Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cross National Champions

Last race of the season. The top dog, the big enchilada, numero uno.... Yep, it doesn't get much bigger than Cross Nationals. This is where they hand out the stars and stripes jersey to the winner.

Yes, I know I really wouldn't "compete" for the top honor. So, you may ask "why the hell bother if you're not competitive"? Good question. Here's my thoughts when I decided to do this race months ago.

1 - It's freakin' cross nationals! In our backyard. How can you not be a part of that experience.
2 - It will be in Bend 2009 and 2010. I'll be stronger and more competitive next year.
3 - See if I can race late in the year. Last year I was totally burned out in November after the Cross Crusade.
4 - It's Bend Oregon. One of my favorite places in Oregon to have a 4 day weekend.

Pack my gear, bike, and Ali and I hit the road on Friday afternoon for the adventure. Yes, Ali is the girl I met a cross race at the beginning of the season (you see, I knew this bike racing stuff was good for me). She found this fantastic B&B, the Hillside Inn. Totally a fantastic location. Stay there if you're in Bend. It is totally worth the extra ~$15 per night.

My race (40-44 men) was 930am on Saturday morning. The earliest race I've done all year. I got registered and my number bright and early at 730am. The USA Cycling official that signed me in was grumpy. You see we're totally spoiled in Oregon with our OBRA officials.

We got to the course and I was able to do a pre-ride of the course to check it out. It was about 32F outside. Cold, but I guess much warmer than the previous 2 days of racing (a friend raced on Thursday and it was about 4F). The course had icy patches and of course snow. I've never ridden or raced in those conditions before. I was totally nervous. Slipping and falling on my side on hard ice was something I didn't want to do. I was feeling OK about it after my pre-ride, but I was still nervous.

Spent the next hour on the trainer next to the car. As you can see I was pretty well bundled up. I even slipped some toe warmers in my shoes. It wasn't my typical season warm-up. I was taking it pretty easy and skipped the higher intensity parts. It's quite different racing in a category that you know you won't be in the top 1/4 of the field. I would say it's more difficult to mentally motivate yourself. Especially when it's freezing outside and you're thinking about the hot tub back at the B&B.

The start call ups were based on national points and then registration order of your USAC license category. I just got a USAC license for this race, so I was going to be in the back. The way back that is. There were 190 riders pre-registered in my field. However, not everyone shows up. Actually, only 147 guys lined up. I think I was like 130th in the call ups.

The race started with a "bang" or really a big crash. It happened quite a bit in front of me, so I was able to run around it. However, it split the field up quite a bit. Which means the top guys were that much ahead (remember, in a national race you get pulled when/if the lead guys catch you). Here's a video I found on the internet of our lovely start......

Video - Start of Mens 40-44 Race

The first lap was bascially total chaos. However, us guys in the back were having fun with it. We all knew we were way off the lead group, so we joked around while waiting at the pinch points. The first section was in the trees and lots of switchback corners. It's tough to finesse the corners when you are surrounded by fellow racers.

They added a cool set of man-made wooden stairs on a run-up. This would be a great photo spot (unfortunately, I haven't seen one of me on these). Only one set of 2 barriers, but the good news is that my personal paparazzi, Ali, got a great photo of me there. I "nailed" the barriers and looked good while doing it since I did alot of barrier practice at the beginning of the season and have a few years of experience now. There was one large run-up and downhill on the backside of the course. The downhill was icy during my pre-ride and it was a congested mess on the first lap. I ran down it like most guys. This led into a pavement section across the start/finish line.

As normal, riders began to string out by the beginning of the second lap. I was now able to hit the straights with power and had the entire lane to finesse the corners. I was finding my snow riding technique. Lap 2 and 3 were fun and I was looking good. Heidi Swift, who writes for the Oregonian and Wend Magazine, captured a few sweets photos of me.

Near the end of the third lap, it happened. :-( I got pulled. There was quite of few of us pulled at the same time. I recognized my RiverCity nemesis from the Crusade season. We joked about how that was the quickest race we've ever done and it's time to start the off-season.

So that's what I did the rest of the weekend..... started the offseason. Ali and I hit the after race party that evening, went snow shoeing, hiked around Smith Rock, and of course enjoyed the hot-tub back at the Hillside Inn.

Fantastic weekend to end a good cross season. Now it's time to enjoy the break.

Final Results - (at least I wasn't DFL)

Cool PDXCross Photos - (I'm number 470 in the gallery)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

USGP - 12/5

The USGP is a national series that ends in Portland. In years past, I would go to watch the pros and other team-mates since it was so late in the season. I had to do it with nationals the week afterwards. I figured I would do it in the "open" masters field. Then I would have 2 weekends in a row of getting my a$$ kicked.

You see, I've been racing the master B category this year in the Cross Crusade. The next group up is the A field. These are the guys that have either been racing for years and have tons of experience in their legs or they have lots of time to train during the year. Basically, they are way faster than me. So why am I even bothering? Well, the B race at nationals is on a Thursday - can't do that, so I needed to sign up for the "open" category for my age group. I knew that I would struggle in this group, but it's always good to push yourself and get some good experience. BTW, you know you're in a tough group when the national bike rag has a story on one of your competitors (cool to see a story on a masters racer).

USGP was in a similar boat. The B race was at like 8am in the morning! Forget that!!! The "open" 35-45 age group was a 12:30. A good thing since it was WAY COLD that morning. I go there about 10am and it was freezing. There were a couple team-mates racing at that time. I found the warm-up tent, got my number, and packed my gear over to the tent. They gave us a timing chip and numbers for our shoulders - how pro. I started "warming up" about 90 minutes before my race just to prevent myself from freezing!

I was able to get a lap on the course about 11:15am. That was one of the first times I did that this year, but it was important since I've never raced this particular course at PIR before. The mud was greasy. I didn't pay attention on 1 corner and "ate it". Great, mud on my number even before the race started. Good thing they gave me an extra! Got to line up at a national caliber race "looking good".

The sun came out and things warmed up just before my race. Calls up were based on national points and registration order. I started in the back of the field which was fine with me. The course was about 2.5 miles. My key goal was not to get lapped since you get "pulled" from the race if you get lapped by the leaders. I held on pretty well the first lap, but these guys were smoking fast. I rode my own race - strong on the straights and finesse in the corners. I was competing with the guys I recognized at the the back of the field.

The top 2 or 3 riders caught me on the end of the very last lap. So, I didn't get pulled. I stayed upright the entire time. I placed 83 out of 98 riders. Obviously, not a great result, but I'm happy I raced, had a great time, and got some cool photos.

Photos courtesy of OregonVelo. These guys take great photos.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Krugers Mudfest

Sunday was a cross race out at Kruger's Farm on Sauvie Island. They typically hosted the pre-cross season Kremesse races, but this year they were unfortunatetly canceled due to some permitting issues. However, they were able to figure things out for the post-Crusade race. I've heard stories about this venue from last year - cornhusks and mud mix eat bike parts. So I was prepared for a mess.

photo from

We drove out in the pouring rain and I was expecting some epic conditions. I was running alittle late, but I got the trainer setup in the tent and was ready for a warm-up. It was horizontal rain and really cold. About 60 seconds into the warm-up, the wind howled and blew over the tent. Into the course. Hitting a rider that was racing. What a mess! Whoever setup the tent forgot to stake it down. Needless to say, I had no warm-up since we had to setup a different tent.

No call-ups, so I got out to the start line alittle early to get a decent start position. I started in the third row which was great. Talked to a couple guys I raced with last year in the C crew and talked about how the Crusade series was a new experience since we upgraded. The skies parted and the sun came out for the start of our race and remained that way the entire time.

