Thursday, June 17, 2010

Second Season

Races always seem to come at you fast, one after another, and then like a rain cloud in the dessert it just seems to stop. The first part had Taiwan, Battenkill, Gila, and Joe Martin. Now we did Philly, Air Force, Clarendon, currently at Nature Valley, onto Cincy crit weekend, then Fitchburg, and finished off with Grand Rapids. No weekend off. Followed by some time off before the last stint of the season. (To be Determined)

Last weekend was the always brutal Clarendon Criterium, formerly known as CSC. It's probably one of the hardest flat criteriums in the US. It's a one km course with 5 corners in which we do 100 laps. Quick math will tell you that means we corner 50o times which is a lot of sprinting. Imagine this for a workout from your coach. 2.5hr ride with a 10 second sprint every 30 seconds. You'd think he was crazy, but that is basically what you do in the race.

It was a pretty hot day, but our team was riding strong. We made some moves, brought back a few, but missed the move of the day in the confusing of trying to get water from the feedzone which just opened. Tried to bring it back, but never happened. Luca even tried a move to get the lap as well, but came up just a bit short. Our rookie Rob took his shot at the sprint and finished 9th on the day after 6 had lapped.

The following day was the Air Force Criterium. A little shorter race, but on a longer circuit. It made it not so crity. We pretty much did the same thing as the previous day, but today nothing stuck this time. Our two sprinters flatted under the free lap rule which hurt our chances on the result for the day, but our team was riding stronger.

Now it's on to some stage racing. It was good to get those two crits in as a warm up as 3 of the 6 stages at Nature Valley are criteriums.

Breeze On

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Wall

There is one 'wall' know to the US peloton and it is located in Manayunk, a suburb of Philadelphia, and used in the Philadelphia International race. Once home of the US Professional Cycling Road Championships for over 20 years.

At a distance of 700 meters, elevation gain of 64 meters, and average of 9.2% it isn't the biggest, longest or steepest of hills. Going over the hill hard isn't to bad and you can make the effort in 2 minutes. As you can see in the race a lot of riders can make it over. Why don't they make it over later on in the race? Is it that the race is harder or fast over the climb? Surprising for the most part it isn't. It basically boils down to endurance as the last few times over the hill are at km markers 162, 184, 206, and 228. Not many races in the US are longer then 160. Anyone can feel like a rock star in the first 100km. Even the first few laps when it's fast over the top, you think to yourself I can do this all day. Different feeling sets in after 160kms.

Racing with a powermeter at this race for the previous 3 times I've down the race I am able to see this. Just take a look at this year for instance.

First two times over the wall:

1st Lap 2:16 minutes
420 watts

2nd Lap: 1:55 minutes
517 watts

Last two times:

9th Lap: 2:05min
423 watts

10th Lap: 2:14
396 watts

Well the rest of the race can get tough at times it is also important while in a long race to conserve. Well that is if your role is the finish. Those who put out the least amount of power early on, most likely can put out the most at the finish to help themselves or a teammate get in a winning situation. This year it was my goal to conserve towards the finish. How well did I conserve?

I spent 3hrs 25mins in my recovery zone (<200 watt) 54% of the race. That includes 1hr 17mins of not even pedaling.

In 2007 my role was to be more aggressive and I spent 35% of the race in and over my threshold zone and only 2hrs in recovery zone. Made for a long race and I didn't make it over the wall with the front group the last time over and I finished in the second group.

So here's the overall picture of the 2010 Philadelphia International.

Duration: 6:15:51 (6:16:35)
Work: 4305 kJ
TSS: 300.8 (intensity factor 0.695)
Norm Power: 250
VI: 1.31
Pw:HR: 4.88%
Pa:HR: 6.39%
Distance: 257.944 km
Elevation Gain: 1948 m
Elevation Loss: 1962 m
Grade: -0.0 % (-13 m)

Min Max Avg
Power: 0 853 191 watts
Heart Rate: 73 185 142 bpm
Cadence: 15 118 86 rpm
Speed: 0 178.1 41.2 kph
Pace 0:20 0:00 1:27 min/km
Altitude: 5 97 26 m
Crank Torque: 0 98.4 20.8 N-m

It's not always the overall scene that paints the picture of hard a race is. By the overall picture I've had much harder training rides. It's the little efforts in it that can make or break you. How much did you conserve? Can you make the same hard efforts that you did early on, later in the race? This is why teammates are so important.

Breeze On


The biggest one day race in the US. Even though it hasn't been the US National Championship in years it hasn't taken much from the feeling you get being at this race. It may not get as many Pro Tour teams or big US names, but it has the history, same great course, awesome atmosphere, and the crowds are the same as they always were.

I normally don't talk about pre rides to often, but the day before Philly this year had to be right up there as one of the more exciting. Riding the roads in Philly, riding through Manyunk, seeing other teams out riding, and all the people you really start get the feeling that this is a special event. The best part was when we were on the bike path. I've rubbed elbows in races many times, but have never rubbed elbows with guys going the opposite way as much as on this ride.

Not only that, but guys trying to open up. As soon as one guy goes hard, everyone else starts to look around, then go a little hard, but act like they're not going hard. Soon enough it's a race where no one wants to race, but most don't want to be left behind, and most want to be first to I don't know what. It's all in good fun.

