Sunday, May 31, 2009


Saturday, I did one of my favorite rides--through the Arboretum from Chardon. I ride up Mentor Road to Little Mountain, blast down Little Mountain, then take Sperry through the Arb. including the comically steep Sperry Road Hill. The highlight of the trip is the climb up Kirtland Chardon Road east toward Chardon.

I was flogged from the ride yesterday, and I wanted to establish a new baseline time for the Kirtland Chardon climb for the middle of the season, so I took it very easy throughout the ride to conserve energy for the final climb. I even just rode tempo down Little Mountain, where the slightly downhill grade invites an all out effort.

I made my way through the Arb, and then headed east on Kirtland Chardon Road. Some big seams opened up in the pavement on the west side of the hill, so a high speed descent is bone jarring at best and could be wheel smashing at worst.

My course for the KCR climb starts just east of Wisner road after the bridge. There's a strip of tar there just before the driveway on the right. It goes to the summit, where there's a seam in the road. The total distance is 1.3 miles. The elevation gain is somewhere over 400 feet. Topo maps show it as 475 feet, but my altimeter shows something closer to 400 feet of elevation gain.

On this particular run, I wasn't interested in getting my best possible time. I just wanted to establish some new pacing for future all out efforts up the hill. I took it easy up the foot of the climb. The first 0.2 miles averages 10% with a max grade of 15%. On the second leg of the climb, the grade drops to 5% for another 0.2 miles, then it's stair steps to the top, 10% grades alternate with flat sections. I kept it under my LT for until the summit was in sight.

I finished with an 8:30. Not bad for a 222 pounder. My average power was only 316 Watts.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

MRC Trail Ride

Chris and I went out on his Trail TT course before the MRC Trail Ride on Friday night. Chris' course heads out the Maple Highlands Bike Path in Chardon all the way to 608, turns north to Chardon-Windsor, then runs back into Chardon. Normally he heads up to the square to complete the course, but we planned to swing back into the parking area for the MRC ride instead.

We rode at an easy tempo to the start of the trail, then Chris drilled it right from the start. There were only a handful of other people on the trail at the time, so we were able to go full speed without any trouble.

The wind was out of the north west, so we had a nearly direct tail wind on the way out. Since the grade of the trail is only 1-2% at max, we were able to keep the speed pretty high, and when drafting, it was almost like coasting. So with 1-2 minute pulls I was able to recover completely.

We did about 25 mph for the first few miles before the first road crossing. The second leg of the trail to 608 actually climbs a noticable grade, so the speed dropped a bit, but that's just before the speedy section that starts heading south. I tried to accelerate all the way through for the full kilometer before swinging off. I think we only just tapped 30 mph. I need more speed work I guess.

We kept the speed up throughout the ride. The gradual climb up 608 feels pretty difficult after an all out flat effort along the trail. The reward for the ride was the downhill section on Chardon Windsor where we went down the road in the mid to high 30s.

We completed the route at a pretty respectable 21.7 mph including all the road crossings.

The second half of the ride was an easy trip down the trail with Jacob, Russ, and Nick from Mountain Road Cycles and several other riders. A narrow line of storm cells was closing in on us across an otherwise clear sky and made for some spectacular cloud formations.

The ride was great. We rode to the end of the trail, and the rain started. We were in the rain for most of the ride back. Chris and I were getting cold, so we lifted the tempo on the last few miles. I felt pretty energetic at the end of the ride in spite of the rain; maybe because of the rain. When I got home, I discovered my bike and I were covered in a fine nasty grit from the trail spray. It was just as dirty as riding on the road.

This was an interesting ride. I've been focused on trying to ride with a higher cadence since the start of the season, but did several efforts at 85 rpm and was producing good power, and felt quite comfortable. I'll try some gear mashing at Leroy this week and see how I do.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sherman Road Ride

I skipped Westlake this week since T-storms were forecast, and the radar was busy all afternoon. I thought I'd be able to sneak in a ride in the early afternoon, so I did the good old Sherman Road Ride. Sherman runs East/West from Bass Lake all the way to Chagrin River Road. Heading west, it goes over 5 short steep climbs (80 vertical feet/10%+) before a gradual rolling climb to Caves Road, then plunging about 500 feet in 3 miles to the valley floor. There's hardly ever any traffic on the road.

