Friday, July 31, 2009

Leroy TT

For most of July, I've been feeling pretty ragged; like I imagine I'd feel if I spent a whole weekend watching a 122 episode Nash Bridges marathon. The Tour of the Valley, the Chapel Crits, getting beaten up at Westlake, training rides, and perpetual rain started to add up.

This week I started feeling human again. By Thursday I was actually feeling good and was looking forward to my trip up to Leroy. I haven't done the TT since July 2nd, so I was wondering if I could beat my best time of the season so far.

As 6:30 rolled around, a big group turned up to try their luck on the course, nearly exhausting Jim's supply of popsicle sticks. Chris started #1, I ended up drawing 8th and had a few other Mercxx riders ahead of me to chase after.

As Mark rolled off from the start, a person (I think it was a woman) in a Porsche drove past the fire station on the TT course/Leroy Center Road and got very annoyed at being delayed by a kid who was riding his BMX bike on the left side of the road and the TT riders on the right side. Of course, instead of calmly waiting for 10-20 seconds for the situation to be safe and to pass in a civil fashion, she threaded the needle between the two bikes and gunned the engine. It reminded me of our CRC training ride this spring where a dude in a Porsche blew by us on Chagrin River Road over a blind hill around a blind curve.

I remain baffled where the people driving on Leroy Center road are hurrying to. The immediate neighborhood of the firestation is rural/residential where kids ride their bikes, people, dogs and ducks walk on the road. It connects to Brakeman Road, which then heads south into BFE. Maybe they are commuting from Cleveland, and still have the freeway mentality when they are driving there.

Anyway, I got off to a good start on my TT run. I was pretty easily maintaining 350-400W across the field since there was a slight tailwind at that point. I try to accelerate all the way to the first turn, but was running out of steam this week. Usually I hit the corner at about 25-27 mph, but was only at 23 mph. Chris who started about 10 minutes before me was on the return leg and was already rounding the corner just as I got there, so he was on a good time.

The white line on the road had been painted, apparently, and there was some sand down to protect the wet paint in the corner, and it had been scattered across the lane by traffic. I kept the bike straight up and down and moved my weight way over to negotiate the corner more like a bus than a bike.

I tried to pick up the pace up the climb, but was wilting a little bit. I managed to make a good effort over the top of the hill, but felt off the pace for a new personal best time for the season.

I didn't have much snap on the return leg and finished with only a 20:28, average power dropped to 300W, a meager 3W/kg. The weather conditions were pretty good for a fast time, too. It's pretty interesting to see how my week-on-week improvement reversed after my July race-fest.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Westlake #10

This past Tuesday it was pretty hot and humid all day. Storms were popping up all over the place, but I decided to drive out to Westlake anyway. A big group turned out for both the A and B race.

I followed my usual routine, a few laps until 6:10, then go to the parking lot and goof around until the start. This week, I made a breakthrough with my trackstands. My discovery was to move the focus of concentration to my center of mass instead of my hands and feet. I did a couple really good ones, but I'm not to the point of standing there indefinitely like some people can do. And I'm nowhere near the point of doing one no handed--I saw a woman do that before the MidOhio race a couple of years ago.

The race followed the usual routine. While the breaks are trying to get established, the pace goes from really fast to super fast, a few prime laps were thrown in for good measure. The wind was out of the south east, so on Ranney Parkway we got pushed over by a crosswind onto the double yellow, which was a virtual gutter.

One lap I was congratulating myself on good positioning and efficient riding, the next lap, I was behind traffic that was slow through the corners, and I ended up on the back dangling in the crosswind. I felt my HR redline, but managed to recover. The next lap, a whole swath of riders came unhitched and I was behind them. I probably could have sprinted around to latch back on, but I didn't want to prolong the agony.

I felt like crap, so I decided to just head home early. When I got off the bike, my head was swimming. Even though I've been out riding in the heat quite a bit this year, I don't feel like I've really adapted.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Polar Bear Relay Update

I rode down to Gates Mills today via Sherman Road and found a good place to stow the polar bear. It's near a stone fence just off Old Mill Road on Epping.

This link is the Google Maps Street View. Pan the view to the right to see the wall.