Start horn goes off and we're on our way..... slowly. Wow, it was muddy and slippery. The water puddles were deep. There was a section of mud next to the corn field with SUPER thick mud. It was unbelievably hard to pedal in. I finally just got off my bike and ran. I hate running, so it was that bad. However, running that section proved to be a good thing on the 2nd and 3rd lap.

I found myself passing folks on the 2nd lap. The course was flat. However, the deep mud made for leg zapping pain. It was a slugfest. My mind was wandering and I wanted to quit many times, but I knew everyone else was in the same boat. I found that running the real deep mud section I was able to maintain the same speed as the guys riding. I'd get back on the bike and crush them in the next section since they zapped their legs so bad riding that section.

I caught one of my PV team-mates on the 3rd lap in that deep section. John is a super strong rider and always did well in the Crusade races with his call-up position. I was pumped to catch him and drop him after the deep section (finished 2 spots ahead of him).

Overall a very, very hard race. Probably the hardest cross race of the year. Mud was EPIC. I placed 13th out of 48 racers. One of my best results of the year. Very happy with that.

I'm in the "peaking" section of my training plan. I've really done all the work I can to get stronger this year. No more of that. Now it's time to "sharpen the edge" with shorter and intense workouts. Next race is USGP series on 12/5 and then nationals aon 12/12. I'll be racing the 40-45 open category with the "big boys". This extra challenge is motivating me for the last efforts of the season. I'll be looking forward to a break from the bike after that!

Check out photos of the EPIC mud at PDX Cross.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Crusade Complete - End is Near

Barton Park on November 15th was the finale of the Crusade Series. I still hadn't secured any call-up points so my start spot was left to "random" chance again. I started about the middle of the pack, so it didn't really suck. I knew the course was fast and plenty or room to pass, so I was ready to roll.

Unfortunately, I neglected to select proper tire pressure for this rock garden. Not sure what I was thinking. My front tire became a victim about 10 yards past the pit on the 1st lap. It sealed with some air left in it, so I was able to ride it in the less rocky sections. Otherwise, it was quite a run back to the pit.

Luckily I stuck with it and got 3 more laps of "fun" after the wheel change. It was fun because I was so far off the back that I just concentrated on going fast with good form in the slick mud. I wasn't DFL so I guess it wasn't a total loss.

Thoughts on the Crusade series:
1) I knew it was going to be a tough year since I upgraded to the B group. I couldn't expect results like last year. It would take me a year to "earn my wings".

2) Race results were decent. In the 25-30 range out of 80-130 persons. I typically started middle of group to the back, so I did alot of passing.

3) Alpenrose was my mistake of the season. I raced the day before and put in some huge efforts for a 3rd place finish in a small Salem race. I thought I'd get a poor call-up. Turned out it was my best all season. I could have easily got top 18 if I didn't race the day before. Oh well, water under the bridge.

4) Figured out I have plenty of fitness to race in this group. Felt good to be able to compete at this level. I passed tons of people at Rainer and Astoria.

spot - location - date
65 - Barton Park - 11/15/2009
26 - Astoria - 11/01/2009
26 - Astoria - 10/31/2009
32 - Wash County Fairground - 10/25/2009
30 - Rainer - 10/11/2009
24 - Alpenrose - 10/04/2009

Crusade 2010:
My key goal for 2010 will be to make the top 10 in the Master Bs. I'll maintain and improve my fitness by road racing in the category 3 and master's open group. I'm going to upgrade on "experience points". I need to race with a faster/harder group to improve. No need to hang around and beat up on the category 4 group.

Here's one of my favorite photos of the year. It's out at Barton Park after my wheel change. I hate running and really had no need to push it. However, that's what cross racing is about. Digging deep and pushing yourself at all times - always make it count.

Three more races for me this year. Two of them will be with the "big boys" in the masters category for my age. Last challenge for the year.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


This past Sunday at the Washington County Fairgrounds we had our first "real" cross race. There was MUD. Finally, we had some rainy weather worthy of the Pacific NW. The course was similar to last year without the horse ring with all the poop. Flat, slick, and lots of corners.

I had Luke with me, so I didn't get a chance to pre-ride the course. However, we did some time on the trainer warming-up. The big local bike blog writer was hanging in front of our tent, so I made an effort to strike up alittle conversation. He was doing a story on the race teams that do the Crusade. Luke was the highlight of the story! Check it out at BikePortland.

I haven't cracked the top 18 yet to acquire a call-up. The line-up after that is based on a random number draw. I got lucky and was the 2nd group, so I was toward the front with a great position. Unfortunately, my start lap was TERRIBLE. Probably the combination of no pre-ride and 1st time on mud this year. I fell backwards pretty quickly. A couple of my team-mates that started behind me caught me and I was chasing on the 2nd lap.

I was accelerating out of the corners too soon and did the serious slip-n-slide. As caught on film below. Horizontal is not a good position for bike racing!

photo by

Things finally started to settle down for me on the 2nd lap or so. I started closing gaps on the straight aways and started passing folks. The power was in my legs and I needed it to catch-up. I made good progress and caught back up to my nemesis, Ken, who started in the same group as me. We went back/forth the last couple laps. Unfortunately, I pulled my last stunt on the last lap and he passed me as I fell directly in front of him.

Key takeaways from the race for me: 1) I have the fitness and the mental strength to fight back. I got back up and kept on charging after 4-5 falls. I was happy with myself not giving up. 2) I've been sick the last three weeks and avoiding the VO2 intervals. I definitely felt it as my legs cramped up the last couple laps. Especially felt it when I dismounted and ran the barriers. 3) Need to keep in control in the corners. Lost WAY to much time on the groun

Fantastic, fun, big grin on the face type of race. Let the rain, mud, and fun continue.

photo by Victor Duong

Thursday, October 08, 2009

don't SLAP ME

Here's a simple technical change I made to my cross bike that someone might find useful. My Shimano 105 front shift lever broke a couple races ago and I can't shift to my big chain ring. I figured this was an opportunity to test out the single chain ring idea. Many people run this on a cross bike to reduce the risk of chain drop. Much of this is due to less chain slack which reduces the opportunity for chain slap which reduces dropping a chain. I'll give this new setup a try the rest of the season and plan to upgrade to an "official" single chainring if all goes well.

I consulted the fellow with the most impressive toolbox at the team tent last race and he suggested remove links of the chain until your hanger is about 45 degrees to the flat chain. Here's a couple before and after photos.

BEFORE (about 135 degrees when in big ring in rear and small ring in front)

AFTER (about 45 degrees in same condition - much more tension on chain)

Remember, technique of bike handling plays a BIG part in dropped chains. It's important to set a bike down gently after a bike carry and getting ready to re-mount. Also important to pick up the rear wheel alittle if you run along side your bike instead of carrying it. I rode a 2 chain-ring setup for 3 years and rode in the small chainring most of the time. However, I really only had a couple dropped chains.

Cyclocross racing has alot to do with "avoidance of bad luck". Reducing the chance of a dropped chain that can take time to repair and that just means you getting passed by others.

Ride hard and ride smart!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Heiser Farms - 10/3

This weekend is the "big" kickoff to cross season since Cross Crusade starts Sunday at Alpenrose. However, I decided to get it kick started with a smaller race in Dayton OR at Heiser Farms. One might ask, "Paul, why aren't you saving your legs for the big race on Sunday?". Well, in my view Alpenrose is classic and awesome, but it's a big circus for the race. Last year, I had about 140 racers in my field and it was the biggest turnout ever at ~1300 racers. This year they expect about ~1600 racers. So, I'm really "saving my legs" for next week at Rainer - an open course with plenty of opportunity to pass.