The challenge of the ride is to keep the pressure on over the top of the little climbs and not zone out and coast to recover on the descents. There are a few road crossings, though, where it's usual to have to wait for traffic.

I thought I'd try out the heart rate monitor function of the new bike computer. I haven't used an HRM for the past few years, so some new data points would be interesting.

I rolled out Bass Lake at a good tempo. The wind was ripping out of the south east, and it was like swimming in batter to get to the Sherman, but once I turned west and got shelter from the trees, the cross wind wasn't noticable. I stayed in the saddle over the first climb but was really banging the pedals and kept it over my LT power for the duration. The HRM popped up over 170 bpm briefly as I went over the summit. Ok. So it looks like my LT heart rate is about 170 and I start noticing an effort at about 160.

The second leg of the ride from Auburn to the summit of Sand Hill is a bitch. It's a slow drag from Auburn to the base of the Fowlers Mill hill, then it kicks hard at 12% to the intersection, there's a quick descent into a stream valley, then another climb to the top of Sand Hill. I kept the power up way over LT to Fowlers then kept the pressure on during the quick descent before the Sand Hill climb. I blasted up Sand Hill, still no sign of cracking!

I felt pretty good all the way to 306 in spite of the high effort level. I had to wait a few minutes for traffic to clear. I started up again and felt the power plant start to flicker offline. I managed about 44 minutes with 5 difficult efforts. So, I'll aim to improve on that through June.

I rolled down to Chagrin River Road and planned to loop around via Rogers Road toward Kirtland Chardon. Unfortunately, River Road is now closed at Wilson Mills. The bridge is missing! I'd have to take Wilson back to 306, to get to KCR. I tried to keep the over LT pace up on the climb. I made it half way up and blew up spectacularly. Wow. The HR was still only 170.

I felt like crap for the rest of the ride. I tried to drill it up KCR, but wilted about half way up when I was exposed to a brutal headwind. I rode easy tempo all the way home. The TSS for the ride was 116. I've been doing too many flat intervals lately. I need more rides like that!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Never True

My DuraAce WH-7850-CL wheels are really light and have smooth bearings, but the front wheel gets knocked out of true easily. I think I could hit it on the side with a Q-tip and make it wobble. It's likely that it was rubbing the brakes at Westlake last week. No wonder I wore out so quickly and felt so bad the next day! I think I rode a couple of laps with the front brake on!

The rear wheel is very stable. There just aren't enough spokes in that front wheel for our rough Northeast Ohio roads and my heavy body. I'll keep riding with it at Leroy and on training rides until I get more confidence in its ability to survive before I race with it.

I'll swap it out for one of the slightly heavier bladed spoke wheels in my stable for tackling the concrete at Westlake. The DA wheel is 1 kg with skewer, tube, and tire. The old wheel is another Shimano wheel with straight pull spokes and weighs in at 1.13 kg, only a quarter pound heavier 0.1% of the total bike+rider weight, but can take a lot more abuse. In fact, I ride a set of those on my cyclocross bike.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Finally, no wind at Leroy!

I was feeling really flat all day, but was looking forward to the Leroy TT, so I loaded up the Element and drove up to the fire station in the afternoon. The wind was strong out of the south when I was out doing my warm up cruise around the course. I felt like I was riding through glue. 

In the parking lot as we were staging to do our timed runs, I spun the front wheel and noticed it was hitting the brake pad. I was able to adjust the brakes so the wheel spun through cleanly a few minutes before I was due to roll. That was a relief. Also, the wind had completely died down, so I'd be able to get a time that wasn't influenced by the direction and speed of the wind, so I started to feel pretty good and motivated.

I was aiming to shave some time off last week by picking up the pace in a few strategic spots on the course--on the second half of the climb, and just before the turn around. Otherwise, I followed the routine I established over the prior weeks. I keep the pace relatively easy from the start, and then gradually accelerate toward the corner.

I planned to take a little breather through the corner, then ramp up the power all the way through the climb. Like last week, I made it up the first part of the climb at good pace but wilted on the second part until the summit, where I managed a decent sprint. My oxygen starved brain managed to keep the legs going to the turn around.

