Monday, June 30, 2008

2008 Masters TT Nats.

Whoa, what a story to tell. I had a boring 6 hour drive home to think about it and think about it so theres a lot of info rolling around in my mind.

Sunday was travel day and I showed up to a windswept course, but mostly sunny skies and mid 80 temps. I rolled out 9 miles and back then put on my disc because the side winds at the top of the course were pretty strong. NO problems. The wind was brisk blowing north west.

The course ran south then north wandering a bit side to side, but no corners. The course gently rolled along a wall of dense trees on the west side and open fields on the east side for the first 6miles. Then up to a flat section where the wind was the strongest. The course concluded by winding back into the shaded area up, up to a short flat then a very tight turnaround on a narrow 2 lane road and back past the start finish to the Casino. The whole course was narrow country lanes. A very great course except for car traffic.

The warm-up ride had me pretty certain that I should take off up the uphill start easy, start going hard at the intersection of 211 and 111 (3miles) the bury it the rest of the ride. I guesstimated it would be a 27 ave speed to the turnaround and well above 28 all the way home. Perfect!!

Monday I woke up to 60 degree temps and darker skies. Warm-up went great and I felt awesome. Before my 8:51 start the 30-34 and 35-39 had mostly at least started and maybe a 1/3rd of the 40-44 age group (mine). The sun even peaked once leading me to put on suntan lotion. But wouldnt you know it at 8:48 when I got in line to start out of the start trailer it started to drizzle then harder and harder.

It was cool FINALLY starting in a start house with the automatic bloop, bloop, bloop, bloop, BLEEE. I felt so Pro baby!! I took off easy using my States strategy of a 5 minute easy then start to go really hard. The rain was hideen from me under the trees and even with the easy start, a strong tailwind had me cover the first 3 miles in a rocket fast 6:10 at 28.9mph and I was still below threshold on the HR!!

I also got balked by a semi because i caught my 30 sec guy in less than a mile. The truck had to pick a passing spot very carefully due to the cars and riders coming my way. I lost 6mph for about 43 seconds!! Once by a I resumed the pace and the rain got harder. My HR was perfect threshold and the race was becoming a dream come true!!

I got to the turnaround in about 25 minutes and change leaving a quick estimation of a fast 50 minute run if the return was anywhere as fast as yesterday. I had obliterated my first split from States and I had plenty left in the tank I thought as I had gone less then all out on the out, but still flying.

But of course with such a tailwind it was probably going to be a bit slower return so as I sprinted away from the turnaround feeling tired, but damn good I came down the roller I had just climbed at only about 26mph. I had just climbed it at 25mph. Clearly the wind was pretty strong blowing the opposite way.

I kept pushing and pushing and pushing and was watching the steam from a factory's stack blowing at about a 45 degree angle right at me. The 3 mile flat section where I had gone south at an average of 28.9mph I struggled mightily and only averaged 25.2 on the way home. At this point I had covered about 17 miles and although I did not feel that much pain, I didnt feel bonked, I just felt like my legs werent putting out anymore power to keep up the speed. My HR dropped a bit too which sort of verifies that. I was going all out, but dropping power.

I tried sprinting over every rise and down the rollers to gain speed and I would pick-up some and just as soon lose momentum. I did that a lot. I was in constant dialogue with myself. I was reminding myself that this was Nats, leave it all on the course, I was looking for any imperfection in pedal stroke or form and making constant adjustments. Talk, talk, talk!!

But I was soaking wet now and I dont know how windy it was for earlier starters and even later starters, but my guess is when a weather front moves in its usually accompanied by wind!! And yes it did give me a big push to the turn around, but it was extremely hard going on the way back in. I am still amazed at the low speeds that I saw that I managed to even go as fast as I did. I averaged 26.4mph on the way back, but it took nearly 2:20 minutes longer on the return. The return was also physically longer.

OK, what I am saying is that i got a raw deal on the weather this year. Others remained dry and dry roads are probably faster and wet clothes and especially soaked shoes, socks and shoe covers are a lot more weight to spin around.

So as I rolled to the 3 miles to go at 211 and 111 I was uber fatigued, but I was still positive and I was dialed in mentally like never before. I was having a GREAT TT and could only hope it was going to be a slow day for all but one or two monsters going north on 111.

I was so tired the last 3 miles that the guy I had passed who started 3 minutes before me was easily able to repass me on the downhill to the finish line in front of the Casino. I wasnt going slow mind you, but I had given it all I had so there was no finish rip.

I got the bad news a bit later after rolling back to the car that the fastest time of the day was a course record 48:34 set by Pete Canell beating 2nd in the 30-34 group by 1:17. With a time like that I knew my time (which I only could guess was at best a slow 52 or a fast 53) was way off the mark. Way more so then at States.

I was pretty devastated too to see so many in the 30-34 and 35-39 age group in the 50 and 51 minute range. Sure some of the best show up at Nats, but I figured as hard as I went and as good as I was going that a 53 might be competitive on a day like today.

Later the 40-49 age group was posted and walking up I kept my hopes alive that just maybe I had scooped a top 8 or even 5. I figured I would be a slow guy for the top 5, but whammo, I got the bad news. 15th out of 37 (the largest age group) and no one close in front of me. The next fastest guy beat me by 35 seconds. So I couldnt even blame the truck I had to wait for. 10 guys 51 minutes or faster!!

I passed a lot of guys and no one passed me. In retrospect I kind of wish one of the fast guys did pass me on the way home to give me that added motivation to chase the rabbit.

Do I blame the weather? Well only a little bit. That is time trial racing. After 6 hours of driving home in an awful salty mood I realized (and talking to Brian Batke-who btw got 5th in the 45-49 age group-Podium!!!) that racing into headwinds just isnt my bag baby. While I always maintain I can fly on a fast course (faster than other people) a head or cross wind just isnt my friend in a time trial, especially going home.

I think its a combo of my weight, muscle mass and not enough power. In other words this skinny legged Asian boy aint got enough ooomph!!! In other only slightly more technical terms my frontal area is small, but not small enough I suppose to offset the power produced by a bigger rider. Were talking leverage and mass here. Sure more time training will help, but I suppose it will always be a bit of an Achilles heal. DAMN!!! Ive read on power blogs and sites that raw power beats power to weight almost everytime in a flat land speed contest (everything else being about equal). I wont go into it, but ask if that seems odd.