I never raced at Heiser, so I convinced my carpool mates to leave early to pre-ride the course. Took only 50 minutes to get there instead of the 80 minute google estimate, so they gave me a bunch of hell for waking them up to early. However, it's always best to be early to pre-ride and get into the "game mode".

I didn't race last weekend at Barlow, so I had a couple week break from racing. I wasn't sure how the legs would do. However, I was feeling confident since I met a major goal during the week in my training. Exceeded my year goal on the 20 minute test. I set a goal of 310W back in February when I was 290W. I had hit about 310 on the road in July, but my true "measuring stick" is the test on my indoor trainer. I hit 322W (4.2W/kg) and still had some in the tank! That made me feel great about the progress this season.

Sorry, I digress.... back the race report. My bike seemed to be in good shape. I had some mishaps earlier with flat tires due to "operator errors", and I worked out all those bugs. The engine didn't feel great during the warm-up on the trainer, but I wasn't too worried about it. I rolled over to the start line.

There were two team-mates in my field. Jeff, is an ex-pro mountain biker and a very strong masters rider. I also recognized a fellow from River City that I raced with in Eugene. Big strong TT rider. I couldn't keep his wheel in Eugene. However, today he was my "marked man". I told myself that I HAD to stick with him. That was my goal! Having a goal in a race really helps the motivation going when it starts to hurt.

There were about 15 guys in our field, so the hole shot wasn't a big deal to fight for. Jeff and RC guy took the lead and I stuck on their wheel. Here's a cool photo from the hole shot (cool since it makes me look like I'm in 1st place!).....

There was about 6 of us together at the end of the 1st lap. It dwindle to 4 of pretty quickly after the grass power section. I was going back and forth with a fellow while Jeff and RC guy were in the lead but not far off. They were starting to form a gap so I told myself "get that RC wheel". I passed the guy I was battling with and got back to leaders. At the end of the 2nd lap, there were 3 of us with a good size gap.

The next 4 laps went like this...... I would catch the leaders, hang with them, get gapped in a deep gravel power section, chase like hell, catch them in the barriers at the start/finish line. Since I was in 3rd, my team-mate Jeff didn't have to do any work. Poor RC guy had to do all the work. I knew in my mind that Jeff would crush him on the last lap (you see, Jeff really should be an A rider).

The night before, I was talking to some fellow PV rides about recovery in a cross race. Honestly, I haven't really focused on planning my recovery during races. I would go hard as I could and recover went I was pooped. Tatically, it wasn't a smart way to recover. They reminded me to go hard in the hard sections and remember to go hard before a "recovery section" to catch a wheel. Sit on that wheel during the recovery section. Then go hard and pass in the next hard section. I think I did much better with this plan at Heiser.

On the last lap, I caught them again at the barriers and I sat in back waiting for Jeff's move. He went and RC guy and I couldn't keep up since we worked like dogs the entire race. RC guy started to gap me, and I really didn't respond with the killer instinct. Sure I went fast and hard since it was the last lap, but I really didn't kill myself to keep his wheel. At that point, I settled for 3rd place since I was very happy with my race. Of course, I almost caught him towards the end at the barriers and missed 2nd place by only ~5 seconds.

First podium in a cross race. Yes, it was a small field, but it was a small field of the my new B+ category. The finish spot wasn't my success. It was meeting my goal of sticking with RC guy. A major confidence boost for me.

Later today is Alpenrose. Let the true mayhem begin!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Scrubbing Speed

Using the terms "slowing" or "stopping" isn't good when you're talking about bike racing. I mean, racing is all about going as fast as you can. However, in cyclocross it's critical to stay upright in all those corners, off camber sections, barriers, and all those other obstacles. So, scrubbing speed prior to the obstacle is necessary in order not to "eat it".

Earlier this year I attended a cross clinic and my key takeaway was that I needed to upgrade my brakes. I had an offline discussion with the coaches and they brought up a few key features that my setup was missing.

First, they had the "euro style" brake lever setup. Basically, the levers are swapped so the rear brake is on your left hand. This is a huge benefit while dismounting prior to obstacles. You can get your leg over, hold the top tube with your right hand, and actually scrub speed at the same time. Currently, I'm having to keep my right hand on the rear brake so I can slow down without going over the bars with using my left hand on the front brake.

Secondly, the brake hanger on the front brake is positioned really high. This helps to reduce the power on the front brake. Remember, we're trying to "scrub speed" and not stop on a dime. My current setup is way to strong and results in lots of chatter in the front fork.

Lastly, the higher end brakes look more pro and they should be easier to adjust.

Last year I upgrade the wheels, so this year it had to be the brakes. I got a set of Pauls Touring Cantis installed by the folks at Velshop (photo below). Some folks put the NeoRetro on the front and Touring on the back. The NeoRetro is more "eurostyle" and looks cool, but they stick out and become a "leg grabber" so they put the Touring on the back. I stuck with the Touring on both to keep the maintenance the same. BTW, the Pauls came with some "post style" pads which I didn't install based on the shop recommendation. They placed on the brake shoes that take the pad inserts. This should be much easier for maintenance since you don't need to "start from scratch" when you replace your pads.

My first ride/race with them was last week at Psycho cross. I finally made it out to the park this week to get some more practice with them also. Totally awesome having the euro setup. Much easier to hit the barriers with speed during the dismount. Actually, I'm sure the setup change was probably the biggest difference instead of the phyiscal brake change. Something to consider since it was about $250 with installation. However, they look great and feel great so I'm convinced it has been a "worthy" upgrade.

Here's a good article on brakes in Velonews

Circle of Life

This past week I had a serious "Lion King - Circle of Life" experience. I took Luke to his first cub scout meeting. I grew up in scouting, became an eagle scout, and looking back it really impacted my life. It taught me work ethic, values, leadership, and having fun in the outdoors. My mom was involved from the start. She was a den leader and all that stuff.

Well, all that came rushing back this week. Luke and all the other boys checked out reptile man while the parents got the orientation. It talked about how at this age kids are so "formable", the values it teaches, and involvement of parents. I can see why my mom was sold on it for me years ago. Sometimes you don't realize the impact parents had on you until quite later in life - I called my mom and thanked her later in the week.

I did my best not to "push" Luke into it, but I of course I was excited that he was excited after the first meeting. We will see how it goes, but I have a feeling he will stick with it for a period of time and "the circle of life" will continue.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Psycho Cross Race - 9/13

Here's a report on the Psycho race I did on Sunday. Early season races are all about tuning/testing new gear, the "skills", and checking out the competition.

Course: Great course at Camp Harlow. Same location as last year. Gravel, some farm field, big single track sections, and a couple sand sections. Had a 4-pack barrier section, a barrier after the downhill sandpit, and a couple other single barriers. Smaller fields are great for the early season races. Sal puts on a good race.

Competition: I'm starting to notice a few Cat 2 road racers pull up to the line in these B+ races. I start to wonder "what am I doing in this cat", but then I remember that it gives me a good excuse to "suck their wheel" and not feel bad about it. We also race with the 50+ guys. Wow, some of those guys are really fast. Now I know what I want to do when I grow up.

Skills: Last year I really didn't do much mountain biking and I suffered in the handling skills in the early races. This year I've been riding with some guys from work to improve that. Felt much better in the single track than last year. The barriers felt even smoother with the brake lever switch.

