Friday, April 30, 2010

painesville to chardon

I did my first sustained time trial type effort of the season on Thursday.

It was one of those rides where I decided on the route based on the automotive mayhem on the roads. I started off riding to the Chardon post office to mail a letter. Apparently, 3PM is rush hour in Chardon. The streets were packed with cars and I got spooked by the erratic driving I saw. I set out with a vague plan to head south to Chagrin, but decided to try to avoid traffic as much as possible, and went north instead and got to side roads as soon as possible.

I decided to head up to Painesville, then ride back to Chardon on the bike paths at TT pace. Painesville to Chardon is actually a tough route--you never get a break from gravity as you try to escape from the Lake. It's a gradual uphill that gains about 700 feet over 10 miles with a few steeper pitches and little rolling descents along the way. It's pretty good for a high power workout, except for all the cross roads that break up the effort, but oh well, almost every road around here is like that.

I was pleased with my power output over the 30 minute effort, and that gives me some confidence in how I've been training so far this season. I pushed a big gear at 85 rpm and was pretty comfortable in the mid 300's.

It's going to be interesting to see what time I get at Jim's TT on May 13th with my current conditioning and my new wheels.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

westlake #2

I missed the opener of the Westlake season last week. Work and the weather cooperated this week, and I was able to make the drive out to the bus garage for the second race in the series.

To "B" or not to "B" was the question for this season. Last year, I started out doing the "A" race and managed to finish with the field early in the year. At about the mid-point of the season, though, I was getting dropped on a regular basis. I'm not entirely sure how my fitness matches up with last year, so I decided to ride the "B" race instead of starting the season off on a negative note. But if I was going to ride the "B" race, I'd attack all the time, and stay at the front as much as possible.

The temperature was in the upper 40's and there was a 10-20 mph cross wind on Ranney Parkway when we got started. I think there were less than 20 riders in the "B" field. On the second lap, a couple guys from Cleveland Tri attacked and got a good gap. I paced the field back up to them pretty quickly.

The three of us stayed at the front for much of the rest of the race. A young guy from Spin had a solo attack and was away for four laps or so. I made several efforts to get away, but I got caught every time.

I decided I'd take a flyer from 1 kilometer out at the finish instead of getting mixed up in the sprint. Another rider did the exact same thing just as I was accelerating out of the field, so I lost the element of surprise. But I doubt it would have mattered, I was a little too fatigued to really kick that hard.

My average power was 225W. Last year, in one of the "A" races I finished, the average was 205W. It's higher because I was on the front quite often, but in the "A" race, I just followed wheels.

However, there's a huge gap between the "A" race difficulty and the "B" race. For example, out of turn 2 onto Ranney Parkway in the "A" race, I would crank out 1000+ W on every lap with an out of the saddle sprint. In the "B" race, I only did that a few times, and not for very long. Also, in the "A" race, the speed gets over 30 mph on pretty much every lap. In the "B" race, my 1 km attack got up to 29.3 mph for a while, but that was my maximum speed for the night.

So here's my conclusion, the "B" race is too easy, but the "A" race can be too hard for me. I think our club rides are harder than the "B" race, so probably provide more training benefit.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Reynolds Assault Wheels One Month Later

I've had my Reynolds Assault wheels for a little more than a month. I've put more than 600 miles on them so far, so here's an updated review.

Initially, the braking performance of the wheels and brake pads was terrible. A panic stop from high speed was impossible. Slowing on a steep downhill required an all out squeeze of the brake levers. Also braking could cause a very loud screech under certain circumstances. Both problems are gone. It seems like it just took a while to remove the slick coating on the surface of the rim that contacts the brakes. The carbon-specific brake pads seem to have a short life span. I'll probably replace the pads in the next couple of weeks.

I haven't abused the wheels too much, but I haven't babied them, either. I've bombed over the brick roads in Chagrin, and tackled rough pavement in southern Geauga county, but the wheels are still true. They seem to be quite strong.

