Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Donut hole

That's the amount of training I've done this week..nada, zero.

On top of that, I've gone out drinking and gorging on grub both Monday and Tuesday. I'll chalk it up as the winter weight to get me through December through February...hey if bears do it, why not us? Plus it makes me feel all warm and soft in the middle.

The treadmill here at work is calling my name...30 minutes of suffering here I come.

This brings up the question of training in general though. Someone like myself spends at most 100 to 200 miles on the bike a week (100 or so on the weekends plus two or three 30ish mile days during the week if I'm lucky) why not take advantage and go hard all the time? Is getting 100 base miles a week in really getting yourself ready for the upcoming season? Or is it just wasting time?

I read about guys putting in 300 to 400+ miles a week and I can get how you wouldn't want to hammer every mile of it. Are those the guys snickering in the pack on group rides about "'s only November and you're going how hard?" or "'s a long season, don't peak too early...".

Someone out there that's smarter than me should post or write about this. I think us "part-timers" need validation on our training (or lack there-of) techniques.


Monday, November 26, 2007

8:30 am Sunday Group Ride

Will picked me up at 7:30 and we stationwagoned it up to Silver Spring to try and catch the 8:30 ride (which actually starts closer to 8:45) before they took off. We got there early, with enough time to guzzle down a hot coffee, empty the system, and chit chat some. Some familiar R1V faces were Jose, Clifton and Carlos (says he's joining up). I figured in addition to Will and I, it should be a fun ride.

A nice thing about the 8:30 ride is that it breaks up into varying groups by speed. So we took off from the shop as a large mass, gathering more riders as we made our way to and through Bethesda up Massachusetts and over to MacArthur. By the time we were on the parkway it was a much smaller group.

We made the right off of the parkway back to MacArthur and made the left onto Mountain Gate Dr (which is much steeper than I remember it). RayMan attacked the group immediately and splintered the pack. I like riding with Ray. A few of us followed and were able to real him back in once we got to the top of the climb. The pace stayed hot through the neighborhood and down brickyard. Once down brickyard, we made our way up Angler's and down into Great Falls (just like the 7:00 am ride). I tried to conserve energy as the lead group kept getting more exclusive as the climbs carried on. I was with the lead group coming out of the park until Evan from Harley attacked us and splintered the group even more. By the time we got to Oaklyn, the group was down to about 7 to 9 with each of us taking our turn at the front keeping the pace high.

Between Oaklyn and Democracy, the benefit of taking short pulls and working together was made evident to me. Sure some of the stronger guys could have attacked and dropped us, but having us around allowed for the pace to stay higher than it might have been if there were only 2 or 3 total riders in the group. More time to recover with more people to take pulls allowed for each pull to be a little stronger than with less...granted this is the off season and maybe those oxes were hanging out in zone 1 while I was suffering, but I'll chalk it up as success.

The lead out on Democracy was eye-opening as well. Evan lead out Clifton with me in tow and had the pace so high that once Clifton got going, there was no way that I could come around him (even though I was right on his wheel). Now granted Clifton is a monster and I don't know many people that can come around him once he gets going (I know I can' proved on Sunday), but I think it makes the point that a well organized and implemented lead out train can be super successful at keeping anybody but "your" sprinter from taking the line.

Overall, a good week of riding. I think I was just under 200 miles for the week on the bike with two good weekend group rides.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

7:00 am Ride

Riding weight: 195 (thanksgiving was good to me)
Fitness: Decent, but nothing spectacular
Mood: Tech over UVA...feels real good

I met up with Will in G'town at 7:00 am today to ride up to meet up with the 7:00 am ride as they made the right onto McArthur Blvd. I rolled up around 2 minutes late and only Will was there. Usually, at least a couple of others are there...since the hike up to East West Highway is a trek that early in the morning (not to mention at 28 degrees!). Will is one of those guys that I love riding with. He really enjoys being on the bike and his sense of competition and having fun is great. He's a great teammate. Will had 28 degrees on the computer, it was cold, and my feet and fingers were reminding me that it was "heavy" winter clothing time (and not the light stuff I was wearing) all the way over to Sangamore where we planned to meet up with the group.

The pace today seemed slower than past rides. Maybe it was the cold weather, maybe the fact that most of the heavy hitters are in some state of base training, maybe that Thanksgiving bird wasn't quite digested fully. The pace on the parkway stayed around 24-28, we hit 22 a couple of times but never really picked up much higher. Maybe it's impatience on my part, but unless the pace is driving, I get anxious and start messing around on the front of the pack. I lead us off the parkway and tried to drive the pace a little leading up to Angler's hill. I felt decent, but at the same time I remember someone saying that "...unless you have a reason to be at the front, stay out of the wind (read: don't pull the pack around)".

This brings up a major problem that I have with my racing style. I love being on the front of a bike race. I love attacking, I love leading out for the sprint, and I love trying to chase down breakaways. This is all and good if there is a team plan that consists of multiple guys pulling their share and covering each other, but when there is a bit of disorganization it usually leads to me being exhausted by the time it really counts. I'm not a smart bike racer, but I enjoy it.

So, when the attack came on Angler's, I wasn't able to cover it. I was dropping off the pace, but settled into my own rhythm. I crested Angler's about 5 seconds off the lead pack and tried to chase down into the park. My feet felt like bricks and I hadn't quite caught my breath from the previous climb. Coming back out of the park I felt the legs loosening up, the heart rate was coming back down to something reasonable, and I actually started to real back in the lead group a little. I've suffered with "mental" cracks in the past, and it was good to be able to keep my own rhythm and maintain the effort. I think in the end I was about 5 to 6 seconds behind the group that continued to Brickyard, so not too bad. Holding back a little coming off the parkway might have resulted in being able to cover the "attack".

