Sunday, November 27, 2005

Covington CX Race--Second Best
Shey and Adam added a number of features to the course this year that made it more difficult.

  • First there was a set of 3 steps added to where a barrier section was last year. This "natural" barrier was in place before the race and did not negate the UCI rule of 1 artificial barrier section per race. It was at the end of an uphill grassy track so you got very little momentum riding into it.
  • Second, since the lake was down, they added a short (10ft) sand section that was rideable, but it was the loss of momentum through the sand and the immediate hill after that was hard.
  • Third, they added a number of new twist and turns on the grass.
This was a "power" course, meaning lots of grass and no place to recover.

I was wondering who would be primed after Hendersonville and who would be tired, and how my break week would affect me.

At the start there were 5 of us together until the stair section and then it was Perry, Dave W., Dub and myself. Theron had a bit of trouble with his cleat after the stair or else he would have been there too. As we got to the sand some decided to run and other to ride the sand. I rode and soon it was Perry and I with about 10 seconds gap. This turned into 30 seconds by lap 2, meanwhile my eyees were popping trying to stay on Perry's wheel. I was able to do Ok until we got to the hill section which has always given me fits. Last year this was where Tony Scott attacked and won the race. This year Perry accelerated each lap here and by lap 3 he dropped me. He was simply too strong for me to hold on to. I guess he figured that it made no sense for me to hang around since I have beaten him in sprints before, so his accelerations were to get rid of me.

He was coming back to me and only had about 8 seconds lead when I slipped on a root and had to put my foot down. This cost me time and I never recovered. I was able to hold on to the gap and take second.

Each time through the field leading up to the stairs I hit the same damn hole. By the third time I had grass poking out of my rim where the tires *should* be glued. My options were to pit and lose time or throw caution to the wind and keep riding. I never pitted but each time I hit that hole the tire would slide and I would wait to go down. I will have to reglue the tire this week.

Out of the usual suspects that have been battling all season, I give Perry the edge next week for the State jersey. I feel like I could contest this if I have a repeat of my success there last year. That being said, if the unusual suspects make an appearance, it should be a slugfest for awhile at least.

I would love to have the GA State jersey but everything has to go right for me on Saturday in order to get it.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Marietta CX Race--A Nice Comeback Win

The Marietta course is a very familiar one to those that practice there every Wednesday. It has a lot of grass, one big rideable climb, and a nice steep dirt run up. I thought that the run up would decide the race, and it did end up being a huge factor.

A new wrinkle was a very difficult ditch that at first I thhought was not rideable until I saw others doing and it. I had to scoot over there 10 minutes before the race and try it at least once so I did not face plant. It was hard to do at speed but I learned quickly.

This was a great race because finally we had 5 guys going at it mister. Instead of Perry riding away, we now had to use some tactics and that is when racing is fun. Perry, Dub, Dave W., Brad, and myself made the break and soon were alone for the rest of the race. Dub lost some ground toward the middle and never made contact again. But, he led out the race really fast and put us all in difficulty. There was a hammering on the paved section to be at the ditch first and it was there that Perry and others had to run it. Ahh, that could be handy later.

The second acceleration was to be first to the run up. We were all together for the first 3-4 laps but there was still a jockeying each lap to be first. Dave W. had the great idea of getting up there first, hopping the log that came right after the run up and then powering away from the group. We were able to catch up with him each lap but on the last lap I knew i had to be right with him there.

The race began on pavement and it was fast. Dub started out very fast and I was just hanging on for the forst 3 laps and Perry on the front was accelerating through each grassy section. We were conservative on the hill early on. On the 3rd lap I lost my chain on the run up. I lost 20 seconds and had to get back to the group if I had any chance. I gave it everything for about 5 minutes and was surprised to see my heart rate close to 95% for the interval. I was able to catch the group of 3 and with a few laps left we started some tactics.

My chances were good in a sprint if I could hang on. The first few laps back in the group were hard and I was gapped slightly a few times. on the last lap I was gaining confidence because I thought I might be the best sprinter. As we got to the uphill pave section there was an acceleration by Dave W. to be first to the run up. Perry followed and I was able to squeak by Brad to ne next. On the run up I passed Perry and was second to Dave and we both accelerated after the log and rode away. We had about 15 seconds down the pathe to the large grassy field and the finish. Dave really gunned it and I followd him onto the field. perry was slowly making his way back and I went with about 15 seconds to go and took the sprint easily.
Sprinting past Dave for the win!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Augusta CX Race--Exerting Less Than Atmospheric Pressure

I was not going to go to Augusta because of the distance and it is still debatable whether Jill said "Go if you want to.", or whether that is what I heard. I hate travelling and staying in hotels by myself ever since I was a consultant. I never know what to do with myself and I feel very uncomfortable. Secondly, I am not the biggest fan of Augusta. I have had some pretty bad working days there and this clouds my impression fo what is probably a very nice place.