If you pick up the bear and move it along to a new spot, find a good place to stow it. Pick some spot that isn't obvious, but is relatively easy to reach from the road, and that won't be picked up by landscapers or kids.

Polar Bear Relay

I'm heading out on a training ride today. I'm going to take the plastic polar bear and stash it somewhere, then leave directions and a picture of the place. I'll even mark it on Google Maps.

If you read this and are looking for a place to ride, pick up the bear and take it somewhere else, leave directions in the comments of this post, or post something on your own blog/facebook page/etc...

The only rule for moving the bear is you've got to carry it on your bike.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Accidental Rest Week

I've been busy with work lately. I've been scrambling to get a project wrapped up and had a couple late nights early this week.

I spent about 5 years doing that on a regular basis. Thankfully, now it's a rare occurance. That's probably one of the less healthy ways to live--mentally and physically--I'm still losing the weight I packed on during those years. Probably THE least healthy way to live is to be a captain of a crab boat (I've been watching Deadliest Catch lately; my current favorite show)--it seems like chain smoking 30 hours straight is part of that job description.

Anyway, I missed Westlake on Tuesday. I probably could have made it, but the weather was a little sketchy and I only had about 4 hours of sleep, so I erred on the side of less driving.

I spent Wednesday cleaning out my window mount A/C. Constant rain seemed to be turning it into a mold/bacteria colony. I don't want to end up with my name in a newly discovered disease title, so I scrubbed it out with some bleach solution and it's practically as good as new.

Thursday, I was deciding between the Chapel Crit, the LeRoy TT, and going to the "Y" to lift, do some cardio, and see some hot sweaty women, well, as much as I can see with my glasses off and sweat pouring down. As the rain persisted through the morning, I crossed the Chapel off the list. As it got closer to 4, I decided to head to the "Y" to do a TT level effort on the cardio machines and to beat up my quads on the weight machines.

Of course, only 15 minutes into my cardio session, the clouds parted and the sun and blue sky made an appearance. Oh well. I wrapped up the cardio--amazing how much harder it feels indoors with no wind flow--and did a little weight work. It's been about 18 months since I had knee surgery and my right quads are still significantly weaker than my uninjured leg.

I'm going to head out for a tough ride this afternoon and hopefully I'll stay dry and the humidity will drop from 90% to something a little more comfortable.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fairport Harbor Ride

I did a great route today. North on Ravenna Road up to Fay Road, up to Route 86, then north instead of the usual south. Up to Painesville, continued north on North State Street all the way up to Fairport Harbor Beach. The weather was perfect and the wind was cooperating. Sunny and in the 70s. The lighthouse, the beach and the water was a spectacular sight. It's about 15 miles to Fairport, and all downhill.

Since the wind was out of the northwest, I had a tailwind all the way home uphill back to Chardon. I took the bike paths most of the way.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

'cross bike upgrades

I'm starting to feel a little road season burnout and am really looking forward to cyclocross.

I've got some preparation to do before September. I started to ease back into running. At this point, I'm only doing 5 or 10 minutes at a time to get my legs used to the pounding. I'll build up a little bit each week.

The good old Redline has gathered a thin layer of dust, but is about to get a workover next month. There's some routine maintenance work to do and some upgrades. With the wide Aluminum bars I've got on the machine and the 'cross tires, it feels more like driving a bus than riding a bike. I'll get some lighter and narrower carbon bars. I'm switching to a single chainring setup. I think I've been on the big ring for a total of 10 minutes over the past three seasons. So, I'll lose it, the front derailleur, and the left STI shifter and replace it with a light brake lever.

Once I get it tuned up, I'll head up to Whiskey Island and try riding around on 25 mm slicks to see how that works. The surface of the fields at the park were packed like concrete last year so slicks should be fine for most of the course. The off camber sections might be challenging, though.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chapel Crit #2

Busy day today. Dentist appointment in the morning. Work. Stop in at Bike Authority to have my right shifter sent back to Shimano for a warranty repair (the brake lever return spring cracked), finally, head to Akron for the Chapel Crit.