Why am I faster on fast courses? Well I dont know!! But it does seem to be my strength. Now if your thinking, umm-doofus, everyones fast on a fast course. Well I pass guys at a large speed differential on the fast sections so I figure if fast sections are fast for everyone, then I shouldn't be able to pass anyone correct?

Oh-sorry to digress....So anyways, I am home with my head full of a thousand thoughts. A Chille rellano, burrito Refritos chips and cold Tecate at Don Tequilas wasnt sufficient enough food comma to put my mind at rest. I'm still buzzing, still disappointed.

The bright spots? I averaged over 28mph again for 12miles. I think the course was closer to 40k than 38k so my time of 53:12 vs 51:56 at States for 38k doesnt seem quite as bad if thats true.I might be wrong on the mileage. My Powertap does crazy stuff when in cycle computer mode. Mental note to self, call Saris this week and find out why!! This btw, digressing again explains my faster than official time at Presque Isle. I beat one of the guys who beat me at States for overall by a minute in KY. Thats cool and Kent Bostick was only 22 seconds faster than me and Thurlow Rogers who I assume raced in the sun after me fnished about 3 minutes ahead. Realistically, I dont have a Cervelo P3C or a Felt DA or 15 years of riding under my belt like these studs do, so I am trying my best to be happy about it all. 3 minutes vs Thurlow in reality is damned good-why dont I care? Sadly when I do have 15 years experience back under me I'll be in my late 50's!! Hate me-its just the way my mind works this stuff out.

Another bright spot was I was 46th out of 202 starters. That includes all the men who went the full course from 30 to 64 years of age. And 14 of those 46 were in my age group. Figures!!

So give me a few more days and I'll be happier. I was on pace at 12 miles to do a mid 50 minute 38k (40K). I believed it impossible after fighting that wind all the way home and I pedaled my ass off every single inch of that course too. Then to see so many actually do a 50 and 51 minute run, well I am sorry, but it took the wind out of my sales and it really upset me staring at the time sheets today.

What now?? Well a week or more of unstructured riding, maybe a good old fashioned road race in two weeks!! I kind of miss those. As for the TT bike, well its time to start experimenting to see if Sean Gilbert, Mike Vanucci and others can get me going in the right direction for 2009!! Louisville KY was a blast and I loved almost every minute of the Masters Nats experience. 12 months to get it all right!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Feeling positive!!

So going into States I had some confidence, but more so than that were questions in my mind that I would think barred me from havinbg the killer instinct to attack the Groveport TT course in earnest.

What I am saying is that in a subtle way I tried my best to be positive and think about winning and going all out the whole course. Trying my best to draw out memories of spots of the course like mini-youtube videos in my head. And then using those few images of the course i could recall and seeing myself flying through them. Sprinting over rises and driving big watts and speed over the flats.

Also playing out the race in my mind over and over for my pacing strategy and as checks along the course to see if I was on track or behind or way ahead!! ONe was to check distance at 26 minutes. Those thoughts even kept me up Thursday night, buit not in a positive way.

But after States I am full of confidence. That ugly voice in my head that plays devils advocate to all of my positive thoughts is gone. When I think I can average 27 mph for 40k not just 20k I now believe and so the "realist" in me is silent. I mean whats the point of having positive thoughts and envisioning your own success if that damn voice is always there nagging?

But thats what ti was. It was fear of the unknown. I averaged 27.8mph at presque Isle, but subsequent races at Leroy I was a bit down on last year. Sure I was peaking and training and racing tired at every event or ride, but still, that stuff gets in your head just a bit. I am not going fast enough in 16k (10miles) how am I going to go even faster for 38k?

So sure I was 8th not 5th at States so some might see that as a failure since I wanted top 5 (and dreamed of top3, but told no one). But why am I so excited for Nats without a "killer" States performance?

Simple, I ended States on a high note and believe I did have a Killer performance (for me) then went to a fun, hilly 6.7mi local TT and pushed myself in ways I hadnt before and paced myself in other ways that showed me I am in control. Also at States half way through till the end I asked my legs and lungs for more over and over and they gave me more. Sure it hurt like hell at the time and I was sore after the race as were all the top finishers, but I asked for one more mph and sometimes got 2.

The confidence plays a part in that I wont wait half the race to believe. I believe in myself now and when I go off the line on Monday at 8:51:00am I'll know that I will give it my all, I'll pace correctly, I'll pick up that speed when it hurts the most and no little voice is gonna tell me its not gonna be enough!! SHUT the $@#$#@ UP!!! Its go time!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Now the numbers game!!

Now is where we deal in the part I enjoy post race. Anaylzing the data and looking for ways to possibly improve for next time, correlate percieved emotions or physical feelings to hard numbers or just to satisfy a curious urge.

Starting at the beginning, last year I felt that the whole TT was trudging against a wall of resistance. Not once the entire race did I ever feel like I got on top of the gear. Pure misery in 2007. Others said the same thing. I think that was wind and weather related. It was cooler and had that humid, thick air feel to it.

So the first half race went by in 2007 at 26.7mph. Compared to 2008 I actually went faster by about 9 seconds to the halfway point. I must admit the numbers are only estimates. I could be off a few seconds.

Oh and I said in 2008 I started out with a 5 minute in race warm-up to not go out too hard due to being so pumped up for the event. Well I went a lot faster in the first 5 Sunday than 2007 anyways. I covered more than a 1/4 mile more road.

In the simplest way to look at the race then we look at the bottom half of the race. Wow, what a difference. In 2007 I actually slowed down to 26.4mph and in 2008 I improved drastically to 28.5 and took back 1:25!! Shows that my perception of 07 was pretty spot on. I only went between 26.7 and 26.4mph averages. I real trudge form beginning to the end.

Now why? I would have to say the two largest contributers of it were just being a stronger rider after another year of training and second being mentally prepared. The next and to a smaller degree I think was probably weather. And the nominees for best supporting roles also goes to a Zipp Sub 9 disc, a more aerodynamic position, experience, a year of stretching, higher saddle which has helped me climb, off the bike exercises, stiffer lighter shoes and cleat repositioning. Maybe position should be moved up to the A-list... Just figure details, details and more details OK? Or maybe it was the Waffle House breakfast that morning? Boy I sure hope not, but I do love a big glass of OJ on race day!!

