Monday, August 29, 2011

Eugene Celebration - Thoughts...

This was a race I had wanted to race for a while now and really enjoyed the format with only one road race in the mix. The start locations were all in different places, so we got to see a lot of the area around Eugene, OR. One of the nice things is the field sizes are not too large for this stage race, which generally makes the racing a little safer and easier to move around.

The courses are a nice mix of climbing, flat TT'ing and the road race is great for a climbing classics type of rider.

My only disappointment was crashing hard, two weeks before the race. I feel it really threw off my fitness not being able to taper properly and seemingly playing catch up for the week heading into the race. My legs felt good through the race, but never felt great and it felt like I had lost my top end speed over that two week period.

I do know that even without the crash I wouldn't have been in the top 5...but might have been able to stay in the road race to the final hill and finished in the top 15 instead of the bottom 20.

This is a race I'm looking at racing again next year as I really enjoyed it. Also considering it takes place 2.5 months after my last "A" race of the season it gives me enough time to work back toward a peak and drop some weight for the hill climbs. So...hopefully I'll get a chance to redeem myself next year with a better, more prepared race.

In the end, it was a great way to finish the season. I wasn't expecting to compete in this race, but it was fun. I had a good weekend of racing and spending time with great company in my teammates.

Congratulations to Jeff on an AWESOME GC win this was well deserved. Heal quickly and enjoy bike shopping :)

Eugene Celebration - Criterium

The final stage of the race.

My teammate had secured the overall GC with a 51 second lead heading into the criterium. Our basic plan was to try and mark attacks for the duration of the 45 minute race, then try and set me up over the last three laps to try and sprint for the win.

For the most part the Crit went as a normal crit goes...lots of attacks, fairly high speeds and a little sketchy riding here and there.

Heading into the 2nd corner on the 3rd to last lap, I hear the sounds of metal scraping on the road and knew there was a crash behind me. Knowing that our team leader was going to be moving back to just get a pack finish my first thought was...I hope he wasn't in that.

When we came around with 2 laps to go...sure enough, there he was running down the road carrying his bike....CRAP!

I was still in OK position, but as we entered came down the front straight the pace slowed and we were overtaken by most of the peloton so my position was lost. By the time we came around the 2nd corner I was near the back and in no position to contest the sprint.

In the end, this was probably a good thing, having hit the pavement "Hard" two weeks ago and seeing my teammate go down in the crit, I decided to shut it down and come in with the pack and not try risking a good placement at the cost of more pain.

Thankfully the gave our team leader same time as the pack since the crash was in the last 3 laps so he was able to keep his overall GC win. With that said...his bike is "Toast". He had a Cervelo S3 but broke his head tube, seat tube and down tube. He also broke his front brake, scraped up his shifters and destroyed his Zipp 808 front wheel pulling 3 spokes out and getting a crack in the rim that goes about 1/3rd the way around the rim. He was a little scrapped up with road rash on his hip and elbows but other than that came out of it in fairly good shape.

Eugene Celebration - Time Trial

After yesterdays somewhat disappointing finish in the Road Race (I was expecting to lose time, just not as much as I did)...I was hoping to have a good TT and move up a few spots.

My leg felt fairly good in the morning and during warm up so I thought I had a chance at putting in a good time. Having never ridden this course I knew it was flat, 15 miles and a pretty simple course. There appeared to be a bit of a tailwind on the way out and a headwind on the way back in...which is opposite of what most every body prefers.

Since my dismal performance in the road race I was the 2nd off the line in the TT. The P/1/2 riders took off first, so the reality was I only had one person in front of me and after that nobody to chase so I knew I was in for a tougher TT than I wanted.

Off the line I felt good and by 1.5 - 1.75 miles into the TT I had caught my 30 second man...from there forward it was solo. The way out went really well as I was consistently keeping my speeds in the 28mph - 29mph range and my HR was mid 150's which is where I usually try and keep it.

Then I made the turn into the crosswind for about a mile and my speeds dropped, as did my HR.

When I turned for the final stretch back to the finish I had a hard time keeping my HR up. Most of the way back it was in the mid 140's...which is a good 10-15 beats lower than I like to keep it at this point in a TT.

I don't know if the lower HR was due to no carrots to chase or the effort I put in the day before trying to catch the peloton...but I was struggling a little at this point. I tried to get my HR up a little by spinning an easier gear faster, but that didn't seem to help and my speeds were a little slower, so I went back to a larger gear and tried to mash my way home.