A group of 23 turned out for the "B" race including several Stark Velo guys, the Westlake Regulars, Rick, Gwenn, John, and Jason, who I haven't seen for a while. Robert Sroka also raced. Some "A" field riders, like Chris and Rudy did the "B" race warmup/rolling coach thing again.

My legs felt good, but mentally, I was pretty flat and tired. I thought I would just ease into the race, unfortunately, other riders had other plans. Soon after the start, Jason attacked on the back stretch and opened a pretty good gap. I thought he might be warming up and just taking a flyer, so I didn't react.

Pretty soon his solo move became a group of all the stronger riders in the field, and the gap started to open. If I'd been more attentive, I would have tried to jump across. Instead, I just waited for someone else to close the gap that was still manageable. The cross wind made it difficult, though.

Finally, I woke up a little and tried to pace us back together, but didn't make any dent in the gap.

We had a bunch sprint for the second group. I basically TT'ed to the line and got 8th or 9th.

Not a great performance. I was too passive through the race and had a tendency to take it easy on certain sections of the course which actually caused me to do more work overall. But, at least I managed to finish with a group. It was also a lot of fun. That course is great.

The last couple weeks has been all short jumpy races. I think it's time to get out and do some longer rides down into the valley with some good climbs. No racing this weekend, so I plan to really pile on the miles and see how my body responds.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Chippewa RR May 16, 2010

Thanks to Al Dottore, CRC managed to schedule the Chippewa Creek Road Race for May 16th, 2010.

I'll post updates about our planning from time to time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Westlake #9

I went for a ride Monday and felt pretty strong, and I felt pretty good today, so I decided to head out to Westlake to race for the sixth time in a week.

When I got there a new rider was parked in my normal spot. Not a big deal, but it's only happened a couple times in the past three seasons, and I'm a little rain-man-like when it comes to my pre-race ritual.

I go through my normal bike prep. Air in the tires, check the wheels. My rear brake feels sticky. Probably a bad cable. As I'm riding through the lot, my computer is all wonky. The reported speed hops all over the place. Oh well, it's probably not gonna be a banner night for me.

We get started. I'm about 6th wheel. On the first lap, Matt Weeks whips up the speed for the whole lap. Jeez! My computer wasn't working, but it felt like 30 mph. Ok, I survived. Next Brian Batke gets on the front and does the same thing. No rest for the wicked. I'm still fine, though. Next, somebody in a Lake Effect jersey attacks. I think it's Matt again. The field picks up the pace. I'm feeling good enough that I contemplate getting on the front to shut the gap down, but I just want to survive.

Some other riders who had been working start pouring through the field like a waterfall. I get caught behind, and slide back. #!@#$%!. Ok, so I'll hang out on the back for a while and try to move forward later.

Somebody opened the throttle again for a whole 30 mph lap. I have to get out of the saddle a couple of times just to close gaps.

Gaak. 40 minutes of that was too much for me and a bunch of other riders who slipped off the back on Ranney Parkway. I wore the HR monitor, so I can see I averaged 180 bpm on that lap. Theoretically, I should be able to handle that, but not today.

The main difference between a Cat IV race, or the Westlake "B" race and the "A" race is that the speed is just unrelenting. In a Cat IV race, someone might get on the front and pour it on for a minute or two, but then there will be a rest before the next big effort.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

TOTV Final Day

I didn't know Youngstown is so close to Chardon. I drove out 322 East to Route 11 and South to downtown Youngstown in about 1 hour for the downtown Sunday morning crit.

The Cat V race was running by the time I was dressed and signed in, so there wasn't much chance to check out the course. I rode around a little on the sidewalks and got the general sense of it. Closed course, totally flat, wide turns, minimal wind. The pavement on the back stretch of the course was the only concern. In places, it made the concrete of the Westlake course look smooth.

The Cat V race was over in the blink of an eye, and we lined up immediately. I went to the front from the starting whistle and rode an easy tempo through the first couple of turns.

The race was pretty smooth. A couple of riders attempted to get away, but the field shut them down immediately. I held position really well and just waited for the officials to switch from a timed race to 5 laps to go. I moved up to the front with Chris and we were in an ideal position.

As the laps counted down to zero, Dave Thornton (Team 53x11) took a flyer on the back stretch. The field reeled him in with two laps to go and started to slow way down since nobody wanted to work prior to the sprint. Just as he was getting caught, I began my move up toward the front, and was overtaking riders really quickly.