To give you an idea of how much our team as changed from this year to last is that not one rider was the same on the start line. I can tell you this though, is that our team rode very well and just as we talked about the night before. There was a big split of riders the first time up the wall that included Rob Bush, Jim Stemper, and Nick Waite who wanted to go for KOM and picked up points. Perfect.

The following lap HTC picked it up as they had no one in it and more riders got across on the wall. That was the time for Luca and myself to get there and not miss out on a race that could have quickly been over. A lot of cat and mouse games began as the group was too big to work together, and riders looked to break away. A break went away before the wall the third time and as soon as we got on it, Nick went across and marked it perfectly. It was a great move that had to be down.

For the most part the rest of the race came back together and with Nick up the road that meant the rest of us could do our best to relax, eat, fuel up, and get ready for the last few laps of the 'real' race to begin. Nick did a great job working hard to go for the KOM points and was leading the competition for much of the race. Unfortunately the group split up a bit and he was caught up and back with us after 7 laps. I had great teammates, especially Hartley who took me to the front or near the front for wall. That made a huge difference.

Also since it was a bit windier this year, then years past, I made sure to stay close to the front for much of the race. Normally you can come off the wall and relax, but with the wind I wanted to be as close to the front so I didn't have as much according effect on the windy parts of the course. I think it really made a difference in saving energy.

However I was never in a great spot for the wall on the last two times and missed an opportunity to make the last break. Not saying that I could have, but without being in the right spot you never will. Regardless it came back together at the end for a field sprint. As a team we were mostly together, but started to loose numbers in the final miles as many did. The pace was still high to bring back the break and legs were cracking. Luca and I were sitting in good position for much of the final and were looking to be there in finale. With a km to go after fighting for the last 40km Luca couldn't go anymore and was out.

I was on my own trying to fight for the good wheels. I was moving up on the right when everyone came flying over to the right and I nervously tapped the breaks and lost everything. Guys went left and I couldn't get cranking again and finished near the back of the group for 26th. I'm a little disappointed in that, but would have really loved to help Luca sprint it out. Can't be to disappointed as that was my first time being there for the finish like that and my best finish.

Other then the finish what a team effort we had. Nick finished 4th in the KOM and rode the break. Jim covered moves as did Rob who at 20 finished the race. Hartley did great being the captain on the road, taking guys to the front, and getting bottles on numerous occasions. Phil jumped across to a move near the end of the race. When guys race this hard, look after you, and cover moves, it makes it easy to sit in and get the results. We rode as a team unit and the result will come. Hopefully things continue like this as in the next month we have Airforce, Claredon, Nature Valley, Hyde Park, Grandview, Fitchburg, and Meijer Grand Rapids.

I also want to give a quick shout out and thanks to the amazing support we had for the weekend. Chad for putting the team together and doing a little bit of everything at the race, Frankie for the directing and organization, Janis for massages and feeds, Will for wrenching, and Rick for being one more person in the feed zone. All we have to do and worry about is racing.

Breeze On

Frankenmuth Weekend

I love being able to head up to Michigan to race. Not only does it mean racing against the same guys I raced when I was growing up, but also staying at my parents and seeing family I don't get to see very much since moving to Indiana. This year was even better as they added a Grand Fondo to the weekend. So an 80mile road race and a 130 mile ride made for a perfect weekend of training prep before Philly.

Since the race was only 40km's from my parents house I thought a quick motor pacing session to the race would make for a good warmup. The race itself was a good workout. This year was tough without much wind to play a factor as that would be the only thing difficult about the course. So it turned into a game with Bissell who had numbers. I did have the bossman as a teammate and it was great seeing him out there racing with the big boys again. I should have tried a few different things in retrospect, but regardless it was a local race and it's what you come to expect. I was happy to see that a lot of my family members came out the race, and even a few helped with the support.

The next day was the Grand Fondo. It was a long, flat, warm, and windy day. The ride started off easy for the first 5 minutes then things picked up. We flew to the first stop 30 miles in where Frankie, Chad, and a few others turned around in the 100km event. We arrived before the support, as I'm pretty certain they didn't expect guys to get there in a little over an hour.

After saying bye, and filling up the bottles, I continued to ride with a group of guys at a good clip not really thinking about the distance or the nice headwind we were going to have on the return trip. I stayed at the front most of the time as this was the perfect opportunity to get a hard long training ride in. At the halfway point we stopped in the shadows of numerous wind turbines and fueled up with subs and cookies.

The wind, distance, and heat began to tear into my group of guys as it shrunk fast and soon enough I was on my own. Another quick stop at the final stop and I rode out the final 30 miles into the headwind. I'd be lying if I said those miles were easy, but I was starting to feel the effects of a hard day in the saddle. I got the finish and was greeted by an applause from my wife, daughter, mom, and dad. That doesn't happen to often after a training ride, but I could really get use to that.

That is not the only thing I could get use to. The other thing would be the Z-Cafe in the basement of Zenders. It is an awesome cafe that has anything you could want after a long training ride or race. Whether it be a panini, burger, fried chicken, brat, pizza, cold beverages or a baked good from a massive bakery they have you covered.

I'd like to thank the Tri-City Cyclist for inviting myself and team out for their awesome event. We had a great time. Everyone should try to make it out for this event. I didn't even take in some of the fun you could have with the fireworks, hot air ballons, bike expo, indoor water park at the hotel, or the dog competition.

Breeze On