It wasn't until the last mile that I was able to get my HR back up when I was pushing as hard as I could to the finish line and even then it was right at 152bpm, which is well below what it should be.

In the end I put in a time of 34:24 which was good enough for 15th overall...but about 1.5 minutes slower than I'm capable of doing on this course. This did move me up a place or two overall...but I was still sitting near the bottom of the GC.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Eugene Celebration - Briggs Hill Road Race

My goal today was to try and help my teammate out as much as possible...with finishing with the pack the next goal.

The race was 57 miles and had two climbs for each lap (a 3 lap race). The first climb was at my limit for what I can sustain with other climbers and the second climb had the top part of the climb over my limits with about 3/4 of a mile being around 10% average grade.

The first lap went well...I felt comfortable for the whole lap but did get dropped on the second climb. However, there was a steep downhill just after and I was able to latch back on fairly quickly.

On the second lap, just after cresting the first climb we were going downhill at around 35 mph. Apparently a rock was bouncing around in the peloton and I was in the back of the pack...the last rider to hit the rock popped it up and it clocked me square between the eyes leaving a nice little divot in my nose which lead to a little bleeding along the way.

The rest of the lap went much like the first lap. I got dropped on the second climb, but was able to latch back on, though this time it took a little longer as the pack attacked a little on the downhill.

At the start of the third lap I still felt OK...but heading up the first climb I faded back a little too far and a gap formed between me and the main pack. The next thing I knew I had the wind in my face and I was falling back. I hit the downhill with everything I had trying to latch on...but my teammate who was in second had an opportunity to jump from the field forming a 4 man break...which caused the rest of the peloton to attack. I was chasing at speeds anywhere from 26-40 mph and not gaining any ground. I was trying to catch drafts (though not jumping in behind them) off of cars and still couldn't make a dent.

By the time I made the turn heading to the second climb I had lost about a minute. From there I decided to shut it down and ride tempo in hopes to save some energy for the ITT and crit tomorrow.

I haven't seen the results posted but it looks like I finished about 8 minutes behind the winner...and my teammate who took 2nd on the stage. I don't know if we dropped anybody else during the first two laps...which I think we might have...but I'm pretty sure I was the last guy across the finish line in the 3's.

I was hoping to finish with the pack, but I knew I was going to struggle a little on the climbs...which eventually bit me. It's hard to say how the crash two weeks effected me during the stage because overall I felt like I had good power, I just don't have good power/weight ratio right now and had I been able to keep my regular training schedule feel I would have been a bit stronger and 2-3 pounds lighter. Spending 4 days on the couch the week before a stage race isn't really helpful to keeping weight off or keeping your fitness.

I feel pretty good though and hopefully will have plenty for the ITT and crit tomorrow. I'd like to make some time up tomorrow if possible, even though I know I'll still be low in the overall standings, and if I can get my sprint on...maybe able to do well in the crit.

Eugene Celebration - Prologue

Well...despite my crash two weeks ago, I was able to heal up enough to compete in the Eugene Celebration stage race this weekend. The race consists of a 3.1 mile uphill prologue, a 57 mile road race, a 15 mile flat ITT and a 45 minute criterium.

Yesterday was the Prologue and not being a hill climber I knew it was going to be tough. I was the 6th rider off the line but had driven the course before I started warming up so I kind of knew what to expect. Having run some power numbers before the race I figured my time would be somewhere between 12:30 and 13:00...which proved to be fairly close.

The start was good...I had a hard jump to speed and quickly settled in to a nice pace on the flatter section to start the race. Then I hit the steepest part of the climb where the pain really started. As I came over that section where the road leveled off a little (down to around 6% average grade) I found an issue with my bike. My rear derailleur wasn't adjusted properly since I was using my race wheels instead of training my rear derailleur was skipping in the middle cogs. It would drop down a gear, then jump back up so I couldn't put out power in those gears forcing me to either spin faster than I wanted or put it in a harder gear using lower RPM's and more strength...generally I chose to spin faster.

I figure this cost me a good 10 seconds on the climb...maybe a bit more, but it's really hard to tell.

In the end I crossed the line in 26th place with a time of 13:09 with an average power output of 388 watts. Had I not had the skipping cog I know I would have broke 13 minutes and had my overall power around 400 watts for the climb...I could see the areas where my power dropped off when I downloaded my Powertap data.