I decided to really go for it. In the best case, I get away and race to victory. In the worst case, I blow up after a long pull, but string the field out and prevent attacks from other riders, and maybe Chris can get a good result. Also, I hate the rolling trackstand finishes to races. It's dangerous and it drives me crazy.

I blasted along and dug pretty deep to make it to the start finish line at the head of the race. It was probably about 2 mph too hard to try to make it the whole way, or about 30 seconds too long for me to recover. I popped, watched the field go by in a haze, then just rolled around for the last lap.

There was a crash and Chris got caught behind, so we didn't get a good result, but we both stayed off the ground and did a pretty good race as a two man team. The rider who crashed was taken away in an ambulance, but didn't appear to be seriously injured. Hopefully he'll recover quickly.

Chris placed 10th in the GC on the strength of his win in the day 1 TT and strong showing in the RR.

Many thanks to the organizers, volunteers, and officials. This was a fantastic event. I hope it's on again next year. If it is, I'll definitely find a centrally located hotel and spend the weekend in the Valley.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Amazing Stats

Carbon Racing has managed to get me thinking about CO2, so at least in my case, their mission is accomplished.

The geological history of the Earth is mind blowing stuff.

The history of the gallons of gas we nonchalantly burn in our cars is told in this article.

A staggering 98 tons of prehistoric, buried plant material – that's 196,000 pounds – is required to produce each gallon of gasoline we burn in our cars

Friday, July 10, 2009

TOTV Day 1

Stage 1 TT

Up at 4:30AM, on the road by 5:30AM, to Mastropietro's Winery in Berlin Center, Ohio by about 7:30AM.

Great setting. Green, breeze, quiet, nice views of the vineyards, a pristine setting. Mmmmm coffee.

Parking lot staging area. Maruts, Srokas, Scott Gartman doing Mercxx style, too. Maybe a TT bike next season. Jim Behrens with the Jittery Joe's crew. Hey! Chris with the family.

Mmmmm coffee. Quick warm up. Start times flying up. 227! That's me. Line up. Heart Rate already at 119 just standing there. 5,4,3,2,1!

Wow HR holding steady at 182! I'm getting it all out on the lumpy fast course.

Finished 11th out of 20 some riders. Beat several riders on TT bikes. The time they recorded seems 1 minute fast. I probably did 14:30 based on my measurement, but was scored at 13:32.

Chris won! Feeling pretty good during lunch.

Stage 2 Canfield Crit

Ride the warm up. Great! nice closed course right downtown. Oops, they decided to switch the direction of the course. Uh-oh. The long drag into the wind is gonna hurt instead of help bunch up the group on a steeper climb.

Hot at the start. Struggling in the heat this year. Dousing myself with water seems to help.

Holding position pretty well, but riding the brakes a little too much on the downhill section. Need to work on that and passing slower riders instead of braking.

Uh oh. Heat really bothering me. More water over the head. Another couple laps a small group drifts off the back on the long uphill. Ugh. The elastic snaps and I'm going backward. Blew up a little. Maybe the field will slow and I can chase back. 5 laps left. I close the gap a little on the next lap, but I'm done with about 3 to go and just want to finish.


Chapel Crit #1

Thursday night I drove down to Akron for the Chapel Crit. Thankfully, the drive was a breeze. I had plenty of time to get ready, sign in, and warm up.

The course is around a parking lot, so it's closed to traffic and is pretty safe. There are several turns in only 0.6 miles including 90 degree turns and sweeping high speed turns. There are some ripples in the pavement that threw my wheels around a little bit during the race. Several Westlake regulars turned up to race in the "B" field including John V, Rick B, and Gwenn. Chris Riccardi rode the "B" field as warm-up for his race and coached us during the race.

Last year I really struggled during this race. I would hang in for about 20 minutes, then blow up. My goal for this first outing was to just finish in the field. I was actually pretty nervous.

We had a sane start. I was able to clip in and get into a good position. There were several attacks during the first few laps. Rick and John were aggressive as were a couple Stark Velo guys.