I kept the pace up on the decent, though not as fast as I could go. So I eased off a little bit until the 2 miles to go mark, then I started to bang the pedals all the way through the finish. I shaved more time off last week and managed a 20:37. I'm aiming for sub 20 minutes next week.

Here's some stats:

First two miles: 369 Watts Average. 22.4 mph average. 25.5 max.
To top of climb: 332 Watts Average. 19 mph avg. 7.9 mph minimum speed (top of hill)
Back down the hill: 331 Watts average. 24.5 mph average.
Last two miles: 389 Watts average. 23.9 mph average, 29.9 max.

Total time 20:37, Avg. power 358 Watts. Average speed 22.4 mph.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Training Tweaks

I'm in the no-man's land of my season. I'm trying to make a jump in fitness, but am not fit enough to be competitive in harder races. I'm able to sustain good power for long intervals, but I don't have the endurance to do it repeatedly. Also, I'm starting to feel perma-tired.

So I'll drop to three sessions per week, but boost the intensity. So, Saturday will be interval day, where I'll try to do about 75% of the work of Westlake. Tuesday will be Westlake A race. Thursday, Leroy TTx2; I'll do the TT, then a second less intense effort over the course. Hopefully with the additional time to rest and recover, I'll gain some endurance.

A Westlake simulation would be, maintain 250-300W with jumps every 2 minutes for 70 minutes.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Westlake #3

Blah. That's how I feel after the third outing in the "A" field at Westlake. The weather was beautiful, sunny and warm. The wind was pretty strong and from the east south east and was blasting across the road at turn number 4. (course map)

I started off at the front of the field. The field was big again, and after last week, I learned it is really difficult to move up. From the first lap, attacks were going off like popcorn. Eventually a big group snapped off the front and most of the teams were represented, so the field slowed to a crawl to allow them to get away.

Eventually, the field formed into three groups. I was in the third group, which contained the bulk of the riders. Like last week, I just tired out after a while. Somebody took a huge pull up Ranney Parkway and I just got weary of chasing. I swung off and let the field go by. I was surprised how far forward I was in the group, and how many people were still left.

I'm really tired after this race. But I was only in it for about a half hour. The average power was only 260W. At Leroy I'm averaging way over 300W for 20 minutes. The frequency of the anaerobic efforts is pretty high. Every lap there's a big effort on turn 2, and then on the start/finish straight.

My challenge for the rest of the season will just be to build up my ability to withstand the high intensity efforts for a long time. In the short term, I'll skip riding on Sunday and Monday and see if it helps to be fresh for Tuesday night. I've been feeling pretty wiped out this week.

Monday, May 18, 2009

iBike Gen III Aero First Impressions

I was looking at different power meter options last week. After a couple of days of mulling them over, I decided to plunk down the dough for a new iBike. I was convinced by a comparison between data from the iBike and the Quarq that the iBike is accurate enough for me, and costs a lot less than the other options.

The order handling was top notch. I ordered online from the iBike store, and received the unit a couple of days later in the mail. It was $800 and change. For that you get the iBike computer, a wireless stem mount, a cadence and speed pickup, and a heart rate belt. The hardware to mount the computer is included: zip ties, double sticky, and a couple magnets. The iBike Windows and Mac software is also included. There is a CD that has a trial version of TrainingPeaks in the package. Batteries for all the devices were included. The design thoughtfully uses one readily available battery type. Also there's a USB to serial dongle for the iBike/PC interface.

One minor gripe: No extra zip ties were included. It's pretty easy to screw up the installation of a bike computer and its sensors, so several extras should be included. One other minor gripe, I wish they'd implement the USB/PC interface as a USB mass storage device instead of the serial port converter. Then you'd be able to use it without a custom dongle and without installing drivers.

Since the iBike sensors are wireless, installation was very easy. The design of the mounts is clever and seem like they would attach easily to any fork and to any frame (for the cadence mount). The sensors are sensitive and pickup the magnet from more than a few millimeters away.

The stem mount for the bike computer was also easy to install. I managed to attach it upside down the first time, so I popped it off, scraped off the double sticky, and put it back on the right way in a few minutes. The mount was secure and stable as soon as I tightened the screws. The handlebar mount for the old iBike required a lot more fuss.