So anyways, last year I recalled the 15 to 20 mile section as being especially brutal. I was mentally destroyed and suffered physically to get through and then recovered after Hayes to come in pretty hard. So lets compare shall we? IN 2007 it took me 11:29 to clear that last set of rollers, but this year I got through it in 10:36 at 28.2mph. A gain of 53 seconds if my math serves me.

Also you cannot discount familiarity. I figured given identical conditions I would be able to go back to Groveport in one week (were in 2007-imagination world if your still with me here) and go a minute faster. Well, maybe that wasnt quite the case because after a year I improved a total of 1:03. I thought conditions were faster this year too. Did you?

I should explain why i think that. IN the 80's I improved at the local 40k TT out west of Columbus 2 or 3 minutes every time I went. From 1:03 (no aero equipment) my first time, 1:00:05 or something like that, 58 minutes....

So this leaves the final stretch on Richardson. This was a stretch I had planned on hammering home along with 2 miles of London Lancaster preceding it which seemed like a fast stretch of road with a hairy 40+mph downhill into a tight left hander to Richardson. That left at the bottom of the hill was probably why it was marked on the road, but unused on race day. Guys would have gone off the road and maybe lots of them. Of course what we did do was continue on Walnut Creek Pike to Hayes and then the easy left on Richardson instead of the scary left. Hillier or more false flat up, but safer. Regardless now we can only look at Hayes to the finish line. Did I gain or lose time? I havent looked yet so I am going to say I actually went faster in 2007. I'll be back as Arnold would say...

Well, well I actually went a lot quicker this year so although i didnt come rippin home like Hodos, I did go quicker by 40 seconds over 2007. btw-dont try and add up the numbers (not that you would, in fact I should probably scream to wake you back up...AHHHHHHH...). There, did that help? The reason being is I am overlaying sections of road.

So what are my other assumptions. Well the one that cannot be ignored is in fact I did go quicker the first 11.7 miles in 07. Why? Well for one I was a lot faster starter in TT's last summer. Did I go out too hard and blow up for the second half and thats why I didnt go very well? Hmmm..maybe, maybe not. I am going to sway towards the mostly no side. I just wasnt as strong, but I did go out harder and possibly some wind helped too? It was windier last year. Maybe a tail wind early on? I dont recall.

So did I under perform and cost myself 9 seconds this year (enough to equal Matt Weeks time) and tie for 5th? Well I said I wouldnt beat myself up about it so I am going to just say I think I rode a well planned and smart race, but that yes, in the mental game of Time Trialing I was not going as hard as I could up front and I knew it.

What would really help me would be to see data from Hodos, Sroka or Weeks, but I cannot because they dont have any data. I think they all raced on feel. I am not quite ready for that yet. I know I am faster racing without wattage (but training with it), but I use that mph as a gauge. Or more like a motivator. Whatever it says I try to make it a higher number. Buy my rev limiter is all Perceived Exertion.

I was also worried about racing a race as long as 40k without wattage to pace by. Thats a thing of the past now. In fact one of my hunches that Time Trialing with power actually wears you out may be true too. Aspiring to hold a certain wattage I started to realize last year makes you really tired. Its like making 1000's of "micro-accelerations" I called them chasing that little number around. It is really hard mentally and physically.

So last summer after States I weaned myself from power. I know 3 guys ahead of me paced without speed or wattage and went on feel so maybe I will tape over my entire computer at Leroy and see if I go quicker and then try it at Presque Isle!!

Theres always room to improve and this is how I do it. Maybe seems crazy to others, but it sure works for me. Theres a lot more concerning my ideas on positioning, cadence is a biggie too. But I wontbore you any longer. So thats me, Ray the human test sled.

Now its onto Nats!! Can someone sponsor me for the gas, food and hotel next weekend? haha!!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

08 State TT, Some Gold, Great day!!

Things got started in a strange way on Saturday. Matt Weeks and i got to the rec center to ride the last 6 or so miles of the course. It was sunny, hot and humid when we rolled out and about 40 minutes later it was like a scene out of that Tom Cruise movie War of the Worlds. We started to high tail it back to the van when lightning started to hit too close for comfort and what was reported to be 50 mph winds were kicking across the road we were on. I had my Powertap with disc covers and I was holding onto my base bar for dear life counter steering. I thought I was going to get blown into head on traffic and get smashed. Long story short we hid at a golf course and then rode back to the car an hour later getting our bikes and shoes nice and wet.

Our next adventure was our hotel with the loudest air conditioner and the room would go from hot to ice box every 15 minutes. Suffice it to say I slept maybe 2 hours solid. I wasnt worried because I slept great on Friday night. The night that matters.

Sunday morning and alls well. Gorgeous blue skies, mid 70's and getting warmer by the minute. I got a solid warm-up in and headed for the start. IT was a funny start because when he said 3,2,1, Go the guy let go of me, but I didnt feel it and I was suspended in a perfect track stand for what felt like forever, then realized he wasnt holding on anymore and I finally took off. Felt like a long time, but I am sure it was like 0.XX seconds.

FINALLY after a year of waiting for this day I go and I decided pre-race that I would go 5 full minutes and not go threshold quite yet. My HR went right up to 168 and the speed was alright. My legs didnt feel great, they didnt feel bad either. but what I knew was that I did 26.5mph last year for ave speed and I didnt want to see anything less than 27.5 today.

But the first 20 minutes of the course I was actually spending a lot of time in the low to mid 20's. My first marker was to wait till I hit 26 minutes in and see how far I'd gone. I wanted to see more than 11.75 miles. I got a bit of a shock when I was only at 11.66 miles with what I deemed the slow rollers coming up.

I was playing that game the whole first half of the race of pushing for that next mph, but not wanting to push too hard. I knew we had a fast last 5 miles (or so I thought due to a course deviation that wasnt explained pre-race) and the rollers preceding it. They seemd to go on forever when we drove them Saturday night in the rain. My plan was to be fast the first 11 miles, survive the rollers and hammer the last 5 at what I hoped wold be 32 mph.

