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.