Monday, March 31, 2008

Chippewa Creek Road Race

One of my favorites!! The Chippewa Creek Road Race is May 18th this year. Last year I upgraded from 4 to 3 right afterwards. Maybe with some luck I'll upgrade from 3 to 2 this year.

Today was a busy morning.
4:45am let puppy out. Dont have to, but I was up.
6:00 alarm (I had been awake on and off since 2am so no problems getting up.
6:05 coffee maker automatically starts.
6:20 start my stretching routine.
7:10 Z3 Intervals and fast repeats on the trainer as I expected rain all day. Big ouch. Watched Paris Roubaix with sound off and MP3 player in my ear. Wouldnt you guess all the mellow songs played during the intervals...
8:40 kiss my daughter and shes off to Kindergarten.
8:45 strength routine, two sets.
ahh-finally breakfast. Eat light since I weighed myself, uggh..2.5 lbs gained...Where did that come from? Hope its water weight.

Also I flopped over in bed at some point from 2 to 5am and it hurt my knee. All day it hurt. Funny, eh? Train, climb hills, sprint, go up steep rollers, no pain. Roll over in bed-ouch. Its fine and will be better again tomorrow.

More crazy ideas for bicycling related products, home made carbon frame, new fixie project.....

Whens the next race? Whoop-I am tired, good night!!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tour De Richland. aka Malabar A race

Expectations. Some set them high and some set them low. I tend to think I try and set them realistically. Today my expectation was that I would eventually get dropped and I hoped I would have a couple of guys to roll around with. IN the meantime I wanted to make a good showing for Team Columbus and my teammates. With the powers of positive thinking I did allow myself to think grander, but I didnt expect it.

The course is a fun one with a reported 1 mile climb that is a steady grind that tops out with not one but two steep right hand bends. I get 0.84 miles, but whos counting. It hurts and thats all that really matters. Afterwards its a short descent then right into the first of these rollers that are really killers. Its hard to say, but I'd say there are at least 4 steep rollers on the backside. Then its out onto what I call the highway for 5 miles of mostly flat, but windy open roads to the start finish, which this year was across form the parking lot, not up the 1 mile climb.

Everything started easily enough on the first 10 mile loop. First attack was from INferno racing's Jim Baldesare. When he came back Marco took off next from Inferno and he was given some room and got a small gap. Soon aftewards my teammate Brian Batke bridged and again no one reacted. He bridged then dropped Marco. Tris and I sat in the pack and chased after, but did not work in the few bridge attempts.

On lap 2 up the big climb I went to the front and set tempo and before the first right hander Paul Martin attacked and although I knew what to do, the speed in which he took off was too much. So much in fact that we chased, but no one could catch him. He went after Brian whom he felt needed reeled in because he had built a 1:47 lead!!

On Lap 3 I again went to the front for the climb and coming over the top near the front I saw Paul was gone and Brian was hovering within sight. After recovering for the climb I launched my first attack of the race to try and bridge to Brian. if I drew a crowd I would sit up, but if I got away solo I would try and get across. I had my heavy, but aero Powertap wheel this race and I was quite happy with my numbers. I only bring up the weight because I left a 300+ gram lighter rear wheel and 230 gram lighter front wheel in the car because I figured aero would trump weight.

So anyways, I get a gap, putting out good power and sometimes Brian is coming back to me and I think maybe I can do this. We go the whole backside and as I descend to the highway I look back and theres guys coming. I sit up and wait and only 4 guys of the 11 in the main field have closed the gap and Tris is one of them. So now we are a group of 5 with Brian then Paul up the road.

Laps 3 and 4 are pretty uneventful and it seems everyone is waiting for the finish. I have other plans because I have a teammate in the break. Finally after 40 miles we start the last lap. I again set the pace up the climb and I try and drill it over the top, but they get right on my wheel. The course makes the race hard all by itself, but clearly the pace hasnt been hard enough as this attack is brought back quickly. A couple miles later I decide to try and soften up the pack of 5 of us some more and launch another attack. I dont get much of a gap initially, but I put my head down and within a minute I am pulling away, but I am not putting out enough power and my legs hurt.

Tris said eventually they put the chase on the rollers to bring me back and he said it was a hard move. Good!!

Once back in the group I think, why isnt anyone attacking? What a perfect time to drop me, then a cat 2 rider from Ohio State starts upping the pace before I am recovered and I am fading off the back. Luckily they all relent and up one of the steepest rollers I get back on legs screaming in pain. Like someone hitting nails in my thighs with a hammer. That was close. But its supports my belief to never give up because every racer is human. They cannot go that hard forever. Well maybe Batke and Paul can!! I decide to chill for now.

