
60 minutes: 334 watts
90 minutes: 323 watts
120 minutes: 309 watts

In the end, it was a good day, a great workout and a hard day in the saddle. My legs are sore, my back is sore from spending so much time with my elbows on my handlebars and I'm worn out....But I'm happy with the end result....My best Road Race result in the upper categories so far :)

Photo: Pat Malach

Saturday, March 20, 2010

As the Raven Flies #3...




This week was the last race of the series and it couldn't have ended with better springtime weather....65-70 degrees for highs, blue skies and fairly low wind. I'm excited about this being a continuing series, of which the promoter was talking about it being after the awards ceremony. A 3 race TT series near Portland is a good thing.

The race it's self went fairly well. My legs were not feeling bad, but were a little tired from intervals this past week and a harder than normal ride yesterday. After warming up they were feeling better, but I could tell they were still missing that "Spark" you have when you are ready for an "A" race.

This being my 3rd time on the course I've started to figure it out a little better which resulted in my best time so far by 10 seconds, even with less than fresh legs.

My time on the day was 28:43 which was good enough for 3rd place on the day in the 40+ group...though I only missed 2nd place by approx. 1.6 seconds, so just a bit more effort here or there and I would have moved up a spot today. I did however miss out on 1st by about 24 seconds so I'm not stressing about that any.

With that said...I did win the series in the 40+ category and am happy with my overall results from the race. I've improved during the series, feel like my power is still improving and my weight is still dropping and overall I'm getting faster on the bike....as should happen this time of the season. I still have approximately 2 months until I need to peak for the Team Time Trial so I'm on a good pace to do so.

On another bright side...I didn't crash this week...though I did take the turnaround corner very tentatively, which may have cost me that 1.6 seconds I needed. Ahhh, such is the life when it comes to Time Trials...every second matters, which is why I like them so much :D

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Banana Belt #3

Well, against my better judgement...not that I had any to begin with...I decided to head to Hagg Lake and race in the 3rd and final Banana Belt race of the season. This week the course was going clockwise which suites my abilities a little better then counter-clockwise because most of the climbs are more gradual...though there are still two short steep climbs, which I have decided are my nemesis at this stage of the season.

I wasn't sure how I would feel today with a few bruises and road rash from my minor wipe out at yesterdays ITT...but after riding around for 30 minutes I felt fine and didn't feel any lingering effects while on the bike...so off to racing.

The race started out as usual, mostly a steady pace with people getting warm....then BAM....Zimbleman takes off about 5-10 minutes into the race. I was up front and chased after him, thus pulling the rest of the field with me. Looking back he decided not to push it any further and went back into the pack.

Not much longer after that 4 riders got off the front...Not sure when or how, but I missed that one completely. I think everybody thought it was Zimbleman with a few in tow...but it turns out it was pretty much the entire Echelon Gran Fondo/Z-Team's team. How they all got off the front with no response from the rest of the field is beyond me...but major "KUDOS" for them being able to pull it off.

With them gone, the rest of the field seemed to give up the chase...which drives me nuts. If they would just organize, get into a rotating paceline we could chase these guys down, but everybody seems like they would rather just sit in the pack and sprint for 4th, 5th, 6th or what ever is left at the end.

Not wanting to give up I spent a lot of time up front trying to pull the group back, but when there are only 4 riders or so willing to do any work it becomes pointless...regardless, I gave it my best effort while on the course.

The pace of the race was fast today...the first hour we averaged over 24 mph, which is pretty fast for such a hilly course. For the race today I averaged 278 watts with "Normalized Power" being 343 watts (for just over 1 hour and 46 minutes)...so it wasn't an easy day in the saddle.

At the beginning of the 4th lap...two guys took a flyer from the back of the pack. Turns out it was Zimbleman who had been sitting back relaxing for most of the race (and may thought he was gone) and somebody else...so that meant 6 riders up the road.

At this point I just wanted to stay with the pack and see if I could stay in it for the pack sprint.

Heading into the last steep hill....Lee Hill....I did the pack slide...and then some. By the time I crested the top I was a good 100 meters behind the pack and thought the race was over for me. But never wanting to give up I kept pushing on the downhill section before the last hill, picking up a few others who were dropped on Lee Hill and we were able to latch onto the back of the pack mid way up the last hill.