I really wasn't expecting a lot from the Prologue but was happy with my ride.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Crashing sucks...

Today was my worst day on a bike in a long time...I crashed twice on a group/team ride.

The first crash was stupid...I went by a big hole in the road that nobody in front of me called out, so I turned, pointed it out and called it out. As I turned to my left, the bike went right and the next thing I knew I was off the road dropping down into a ditch. It was a slow speed crash and just had a small amount of road rash on my shin and a small bump on my hip.

Checking out my bike and everything was OK except for some scratches on my left shifter.

So on with the ride...since there was still about 20 miles to where I was going to pull off (should have been 30 miles, but after the crash I figured I'd cut it short since the route goes by my house).

The second crash happened about 3 blocks from my house where we have our biggest "Sign Sprint" during our rides.

We were heading into the sprint and all was going well, then I hit the gas to go for the sprint. About 2-4 pedal strokes into sprint (1300 watts at the time and around 30 mph) my left foot pulled out of the pedal at the top of the pedal stroke. When I went to push down there was no resistance and down I went....Hard....taking out the guy who had jumped on my wheel as well (a former teammate).

Sitting in the road all I could think about was...Twice in one ride, "Really?"

Then the rest of the guys reached the two of us on the ground to see how we were doing. The guy that went down with me was cussing pretty I figured he was hurt, but didn't know if it was more a reaction or a really hurt issue. I was in a good amount of pain but considering what had happened...not as much as I thought I should be.

The I looked at my left and that was bleeding pretty badly and could feel the blood dripping down from my chin. My teammates said my chin looked pretty bad and he rode with me the three blocks back to my house.

My wife got me some wet towels and drove me to the E.R. where I spent 3 hours or so. The cleaned all the asphalt out of my road rash and gashes, stitched me up and took good care of me.

I'm pretty sore right now but my left index finger hurts the most...I think I may have partially dislocated my finger as well as gashed it. The cut on it also went through to the it hurts. My chin doesn't hurt too bad actually, but my left knee is also pretty tight and has road rash all around it.

I'm hoping to be back on the bike (or trainer) in the next 2 - 3 days and hope I can heal up enough to race at the Eugene Celebration in two I was originally planning on doing. I think I'll be good to go, but you never know.

Below are some pictures of the aftermath at the E.R. I left out the road rash pictures, but I have it on my back, shoulders, arms and legs.

My chin before stitches

My chin after Stitches

My left hand before stitches

My left hand after stitches

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lots of riding...Not much racing

It's been a while since I've updated my blog, mostly because not a whole lot has been going on. I've basically been riding a lot trying to get ready for the Team Time Trial championships...that were unfortunately canceled not too long ago. Being my favorite race of the year I was a bit bummed to say the least about this happening, but I guess they had issues with permits and locations so there wasn't much they could do in the end.

The other change was that my position was cut at the end of June due to budget cuts...which means about all I've been doing since is riding and looking for work...which leaves a lot of time for riding.

My numbers for the month of July look like this:
  • Total hours on the bike: 71.5 hours
  • Total miles ridden: 1300.52 miles
  • Total TSS: 4201
  • Kilo joules of energy expended: 56844 kj

This was the most hours/miles I've ever ridden in a month and I'm actually not feeling too bad right now. After a few 17 hour weeks my legs are getting a great base in them and are recovering faster from the efforts.

My current schedule looks like this:

  • Monday: 4 hours on the bike with 4 good climbs (around 5500 feet of climbing) and 65-70 miles
  • Tuesday: 1.5 hour, 29 mile recovery ride
  • Wednesday: 4 hours on the bike with 4 good climbs (around 5500 feet of climbing) and 65-70 miles
  • Thursday: Off the bike
  • Friday: 1.5 hour, 30 mile recovery paced ride
  • Saturday: 4-5 hour group ride with some hard efforts at race pace
  • Sunday: 1.5 hour, 29 mile recovery ride

I'm going to continue with this schedule until I find a new job, which could be soon...or could be a while (the last time it took 11 months, so hopefully it won't take nearly that long this time).

If I can find the money I may do a stage race at the end of August since I have some really good fitness right now, just no money to go if my situation changes between now and then I may have something else to report on at the end of the month.

For now though...I see lots of riding in my future and lots of job hunting.