I was fortunate to be catching guys and gals all through the race. I passed some nice equipment too which is always fun. but I didnt have a rabbit in front or someone to push me form behind either. Thats always helpful.

So the first 11.7 miles went by at a 26.2mph pace. I didnt know it at the time, but I wish maybe I had pushed a bit harder, but maybe it was for the best.

But I was very motivated anyways and when I hit the rollers I found that I could hit 30+ on the downs and carry 27 to 29 almost every where. and when i fell to 24 or 25 and the downside of the roller was shallow I would put in a quick sprint that didnt even register on my HR and go form 24 to 28 and then i could hold it. I was flying, I felt awesome with just a few moments of "oh my, I cannot hold this anymore" that quickly vanished. Coach Sean had told me that I could ride the rollers this way and so i did. I only wish I had more confidence and did it more often.

Only a few times near the end did my calfs give a moment of cramping, but luckily they never fully cramped. Outside of that my legs were good.

so again it was go 27 and push, push, push to see 28. and then when I saw 28 I pushed for 28.5 and so on. I normally dont look at time, but this time I kept time, HR and speed on the screen. And the race was going by so quickly this year that I was into the 40 minutes so quickly that it made pushing hard maybe a tad easier.

I kept motivation going as well when I was in the rollers and going say 28mph I would tell myself that this is where Rudy and Matt are flying, there not happy with 28 so I'd try and go 29. And it seemed every time I pushed for more speed I got it.

Then before i knew it we werent on the course described on the flyer, we were on the 2007 course and I was being turned onto Hayes. I checked time and I was now running about 46 minutes and new I had only a short way to go. I started giving all I could, but then realized I was now pretty hammered. I made the left onto Richardson and figured I had at most 2 miles to go and I was now at 49 minutes.

I got a bit down when my speed dropped to 24mph and really struggled to get it back up. I could only manage to stay in the 28 to 29mph range. I saw the pink spray paint on the road with 1 mile to go, checked my timer and it was 49:5x something and knowing I was doing about 2 minute miles I realized I was going to be real close to a slow 51 minute lap. I'll be honest at that moment I wasnt too happy about that. I really felt with the weather conditions and vague numbers I had in my head from 2007 that I wasnt likely to be top 5 this year. I just didnt go hard enough in the beginning. It was a quick thought, but still there. I felt like a fast 51 and definately any 50 minute run would be what it would take.

I pushed like mad, but was only maintaining speed. By contrast Eric Hodos form PA said (and I saw him flying too) that he was doing 36mph at the end. I kept on telling myself to push past the pain, ignore it and just go, think about ONLY one pedal stroke at a time, one stroke as hard as you can push with the right leg, now one push as hard as you can with the left leg and in two minutes the pain will be over. To gain any speed I had to sprint it out with 500m to go and then sit down and dig for 30mph to cross the line. I would say I left it all on the rollers and it paid off. The first half was 26.2mph and the last half of the race was 28.5mph average. I averaged 29.9mph for the last mile and 27.3mph average for the 23.7 miles.

This may be a bit off topic, but I averaged 28.5mph for the last 12.5 miles (the distance of Presque Isle). I have never averaged anywhere close to that speed for that distance (much less shorter distances) and that speed would give me a 26:16 at PI. Just amazing and Sunday wasnt pancake flat like PI, it was rolling. OK, back on topic-but wasnt that neat or sick or just wow?!?!? It is to me!!

The result was 1st in the 40-44 age group as I had hoped (and no I did not resort to arm saving!!). That was one of the goals for 2008 achieved. My bigger goal of being top 5 was not achieved, but it was close. I was 8th out of 99 this year and missed the top 5 by 9 seconds.

It went Paul Martin with a new course record of 49:39, Jon Card at 50:24, Brian Batke with 50:41, Eric Hodos (from PA) 51:35, Matt Weeks 51:47, Rudy Sroka and Glenn Snyder (also from PA-called "the lung" by the locals) at 51:54 and little old me at 51:56!!!

A minute and 3 seconds improvement over last year. I learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of in an almost 40k and will take that confidence to Nationals next week. I am very happy with the results now and dont have a problem missing the top 5. Mainly because I went as hard as I thought I could, especially the last half and made up massive amounts of time. Yes of course I think maybe I could have gone 10 seconds quicker by going harder the first half of the race. Pushing a bit more through the pain and doubt in those early slow sections, but I am NOT beating myself up over it. Not this time anyways. Its all fuel for next Monday!!

Thank you to everyone who has helped me to improve since last year. I couldn't do it without you all helping me.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Slooow in the sun!!

I came home to find my daughter and her best friends looking like "what do we do now!?!?!?!" on my back step.

So I got out the cones, some rocks and obstacles and made them a bicycle agility training course. We started easy and made it more difficult as there skills improved.

We had fun and it was a nice way to spend a perfect sunny and warm afternoon.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More things for sale...

I am going to part out my cross bike and also try and sell off a few things here again. Its seems I have my self a wee bit over extended (hey I'm American, inst that the way it is supposed to be?).

I encourage anybody to come and see them anytime. I can bring them to races, etc.

-52cm Dedaccai 7005 aluminum cross frame and carbon fork (no headset). $300.00
I cannot be more truthful when i say it rides like a steel bike and handles amazing. I truly love this bike. Not liking it is not one of the reasons for selling it. Its not detned, but it is chipped and shows some wear from one cross racing season.

-Flashpoint FP60 front wheel $300.00 (No tires)

-5 and 6kw (5000 to 6000 watt) gasoline and diesel generators. Most new or slightly used (tested). Call me for details. 440-735-0554. These are prototypes and samples we bought to try and possibly sell. Price will be super low, but understand that you are on your own to find parts. We can try and help locate them as a friend, but it will be up to you to actually order them , etc. Again, CHEAP=some hardship!!

-10 and 12kw Diesel standby generator sets. Some need some wor as these are units we did not sell due to QC issues. They are all fixable, but may require seperating the generator and engine. again , price reflects the amount of work required. See here for details about them.

