Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Training ... Races ... Other nonsense

Let's get back to the basics:

Weight: 182 pounds ... real low.
Health: Good. Feel healthy
Fitness: Real close...getting dangerous. ;) j/k
Mood: Sport/Outside work = good; During the 9 to 5 = C- at best

My new plan for the rest of August and September is to prep up for The Ann Arbor Criterium in September and then come back here for Turkey Day...and maybe Coppi if I get in (I'm #6 on the waiting list). Thoughts about all three of these:

1) The Crit in Ann Arbor: It is going to be exciting to go up to a city where nobody knows you and race on a cool course right downtown. Another good part is that the wife's family and Michigan friends will be there, so they'll get a glimpse into this part of my life that they've heard me talk about but have never seen. By day a regular office guy who enjoys happy hour, by night, super cyclist! Esmonde mentioned when he raced in Jersey that the 1/2/3 race up there was more like a 3 race here...maybe the same holds for the midwest. We'll see. The fitness should be spot on around then.

2) Coppi. If I get in, someone from R1V wins the road race Jersey as well and I get free drinks from them and Brandon all year next year. :) Actually, it'll be fun since I haven't done a road race since Jeff Cup last year as a 4. I don't know if it was the distance or what, but it really took a lot out of me at the time. Maybe another year of fitness and confidence will be the additive to make road racing fun.

3) Turkey Day...if it is a 3/4...it is going to be a lot of fun. There are a couple of 4's that are chasing the points for the upgrade to 3 and it would be cool to help them along. Also I like all this stuff I'm hearing about attacking and racing like 1s and 2s...Hunny Bop was eye opening and I'm looking forward to applying that experience to my next races.

Minor notes:

A. One is never to old to use smileys. :)
B. Guys who work in cubes no more about suffering than anybody else.
C. Conte's is like a cyclist's candy store...that place has some nice stuff...really nice.
D. Power is for suckers...find the fastest guy in a group ride and try to stay with them. There is your power meter. ;)

Training plan for the coming weeks is as follows:

Mon: Rest
Tuesday: AM - HP intervals (30ish miles), PM - Group ride or 30ish miles of hills
Wednesday: Nothing
Thursday: AM - HP intervals, PM - Thursday night World Championships down at HP
Friday: Easy ride at lunch or rest
Saturday: 7am Ride out of RC
Sunday: Arrow Ride or 8:30 BP ride...

Beer is on Friday and Saturday...maybe Wednesday too.

Cheers....

Friday, July 25, 2008

Who doesn't lobby for Powertap?

Training with Power (SRM/Powertap/Polar/etc) is the new Nintendo from the late 80's, the LL Bean backpack with your initials on it from the 90's, and the Facebook/Myspace/favorite social networking site of the 2000's...you ain't got any social cred at all if you're not using it.

Dang...I have no cred than (nor did I in that last two decades either, shoot).

Peter Cannell's comment on GamJams got me thinking about what is right and wrong and what this means for next year:

"You won't see me doing 3-5 hr "endurance" rides very often, though every now and then they are fine. It's funny actually - I'll do one of those maybe once/month just to make sure I can ride my bike for 5 hrs, and I'm always surprised how easy it feels and how fresh I am at the end!"

No rides over 3 hours?! Wow...that's a smack to the forehead.

I think back to the running days. I used to work with and hang out with some distance guys who were training for the Olympic Trials in the 5,000 meters and they used to preach mileage over everything. We used to sit around and I'd listen to them go back and forth about how they were trying to build up to 130+ miles/week and how if they could get a couple of weeks in at that mileage, their times were going to be fast...130 miles/week...that's something like going out and putting in 400 to 500 miles/week on the road on the bike. Crazy, right?

But maybe for cycling around here (crits, circuit races, the once in a while road race), if we keep on the running association, we can consider ourselves more like "sprinters" or "middle-distance" runners. Take a look at the races I've done so far this year. UMD, Tyson's, Hagerstown were all about an hour long. Hunny Bop was 75 Minutes. These are essentially "sprints". Peter's comments now make a lot more sense. Why go out and ride the bike for 4 to 5 hours or do 100+ mile rides when your race is only going to be at most 30 miles?

Going out and doing these interval workouts may be smarter (and save a lot more time). A 3x20 min at a high intensity probably would be more useful than a 3 hour jaunt around Maryland with the 7am group.

I can't believe I'm convincing myself not to do group rides...

Now does this mean I have to go out and spend $1,000+ on a power measuring system? I hope not. That probably won't go over very well in the le domestique household. Everybody I know that has one swears by them though. Ugh..dang you Peter for making sense.

Someone should write something that counter's Peter's comments so I can go back to feeling good about doing the 7am and 10am rides as the bulk of my training.

Cheers...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hunny Bop 1/2/3

I'm really, really, really tired right now.

One, it is unbelievably hot outside. Two, the guys that race the 1/2/3 races locally are manimals. Good lord, that was a hard race. I don't think I've suffered in my short racing career quite as much as I suffered in today's race. The goal going into this one was to hang on for the first half of the race and then hang on for dear life for the second half of the race. I was tired and a little sore from a hard week of riding, but I hadn't had a beer in over 3 days...so I felt like the engine was clean and ready to go.

Observations:

1. Team tactics are very well employed by the big 4 powerhouse teams in the MABRA region. DCVelo, Harley, Artemis Elite, and NCVC really know what they are doing and they have the firepower to pull it off. I had a moment while trying to help Coppi chase down a break when i thought to myself: "Here I am killing myself, and Ramon and Fuentes are sitting in, soft pedaling, just waiting for the break to get caught and up the road they'll go...and you'll be tired and will most likely go into cardiac arrest trying to hold onto the back of this group."