That lasted for a while, but nobody seemed to have the power to stay away for long. I was under a little pressure, but never felt like I was going to slip off the back. In spite of that, I wasn't really holding position in the field.

There was a lot of complaining and jaw boning during the race. I think the physical and mental stress of racing brings out the bitchiness of people.

Chris gave quite a few good pointers during the race. If I jumped out of the corner onto the long straight, I could carry my speed and pass lots of guys. Pretty obvious, no doubt, but having someone point it out during the race made it really clear. I followed his advice and moved up.

By the last 10 laps, I had a good feel for the course and was riding efficiently. I started to think about the sprint. I'd move up on the last lap and start winding it up through the last turn.

The bell rang, we went around the course and I started moving up, the two lead riders overcooked one of the harder turns, and instead of just riding off the pavement onto the nice grass with hard packed dirt, they decided to asphalt surf. Frames clattered, tires blew, wheels rattled.

Everyone paused for a second, then everyone jumped. I was in good position. But got pretty passive. I misjudged the sprint. Since the finish is on a slight downhill, it starts from way out. I waited too long, then realized my mistake but it was too late. I finished mid pack. John V. won and Rick B took third even after being aggressive through the whole race.

I'm looking forward to next Thursday. I think I can get a better result.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Here we go

Lots of racing through the weekend.

The Chapel Crit is tonight. Since it's around a church parking lot, it's a closed course, and even though it's technical, it's pretty forgiving if you don't panic. If you overshoot a corner, you can breeze through the traffic cones, or just ride into the grass and hop back into the field.

I'm eager to test myself on the course this year to see how much improvement I made since last year. I'm 15 pounds thinner, plus my right quads are near normal strength. I've been racing on a regular basis since February 28th (Frosty Toes RR), and have been flogging lots of solo miles, two man pain fests with Chris, and group rides with da Club. The weekly Westlake "A" race beat-down has given me a steady boost in fitness.

The "B" field should be representative of other Cat IV races in the area, so for the first time this season, I'll be racing against my fitness peers instead of getting thrashed at Westlake, or sandbagging at Medina.

The race log comes in handy! From last year, I see it's a low average power effort, but there are several jumps per lap, so my heart rate should be high.

I'll be happy to just finish with the field and compete in the sprint. But my goals for the race are to ride efficiently, stay in the first 6 places start-to-finish, and to control any breakaway attempts. Also, I want to hone my pack riding skills and efficiently pass the slower traffic, which will be a challenge on the technical course.

The race should be a good tune up for the TOTV, which starts early Friday morning.

My biggest post-race challenge might be refueling and relaxing enough after the race to get a good night's sleep for the early morning wake-up call for the prologue.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Westlake #8

A wise singer/songwriter with a mullet once said:

You'll never say hello to you
Until you get it on the red line overload
You'll never know what you can do
Until you get it up as high as you can go

Since I'm going to be racing the Chapel Crit on Thursday, then the Tour of the Valley on Friday, my plan was to ride an intense hour at Westlake then shut it down and go home early.

It was Zipp Demo night and the weather was perfect, except for the stiff Northern breezes, so the fields were big. 50 A and about 20 B riders. Lots of primes were offered: Zipp merchandise, cash, and points. I wanted to go after an early prime from a long way out to get some pacing data for the Valley TT.

On the first lap, Bridgette rang the bell and held up a Zipp jersey. I thought that would be a good one to go for since nobody else seemed very interested. When we rolled through turn 1, I accelerated and jumped clear. By the time I hit turn 2, I had a clear view of the field. The gap was pretty big! I put my head down and settled into a hard tempo. S curves. Still clear. Turn 3. Still clear. Sweeper onto the finishing straight. Still clear. 100 meters to go. Then out of nowhere an RGF jersey (Cameron Jackson) went around me! Arghh. I didn't even see him coming.

The gap was still pretty big, so I decided to see how far I could go solo. I made it another half lap before the field ripped around me. Actually, I got caught on the most difficult part of the course. Next time I do that, I'll make sure to get caught before a turn, into the wind, or on a slight downhill. Instead, I got caught on Ranney Parkway in the crosswind after the field wound it up out of turn 2.

