Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Strange Place

I had lots of stuff all typed up because I wanted to keep a record of what is going on with me right now, but decided it best not to share with the whole world. Suffice it to say that I am in a very weird place right now.

Haven't ridden my XC race bike since the Rim Nordic race a few weeks ago. I can't see how that bodes well for my racing ventures in the near future, but there isn't much that I can do with work and life. Lots of road riding. I think that probably contributes to the weirdness. Allison's issues of late have certainly had an effect on both of us.

I am looking forward to racing back east. I keep wondering how even the competition is across the country for CAT1. I have a good idea as to where I stack up on the west side (top 1/3 of my AG with a few top 5's) and placed similarly in Colorado. I had looked forward to the prospect of the Unification race in Vegas...

Maybe the whole date/venue change there is contributing to the weirdness! I need to get over that.

...and the prospect of racing new people. I will definitely not be racing the same guys in VT and NY!! I will also get to see family and stuff, haven't been to my childhood home town in like 16 years!

Anyway, here are a couple roadie pics from the last couple of days for color.

It's hump day. :/

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I think I am a sprinter...

Since Allison wasn't riding her bike today at lunch I stole her Power Tap hub. I have never done any sort of testing before and was curious as to what kind of power numbers I could make.

I rode my normal lunch route and put in a few hard efforts including one seriously hard sprint.

What did I learn?

Seated climbing: I put in a bit of an effort on a short climb and averaged 440w for 30 seconds.

Extended climbing: The only real climb on the route took 5.5 minutes. I didn't go super hard for steady state, but put in three hard out of the saddle efforts. I did 327 watts average with a max of 972 watts. HR averaged 166 which is below threshold.

Flat TT: I put in one short sustained effort on the flats after the climb. In 2.5 minutes I sustained an average of 294 watts (220min/365max). I wasn't going all out as I was towing one of the guys from work in a headwind and didn't want to drop him.

Flat sprint: After descending the climb mentioned above the road levels out and I did an all out sprint on the flat. The data says that it was a 13 second sprint, 950w average, 1163 peak with a peak velocity of 43.2 mph.

Uphill sprint: At the end of the 1hr ride there is a little hill (6.5% for 800ft) and I decided to sprint it to see what happens. It took me 23 seconds to climb, averaging 825 watts, peak of 1097 watts. My speed peaked at the midpoint at 25 mph.

Of course I don't have much data on my sustained power output and I won't get it any time soon (Allison doesn't share well) but I think I make a better sprinter than anything else. I know what I need to work on (didn't need a PT for that) but in the end I probably won't ever be able to keep up with guys much smaller than me that put out great sustained power. WKO+ says that I line up with "Moderate/CAT4" with my 5 second and 5 minute mean maximal power which sounds about right.

In any case, it was neat to geek out on some numbers. Now I have some numbers to back up what I thought my strengths were. I have a lot of work ahead of me to try and keep up with the fast CAT 1 MTB guys like James. Maybe this tiny amount of data will help me out... probably not. :)

So Happy Its Thursday! :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Trial by Fire 100

OR Weekend Update.

This last weekend we were originally scheduled to be at altitude in Colorado racing against the best the US has to offer as far as MTB goes. Well, not so long ago the decision was made that the altitude was just going to be too much for us to handle this year. It just wasn't worth the expense (vacation time and money) to travel to a race where we were going to struggle before even starting the race. Maybe next year we will have an altitude tent and be better prepared... maybe not. :)

Allison was pissed that she was going to miss her first National Championship race as a Pro XC racer, in order to help her work that angst out of her system we scheduled a 100 mile road ride for this past weekend. To make things more interesting summer arrived in Socal and cranked up the heat (hence the name of the post).

I plotted a decent route and we invited some of our buddies. The course was based off of a route that Allison found somewhere, with a few modifications by me to avoid riding on a busy highway and reduce the mileage slightly.

