Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Westlake 06/26/07

Wow-what a hot and humid day. Great turnout again for the Zipp wheel demo night. For SBR in the A race we had Tom Keller, Rick Adams, Gary Burkholder and John Ehrlinger. IN the race were 3 Torelli, Jason Grimm of Godspeed, Mehul and other Spin guys, A&F, a Summa lady racer, 3 Texas Roadhouse (TR), lots of Lake Effect (LE) and the usual too many RGF Solutions guys with Stefan, Dick, Cameron, etc all in DA house again. The race started with a prime on laps 1 and 2 so it started pretty fast and that kept the field together for awhile. Eventually a good break went up the road, but I didnt see much promise as it was missing TR, though it stayed out for a good 15 laps.

Eventually it fizzled and as predicted when it came back others shot attacks up the road. A pretty small group left initially, but was bridged by Tom Keller and Batke so Gary and I went on the front and I just sat up. This gave the break time to get away and gave me a nice rest too. What I found interesting is when I'd see JOhn he was looking fresh, which makes me think I need to stay a few more riders back, even on my days when I get to play. It seems I have decent attack and bridge speed so I need to stop hanging in the air in the front all of time. I'm kind of short so its hard to see up the road sometimes for me so not too far back.

Although the race wasnt brutally fast, its slowness was often met with some pretty hard, but short accelerations and in this heat it was taking its toll on my already tired legs. Unfortunately Tom's calf cramped up and he came back to the group and slowly the guys in the break started coming back. I recal before this or during this time briding pretty hard up to Rudy, who was chasing a break, but we didnt get too far.

Then with two guys left up the road (Diffenbacher and a TR guy Moskol(sp?))and less than 5-laps to go Rudy just sort of rolled off the front at a TT pace and I went with. Its a bit rusty as JOhn said he didnt block for me and Tom said they did, but Rudy and I got away in a hurry and we worked great together. So thanks team!! Then guys started to bridge up the next lap. Grimm, Stefan, Tris, Paul Martin and others made our bridging move then we caught the two guys in the break. We rolled around and i started to work some to keep away while PM and others did nothing so I started to do nothing too for a half a lap. Then Tris sent a hard attack and I bridged it. Then a TS took a dig and I didnt come around Tris as it wasnt a big dig. I got yelled at by Tris so I took another pull. Its great he said "You chased me down like I was going backwards, now you wont come around!!" Cool!! Then Paul Martin took a flyer and I chased that down bringing the group back to him. Man did I have to go like heck to catch him and luckily he sat up. My legs hurt like a MOFO now, but I guess they were going alright. As we finally hit the bell lap I kept turning around to see if we had a gap and there was NO peleton chasing us down. Made sense as it was a well represented break with about every team in it and 10 or so guys. Now i should have sat at the back being solo in the break, but I wanted to be at the front as I was very tired and didnt want to get ejected out the back. Finally I did fade to the back, but not till I had taken some more (stupid) pulls at the front. It started to get stupid and I was able to get up to third, but when the attacks starting with RGF going first, I tried to stay on, but I didnt have the legs. I passed two guys who gave up before me and rolled in 7th and I MADE THE BREAK at Westlake!!

You have no idea how happy that makes me!! That was a victory right there. Tris aftwerwards told me the obvious that I didnt need to chase everything down while Stefan and PM just sat in the back of the break, but this is how I learn AND I am just darn happy I was able to be aggressive at the end of 46 miles of racing in almost 90 degree humid heat!! Some race stats. I averaged 25.7 mph at 211 watts (243NP)and got another good leg speed workout with an ave cadence of 99 rpm. I had to hit the all out sprint button 5 times in the last 2.2 miles and hit 800 to 900 watts each time (ave watts of 266). No wonder I had no sprint when it counted!!
Sorry so long as usual, but this race had me super excited!!

New goal and Ziiingg!!!

Well, I have one of my goals set for 2008 already!! Top 3 overall at the State TT and of course win my age group. Tall order, but goals should be tough!!

On a side note, I went to spin out my legs last night and man did my legs feel great. I have done easier rides and my legs have felt like crap for days. I must confess to being stumped on this one, but happy. I bet tonght they dont feel as good, but who knows. Sometimes its the ride two days after a hard effort that makes the legs scream.

