Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Creek Cross 2010 Course Preview

Dave and Mike Prepping the Run-Up
On Saturday, I went down to Solon to help Dave do some course preparation for our October 17th race.

The course has lots of interesting features. The loop is about 1.2 miles. It climbs up from the creek, first with a steep run-up, then a gradual ascent on trails through a field. Then it descends, first gradually through the field, and then down a crazy cork-screw.

The course is relentless. You can sort of take a break through the field downhill section, but there are a couple of small ditches and off camber tracks that could pitch an inattentive rider to the ground. Then once you're through the field, you get to the corkscrew. Good bike handlers won't have a problem zipping down there. Everyone else (like me) will dismount and run down.

It should be a fun time.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

recumbent guy

This was a great weekend for riding. I ended up doing a couple good road rides, plus a cyclocross ride on the new course down in Solon.

Saturday, I did a loop down through Chagrin Falls and back up Caves Road. Today, I did a loop down the bike path and out around Kile Road and Clay Street. (Kile Road was just resurfaced, so the pavement is butter smooth.)

There were lots of riders out on the trail today, and I was riding a pretty decent tempo so I was passing people on a regular basis. I came up behind a couple of guys on faired recumbent bikes who were loping along at an easy pace. I thought, "oh good, they'll see me in their rear view mirrors, so I don't need to say anything".

The one guy spotted me, and started accelerating, by the time I was passing he was up to my speed, so of course, I started to accelerate. I thought I'd just be able to lift the pace a bit and be on my way, but pretty soon we were going 25 mph. I doubted he was going to continue at that pace for long, but he kept it up for a mile and seemed to be having a pretty easy time. I really had to crank it up to get around.

I was pretty amazed by that. I guess the aerodynamic drag of a faired recumbent is only about 1/4 of a road bike, so for the same power, a rider should be able to go about 58% faster on a flat road. So if you can easily cruise at 22 mph on a road bike, you would easily be able to cruise at like 35 mph on a recumbent. But of course, you wouldn't be able to bunny hop obstacles, and being stuck in the same position for hours at a time would get old fast.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

that's more like it

Tonight was Jim's hill climb TT. We climbed Mitchell's Mill Road, from Wisner up to Mentor Road. (map) The route is a little over 2 miles and gains a little over 400 feet. The climbs in this corner of the world are challenging because the grade changes quite a bit. On Mitchell's Mill, it's about 12% down by the river, then alternates between false flats and little 10% rises for the rest of the climb, so you end up going over the redline, then having to accelerate while sucking air to keep the momentum going. I've ridden the climb many times over the years, but I've never done a timed ride up that hill. I figured I'd just gun for a high average power tonight.

The ride started near the dead-end of Wisner Road. (that's the legendary home of the melonheads.) There was only a couple hundred meters before the steep section. I was pretty conservative out of the blocks and up the steep part of the climb, but still anaerobic. As it leveled out, I made the transition to riding on the big ring without missing a beat and kept cranking on the red line. I managed to keep the throttle open all the way for the duration of the ride.

I ended up with an average of 355 Watts. That's my best power output over that duration (10 minutes more or less) for the season, and I probably could have done a little better, so that's pretty encouraging. If I manage to do that at the TT next week, I think I'll end up with a sub 20 minute time, finally.

That was a difficult effort. It was pretty close to the intensity of the Tackle the Tower stair climb, but without all the dust.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Resources for CX Race Planners

Some of the people who read this blog might be plotting out cyclocross courses even as I'm writing this.

Here's a good resource for high resolution imagery of Ohio:


You can download images at 1 foot per pixel resolution or even 0.5 feet per pixel.

There's also hi resolution elevation maps available. I didn't dig into that too much yet.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

just ride

I DVR'ed the Isle of Man TT last night, then watched it this morning over breakfast. I didn't need any coffee to get going after that! The helmet cam footage from a motorcycle tearing around old twisting roads and near stone walls at 180 mph did the trick. After that, I was jonesing for some speed. I was going to go out to Westlake to get a fix, but I'm still pretty wary about racing. If I crashed and broke my bike, even if I didn't get hurt, I'd be seriously bummed. I haven't done a complete inventory of the costs from the wreck this spring, but it was a whole lot more than I ever wanted to flush away.

Instead, I did a ride that included some long stretches of road where I could really get moving. I cruised down to Little Mountain Road and hauled some ass. There's a section of the road that has a 2% downhill grade where it's relatively easy to hang onto 35 mph--the zealously enforced speed limit--for about a mile. After that, I ended up doing the Garfield Road/Kirtland Chardon Road loop back to Chardon.

My legs are starting to feel pretty good. Even though I'm not going to be doing any road races, I've still got a few season training goals to go for, so I'm still feeling motivated. Plus, it's great to just get out and ride in the cool, crisp fall air, especially after so many weeks of tropical weather.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

when a plan comes together

I've been following the same script for the past few weeks at the Leroy TT. I hold off on the outbound leg, then try to punch it over the last two miles. Tonight, I did exactly that, but probably left a handful of seconds out on the road.

In keeping with the theme of holding back on the outbound leg, I didn't go all out at the start. I basically cut the power output in half from my normal sprint start. In fact, it felt pretty anemic. I probably lost a handful of seconds there. Normally I punch it hard and I'm up to speed by the time I get 100 meters into it. Tonight, I wasn't really up to speed for a couple hundred meters.

I held off all the way through the corner. I planned on 320 Watts, and ended up averaging 305 Watts/22.8 mph. The slow start actually hurt my average power and speed quite a bit. If I omit the slow part, I was basically on target.

