Monday, June 30, 2008

Rome Race Report

We started the TTT with five riders. Four minutes into the ride Chad flatted, which was a disappointing loss for us. We reorganized without any trouble and had a pretty strong ride. I ended the ride with a bone-headed decision: I did one last hard pull about 300 m from the finish, and since I suck at the u-turns, I figured Bill and Todd should sprint it out to the finish without me (time was taken on the 2nd rider). I sat up and rolled in about 15 seconds behind them. Due to the gap I didn't get any omnium points. My personal finish time was 32:50. The biggest disappointment came when the results showed us riding the course in about 34 and a half minutes. The timing official added 2 minutes to our time. I pointed out the error, but he basically said "tough luck." Maybe they added 2 minutes to all the other teams' times also -- I don't know. All I know is that we had at least two clocks that showed Bill and Todd finishing in a time no worse than 32:35 (around 28 mph).

The second night a big fight broke out just outside our hotel room door. It sounded damn serious. Jake looked out and saw two different guys fly out of a door, then run back in for more. It turns out we were rooming next to some of the competitors in the Rome cage fights or ultimate fights or whatever they call it. I guess they were getting in a little training.

The crit had a lot of climbing. I thought it would suit me, but I found out differently. I held onto the main group for a few laps, then slowly slipped off the back with a group of three or four and was pulled 20 minutes into the race. Bill and Todd hung tough and finished with a final group of about 15 riders. I figured I'd just had a bad day, but my numbers show that I rode OK but was just outridden on a tough course. My NP for the first 15 minutes of the race was about 315 watts. So my expected power was there, I just needed more of it for that field.
Rome Crit Video

The first lap of the road race was pretty uneventful for me. I got into a pretty good rhythm on the first climb and was less than a minute behind the leader at the top (AP 315W, NP 317W for about 10:45, 7.5% average grade with a 39-26). I chased back on with others. Bill got a rotation going up front and I jumped in. Only a few folks wanted to work in our group of 19, and eventually everyone decided to take it easy and wait for climb two. I didn't want to be caught by the other 25 riders behind us, and most of the 19 riders in our group had outclimbed me the first time over -- I didn't expect a great finishing result. So I went to the front and did tempo to the base of the 2nd climb just to set a decent pace. I finished the RR in 16th. Bill climbed very well and finished 14th, almost a minute ahead of me.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Come-Back Shot

Those of you who weren't asleep in math class might remember what an asymptotic curve looks like. Like it or not, my cycling ability is beginning to asymptotically approach the level that I can reach while keeping a job and a wife. It's getting harder to see improvement. That just makes it sweeter when I do set a new power record or accomplish a goal. In the KOM on Sunday, I decapitated my previous 1-minute power record, as shown below. When I was addicted to golf, I'd call that a come-back shot - the one shot of 80 or howevermany that makes you want to come back and tee it up again next weekend.

LaGrange Race Report

Congratulations to Bill on a well-deserved road race podium (2nd). He surged off the front after the 2nd KOM and gelled with a group of four to stay away for the remaining 10 or so miles. I was very glad to finally see a breakaway stick in one of our races, and even happier that it included a teammate.

I didn't race Saturday, but I know Drew took 2nd in the prologue and Todd took 4th. Jake had about the same time in Elite, taking 10th, I think. Jake took 4th GC.

As we approached the KOM on the 1st lap, I didn't intend to contest it. But I looked around at about 3/4 way up and there were fewer than 10 guys in front of me, so I hit the gas and took 2nd with a wheel throw at the top. The 2nd time around we were more spread out and I took 3rd.

About 3 miles from the finish I tried an attack, but didn't have the legs to stay away for very long.

With 300 meters to the finish I was positioned exactly where I wanted to be (Bill and 3 others were up the road), about 3rd or 4th man back in the left center of the right lane. I felt great and was winding it up to catch a sprinter's wheel and open it up in the left lane and have a good finish. Then someone decided to try and shoot through a very narrow gap up front. He took down the guy in front of me and I went over the top of him. It felt like I flipped end over end a couple of times. I felt a few bodies and bikes go over me. I remember two things: hearing my helmet hit the asphalt and thinking, "wow, that's loud!" and thinking "damn, there goes the Rome weekend." Ron can probably give you a much better description of what happened; he was right behind me. Luckily, I got away with some fairly minor elbow, knee, and hip road rash, a black eye, and a sore hip. My bike fared a little worse: a broken handlebar (carbon), a broken right brake lever (carbon), and some other scrapes (carbon). Amazingly, my helmet seems to be OK. Looks like Nate will have a little extra work to do before Rome.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Rider -Tim Krabbe'

I just read this again for the first time in a couple of years (probably my 5th time reading it). Do yourself a favor and do the same.