In gusty cross winds, the deep rims can catch the wind and knock the front end around a little. It's particularly noticeable on high speed downhills, but even then, it's no big deal. I doubt I'd choose to ride traditional rims due to windy conditions.

When I'm out of the saddle sprinting, or jamming over small hills, the wheels seem more efficient. I don't really know how to actually measure that--it's just a feeling.

At some point, I'll actually measure the aerodynamic performance of the wheel compared to traditional wheels. It feels like the wheels provide some small advantage when rolling at speeds over 20 mph, but I could also just be in better shape than last year. I think it will be interesting to get some data--on the other hand, I doubt I'll soon get a day where there's no wind, and I've got enough free time to do it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


When I woke up this morning, it was drizzling but I could see some clear patches of sky, and the radar was clear, so I decided to make the trip down to the Covered Bridge course for my first race of the 2010 season. I still wasn't 100% committed to the idea of racing while I was driving there. The rain never got past drizzle though, and it looked like it could clear up at any moment, so I kept going.

The temperature was about 40 degrees, but felt much colder. I was freezing when I pinned the numbers on and got dressed. I wore leg warmers, and a Craft base layer and long sleeve jersey. I took a spin to see how I felt. Not bad, but not great either, so I had no idea how I'd fare in the race.

When we rolled off for the start, the rain turned more persistent. It was a light drizzle. I decided if it poured, I'd just call it a day.

I stayed up near the front on the first two laps. The pace was quite comfortable. On the third lap, I felt pretty crappy. I was probably overheating in spite of the cold and wet weather. An attack went off the front, and I got gapped, and didn't have the motivation to chase. I ended up doing another two laps before my feet froze and I packed it in.

That's the coldest I've been on a bike. I shivered for the first 30 minutes of my drive back home even with the heater on full blast.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

rest week--not really

I planned a rest week to coincide with my trip out to Las Vegas for a trade show this week. I was hoping to enter the weekend feeling rested and refreshed, but I'm still dragging ass and the Covered Bridge race is tomorrow. But, of course, it's snowing right now, and if the weather sucks tomorrow, I'll put off my 2010 debut race to Westlake on Tuesday.

Vegas was cool to see. I went there for the NAB show, which is an exhibit for all the companies that make stuff for TV production and broadcast. All kinds of technology was on display, from cameras to editing equipment, to satellite trucks. 3D TV's and technology were all over the place. I watched a couple demos, which gave me instant eye fatigue. I'm not so sure it's going to catch on in the current format.

I waited for the last day I was out there to rent a car and head out into the mountains and see the Hoover Dam and do some hiking and climbing around. The scenery was spectacular, and the sandstone and basalt made for some fun climbing.

It was a great trip, but not exactly relaxing and refreshing. I didn't get over my jet lag until the day I left. Also, I ended up doing lots of miles of walking, a longish run from my hotel up to the pawn shop that's featured in the show Pawn Stars, and climbed around in the mountains for a few hours. Hopefully I'll get a workout in today and clear out the cobwebs.

By the way, the pawn shop is pretty underwhelming--it's a hole in the wall. It looks like it is undergoing a renovation.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Rock Creek-Roubaix

I had a great weekend of riding. Saturday, I got out with Chris and we did a hilly loop from Chardon down to Painesville and back on the roads around Big Creek. Then Sunday, I did Jim Behrens's Rock Creek-Roubaix Ride.

Jeff Craft devised the route around Rock Creek on gravel roads, dirt roads, and some deteriorated pavement. Like last year, there were a whole lotta punctures due to the gravel roads. Over the winter, I bought a couple of 28 mm Continental Vectran touring tires for use on gravel, but last night I capriciously decided to go with 25 mm tires and Caffe Latex filled tubes. That didn't work out so well. I punctured on the second gravel section, then again a few minutes later, then the third and final time a few minutes later.

