Tuesday, May 29, 2012

PIR Time Trial #2

First off...I love this race. It's on a closed course with smooth pavement, no traffic and no more than 35 or so racers on a 1.9 mile course at any given time.

The first race went well, but the wind conditions were tough with a headwind on the main (open) straight away and a tail wind on the backside (guarded by trees). I had a good time that day with a similar time to what I ran last year.

Between the first race here this season and this race I made some changes to my TT fit that included: 1.5cm longer stem, 5mm more drop in the bars, 170mm cranks (down from 172.5) and a different seat post that allowed me to level out the seat post.

I made these changes before the Raven ITT #2 and set a PR on the course by 38 seconds, but that was a hilly course, so I was excited to see if the difference helped on a flat course like PIR.

The weather conditions were good with temps in the low 60's, a small tailwind on the front straight and a good turnout of racers.

Overall, I felt OK but my legs were still a little sore from a hard ride on Saturday. During warm up on my trainer my legs were a little dead, but by the 3rd interval they started to feel a little better. Lining up for the start they felt OK, but could have been better.

The race it's self went well...I was able to keep my HR in the low 160's which was a few beats lower than the last race at PIR, but right in the range of where I'd like it. With the change in wind direction I felt like I was able to take the corners a little faster than last time which led to a smoother race overall.

In the end...the position changes made a big difference. I was able to shave off 40 seconds from my PR that I set last year running a 24:34 over 11.5 miles for my first individual time trial that I averaged over 28 mph (28.07 mph average). I had to wait for the results to be posted but I ended up 1st in the 40+ category for my 2nd win of the year and had the 6th fastest time on the day (5th fastest rider as one in front of me raced twice).

It was a good day and I feel both my position on my bike and form are starting to come together for the first time of the year.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

OBRA RR Championship Day 1

First off, this race was tougher than the profile looked.

With that said, I felt OK heading into the race, had an easy week on the bike with two rest days near the the end of the week (Wednesday and Friday) and warming up my legs felt OK (not great but OK).

The combined 4 fields into one for this race: CAT 3, CAT 3 40+, CAT 3 50+ and CAT 3 60+. It looks like there were a little over 60 people in the field and with fairly narrow roads it made it hard to move around in the pack. For the most part the only place to move safely was during the main climb, but since I'm not a climber, it was difficult for me to position myself well enough for each climb.

At the start of the race I was in a short break-away attempt. About 7 of us were off the front for about 4 miles before we hit the first real climb, but it fizzled out shortly after that as the peloton picked up the pace and chased us down as we slowed on the climb.

From there on I kept trying to stay with the pack on the two main climbs...the second of which was much harder than expected. Normally on climbs like these I don't struggle as I can sit in the draft and get help up the climb...this time however, I didn't have a problem up the climb the first two times but struggled the 3rd time up.

Coming in to the finish on the 3rd lap the field was neutralized, actually stopped on the road by race officials. They wanted to notify the field that we were not supposed to cross the yellow line on a corner after a long, fast downhill that went into a near 270 degree turn. The problem here is at the start, they told us we had both lanes for that turn.

Once under way again, I knew I was tired...but stayed with the field until we hit the first climb again, where my legs told me they were done for the day. I couldn't hold pace and the field rode away at that point. My last lap ended up being a full 10 minutes longer than my fastest (2nd) lap of the day.

While on the course I was talking with another rider who was in a break with me earlier this year and we both agreed that the field was too large for the roads we were racing on, which made for some sketchy riding. The only time they opened up was on the last lap when 1/2 the field was dropped and strung out because of the heavy attacks taking place.

Regardless...at the pace we were riding at I wasn't going to hold on for 4 laps anyway. I've found that my overall limit with road races is about 2.5 hours...after that my legs tend to blow out on me. Up to that point, I'm pretty strong...My legs went at about the 2.5 hour mark, which is about normal...The race was just under 64 miles and took me just over 3 hours to finish (69 miles with warm-up).

Overall...not a great day on the bike, but no crashes and a completed race without any major obstructions. On the day I ended up 17th, which is OK, but not where I would have liked to have been. Next month they have the 40+ open race and I may go race it, but given the length and how I felt during this race I may or may not race it. I'll make that decision as it gets closer.

Next race up will be the PIR TT #2...of which I'm interested to see how the changes to my position effect my flat land speed, since this race is nearly pan-flat. It should be a good test of my legs and bike.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Montinore Road Race

So, I decided to do this race because it's basically in my back yard and have done these roads a lot. For the most part, the course (really a circuit race) fit my abilities. I knew the climb would be tough, but if I could pack slide...I'd be fine.

The race started off well enough and I was able to hold position through the first lap to the climb, which was good given the narrow roads.

