Archive for July, 2008
Quick update: We made it into Aurora late last night after 14 HOURS in the car yesterday. After a good night’s sleep, Kristine took the kids with our friends to play at a children’s garden/playground nearby, and I am getting caught up on a few things. Later this afternoon I’ll be driving part of the way to Elk Grove and then biking the rest of the way to get a good ride in today and then watch the Pro prologue time trial. The elite amateur race doesn’t start until tomorrow so I’ve got an additional day to recover from the drive up yesterday.
Well, it’s the night before our last major racing trip of the year. Don’t worry – I’ve still got lots more racing to come after this weekend, but this is the last LONG (i.e., >10 hours) trip that we are making. We’ll be pulling out mid-morning tomorrow to drive all the way to Aurora, Illinois to stay with friends of our that have kids the same age as ours. We’re going to try to time our arrival for a little bit after their kids go to sleep – otherwise our kids would be so wound up with excitement they’d probably never go to sleep! Here’s our route:
The race I am heading up to do is the Tour of Elk Grove, which has a huge prize purse of $35,000 for the 2-day amateur stage race ($35,000). That purse is just for the Cat 1-2 field! There is lots of prize money for the other fields, too — including the separate Pro-only race which has $170,000 for that field. The courses are pretty much table-top flat with some good corners on excellent smooth pavement (in 2007 – but Chicago winters are hard, who knows what the road will be like this year!). With so much prize money on offer, it will be hard for a break to get away unless it has the perfect representation from the major teams at the race. Since it is a timed stage race, the sprint time bonuses at the midpoint and end of each race will play a huge part in determing the overall placings. Look for updates, photos, and race reports over the next few days.
I’ve got to hand it to the COGS group – excellent race, accurate times, quickly posted results AND photos. Way to go Cyclists of Greater Sylacauga! Here’s one of the photos (licensed under creative commons license). Thanks for posting these!
Original photo by: Diddlee
Creative Commons license
You can view all the photos from the race on flickr.
Quick summary: 3rd place! behind two Masters World Time Trial Champions: Mike Olheiser (2006) and David Grice (2003). I was happy with just about every aspect of my ride except for having a little bit too much left towards the end. Mike’s time of 48’27” shattered the old course record set by GW by over 5 minutes. David started 1 minute behind me, and I expected him to catch me before the halfway point. I was having a good ride though, and by the top of the climb to Bull’s Gap I estimated that I was either pulling ahead slightly or still 1 minute in front of him. By the end, though, David had pulled back some time and ended up riding 54’13” which was 38 seconds faster than me, but which also means I have now completed two time trials in which I didn’t get passed by anyone! I believe Mike Lanham (Marx and Bensdorf) was fourth followed by Travis Sherman (Marx and Bensdorf) in fifth. The full results are posted on the COGS website.
22 miles in 54’51” for an average speed of 24.06mph
Normalized average power: 326 watts
Average/Max heart rate: 178/187 bpm
Cadence Min/Avg/Max: 40/89/117 rpm
On the way out (includes the 1.25 mile climb to Bull’s Gap):
Time: 30’15” for an average speed of 21.8mph
Normalized average power: 335 watts
Average/Max heart rate: 178/186 bpm
Cadence Min/Avg/Max: 40/88/112 rpm
On the way back in (includes the 1.25 mile descent from Bull’s Gap):
Time: 24’35” for an average speed of 26.85mph
Normalized average power: 313 watts
Average/Max heart rate: 179/187 bpm
Cadence Min/Avg/Max: 64/90/117 rpm
Here is the power/heart rate graph. My speed / distance is still off or maybe the course wasn’t quite 22 miles?
- Note the rolling hills right from the start. Difficult to get in a rhythm. The best strategy was to make sure that you didn’t ease up too much on the downhills so that you could carry some good momentum into the next hill. Then because it was still difficult to keep the wattage up on the downhills you needed to finish off each hill above your threshold power.
- This was the largest “roller” on the way out. Note how my power dropped and stayed consistent, but it was still 15-30 watts above my threshold power.
- There was a sharp downhill right before the start of the climb up Bull’s Gap. Note how I hit it hard to get my speed going up before the bottom of the hill and then kept a steady wattage on the climb — 332 watts which again is 15-30 watts above my threshold power.
- The long false flat on the way back. My wattage was a little bit chaotic here as I was feeling a bit of my early efforts, but still wanting to push the pace hard. My average power for the false flat was 313 watt (right at threshold).
- Wattage all over the place on the final rollers. I was still feeling pretty good towards the last rollers so I tried to really ramp up my effort. It was hard though spinning out the downhills so my average wattage for the last 5 minutes was only 319 watts (a few watts above threshold).