One of the greatest things about Saturday in general is the sprint on Brickyard. The run-in is long and it really is a great chance to work on laying it all on the line to get your man to the front. Clifton and I have been trying to dial it in for quite some time, and Jose and I have been working on timing as well. Today, Agent Nick and some of those young boys got off the front and we had to put in a huge effort to try to bring them back. I ended up having to put in the big effort early to try to help chase them down, so lead out, but I think I was holding around 34-35 for a while before pulling off. It paid off I think...rumor is that Carlos snuck the sprint away from Nick in the end.

Overall, a good ride: About 55 miles, 30 degrees, and a couple of good efforts. Tomorrow I'm doing the 8:30 ride out of Silver Spring. If we get a couple of guys there from R1V I'm going to try to get us organized to lead out the Democracy sprint. That is the one thing we need to work on and dial in.


Go Hokies!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Lunch at Hains Point

Riding Weight: 192
Mood: Decent
Fitness: Feels good

What a day...if you weren't down there, you missed out. Lot's of people, Lot's of fun.

Will had 72 degrees on his computer. Unreal for the day before Thanksgiving.

Dave, Mernon, Will, Jose, Blake, Travis, Esmonde, Ryan, Christina, and myself were all there. Word was that the Manzke experience would show, I didn't get visual on him though. Ten to 11 in the same kit on one ride is pretty remarkable, especially during lunch and even more so when it's not 'your' ride. Not much respect for work, eh?

Back on topic; on the third lap we almost put it together perfectly:

Travis, Will, Esmonde, Jose, and I were sitting about 10th wheel as we came towards the point. I was on Esmonde's wheel on the inside echelon curb side, with Jose on my wheel. Will was on Trav's wheel on our outside. The group was rotating counter-clockwise as we rounded the point. As we started heading past the first bathroom, the speed started to pick up as guys started to string it out. Esmonde and I were sitting about 3rd wheel when I saw Travis and Will sneaking up on the outside (they were on the water side on the other side of the group while we were on the curbside). Esmonde saw them and Travis hit it hard to get out in front of the group with Will in tow. Esmonde got his wheel, followed by me and Jose and then the rest of the pack.

So at this point, we're at 30ish mph and it's Travis at the front, Will, Esmonde, Myself, Jose, with the rest of the group strung out behind. Travis is burying himself, sacrificing himself perfectly for the team effort. Esmonde is coaching Will, telling him to stay seated and be ready to power past Travis and then start the sprint as we close in on the second bathroom (about a mile away from the first one). Travis pulls off. Will goes to the front, seated, holding the speed but not max effort yet.

With these numbers, and the distance needed to cover, all we need is about a 10 second max effort from each of us and nobody is coming around Jose. Esmonde gives the word for Will to start the sprint, but he pulls off to the left, the pace slows for a second and Esmonde jumps to the front with me and Jose still there.

Right before Esmonde jumped the pace slowed just enough that I slid up the right side of Esmonde's rear wheel and was out of the draft enough that it became more of a drag race. The wind was coming left to right, so it wasn't too bad, but I wasn't getting full benefit (not that I ever do behind his 5'nothing frame). He's out of the saddle drilling it and I jump hoping that Jose is still there. I come around E's right side, out of the saddle, going hard for the line. Line is fast approaching and no Jose yet. I look back to see no Jose and that I've gapped the group slightly, so I try to hold the speed to the line. Come across the line first...very tired.

So what do we learn from this:

1) If you strung out with teammates in tow, it is your responsibility to keep the pace as high as possible to make sure nobody else sneaks up to the front.

2) In our example, once Travis pulled off, Will should have started the sprint. We were close enough to the line with enough of us behind him that max effort for just a couple of seconds would have launched the rest of us without the need for that much acceleration (much smoother leadout).

3) Having 5 guys from your team strung out on the front of a "peleton" (if you can call the hains point lunch time group that) is awesome.

4) Winning sprints in the offseason is much easier than winning them in-season. :)

5) Although I happened to be the guy launched at the end this time, there is satisfaction knowing that you gave it your all to get your guy to the line first. This is technically the "offseason", but there are skills that I hope we learn and put to practice so that when race day comes...we're ready.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

...and it begins

We're live.

Okay short intro. I like to ride my bicycle real fast with other cyclists.

Sometimes "real fast" is a relative term.

I've been part of this super club for a couple of years now and have slowly gone through the ranks from cat 5 two years ago, a 4 most of last year, and finally moving up to 3 for the upcoming 2008 season. I've been lucky enough to taste a win, but what I enjoy most about bike racing is when it "clicks" with your teammates in a race.

Last year, the R1V boys in the 4 group came together and really figured out what it means to race as a team. We attacked when we were supposed to, blocked and watched the front when someone was up the road, chased down break-aways we didn't "approve" of, and even got a couple of leadouts going in the end. Sometimes we weren't successful, and that was okay since you learn from your mistakes, but sometimes we were...and those times were pretty neat.

So anyway, I sit at a desk, in a cube, in a really terrible office suite that has nobody else in it. Naturally, my mind tends to drift of into the world of lead out trains and suffering on two wheels. This will be my outlet. My written word is bad, my spelling worse.

How fun.