Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ride Cluster Analysis and Matches

I was fooling around with some ride power cluster analysis and compared the "Dan's Macabre" Sunday ride which is usually fast and difficult for me to finish with the lead group. It covers some rolling terrain in Gwinnett/Barrow/Walton Counties.

In comparing the group ride with my own solo effort on the same course, the effects of the group ride are pretty obvious. My solo effort showed a lot of Low Force/Low Cadence (II) from me having to grind up hills. My power was above threshold a lot of the time and with the group we are going faster so I am clustering in the High Force/High Cadence (I) area as it is a bit harder to keep up and I have to turn big gears fast.

The other thing that is obvious is that I am spending much more time at higher power (>350w) in the group ride because it is a hard ride. My solo effort allows me to pace myself and not react to others driving the pace. My TSS for the group ride is around 220 and the solo was 200.

The second quadrant analysis is of a solo ride I do often from my house. It is a 55 mile ride from home to roswell and back. There are lots of hills and I am pretty bushed by the end. My TSS for this ride is around 191. I was surprised to see so much Low Force/Low Cadence power since I was solo and I was impressed by the amount of hill grinding I am doing over threshold in the High Force/Low Cadence quad. Basically I suck on hills.

The last neat graph shows a match burn graph plotting my 30 sec rolling average power versus time and elevating my power values to the 4th power to accentuate my efforts. It is pretty clear that this is a hard ride for me and that I burn a lot of matches on this one. My maximum aerobic power (MAP) is around 380w (2.0 on the graph) so it is easy to tell my matches.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

GCS #1: East Macon

What a great day outside and a great race. I raced the 40+ Expert (Cat 1) race on the single-speed and the field was stacked with very good racers. Shane and I were the only two SS guys in an otherwise geared field and today the 34x17 was a magic gear.

I was gapped at the start through the awesome bmx track and had to fight back up. I was a little concerned about 5 laps (30.5 miles) in the expert class but went for it the whole race. My first lap was ok and I got caught up behind some gearies on the small but very steep, rooty and twisty climb near the start. I was able to pass some and had a nice crash passing someone. At laps end I had no idea where I was in the standings but I felt very good so I kept putting it on. Shane had about 3 minutes on me at this point.

The second lap was a lot like the first and I was able to pick off more guys and move up. I have to say that today most of the 20+ experts would not yield properly so I could pass. I have a bad rep for coming up on people and not warning them but today I gave a lot of warnings and twice I hit the ground because guys would not move an inch. I don't want guys pulling over, just move over a bit.

The third lap was my best and I put on full gas because Jeff Clayton (SS state champ on a geared bike) was about 30 seconds behind and closing. The course was 1/3 flat, 1/3 twisty/sandy, and 1/3 climbing and the last third each lap I was able to put a little time on him. I was so focused on him that I did not know that the guy in front of me about 10 seconds off was in 3rd place. Doh!

The fourth lap I began to hurt. Legs were getting tight but I was able to climb well and at the start of the fifth lap I had maybe a minute on Jeff. The fifth lap I began to really get tight and had to just hold on. The climbs were now very hard and the flat stuff I was railing an hour ago I was creeping on now. The flat stuff between climbs was irritating and I wanted the climbs to start. As we got to the sandbox and infield Jeff was in sight but I had to keep on some pressure to hold him off and I think I did by about 20 seconds.

I predicted Shane would win and he did. I asked him how hard it was and he said that it wasn't. Thirty miles to him is just a warm up considering the ultra stuff he does. I am very happy for him to win on the SS in a very tough greared expert class. Hats off.

I came in 4th and I doubt I would have caught the guy in front for 3rd. I am very happy as I type and drink my Orval.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

GTC Training Camp

A nice 4 days of mellow group rides starting April 4.

April 4th - Ronde van de Appalachee - 77km The GTC version of the Ronde with bergs and sprints.

April 5th - Flat Ride 3 - 93km at 10:00am-- Flatter than Keira Knightley.

April 6th - Oconee Forest 115km- at 10:00am --Pretty long ride with few store stops.

April 7th - Bethlehem - Good Hope = 88km at 10:00am --Pretty flat ride with the option to go long to Madison or pick up some worms in Good Hope and go fishing.

Should be a fun time.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Guess I'm Just Getting Old, or Just a Pussy

I love mountain bike cross-country racing. A nice 20-30 mile race is all I need. But, the trend these past years is about making incredibly long and difficult courses to see who can nad-up and finish them, and yes, someone will win.

The list is long, Dirt, Sweat and gears, SSUSA, Cohutta 100, Mt. Mitchell MTB, Fool's Gold, etc. These are ultra-hard endurance races and they must be popular because people sign up and do them, tell tales, drink beer. There are also the 6 and 12 hour races. As if less distance/time is for pussies.

I long for the days when XC races were simple events ridden over mountains in digestible distances that did not lean toward the adrenaline junkie ultra crowd who pushes it to see when and where their body will fail, just so they can spin yarns over cool beer later.

Give me nice XC races and I am happy. Also, while you are at it, throw in some short track as well.