Accelerating from 25 mph to 30 mph hurt a little. A lot actually. I hung on for a while, then slipped off the back.

I decided to just hammer solo instead of waiting for the field to come around. I kept that up for a while, and eventually another solo rider, from Stark Velo, caught up with me, and we worked together. A two man TT effort is total misery.

We kept up a decent pace for 30 minutes until we got lapped. I hopped back in and did several more laps. Once my back started to get tight, I stopped. I still felt pretty fresh. Hopefully that was a good tune-up for Thursday.

I was bummed that I got dropped, but the good news is it felt really easy to ride in the field even when we hauled ass, and I have good pacing information for the Valley TT on Friday morning.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

LeRoy TT Length

I got around to measuring the circumference of my front wheel: 2112 mm. The value I'd been using was 2096 mm. That's a difference of 16 mm or about 5/8 inch, or 0.763%.

The original value gives a length of 7.67 miles. The newly measured value would give a length of 7.72 miles.

However, after reading up on this subject here, I think the original value might be more accurate, since I didn't load the bike during the measurement.

I also measured the course using Google Earth. The start line is easy to spot, since it's marked by the edge of the fire station driveway. The turn around looks like a small smudge on the road when viewed from space, it's just north of the second driveway past the woods. Here's a view.

With Google Earth, the course length I measured is 7.65 miles. However, that number has some uncertainty. It's calculated using an idealized spheroid model of the Earth. That doesn't include the terrain and the relative roughness of the road. Also the path I marked using Google Earth is a rough approximation of the route that a cyclist would take on the road and is probably slightly shorter than an actual rider's path.

So after all that, I still don't know how long the route really is. In fact, there's probably not a way to answer it definitively. I'll stick with the original value.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


I was a little late leaving for Medina this morning for the Twin Sizzler, so I was harried when I rolled into the lot at 7:30AM, and saw Al, Dave, Mike, Chris and Rob (doing his first race!) roll out for their warm up. Thanks to the great organization of the TS, I breezed through registration and was ready to go before 8:00AM.

Chris entered the expert field race, everyone else did an age group race. I'm still a little too heavy to make it over the climbs on the course with the expert field, especially with the 35+ fast guys, so I decided to sandbag it and entered the 35-39 year old group.

Arguably, because of drafting and the wide range of fitness, age groups don't make sense for a bike race. Splitting it up as an expert A and expert B field, then age groups would probably make for a better race. That said, since the race is a local institution and is extremely well organized, the age group quirkiness adds character and makes it a unique event.

A couple guys attacked right from the start. I'm used to racing in the evening when my mental and physical energy level is at its peak, and was still pretty groggy at 8:15AM, so I watched them go for a while thinking the attack was probably adrenaline fueled and would only last about 30 seconds, but other riders started to bridge across, so I followed the wheels. They continued the hard pace for close to a minute. We settled down for a while, and a third rider put in a hard attack only about 2 minutes into the race! Once he was reeled in, the race settled into an easy tempo.

The field worked well and people were riding well. Several riders took turns at the front. I did some work over the first several miles to get warmed up. In the true spirit of the Medina Twin Sizzler race, a strong rider from Lake Effect was racing in our field with his daughter on a tandem. Drafting behind them was like motorpacing!

Since I've been struggling on climbs for a couple of years, I was a little concerned about the lumpiness of the course, so I sat in as we approached the first climb. It was an effort, just above my LT for a couple minutes but not a big deal. (I would have been shelled there or on the second set of rollers in the expert field.)

After that, I had no worries. The race often comes down to the last mile and the 90 degree left and right turns before the finish, so all I needed to do was wait. I took a few turns on the front, and chased a couple small attacks.

Finally our wheels were on the ridiculously bad pavement of Smith Road heading back into town. I thought about TTing away, but was soon too busy dodging cracks and potholes in the road to try anything.

Left, over lumpy train tracks, then right and the sprint. I was in good position at the end, about 4th wheel, and with lots of high speed cornering practice from Westlake, so I passed a couple of guys and wound it up. I accelerated to the line and passed several people. Due to the mixing of fields, I thought maybe I got third, so I was totally surprised to hear that I won!