Finally, here’s a comparison of pictures right before the start of today’s race in 2008 and the one 15 years ago in 1993. Enjoy!
Here is a blast from the past. I am racing this Sunday for sentimental reasons as much as for the training. It will be exactly 15 years since my first bicycle race – the Bull’s Gap time trial in 1993. Here a couple pictures my dad took during that race.
You can’t miss the tube socks, hairy legs, world championship jersey, and glasses! I had just turned 17 a month prior to the race.
The course this year is the exact same as 15 years ago, 11 miles out with the turnaround at the top of Bull’s Gap and then 11 miles back into the outskirts of Sylacauga, Alabama. I think my time back then was 1 hour and 6 minutes. I am hoping to be at least 10 minutes maybe even 15 minutes faster than that this year.
Here’s a few photos from the races this past weekend. Most of these are not my pictures so I have linked to the photo hosted on other sites. If you hover over the link, you will get a preview of the picture without having to go to that site.
The sprint for third place:
Sitting up after taking a prime:
My son, Josiah, in his first bike race:
My daughter, Analise, pedaling hard (4th girl from the left) with my wife, Kristine, running after her:
My teammate, Brent, helping encourage his daughter Abigail to finish strong:
I’ve already included my heart rate and power data in the previous post, so here I want to detail how the races played out for those interested in reading about race tactics.
State championship road race, Hartselle, Alabama
First, Heath Goebel put on a great race with two excellent course venues. The road race was four laps of an 18 mile loop that had a nice 2 mile climb divided up into two main sections with the bottom section being longer and shallower and the top shorter and steeper after the feedzone which was pretty flat.
Now, about the race: Marx and Bensdorf (Mike Olheiser’s team) had a huge showing in a pretty small field making it pretty obvious that they would be aggressive in the race. Sure enough, they launched Darrell O’Quinn off the front within the first couple hundred meters of the race. He got a good gap and there may have been a small chase covered pretty quickly followed by another Marx and Bensdorf rider launched from the field. My teammate, Darryl Seelhorst, grabbed onto that guy’s wheel and they had a good gap, but Ty Stanfield (Myogenesis) and Matt Winstead (Inferno) set a fast tempo up the climb that reeled in Darryl’s two man chase near the top of the climb, but not Darrell O’Quinn who was motoring away by himself. His gap was well over a minute at the top of the climb, and he quickly extended it as our pace in the field was slow for the next several miles.
Then the attacks began: Nashville Cyclist would send a rider, then Marx and Bensdorf. Usually these breaks wouldn’t be hard enough to stay away from some tempo riding from Matt or any team not represented. One of them got away though with two more Marx and Bensdorf riders and a Nashville Cyclist rider. This break joined up with Darrell O’Quinn making it three Marx and Bensdorf riders up the road. I was motivated to get away before the climb so that I wouldn’t have to kill it up the climb – so I tried to get into a few of the moves, but the field would string out with Marx and Bensdorf leading the chase and the move would be shut down fairly quickly. I gave up hope of any of these moves succeeding and resigned myself to the inevitable fireworks the next time up the climb.
Sure enough, Matt Winstead set a killer pace the next time up the climb leaving only four of us together at the top — me, Matt, Ty, and Mike Olheiser. With three teammates up the road, Mike was along for the free ride. Matt, Ty, and I all ride for different teams, but we knew that the only way for any of us to have a chance at winning would be to work together against Mike who is a world champion and national champion several times over. We had some open “meetings” as we were riding tempo as to the best time to catch the break in front of us. If we wasted a lot of energy trying to drill back the break as soon as possible, then Mike would probably have been able to attack hard on the climb and simply ride away from us. On the other hand, if we didn’t chase hard enough the remnants of the field were starting to collect back into a group less than a minute behind us. In the end, we decided on waiting until the last time up the climb to catch the break. It worked out well that the break in front of us was actually rolling along at a very fast pace so that we also had to roll a very fast tempo meaning that we were able to distance ourselves from the field that had been gaining on us.