The Caffe Latex stuff didn't work at all, and just made a huge mess. The thing that solved my puncture problem was to let a big gap open so I could see any danger spots and steer around them. When I was following wheels too closely, I rolled over some pretty gnarly rocks and holes in the road.

The highlight of the ride was Way Road. It is literally a farm path; two tractor wheel ruts that cut between farm fields. Since it was so dry, we were able to haul ass. There were several deep ruts along the way, and some tree limbs were down across the path that I needed to bunny hop. Then finally, a happy farm dog ran out to play with us/chase us down the path.

It was a fun ride with a good group of people. Next weekend, I'll be starting my racing season.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

kirtland chardon road

Even though yesterday's ride was long, it wasn't too intense, so I felt great today and decided to finally go and do a timed ride up Kirtland-Chardon Road hill.

I did a quick loop out Mitchell's Mill and through the Arboretum, then over to Wisner Road and Kirtland Chardon.

I decided to try a "panic-stop" to test the stopping power of my new carbon wheels and brake pads on the bridge at the base of the Kirtland Chardon hill. Yow! Compared to an aluminum brake surface, at best, that was a gradual stop. But, on the bright side, I doubt I could lock up the wheels from 40 mph if I tried.

The hill is a stair step climb. The steepest part of the climb is right at the start, then it transitions to a long 5% section. Usually, I try to start off slow, then accelerate on the flatter part, but today, I just went for it from the bottom and didn't worry about pacing myself. So, it's not such a surprise that I cracked a little bit near the top of the climb, but once I recovered a bit, I managed to get out of the saddle and do something resembling a sprint.

In spite of the headwind, I managed an 8:43, which isn't too bad for me, but is almost a minute slower than my best time last year. Paradoxically, I felt pretty strong on the steep sections, but was really struggling on the flatter parts of the climb. I'd like to get a personal best time on the climb this year. I'll be happy if I get close to 7 minutes.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

eagle road

I was feeling pretty anti-social today, so I did a solo ride down to Chagrin Falls via Eagle Road and Chagrin River Road. I haven't been on Eagle Road for several years. I forgot how nice that area is. There are some steep little hills and the roads are narrow and have lots of character. But on the down side, there was quite a bit of traffic.

Since the temperatures were in the upper 70s, there were lots of people out riding on Chagrin River Road. I tried to keep my pace at about 20 mph, which was actually pretty difficult since the wind out of the South was picking up throughout the day. I passed some recreational riders who seemed to be regretting their decision to go out and ride on such a windy day.

My drive train needs an overhaul. It sounds like a rat and a hamster are having a knife fight in a rusty sewing machine. I think the pulley wheels of the rear derailleur are shot. Also, my BB needs to be tightened again, and was creaking every time I got out of the saddle, so it looks like I'll be doing some wrenching on Monday night.

I wanted to ride the second half of the trip with more intensity and try to ignore fatigue as much as possible. It was definitely easier to do that on a warm day, also by the time I was heading home, I had a ripping tail wind which provided some motivation to ride fast. On the gradual downhills, I was hitting 35-40 mph without even pedaling.

My lower back was pretty tired by the time I got back to Chardon and I was really fatigued. I thought I had been drinking plenty of water, but I dropped 5 pounds on the 3 hour ride!

Friday, April 2, 2010

march wrap up

I transitioned from cross country skiing to cycling in March. Skiing helps to preserve some base level of fitness, but doesn't seem to translate directly to on-bike fitness. Similarly, the work I've been doing in the weight room has led to good leg strength, but it still took most of the month for the power meter readings to creep up to "normal" values.

I've settled into a pattern of doing high intensity, but pretty short rides during the week, then doing longer rides on the weekends. This year, compared to last, I started working on top end power early in the season, and am not doing many long tempo rides. Last March I somehow managed to do 37 hours. This year, I managed to do 28 hours.

I feel stronger than last year at this time, but haven't done any serious testing yet. For April, I'll crank up the overall volume a little bit and start adding in some longer intervals.