Gear: My new brakes with the Euro setup worked great. It was my first ride/race with the left handed rear brake, so nothing like throwing yourself into the fire. It was great for the barriers. It took alittle getting used to in the single track section.

My key lesson of the day was "don't be lazy with tire setup". I had a flat at bunny hop practice earlier in the week and I threw in a tube into my tubless setup. Well, that came back to haunt me. In the 3rd lap I pinch flatted in the 1st single track section. Which wasn't that far after the wheel pit. So, I had a LONG run/walk. Got in a couple laps after the wheel change, but I was a lap behind everyone.

I got some good early season experience and learned a lesson on equipment. Good race even if the result wasn't the best.

DFL is always better than DNF.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Indoor Training

Wow, it's September already. That means fall is around the corner and it will start to get alittle wet in Oregon. Folks are starting to discuss indoor training alittle in the cycling forums. Unfortunately for me, I end up doing ALOT of indoor training no matter what time of year. I like to spend time with my son when I get home for work, so that means I'm on the indoor trainer in the morning before he wakes up. Luckily, I'm a morning person.

Recently, I enhanced my indoor "experience" by purchasing a pre-owned set of E-motion rollers (check out the videos on this link). Turns out they are built at a machine shop just west of Portland (big town of North Plains). They are on the pricey side - took me about a year to find a used set. However, they are worth it.

I ride these things at 5 am, so it was important to find something I wouldn't be falling off. The bumpers on the sides really prevent that. I actually don't use the bumpers too much when I'm riding a constant speed, but at the end of a hard interval when your gasping for air and a lower gear - they come in handy.

Benefits of indoor training include: 1) easier to fit into schedule, 2) very focused workouts, 3) keep your bike cleaner than riding in the rain.

Problems with indoor training include: 1) difficult to do high end intervals, 2) can't reach same power levels indoors as outdoors (many reasons), 3) definitely not as fun as outside

Here's a couple other handy ideas that make the indoor training better.

1) You must have a good fan. I place mine in front of an open door for cool air.
2) Some video distractions can help. The fellow at the SufferFest provides some excellent videos with bike racing to music.
3) I'm trying on this new application for the I-Phone. Should be out of beta testing soon. You can assign music selections to different effort "zones" for intervals - very cool feature. Make your own workout, pick existing workouts, etc.
4) Setup alittle "trainer cave" if you can. Near the garage is always good - cooler, quiter for others in the house, and OK if you sweat on the floor.

Best of luck keeping the bike rolling even when it gets nasty outside or your schedule forces you inside.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cross is on the Horizon

I've neglected this blog for awhile, but now that cross is on the horizon there's lots to discuss. The bike community is buzzing about cross clinics, cross training, what are the best tires, etc. That's a sign August is here and September is quickly approaching. Where did the summer go?

Well, I spent most of my summer road racing. My results weren't fantastic, but none of the races were considered an A race for me. It's important to define the importance of a race before you do a race. Otherwise you can set yourself up for some disappointment. This year I focused on stage races. I knew they would be solid base training and they might fit my riding style better. I completed 3 this year, and I enjoyed them a bunch. I believe they will give me a good solid base for cross season.

I took a few weeks "off" after the Cascade Classic at the end of July. It was hard and hot race, so a mental/physical break was necessary. My plan is to do some "base" training for 4 weeks in August/early September (I'm in the 2nd week) - continue with "build" training for about 8 weeks in September/October and then peak for the end of Crusade and see if I can maintain it for Nationals (in Bend OR). Here's some good links on training for cross that I found.....

Intervals for Cross

Train Plan for Cross - this is a new Iphone App I'm trying out - very cool!

Next entry, I'll review some stuff about getting my "steed" ready for battle. Only ~9 days to the first test of the legs at CrossOver Race.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Miles this week

I had a furlough week at work, so that meant hanging around town and putting some extra miles on the bike. I joined the PV club rides on Wednesday and Friday morning. Solo rides on Monday and Thursday.

It was fun riding in the morning hours during a weekday. Traffic is much lower which makes the riding much more peaceful. It's much easier to train later in the morning on the open roads than 5am on a trainer.

I've had a good run of training the past four weeks. I actually hit my planned 8-11 hours per week. I'm definitely seeing some results in the power numbers, so "doing the time" is paying off.

I picked up a set of "used" rollers this week. They only had about 200 miles and appear to be in mint condition. Good time to find some deals on the used equipment list since the economy isn't hot and folks are trying to raise funds. The InsideRide rollers definitely have a unique design. Check out the videos. They're made just west of Portland.

Cascade stage race is just a couple weeks away. Time to focus on some intervals and less miles. Back to reality next week for a normal work week, so I'll be putting the rollers to use.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Elkhorn Report - Stage 1

Overall, Elkhorn was a really fun race even though I was alittle dissappointed with my results. There were 5 of us PV team-mates in the cat5 and we had a great time racing, recovering, and telling stories.

We road-tripped over on Thursday morning. It took about 4.5 hours from Portland to get to Baker City. It was a partly cloudy day and just beautiful out. I was expecting terrain like Central Oregon - very dry and brown. I was pleasantly surprised by all the green and the snow capped mountains. We did a 1 hour ride around the finish climb of the 1st stage. Got back to the car and the huge batch of mesquitos almost ate us alive.

I woke up Saturday morning feeling really strange. I felt dizzy and pukey when I stood up and walked around. I thought, "great, one of those mesquitos gave me malaria or something". Luckily the race didn't start until 2pm, so I just laid on the bed hoping I'd feel better.

Race time I was feeling better but not 100% so I planned to sit in the back of the pack and see how it went. The stage was 73 miles with ~6500 feet of climbing and all of the climbing was in the last half of the race. The pace to the first feedzone was very mellow - thank goodness I thought. It was rainy but not terribly cold. We actually stopped for a peleton pee break at one point - that was very civilized. At that point, Candi, the nicest race official in Oregon, started yelling us from the car about hitting the gas since the gals were only 60 seconds behind us. The pace picked up and we finally hit the big climb to the 2nd feedzone.

This is where the pack shattered. I was at 350W for a good 5-7 minutes trying to hang on, but finally fell off and rode my own race when I knew I was going to explode. I got to the feedzone and looked back to see a couple big strong TT looking guys I spoke to earlier. No need to race downhill alone, so I wait alittle for them and we started a pace line.

A rotating paceline in a race really makes you feel like a bike racer. It was awesome. Short pulls and rotating like clockwork is a great feeling. It's way cool when you can organize one of these with people you don't know but have that connection of racing a bike. We caught about 10 or so riders. We made it over the finishing climb and then 2 miles on the flats to the finish line. I took a pull that was alittle long at the end and got dropped from the group with about 1k to go - darn it. I finished 24th, an entire 5 minutes behind the leader. A couple team-mates finished 11/13 - about 3:30min behind the leader. Only 2 guys in the top 10 were from Oregon.

Time for the Saturday ride, so I'll continue my report later on. Cheers.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Neglected Blog, Birthdays, and BMI

Wow, I've really neglected my blog. Wow, it's June already. Wow, my birthday is less than two weeks away. Yes, time flies.

After Cherry Blossom, I took a couple weeks off the road bike - rest week and did some mountain bike races. It was the end of my 16 week training plan, so it was good timing to get the mind right. I got the mountain bike tuned up and switched over to tubeless tire system so I can run some lower pressures. I'm going to really try it out in July on the short track at PIR.

I started a new 16 week plan in the beginning of May. I modified the current plan to focus more on the short intervals. That's my weakness so that's what I need to work on. I really hate the 1 minute stuff, but it seems to be getting better. However, it's got a long way to go.