The instructions for installations were well written and clear. My only complaint is they should consider consolidating the collection of separate PDF instruction files into a single file. It's a little confusing to have multiple manuals, but really not a big deal. Some readers might prefer the multiple files.

The calibration of the iBike is a multi-step process. Since I've been using one for several years, I'm pretty familiar with the concepts, so it went pretty smoothly. You enter the combined weight of the rider and the bike (and all the stuff that you carry). Then, you calibrate the tilt sensor. Then you do a "coast down" and (new with the iBike Gen III) do a calibration ride. I performed the coast down and calibration ride three times over three days. The first two days, the wind was really strong and gusty, so I was in doubt about the results. The third day, the results converged and were reproducible.

I think the coast down and the calibration ride must be a little intimidating for a new iBike owner. If you buy a new iBike spend some time reading the manual and watching the videos. It will probably take you several tries to get it right.

Once I started to collect data I was pretty stoked at the new iBike application. It provides a clear view of the oodles of information the iBike collects: speed, power, elevation, and hill slope. It also automatically downloads weather data and associates that with your ride! You can edit files: join files, split files, and do all sorts of analysis of the data. You can zoom in on sections of data, like a hill climb. I've yet to scratch the surface of all the things it can do. The application provides a nice summary of the analysis in a text box so you can cut and paste (Rogers Road Hill Climb from Sunday Club Ride):

---------Selection Stats---------
Dist:        0.35 mi (0:02:59)
Energy:      59.9 kJ
Cals Burn:   57.3 kcal
Climbing:     163 ft
Braking:      1.2 kJ (2.0%)
          Min   Avg    Max
Power     184  334.6   526  W
Aero        0    3.2    16  W
Rolling    18   25.3    44  W
Gravity    58  297.8   485  W
Speed     5.0    7.1  12.4  mi/h
Wind      0.0    4.1  10.4  mi/h
Elev      455    544   620  ft
Slope     1.1   8.55  17.5  %
Caden      44   62.2   108  rpm
Aero: 0.229; Fric: 2.48
CdA: 0.353 m^2
Crr: 0.0072
248 lbs; 5/17/2009 2:49 PM
68 degF; 1013 mbar

So far the measured power lines up with past experience. I'll get more real data at the Leroy TT this week. I'm happy with the iBike Aero, I'll post a complete review in a couple of months.

Friday, May 15, 2009

VO2 Max

Stolen from Ray Huang's blog:

VO2 max= 1.8*(P5min*6.12/Kg)+3.5

And for reference:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Leroy TT #1

My wheel truing stand and spoke tension meter arrived in the UPS van in the early afternoon, so I spent some time before the TT truing my fancy new Dura-Ace carbon/aluminum front wheel. Between Westlake's cracked concrete and the Covered Bridge series railroad tracks crossings, it was knocked around pretty hard. I realized I'd have the wheel in and out of the shop on a regular basis, and would start snapping spokes unless I finally developed some wheel truing skills.

The tension meter worked perfectly. I measured the tension on each side of the wheel, and tagged the high and low tension spokes with sticky book marks, then inspected the wobble of the wheel with a slow spin. No surprises! The wheel was off center where the spoke tension was unbalanced. I gradually adjusted the tension of each high or low tension spoke, measured, and spun. In a few minutes I had it nearly as good as new.

I drove up to Leroy at about 5:30PM, the rain from the early morning had cleared, and it was a beautiful sunny, warm day with a sustained 10 mph wind probably at about 280 degrees on the compass (WNW), right down the finish. I took an easy spin around the course. The tailwind was huge on the outbound section, I barely had to pedal to do 17 mph. There was a little crosswind on the uphill leg to the turn. On the way back, there was a little shelter from the wind except past the substation and the farm field where it was pretty fierce.

I wanted to get a 20 handle on my time and average slightly better power output than last week. I planned to push the pace a little harder on the downhill after the turn, since I was resting a little bit there in prior weeks.

Bill Marut was there along with Larry, Darrel, and another Kevin. Jim handed out the popsicle sticks and I was starting second behind Bill who was on his TT bike. This season, the TT bikes are going first so there's less of a chance of getting caught if you're on a road bike. Bill took off up the road, and I lined up and reset the old bike computer. I've been riding the course every Thursday since March, usually twice per session, so the start is programmed into my legs by now. I hold back on the first rise, then start to accelerate across the field.