Ross created a very nice course at Augusta State College and it should have been one I would do well on-pretty flat, lots of short groomed grass and one nice steep climb. I hate excuses so I basically had nothing at all in my legs and it could have been just as much mental as physical.

Reasons (not excuses):

1. I locked my damn keys in the car. I was excited to start my warm up laps and I took two, came back and my hatch was down and the keys inside. Idiot!
2. I had the wrong wheels on my bike for the course. there was no way up that hill on my slick tires.
3. I had a long sleeved jersey and it had warmed up tremendously.
4. I started out way too fast for some reason trying to be first after the start. Dumb.

Midway through the race after losing the leader's wheel and being passed by the 2nd and 3rd placed riders, I basically gave up mentally. I did not want to be there and now the trip was suddenly not as meaningful. This was really stupid thinking but someimtes you know that it is stupid but you keep doing it anyway. One by one riders passed me by and I just noodled along. Eventually I salvaged 10th place but I left the evnue pretty quickly.

Theresa Thom was intrumental in getting my car open after calling AAA for me. Campus security was not able to open it, but they did try. I did set a land speed record getting home though. I think the Falcons even lost that day (I'm a fan).

No offense Ross, but I severely dislike Augusta and do not wish to go back anytime soon.

Indian Shoals CX Race--First Win of the Year

This was a new venue for 2005 and it was great. I never would have thought that would be distracted by 2 other bike race/events in Butts County of all places on my way to the race. The race venue was another lakeside experience (4 venues this year are), and the big news was the dreaded uphill dam levee climb. I looked at this climb in Google earth and on my Topo mapping program, but I could not get a very good idea of the steepness until I got there.

However, in the end it was the dam that was the decisive launch pad for the win.

We started on grass instead of pavement and this is pretty rare. The start seemed slower than normal except for Todd Mills who decided to launch himself into oblivion at the start. Perry likes to ride in front and this was evident as he took the lead immediately. I decided that the only way to insure a good placing was to hang on to him for as long as possible. I do not like to wheel suck but as i'll explain, he gave me no choice.

The course had a single ridge that we would climb 3 times in different places. All of the climbs were steep, small ring climbs, but the entrance to each climb came after a quick turn and most had loose soil or gravel so you had to be careful not to make a mistake. Most of the race i kept telling my self that I would surely get dropped on the next climb. Perry weighs like 20 pounds and Ii am overweight and stocky! However, the short steep climbs are usually nice to me (except for the Muur de Grammont!) and I was able to hang with him. Funny, but each time we came off of the dam and went past the finish I had a hard time keeping Perry's wheel and it was flat there. Go figure.

I tried to exchange laps with him since we were all alone, but he insisted on being in front. Fine. It was to my advantage to have him there if I could hang on until the last lap. I assumed I was the better sprinter. Each time up the dam we would go slow and at the top we would be side by side and I would try to accelerate on the levee top and get a gap. Perry closed these with no problem. Since the finish came after a technical grassy downhill section, I wanted to be off the levee first.

On the last lap he tried a few times to ride me off of his wheel and my eyes were popping trying to stay with him. I was trying not to make any mistakes (since they have cost me 2 wins in the past) and Perry was not helping by forcing me to make oxygen deprived decisions.

Going up the dam the last time we were side by side just plodding, tired and slow. Near the top I figured now was the time to run if I could and I was first to the top by a step or two. I had already prepared by putting my bike in the big ring (46T) and went for the end of the levee hard. I was clear of him by a few seconds and I was able to navigate the technical downhill without incident. Making the 180 back to the finish, it was full sprint and the win.

I would have never picked this course for a win and in fact my warm up sucked and I thought I would be well down in the standings by the end.

It was nice calling home and letting Jill know that I had won and it made the trip somewhat worth being away from Charlotte for a few hours.

Macon CX Race

The Macon course is one of my favorites and in my opinion would be the best candidate for a UCI race. When I think of Macon I think of flat, but the course has a nice steep hill, a result of when they built the lake.

The course starts out on pavement long and straight until you reach the end and veer off into the grass right into a slightly downhill barrier dismount. I was not a fan of this dismount because I thought it invited injury, but the elite guys loved it because they could catch major air over the boards. This section melded into a long(!) gravel pave section which was mainly downhill and had a nice 180 turn that caused many crashes. The GTC pave rides made this child's play. once around this corner you went uphill on the gravel to a field with short grass. This part of the course was serpentine and really slowed you down. Emerging from this was another 180 on grass downhill to the trickiest part of the course: the sandy beach.

I knew that to win the race you would have to be clear of the sand in the first 2-3 people. The sand was not rideable for me and to dismount before risked certain death since it was downhill and abrupt. I made it through each lap and the remount out of the sand had to be planned for by having your bike set up in the small ring so you could ride out. This was the key.

After this section was another twisty grass section and then the very cool steep grassy run/ride up. This was about 10-12% grade but I was able to ride it each lap. Since everyone would have a tough time here, I did not think it would be too decisive. The finish was after this hill on pavement.

