BBC at the Sacramento Grand Prix

May 17, 2010 at 8:15 AM | Posted in Racing | 1 Comment
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Headed up to Sacramento for a planned day of racing well, eating poorly and watching the women and Pro Tour riders put on a show.

Going into the race, I expected a number of crashes. Combine the hype of racing the Tour of California finishing circuit with the irresistible pull of a 165-man draft mixed with a dash of non-selective course and the outcome is predictable.

Now I am usually the last person to hope for wind. However as my fitness has slowly come up, all week I wished for the NorCal winds to open up on Sunday to enforce a hierarchy on the field. As I cruised along I-80, I watched small bushes sway to the will of the wind and felt the gusts buffet my car. Perfect!

I called Bender, who was driving 20 minutes behind, with two messages:

– It’s windy, yes!!

– CHP is out in force, watch yourself.

Since he is accustomed to my non-stop kvetching about high winds at races, he must have assumed that I was either going crazy or being sarcastic. People can change…

Bender graduated from Haas School of Business on Friday, so have to give him his due, though I will now hear about how pro he thinks he looks for weeks on end:

(Photo courtesy www.cyclelicio.us)

Got to the start line and the morning winds apparently took a detour away from the city center leaving us with dead calm, uh oh…

The nerves manifested themselves early within the field. A fall occurred while clipping in during the first ten seconds. Then the big crash on the first lap.

A rider on the far right slowed innocuously, but the following racers rode up his back. A careless fall that ended the day for many, but that’s bike racing and we’ve all caused or been affected by crashes.

Update: The crash was caused by the officials making the idiotic decision to let riders out of the wheel pit in front of the oncoming pack. Not sure which is more difficult, accelerating from 0 to 32 m.p.h. in 3 seconds or avoiding somebody going 5 m.p.h while you close on them at 27 m.p.h. shoulder-to-shoulder in a tight pack…

A bad outcome, but I’m mostly disappointed because we finally had our full team lined up and I was looking forward to racing with the squad. Next time.

I learned that some other people went down later in the race. Best wishes to those involved for a full recovery.

Video from the first lap crash (speed data is erratic due to poor GPS signal):

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Sea Otter Circuit – How to Breakaway

April 18, 2010 at 9:37 AM | Posted in Racing | Leave a comment
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Finally recorded something (somewhat) interesting. Though not as viewer friendly as a victory by yours truly!

I raced the M35 1/2/3 Sea Otter Classic Circuit Race. Going in, I told myself I would rather strike out swinging in an attempt to make the break than to sit in and await the field sprint for the leftovers.

Based on the entry list, by reputation and results, it was highly likely that some combination of Klein, Lyman, Metcalfe and Phipps, would successfully go up the road. 10 minutes into the race, it seemed that all four would be in the winning move.

I tried to follow surges by these guys, hoping to get lucky when they formed the ultimate gap. In the end, I was unsuccessful and didn’t have anything left when the leaders got away and couldn’t hang onto the chasers. Regardless, I was happy with my race and learned a bit more about what I need to work on in order to get into the break.

I’m obviously not a breakaway expert, but the break seemed to form like this: Eventually the strong guys realized that the hill was too short to be decisive. Even when they attacked on the climb, the field crested with them and reformed on the descent.

With that in mind on the decisive 1.5 laps, they rode with steady pressure up the hill and pushed it a bit on the descent. Then on the flat section through the start/finish they put in some legitimate, leg-searing attacks that killed the pack’s ability to climb at race speed. And just like that, they slipped away…

10 Minute Version:

Riding not Racing

April 12, 2010 at 2:55 PM | Posted in Racing | Leave a comment
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Pack Fodder Eyewitness Cam

One day I won’t be in position to witness the dumb stuff that goes on in the field. Some day, I’ll actually race on the front instead of wasting my money (and risking my skin) riding as pack fodder.

The Cat 2 race was uneventful. I was feeling great until the rain started, at which point I entered self-preservation mode. Nobody has ever won a race while in self-preservation mode (unless riding in a break is considered a preservation tactic) and I wasn’t going to be the first. The inevitable crash occurred on the last lap but I avoided the mash-up.

The Pro 1/2/3 race was bigger, faster and easier than the small-field Cat 2 race. This isn’t bravado, rather it is the confession of a passive racer: everything is easier in a corporate park crit when you shirk your responsibilities at the leading edge.