Here's the route:

Most of the day we joked about the ride being a "Century Fail" due to issues ranging from Dan not having cleats for his pedals to the heat. In reality it turned out to be a great ride, a bit on the long side spending 9+ hours in the sun/heat, but a great ride with great people!!

Everyone hated on me for the ride not being a very flat hundred miles, and for the trips inland away from the beach where it was 15-20 degrees cooler...

But that is fine with me. I did my best to sit on the front and set a steady pace for my friends behind. In the end I had 108 miles and 6000 ft or so of climbing. We had two close calls with drivers that were either not paying attention or hated cyclists (both incidents were near the beach on Coast Hwy and it seems that area is probably one of the worst places to ride on days like that).

What doesn't kill you just makes you stronger right? :)

At the end of the ride Jeff suggested that we come over and indulge in some Smoked Porter and BBQ on Sunday. I can't refuse the offer of Jeffe's special reserve Smoked Porter so we decided to do a ride in Aliso. After a slow start in the morning, and a quick stop at Rock N Road for much needed items, we met up with Jeff. Funny, I guess he didn't get enough abuse on Saturday. :)

It was HOT out!

I decided to do a bit of an effort climbing up Cholla and went from the kiosk at the bottom to the fire road at the top in 3 min 30 seconds. Did I mention it was HOT!

After the short climb we went up to Top of the World and then down Meadows.

It was a great ride and Jeff is really lucky to be able to ride from his door and access such awesome trails!!!!

Unfortunately for Jeff I wasn't very good company. After a hard weekend of riding he fed me some out of this world Smoked Porter and I was ready for a NAP!

Another great weekend in the books. Thanks to those who participated!

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

D stands for Disappointment

We got back to civilization and I have to say that I had a great vacation, but was really disappointed with my race performance.

Since there is such a stark contrast between the two aspects of the trip (vacation and racing) I will break them up here too!

For the trip my mom graciously loaned us the sweetest MTB trip setup on the planet! We were rockin a 38' motorhome complete with a Jeep Wrangler in tow. This worked out great for the 4 of us! The motorhome and Jeep had just enough space for everyone! The weather in D-ville was awesome the entire time and you just can't beat the Sierras in the summer! Enough talk, here are some photos.

Dan and I learn the finer points of RV'ing...

The Jeep was the perfect shuttle vehicle for us!

It takes all my concentration to make my first cup of coffee in the morning and there is no smiling until after drinking the sweet nectar!

Skipping rocks in the Yuba, it would be so nice to not worry about the future and retirement and all that crap and just live life by the moment... but someone has to work to support the people that refuse to.

Of course riding in general in D-ville kicks major ass!

And my bike worked flawlessly!

After some hard riding, food and a jump in the river are all that are necessary to complete the day.

Especially when you have great company!

The craziness of all the people in Downieville proper was a stark contrast to our little capsite in Sierra City...

What a great vacation!

Now on to the racing aspect...

The pink socks and pieces on the bike were appropriate. My race results were crap, nearly getting beat by my wife in the overall results.

Saturday we got up super early and had a great breakfast. I felt good, maybe a little less rested than I had hoped, but still very good. I pedaled around a bit and got my bike weighed in. I did a few hard efforts up the road in an attempt to get my body in race mode and then went over and stood where we were told to line up. I intentionally skipped my usual warm up routine to get a spot towards the front for the start. Much to my dismay about 200 riders then lined up in front of where we were told to line up. Lame.

Suddenly people started ringing bells, the race had started and the mass of people in front of me didn't seem to be in race mode as they slowly marched with their bikes toward the start banner. Eventually the bovine mass thinned slightly and I was able to pedal through them. I was angry because I had not warmed up properly and played by the rules and these people warmed up fully and just jumped in front and were now doing their best to be a bio-roadblock.

As the start fail moved from the front of my mind to a memory I figured out that A) I had climbed back into a decent position in the race and B) I was probably going way too hard. I stopped passing people and started sitting in as the conga line of the lead group climbed up the dirt road. As I looked around I noticed a few familiar faces. Rachel Lloyd and Joe Lawill were just a couple of the faces that suffered along side of me, and not far ahead I saw the Gary Fisher kit of Willow.