It felt pretty easy to go fast with the tailwind, and I was pushing good power. I could feel my heart spooling up as I made my way across the field, and felt like I was holding back a little even though I kept seeing 400W pop up on the meter. I made the turn perfectly and accelerated up the climb. During the last few sessions, I've been trying to peg my effort all the way up the climb, but I tend to crumple a little bit after the first rise, and then make a strong sprint up to the summit. I think next week, I'll hold back a little at the beginning and try to ramp up the power all the way to the top.

As I made the summit, I saw that I'd have to wait a few seconds for a jeep to drive by before I did the turnaround, so I sat up and coasted. Since it's an open course, it's common to be held up by vehicle traffic and you just have to live with it. I've noticed the people that live on the streets like to stop in the middle of the road on a regular basis so you really have to pay attention.

I pushed the pace a little harder down the hill than last week and could feel a little pressure from the wind on my left shoulder. The finish was going to be tough!

The mile marks on the road were repainted this season and I was waiting to see the 2 miles to go mark, which is where I planned to start really hammering. The power meter was showing 400+ all the time as I headed toward 1 mile to go. It was hurting! I felt like I could hold on the the finish, though.

Finally, the fire station sign came into view and I lifted the pace more switching into a fully anaerobic effort. The wind kept me under 30 mph crossing the line, but my finish was still pretty strong. I chalked up a 20:52 (22 mph average) in spite of a small delay from traffic, and averaged 377W. That's my career best power output for 20 minutes, 40 seconds better than last week, and 10 seconds better than my best time so far this season.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mental Crack at Westlake #2

A huge group turned out for Westlake #2. The "A" field had nearly 50 riders. The "B" field probably had 20. The sky was perfectly blue, and there was a light headwind on the back stretch out of the east north east. The temperature was about 60 degrees at the start.

I was feeling pretty confident after last week's successful mission, but a little weary after a couple of hard rides over the weekend, so my goal was just to finish with the group.

The pace of the race was faster than last week. We hit 30+ mph on almost every lap through the start finish area. I actually felt pretty good most of the time, but ended up at the back of the field on a regular basis. The large group made it difficult to move up, and even when I managed to move up five or six ranks in the field, I didn't manage to hold position. However, the accordian effect wasn't really that bad.

On the 13th of 19 laps, I just ran out of gas. I sprinted out of the corner onto Ranney parkway like normal, caught the field, like normal, but just wasn't able to muster the energy to crank up the speed when an attack went off the front and the field accelerated, so I just rolled around to the parking lot and cruised home early.

It will take a few more outings to build up the muscular endurance to ride at that pace for longer than an hour. But I think my aerobic fitness is pretty good. I'll also cut the volume down on the Sunday rides so I'm fresh for the race.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Power Meter Research

I've been using my iBike Power Meter since 2006. Although it works reasonably well, it has some weaknesses that cause me to sometimes doubt the data that's collected during a ride. Also, reading about the new Quarq power meter has got me thinking about buying a new one.

First, I should clarify what I'm trying to accomplish by forking out the cash for a new power meter. I'm looking to improve the reliability of measurements from my iBike, or rather, eliminate my doubts about those measurements. Let's assume my iBike is 90% accurate as a function of time due to fluctuation in my position on the bike, or inaccurate wind speed measurements. The questions are is that even an issue? If so, how much money is that really worth?

Here is a comparison of Powertap, Quarq, and iBike. Well, there's not much difference between the measurements. The idea that more money = better performance might not have basis in fact. So if I buy a new force transducer type power meter, I might still have doubts about the data that I collect.


Some iBike reviews:
Is there any merit in upgrading the iBike to one of the newer versions? The top of the line iBike is about $900 by the time you add all the options. That's starting to get into PowerTap territory. What new features does it have that justify the extra long green.
  • Wireless
  • ANT+ Compatibility
  • ability to combine data from multiple sources, like GPS, HRM, and a force transducer power meter with novel calculations.
  • Faster CPU, more accurate
The new iBike Stem Mount is a better solution that the bar mount that I currently have. The stem is less susceptible to vibration than the bars, plus the central location should be a better representation of air pressure differential than the offset position.


