Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tour Average Speeds

Scientific American, August 2008
There are lots of ways to interpret this graph - throw out your two cents to the right. (The consensus was that there are too many variables for the chart to show a meaningful trend.)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Maxxis Cormet

In general, I try to stay away from doing product reviews. I think to be legitimate, I'd have to try lots of similar products (lots of time and cost) and do some kind of structured testing and comparison to provide any useful information. And even then there might not be clear results.

I put a big skid mark on my rear tire in Saturday's crash, so I installed new Maxxis Cormet tires on my Zip 303s yesterday. I've ridden Michelin Pro Race, Contenental somethingoranothers, and Maxxis Courcheval tires in the past few years. For the past two years it's been the Courchevals. I've been happy with them.

But compared to the Courchevals, the Cormets feel like butter. That's the only way I know to describe them. They feel smoother and more supple than the Courchevals. Maybe it's the 170 threads per inch instead of the 120 TPI?

I dont' know how they corner, how long they last, or how puncture resistant they are. But they feel much faster and smoother - more like the Veloflex Record tubulars on my TT bike. The specs are below - I suggest you give them a try.

Their marketing text:

Stepping it up a notch-and-a-half, Maxxis introduces the Cormet with ONE70 Technology. ONE70 utilizes special high thread count fabric in the casing,reducing rolling resistance even further than our other racing tires. ONE70 Technology also provides better road feel and weight savings over other racing tires. From the most aggressive crit to the most epic climb, the new Maxxis Cormet with ONE70 technology is destined for racing greatness.

ONE70 technology.
Pro road competition tire.
2-ply nylon breaker for increased puncture resistance.

170 TPI
0.474 lbs

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Damn Crashes (and Dog Days Race Report)

If you're going to race, crashes are unavoidable, I realize that -- but they still suck. I've had more than my share of crashes this year, three. I figure one per year is inevitable, but three is more than I bargained for. If I was a sprinter mixing it up to every line, I'd expect it more. If I raced the under 35 division, or in cat 5, they say I should expect it more. If I raced crits a lot, I should expect it more. But my crashes have been in training rides, 35+ road races, and straight 4 road races. So much for those theories.

In March, I think it was (I'm sure Trey can tell you the exact date), Trey and I both went down at probably 15 mph on a gravelly turn on a training ride. I got road rash, an involuntary goatee from my inability to shave my chin, and soreness for a week - he got a fractured trochanter and an unfortunate end to a season that had barely begun.

On June 22nd in the LaGrange RR -- about 300 m from the finish -- we were winding up for the sprint on an uphill grade. The guy in front of me touched a wheel, I guess, went down and I went over the top of him at 23.5 mph. I think it was my hardest crash ever, but luckily I escaped with lots of road rash, a black eye, a week-long limp from a swollen hip joint, broken handlebars, and a snapped brake lever. I think I broke my finger, too - it's still swollen almost 60 days later - but it still works.

Yesterday at the Dog Days Road Race in Canton we were approaching the finish line (200m?). I was accelerating steadily, moving up the right side, and looking for a top 10 sprint finish (that would have been a good result for me because I can't sprint at all). Just as I stood up to begin my last kick, the two guys in front of me decided to zig/zag different directions at the same time. As I remember it, the guy on the right swerved hard left and the guy on the left swerved hard right. They hit each other hard and went down hard. I had probably a full second to anticipate going over the top of them. At the crash I was at 121 rpm, 442 watts, and 42.2 mph (see graph).

Oddly enough, I only got relatively minor road rash in all the normal places -- elbow, knee, and hip - and no bike damage, although I did total my helmet. You'd think the faster the crash, the more injured you'd get. But so far there's not much correlation. Maybe there's really something to the skidding hypothesis.

I've had three crashes (so far) this year. If you 'believe' in statistics, that means 2009 will be completely crash-free. Maybe I'll only order two kits for next year.

One last crash note: On Jake's advice (and he should know), I bought some Nexcare Tegaderm transparent 'fake skin', I guess you'd call it. It works like a charm - good call - highly recommended. And it even has picture of a cyclist on the front:

Dog Days Road Race

The Cat 4 division rode three 16-mile laps of a rolling, somewhat technical loop. I had no teammates -- Iron Data, Reality Bikes, Cycleworks/HDR, and Aarons seemed to have the biggest numbers. I thought the race was a little harder than our typical GA Cup 4/5 races. I jumped off the front and bridged to other jumpers a few times, trying to get a successful break going, but was having no luck making anything stick. About a quarter of the way into the last lap, I ended up off the front with riders from Iron Data, Reality Bikes, and Aarons. I thought we had the right combination to stay away, but we were reeled in - by Cycleworks, I guess. Everything stayed together until the finish. I moved to the front without too much difficulty with a couple of miles to go. I think I was in a pretty tired field. There was a little two-tiered climb up to a right turn with about a mile to go till the finish. I figured if there was any way I could gather enough juice to jump at that point, I might get away. But the climb took so much out of me (and everyone else, I guess) that I could not make a jump. I was sitting about 10th in the field as we started the long downhill sprint. We had a headwind, so I planned to wait as long as possible to make my final jump (there was actually a pay-0ut to 6th place - wow). Then there was the crash.