I immediately went around the pack to the front for the final downhill stretch trying to get in position for the final sprint.

Over the bridge and up the slight hill I was sitting 3rd or 4th when the sprint started. I didn't gain any ground, but didn't lose any positions at the end of the race. The last effort up Lee Hill and the chase back to the group killed my legs for the sprint...but I was able to hang on for 10th overall on the day.

In the end, I had a 19th last week and a 10th this week...which isn't too bad considering I wasn't planning on racing any of these races and I'm still way too fat to climb, especially with the little guys.

Next week, the last "As the Raven Flies" ITT for the year...then a two week break before the "Piece of Cake" road race which was to be my first road race of the season :)

Should be fun :D

Saturday, March 13, 2010

As the Raven Flies #2...

Today was the 2nd race in the "As the Raven Flies" series...though the weather was worse than last week having wet roads and colder temps.

I arrived at the race a little later than I wanted and was a bit rushed to get things set up and start my warm up, so I had 5 minutes less on my warm up time than usual. Though I still got in all of my harder efforts, so not to big of a deal.

This week, knowing the course better I went with an 11x25 rear cassette which having the 11 tooth was very beneficial on a lot of the course. I was able to hit higher speeds on the steep downhills and carry a lower cadence though other parts. I was actually able to establish a bit better rhythm than last week and felt good on the way out. Next week I'll be going with an 11x23 rear cassette since I feel jumping to the 25 tooth rear might have made me not work hard enough on the hill sections.

At the turn around point is where it went a bit downhill. The roads were still a little wet and I think there was a bit of dirt around the cones on the road and when I went to turn into the corner, my front wheel washed out and down I went. It wasn't too bad since I was only going around 8mph - 10mph....but it still hurt. I have some road rash and a bruise on my left hip and forearm and some road rash down around my knee on my upper and lower leg.

After rushing to get up I could feel the pain in my forearm and it made it hard to sit in the aero bars for a little while. The adrenaline from the crash also made it hard to get going again and very hard to get a rhythm going for the next 3-4 minutes.

After I came out of the rollers from the turnaround I started to feel better and was able to get things rolling again hitting the finish line at 29:16...which was 23 seconds slower than last week. If not for the crash I think I would have finished a good 10-15 seconds faster than last week....but such is life, I still won the 40+ masters division getting my first win on the year :) I also had the 4th fastest time on the day, so it wasn't all bad.

One more race to do out there next week to finish off the series.

I'm currently debating whether to race the 3rd Banana Belt tomorrow or just go out for a long ride. That will mostly depend on how my body feels after I wake up and how sore I am.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Banana Belt #2....

Given the weather and the fact I will be missing my teams group rides for the next three weeks, I decided to start my road race season early and raced the Banana Belt #2 race in the Masters 40+ 1/2/3's.

My original plan was to have my first road race of the season be the "Piece of Cake" since it's a flat 54 mile race instead of the very hilly Banana Belt races....especially considering how poorly I've been climbing early in the season.

I really wasn't sure what to expect speed wise considering the Masters 40+ races many times can be the 2nd fastest race of the day behind the P/1/2 races. Also this race had a nice 6% - 7% climb that went up about 200 feet or so and I knew it would be hit hard every lap....and anything over about 5% I start to struggle on...so the "Pack Slide" was my friend today.

The early part of the race was spent by everybody watching David Zimbleman since he's a freak of nature on the bike (last years 55-59 world TT champ). Every time he jumped, so did the pack...so the early part of the race was faster than the last part. Basically the field was able to keep him in check until the 3rd time up the major climb where he counter attacked just after cresting the top....opened a gap and nobody wanted to chace....so it became a race for 2nd at that point since Zimbleman opened up a 1+ minute gap within about a 1/3 of a lap and was gone.

From that point it was just a matter of staying with the pack and hoping to position myself for a good sprint at the end if my legs had anything in them.

The last lap was actually fairly slow compared to the others (aside from two hard climbs to try and break up the pack) due to the fact that the "Fast Guy" was off the front and others were saving themselves for position.