I was a non-teammate as Bender tried heroically to get into a winning move and was too tired when the winning five finally went up the road. If I had been there to cover even one of the moves, perhaps he could have rested enough to make the final selection. My bad, I’ll make it up to you.

On this day I had the pleasure of hanging out with Elliott “Mouth of the South” Craddock from the Garmin Development team. Bender warned me that Elliott is loquacious. Coming from a non-stop talker, that definitely raised eyebrows.

I must admit that if you listen closely, mixed in with the running commentary, Mr. Craddock will drop a gem or two on your ears. My favorite on the day was this pearl of training wisdom, “…kind of like how you get faster just by sitting on the couch in your kit…” When I got home, the boss lady had a puzzled look on her face when she asked why I was lounging around the house in my lycra but she relented when I said it was making me faster.

Elliott was caught up in a late race crash as people fought to position for the 6th place field sprint. Luckily he and the majority of his bike survived. That pile up convinced me that the final upgrade point wasn’t worth the trouble.

The kid is tough and he’s survived much bigger falls than the one on Saturday: Cyclist falls from 50 foot bridge.

Talk about a random and unexpected crash:

Cat 2 Crit Data:

Duration:                41:26
Work:                     651 kJ
TSS:                       50.4 (intensity factor 0.86)
Norm Power:          284
VI:                           1.08
Distance:               18.539 mi

================Min ==   Max ==  Avg
Power:                    0            940        262        watts
Heart Rate:            103        181        172        bpm
Speed:                    0.1         35.8       26.8       mph

Peak 5s: 909 watts                
Peak 1min: 460 watts
Peak 5min: 332 watts
Peak 10min: 284 watts, 317w normalized
Peak 30min: 265 watts, 288w normalized

——————————————————————————————————————————————-

Pro 1/2/3 Crit Data:

Duration:                1:31:47
Work:                     1341 kJ
TSS:                       96.7 (intensity factor 0.797)
Norm Power:          263
VI:                           1.08
Distance:               41.375 mi

================Min ==   Max ==  Avg
Power:                    0          1035    244      watts
Heart Rate:            100      182      167      bpm
Speed:                    4.6       36.0     27.0     mph

Peak 5s: 886 watts
Peak 1min: 366 watts
Peak 5min: 281 watts
Peak 10min: 271 watts, 282w normalized
Peak 30min: 256 watts, 273w normalized
Peak 60min: 252 watts, 269w normalized

Madera Mental Meltdown

March 16, 2010 at 11:39 AM | Posted in Racing | Leave a comment
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Well, it wasn’t that bad, but gratuitous alliteration is always…gratuitous. But it was a weekend full of mental errors. Masters 35+ 1/2/3 Report (Pictures & results):

Crit:

Boring, easy race. For some reason, we only raced for 40 minutes. Last lap, was behind my lead out man. I thought we were too far back before the final turn. Surged impatiently upfield then lost lots of positions in the corner. Sprinted from way back to ensure the same time as the winners. Later learned I would have come out of the corner 7th wheel if I stuck with my leadout…

Crit Data:

Duration:                   41:11
Work:                     614 kJ
TSS:                       51.1 (intensity factor 0.868)
Norm Power:         278
VI:                           1.11
Distance:               17.062 mi

================Min ==   Max ==  Avg
Power:                   0          1228    249      watts
Heart Rate:            95        183      164      bpm
Speed:                   0          36.2     24.9     mph


Peak 5s: 1158 watts
Peak 10s: 1077 watts
Peak 20s: 927 watts
Peak 1min: 522 watts
Peak 5min: 326 watts, 359 w normalized
Peak 20min: 257 watts, 295w normalized

TT:

“Started” my Garmin before taking off. Some time after the first turn, realized that I stopped the timer and was flying blind without distance or time info. Thought there was a long way to go so I held back. Between turn 3 & 4, my 30 second man blows by me. “Does he know something I don’t?” Indeed he does, we are only a couple of miles from the finish. I’m not great at TT’s, but unfortunately I had a lot left at the finish.

No data recorded.

Road Race:

I was freezing at the start and pissed off with my poor decisions.

Soon after the neutral, I attacked, but not for any tactical reason: 1. Wanted to burn off some anger 2. Needed to warm up 3. Possibly, though doubtful, draw out an early move 4. signal to people that I’d be willing to work in a break later in the race. Nobody came with me, so I just settled in for a nice warmup.