-Easton EC90SL Fork. 43mm rake 28.6mm steerer (1 1/8") and new and uncut. $300.00

-Easton EC90SLX Fork. 43mm rake 28.6mm steerer (1 1/8") new and uncut. $310.00

-Easton EC90CX cyclocross fork. new and uncut for 28.6mm steerer. $310.00

Monday, June 16, 2008

Rare air

Batman also known as Brian Batke, my team mate went to Presque Isle and almost threw down a 25 minute run!!! Theres only about 4 guys who have broken into the 25 minute barrier (and two in two or three in the 24 minute barrier (Paul Martin and is one) after 20 some years of this event.

Why didnt he should be the first question. Well a marshall let a truck on the course and the truck dead stopped on the course leaving Brian no where ot go but in the gravel on the side of the road at full tilt.

Brian said he almost crashed and his heart rate was pinned for the next mile trying to get his speed back up. He dropped 5mph and really struggled to get back on top of the gear he said. When he recovered he flew the last 3 miles and still got 2nd at 26:03 at 28.8mph ave speed. yeah-thats right, 26:03 with a near crash experience that did slow him way down.

As always the summer version of PI has the fastest times of the year and again I missed it. And this one was the fastest in a long time. Lots of guys in the mid to low 26 minute range. Man I wish I was there, but glad to see so many locals do well in my absence.

Someone is ready for the State and National TT!!! Great job Brian!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The war is on!!

Man did I feel awesome today. Well rested (finally) and felt like tearing it up. Wish I had gone to Preque Isle today!!

Anyways, have you noticed more animosity the last few rides? I sure as heck have. I havent been honked at and near missed so many times as I have the last few rides.

My guess is that theres more recreatioal cyclists on the roads and drivers are feeling threatened in there womb like interiors of thir cars.

What really bugs me for some reason are all of the "luxury" cars driven by elderly drivers yellihng, honking and swerving at us. Why does it matter what kind of car?

Well I guess its because you sort of expect that sort of behavior form people in trucks (the louder the truck the bigger the asshole behind the wheel often times (i.e. diesels, trucks with headers and open exhausts)). Sort of like that neanderthal thing. ME GOT truck, UGMM, me dumb redneck.

But youd think that with money and age that there is also education, but clearly that matters not.

my rant is over. ON the positive side, during change things usually get worse before thye get better. So lets wait till the roads are clogged with cyclists, drivers feel less threatened or just give up acting like complete losers with low moral character and roads become safer again.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Team Lake Effect TT#1, Jam car!!!

No warm-up-or a short one anyways. Another hot evening (90's for sure).

We turned the wrong way off the exit and did a tour de Remson road west.

Still, even with the maybe 15 minute warm-up I felt pretty good on the start and as usual after the first fast turn it was hard, but the whole first lap I felt pretty darn good and I thought I paced myself really well. I actually went a little conservative recalling the last lap in 2007 and how hard it was physically and mentally.

To start the second lap I really tried to hump it up the climb at about 14mph and get back up to speed. But I got balked hardcore by a car who couldnt pass a slower rider and I had to hit the brakes. The first lap from a dead stop it took 1:28 at 33.2mph to get to turn one (0.814miles). On lap two with the Jam car it took me 1:38 at 29.5mph. According to my download of data I wasnt pedaling for 21 seconds!!!

But I didnt lose my cool at all and when she finally accelerated away I got back to business. The next two miles after the turn I was a little quicker on lap one. 4:37 vs. 4:49. That stretch is really hard!! The last two miles of the course I did a lot better than last year though I was lacking in motivation to really put myself in the hurt locker like I should have, but I got by with a 4:49 on lap one and a 4:57 on lap two. So in the end I did 11:16 on lap one and 11:35 on lap two. I estimate I lost about 12 or so seconds due to the car so I am really happy since I didnt feel that strong tonight and I wasnt focused. I did jam up the last hill with Dave Steiner as the rabbit and went up at 21mph!! A whole 6mph faster than lap one, but it was a full out sprint to the line!!

Officially I have a 23:03 and without the car I think maybe a 22:50 was possible? I went 23:11 last year. Brian Batke got 2nd at 22:25 I think and Paul Martin in full TT gear went 21:45. What did feel good was racing on my Zipp Sub9 disc and hearing that cool sound. Its making a clunk sound though so I need to diagnose that immediately. I think my Flashpoint Fp60 front feels faster than my tubular 2002 Zipp 404, though they are both on Zipp Tangente tires. FP is a clincher and 404 is a tubie tire. I have no way of testing that though. The Tubie is 190 grams lighter with rdial spokes and the FP60 has a more toroidal shape. OH decisions!!

And of course afterwards I did two more laps at sub race pace pretty much in agony to hold any wattage and then some intervals. Ouch. My HR strap must have a dead battery too so I didnt get any data.

Thank you to my friends at Team Lake Effect for the great job you did sweeping corners, marshalling and holding the bikes for the start. Luv you guys and gals!!

And now time to finally rest up for States. OH I am SOOO going to enjoy tapering after this peak cycle. Thank you to Sean for the great and hard coaching. I sure hope I dont suck!! I dont plan on it. I feel like a balloon thats filling up with air and by next Sunday morning I am sure I'll feel like bursting!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Me 2

Im so happy, happy, happy. Not because I got just got in from my really, really hard Tuesday intervals in the rain!! Yuck. First time my TT bikes been ridden in the rain. Wet roads yes, never rain. I got to work in all out sprints in the wet too. No drama, but its still good to practice that on wet roads.

Well good its broken in now.

Oh, yeah, what I am so happy, happy, happy about!! I sent in my USA Cycling upgrade request last week and on Monday I heard back already that I am a Category 2 licensed rider. Oh yeah, believe it. I never made it up to cat.2 as a youngster. But I am now!!!

I got real good real fast when I first started then as I recall I dug myself so deep in an overtrained trench after a couple years that I never got out of it. I originally thought I was going to go Cat4,3,2 in one summer, but I stayed a 3 till I stopped riding. I must say all that training did make me quite a good long distnace hilly road racer. I just wasnt very fresh or confident in Crits which is about all we did back then. I think Cat.3 criteriums back then were super fast, pretty long with big fields too.