In the end with 1k to go...the attacks started to happen and I was able to stay with them getting myself in good position for the final sprint...sitting around 3rd or 4th with 200 meters to go. However, this was an uphill finish that seemed to get steeper the farther the climb went. The first 100 meters or so I held position well....then the legs went and went fast. I tried to stand up to get some extra power but that wasn't a option as my legs refused to work at that point...so back into the saddle I went pushing as hard as I could watching guys fly past me to the finish line.

In the end I was 19th place, which considering this course didn't suit my abilities at all and the fact I raced a TT yesterday.....I'll take it :)

Hopefully the weather will hold out next week so I can do the double again...but with the race going the other direction which suites my abilities a little better with a long "Downhill" run to the finish and a fast sprint finish.

Tomorrow is an off day for me so my legs get some rest :)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

As the Raven Flies ITT....

Today was the "As the Raven Flies" ITT...It's a new TT series near Portland, so another chance to break out the TT bike and have some fun.

I've had two weeks of hard riding and upped my interval sessions by 30 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday to include and extra 20 minute threshold effort...so my legs were a little worn out yesterday and a bit sore as well. With that in mind I didn't know what kind of performance I could put in today, especially since I hadn't seen this course before.

Looking at the profile of the TT it didn't look all that bad. The steepest grade looked to be about 2% with a 75 foot or so climb at the beginning and a slow descent to the turn around point, then an uphill climb to the finish and back over the initial climb.

Well....the profile was very deceiving. The initial climb was closer to 150-200 feet and was closer to 6% - 8%....Then there was only one short flat section and the rest of the course was fairly steep rollers.

Basically it was hard to establish a rhythm with all the course changes and turns...which in many ways is nice because it adds some diversity to the course.

Given my poor performance at Jack Frost I wanted to get a bit more warm up, so I gave myself 45 minutes to warm up and got back into my rhythm from last year. My legs actually felt fairly good overall especially considering how hard the past two weeks have been on my legs, and the fact I'm still running a fairly high caloric deficit to lose weight....down to 198 pounds now....only 18 to go :)

The start of the race was on a nice flat road, but you couldn't see the first climb until you turned the corner....it was here where the "Oh Crap" though ran through my mind. I topped the climb in my 52x23 at around 12.5 mph...then promptly hit 43 mph on the back side of the climb.

On the way out I passed a lot of people that were in front of me...A couple from my category, the womens category and some of the CAT 4/5 racers...but on the way back there were not many to catch, which means few if any carrots to chase and it becomes a mental game.

Knowing the final climb was coming, I backed off just a little heading into it and thankfully it wasn't as steep from this side so the climb was a little faster.

Overall....I had a time of 28:52 and took 2nd in the Masters 40+ category and had the 8th fastest time on the day. It was a better showing than at Jack frost when comparing my times to others that I raced against then and I was much closer to them (or put more distance on them) than at Jack Frost on a harder course that has much, much more climbing....so I feel a lot better about the progression of my fitness to this point.

In the end, a beautiful day (temps in the low 60's), a fun though unexpected course and some good racing.

I'm currently planning on racing at the Banana Belt #2 road race tomorrow in the Masters 40+ race, but I'm keeping an eye on the weather. I wasn't planning on doing a road race for another 3 weeks...so this isn't a planned race and will be weather dependent. As it is, I'm still likely too fat to hang on to the pack considering the reverse direction this week and a nice steep climb that we will have to go up 4 times...but if I race, I'll see what kind of road race shape I'm currently in.

Photos courtesy of: Matthew Haughey

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Numbers for February....

Here are my numbers for the month of February...which given the shorter month are still showing some progression.

Total hours ridding: 48 hours 57 minutes
Total miles ridden: 935.86 miles
TSS total for Feb: 3028 (highest since July 09)
Longest ride: 66.89 miles

Power numbers:

1 min: 601 watts
5 min: 425 watts
20 min: 378 watts
1 hour: 304 watts

Weight lost: 8 pounds

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jack Frost TT = Fail (kind of)


Well, I was hoping for a much better day on the bike today....but fell well short of my goal of 31 minutes at the Jack Frost TT. There are several likely contributing factors, but most of the problem was I'm still fat and need to lose weight.