I also cleaned up my TT bike, took off the rear wheel and hung it up on its hook. I took off the heavy disc wheel covers and put the wheel back on my Cannondale Six 13. I hopped on it and almost fell off the back of my seat when I put my first pedal stroke in it down my driveway!! NO, I am not miraculousely stronger, but that the wheels were so much lighter (as well as the bike) the bike just sprung forward compared to my TT bike. Uh-ohhhhhhh....you know what this means, the TT bikes going on a diet for 2008!!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Data, Thoughts and More....

Its Monday morning and yeah, you guessed it, still hurting over not winning my age group, but thats not to say its all bad. I turned in a time of 52:59 for an average speed of 26.72mph. To go back to when I just got back into cycling last July, I recall thinking I would do time trials (no mass start events) and my initial goal would be to break the hour in the 40k. That was goal number one. Going back even further when I first started cycling for competition in the late 80's (I was in college at Ohio State)my first 40k I did 1:03 and I was told at the time that that was a really good time for only cycling a year or less. Later that summer I went 1 hour and change and then my third attempt I went 58 minutes. I did my 4th and final TT on that course and although I dont recall what time it was exactly, it was 56 minutes or faster. This was with no aero equipment except clip-ons and a skinsuit mind you. So being that this was my first 40k TT in over 17 years I would bet, to go a theoretical 56:13 I cannot be too upset. I got that number by using my ave speed for this event over 25 miles instead of 23.7 which is what states was this year. I am also really happy ot be only 2:37 down on Paul Martin (ex-pro) and only 1:22 on Eric Hodos (winner of Presque Isle in April) who beat me over 12.5 miles in April by over a minute!! I also want to congratulate Richard Lewis of Team Echelon on the 40-45 win.

I also had an average wattage of 274 watts and raced the event at my lowest weight of 144 pounds. This gave me a power to weight ratio of 4.18w/kg on that day. My functional threshold on a road bike is 284 watts (4.33w/kg). If your wondering why I didnt race at my ftp, its a multifold answer. First its very common to not be able to sustain your ftp on your time trial bike, but that the aero advantage more than offsets that. I am faster on my TT bike so..... Second, being that I hadnt done any testing (nor would care to) at the 40k (25mile) distance, I didnt want to go out at 284 watts to blow up spectacularly before the finish. Bearing in mind how poorly mile 13-18 went yesterday I might have been wise in my estimation to back down the ave. watts by 10, but my heart tells me otherwise.

So whats the conclusion? Well, first off, keep training and raise the ftp and do more 40k's. Historically if you look at how fast I dropped my times in the 40k, if I do that again I am looking at being right there in the top 3. Its really that simple!! I think mentally I raced the race smart, I never gave up and positive pep talks like this "This is the State TT, you want to be State TT Champion so dig, dig deeper" were common. But regardless and yeah I am making lousy excuses after the fact, 40k's are hard and it takes a few to build that confidence to know that regardless of how much pain your in that you CAN go 0.1 or 0.2 mph faster the WHOLE time and you will make it to the finish without blowing up!! Yeah-its gonna put you deeper in the hurt tank, but thats what time trialing is all about!!

Results are here: http://www.team-cobc.com/pdfs/GroveportTT.htm

Map of the course here: http://www.mapmyride.com/ride/united-states/oh/groveport/527384957

Sunday, June 24, 2007

State Time Trial-missed it by a hair!!