The big race coming up is Elkhorn. This is another 3 day race with 4 stages. The 2 road stages are much longer than the ones I did at Cherry Blossom. It's also in eastern Oregon in June which means some hot weather. The final stage which is 100 miles with ~7,000' of climbing is on my birthday. I figure I had to do something significant to get my mind off the fact that I'm turning 40. Yes, probably some mid-life crisis thing.

Have you ever heard of BMI, body mass index? I've heard of it, but never really gave it any thought until the other weekend. I was at a barbacue with a bunch of college friends and they were giving me a hard time about being "too skinny". I'm currently the same weight as a my freshman year at OSU (I remember since I was rowing on the lighweight boat and I had to be 170 max at races). Well, actually if you look at a BMI Calculator such as this one, I'm actually "normal" weight for my height. Play around with the weight numbers for your height. It's actually pretty surprising. I think it's interesting how America's definition of "normal" is now actually "overweight". It's definitely easy to move to that category when you get out of college, starting working, have kids, etc. The key is to find a combination of exercise/diet that works for you. For me, I eat like a horse so I exercise like one.

Anyway, just goes to prove as long as you feel good, who cares what others think.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Cherry Blossom Stage Race

My first stage race was the Cherry Blossom last weekend. It included 2 road races, a time trial, and a criterium. All over 3 days. It was a great experience, and after almost a week of rest I can finally say I would definitely do it again.

First Day (Friday) - Columbia Hills Road Race

Two laps on the course for a total of 38 miles. Sounded pretty simple. Our race started at 1pm, so a team-mate, Alex, and I drove over in the morning. Got there to see the 1/2/3 women start the race at 9am - it was sunny but cold. The word from the morning races.... wind. Not a good sign when it typically is not as windy in the morning.

First lap started out very mellow and stayed pretty mellow. Climb up the hill was slow and folks in the pack would yell "speed it up". Well, I spent alittle time at the front and you soon discovered why the pace was slow and there were minimal break attempts - there was a serious headwind.

Second lap a couple Team Oregon guys broke away on the flatter tailwind section. They were moving pretty good so I got to the front and folks were chatting about chasing them down. Well, I attacked after them myself. I guess I unleashed the dogs because we did a really fast pace all the way to the hill. A couple team-mates at the back later stated "that's what dropped me".

I was feeling good until the peak of the second climb. It was at that point I realized I wasn't taking my electrolyte tablets during the race. It was pretty obvious as my left leg froze with a cramp and I almost fell of my bike in pain. I had to stop and watch the pack climb away without me. I chewed an electolyte tablet (not a pleasant taste) and it kicked in. I caught on with a group and finished 1:50 back in the second chase group behind the pack. Lesson learned.

Second Day (Saturday) - Time Trial and Criterium

I've never done a time trial, but my 20 minute power is my strength so I figured I should do OK. I purchased some clip on aero bars (you can tell they make a huge difference). The course was 4 miles up a 2% grade hill and back the same route. I had my power tap on the bike, so I planned to keep my threshold power as a target. Reviewing the power file... mission accomplished on the uphill but I didn't do so well on the downhill. My 20 minute intervals are mostly on an indoor trainer - very consistent. I discovered it's a story going downhill. It's a tricky effort to maintain the power when going down. A technique I need to improve. I was definitely not "spent" when I finished and felt I could have gone much harder. I finished 3:05 minutes behind my powerhouse team-mate who won it.

I've raced a couple criteriums last year. They are always fast paced and intense. I really enjoy them even though they tend to be the risky part of road racing. The course was a 1 kilometer circuit downtown with 4 corners. My plan was to stay safe and definitely stay with the pack - no time loss this time. Mission accomplished. It was actually a pretty "easy" criterium. I'm guessing because everyone had the same plan since it was a stage race - stay safe. I finished easily with the pack 22nd out of 76 riders.

Final Day (Sunday) - Columbia Gorge Road Race

My powerhouse team-mate, Ron, was sitting in 1st place and I was in 40th place down 4:55. However, this day was the "queen stage" - 2 loops - 55 miles - 4280 ft of climbing. This was the big one for the STRONG after 2 previous days of race.

Well, the fireworks started on mile 3 at the beginning of the 7 mile climb. The pack shattered. Long climbs are something you need to do at your own pace. I felt pretty good about my efforts on the 1st lap. I was behind the 1st chase group. There were maybe 15 persons ahead of me. I hooked up with 2 riders with Starbucks kits and could tell they were good decenders. My powertap computer wasn't working, but it folks were saying we hi 45-50mph on the descent. I lost the wheel of the 2 guys and hooked up with a group with a few team-mates on the way back.

We were in a group of 15 riders that started the climb again on the 2nd lap. Again I was pretty happy with my climbing. I was definitely feeling it on this second round. I was taking my endurolytes and drinking water, so no sign of cramps. However, I wasn't doing a good job drinking my fuel bottle on the climb and no way to reach for it on the fast descent. So, I was feeling bonky at the bottom of the descent. I knew I was hurting when everyone was chatting and I was at the back thinking "if I don't hold this wheel I'll be dropped and be roadkill out here". I was fueling and just holding on. I finally felt better with about 5k to go.

Finished with that same group - 32nd place out of 76 riders and 15 minutes behind the leaders. My powerhouse team-mate did his best to hold with the lighter guys, but he didn't make it. He finished 8 minutes behind and dropped to 11th in the GC. My carpool team-mate climbed with the leaders and finished 3rd in the stage and jumped from 10th to 4th on GC. Wow, alot of change in GC in one day - that's why they save the "best for last".

Overall, I finished 34 out of 68 (86 in original field - 18 folks didn't finish) and 19:36 behind the leader. It's a fun experience to live like a pro for a few days. Race, eat, sleep, and recover. I couldn't imagine doing this for 21 days like TdF. I figure not bad for a working dad. I also figure I'll do it again. Actually, I already planned my 40th birthday weekend...... Elkhorn

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring Break Update

I had the week off due to "economic slowdown" at work, so I spent some extra time on the bike. I realized I haven't update this blog in awhile, so here's a summary of the past month.

I raced in the 2nd Bananna Belt race as a category 4. I found out that I need a few more races before I can officially upgrade to a 3. It was a good race. The 2 highlights for me were at the end of the race. I made it up the Lee Hill with the lead pack on the final lap. That tells me the work I've been doing on the 1 minute power is starting to help out. That is the first time I haven't been dropped on that hill in the final lap, so I was happy with that. That allowed me to jump to the front and ramp up the pace and string out the pack. That allowed my team-mates with the high end power to move up and take over at the 1k sign. It setup our sprinter for a victory so it was a great team victory. There were good comments from other teams in the parking lot and on blogs about our teamwork.

That inspired my new favorite quote.... "Let them hate, so long as they fear", Lucius Accius, a Roman tragic poet. A good quote for us guys in the pack causing havoc at the front.

A week or so later, I had a crazy blow-out on my rear-wheel. I wish I took a photo. Basically, the sidewall of the tire blew out at 30mph downhill and somehow the tube wrapped around the cogs and brake which ceased the wheel from spinning. My carbon rim lost about 1/4" as it slid across the pavement. I've been without my powertap wheel for 3 weeks. I should get it back this week.

This week I did some weekday rides with the club. This got me some extra miles in this week before I taper for the Cherry Blossom Stage Race. This will be my first stage race and I'm looking forward to it. It will also be my first time trial (race against the clock). My strength is my 20 minute power so I think I should do good in that. I've been riding well, so I'm hoping to crack the top 15 (currently 85 riders in the field). I'll be racing in the category 4 group.

