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.