SRM is the gold standard power meter, but costs like it's made out of gold. At $3,000-4,000 more or less, there's no way I can justify that. Let's presume it's 100% accurate. What value does the theoretical 10% have when my power data is only comprehensible when viewed through the hazy lens of subjective personal experience? Moving on!

Power Tap

The PowerTap is more reasonably priced (by far) than the SRM. One advantage over the iBike, is I could use the power meter with my cyclocross bike. On the other hand, one of the things I like about 'cross is that I don't use a computer at all. At that point of the season, I'm typically weary of analyzing power data and chasing after digits on a computer.

The problem with the PowerTap is that I would only be able to collect data with new wheels. I'd probably want a training set and a racing set, and a cyclocross set! So the price tag of the PowerTap solution gets steep quickly. The computer is about $300, and each hub is about $900 for the fancy version. Also, I just bought new wheels, so those just collect dust when I want to measure power. If I were about to upgrade wheels, that would be the time to think about a PowerTap.


I like the Quarq power meter approach. It's got the advantages of force transducer measurement without the hassle. It's wireless, ANT+ compatible, and the electronics and battery are easily accessible. Plus, they are planning to release a bike computer with open source software! For me, that's awesome. Unfortunately, that's not available yet, but will cost about $1000. The price of the Quarq gauge is $1,495, plus you need to either supply cranks, or buy them from Quarq.

Only three crank types are currently compatible with the Quarq transducer, so I'd need to buy new cranks, so the price is more like $1,900 for the transducer and another grand for the computer. Ouch. $3,000.

I'll wait on that until they have the complete kit, transducer plus computer, and reconsider.


Ergomo seems like an interesting solution, but has loads of bad reviews from actual customers. That tells me stay way far away from it.

Bottom Line

Of the force transducer power meters, the Quarq power meter intrigues me. I don't like the limited crank set choices. I like the open source platform concept for the computer, though, and would be willing to pay to play around with that, since I'm a geek. The cost for the whole solution is steep, close to $3,000.

The new iBike is supposed to be more accurate than my first generation version. At $800-900 it's not bank breaking. But it will still have some of the deficiencies of my current unit.

If I get a windfall, I might spring for an iBike Gen III this summer, and in the meantime, I'll keep an eye on Quarq.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Stormy Leroy

I headed up to Leroy after lunch today to do my TT workouts since a huge rain storm was moving in from the west. That meant there was a big wind out of the west, so it was a headwind on the return leg. The temperature was about 60F, and the humidity was as high as it can get without raining.

I did a quick warm up and saw Jim Behrens was out on the course riding in the opposite direction. The TT will start officially next Thursday (May 14).

My strategy for this effort was to push as hard as possible on the second, uphill leg of the course to try to steal some time from my season best 21:03, but more importantly, to increase my average power output for the effort closer to 400W.

I started out with a manageable pace. The tailwind on the outbound leg provided a little boost, I did a few out of the saddle efforts over the slightly steeper rises to boost the speed. I held back a little so I could push harder on the climb toward the turnaround. I took the corner fast, and pushed as hard as I could up the first section of the climb. The power meter was reading between 375 and 400W. That's about as hard as I can go and I could feel my brain starting to melt. On the second false flat section of the climb, I struggled to keep pushing at that pace, but by the climb before the turn I was able to get out of the saddle and sprint over the top.

I rolled through the turn around, then started ramping back up toward 350-400W for the return leg. I wasn't feeling the west wind until I got to the turn, then it was a real struggle on the way back in.

Over the last mile, I thought I had a chance to finally crack 21 minutes, and started pushing as hard as possible using the waltz technique, and shut the power display off. Reviewing the file, I kept it well over 400W and 25 mph in spite of the headwind. Once the finish line was in sight, I tried to accelerate all the way to the finish, but cracked about 50m before the line. I posted a 21:19 time and 353W average!

My calculated power output from the tackle the tower climb was 384W, but that was only 6 minutes. I'd like to post a 400W average for the Leroy course before the end of the season, so I'm on track.

I am starting to think about investing in a new power meter. The ibike works pretty well, but I'm always skeptical of good results!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Westlake #1 Race Report

This was my first Westlake "A" race. I felt really cheerful at the start of the race and didn't have any pre-race jitters.  John V and Rick B also made the switch, which gave me a little mental boost.