Last lap, a rider invited me to make a joint move before the crosswind section but I declined. I was sitting in good position during the single lane stretch before the rough pavement and crosswind. Luckily, a group of racers saved me from my good field position by advancing over the yellow line.

We turn into the crosswind and the pack guttered. Some of the same guys who advanced started gapping and sliding down the line. Kept closing holes until I couldn’t and popped just before the turn to the finishing rollers. Mission accomplished, 3 for 3 in delivering crappy weekend results.

The upside was that I gave some protection to the guy who finished 2nd, unfortunately, he wasn’t on my team…I think shelter at the port ride would be sufficient compensation!

Race data (Including Neutral):

Madera RR:

Duration:                   2:49:24
Work:                         2143 kJ
TSS:                           168.9 (intensity factor 0.775)
Norm Power:             248
VI:                               1.17
Distance:                   65.32 mi
Elevation Gain:         1621 ft

==================Min ==   Max ==  Avg
Power:                       0         884     211     watts
Heart Rate:                61       183     144     bpm
Speed:                       10.3    48.5    23.1    mph


Peak 5s: 842 watts
Peak 1min: 428 watts
Peak 5min: 320 watts, 339w normalized
Peak 10min: 307 watts, 310w normalized
Peak 30min: 251 watts, 276w normalized
Peak 60min: 225 watts, 253w normalized

No Cherry Pie for You!

February 8, 2010 at 8:02 AM | Posted in Racing | Leave a comment
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This picture is the closest I got to the winner’s prize. I didn’t figure in the break or spend any time at the pointy end of the field, but the day was a success. I got to enjoy a beautiful day in Napa, raced my bike and broke the string of DNF’s that characterized the end of my 2009 season.

The first race of the year is always filled with unknowns as no training can completely replicate the demands of racing. 30 seconds into the race, I was discouraged at how hard I had to pedal just to stay with the field and felt the impending doom of droppage.

During the first lap, I heard someone with a bad case of brake rub. I hoped I could find the rider and warn them and at least fulfill a good deed for the day before popping off the back. Then my teammate Keith appeared and told me that my brake pad holder shifted vertical and was rubbing my tire. Unbelievable! I spent the morning washing and prepping my bike for the season opener and this happens…

I limped to the wheel pit and got some help from the Williams Wheels guys (thanks!) and was allowed back into the field. The fix was temporary so I only used my front brake for the rest of the race.

Yahoo! Cycling Team put on a clinic, animating the race, winning and filling the top ten. If you google “bicycle racing”, you should see a picture of the Yahoo! squad after today’s mastery. I imagine you would get the same result if you Yahoo’d Yahooded googled “bicycle racing” on Yahoo.

Fun times and fired up that the 2010 season is underway!

Post pit stop Video:

Race stats:

Cherry Pie Criterium – P12

Duration:                1:00:53 (1:02:31)
Work:                     917 kJ
TSS:                       80.3 (intensity factor 0.896)
Norm Power:          287
VI:                           1.14
Distance:               26.699 mi

———————————– Min —- Max —- Avg
Power:                    0          966      252      watts
Heart Rate:            112      181      170      bpm
Speed:                    1.9       39.5     26.2     mph

Peak 10s: 670 watts
Peak 30s: 523 watts
Peak 1min: 429 watts
Peak 5min: 330 watts
Peak 10min: 292 watts, 324w normalized
Peak 20min: 274 watts, 304w normalized
Peak 60min: 252 watts, 286w normalized

Training Axiom

January 22, 2010 at 10:05 AM | Posted in Racing, Training | Leave a comment
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Gifted with an unusually pleasant winter, I had taken advantage of the weather to develop the famous California Juneuary fitness (I think Hernando coined that term).

The weather pattern that pummeled our state this week altered my training. I will train in the rain. I will ride at night. I will even challenge the wind, but when you combine all three, I turtle-up inside.

I tried intervals on the trainer last night and was forced to remember a truism learned early in my formative year as a Cat 5 in NYC, but long since forgotten:

The trainer makes you Tough

After accumulating roughly 6 trainer hours to-date this season, mostly spinning, I am decidedly un-tough.

I had a “discussion” about riding in bad weather a few weeks ago with Bender, the newest addition to the BBC team. We spoke of the hardmen in the Northern classics and how they get that way.