Since I was recovering from my car accident in the 2008 season, and started riding the "A" race at Westlake this year, it's been a looooong time since I placed in a race, so it felt pretty good.

It gives me a little boost in confidence for the Cat 4 races I'll be doing over the next couple of weeks.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Margin of Error

How long is the Leroy TT course? Everyone I've asked has a different length. I've heard 7.67, 7.75 and 7.95 miles. I'll have to do a real measurement of my wheel circumference today instead of using the canned value and cross check with some topo map measurements. I'll feel much faster (well 5%) if it's closer to 8 miles than 7.6!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

No Ducks No Glory

It was a windy, cool, overcast evening for the Leroy TT, and the flag at the firestation was pointing directly down the course. I went out for my warm up with Al who had already done one hard effort around the course. With the tailwind, it was easy to roll along at 20 mph and have a conversation.

Since the Leroy TT is a weekly event, everyone that rides there is familiar with every bump and ripple in the pavement, and picks out weird landmarks that drift by in the timeless fever dream of a time trial. I noticed the ducks that swim around in the ditch just before the turn onto Kniffen weren't there like they often are, but the friendly old lab that lives near the turn was out walking around on the road.

The crosswind on the climb was really noticable. That was going to hurt! I rode part way up the hill then swung around to head to the start. I was hoping there would be a little shelter on the finish from the trees, but it was like riding into a wind tunnel!

A big group turned up for the TT. I picked the #8 popsicle and waited my turn. The guys on the TT bikes went first, including Matt Weeks and Bill Marut. They looked pretty fast out of the gate. I was second or third of the Mercxx style riders, and the rider in front of me had his tail light going, so it was a target to chase through the gloomy evening.

I stuck with my normal routine of holding back a little at the start, and gradually accelerating across the field, and then making another gradual acceleration to the corner. With the tailwind, I was really cruising. I took a breather going through the corner and was at 27 mph before I leaned into the turn.

I tried a different routine on the hill. I wanted to hold back a little on the first half of the climb, and drill it on the second half all the way to the turn around. On the first half, I tried to recover a little bit, and on the second half I got out of the saddle and accelerated over the flat, then sprinted up the climb. Overall, it was actually a little slower.

I made a good turn and sprinted down the hill. I could see the light blinking in the distance, but wasn't making up any time on the rider in front of me, though the distance between us opened and closed as we made our way onto the different parts of the course.

I saw the 2 miles to go mark and started hammering. I wanted to keep the pressure on with a big effort over the last mile. I got into my pedal stroke counting routine and was half hypnotized when Larry Pandy drove up next to me on his BMW motorcycle to say hi.

I kept the pressure on to the line, but didn't manage to break 30 mph due to the wind.

I finished with a 20:24 versus 19:58 last week, only 317 Watts average power. I didn't feel sharp, but finally got over the fatigue I've been suffering with the last two weeks. I think I'll tweak my aero position a little bit over the weekend to see if I can gain a little more time.

I Need to See (that I'm old) to Ride

I've been dragging ass for a couple of weeks. I attributed it to riding, so I took a rest week. Usually after a couple of days of rest, I feel great, but I was still groggy. Maybe allergies? Took a little extra allergy stuff. Still groggy. Finally, using deductive logic that would make Sherlock Holmes or Dr. House proud, I realized my eyeglasses prescription was way out of date and eyestrain feels like a light case of the flu, so I scheduled an appointment and went in for my exam yesterday.

I explained my symptoms to Dr. Patton, so he put me though the paces with the magic viewer machine. "Is 3 or 4 better?", "3", "4 or 5", "5", etc... Finally, he sat down and gave me the diagnosis.

My prescrtipion is the same, and my vision isn't really that bad. The problem is I'm old (pushing 40) and focusing up close on the computer screen tires out my peepers. I've been working longer hours than I have for a while staring at the computer, so it started to bug me. The solution, a bigger monitor about 2 feet from my face and not wearing glasses while I work.

Even though Ian just told me about where he got two pairs of glasses for like $12, my midlife diagnosis prompted me to cough up the benjamins for new glasses and a nice pair of prescription cycling sun glasses with carbon fiber frames. Maybe a convertible sports car and a twenty somthing girlfriend are in my immediate future.