The morning started well enough. I woke up early, got ready, had the car warmed up (a bit of frost on the car this morning) and made it to the parking area about half an hour earlier than originally planned.

When I got there, I went to sync my watch with the start time, but they had yet to start the clock. So I searched out the race officials and asked which one of their watches was the clock going to be started by....one guy spoke up and said it was his, so I asked him what time he had and I was about a minute faster than his.....So that's what I went by when planning my warm up.

Bike hooked up in the trainer, everything on and ready to warm up. I wanted to get in a good 30 minute warm up today, just enough to get a good sweat going and get in some good threshold efforts before heading to the start line. 10 minutes before my start time, I jump off, put my trainer up, hand the keys to my wife and head to the start line. I pull up and it's about 10:23 (my start time was 10:30) so all was good.....then I look at the start clock and it says 00:06....which means they have 10:06???? What the???? Their clock was a good 15+ minutes slow.

So much for my warm up. I tried to keep things going by taking trips up and down the road to stay warm, which is a bit hard when it's 45 degrees out and you planned to be going full bore just a few minutes after getting off your trainer which warms you up quickly. So I slowly got colder and colder.

Finally, it was time to get started and overall my legs felt pretty good. There was a head/cross wind all the way out....not a big wind (3-6 mph), but just enough to let you know it was there. Having an early start time (I had to ask for an early time since I was heading to a memorial service just after the race) didn't give me many carrots to chase. I caught most of who was in front of me in the first couple of miles and had nobody in front of me after the turnaround until about 3/4 of a mile from the finish.

Overall....I finished with an unofficial time of around 32:45 (+/- a few seconds) which is well short of what I wanted. I don't know where this will place me since the results haven't been posted yet, but I'm guessing it's not great.

Basically, I still need to lose 20 more pounds and keep working on my threshold workouts. Starting in April I'll be doing more 2x20's for the TTT in May which will give me a bit more endurance, but I think I need to work a bit on my speed before then, maybe a few more 5 minute VO2 max intervals between now and then.

Overall.....not a bad day considering the weather was beautiful, but I failed to meet my own expectations knowing I can go much faster than I did.

Oh well....Two more weeks until the next TT which will be a bit shorter, but will have a bit more elevation change than Jack Frost did.

Edit: The results have finally been posted and it appears my effort was only a "Moderate" fail. I took 3rd out of 63 racers in the 40-49 catagory and 25th overall on the day (which my overall was better than last year by a few places).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Losing weight...

Unfortunately this past year I let things slip when it came to weight. I kept my fitness level fairly high during the off season but lots of Skittles, Carmel (store bought and home made), strawberry whoppers and just general over eating and not watching my caloric intake led to my weight going north of 220 pounds.

With the race season just around the corner I started my weight loss back on January 4th weighing in around 220 pounds or so. As of this morning I weighed in at 203.4 pounds....so 5 weeks and 17 pounds lost so far.

Below is the graph showing the weight loss progression:






At my current rate of weight loss I should be back down to....what I consider race weight....in 4 weeks and if I can continue the weight loss I'll be down to 180 pounds in around 7 weeks.

To this point I haven't seen a loss in power and actually turned my best "Solo" time up Pumpkin Ridge ever yesterday with a time of 23:28. Last season I had to drop to my small ring in a few places for the best times...however now I'm able to big ring the climb the whole way with just a few instances of cross chaining (i.e. 53x23 or 53x26). The fact that I'm heavier than I was then, but turing in faster times tells me my power is better than last year especially at this time of the year.

I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of time I can turn in next weekend at the Jack Frost Time Trial. I'll be happy with anything under 31 minutes (assuming good conditions) since they extended it to 14 miles this year, but would like something closer to 30 minutes flat.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

20 minute power test...

Since it's February and it was a beautiful day (upper 50's) in the Pacific Northwest it was time to get out and ride. I'm still suffering a little from a cold, but I wanted to get a good baseline for my 20 minute threshold power to see if I'm where I wanted to be right now or not.

