Saturday, October 25, 2008

SS Cyclocross On The Cheap

It seems to me that the easiest way to quickly add the SS CX race is to just simply lock out the rear derailleur to the cog you want. Shey Linder has a nice video on how to do this and all it takes on a Shimano rear derailleur is an additional shift cable that you can cut and re-use each week. In the video an additional barrel adjuster is needed because of the derailleur choice--that is not needed for a road Shimano derailleur.

The basic idea is to take the front and rear cables off the bike and center the chain over the cassette cog you want to use. Then re string the new shift cable through the barrel adjuster so that the cable stop hits the end of the adjuster and the free cable end goes through the lock nut. Now you can tighten it up and use the barrel adjuster to get your chain line correct. It takes (in theory) about 5 minutes. If you really want to get it set up specifically, you can dedicate a wheel with your cog and use spacers to mimic the cassette position.

In terms of gearing, I am going to only use the rings on my bike (46/39) and try to get a good combination with those. From what I have read, I think a 39x17 is a good one to experiment with. That is a 2.3:1 ratio and my next best choice would be a 46x21 (2.2:1 ratio). But, the advantage to using the 39 ring is that you can use the 46 as a chain deflector along with the plastic chain keeper on the inside.

Of course it will all depend on the course, but the advantage to using this system is...

1. You have a nice selection of gears and you don't have to spend a lot of money.
2. It is quick.
3. You are using your regular cross bike so you are comfortable on it.


1. You are using a full cassette (weight). But, no more weight than a normal CX bike.
2. You have to re-string your cables each week to get back to geared. But, if you mark them with a sharpie, it should take just a few minutes.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

These past two weeks have been about recovering from Gloucester and then building up some training stress. It has been hard with the day getting shorter but I did a long 3 hour ride last Sunday which helped and have managed to get in my intervals as well. Tuesday I did 6 sprints and then 45 minutes of tempo. Yesterday was cross practice which was basically 30 minutes around VO2 max and today was 45 minutes of threshold. Tomorrow I'll do 45 minutes more tempo, Saturday I will "open up" with 5 minutes threshold, 2x2 minutes VO2 max and 3 sprints. Sunday we will do a 45 minute race simulation but I will try to get in 2 hours of riding including that.

My CTL is pretty good right now but down about 11 tss/d since the single-speed championships. I am planning to try the single-speed CX division next race as well as the masters. I think I'll either go with a 39x17 or a 46x19 for the gearing. Ideally I'd like to space out a rear wheel for that race so all I have to do is lock out the rear derallieur and go. For now I guess I'll just keep the cassette all together.

I ordered 2 new Challenge Grifos and hope to have them glued by Conyers. I am really enjoying gluing tires and getting them to run right. I was scared to do it for awhile but now it seems easier.

Here are soome late pictures from Gloucester...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Gloucester 2008

First off, big thanks to my HUP United teammates who treated me like an elite racer on my trip. They were wonderful hosts and my experience in the races were overshadowed by their generosity.

Gloucester is a big stage and even though the weather was unseasonally warm (60's/70's during the day) and the course was fast and dry, the racing was intense. My experience began on a good footing Friday when Delta did not charge me for my bike and then put me into first class. Pierre Vanden Borre picked me up at the airport and we hung out in his studio in the South end(?) neighborhood of Boston as I rebuilt my bike.

The next day after a pastry stop, we headed up to Glooucester. The town is very scenic and beautiful, projecting out into Gloucester bay, full of sail boats and the occasional bouy call. The venue was right on the water and the parking lot was packed. The course started at the bottom of a paved hill and then went into a primarily grassy course with segments of crushed gravel, sand and the 2 barrier run-up. The sand pit gave me fits as I watched others ride it. They began roto-tilling it between races.

Our race staged at 1pm and we had over 100 racers. there were about 18 call-ups which sucked because it meant I would start even further back. Yasushi and Pierre told me about a hole that opens up on the right going up the hill that takes a little longer to get to but puts you in a great position once the road ends. At the gun I must have made up 15 spots here alone. There were a lot of knuckleheads on the first lap. Once you left the pavement it was dirt and this caused a lot of dust which caused the knuckleheads going to fast to crash. I think there were 3 crashes in the first 3rd of the course but I stayed out of the way. As the laps went on I felt very good and began picking folks off. My goal was the top 20 and I tried to hammer it up that paved hill every lap. I was outsprinted ot the line by another guy but was happy with 18th. I think everyone was actually given a placing because one rider was DQ'd for unsportsmanlike sprinting.