I didnt say, but every lap on the highway we do a very nice rotating paceline the entire 5 miles. Its almost like a duty when in these small breakaways in the Cat1-3 races that some show of "skill" at things like this must be exercised. Its also entertaining to see everyone grab a gell to eat at the exact same time on the 4th time down the highway to prepare for the last lap.

We hit the highway one last time and everyone looks fresh. Bummer because i know my aggressiveness has burned up a lot of my energy and I already know I dont have much power left and hard efforts are met with a lot of pain. I try and do something about it for Tris and between us we launch a few attacks. I go about a mile out and then Tris throws down an attack I hope will stick just before the last corner, I sptint last in line and barely stay in touch with the 4 others. But as we make the bend he fades and we go past. I try for the two places just ahead of me, but I am toast as my right thigh was cramping after my last attack. We roll in at 34 mph, but I dont have the energy to pass anyone.

But, a day that started with meager expectations ends up being a great day for the team (2nd, 6th(me)and 7th) and we dropped some good guys on my lap 3 attack. Sure it was only 13 starters, but I'd argue quality over quantity today!! Everyone says they dont have form in the spring, even Brian said he didnt have race form, but he rode 40 miles solo and finished 2nd to the tireless and uber powerful Paul Martin.
But i can honestly say today took me by complete surprise. Maybe some will say you only got 6th (possibly 1st Cat. 3 though) so thats not so great, but I am happy, happy, happy. Oh and sore, sore, sore!! I cannot wait till tomorrow to spin out my legs for an easy, easy 30 or 40 minutes. Oh-also Team Columbus wins the Masters race and gets 2nd with Tom Frueh and Mitch!! A good day. I dont know how Chris Grisvard did yet.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Now the hurting begins, Conconi and Wingate done

11am Tuesday.....stroll into Bike Authority. Sean Gilbert hooks the Dale into the Computrainer and I warm up and my tire warms up. After calibration were off at 100 watts to start the Conconi test to determine Lactate Threshold Heart Rate and Threshold power.

Every minute Sean records heart rate and asks for my Perceived Exertion (PE)from 1 to 10. Up to 220 or so its easy and I call PE as 2 or 3. As we break 220 I realize I am not shifting up as I go up 20 watts per minute, but keep pedaling faster and I am at 116 rpm. A bit high so I finally shift to the big ring, down a few cogs to an easier gear, but am still above 100 cadence. Its no big deal, but I'd say it probably made a small difference at the end.

Once past 300 I am calling a PE of 6 and its starting to get Hot, hot hot with no fan. I drink a little and keep toweling off and strip my sleeveless jersey and hope I dont scare any children with my skinny bones sticking out. 320 rolls by and its not that hard to hold that wattage, but it is getting painful. 340, 360 and now its getting hard to hold and I am feeling myself hitting the wall-PE is now an 8. 380 watts and I upshift to lower cadence and that helps for 2 or 3 seconds and then i am done. I cannot hold 380 for anything and Sean records the last heart rate and PE of 10 and were done as I flounder to hold 330 watts for the last 30 seconds going all out.

Because of being heat soaked I spin for a long, long time and my heart rate comes down, but I feel whipped. The meat of the test took only 15 minutes.

Next up was the Wingate test which is a measure of the power you can put out with your lower body. Sounds funny, but thats what it is. It is a measure of anaerobic power and only lasts 30 seconds. The idea is to pedal with no resistance, then a set resistance is applied (best done on a Monark Cycle Ergometer) and then you go as hard as you can for 30 seconds. We dont have a Monark so we again used the Computrainer.

I am sure the data is all useable, but the Wingate data has an asterisk because I didnt trust my left knee in an all out effort so I did the whole test seated. I peaked out at 700 watts and averaged 585 I think. I'll recheck that when I get home. I was going so hard I was right on the tip of the saddle and could feel the power fading away as the final 10 seconds wound down. It always amazes me how you can ride for 5 hours or 30 seconds and in both cases can be flat out cooked afterwards.

As I cooled down again Sean crunched the data and we now have a current and accurate picture of where my training zones are going forward. I feel like the Threshold power is a bit optimistic for this part of the season, but it certainly bodes well for the summer and fall time trials. My threshold is 320 watts and thats quite an improvement over last summers best in 40k of 274. Though by the end of the summer I was time trialing (20k and less) at close to 300 and possibly more than that at the last practice TT's at Vrooman road and at Presque Isle. I didnt use my Power tap that race as Rudy loaned me the Bike Authority shop Zipp disc. But in the spring on a faster day I went 28:05 at 290 watts (raod bike with clip-ons mind you) and in the fall I went 27:24 so I'd have to say there was an increase in watts as well as the big reduction in drag of being on the P2SL TT bike.