2. Time RSX pedals can kiss my @ss. I've had nothing but trouble from them. Today I actually pulled the pedal itself off of the spindle that holds it on the crank arm. Thankfully BJ Bansham (sp?) was able to thread them back together and I was able to take my free lap and get back in. Thanks.

3. The pace is fast, but because of the tactics employed, there are still lulls when teams with guys up the road start riding the front and slowing things down. I thought for sure there were going to be times when I would get spit out the back after a hard pull, but since the next guy in line had someone up the road, the pace slowed enough to let me back on.

Anyway, I finished. That's all that matters. I think I had about 4 matches to burn during this race and used most of them up trying to chase. The finish was fast, and with better positioning and about an extra 120 miles/week I think I might have been able to take a shot at a higher placing...as it was, maybe somewhere between 20th and 25th

I hope that when I think back on this race I remember it as being fun...right now it was exhausting. I have new respect for the 1s and 2s out there. Impressive...also you guys that double up with the 1/2/3 and 3/4 or 30/40+...ridiculous.

I'm going to try to lay down now...

Cheers.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The season is not over

1/2/3 @ Hunny Bop this weekend

3/4 @ Turkey Day whenever it is

2/3 @ Priority Health Ann Arbor Cycling Classic in September

The injury set me back on some goals I was trying to achieve this year, but there are still a couple of races to try and enjoy the road season before the depression of waiting till March sets in. The Ann Arbor race in Michigan excites me since it is in the Wife's "hometown" (undergrad at U of M) and my adopted second favorite school come college football season. It's right downtown and should be pretty exciting. Check it out:

http://www.priorityhealthclassic.com/annarbor/index.html

I don't want the season to be over. I guess guys that have been racing straight through are starting to feel that burn out, but I got in only 3 this season...and I'm still itching to compete.

I'm gong to be "that guy" on the group rides that everyone keeps telling "it's only November..."

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hagerstown -- Teamwork -- the 5 "P's"

How does the saying go?

"Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance"

Or is is "Proper Planning Propagates Phast Phinishes"??

Not sure if that is the right use of propagate, but based on how I spelled phast and phinish...it'll have to do. The Hagerstown Crit was a race I had been looking forward to for a long time. I had been off the bike for 6 weeks due to a fractured arm and had just started riding again. I had only three weeks of training in me since the recovery but was going to do this race regardless. I didn't hurt that this was the District Crit Championships neither...

Anyway, enough rambling: We went into this race with the intention of winning Brandon the Champions Jersey. Brandon is showing great form right now and has had some really good results, but the win was evading him. Joel, Brigham (who had just gotten his III upgrade), Brandon, and myself discussed it before the race and planned it out:

1. We wanted to have the race end up in a sprint finish.
2. We would all stay in the top 5 to 10 places during the race to stay out of trouble.
3. Brigham, Joel, and I would cover the front and try to go with everything, but not work to stay away, and chase if necessary.
4. Brandon would sit protected, preferably behind one of us.
5. With 5 to go we'd find Brandon and move to the top 5.
6. On the last lap, get Brandon to the last turn first and let his sprint win us a Jersey.

We had a plan, a capable/confident sprinter, and a supporting cast willing to see the plan to fruition. We knew though that the plan could go out the window at any moment, so really the only thing we wanted to do was to get Brandon to the last turn first or as close to it as possible...so on to the race.

The race was fast from the gun. The course was conducive to high speeds with the long front side and the slight downhill on the backside after turn 2. Brigham and Joel were on the front from the gun. They went with everything and kept the pace nice and high. A few breaks tried to form, but luck was not on the breakaway's side today. NCVC, Evolution, and Bike Doctor all made some really strong moves off the front and were really active. I kept waiting for my turn to chase or go with a group, but Brigham and Joel never seemed to be tired...so I sat in. Halfway through the race it was unspokenly decided that I was going to be Brandon's leadout man and my job was to stay with Brandon, give him a draft, keep us at the front. With 6 to go we were in good placement and Joel and Brigham were still working hard as ever keeping everything together. Brigham actually got caught in a nasty wreck on the finishing straight at some point that took out 5 to 10 people but got back in and went right back to work...impressive (dude is an animal).

With one to go we were all set up. Brandon and I were sitting 6 and 7 going into the last lap and fighting to keep our position. The group came through turn one fast and was moving on the slight uphill to treacherous turn two. The inside line was taken so we swung wide...unfortunately, the speed of the first 5 swung them out wide too and I ended up being pushed out wider, clipping the bottom of my pedal on the curb twice..didn't go down, but lost a little speed. Brandon saw this and swung back onto the wheel of someone else in the group. I recovered, and got back on the gas as we were heading down the backstretch, maybe lost a position or two. Nice thing was that it was starting to go single file, but the pace wasn't at ludicrous speed yet. I saw Brandon was on the right side in front of me and not boxed in, it was time to go, so I started moving into the wind on the right. He grabbed my wheel as I went by and we started the sprint. I think the timing was good on this one because the group seemed to be looking around to see who was going to take the suicidal flyer. Once Brandon was in tow, I committed. We went through turn 3 first and second...all I had to do was get to the last turn first. Kept the speed up over the little riser and rounded the last turn and swung wide, opened the door, and was done for the day. Brandon saw the line, jumped, and had about 4 to 5 bike lengths on everyone from the start...held the speed to the line, hands up in victory salute. Rumor is he had about a bike length on second...nicely done.

I had been dreaming about this kind of finish all year long. The leadout train of pain...last stop, Victory. ;)

Having the Jersey won by someone on the team is great! Having it won by Brandon is even better. There isn't a more deserving guy on the squad. He spent all year last year sacrificing for the team and helping Esmonde win the 3 BAR and has come so close to the win several times this year. I was glad to be a part of this one.

Cheers...