I posited that riding in the rain makes you a savage. I described how I placed fenders on my bike, donned my hermetically sealed gear and rode in the rain as evidence of my street cred.

His view was that you ride on the road in the rain because you aren’t brave enough to ride your mountain bike. “Mountain biking makes you a hardman!” Now since he is pushing 200 pounds and wins sprints from the hoods, I was inclined to give weight to his suggestion.

We were both wrong. Grinding it out on the trainer builds up the fortitude. Thank goodness for the sun this weekend.

Together we accomplish more

January 19, 2010 at 7:30 AM | Posted in Training | Leave a comment
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Rain combined with a rest week coupled with a long weekend led to a minor case of cabin fever. After bouncing off the walls with unspent energy and replacing the shoe laces in all of my footwear (just kidding?), I pulled out the camera to play with some old videos.

After watching years of Formula One, I figured it might be fun to replicate some of their footage. Another random thought: now that Sky is involved in cycling, how cool would it be if they brought the viewer selectable, multi-feed coverage from European F1 telecasts to cycling?

This video cracks me up for the “equitable” division of labor. In December, I rode with some friends on the newly formed Evergreen Racing Team. I wasn’t supposed to exceed tempo which meant a cycle of droppage on hills and chasing back on. In reality, I was the biggest wheelsuck in Marin, leaching onto anybody willing and able to pull me back to the group.

In this case, it was Henry. I kicked back relaxing in the draft, drowsily sipping mint juleps as he buried himself to bridge to the group. At some point, a tinge of guilt and the holiday spirit entered my mind and I roused from my somnolent state in the draft to share the workload and finish the job.

Dr. Wu puts in a very impressive pull, probably 500+ watts for 70 seconds, (give me a call, we should work together again).

It will be fun to play around with the camera in race season, assuming I hang around long enough to film the interesting bits during events.

Riding Dirty

January 11, 2010 at 12:18 PM | Posted in Training | Leave a comment
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Decided to go for a change of pace this Sunday. Rather than wake up early, I slept in. Instead of filling the bottles, I donned a Camelbak. In place of skinny tires, I rolled out some wide knobbies and left the warm sunshine of the east bay and made a beeline for the lone remaining fog bank in the bay area, stubbornly nestled over Camp Tamarancho.

I’m a new hand at this mountain biking mess, but it’s a load of fun. Though very humbling to learn that your bike handling is at beginner levels, it doesn’t detract from the amusement.

Bike Path Worlds Dilemma Solved!

November 9, 2009 at 4:01 PM | Posted in Training | 1 Comment

Offseason. The time when all of your type A traits conspire against you. It’s all good during the race season. Dial into that internal motivation to get up a bit earlier, push a little harder, compete a bit more aggressively in order to achieve results.

Now that it’s time to go slow on the bike, the type-A-ness can be a liability.

All of this is a long winded way of saying that the other week I did a piss poor job of riding within zone. It wasn’t my fault though. There were recreational riders on the road everywhere. Following my every turn even. And worst of all, whenever they passed me, (always on hills) they invariably gave me ‘the look’

as they dropped their mighty 240 watt hammers in the decisive move to clinch victory in the Bike Path Worlds. Now pride goeth before a fall, but succumbing to pride also insures you will not get dropped.

So a few times last week when confronted with these “races” I smashed my mightier 250 watt hammer into the road and vanquished all challengers. Soloing to victory and exulting in well-taken wins that justified the years of sacrifice and miles in the saddle, pedaling my supremacy one revolution at a….Whew, sorry, I mean I just crested the highway overpasses a few bike lengths ahead of my…vanquished foes who cracked under the pressure of my searing attacks.

Anyway. During the times when I stuck to plan and rode in zone 1 and zone 2 I got to thinking that I need to protect me from myself if I’m to make it through the base miles. Then the wheels started turning and I figured I’m not the only cyclist who succumbs to the reptilian brain and instinctively responds to challenges on the road.

The solution is quite simple. If you can take pride out of the equation, then you can ignore the compulsion to compete on the bike path.

When you ride, nobody knows that you are just recovering or riding base unless you tell everyone who passes you (I’ve seen it done, IT WASN’T ME!). Until now. Rather than solve problems that you didn’t know you had like Interbike vendors or Sky Mall catalogs, I’ve developed a solution for a real problem. I give you the Bike Ride Announcing Gizmo (B.R.A.G.).