We hung around and watched the PRO race and it was impressive. Jesse Anthony was racing on a broken wrist and it did not seem to stop him much. Tim Johnson and Ryan Trebon eventually got separation and then Trebon lowered the boom to win the race.

I stayed with Yashsuhi and his girlfriend Meg in Cambridge right near the Harvard campus and square. It is a wonderful area and they were great hosts. I ventured out to Harvard Square to look around and eat and it reminded me of Georgetown in DC. The next day he dropped me off at Scott Rosenthal's place in Jamacia Plain. He and his wife Hillary had a very nice 1900's house and we stashed the stuff and went up to the race.

Race two had an additional obstacle which was a new run-up mowed into a hill directly up from the harbor. It was steep and loose dirt but nothing out of the ordinary from our races in the SE. During the race I employed the same tactics to move up but it seemed that after getting to 16th the fitness of the riders were better so i swapped back and forth with a few racers until the last lap. Near the beer garden on a dirt hill I dropped my chain and lost around 10 seconds. Four racers passed me and I was able to catch up to 3 of them on the hill to the finish. The sprint was a 18 second duration and they had better finishing speed than me. Taking 21st was not too bad though and with all of the call-ups I was pretty happy.

The next day Scott and I took an easy conversational ride through Jamacia Plain, Brookline, New ton and over near Boston College. We stopped for pastry and coffee on the way back and then I had to break down the bike and head home.

What a great trip and I was first class on the way home too. If I can somehow swing it, I would love to go back next year. It was also great to meet 20 or so teammates at the race and they were all very nice guys.

Now I have a 2 week hiatus until Conyers and I am pumped for that.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Gloucester Course Description

From the race bible...

This is one of the biggest, oldest CX races in the country by far and one that if you had a wish list it should be on it.

Besides the 125 field limit, here is the course description and picture...
The course is approximately 3k in length with a goal of 7 minute lap times. Some areas of the course will change from Saturday to Sunday.

The course is the classic Gloucester course. Going in a clockwise direction when viewed from the air, the Start/Finish is on pavement slightly uphill for approximately 300 meters, turns into hard packed dirt and goes in a northerly direction. Continuing north, the course turns slightly right onto hard-packed dirt and grass. After a windy grass section, the course turns on to the Lucy B Davis Pathway.

This is straight hard packed dirt and runs south along the coast.After a grass section with several turns and a slight downhill, the course's sole barriers sit in the middle of an 'S' turn. The approach to the barriers is such that bunny hopping is difficult. Directly after the hurdles, riders first encounter the equipment pit. After the pit, a sharp right turn brings riders into the grassy outfield of the ball park which is slightly off-camber. A ride slightly uphill onto rough grass then swoops down into the picnic table area and then turns right onto a pathway and then a fast dirt road descent to a loop on the grassy southern part of the park.

Riders then encounter the sand pit where they traverse its full length, make a 180 turn back into the sandpit. after a short loop on grass, riders are lucky enough to encounter the sand pit a third and finaltime. Finally, riders encounter off-camber rough grass, a chicane, and a ride down the first base line where they are dumped back onto the main road for the finish.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

4 Crashes and 1 Flat

This has not been my week. Hit by a car on Friday, rolled a tubular in warm up today and then in the race crashed 4 times in corners and then rolled the other tubular and eventually it flatted. I suppose I finished last.

On the bright side, all the crashes were on grass and I felt pretty strong in the race. I also was in 2nd or 3rd position on every crash and managed to battle back each time except the last. I had caught Brady Rogers who was in 2nd, only to have my last crash and then the flat.

Hopefully I can glue up my new tires before leaving Friday!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Opening Up

The day before a race is the best time to get your legs ready for the following day's race. Just giving the legs a taste is all that is needed. I like to do a 1 hour workout with a 15 warm up and 15 cool down, 2 sprints at 15 seconds, 1 block of 5 minutes at threshold power, and 2x2(3) minute VO2 max efforts. This opens up all the systems and is just enough to leave the legs feeling fresh.

Last year and this year I am training through all the GA cross races to get to nationals. I have found that how you feel on your opening up day is not indicative to how you will do the next day. I have had some pretty terrible feeling opening up days, only to do well in the race.

I do my opening up on Peachtree Road (gasp) between Dresden and Ashford Dunwoody. It is a long straight section and I can do the 2 and 5 minute intervals there no problem. My sprints are done on N. Peachtree just beyond the Gypsum factory.

Today I was able to average 884w and 945w for the 2 sprints and max out at around 1274w. The threshold was a nice 293w average (ftp around 310w) and the VO2 max efforts were around 333w which is low in the zone.

Here is a screen capture of the intervals...