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 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 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 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) 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 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 :)