As we neared the top of the climb my glutes on both sides started to ache, before I knew it I was in so much pain that I could not sit on my saddle. Something had gone horribly wrong and I still have no idea what it was. I descended fast down Sunrise Trail and then did my best to tuck down into an aero position on the fire road without sitting down. On one of the climbs I passed Joe Lawill and said "Good job man!" He looked at me and said he was suffering. We rode together for a bit and then he asked how much farther we had to climb to which I responded, "Not far." I climbed ahead out of the saddle...

After a bit more climbing we reached the "Babyheads" descent. I felt great descending this section but still couldn't sit down. Near the end of this section is where my quads started to go south. Climbing up the rocky pitch on the far side of the big water crossing both quads locked up and I tipped over into the bushes. It was horrible. I was still descending pretty fast but couldn't put in any efforts at all to climb and wound up walking stiff legged up several sections. I was going backwards in the race and could do nothing about it at all.

I got to the intersection of Butcher Ranch after walking the final climb on Pauly Creek and tried to get back onto race pace. I passed a few guys on the descent and felt like maybe my legs would come around. No such luck. I was going painfully slow up the climb to Third Divide when my wife caught me. At that point I knew I was out of the race. I walked some and pedaled some.

At the top of Third Divide someone caught me and said something about wanting to pass, I shouted good luck and shifted to my big ring. A 2 year old could have put in better pedal pressure but I was going all out on the DH sections. I passed a bunch of people and I guess the wife heard my Bear Bell bearing down on her. She pulled to the side and yelled at me to pin it.

Soon afterwards, climbing back up towards Lavezola Road she caught me again. This time though the climb wasn't long enough for her to gap me we found ourselves riding down the road with each other! For most of the dirt road I was tucked in behind her then my legs came around! I shifted into the big ring and took the lead.

When I hit the single track known as First Divide I thought she was right behind me. Turns out I was wrong. I was making time and looked back expecting to see her, but she wasn't. My race was already over so I decided to sit up and try to push her to the finish. When she didn't appear quickly I started to panick and stopped riding. Eventually a guy came around a corner, a little behind him was a younger kid followed by Allison. I waited for all of them to pass me and then jumped in behind. To both our horror Allison sliced her sidewall about 1 minute later.

Lucky for her I was there to oversee the tire change and she only lost around 4 minutes. Once rolling again we had both recovered and I rode behind her pushing her to the max. We had to have passed at least 12 riders before the finish line. My time was a 2:34 or something weak like that.

Sunday my legs still felt horrible. I was really cold on the start and went too slow on Sunrise, was having a hard time getting in a groove. I hit Butcher Ranch and still wasn't feeling it. I was scrubbing too much speed before the jumps. When I got to the single track I finally started feeling some flow and felt like I was finally going fast. I stepped over the bars just after Waterfall and lost some time remounting but was unhurt. Near the bottom of Butcher Ranch I got horrible arm pump in my left arm. I could hardly hold the bars and had to slow way down because I couldn't use my fingers to brake at all. Reaching the bottom gave my arm a chance to rest and I passed my one minute man on the climb to Third Divide. I hit Third Divide hard and was feeling pretty good, left arm wasn't 100% but I wasn't pussing out. I passed someone fixing a flat and don't know if it was my 2 minute man or not. On First Divide I was pushing hard and caught the guy that I think was my 3 minute man. I looked up and saw him ahead of me as we weaved back and forth on the side of the cliff, unfortunately looking up distracted me enough that I nearly fell off the cliffside. I managed to land on the trail and arrest my bike before it fell down to the river below but lost more time. After remounting I pedaled hard and passed the rider I had seen earlier where the trail widens. I did my best to push hard to the finish and wound up with a 53 minute run. Not all that fast considering that Allison turned in a 56.

My lackluster performance put me 11th in a field of 25 registered riders. I have my work cut out for me if I want to do better next year!

Happy Tuesday.