A rider in front of Bill went down and Bill went over him in the Cat 5 race. He didn't have too much road rash, but he injured his hip that was broken a couple of years ago. He was hobbling around, but hopefully will just be sore for a few days.

I understand that Doug and Jeff did lots of good work for Jake in the Cat 3 race. Doug was sick and didn't contest the finish. Jake made a very last second, very fast punch to the line and took 2nd in the Cat 3 race. From where I stood, it looked like he passed 20 guys in the last 20 meters and would have won it if he'd had 25 more meters to the line. Congratulations.

I'm not sure how Eduardo fared other than he finished with the pack.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Elberton Race Report

State Championship TTT
Bill pulled the 5-man train out of town very quickly. We caught our first 2-minute team at about 10 minutes into the 19.5-mile course. We were rolling very fast at mile 9 when Chad flatted (the 2nd TTT flat he's had this year - very disappointing). We didn't miss a beat and four of us kept rolling. At about mile 9.3 I noticed that the back end of my bike felt 'loose.' When I realized I had a slow leak, I chanced one more pull downhill, then faded to the back and told my teammates that I'd flatted also - extremely disappointing. Todd hung in and powered for a while with his recently-installed disc wheel, then handed it over to Bill and Ron, who finished the ride alone and won the event for us by over 2 minutes over the 2nd placed team. A great ride by the elderly contingent.

I almost arrived late to the start line after warming up away from the course and lined up at the back. When the race started, a little lane opened up, so I shot through it and kept on the gas. By the first turn I had a little gap, so I kept pedalling. I was joined by two others and we stayed a short distance off the front for about the first 8 or 10 minutes. It was our plan to make other teams work early so Bill could attack later, but we initiated the plan a little quicker than I expected. When my group was caught, Bill attacked. At first he was hanging by himself about 10 seconds off the front. When Randall Roland from Antarus bridged up, I knew they had a good chance to stay away. They had 45 seconds on the field with 2 laps to go and Bill flatted in corner 4. A missed victory opportunity for Bill and more terrible luck with flats for Security Bank.

Road Race
We traversed a 30-mile loop twice. It was a little technical with some rollers, but not much climbing. It was very hot. Bill was tied for 2nd in the GC with Ron not far behind, so Chad and I planned to work for them by attacking early and chasing breaks. At about 7 miles into the race, Outspokin, who had a guy tied with Bill in GC, were sitting 3-abrest at the front and controlling the pace. Then their GC guy flatted. All three of them pulled off to help and to try and pace him back (they never did). Bill attacked immediately, about 2 miles from the first of two KOMs. He stayed away over the KOM and picked up 7 KOM points. He sat up and we regouped. A mile or two later, at about mile 10, all four of us were on the front. I increased my speed a little and noticed that I had a 20-yd gap on the field, so I kept on the gas. I glanced back again and saw that I had 200m and they weren't chasing. I decided it was too early for a break to stick, but that I'd just keep it on 300 watts and not look back until I was caught. At least the other teams would have to do some work.

After about 5 minutes, I heard someone shift behind me. I figured it was the peloton. It was a welcome sight to see only two guys - Star Bridges from UCBI and Andrew Stephenson from ATS, a great pair - they both had teammates behind us. We worked together well, increasing the gap from 30 seconds to two minutes pretty quickly. Eventually we stretched the gap to 4 minutes at the 2nd KOM - mile 40 of 60. Andrew cramped badly with about 5 miles to go, but stayed ahead of the pack to take 3rd.

I was positioned perfectly behind Star for the sprint, but every time I 'found another gear' on the sprint, so did he. I could not come around him on the downhill sprint. He took first with me sitting on his wheel. It's great when a break sticks, and even better when you're in it!

Jake had a similar day in Elite - he finshed 2nd in a four-man, 52-mile break. I think Bill took 2nd in GC and Ron likely had a high GC finish as well. Elberton brought lots of racing success and was a great venue.