When we hit the climb I was able to hold my own and actually make up some ground near the top. Over the top with the full road open I was able to move up to the front of the pack, where I wanted to be.

At this point, I was able to cover attacks, do some pulling and be in great shape for the next time up the climb...or so I thought.

Heading into the sharp left hand turn I was on the far left (inside) of the turn, which should have been good position for the climb. The just ahead and to my right a couple riders rubbed wheels which caused chaos in the field. Everybody moved to the left, which was toward me. The next thing I know riders are cascading toward me and one completely cuts me off causing me to come to a complete stop.

During this stop other riders were able to get around the outside of the road and continue up the hill.

By the time I got moving I had lost approximately 20 seconds and not being a climber...wasn't going to make up any ground. Over the top, the main group hit it pretty hard and by the time I got to the top I was a good 40-50 seconds back.

Given that I know the roads well...I went into TT chase mode and hammered trying to catch back on. I could see I was slowly gaining ground on the pack and caught back up to them with a little over a mile to go before we hit the climb for the 3rd time. The chase took about 11 minutes and I averaged 350 watts to latch back on (averaging 22.8 mph).

When we hit the hill, I thought I was OK, but could tell my legs were starting to tie up and since I was already in the back, I couldn't pack slide. I ended up losing the pack with about 300 meters to go before the top of the climb and ended up dropping about 30 seconds behind.

I kept chasing the pack hoping to latch on again...but just couldn't quite pull them in on the 4th lap and lost them once they hit the climb. This chase I averaged right at 310 watts (averaging 21.6 mph).

At this point, I just wanted to finish the race and hopefully pick off other riders that were dropped off the main field during the race. Over time, I did pick off a few riders and worked together with another on lap #7 (of 8), which helped finish the race a little quicker.

In the end, I got in a lot more TT work and aside from the stoppage on the climb had a good race. I ended up 29th out of 35 I think, so not all was lost.

This weekend is the first of two State Championship Road Races (they have a category race and an age bracketed race). I'll be competing in the CAT 3 40+ category and the course looks to suit my abilities well...so we will see if I can finally pick up some luck in a road race and get a good race/finish in.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Raven TT #2

Between last weeks race and this weeks race I was able to pick up a new seat post (cheap Performance Brand) and swap out cranks, going from 172.5mm to 170mm cranks to make the final needed changes to my TT set up.

My old seat post was a reversed Ritchey, but didn't quite have enough room to get the saddle level which made the front of the saddle raise up a few degrees, which was uncomfortable on longer rides/races. The new saddle...though originally did the same thing...lets me have full range of motion regardless of which way it's placed in the seat post (I had to file down a nub on each side to do this).

This gives my bike an effective seat tube angle of 78 degrees. The stock STA on my Fuji is 76 degrees and using the reversed seat post gives me 2cm of extra forward saddle placement...thus giving me an approximate 2 degrees extra of STA.

As for the cranks...most people tend to go longer with their cranks on TT bikes...so it's a bit counter-intuitive going to shorter cranks. The reasoning for shorter cranks is this:

  1. I have short femurs and shorter cranks work better for me
  2. Shorter cranks reduce the amount of flex in the knee, thus keeping your power stroke better (more bend = less power).
  3. Shorter cranks allow me to raise my saddle just a little which helps with hip angle

When I made the changes to the bike and took it for it's initial spin around the block...it finally, just felt "Right". This was a good sign. I then took it out for 2.5 hours on Wednesday to make sure saddle height, fore/aft positioning, etc. were correct and did a trip up Pumpkin Ridge to see how it felt under power for an extended period of time. As it turns out with my saddle a little low I set my fastest time (on my TT bike) up Pumpkin Ridge by about 1.5 minutes.

So...The Raven TT #2 was it's first real test under full, race conditions.

The conditions were a bit trickier than last week with more wind that seemed to be a head wind on the way out with a cross wind on the way back. Most people were turning in times similar to last week, so it couldn't have made too much of a difference overall.

The end result was I ran a 28:14 which was a PR by 28 seconds on this course and 36 seconds faster than last week. The bike also felt really good, especially on the flats where I was able to push a bigger gear and was more comfortable.

Looking at the results again, it appears they changed...I moved up into 1st place by 2 seconds for my first win of the season.

It should be interesting to see if I'm any faster at the PIR TT that takes place on Memorial Day this year.

Overall...I still took 2nd in the Masters 40+ class and had the 9th (?) fastest time on the day (though one was a tandem and an other was by the same guy racing two classes). But I feel good about the effort because my fit feels pretty dialed in, I think I could have gone a good 10 seconds faster and I set a PR on the course by a large margin.