Oh, changing subjects to something that kind of pisses me off. A neighborhood friend whos quite a good age group triathlete has been racing on her regular spoked wheels. I knew she was going to a big Tri so I offered her my Flashpoint front, but it was too late to try something new. she says she used ot race on Speedplay tri-spokes, but a bike shop told her (ok the Bike Shop didnt tell her-theres no talking property that I am aware of) years ago to stop using them because they are warped.

She dropped them off to me and I aired up the old nearly dry rotted tires (wow held air) and spun them in my frame. The front had zero I repeat zero runout. So I put it on my bike, rode it and it felt fine. I did the same in the back and ok, the rear is warped. It has a spot thats probably 2 to 3mm out of true. Maybe I can fix that over time by clamping it onto my welding table and hanging a weight from the high spot and see if it cannot be made a bit flatter.

Anyone try this? but heres what rubs me the wrong way. Because they are such narrow rims (better run narrow tires on them) I didnt have to open up my calipers to mount them. I rode it and they did not rub the brakes out of the saddle. Why in the heck did they tell her to stop running it? It didnt feel bad to me and they are sure as heck a lot more aero than a set of training wheels.

Man, why did they tell her that and possibly cost her minutes in all of her time trials?? I just dont get it. I'm telling her to run the front for sure and try the rear (with new tires!!). heck, even the rear braked fine.

brake pad close to rim

quite a bit of runout

Monday, June 9, 2008

Rick Adams Super photo gallery


I hope you dont mind me sharing your shots on my blog. You sure took some great pics of the suffering on our faces!!

Thom, Chris and Polo

First attack of the race.

Thom and Tris

Notice a pattern starting? Heres a hint, Thom's in every attack! So There :) (for td)

Keeping the pressure on

25 times up this

It starts at 28mph at the bottom and quickly drops to 16 to 17mph at the top.


It doesnt look as bad from this angle (the gap to first that is).

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Mill Creek Criterium, Cat 2/3, More Hot Racing!!

Another hot day. The temps were mid 90's and a bit humid. The order of the day was AC ON on the trip there and drink loads of water. I decided on my heavier, but aero wheelset and maybe a little bit because of that I decided on one bottle to save weight. I was worried a tiny bit about dehydrating, but I drank so much water before the race I was sure I was going in wet.

Mill Creek has a rolling backside and a short, but pretty steep climb right before start finish. A one mile lap that really starts to take its toll after 10 or so laps. We had 25 laps to do today. And like all week, the wind was strong again today and blowing right in your face at the top of the climb. Or at least thats how it felt.

The race started with a decent number. Somewhere between 25 to 28 Cat 2's and 3's. Included were my two team mates who had just finished 3rd and 6th in separate breaks in the Masters field. Great job to them going 25 laps then jumping right back into the Cat 2/3 race.

Usually youd think they would not be aggressive racing twice, but last year Tris and Brian made both breaks in both races!!

First off was Polo and two others on lap 2 I think. I took a dig and came up soloing the lap halfheartedly. Tris took off when I came back and his break made some progress, but it too started to fade and I moved up to top 5 to counter it. As soon as we caught them I took off at the top of the climb again and this time I drew out Thom Domonic of Spin, Nick from Freddie Fu Racing (FFR), Chris Bilowich of Snake Bite, Chris Cioccio and Cameron Jackson of RGF.

Nick, Chris and I worked hard for laps to open up a gap while the others were hanging on. I mostly pulled over the top of the climb and sometimes up to the first right hander. NIck pulled us at almost 20mph over the top of the climb and that move really put the hurting on some of the guys.

Eventually we were down to Thom, Nick, Chris and I. The lap cards were playing games with my head too. I couldn't believe how many laps were left and it seemed to take forever to hit 10 to go. In fact at one point I was sure we had 3 to go-only to come around and see the 5 to go card still up. I'll be honest and tell you I could not wait for this race to be over. It was hot, windy and I was getting really tired and I was hurting all over. I was starting to miss pulls and our pace had to be suffering, but thats also when we put the most time into the pack behind too. I was a bit nervous that I wasnt working hard enough anymore to keep us away and I'd pull as soon as I felt like I could. Seemed the same for Thom and Chris too. I did NOT want to get caught late in the race though I felt like we had a big gap. And time gaps coming from the side of the road didnt seem like we had a big gap when we actually did.

I kept looking behind, but never saw the pack, but I swear they said we only had a 20 to 30 second gap from what I was hearing. Maybe they were saying a minute and 30 seconds? Also early on a team mate to Nick was trying to bridge and I tried to keep pulling as I didnt want to go against two FFR's as they all seem to be sprinters and know how to work a break over in the closing laps. He never caught us!!

The climb wasnt too bad, it was the rest of the course that was starting to wear on my motivation. But unlike the beginning of the race when I'd be halfway up the climb before it started to hurt, it was starting to get hard on the flat before the climb. And with 3 to go I took my last swig from my bottle. But I was fine, not dehydrated just wishing for some liquid!!

Nick definitely seemed to be the strongest and Thom and I even discussed with two to go it was between Nick and Chris. But Thom feeling like he had been hanging on during the race decided to take a neutral stance and pulled us around the whole bell lap, basically taking himself out of contention for the win and saving us the games (even though we had 1:30 or so on the field). I thought that was a class move.

I got to draft and recover and even started to feel some confidence coming back. We went through the last corner and we all hit the climb hard and all beside each other as Thom peeled off, but when Nick jumped not even half way up the climb we really went flying up. And I gave it everything hoping to stay in touch and make it look good.

But Nick was so fast he quickly dropped Chris and I and Chris gapped me as we got near the top, even though I felt like I was flying myself. I started to come back to Chris over the top and put my head down, though I had that gap to close first. Maybe he saw that and he started his sprint again and when the gap went larger instead of smaller I sat down and I rolled in for 3rd!!

What a surprise to get 3rd, and even more satisfying was picking the long shot for the break and making it work in a Cat2/3 field. And on a hot and humid day, not usually my favorite racing conditions. It was at the right time and drew out the right teams and riders. We started with 6 different teams represented in the 6 riders in the break. Thats pretty good odds.

Now its two or three weeks of Time Trialing and then work on sprinting!! I am looking forward to the next few weeks, but like todays race I also cannot wait to get on with it and get it over.