Other stuff in life..... Luke went to sports camp a couple days this week at the community center. He loved it. He's growing up way fast. Work is interesting since the economy is hitting high-tech sector hard. It's a big company, so they aren't going away. I'm sure there might be some more reductions in the next couple months. Good thing I'm good at a$$ kissing. Finishing up the spring break painting project at the house.... bedroom and small bath. No fun looking at the same brown around the entire house.

That's it for now. Cheers...........

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Going to start to HURT

I've been on this training plan since the beginning of the year. Wow, two months have passed already. The plan had me working on the foundation for the 1st couple months. Mostly endurance (zone 2) and "sweet spot" training (just under threshold in upper zone 3). I also had a big mileage week in the beginning of February with my trip to sunny Tucson.

I believe it's paying off. The standard test is to ride for 20 minutes at zone 4 and determine your average power wattage. I typically do this test once a month after a rest week on my indoor trainer. It's a controlled setting. My first test of the year was late December and I managed 285 watts or 3.67 watts/kg. The power per weight ratio is typically used since bigger riders naturally produce more power. My test this morning I produced 306W or 3.98W/kg. The 300W is a "magic number" and so is the 4.0W/kg - it puts me at a mid range category 3 rider. I'm happy with that for 2 months of training.

In March, the plan really ramps up the training load. The hours on the bike is the same 8-9 hours per week. However, the intensity increases. The "hard" days I'll be doing 20 minutes at threshold (zone 4) and some microburst intervals. The intervals are really the killer and the area I need the most improvement. This is in the 1 minute power range. The range where fast-twitch muscles are working. The area that's really hard for us slow-twitch muscle guys. This is the area I know I need to focus since it's critical to help respond to surges in the peleton during a race - keeps you from getting dropped by the group.

I attempted my first set today. 40 seconds "on" and 20 seconds "off" and repeat that 5 times. The "on" time is all out effort. I was having a hard time maintaining the full 40 seconds. I consulted the "big power" guys on the team forum and got some technique tips. Hope they help out. Basically, eveyone said that these are going to hurt.

So, I'm going to start to "embrace my weakness" and see how it goes over the next 3 weeks.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Banana Belt #1

The Banana is a "spring classic" in Oregon. It's held at Hagg Lake outside Forest Grove.

The Masters 1/2/3 field was packed with the big guns in this race. My key take away.... racing with these guys will force me to be a smarter racer.

At the car we were all discussing what to wear for this odd weather. It started raining the moment we pushed off and it was raining for most of the 4 laps. It didn't matter what you were wearing since it was soaked to the bone after the first lap. Actually, I think it stopped during the final lap, but you really couldn't tell or care at that point.

There were two other team-mates in the group. One guy, Todd, got a flat in the first few miles, but caught back on alittle later (great effort, Todd). It got alittle dicey on the third time up Lee Hill. Went up at a good pace and then everyone let's up at the top. An important time to pay attention since the speed change is dramatic. One guy kissed wheels and took a couple others down about 2 bikes ahead of me. I was glad to make it around that.

I was hanging out towards the middle/back with Todd the first few laps - the smart thing to do. I decided to get alittle closer to the front on the final lap to keep an eye for any breaks. No breaks today - everyone just wanted to get this done. I chased down a couple attacks, legs felt good, and I didn't listen to my smart part of the brain. I found myself pulling these guys up the hills on the backside on the final lap. There is NO reason I should be doing that with these guys - they are way stronger than me. Well, I finally moved to the back for alittle recovery and held on to a few surges.

After the dam I worked my way up towards the front for the infamous Lee HIll. I was 3rd wheel heading up it. About 1/2 way up, my legs remembered that pull on the backside and weren't as frisky as the last 3 times up this hill. I hate that hill (about a 400W effort for 1 minute 1st 3 laps - only managed 350W the last time). It always seems to get 2X steeper on the final lap. So, I faded and lost contact with the pack. Hooked up with 3 guys for a roaring pace line to catch back on - dropped 1 - didn't quite catch them before the finish line.

Last year I always cracked on Lee Hill on that final lap in the cat5 crew, so it happened again. Primary goal for next races....not again......... Good thing I finally start working on those shorter intervals in the training plan this month.

OregonCyclingAction has a good report on the race and some photos.

Good to know a bike designed in sunny Arizona works so well in rain. The VeloVie road like a champ - flawless.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pimp My Ride

This week all the rumors, discussion, and anticipation came true. The FedEx man delivered the newest member of the family (much easier than a delivery room). The new VeloVie arrived - Portland Velo Team addition.

I went with the Ultegra SL components, Ritchey WCS stem/bar/seatpost, and of course the Reynolds MVC32 PowerTap wheels from last year.

I lost almost 3 lbs overnight. Previous road bike: 19.8lbs. The VeloVie: 17.0lbs.

It looks really fast. Now I just need to train harder to keep up with it.

PezCycling did a review of the Vitesse 300SE

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sublimity Road Race

Pissed, disappointed, trashed, confidence, impressed, surprised. A bunch of different thoughts to express this race for me.

Pissed - that I totally cramped up with only about 5 miles left. Didn't have any Hammer products so I really missed those eudrolytes. Oh well, live and learn.

Disappointed - I jumped on a two guy break on the first lap. Ivan and Sal -a couple of Finnagens guys I knew were strong based on a fellow team-mates scouting report. I didn't know the course so I backed off halfway up the steep hill - didn't realize that it ended in 500m and a long downhill after that. That was the winning break. Probably a good choice - first lap and I probably don't have the legs to hang with those guys just yet. I was bummed when another team-mate flatted at lap 1.5 - he was busting them up at the front!!!

Trashed - Wow, that was a tough course. AC intervals on rollers are more fun than on a trainer. 25% of my race was in zone 6 - ouch. I felt good on those hills (probably another reason my legs ceased up at the end).

Confidence - I'm slowly building some confidence in this group. These guys are much more experienced than I am, so I'm happy when they aren't pissed at me for screwing up a line - so far so good. Legs felt pretty good in the hills until the end - I'm pretty sure that was due to not enough calories during the race.

Impressed - Ty had the strongest pull of the day by the entire group on lap 3. Jeff, another team-mate, is way strong - awesome 3rd place result for his first race in quite 9 years (I'm guessing he has alot of race experience in those legs). 2nd race with a breakaway on lap 1 that sticks the entire race - these guys know how to sustain a break. Way cool to see my buddy Evan (Capitol Subaru) with a huge gap on the 1/2 field as we road back - guess he did that for a few laps.

Surprised - I felt like I was DFL when I crossed the line all by myself - my legs were devastated. Just got to remember..... when you're suffering so is everyone else so don't give up.

I believe the consensus of most people was that was one tough course. Take a peek at all the DNFs on the results - ouch!!!

Looking forward to BBWC (Banana Belt World Championships) in March. Let the fun continue.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cherry Pie Road Race

Cherry Pie is always the race to kick off the Oregon road racing season. Well, I decide to join a couple teammates in the Masters 40+ Open field since Portland Velo was well represented in category 4 . I was quite nervous about this decision after looking at some of the names pre-registered in this group. Basically, many of these guys were Cat 1-2 racers in their younger years. My plan to was to "hang in" and learn from the experience.

Dave was my only teammate in the race and he is a well experienced racer from California. During the rollout, Dave says "follow any break with ZTeam and Hutchs" since they had the biggest team representation. I don't think either of us expected a 2 man break on mile 2 would hold. But the "big dog" Karsten from Z team and a Hutchs guy were there. Perfect tatics since the 2 big seems just hung out on that first lap.