My only goal was to finish with the field and to observe how the faster group reacts to attacks and counter attacks.

The course was pretty banged up from the winter freeze and thaw. Gwenn and Chris went around prior to the race and marked the more dangerous sections of pavement with fluorescent paint. Most of the time it was possible to see the holes and make minor course corrections, but I still had to bunny hop a couple of times, and managed to find a couple holes but didn't damage my tires or wheels.

The race started off with a couple of parade laps to give everyone a chance to learn where the bad sections of pavement were. I got up to the front and took some pulls to get warmed up. The racing really started after a few laps, there were a flurry of attacks until a break got established. I followed wheels near the front of the race while the attacks were going. I was a little too winded to grab a wheel and jump across. I caught my breath and tried to bridge, but only made it about half way across the gap.

Once the break was up the road, there were a succession of attempts to bridge, and the field chased them all down. Finally, the break got out of sight, and the field settled into tempo riding. The race ended with a practice sprint. I just watched them go for it and was happy to finish with the group.

I averaged 24.6 mph, average power was 250 Watts. I only felt under pressure a couple of times near the beginning of the race while the break was forming. I conserved plenty of energy and fatigue by spinning a smaller gear than I typically do. My bike handling brain finally clicked on. At the CB races, I felt like I was fighting the bike. After 30+ high speed turns at Westlake, I started to feel the lines through corners and was pedalling through most of the turns.

It was a relief to finally finish with the field and to actually participate in the race instead of hanging on for dear life.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Running the Sahara

I dropped in at MRC Chardon today to pick up my re-trued wheels. We got into a conversation about touring across the US by bike. That's something I'll try someday, but for now, I like riding fast more than riding far. I have a hard time imagining the endless stretches of two lane road like route 6 through Ashtabula county.

That jogged my memory (no pun intended) about the documentary Running the Sahara about a group of ultra-marathoners who jog the entire Sahara desert. It was a remarkable achievement to travel that distance on foot. The movie is worth watching, even though it's a little dull at times. The steadily deteriorating relationship of the three runners is interesting to watch.

Monday, May 4, 2009

First Month Review

The first month of racing is over. I did three consecutive weekends of the Covered Bridge race. In review, there are some good lessons to take away from those.

In the second race, I was over my head. The pace was too high for me to stay in the field for long. The data from that race can be analyzed as a ceiling for my current fitness level. In the first and the third race, I was actually pretty comfortable, even with the sprints over the two little hills. That's good news, considering I still weigh 223 pounds. By mid season, I'll be around 200 pounds, so my power per kg will increase by another 10%.

My descending skills are non-existent and that prevented me from finishing with the field in the first and third races. I got the hang of the curvy downhill section before the bridge by the last race of the series, but never really mastered the off camber sweeper. I need to spend a lot more time polishing those skills throughout this season, then next year, I need to work on that early in the year. So I'll add a skills day to my training each week, and do that on a recovery ride. The MidOhio race will call on those skills, and that's coming up soon.

I need to add some 1x1 intervals to the training mix, and 15 sec microinterval sessions. So a typical mix of workouts during the week will be.

  • Saturday: 1x1, 8 reps, 3 sets, or 15 sec (1 hour to 90 mins)
  • Sunday: Long ride (2-3 hours)
  • Monday: Skills (1 hour)
  • Tuesday: Westlake (1-2 hours)
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Leroy TT (2 hours)
  • Friday: Rest

So a total amount of training for a week would be 7-10 at the peak, with high intensity. On race weeks, I'll omit or shorten rides.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

To "B" or not to "B"

The Westlake Training Series is set to start on May 5. For the past few seasons, I've been riding in the "B" field. I've been steadily improving my fitness since I started racing and riding again in 2005. 

It's time for me to switch from the "B" race to the "A" race. I don't think I can gain any fitness from riding the "B" field again this year. I know the "A" race average speed is 26-27 mph while the B field only averages about 24 on a fast night. I'm confident I could average 24 by myself for quite a long time on that course with my current level of fitness.

The drawback to riding the A race, is it's going to be the equivalent of motorpacing for me, rather than racing. Hopefully I'll be able to stay in the field, even if I'm dropped I'll keep doing the A race for the first month of the Westlake season.