Hope to see you all at the Team Lake Effect Time Trial on Thursday. Man I hope it cools down. The temperature that is, not the racing!!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Detox ride

Too many beers, too much subway subs, greasy pizza, wicked allergies and no sleep makes Ray a tired boy on Saturday morning.

Roll out last second to meet Chris and Dave and knock out four 1 minute efforts to open the pipes and feel human again. Bike as therapy-me likey!!

I used to be plagued with allergies all spring, but now it seems it comes and goes maybe with the dogwood trees dropping that fluffy stuff. Anyways a trip to the store for some Claritin and I should be set for tomorrows Mill Creek Criterium. One of my new favorite courses.

A fun rolling 1 mile loop on a closed course with a power climb and a screaming descent. What else could you want?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Hot, Hot Hot and power fading away....

Hot and humid with a wind that blew right in your face up the climbing portion of the Leroy TT course. 6 guys showed up for the TT including two new faces. One of which was Brian Batke my team mate.

I again was there for training coming off of another hard week with two races Sunday and hard efforts Tuesday. Really hard efforts Tuesday. The goal was again to collect data and hopefully put some power down and also to test my recovery within a TT ride. By that I meant sprinting hard mid ride to see if I could recover quickly once back to threshold pace.

I did a better warm up than last week and did some speed testing where I go at a set speed that I want to achieve and then see how many watts it takes. I found that if I could hold 320 to 330 watts on the way back in after the left turn that I should be able to hold 32mph steady. Thats humping considering the wind. And that was without the funny helmet and shoe covers. For the race I tape over my wattage to go on PE.

I told Jim to start me first and let Brian chase as that seemed like good motivation to be chased, but not see how close he is. Its always easier to chase than eb chased and since this is training I want to learn as much as I can.

I start and I go really hard out of the gate and once up to speed I immediately work on deep, controlled breathing. I average 27.4mph mph at 307 watts to the turn, but I could tell I wasnt feeling it today. The legs just felt weak and full of lactic acid burn. I made the turn right into the headwind and up the first rise I go one mph slower than last week (where I went 16:58) at a bit lower power, but I sprint up the climb as was the plan and top the climb 2.7mph faster. I blow the turn around probably costing myself a little time and then its tailwind to the left turn.

I average 31.8 despite feeling like a crap at only 238 watts and make the left at 28mph still on the clip-ons and try to charge for home.

Its not 500m after the corner that I start to contemplate seriously sitting up. I check my HR and due to the heat its a few beats off my max so I switch to time and see that I am not doing that bad on time actually so I use that to try and motivate me the last 3 miles. Its my body telling me to quit and its my inner monologue saying "training, tred is ok, just push, this will make you stronger". And other motivational things like "Push really hard and see if this is just mental, maybe youve got it in the legs, just not in the head." I guess it all works, I pushed all the way in, if not quickly.

You know that bonking into a headwind feeling? Thats what it was like for my legs. Instead of my plan of averaging 32mph for the last two miles I am pushing the pedals as hard as I can at 27mph and I feel like I am dragging a parachute. I only average 28 or so mph for th trip in vs 29 to 31 on a good night and at a whopping pedestrian like 258 watts!

But it was about the same for Batke. Not having done the course before he charged really hard out from the gate and he estimates he put 20 seconds on me by the top of the rise after the turn. But my sprinting up the climb and my speed on the way back down the hill bought me back some of it.

The weather was another reason I showed up. Because it was hot, because it was windy and because it humid. Nationals could be a hot, humid day and with aero booties, funny helmet (that doesnt flow much if any air inside)and a skinsuit that needs to remain zipped up for aerodynamics it can get pretty hot. Mentally you cannot let it get to you.

And of course afterwards both Brian and I did the course again. He went pretty hard and I did sub race pace. And then after that we both did 1 minute intervals that actually felt better than the TT effort did. I cooled down while he did another TT effort. I should add that at the end of the intervals both my calves were cramping and that after drinking bottle after bottle of Heed and water with electrolytes. Thats some sweating...eeeww.

In the end I got a challenging mental workout and some hot weather testing in too. The hot weather taught me some valuable lessons about pacing on a hot day. Batke got FTD at 16:57 (16 minutes his first try on a hard, hard day) and even only averaging 274 watts and a horrible last 3 miles I still managed a 17:09 (~27.2mph). I again take away that my aero package is pretty sweet. I am starting to think maybe its costing me wattage so well have to see if it comes back with more rest or training and adaptation or it is what it is. I cannot wait to do the Hinckley TT this week with my disc wheel.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

My latest obsession

Call me technologically obsessed, but here is my latest tech obsession.

The BionX torque sensing power assisting rear wheel. With a bike all done up with baskets, etc this could all but eliminate the car for those pesky little trips and for those days you cold commute, but youve got to run packages to the post office or run to the store or you haver a race that evening or the next day and dont want to tire yourself out on a 32mile rolling commute.... or heck, how mnay times have you driven to the bike shop because what youve got carry wont fit in a backpack or you just dont have the time. Me? Too many times and gallons of fuel to count. Wow, I am realizing what a wuss I am right now or how I let my amateur racing and training control my life...

If your wondering what this BionX is all about, here you go!!.

YOu can also buy them prebuilt into a bike like a Dahon folding bike for less than $2000.00 Very expensive when compared with the price of an Chinese made electric moped ($650 to $850 for the superbike looking ones like these.

But all of them run on electricity which is good right? The problem I see with the electric moped is without pedals they need to be licensed (and insured??) and what do you do if you run out of charge? The BionX not only is pedal AND power, it has regenerative braking and an exercise charge mode. Those are very trick. It also allows you to set the amount of power it provides autmatically and seamlessly. From 25, 50, 100 to 200% of your power output. In laymans terms, I bet you could pedal at a 12mph pace, yet maintain 18 to 20mph and hills should dissappear leaving your getting to work quicker and a lot less sweaty. Not that important for us racer types, but definitely a big plus for the average shmoe.

And with the VERY expensive Li-ion battery upgrade, the battery only adds 7 lbs to the bike as opposed to almost 18lb for a Ni-MH battery pack.