How can one even begin to deal with losing by 1-second?!?!? 1 minute is reasonable, thats someone else with a bigger motor and abetter day, but 1-second? I do know what happened and it was sure to add up to more than a second. More to come on that later. The day started wet, but I needed to see the last 5 miles of the course and its darn good I did too. Warm-up went fine and i rolled ot the line and when I was released I looked down at my computer and it had turned off. I turned it on and set an interval so I would have current runtime and distance should I want to look at it. This was annoying, but I got it all done, hit the turn for Lithopolis and set into my plan for the day, which was to ride conservative up front and see how I felt. So I backed down the wattage and tried my best to keep any surges over the rollers reasonable. I was going upwards of 27mph so I figured I was safe for now. The first 12 miles of the course went by uneventfully. I was tired and legs were screaming for relief, but otherwise normal!! My heart rate was good (maybe too good)and I was relaxing my upper body and controlling my breathing when I would start to breathe too big and fast. But I dont know what happened after one of the turns, but I slowed down a bit and it showed in my power profile. I went from an average of 277 watts down to 260 watts. IT only worked out to a loss of 0.1 mph, but thats where I think I lost the race. I was trying like mad that whole section to keep my watts up as well, but it was getting harder and harder and every push was met with a slow down. But I knew when I hit the 5 miles to go mark from my warm-up and I got my watts up to 280 for the last 5 and rolled in hard and fast at over 320 watts and 29 to 31 mph. I dont know what happened, cumulative tiredness or maybe a little lack of mental toughness, but I am happy I got myself back up. I ended up top 10 overall and 2nd in my age group. Its funny, but the guy who beat me shaved his arms and if thats not enough he said to his buddy, watch me lose by 1-second after I shaved my arms or something to that effect. Well he didnt lose and I lost by a hair!! Maybe next year I shave my arms!! I cannot thank enough my wife and daughter, my coach Brent Evans and Mike Vanucci and to all my new cycling friends who have encouraged me and challenged me these last 11 months getting back into cycling!! Sorry I missed it, but hey-I gave it my all and not just at this event!!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Lake Effect Course.

Lake Effect TT 06/14/07

I went into this race as a test of so many things and to be honest, its over now and the severity of the course has me quite bewildered as to if I learned anything. Thats not to say I am upset, its a great course that deserves more recognition and entries, though there were 28 or more for its first event. I also went into this race with 4 hard days and 3 recovery days to make up the week. I was anything but fresh and I could feel it warming up. My legs burned and didnt feel zippy and they definately werent liking the endless ups and some very sharp rollers!! But that was a known going in so again, not upset, but it made me a bit worried when I saw the whos who in the entries (Batke, Weeks, Thor, Srorka, Gorman??, etc.). Again, I am so new I hardly know anybody so I have listed who I have raced against and know are fast (Weeks and Thor two of last years State TT champions, Rudy Srorka and Batke are just hammers-period). So to the line and I go out of the gate harder than normal because i have a fast descent to start the course. I hit 45mph and hammer down to the first corner, make the turn conservatively and start the false flat type road that ends with two up rollers. I am surprised because i am going a lot slower than expected, but my HR is red zone but my wattage is only threshold. I decide then its too early to start pushing so I let the speed drop, but keep the wattage at 285 to 355 watts as I roll up. Luckily the first of the downs comes and for the next two miles I am averaging 28.2mph and hammering in my 53/11, which you can guess is awesome fun!! But mile 3 is where this course really hits you with up and up and when it does go down, it is short and steep ,meaning steep up the other side. Also by now Ive caught my 1 minute man and can see my two and three minute men up the road. I eventually catch my 3 minte man and maybe 4 minute wonman as well. My strategy, right or wrong was to optimize speed on the downs and hammer the ups causing a very spiky power curve. Finally through to the last mile and I make the corner, hit the finish hill at 14.6mph and top out across start finish at 20mph. First lap was 294 watt average and 25.6mph pace. Thats pretty fast and BOY do I FEEL it come lap 2. Down the fast descent, but not as fast as lap 1, through the false flat to mile 3 and thats when I am really hurting. I am 1mph slower from mile marker 3 to 4 compared to lap 1 and I can barely make myself push on the backsides of the rollers. I am even thinking I may just blow wide open before I finish this 10 mile TT, thats how bad its getting. So I finally see the last mile and I got to finish this off hard so I go through the last corner, climb the finish climb at 17.5mph and roll across the line at 22mph. But the numbers dont lie. On L2 I averaged only 259 watts and 25mph. For the race I went 25.3mph and finshed a respectable 23:11. Who won? Rudy smoked us with a 22:29 which is a course record I believe and I was 2nd, Batke was 2 seconds in arrears rounding out the top 3. Many thanks to BIke Authority and Rudy and his fine crew of corner marshalls and registrars, timers and the guy who held all the guys bikes before the start!! Very well run to say the least.