I just "hung out" the first lap towards the back. I was impressed with the "steady wheels" in this group. I didn't notice any close calls and folks were friendly. I got to get the scoop on the season of Velo TV from Sal as we chatted in the back. I climbed the hill just fine on the 1st lap and was feeling very good after lap 1. I noted that Dave was racing very smart in the front - 6 to 10 wheels back and not doing too much work.

Lap 2 I decided to get up front and "hang out" with Dave. It was relatively easy to move around this pack with only ~30 folks. Towards the front, I got "caught up" in cat/mouse games at the front. What the hell, it was fun. Dave and I were jumping on attacks, closing gaps, and did a couple attacks ourselves. The Z Team and Hutchs boys were chasing down every attack - perfect "decoy" tatics. So, we tried to get some other teams in breaks, but it wasn't happening.

My key error during the race was chasing down a 3 man break on the last lap with about 5 miles to go. I caught them and then "paid the price" as I slipped off the back with 4-5 other guys as the pack surged. Nice timing, Paul!!!!

That's when the AZ training kicked in and I organized a 3 man rotating paceline to catch the pack. 30 seconds pulls for a 10 minutes of threshold intervals. We did it. That was the victory of the day. Of course, I had nothing left for the hill, but I didn't care. I was able to "hang with" the pack until the finish.

Now I remember why I spend time on the trainer at 5am - thanks Cherry Pie. :-)

The local Corvallis newspaper did a story.... Sweet Ride
OBRA results posted at OBRA (at least I wasn't DFL).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mt Lemmon Video

Here's a video on the ride on Mount Lemmon.

I purchased the GoPro camera at Interbike last year. This was the first time I used the handlebar mount. Heidi mounted her camera on the helmet. She did a great job editing the video - that's wear all the work is done. She has a blog on WEND magazine which is totally worth checking out.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Cycling House - Day 5 - Madera Canyon

Earlier in the week there was talk about attending the weekly Saturday ride in Tucson called "The Shootout". This is a long standing ride were local cyclists and visiting pros "lay it down" in the early morning when the streets are empty. Our group wasn't even thinking about this ride after conquering Mt Lemmon yesterday.

We headed out to Madera Canyon. We took the shuttle to get on the south side of town and unloaded at a local gas station. We rolled out downhill straight into a strong headwind and stayed as group. We made a brief stop at the gelato shop before the climb.

We rolled out as a group and the climb started at a 1-2% grade. I threw out a "flyer" and held off a short solo break to get things rolling. I sat up and the chase group of 5 caught me and I jumped on the train. It was a worthy group and we did a rotating paceline for a few miles before I decided to save some for the rest of the climb. We made a big gap on the rest of the group.

I stopped at the van to top off the water bottles and watched 4-5 people catch up and pass on by. Owen was taking photos and got a couple that will definitely be on computer desktop for awhile. "Looks like I got some work to do to catch up", I said. Owen gave me the thumbs up to get it done. I held a sub threshold pace for 3-4 miles to catch them. I knew I had to do it before it got steep.

The road started to head up after I caught them. It was a "solo" hill for all of us. We all had 5 days of long rides in our legs and the road started to pitch up 10-15%. Everyone has their own method of keeping the cranks turning over on that type of climb. As I turned one corner I saw a fellow lounging on the deck of a bed and breakfast enjoying the sun. I was thinking, "that's what I really should be doing". However, the road kept climbing up.

I thought I was going to fall over at one point as the road got to it's steepest point. I made it around the next corner and saw Owen waving with the camera in hand. YES, the finish was in sight and that gave me the strength to stand on the pedals and finish it off for a few good photos.

We all gathered at the top - totally exhausted and so glad that was over. We refilled the bottles and put on the arm warmers for the decent down the hill. We all decided to end the ride at the gelato shop. The last stretch of the week. That meant..... GAME ON again.

The quick decenders headed down the hill and topped speeds at 53mph. I hit about 46mph in the steep section. I caught up to a couple guys when things started to flatten out at the 2-3% grade. One of the Cycling House boys blew by us after a few minutes. I knew that was the wheel I needed to catch. I jumped and punched those pedals to grab his wheel. I hung on and enjoyed the wind break for awhile as I catched my breath. We then started trading quick 30-60 second pulls. The power meter went from 340W at the front down to 100W when in the slipstream. We were making progress on the 2 guys ahead of us and we tried our best to catch them before the gelato shop. We didn't get them but it was a great effort to end the day. It was good to hear they were burying themselves to try to catch the group ahead of them.

Fantastic week of riding. No doubt the most hard miles I've done in a week. Should be an excellent base for the rest of the season.

Totals for the week.....
Elevation: ~21,000 feet
Ride Time: 15.5 hours
Distance: 260 miles

Friday, February 06, 2009

Cycling House - Day 4 - Squeeze the Lemmon

Yesterday was a well needed "rest day" in preparation for today. We rode 2 hours and took a nice endurance pace ride in the sun. Fanastic accomplishment since typically someone throws down a couple attacks during a group recovery ride. However, we all knew the next day was a big climb, so we took it mellow. Dinner was red meat and red wine followed by a kick ass mountain bike video - The Collective. A very "pro" recovery day.

Today's goal was Mt Lemmon. The "crown jewel" of long climbs in the Tucson area. Needless to say, it didn't dissappoint. Starting in the desert at ~2500' covered with cactus and climbing 21 miles at 4-5% to an alpine forest even with some snow at ~8100'.

We rode about 10 miles out to the base of the mountain. And that's where I threw out the book on good hill climb strategy of "don't start out to hot and build up". I hadn't completed a good 20 minute threshold test in over a month and I was feeling good, so what the hell. What an AWESOME location to do a hard interval. I knocked out a personal best (303 W), so I was happy with that.

Well, of course I was alittle concerned about "blowing out" to early. I was drinking my liquids and sucking down my "fuel" and it never happen. I was really happy with that.

The temperature dropped considerably after the Windy Point visitor center. Damn, it was getting cold. Kept on pedaling and saw the boys hanging out at the support van at the top. A welcome sight since the van had all the warm weather gear for the ride down.

I turned on the camera mounted to the handlebars (link to video coming later) and we sped down the hill. Totally awesome descent.

An EPIC ride here in the valley of the sun. I can really get used to this!!!!!

Ride Time: ~4.5 hours

Distance: 63 miles

Elevation Gain: 6786 feet

Saturday is another day with a good climb...... Madera Canyon

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Cycling House - Day 2 - Gates Pass

Yesterday after the ride of course my legs felt like rocks. Good thing we had a fanastic dinner to help the recovery process. We also had a living room discussion about nutrition on the bike. This was led by Russell Cree of Upper Echelon Fitness. Cycling House has Hammer Nutrition as a sponsor and have the products we can try out. The key tip I learned was to separate your fuels: hydration, electrolytes, and calories. The cool thing was being able to put the learning into action the next day during the ride. I thought it worked well.

Today we headed to the east side of town for a ride on Gates Pass. Tucson streets are a big grid with strip mall after strip mall. So, luckily we loaded the van to cross that mess.

We started the ride as a group and then the road headed up to Gates Pass. That's when the hammer was thrown - hell with the warm up. BigRing Ben lead the charge up to the top and finished very strong. I had to taper off with about a 1/4 mile to go and the top in sight since my voice of reason said "Zone 6 this early in the ride might not be a good idea". We descended a killer decent - one of those you wished was alot longer.