This is just a prototype but once it is cut down to bicycle appropriate dimensions it will be ready to ship. The B.R.A.G. is versatile, suitable for many situations and it’s modular.

Included messages are:

– Active recovery day
– I climbed yesterday
– ___ miles into my ride (Elite version automatically updates from bike computer)
– Not to exceed ____ watts
– “A” race in ___ days

You can order the optional expansion pack that includes:

– I podiumed yesterday
– I’m a cat ___ racer
– I started my season late
– PR for this climb ___ (Elite version only)

Or you can order blank “lapcards” ™ and write in your own messages.

Now since honesty is a one way street, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t post announcements like “hammering” or “going for it” lest you get dropped.

I love the sport, but I also have to pay the bills. Now I can do the finance thing, but marketing for my new venture is out of the comfort zone. So I turned to the new founts of irrefutable wisdom that any learned high schooler depends on: google, wikipedia and youtube. I found an excellent primer on marketing by Ali G and see that my product has a potential market of at least 8.572 billion people.

For those weight weenies on the bleeding edge of technology, there is a digital version, the Elite Model, that will plug into your Di2 battery and scroll any messages from your other devices on the Ant + network at user selected intervals.

The analog version will be ready Q1 2010. Lest you call it vapoware, the Elite also has a release date, Q3 2010, give or take 5 years.

The following chart should help in deciding between the two models:

Even with access to the internet, layovers aren’t any better…

Tailgunning to 2010

September 8, 2009 at 11:00 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Well the season is finally over! I finished up with the Giro di San Francisco and posted another DNF. Despite that, 2009 was a great racing year. I met almost all of my pre-season goals and hurdled a mental barrier at the start of the year.

2009 Rewind

2008 ended abruptly as I was involved in a bad crash at the San Francisco Twilight race. The worst thing about ending your season with a crash is that you don’t get the chance to hop back on the bike the next week and take on and defeat the lingering fears.

I crashed because I lacked the fitness to consistently ride in the top 15 of the field. I was behind tiring riders whose fatigue led to wobbly riding and a huge pileup. More than anything, I told myself this because regardless of why a crash happens, it’s always reassuring to feel you have some control over what can seem like a random event. During the offseason, I trained with the intent to never race amidst the backmarkers in the Cat 3 field.

The season began with the early birds. I was apprehensive, but forced myself back into the game and became comfortable in the field again.

My season goals were straightforward:

–          Gain the fitness to ride easily in the Cat 3 field
–          Upgrade to Cat 2
–          Place in the top 10 of a P12 race

The year moved along and the fitness progressed. In the early season, I felt strong but tactically I screwed up a lot of finishes. At Menlo Park, I was positioned well for a top 10 in the P123 but was caught in the finishing crash. I worried that my strong fitness wouldn’t lead to good results. Eventually, things turned and the results followed.

This sport is such a confidence game. I got on a roll, but wasn’t any stronger relative to the competition than earlier in the year. The difference was that every time I pinned on a number, I believed I was the strongest rider in the race and that if I rode to my ability, a top 10 was a foregone conclusion. This confidence determined the choices I made in the hundreds of micro decisions presented during a race. These minor decisions over the course of a race added up to me being better positioned for the end game.

The upgrade came and I joined the P12 field. The races were harder and longer but they were bearable and I knew that a top 10 was in the cards before the season closed out.

Then an innocuous thing called a honeymoon intervened. We spent a phenomenal two weeks eating our way through the south of France. What initially seemed like a perfect break turned into a complete de-training.

On the return, I intended to train back into race fitness. But on the advice of a teammate, I hired a coach and we decided that the best course of action would be to prepare for the 2010 season. Out went the intensity, in came the endurance and tempo miles (and miles) and on rushed the endless string of DNF’s!! In the end, I think that not pressing to peak again is going to pay off much better in the future.

So the season ended with a seemingly discouraging finishing stretch. But I’m ecstatic with the year and have never been more excited by the prospects for the coming season. I’ve got two new teammates in the P12 field and a real training plan that will drive real improvement. The biggest challenge between now and 2010 is keeping the music on the iPod fresh as I rack up the miles.

Last year I finished the season as a backmarker and there was nowhere to go but up, will 2010 play out the same way??

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