Here are a few good lines from just the first 32 pages of a 148 page book that describes a single 150k amateur bike race in 1970s Europe. Even out of context it's good stuff:
"Tourists and locals are watching from sidewalk cafes. Non-racers. The emptiness of those lives shocks me.
"... a rider in a light blue Cycles Goff jersey is sitting on the curb, deep in thought. Before him on the street lies a back wheel, beside him a wooden box full of sprockets. His gears: he still has to decide which ones to use. There are four cols today, no one knows exactly how steep. I do: I've been over the course."
"I forgot my figs... should I make it four? Or five? Ballast... I never eat more than two during a race, the others will just end up glistening brown with sweat."
the "mind has recourse to two instruments, a body and a bicycle..."
"Good legs?"
"We'll see. And you?"
"He shrugs and starts telling me how little time he has to train. All riders say that, always. As if they're afraid to be judged by the part of their ability they can actually take credit for."
"I started on this sport fifteen years too late."
"The first climb won't be for another 30 kilometers, at Les Vignes. I'm longing for it, just like when I'm doing it I'll long for it to be over."
"What never happens will happen today. This is the decisive breakaway."
"Always attack as late as you can, but before the others do."
"I have an aversion to the expression 'allowed to escape', because it usually comes from people who have no notion of the tremendous power needed for that 'being allowed to'."
"A man shouts 'Faster!' Probably thinks bicycle racing is about going fast."
"Climbing is a rhythm, a trance; you have to rock your organs' protests back to sleep."
"The group was sliding away from me. How sad."
"Why'd you let them go?"
"I couldn't do it"
"Just one more kick, couldn't you have managed that?"
"Yeah, God, one kick, yeah."
"So why didn't you?"
"I couldn't"
"... the forest was quiet again"
"... at a certain point you just can't do it any more, you get dropped. Too bad. Nothing to make a fuss about."
"It's so incredibly pitiful that I ever wanted to do this, but now I'm stuck with it." "My legs feel black. On a bike, your consciousness is small"
And toward the end:
"Because after the finish all the suffering turns to memories of pleasure, and the greater the suffering, the greater the pleasure."

Monday, June 09, 2008

BBQ Bass

A few pics from the 2008 BBQ Bass Ride:

At Hog Wild in Hillsboro

Our soigneur, John Henderson

More pictures at Doug's Zaps and Betty Jean's Zaps

Friday, June 06, 2008

Cycling is Cyclical

Anyone who rides bikes or listens to Phil and Paul knows that good form comes and goes. That applies whether you ride for Slipstream Chipotle or Security Bank. But the length and depth of the peaks and valleys is probably quite different from rider to rider. I started my 2008 training plan on November 1, 2007. Through mid-December, I did 40-min FTP tests on Tuesdays, a few sprints on Thursdays, and long Peach Peloton rides on Saturdays (with L2 on other days). I added some L4 (threshold) intervals on Thursdays to take me through December. I saw very good FTP improvement for the first 8 weeks.

Throughout January and early February, I added an L5 (VO2max) interval session once a week. February would be my L6 (anaerobic) interval month. My plan was to have my first peak of 2008 occur in early March. Then I'd ease up on the gas a little in late April and early May and get form back for the Tour of Atlanta in late May. A final peak late summer would round out my year.

Things don't always go according to plan. I peaked far too early. Most of my 2008 power records occurred on training rides in late January. I saw it happening at the time, but by the time you see it, it's too late - you can't tell your legs to chill out for 6 weeks while your schedule catches up. So I basically peaked for training camp, four to six weeks earlier than planned. I'll have to give some thought as to how to avoid that in 2009, but maybe extending the FTP training block into January and more gradually starting the L5 stuff in February would work.

I held decent form until mid March. My threshold stayed up for Perry (I took 2nd in the TT), but by then I'd lost all my top end power (was dropped in the road race). I started getting dropped in training rides and generally felt terrible every time on the road. I knew that in order to be ready for ToA in late May, I'd better hit the reset button pronto.

So over the next two weeks I cut my training load in half, lowering my CTL from the mid 80s back to about 70 (my early November level). I maintained some intensity but gave myself much more recovery time between hard rides. In early April I started a new CTL ramp. I brought CTL back up to about 78, then did a short taper for the ToA. The 'restart' worked and I had good threshold form and decent anaerobic form for the ToA.

The graph below shows my CTL since I started bike racing in April 2006. Next winter I'll modify my winter plan to work more toward two peaks, one in late Spring and one in late Summer. It's a learning process - by tracking CTL and using the rear-view-mirror effect maybe I'll eventually be able to time my peaks more accurately. But one thing's for sure - riding form will never be static if you're trying to push your physical limits.