We did some loops on the other side that included alot of rollers. The decents were fast and we "spun out" the chain as we reached 40mph+.

At one point we did an out and back road on some rough pavement. We looked down at our power meters and said "wow, 25mph and only 60W". We all knew the ride back was going to be bruttal with numbers like that when the tailwind became a headwind. It was time for a SST (sweet spot training) ride back in the wind and up the road.

We stopped for water and got back on the bikes to head back on the steep side of Gates Pass. I was feeling alittle weary all the sudden, so I grabbed that "fueling" bottle of Hammer Perpetuem and took a few long pulls. I was feeling much better at the base. Pull off a strong climb, but I just couldn't hold onto BigRing's wheel once again (must have been all that pulling at the front I was doing during the day).

Once again a fantastic day on the bike. Tomorrow is "planned" to be an easier ride since Friday and Saturday are the big climbing days.

Distance: 50 miles
Elevation Gain: 4100ft'
Ride Time: ~3 hours

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Cycling House - Day 1 - Saguaro Park

I arrived at the Cycling House in Tucson on Monday evening. Great 3000+ sqft house in NE Tucson area at the base of the mountains. Desert, coyotes, and ALOT of cactus. The trip started great with an awesome salmon dinner. We reassembled the bikes and got them ride ready.

Our hosts include a few national pro road and mountain bike racers. So, these guides are more than worthy and full of knowledge. I just hope to gleam a small amount of their "tricks of the trade" this week.

Tuesday started with a nice breakfast and we rolled out. We headed SE through town and out to Old Spanish Trail Road. We made a brief stop and started the climb for the day. It started out with an attack from a couple boys blowing out the cobwebs. 5 of us started a rotating paceline to catch them and we were making good progress.

Then, the wind started to blow. A headwind. A good 20-30mph at times. Our paceline broke up and Ty and I were exchanging pulls into the wind. I think we were holding our own very well since we kept pace with the boys up the road that included the legs of one of the national pros pulling the train. We turned the corner for another mile of climbing and the headwind turned into a nasty cross wind. Whoa, that breeze can blow you over when you have the 32mm wheels.

We regrouped and the top and had alittle re-fueling break and headed down the hill. I'm not sure if it was the smooth wind, the tail wind, smooth road, or a combination of them all - but we were smoking. I'm not sure if a 20 minute threshold pace going downhill was the best idea since we have 4 more days of riding, but DAMN it was fun.

We finished up with an 8 mile loop in the Saguaro National Park . Wow, what a beautiful ride. 1 way traffic with rollers and alot of prickly cactus on the side.

Elevation Gain: 3780
Ride Time: ~3.5 hours
Miles: ~60 miles
Personal Records: I'm sure everyone broke a couple today - must be the Vitamin D overload!

Created with flickr slideshow.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Rest Week Complete - Back to Work

I finished my 1st 4 week block of this "training plan" with a rest week. My first time trying a plan, and so far so good (I think). This 1st month has been focus on building a base. Mostly zone 2 rides and increased to some upper zone 3 (sweet spot) at the end of the 3 weeks. The workouts weren't really hard, but they were more consistent than I've done in the past. I was doing 7-8 hours on the bike each week. Much more time than last January.

One highlight of the month was a "break-through" for me on yesterday's team ride. I finally achieved a 4 digit number on my power-tap. Hit a peak of 1035W for a couple seconds. It wasn't even a real sprint - just "jumping up" to catch a guy off the front. I only hit ~875 last year at the peak on summer racing. It's not a big number for sprinter folks, but for me it was a step in the right direction. That strength class must be paying off.

I can start to see the benefits of rest/recovery. I definitely feel good on the Saturday ride after a mellow day on Friday after a week of workouts. I came across an article on Training Peaks that talks about form, fitness, and freshness. The first couple paragraphs get across the point and the rest is details about a charting function in their software.

February brings on the 2nd month of the plan. I'm tossing in a good Monkey wrench by heading to Tucson for a week long training camp at the Cycling House. So, I'll get in a week of major base miles. Looking forward to the good weather, long climbs, and hanging out with cycling friends and crew. The rest of the month starts to incorporate some shorter threshold (zone 4) intervals and mostly longer (2x20 minute) sub-threshold intervals. Looking ahead to March, this is all in preparation for the hard work in March and April (20 min threshold).

Sounds like the VeloVie bike was delayed due to painting and Chinese New Year. Hope to see it in the next couple weeks.

Friday, January 23, 2009

VeloVie Review

The road bike I have on order finally got an official review. Looks pretty good. I especially like these couple of quotes......

"The 300 SE is basically what happens when you take the already buff Vitesse 300 and make it wash down a couple Viagra with a can of Redbull."

"But it’s definitely in the category of the type of bike best suited to merciless attacking and inflicting pain on one’s friends. "

Here's the link...... VeloVie300SE

Should arrive here in early February. Looking forward to it.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Welcome 2009.....

I'm pumped for 2009. Like many people, I'm pretty happy to get 2008 done and over with. However, 2008 was pretty good for me in the cycling arena. So, a couple thoughts to cap off the year....

It was my first year road racing. I joined the road race team of Portland Velo and did a variety of races for the experience and training. I was fortunate to stay upright in all my road races - now that's an accomplishment in itself. I won a couple "hot spot" laps during the year on breakaways - one at Sunset Crit and one at PIR. My main goal was to use it to increase my fitness for cross......

Well, the cross season in 2008 was a major improvement from 2007. I raced the same category as last year - Masters C+. My results were much improved, so the road racing plan worked. A highlight was my first ever bike race victory at Krugers Farm Crit #1. That was really awesome to see my name at the top of the results list. I was in the top ten for the other 2 races in that series and got a 2nd place medal.

I was happy with my results in the Cross Crusade series in 2008. In 2007 I was placing 40-60th place out of ~130 riders in my race. In 2008, I placed 11th overall in the series for my category. The highlight was the Astoria Halloween weekend - two races and I place 5th and 6th place.

So, here we are in 2009 - the year of "change" and "yes we can". The PV team has partnered up with a local coaching service, Upper Echelon Fitness. I have no plans to hire a coach full-time, but we have monthly meetings with them to discuss topics. I plan to meet with the coach every 3 months to review my plan for 2009. Having a plan is my big change for 2009. A training plan that is consistent and with training blocks to "peak" for some key races. Talking to the coach just having a plan should help my results a bunch.

Goals for 2009.....

1) Number one goal.... have fun and be safe.
2) Develop and stick with a training plan to measure some results.
3) Training camp in Tucson Arizona - Cycling House. This will be a great way to get in some base miles and get a break from the Oregon winter weather.
4) Willamette Stage Race will be an "A" race for me. Not really to win, but to finish well. It will be my first stage race.
5) B races will be some crits and Mt Tabor throughout the road season. My training time and my interests direct me to the 1 hour races - similar to cross.
6) "A" cross race is Krugers Farm Crit Series. I debated over this series and Cross Crusade and decided on Krugers. It's a fun series, it suits my style, there's about 100 less people in a field, and they have cool medals. I plan to race Masters B+ during cross season.
7) Power goals (us engineers love numbers in our goals).....

5 sec: 1050W (got to break 4 digits on my power meter - really not my thing)
1 min: 540 W (biggest area of improvement, so I don't get dropped like a bag of rocks)
5 min: 400 W
20 min: 310 W (I was 290 peak in 2007, currently at about 285 now)

Here's to 2009. It should be a great "ride". Especially on my new VeloVie that shows up in the next few weeks (I'll post a photo when I have it ready - more sweet wheels and paint job).