The Race

We started out fast to get to the barriers. I was about 5th position until we hit the gravel road. I knew by now that Perry liked to ride alone and would try to make a gap stick. He and I were able to get a gap on the others and I was able to ride with him for 3 laps until he rode me off of his wheel. I was never able to bridge the gap but he did flat and lost time in front of me. In the end he only beat me by about 15 seconds. I was surprised that no one else made the break with us. I was able to put time into the chase and again finished second. I felt stronger as the race progressed which I saw as a good sign. I felt pretty worked over at the end and the course (and Perry) made it a lot harder than in years past.

The way to put time into people in CX is to figure out where they will be recovering and ride hard through those sections. In road racing, you can sit in the group and rest. In CX this is normally impossible, especially if you are chasing. So you have to make it a race of inches and unlost time. Never rest-always push!

Fort Yargo CX Race

Our club (GTC) hosted the first cyclocross race of the Georgia Cyclocross Series. It was the first time the venue was going to be used, and the first race hosted by the club. The course was very well planned and included all of the requirements for a good course: pavement, dirt, sand and barriers.

The course started on pavement that started off with a slight uphill grade and then a sharp left led you downhill. The paved section gace way to a wide dirt path that was very bumpy and rattled you after being on the smooth pavement. This part of the course was made through a park campground and was not smooth but did include some grass. At the end of this section you turned 90 degrees left onto pavement and then made a 180 degree right after about 200 yards. This was tricky because the turn was off camber and loose. This section twisted in an "s" fashion and eventually led to another paved section (up the previous downhill) and then a right into a wooded area, another right around a mini golf course, apst the pits and the dismount through the sand playground, then a gravel road to another 90 degree loose turn, the double barrier dismount and then back to the starting area.

It was a long course and the hill was climbed 6 or 8 times in my race. Being the first race, you never know who will show up and how well they are prepared. Perry who was not a front runner last year, had trained through mountain biking to get ready for CX. He showed that it payed off by gaining 20 seconds and holding off everyone to the finish.

I was surprised on how well I felt since my training was minimal all summer and I had just finished a 3 week intense period of intervals and speed work. I was able to go after Perry after the gap was made, but could never catch him, instead riding in no man's land between him and the chase group. I ended up second, but I lost time every lap to a charging chase group and the long uphill section.

I was happy with second place and I was awarded a superb blown glass trophy! More so, I was surprised to have ridden so well and had a benchmark to work with. My club also did well by winning the masters 45+.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Training Methods for CX 2005

This year I had very little time to train for CX. Here are the adjustments I made:

1. Having a good base of fitness for the past few years, I would do as much easy base work as I could over the summer. Normally this would be long riding, but this year I could not take the time to drive out to good roads so I had to swim instead. I swam 2-3 days a week at a low HR and this helped with base and also burned a lot of fat (which I did not expect).

2. I would not run at all. I made this decision because I have had calf injuries the past 3 years and they have always occurred from running during the summer. This was a risk, but I just could not work running in with such low training time.

3. I could not do any intense group rides (normally Thursday) so I substituted a spinning class instead. I usually did my own thing in this class when the others were doing long climbs and such, but I was able to get some intensity. Thus was only 1 day for 4 weeks and on other days I did other intense intervals listed below.

4. Basically, I went into CX this year with no expectations-different from years past. I had no idea how I would do, but I wanted to be injury free and have fun.

As the summer progressed, every workout was dedicated to some concrete skill or purpose. Mondays and Friday's I usually swam, and I chose 2-3 days to ride under various circumstances.

My main concerns were building up my sprint efforts (because CX has many changes of pace) and building up my time trial efforts (since I had not been up there since May). I had to do this slowly so I started out with 2x15sec sprints and 5 minutes of Middle (TT pace) worked into my ride twice a week. The goal was to build up to 12 sprints and 45 minutes twice a week. The rest of the rides were focused on aerobic efforts and recovery.

Later in the summer (August) I began to do 1 CX practice a week. This was nauseating at first and the hard efforts left me feeling pretty weak.

In September I started my intense phase. This meant VO2 max efforts on Tuesdays where I did a countdown interval from 60, 55, 50, 45, 40, 35, and 30 seconds of all out misery-fast as I could. Puking was optional. I also did 5-10 sprint efforts for 15 seconds. Wednesday continued the Middle efforts either CX or on the road, and Friday I did the spinning class. Sunday mimicked Wednesday. I did this for 4 weeks.

One of the main problems I had in years past was peaking too early during the season. I did not think this would happen because I was not in as good aerobic shape as I was then. I also would have at least 1 week off because I was not going to the UCI race in NC.

Once racing started, I would limit my riding to Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday (easy), Saturday (opening up for Sunday) and the race on Sunday. Opening up consisted of 30 minutes tempo, 5 minutes at TT pace and 2 VO2 max efforts.

Only time would tell...