So....I headed out to my basic test climb....Pumpkin Ridge to give it a good effort. Overall, I felt pretty good, but feel I could have squeezed out a few more watts overall especially if I had somebody there to push me.

End result: 378 watts for 20 minutes....375 watts for 24:28 that it took me to climb the hill.

My average HR was 160 which is right where it should be for an effort like this, but again, if I had somebody to push me it would have been closer to 164.

Coming into this year I wanted to be putting out around 380 watts for 20 minutes so this puts me right on schedule for where I want to be power wise. Now only another 22 watts or so to go before I get to the 400 watt level.

On a side note, I've also lost another pound....down to 207.6 now and another 12-17+ pounds to go. My goal is to settle in around 195 pounds, but may try and see if I can get to 180 pounds just to see if I can do it.

Two seasons ago I was down to 187.5 for a couple of weeks and I was climbing very well at that time. Currently I'm putting out a lot more power than I did two years ago so if I can get my weight down....it should be a good year on the bike :)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

January Numbers....

January gave me a nice start for the new year on the bike. I spent about half on the trainer and half on the road...which is pretty good for January in Oregon.

Overall my numbers look like this:

  • 52 hours on the bike (trainer and road time)
  • 1010 miles ridden (trainer and road time)
  • 72.49 miles was my longest ride of the month (on my single speed)
  • 3 hours 49 minutes was the most time I spent on my bike during one ride.
  • 39,982 KJ burned
  • 12 pounds lost

Not a bad start to the new year :D

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I hate colds....

I hate colds, even when they are mild. Somehow I came down with a mild cold and have been battling it for the past week or so. Mostly just a few minor sore throats, but today I started to get a little stuffy. I'm still able to breath fairly well...but it's there.

Aside from feeling worse than normal they get in the way of training since energy is pulled away from your exercise routine to battle the virus, which means performance suffers.

This past week was a recovery week for me since I had 5 hard weeks in a row...but the cold has made it harder to recover so I'm not sure how much I was able to actually recover. I guess we will see next week when I get back to intervals again.

The one benefit of being ill is it helps with weight loss....a side benefit I guess. As of today I'm down to 208 pounds, which puts me down 12 pounds or so for the month of January. Only another 13-15 pounds to go before I'm happy with my weight again for the season.

This week has actually been quite nice in the Northwest since the rain has stayed away. This has allowed me to get outside and ride all week, which has been nice. I took my TT bike out today for the first time this year and made a few adjustments to the seat height (new shoes and cleats) and overall it feels pretty good. I'd really like to switch to shorter cranks....from 172.5 to 170's....but with no job right now, it makes it a little hard to get new parts. Of course, I'd like a new carbon frame/fork for my TT bike and some more aero bars...but those will have to wait as well.

Overall though, things seem to be progressing nicely as the new season moves forward. I should finish the month of January with over 1000 miles ridden (road and trainer miles) and 50+ hours on the bike....a good start to the riding season :)

The weight is coming down quickly and my fitness feels fairly good for this point in the season. I won't really know where I'm at until the first ITT of the season....the Jack Frost ITT which has been lengthened from a 20K (12.4 miles) to 14 miles this year, which means good times should be in the sub 30 minute range if the conditions are good....My goal will be to finish below 31 minutes, which will put me at an average speed of around 27 mph.

Time will tell :)

On a side note...it looks like there will be a series of 3 semi-local ITT's this year in McMinnville. They look to be around 20K in length, so I should get in 6 TT's before the state championship TTT this year....more than in years past, so hopefully my fitness will be better this year for a faster time and better performance for the team.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Losing weight....

My weight loss program is now in full effect.

As usual the first week is usually the hardest. Hunger pains tell you that it's time to eat (all the time), getting back in the habit of counting every calorie and adding up your BMR and daily caloric burn from activities...it takes a little while to adjust.

So I started keeping track of everything back on January 4th, 2010 where I was sitting at 220 pounds. Over the last 10 days or so I've dropped 8.2 pounds weighing in at 211.8 pounds on the January 14th, 2010.

My goal is to get back down to 190-195 pounds by mid march...however at the current rate of weight loss I should be there by mid February which is fine since my first ITT of the season is the 3rd week of February and word is it has been lengthened from 12.4 miles to 15 miles (though I'm not sure that's true or not).