Some more interesting tidbits is that Mark Lopresto had read and also felt that Powertaps read 10 to 20 watts low when locked into a trainer. I'll need to research why that is, but if you've ever wondered why what power you feel is easy on the road is harder on the trainer, maybe this partially explains why. My Powertap averaged 310 watts when the Computrainer said 320 watts at threshold and during the Wingate it was a whopping 40 watts lower in average power.

Hopefully were done testing till the end of the road season!! But as I was leaving I told Sean to not be afraid to kill me to get me ready for the State Time trial and he said "dont worry-its coming"!! I can honestly say I am a bit scared!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Next week-it begins!!

My coach Sean Gilbert has instructed me to take it very easy this weekend and get ready to start his training plan next week. Yahoo, its about time. The knee still hurts, but its a lot better.

Today Brett D and I did 3x up Berkshire at speed and then finished with tempo to Old Mill and then rode a high effort to the top. We both did two explosive jumps , one midway and one at the top. So thats the last hard effort till Tuesday.

I start with the Conconi test Tuesday which is a graded effort. It is designed (in a lab) to determine lactate threshold via blood samples. From this, in its simplest terms can accurately determine your training zones. Luckily there are other ways to do it and we will not be taking blood. Me and needles just dont get along.

My wife says is this test to determine how much milk I can produce??

Basically on a bike you start at a power level appropriate to your level of fitness and hold it for 2 minutes then up it 20 watts every 2 minutes till you can no longer hold the power for 20 seconds. I think its a way for the coach and other employees to laugh at you while your sweat your ass off and make ridiculous faces while writhing in agony. There may be side bets like "I bet he pukes at 350 watts".

There will be a dip in HR thats the tell of where the lactate threshold is and from there the other training zones will be determined. All very useful for your coach to be able to determine how hard to push you and when during the season to turn each one up a bit. Also during later tests you have real data to see if the training as prescribed is working and how effective it has been.

Examples are during the early season it is important to build the base and then work tempo. The tempo zone is very specific and usually is only a 6bpm range!! Its is very specific. And as a road racer you need to be able to ride at tempo comfortably or at most mildly painfully for hours. The higher your tempo pace is the greater hurt you can apply when pulling the peleton or breakaway and the more you can sustain someones elses tempo. My teammates Batke, Tris and other guys like Dan Quinlan and of course the PM machine come to mind. Ouch!!

Effective adaptations to your training occur when you adhere to your zones, but the zones must be accurate. An example from last year was I was telling Brent Evans that the efforts were getting too easy and I was in zone 2 hr when utting out high L3 power, I think my zones have moved up. We tested (his was a 3 mile all out time trial on the computrainer at Bike Authority) and from that we found that in fact the power I put out at Tempo heart rate was too low and I needed to put out more power to get into the reevaluated Z3 tempo HR zone.

By the end of the season I was back into needing a retest, but we never got around to it. Now if I were to use those zones (which I am now) they would be wrong because the knee problems has reclassified my zones (sadly downward in power or higher in HR to maintain the same zones as last season).

But thats why testing is a good thing. Its a painful experience and I wouldn't want to do it more than 2 or 3 times a year, but it definitely is important.

Theres a lot more ot this whole thing, but I'll save you the read for now.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A little bling for my friend.

Ive been putting off the spring rebuild of the Cannondale Six 13 till its as close to race time and as far away form salty roads as possible. The funny part is last winter when I got the bike (January of 2007)) I rode it every ride, trainer, outdoors, rain, snow on the ground, raods wet with salt water. Cleaned it all the time too and religiously cleaned that chain.

In fact its first ride is known by a group of about 10 of us as the Epic Burton ride. The only one with any sense was John Rachfal who when it started to drizzle maybe 40 minutes into the ride said "um guys, I think its time to turn around." Did we listen, HECK no, we went on and then slogged away not only into the rain, but I swear the temps dropped into the low 40s and the wind kicked up. Most all of us did not have any shells to put on much less proper layers for the sudden drop in temperature. Well after 3.5 hours of hell and 53 miles we made it home. Frozen fingers, hypothermia and new bike shifting woes and all. Maybe John didnt have any sense either since he stayed for the ordeal too.

So here I am in 2008 and Ive got a nice mountain bike and cyclo cross bike to ride when the temps go down. And even though my bikes riding on the same cables, housings and chain as 14 months ago I wont ride it unless its all peachy clean on the roads.