This shows a big improvment from Presque Isle where I raced many of the same top contenders. And although I made some mistakes on pacing, strategy and may need some tweaks on position, its a good ride 10 days before the State TT. But I need some serious rest to put all this hard work to best effect. I am whipped and my legs know it!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Westlake 06/12/07

Now this was weird. My first race where I just sat in, did nothing and ran with the group in the draft for 44 miles. A funny thing happened mid-race while we were doing what we had done for laps. Two guys yelled at me when i came to the front to just sort of hang out and look at different behinds and jerseys (you know what they say, if your not the lead dog, the scenery never changes). I guess they didnt appreciate me not pulling through on the completely unorganized and so called paceline they had tried to form. I almost laughed at them, but I held my tongue. Outside of that I got a a great workout I couldnt have had on my own, riding only low to mid Z2, but riding at 24 to sometimes 30 mph!! So with the exception of some cranky, mouthy guys and others who cannot hold a line through S-curves, it was a nice night. Hopefully next week I'll be able to play again. Now its a recovery day and get ready to lay it down tomorrow at the Team Lake Effect Time Trial in Hinckley.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Mill Creek Criterium

Snake Bite showed up in the Cat. 2/3 race with Tom Keller, Dave Steiner and myself. We lined up with only 18, but a very fast field of aggressive Cat 2 and Cat.3 racers. Definately a case of quality over quantitiy. The 1 mile course is great and I recommend it highly. Never flat, rolling with safe corners and a 700+' long steep (8%??) climb every lap for 25 laps!! We rolled out for a slow lap and Dave rolled off the front a bit but was quickly back. Then attacks started on lap 2. Off the front went two of Freddie Fu's team, Batke of Torelli and myself. As usual we got the big initial gap, but I heard afterwards that guys were flying off the front to bridge and finally when enough guys jumped the whole field filled the gaps and we were brought back. The course with its rollers and one steep climb already had me tired so I fell to the back and that was a BIG mistake. Counterattacks were tossed and from the back I watched them all go and I knew I was screwed. After I recovered I went to the front, reminded the other 11 guys that we are dropped, lets start working. NO reaction except some pulls from a Team Lake Effect rider and then Tom and Dave came to the front and started to set tempo. Not enough to bridge so on the climb I ride up to Dave and told him I was going now to bridge-he wished me luck and off I went as they shut down any chance of a counter or bridge. Luckily I drew out two strong guys (Freddie Fu's and Cameron (RGF)) and we set off to catch the breakaway of 7. We never did, but we got darn close and were catching for awhile and finally we were in no mans land and then the Freddie Fu rider started to attack us. I was dropped once or twice, but easily got back on each time and quit working except for the occasional pull. On the 2nd to last lap we dropped Cameron, but when we were lapped by the top three (who dropped the other 4) we slowed and he got back on just as we did the downhill to the climb. I stayed on the front to get maximum speed through the last corner and as I hit the hill, I picked too small a gear and was spinning to much as the two came around. I shifted down, but it was too late and these guys really left me behind as it flattened out and I rolled in for another top 10!! The race honestly was designed as a workout by Brent my coach and I definately got a good one. My NP (Normalized Power) was 303 watts (236 ave watts) for an hour and we averaged 23.4 mph. The lap early I was in the breakaway was 315 watts average and 26mph and many of the early laps we were chasing the break were also 25.5 mph and 290+ watts average!! Great threshold training was had today for sure.

I am bummed I missed the break today, but I am also happy that I initiated the 2nd breakaway that stayed away and I continue to ride aggressively. As I race more (10 weeks now) and ride another year I hope to be a real force in these races!! Although I realize I am already racing better than expected and already racing the Cat. 1's, 2's and 3's, I sure wish I was as strong as many of these guys already!! Patience grasshopper!!

On a side note Chris Bilowich won his first Cat4 race today at Mill Creek!! Congrats Chris!!


p.s. Thanks for the pic Dave.

Friday, June 8, 2007

TT training-full on!!

