Monday, March 26, 2007

Gainesville GA Cup - Competitive

The weather was perfect for the road race in Gainesville on Sunday -- about 60 degrees at 8am. MAX was represented in the competitive division by me and Richard Hilton, who was trying his first road race. I like the Gainesville course because it requires a few minutes of all-out climbing effort, then gives you some time to recover before the next big effort. That's an easier thing for me than sustained effort on the flats or low hills.

The competitive class had a big field -- about 80 riders (the field limit is 75, but they let a few folks register on race morning, I think). The new start/finish was on top of the small climb that follows the Mabry climb, and it was a much better location than the downhill finish last year.

The first time (of 6) up Mabry hill (a little less than a mile at about 8 or 9%), the front group lost about 50 riders off the back. There were lots of Aarons riders and a couple of other teams had 3 or 4 riders each. After the second climb, we had about 20 or 25 riders in the front group, and two riders went off the front. They stayed out there a long time (I think at least a couple of laps), but were eventually pulled back.

The front group kept changing in size, because we'd lose 5 or 10 riders each time up Mabry hill, then some riders would chase back on by the time we reached the other side of the 10k course. At the base of Mabry on the final lap, I think we had about 18 in the group and two guys with a small lead off the front. Lots of hard accelerations strung the group out pretty good on the last climb and then we broke up into a few clusters as we approached the finishing hill. There were a few guys behind me from the front group, but not many. I finished 16th, and was very pleased with my ride. Richard did well for a couple of laps and had a good intro to road racing.

A few notes from other races:

  • Keith, Todd, and Brett from MAX rode the TT on Saturday.
  • Christian won the elite TT on Saturday, had a decent crit, picked up a few KOM bonuses in the RR, and won the General Classification.
  • Jeff rode well in the elite crit and the RR. He stayed in the front RR group for several laps, threw a chain, chased back up, drifted back on the hill, chased back up again a couple of times. I think he finished about 15th.
  • Bill, Ron, Dale, and Andy (Roadmasters) and David Parett rode hard in a Masters RR with a very tough field, but I don't know any results.
  • I think Chad finished 8th in the pro crit, then did a lot of work early in the RR.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Training Data

I've attached some of my power training data. I find it useful for measuring progress from year to year and for training motivation, but also to see where the weak spots are in my training and/or ability.

This is my mean maximal power graph. (click on the graphs to see them better). It shows the maximum power I can hold for any given time interval. The time graph is logorithmic, the yellow line is this season, and the dashed line is last year. It's not really a valid graph because all of last year's data came from the computrainer and this year has road data and CT data.

The 2007 power graph is significantly higher than the 2006 graph for most time intervals. But the two lines are the same for the interval from about 15 seconds to about 30 seconds. Since all of my 2006 data is from training sessions on the computrainer, it probably means I did high intensity 15-30s intervals last year on the CT and either haven't done intervals in that range this year or have not improved my power in that range. It would be interesting to know which is the case, so I'll schedule some hard 20-30 second intervals this week to find out.

This is the same data, but it reflects normalized power (equivalent constant power output instead of average power). Normalized power isn't valid for short intervals, so this graph starts at about 5 minutes. I see clear improvement since last year, but the real test will be comparing 2007 data with 2008 data.

This is the most comprehensive chart. It's my performance manager chart, which reflects acute training load (ATL), chronic training load (CTL), total stress balance (TSB), and my best wattage outputs for certain time intervals.

The blue line (CTL) is the one I watch the most. It tells me my training load for the past 6 weeks. The yellow bars represent my TSB. I'd be expected to perform well when it's above 0, near +10. I can tell by the absence of any 1-minute (green) data lately that I need to do some 1-minute intervals to check my progress there. It's obvious that I need to increase my stress during the week to prevent decay of the CTL. My plan is to peak at 75 or 80 CTL in June and again in September.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Albany Georgia Cup summary - a slow crowded race

I think there were about 15 riders from the Macon area at the Albany Georgia Cup race yesterday, which is quite a change from last year, when there were typically only 3 or 4. It was windy and cool (50 degrees) at the start. The course was very flat with only a bump or two that could be called a hill.

The Pro-Am (pro-1-2-3), Elite (3-4), and Masters races started first, then the Competitive (4-5). Our field was about 90 riders. Most of us from MAX and Macon Roadmasters started somewhere in the middle of the group. Lots of slinky action early in the 31-mile route. I guess nobody wanted to pull hard that early and the group was so big and roads so narrow, that it was difficult to move up - lots of short accelerations and braking, "slowing."

I finally worked my way to the front 20 or 30 riders after a few miles into the headwind. Then we turned right and had a stiff breeze from the left. As folks started to seek cover near the right side of the road, Bill came by out in the wind on my left steadily headed for the front, so I followed. He pulled off the front a ways, I and one or two others followed. It was too early for a 1 or 2 man breakaway, but I hoped that either the extra speed would shed some of the size of the peloton or even better, that we'd get 8 or 10 aggressive co-workers and be able make some space between us and the group so that we could get away. We were joined for a while by Jake and then for a while by Todd and a few others from other teams. After 10 minutes of short punches off the front, we were making no progress and gaining no passengers, so we faded back and were absorbed by the group.

At about mile 20, I was riding beside Jake when sombody's tire popped just in front of us. I thought it was a crash that would clog the road. The guys up front heard it and accelerated. I told Jake to go, thinking it might split the group, but it did not.

Shortly thereafter, the wind hit us hard from the right. I was on the yellow line in the wind shade and Jake was in the middle of the lane. The right windy side was open for a change. I told Jake to get in the wind and we'd advance up the side of the group. He jumped out there and took off, but somebody else grabbed his wheel and blocked me from following. He made a huge advance to about 10th, pulling a few folks with him, then settled in. I was still back at about 40th.

Somebody then hit the breaks in front of Jake, he touched the back wheel and went down into the grassy shoulder with a couple of other riders. It wasn't a bad crash, so he hopped up and started sprinting to catch the peloton. The motorcycle official grabbed his jersey and started to pull him up to the group, but he started drifting toward the motorcycle. He lost control and crashed - this time head-first into the asphalt. He's ok, but has lots of road rash and some broken bike parts and helmet.

At the end, Todd, Drew and I were in about 20th as we approached the finish. When the official opened both lanes, I faded to the left white line. Other folks had the same idea, and I was forced onto the grassy shoulder for about 100 feet and lost 10 or 20 places. When I got back onto the asphalt, I got tangled in another pair of handlebars, but we eased back apart and congratulated each other in a good save as we crossed the line while braking.

I think the first 50 riders, including Todd, Drew, me, Bill, Ron, and Dale finished with the same time. We had other Macon riders in the race, but I don't know how they finished.

In general, the race was a really shitty one -- much less enjoyable than last year's races. Hopefully that will change with hillier courses.

My power intensity factor (% of threshold) for the entire race was 0.75. For comparison, it was typically 0.83 for our Peach Peloton rides this winter. And in the PP I didn't wear out my break pads.

Other results:
Pro,1,2 - I don't know how Chad finished.
Elite - Jeff Clayton snagged 4th place with a strong sprint finish. I think Christian worked hard for his team off the front most of the race and had nothing left for the sprint finish.
Masters - Eddie finished in the lead group, but I don't have details.