But onto today. Ive been siting on the SRAM 1090r chain I bought ages ago at Bike Authority, Dura-ace calipers bought used from a local racer and a new Rival rear derailleur to replace my (defective?) one that has been on it. Ive heard a lot of good things about Thom's wrenching skills and the wheels hes fixed and built for me are darn sweet so I went up to Spin, shared some pastries and cookies and some good conversation and got my ride all blinged out for 2008. You see we were going to ride together with all my parts n my back pack, do the work, then I was going to ride to work. Voila 4 hours....but the roads were salty and wet and I would have had my new chain on the bike, not to mention I would have been soaked and standing around shivering. I rode mt TT bike on the trainer.

I'm not here to compare anyones wrenching skills, but Thom's attention to detail and knowledge is quite apparent. He is as good a mechanic as a lot of people have told me he is (and lots of east siders go to him).

And last, its funny to think about the off the bargain rack shorts, parts, everything used race bikes I used to race in the 80's and 90's. I had and still have the one bling part, a Dura-ace front derailleur!! But here I am a lot older and I am still riding hand me down parts whenever possible. But money doesn't buy happiness they say and thats true. Heres a great read on the subject from local racer John Davis. But I got to say, these Dura-Ace brakes are the bling, bling. I hope I dont toss myself over the handlebars the first panic stop!!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Hey, where have you been?

A group of us (Brett D, Dave S, Pete S, Chris S and Dan M) rolled out for the infamous 5-hill ride. First up Sherman with its steep start off of Chagrin River road and then a second pitch that looks and feels like a 6% to me. Pete laid down some power up that one and when i caught up we rolled south to catch Old mill going west bound. This ones an average of 7.5% with two steeper pitches and almost 2km. Pete and I pushed each other all the way up with matching surges all the way till it leveled off. A meeting of clenched fists at the top meant "nice work".

From here we rolled down Berkshire and hit Old Mill eastbound. I was feeling better by the hill and set a high tempo and then up-shifted all through the middle where it is less steep. The second pitch Pete snuck up on me, but a loud shift gave up his position and I pushed the pace to the top finishing by myself. From there we rolled to Berkshire.

Up Berkshire and its very shallow early grade I went hard, even going to the drops. Dave and Pete came along and as we headed up the hill Dave came around for a pull then Pete took over and pushed the wattage up to 375 watts. I took one final pull to pop us over the top then it was back down to Chagrin River road.

All this time I am thinking about how weak and not like myself I have felt on the bike, but today I was feeling good. Even yesterday and I didnt feel that strong or good when the heat was turned up. I am also really happy with my S-works shoes and the evolution of my position seems to be going very well. I feel smoother pedaling my bike under load and going uphill, though my wattage is (as it should be) down from race pace, its good for now. As the Euros say I was having good sensations on the bike today.

We finished the ride up Cedar where again it was Pete, Dave and I. I set the early pace and Pete stayed glued on my wheel, but Dave decided he wasnt giving up and stood up to close the gap and half broke a link on his chain. Its good it didnt break all the way or he'd be pulling his knee cap off of his stem. Dan provided the tools and Brett did the repair. After the repair we drilled it up the false flat that I love on top of Cedar hill to SOM. Faster and faster we pulled.

Yeah, it was good to feel like myself again. Knock, Knock... "Hello??" "Who's there??" "ME you dummy!!"

Friday, March 14, 2008

Oh the guilt....

or is the proper name for this guilty pleasure? I still am not smiling. What the @$!%$@ is wrong with me??? Its only money right? Ahhh......thats more like it!! SMILE for the camera!!


I have lots to say right now, but I got to run, but for now, heres a great video and only takes a minute. Please pass it along to your friends.


Monday, March 10, 2008

More cross training

3rd time shoveling
The knee, well its really not changing so I am changing my workout routines instead. I basically stopped riding, but ended up replacing riding with at least 4 hours of shoveling on Saturday as the 15 to 18" of white stuff came down. Worse for my driveway is the drifting that always occurs. I could use my driveway for a windtunnel!! Ohh-that gives me some ideas!! Just kidding.
Saturday was fun to watch people XC skiing down the roads. Sunday at Hilltoppers many parents had stories of snow shoeing and skiing all over the eastside on the streets. One personn said they saw a man with a 2-dog sled going down a major road. At least people who lead healthy life styles find a way to make some fun out of a blizzard.

Saturday night Audrey and I tried riding our bikes in the snow after we shoveled. At first we both could barely ride, but the more we tried the better we both got. The winds almost blew Audrey right off her bike. It was funny to watch Audrey sledding on her own hill in the driveway too. Only a 4' to 5' high hill and probably a 60 degree angle!! Talk about a steep drop.

