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 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 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 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 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 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) 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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