The nice thing about weight loss is how much better you feel. I already feel lighter when climbing stairs, my clothes are starting to loosen up and my performance on the bicycle is getting better with every pound lost.

Today was a good group ride with about 30 teammates showing up on a cloudy, wet day with mild temps. For the most part it was a pretty laid back day with a lot of small group pace line work, but we had a few times where we could "open it up" a little. On the short climbs along old HWY 47 I felt much better than I did two months or so ago when we rode the same route. I had a lot more punch and was able to carry more speed up the climbs.....that's a great feeling :D

Anyway....just an update on my blog with my weight loss progression. I still have a way's to go and when I get back down to my goal/race weight I'll look at where I am and see how feasible it is to go lower since I'd love to be in the 185 pound range for most of the race season....especially if I can get my 20 minute power over 400 watts :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Single speeds and climbing....

This past Saturday our team rides goal was to work on threshold climbing which is great, because part of my workout plan includes a hard group ride on Saturdays.

The only problem is in the winter I ride a Single Speed that has an equivalent gearing of 53x19 (73 gear inches). It's the only bike I have fenders on and I like the workout I get from riding it in the winter. On any given Saturday ride I could be grinding up a climb at 40 RPM or riding in a pace line at 150+ RPM...so I get both power and high end cardio work on the bike.

However, on this ride we rode up Old Germantown Rd. which has some nice 8.5% - 9% sections, Rock Creek Rd. which wasn't too bad and then came down the west side of Logie Trail which is a fun road to come down, but has a section in the middle of it with a 14%+ grind....it's not long but it doesn't matter....it's 14%

Overall I was able to get in a good 3 hour ride and just short of 50 miles....however, the legs were still feeling it today during my interval session. The ride definitely turned out to be harder than expected. At the top of Old Germantown Rd. I was only able to hit 4.5 mph which is about 20 RPM...and the 14% section on Logie Trail I hit 4.0 mph which is about 18 RPM. I was pedaling so slowly up those sections I couldn't stand up for fear of falling over since my legs were turning over at such a slow pace. It was just a bit painful :)

However, it was a great power workout.

This ride ended up making my interval session today hard. I think I may have been a bit dehydrated since it was hard to get my HR beyond 150 RPM and my power was down a little so I'll take it a little easy over the next two days before my next interval session.

As far as my weight loss goes...I'm currently down approximately 5 pounds over the past week and a half. I'm actually a little ahead of schedule, but part of that is because I've gotten past the first few days when the hunger pains are the worst from cutting back on food intake.

With that said I've been able to maintain a -700 to -1000 calorie a day deficit. This is very attainable for me and is much easier than the -1500 a day I ran two years ago for almost 4 months :)

I do need to increase my protein intake though, so I need to incorporate a little more meat into my regular eating.....That means, more chicken :D

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

3 weeks into intervals....

Believe it or not, I am enjoying my intervals again because I can feel the power coming back and it just feels good to push some limits again.

I started my intervals approximately 3 weeks ago and have now put 28 watts back on my 20 minute threshold intervals. This puts me very close to the point where I had stopped doing long intervals back in September/October and started doing more "Tempo" work.

My goal is to put another 40 watts of power (i.e. about 12% increase) over the next month and a half heading into the first ITT of the year the Jack Frost ITT, which is a 20k ITT held in Vancouver. If I can accomplish this...I should be around 380-400 watts for my 20 minute threshold efforts. What that will do for my ITT time...who knows, but it won't hurt :)

On a side note...I've also started my weight loss. This means watching what I eat and monitoring my caloric intake compared to my caloric expenditure. I'm currently running a deficit of around 700-1000 calories a day which should equal out to a loss of 1.4 - 2 pounds per week, which will get me back down to "Race Weight" around mid March...So I might hit one of the Banana Belt races this year and am looking at racing the "Piece of Cake" race for the first time this year...which may be my first road race of the season.

Overall....things are on schedule to be ready when I want for the race season....but lots of things can mess that up, so it's a matter of remaining disciplined and sticking to the plan.