Plop, straight down

Then Sunday I went to Chapin Forest with Audrey and my wife, but quickly found out that walking in deep snow is much harder than skiing and it was killing my knee so I donned my skis and spent the next 3 or 4 hours wandering around lazily on my skis then got into an hour long snow ball fight at the Pine Forest Lodge. A lot of fun was had. We were there from 10:30am till 5pm and spent almost the whole time outside. My neck and shoulders were sore come Monday. Between core, squats, lunges, stretching, free weights, shoveling, skiing and throwing snowballs I got a lot of good workouts in this weekend. Audrey won an award as a standout Bunnyrabbit skier and moved up to Jackrabbit for 2008/9 season too. She was very excited. Go Audge Podge (her Hilltoppers nickname).

My wife and my sister in law tried snow shoeing for the first time and had a blast. So Monday after school we met some friends at Chapin, rensted the snow shoes and walked a good 4 or 5 miles (Audrey too) up and down hills and in fresh snow and some pre-made trails. Snow shoes provide a nice relaxing way to get exercise in winter. It was fun trudging through fresh snow and making new paths through the woods.

So that was the weekend, plus Monday's training. Didnt touch the bikes (well worked on them, but didnt work out on them), but was far from a lazy weekend. I am whooped, my wifes found muscles in her legs she didnt know she had and Audrey inhaled every snack we had on the way home tonight and then wanted dinner when we got home too! Miraculously we got her bathed, fed and in bed only 15 minutes late!

Whew-thats some cross training!! Bring on Spring!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

4 new things

#1 Do you have have feelings of wanting to create something new? Something useful to the world that also excites you? I have lots of them nowadays and most of them are related to the bicycle and the environment. My latest idea is a ULV. HAHAHA!! I did it again, more abbreviations and acronyms. I love them I really do. But my idea is for an Ultra Light Vehicle. Primarily human powered, but easy enough to pedal at speed that a non athlete type person could drive it. Drive you say? Yes I am thinking three wheeled vehicle with electric motor assist of some sort and self charging. I need to talk to some engineers about a charging system, regenerative braking systems and that sort of thing. Also for commuting how cool would it be if pedal effort was constant from stop light to 35 mph up hill or down? I am under no delusions, the vehicle would not be that light, but compared to a car it certainly would be. But batteries and electric motors and complex drivetrains will add up quickly. How about a sleek, aerodynamic cover as well? Not only would it designed to lower the drag considerably, it would give the cyclist a presence on the road, more like a motorcycle or small car. my biggest obstacle is this. Is this a product without a customer? I am thinking maybe, but it would be a step in the right direction.

#2 I finally made good on a promise to Spin to buy a pair of 2007 S-Works road shoes. I only asked them to hold them for me a couple months ago. Or was that a few months ago. Whats more than a few? They weigh a very svelte 331grams for the left and 341 grams for the right (more Varus shims) with Speedplay X cleats. Carbon sole means stiff-just what I want after my heavy and all plastic Sidis. So far they feel great, but only one 1-hour ride on them. And now I have shoes for racing and shoes for rainy days.

#3 A group of six of us rode Monday in the 50 and 60 degree weather. Rapidly melting snow mixed with sunshine and a howling wind made the ride alternate from glorious to downright soaking wet and we were all filthy dirty and salty when we got home. But it sure as heck beats the snot out of the weather we have right now. 20's, a layer of ice and a few inches of snow on top with blowing winds. My hats off to those who commute on days like today. But the significance of Monday's ride to me is that I seem to have built a good base, even without any L3 (tempo),but the left knee hasnt allowed me to work on my L3-L6 power. When we were humping 500+ watts up Falls road I could really feel it. And when the pace went up climbing out of the valley, I had to back it off. Fearing not only for my knee, but also I just couldnt keep up without a deep effort. My wee little ego got bruised on that, I'll admit it. But I recover quickly and will build race form quickly.

#4 And finally I talked to my Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Blanda and got the bad/good news. The bad news is the MRI shows a small tear in my MCL. I had predicted a tear in my Meniscus, MCL or ACL or a combo, but the meniscus and ACL are fine. Whew!! Now onto the MCL tear. Its small which means it will heal by itself, but not very quickly. So thats the good news, No Surgery right now. Yeah!! As long as it heals by itself in two weeks I should be good to go. The other good news is I can exercise to my limit. I just shouldn't push it, but I am not going to tear it more (unless I fall and twist it of course). Its amazing to me how a small tear can cause so much stiffness and sometimes pain. Luckily the more I ride and walk and move around, the better it feels. I will just have to be patient now and wait for the ability to ride out of the saddle and really push on those pedals!! But I am happy, it could have been worse!!