Personally, I have no desire to race past 3 hours on a bike. After that it feels like work, and work sucks unless I am getting paid, and even then it sucks a lot too.

I guess I am a pussy.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Riding in the Rain

Today I rode from my house to upper Roswell for 3 hours in the rain. I used my fenders (SKS Race Blades) and they were fantastic. I also tried a cross trick and used latex gloves under my light, full-fingered gloves and this worked ok for cross but on a long rainy road ride they got too wet from sweat.

The temperature was in the 40's and pretty much no wind. The route is rolling with some nice steep climbs. I like the route and this summer I can easily add 10-20 miles and make it a nice 4 hour ride.

I was pretty much the only idiot out there but I did manage to scare off a family of deer as I illegally rode through Island Ford National Park. I saw a 4 pointer and some does.

My Performance jacket bought for me as a present back in 1990 still works perfectly 19 years later, as do my Performance booties.

Anyway, here is the route...

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Snake TT #3

The finale of the 2009 Snake Gap TT was really fun. The weather could not have been better and I tried to hyper-hydrate a day before and eat right and it payed off. I was pretty groggy on the bus ride to the start and thought I might fall asleep. After lining up with a hand full of guys from Dedicated Athlete I was hoping to maybe keep up with Shane Schreihart because he was looking for breaking the time record. He was running a 34x19 and I had a 34x20 and after the start be blasted off and I new he would have a great ride. I did not keep up and as I saw him go out of sight I settled into my own rhythm.

This time the first 17 miles were a shock to the system for about 20 minutes and after I fell over, I seemed to recover and began riding stronger. The hardest part of the first 17 miles for me are the sustained climbs. Throw in the small baby-head rocks and roots and it is a chellenge. I tried to bomb down the forest road decent to make time and the gravel surface made me use my brakes more than I wanted. The flattish wooded section that followed went quickly and the next uphill climb, smoothly.

When I got to the sag for the second 17 I felt a lot better than last time. Last time I actually pulled out my phone to call it a day but this time I was more than ready for the last part. I had made it there in 1:30 compared to 1:46 last time. My PR for the last 17 miles was 2:00 so I really wanted to make a 3:30 for the whole race.

Bascially the last 17 miles is a tough uphill climb with roots and a couple of steep switchbacks. Here I got bogged down behind some geared riders who were doing their best but I could not pass them there. Eventually I got by and tried once again to make up ground on the decent. Midway through there is a forest road that is a long gradual climb and at the top you know it is 8 miles to go and the bullshit starts. Actually it is really only 6 to go because the last 2 miles are straight downhill.

The climb up to the ridge is a walk for me. I walked faster this time and less than before and tried to ride everything until I had to put a foot down. The geared guys were riding it in the granny and I almost was able to keep up walking. At the top the bullshit starts. By bullshit I mean the time-eating endless rock gardens. You see the rock sizes increasing and they go from baby-heads to soccer ball sized and then washing machine sized in places. It is bullshit. But, I know this so this time I vowed to ride everything until I had to dab a foot and reset. On the single speed it is particularly hard because of the loss of momentum. Once you are going slow and hit a rock the wrong way, or spin out, you have to reset. Also, there are some steep downhills from the ride and back up in the first part and those steep downhills are nail biters.

Once you get to the photographers you know that there is only about 3 miles to go and the rock field is almost over. I had my watch timer set to countdown every 20 minutes so i could drink . At the last climb to the radio tower (which marks the trail's end and the downhill begins) I knew I was at 3:20 and would have to really bomb the paved downhill.

I aero-tucked as best as you can on a MTB and sprinted the best you can on a single-speed and in the end posted a 3:29.22. I shaved off around 17 minutes from last time in February.

Getting back to the finish area Shane rode a 3:10 and my other friend Eric Nicoletti rode a 3:18 which is pretty amazing. Both shaved over 20 minutes off from January.

I ended up 4th for the race and 6th overall in the 34 mile single-speed. I broke my 17 mile PR but 6 minutes but my record for the 17 mile TT fell to a fast guy who did around a 1:56.

On the way home I stopped at the outlet store for a moment and getting back on the highway I hit a 5 mile back up from a single car fatality(?) and sat on the highway for 1 hour and 15 minutes. It pretty much sucked but after seeing the car in the accident I understood why life-flight was needed. I really hope the person made it.

After I got home the telling sign is taking a shower and feeling all the scratches come alive as the water hits. The next eye-opener is this morning when most of my muscles were sore and it felt like I had been hit with a back of rocks. I guess I did around 70km of Paris-Roubaix cobbles back in 2004 and while the sensations are diffrent, these rocks come close to the same feeling.

Lastly, in February I had a hard time with cramping and eating. I bought a "Bento Box" which is a small (wallet sized) bag to keep my food and Gu in. It fits on the top tube. I also used a 70oz Camelbak. I am not thrilled to use a Camelbak but they help tremendously. The Bento Box worked great as well. I think my rule of thumb will be I will use them in races over 30 miles and for the Camelbak, any race over 85 degrees that is longer than 3 laps. I rerely get handups so having it on demand is pretty nice. They do get hot and you sort of feel like a dork though.