As I turned onto the hill, a guy in a van backed out in front of me. In time trial time, it felt like he was blocking the road for 10 minutes, but it probably only cost me a couple seconds.

I rode an even pace up the hill. I didn't even sprint over the top like I usually do. I made the turn around, then took my time getting up to speed before the descent. I felt pretty fresh on the downhill, and I managed to kick it pretty hard over the last two miles and averaged 348 Watts/23 mph.

But even after all that, I ended up averaging the exact same time as last week. I felt like I had a lot left in the tank. I can probably start pushing from three miles out.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

don't assume

The Froot Loop candidate for Colorado Governor Dan Maes warned voters that a program to encourage bike riding in Denver is really a UN plot to take over the world, or something like that. Maes hoped his stupid theory would appeal to people who share the assumption that cyclists are a monolithic group of granola munching commies, but it seems like it back-fired. In recent interviews, Maes claims he's not picking on bicycles or bicyclists, he's just trying to appeal to cabin dwelling, UN fearing nut-cases.

The assumption that cyclists are a bunch of pinko commies is wrong. The people I've ridden with and raced with over the years is a diverse group politically and otherwise. It's hard to tell if the person you're working with in a breakaway is a professor, a laywer, a welder, a teacher, or a student. It's even more difficult to know if they listen to Rush Limbaugh while polishing their hand gun collection, or read the HuffPo while campaigning for gay marriage. I'm pretty sure that the only thing they have in common is they happen to enjoy riding a bike.

I guess it's nice to know that, at least in CO, cyclists aren't a viable political hate-totem, so hopefully politicians will leave us alone. They will have to pick on other groups, for example immigrants, to create issues that divide the dumb public into dumb groups that distract from their lack of competence, or that they are enriching their buddies on the public dime, or that they have no solutions to the real problems facing the country.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


This week I've been feeling the way cat food smells. The heat and humidity has been taking its toll. I skipped a hot and humid Westlake on Tuesday, but I ended up doing a training ride that kicked my butt anyway. I took the day off on Wednesday, and started to feel human again by the afternoon today, so I decided to head up to the TT.

During my warm-up, the air was so thick, that I practically needed a spoon to breathe. But after 20 minutes or so, I started to feel ok.

I followed my plan from last week: hold back on the outbound, then lift the pace over the last two miles. I did a very even effort on the first half of the course. I averaged 311 Watts, which felt pretty "easy" until I got to the turn around.

I had some trouble getting back on top of it on the downhill. and only averaged 315 Watts over the last two miles when I was hoping for more like 350, but I felt like my brain was melting, and I put in a strong finish even though my digestive system was about 1 second from going into full reverse.

I was a little slower than last week, but I think if we get some cooler weather, I still have a shot at a sub 20 minute time this season.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

a new road (to me)

Looking Toward the Arboretum from Chillicothe Road/Center Street in Mentor

Today was all about bikes. This morning, I went down to Solon with Dave and Chris to scout out the new venue for our 'cross race on October 17th. It should be a great course. It will have a run-up, a high speed descent, and a river crossing along with grass and gravel sections.

I would have ridden in the morning, but when I loaded the bike in the car, I noticed the rear tire was flat and there was a nice gash in the sidewall. No tires in the stockpile. Oh well.

I ended up riding in the afternoon. I decided to take some roads I haven't been on in ages, and I rode all over Kirtland Hills. I went up to Mentor and took Garfield Road South from Route 84. The last time I went on that road, probably 20 years ago, it just dead-ended. Now, it connects with the far west end Kirtland Chardon Road. That would make a nice entry point into a climb-fest training loop from Chardon, but instead of doing the KCR climbs, I decided to cruise over to Sperry to see how far along the bridge is. It's totally out. No way across yet.

After that, I looped around Little Mountain to Wisner. I almost rode the old wiped out section of Wisner over to Kirtland Chardon Hill, but it was too wrecked from horses. (It would be pretty cool to do a guerrilla cobble stone paving of that mile of bombed out road.)

I wrapped up the ride by doing the Mitchell's Mill climb up toward Auburn Road. Jim's going to do another hill climb TT there this year--it's going to be a lung burner!

Friday, August 6, 2010


I had a good week of training, and I was hoping to carry some momentum into the Leroy TT last night. I did a warm-up lap and barely had to pedal on the outbound leg to go 20 mph since a roaring wind was directly out of the west--right down Leroy Center Road--so the last few miles of the TT was going to be like adding Tabasco sauce to the pain taco.

My plan was to try to maintain a relatively "easy" pace over the first five miles, then go all out over the last two miles.

A few seconds into my ride, I realized that this blog post was going to turn into an iBike review.

When there's a roaring wind like last night, the iBike reports bogus power data, then software corrects it after the ride. In most cases, that's not ideal, but acceptable, but when you're trying to use the power reading for pacing information, it's a fail. My legs were telling me I was going too hard, but the power meter was spitting out low readings. I backed off a little, but probably erred on the side of going too hard all the way to the turn.

I did a pretty even effort on the climb. Holding back there seemed to leave me relatively fresh on the descent to the corner. I made the turn and starting lifting the pace over the last two miles. The wind was unrelenting. I sprinted for the line over the last 200 meters, but only got up to 28 mph and felt like I had the brakes on.

I ended up 4 seconds slower than last week. It always amazes me how consistent my times can be from week to week. 4 seconds is less than 1%.

So I'll try the same approach next week and hopefully the wind won't be as tricky. Hopefully I'll make it out to Westlake next week, too.