Exciting next two weeks for sure. Training full on for the State Time Trial and trying to get as much power in my legs as I can in two weeks. My weight is going in the right direction again finally (less BBQ and Beer!!) as well. I have been fretting the fact that I dont have a flat TT course to practice on, but this time its all working in us East sider's favor. The State (and National if I go) are rolling TT courses this year so its perfect to train on our ever rolling roads.

I got to say that this type of training is extremely mentally challenging. Sure its hard physically, but trying to maximize speed while bearing in my mind theres only so much power to be had for a nearly hour effort is darned draining on the ole grey matter. You see on a flat course its pretty much you against the wind and rolling resistance. Your fighting to gain 0.5mph over the course of 20 to 25 miles. On a rolling course your speed can go form 10mph to 40 mph and back down to 22 and thats just a quarter of a mile. Now just imagine what the power looks like.

But, luck favors the prepared darling so got to just keep digging deep these next two weeks!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Westlake 06/05/07

I'll keep this one short, but I did my first Westlake race and jumped into the A race!! I dont know how many people raced, but it looked to be over 30 to me and a star studded field of Cat 1's and 2's. Snake BIte had John Ehrlinger and Tom Keller and of course me. I heard the 23 lap race was 25.7 ave speed so it was fast and I tried to stay aggressive even attacking myself, though short lived, and trying to get in a good break. Late in the bell lap Batke and two others went and I had to close a small gap to get up to them. I thought this is it as we had a gap and not much left to the lines o iwent by all three and took a long pull, but Paul Martin came around and I didnt jump as he came around hard. When a small group came around including Weeks and RGF I sprinted and came in about 8th (maybe 7th). I was ecstatic to say the least as it was a fast, long race and it looked like attrition was high and I finished at the front with a nice gap behind me to what was left of the field.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Race For Alex

Weather was the story today. Muggy and warm made the race course feel like a sauna. A tough rolling course that had headwinds, slow corners, railroad track (very bumpy) and a fairly steep uphill grind to the start finish about 400 yards out of the last corner. Dave Steiner, Tom Keller and I were representing for Snake Bite Racing in the Cat 2/3 combined race. In the race were some strong riders like Batke, Tris, Weeks, Quinlan, Cioccio, Lowry and lots of diffferent jerseys like Trizilla, UPMC, RGF, MVC, Torelli, etc. It was looking like it was going to be fast and right from the gun down the descent we hit 39mph and it took a 800+ watt surge to catch back on. The early part of the race saw Quinlan solo off the front. I saw a couple opportunities and shot off the front with others hoping to bridge but all came back quickly. One thing about the Cat. 2/3 versus Cat.4 is how fast they can move to close down attacks!! Like a light switch youve got a big gap and then 10 seconds later you see 30 guys about to catch you. The best breakaway attempt occured after Dave Steiner jumped off the front and I went with him. This strung out the field a bit and when I saw Batke and two others jump I decided to go. Again we quickly had a big gap and I urged one rider to pull through, but it was evident he didnt want to work so we slowed. Bummer because I would have worked my tail off in that one. These attacks occured all race long with some twosies and threesies stayiong away for awhile. I am really hurting at this point, but when I was fairly recovered I would jump when I had to and on the bell lap Tom Keller took off and I again went with. When I bridged solo I took a turn as we were trying to bridge two guys and hopefully take it to the line with 4. Again, it was unsuccesful and I thought I was done after that. I was no longer in my usual top 5-10 as I had been most of the race and the speed through the last two sections between corners would have made moving up difficult, especially as fried as I felt. I was mid pack when we went through the last corner and to my anger and suprise I really launched out of the last corner and started to pick off guys all the way up the hill. I hit 130 rpm, 34 mph in an uphill sprint!!!. I was mad because I didnt position myself like I had in all the previous races and I think I could have nailed a top 10 and maybe even a top 5 had I had my usual top 5 position. Thats easy to say now of course because I am not doing 500 to 800 watt surges just hanging on through the last few miles. We also avergaed 25.2 mph the last lap. Tom Keller finished 10th for SBR and I came in 13th while Quinlan stayed away the entire race!! We averaged 24.5 mph so you can imagine what Quinlan did by himself!! So a good race again for SBR and I am content with my finish in my first Cat.2/3 race in over 15 years.