Its a start in the right direction!!! As a racer, I wonder if its possible to use it to help train with? Think about this, like the ability to pull riders along for miles on end at high speed while yourself getting a great workpoout in (think motorpacing). I think coaches will be buying them up soon....ok maybe not.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A different kind of music

I have stated before that if I could do one job I would be a professional race car driver. So race cars still have a huge addiction to me though I have distanced myself from them the last few years. But this "music" video is still music to my ears.

I hope you enjoy it. Oh and Turn It Up!!!

Heres a picture of the style of karts I raced. And yes they do go 90 to 120mph and with sticky slick tires they corner very quickly. Also with disc brakes they stop very well too. I am the driver in the blue and white kart and we also raced this close in packs of 10 to 15 karts at times inches (and sometimes bumping)from each other for the entire race. Boy I miss those days sometimes. Especially when I see a video or hear those old sounds.

Grattan, MI

Monday, June 2, 2008

Race for Alex Cat 2/3 part two

The Cat 2/3 event was a short bit after Masters and I drank, ate part of a Cliff bar and took a big swig of Gell and tried to roll around a bit. The 43 rider start wasnt too fast as I had expected it would be till a few laps in when I found myself behind a big group of guys who were going pop! Some I recognized as being in Masters, but many should have been on fresh legs. I had to go super deep and try and get around them which took me a long time, but I did it. I should say I barely did it.

Staying at the back remained what I did, though I know better. But I was tired. The one time I did get all the way to the front Dan Quinlan of Elves and More (he IS E & M) attacked and either Cioccio or one of his team mates freaked out and full sprinted THROUGH me to latch on. First I got my hand hit by his hands as he sprinted then I got knocked by a large hip. I stayed up without too much drama, but I was kind of pissed and amused at the same time.

When a dangerous move finally stuck I watched it knowing I didnt have the legs. First Freddie Fu sent a guy up and he caught Dan then a few others went with Tris who miraculously still having the legs to react springboarded from the bridge move to make the group 3. Due to the wind and high speed the group was holding the breakaway at bay and they were in danger the whole race.

I finally got back to the front and it seemed either the adrenaline of having someone in a good break or maybe I recovered, but I started to cover attacks by Pro Graphics, Cioccio's team, Weeks for Team Lake Effect and others so Brian didnt have to cover anything else. Who knows and if Tris did come back we would have Brian fresh. I dont know how many laps it was, but i was rarely further back then 2nd or 3rd wheel and I jumped after almost everything.

When they gave us the chance Freddie Fu and or Brian and I would sit on the front buying the break some time. But some pulls were fast and its amazing that we did not catch the break. We were flat out humping and it hurt. Just shows how strong Dan and Tris are.

Finally the bell lap and a guy is yelling about one good surge and well catch them. Yeah right, like the last 10 surges were what?!! I finally thought after the turn onto the bridge that they had it in the bag and I fell to the back again, but unlike the beginning it didnt take long to get back there. There easily were less than 20 left!! As we made the final corner I dropped my bike into the small chainring and watched the sprint unfold and Tris got third, but man oh man the field almost swallowed the break!

So big props again to fine teamwork and to Tris for nabbing two Top 3's in one afternoon. And both well earned by riding solo or in a small break in windy conditions.

The Race For Alex Double part one.

Breaking away-not the movie
Everyone made sure to tell there friends about Race For Alex it seems as field sizes doubled vs last year. Also a lot of riders doubled up with Masters fields running in a seperate time slot from Cat4 and Cat 2/3. Some did Cat4 and then Masters while others did Masters then Cat 2/3 which is what my Team Columbus team mates did.

Weather was sunny, mild temps, but oh so windy. Like watch the long blades of grass bending to easily see the direction of wind, windy!! It was a real grind up the hills after the train track jump (which was so easy to clear this year for some reason vs 07).

Bumpy tracks

I told Brian and Tris that i was concentrating on the Masters race where as they were more likely to save themselves for 2/3. Brian was a bit sick still too so I I planned on early aggression if the race allowed. After one easy lap with no attacking we were climbing up the finish hill with Brian on the front. I drilled it seated over the top, hoping to draw out Ponzio of MVC, Keller of Snake Bite or maybe Derek Wilford of Team Lake Effect for a long break. I was also prepared to go it solo Quinlan style for the 22 miles left.

So I am unmarked and I build a big lead quick. My pacing is simple, really hurt, but at a level I think I can hold for an hour. Simple!! I think I do a good job of keeping the pace even and I concentrate on being aero, relaxed breathing (more or less)and a good cadence. After a few laps I dont see the pack and I am catching the 30-39 Masters pretty quickly. But I see a small group in chase and I can see the tall shape and Italian colors of Tris with them. So hes covering the dangerous move which is good tactics.

As I pass start finish the official tells me I have to blow right through the 30-39's-no drafting. Well, thats great, but I catch them just about the train tracks and I yell at them to not draft me. Yelling and racing threshold pace is not great, but oh well. Luckily Gary Burkholder and Chris, etc recognize me and get the other teams to stay off my wheel. I take the time to notice Daves not in there, but a lot of guys are. So it appears Dave Steiner is up the road in a break, hence the lazy speed of the group. When I make the right hand turn at the top I am literally hyperventilating from the effort to "blow by".

I recover quickly no doubt due to the training Sean's been giving me and I keep looking back, looking back to see if a group of 3 emerges from the Masters, but I dont see them for awhile. I feel I am home free now!!

But eventually I do see a small group or maybe its one?? I keep hammering as hard as ever and my average HR is threshold now for 15 miles straight. What keeps me motivated? Well the chance of winning of course, but also I keep thinking "great TT training!! Keep it up." hey you take motivation from anywhere you can.

The shape is getting a bit closer and my eyes keep playing tricks on me as it looks like two. It turns out Ponzio and Wiford were trying to bridge when Tris noticed they looked a bit tired and pushed the pace up the hill after the track and dropped them.

When I was finally sure that I could not see them and Tris was by myself there was only 2.5 laps to go and I felt fine, but I backed off a bit and waited for Tris. We continued the pace though we were able to talk to each other quite easily and Tris let me know that we were in no fear of being caught and the win was mine. We backed it off for the entire bell lap to help to recover for the 2/3 race and I got my first road race win since coming back to racing!! YAHOOO!! Thank you Tris, Brian and Team Columbus for flawless teamwork.

Pictures from Thom Domonic