The last time up the climb, Matt again drilled the pace up the bottom part of the climb and we quickly caught the break in front of us. With the pace we were going (25 mph through the feedzone, average speed of 16.5mph for the entire climb) we just motored right past the break and nobody was able to catch on. This meant that the four of us were now on more equal footing with the exception of having a very fresh Mike Olheiser. We rolled along at a moderate tempo for the rest of the lap until we were about 3k from the finish. I launched the first attack hoping to either be “let go” while the others eyed each other or at least put the ball in somebody else’s court to do the attacking closer to the finish. Nobody was letting me go, but Ty had gotten dropped in the chase that Mike had to do to catch back up to me. None of us wanted to attack again so we rolled along at 15 mph until Ty caught back up. Ty made an EXCELLENT move and attacked immediately when he caught us. Mike didn’t respond immediately and Ty’s gap probably reached 10-15 seconds with about 2k to go. Then once Mike saw that neither I nor Matt was going to chase, he ramped up the speed and brought Ty back with maybe 1k to go. Matt counter attacked VERY hard immediately and got a gap but Mike had something left in reserve and was able to bring Matt back with maybe 500 meters to go. In hindsight, I probably should have attacked immediately while both of them were tired. Instead, I knew that 500 meters was a long way out and so I hesitated and wound up drifting past the two of them into the front position. Bad move, but it still almost worked. Fifty meters before the last corner, which came 250 meters from the line, I attacked HARD and had a gap coming around the corner at over 30mph. Then it was a downhill sprint for the first 200 meters followed by a slight rise the last 50 meters. I was able to get it up to 40mph sitting down spinning as fast as I could in my 53×11 on the downhill, but I couldn’t push it through the final rise to the line and got caught with 25 meters to go. Mike edged out Matt after coming around me, and I came in a split second later for third.
Downtown Huntsville Criterium
To avoid having to chase down Mike’s teammates, I knew that it would be best to get into a breakaway very early in the race. I checked with Matt before the race, and he agreed. Unfortunately, I lost position in a few of the corners on the first and second laps and then when Matt attacked and Mike followed right on his wheel I was way too far back to respond immediately. By the time I was far enough forward to attack to try to bridge to them, they had a 5-10 second gap. It was too far for me to do it by myself so I was hoping to get some help from the field. Darryl helped drive the chase, but the gap wasn’t coming down. I started looking for opportunities to get away from the group and it came about 25 minutes into the race. GW had already attacked and was off the front. I attacked with a Nashvillecyclist rider and got a gap bringing one of Mike’s teammates (Mike Lanaham) with us. We quickly bridged up to GW who started working with us to establish the break and begin our best attempt to close the gap to Matt and Mike. With Mike Olheiser up the road, Lanaham had a free ride with us as he had no reason to work with us. I was feeling better than GW and the Nashvillecyclist rider so I would pull for longer pulls sometimes pulling the entire lap with the hope that they could recover and help more.
Then the race got really confusing. We kept on hearing timegaps but we were never sure if it was to the field behind us or possibly even in front of us. Well, it turns out it was to the field in front of us that we were about to lap. Unfortunately, Mike and Matt had also lapped the field and kept right on going. I attacked hard right before we lapped the field and only Mike Lanaham was able to stay with me. Unfortunately, we picked up a couple of his teammates who had been off the front. They helped work, but this meant that Mike could stop working and rest. I attacked with two laps to go to get rid of his teammates and only Mike could follow. Then on the last lap, I led out the sprint and surprisingly made it a close call but still lost the sprint meaning that I got fourth place for the race.
Whew, I’m tired just writing about all of this. I think that will do it for tonight.
Update: Somebody just pointed out to me that the criterium was not the state championship criterium. That is coming up here in Birmingham at the Pepper Crit in September. If I can medal in that race, then I will have medaled in all three Alabama state championship events!
Quick summary: 3rd yesterday in the road race. 4th today in the crit.
The details: I’m just going to post my HR/power data tonight and then update with the full race reports tomorrow. First, today’s criterium in downtown Huntsville:
- Missing the winning break — Matt Winstead (eventual winner) attacked early and only Mike Olheiser was able to go with him. I feel like I had the legs but I was way too far back and ended up chasing for over a lap basically just pulling the field with me so I sat up.
- Trying to bridge up Matt and Mike solo, I stayed away for over a lap but wasn’t making any headway so I eased up.
- Attacked hard and took a Nashville Cyclist rider as well as Mike Lanaham (Marx and Bensdorf). GW had already attacked and was off the front so we bridged to him making a 4-man chase group with Mike sitting on since he had his teammate Mike O. already up the road.
- Lapping the field on a prime lap. I attacked right before we lapped the field so that we would go straight through and not pick up any Marx and Bensdorf riders. This dropped the Nashville Cyclist rider and GW, but Mike was able to come through and he had Darryl O’Quinn with him when they caught back up to me.
- Attacking to try to drop Mike
- The sprint finish, close but no cigar!
- Pretty fast the first time up the climb, but the field was all regrouped coming across the top of the mountain
- Matt Winstead hit it hard up the climb on this lap and only four of us remained by the top: me, Ty Stanfield, Matt Winstead, and Mike Olheiser. My teammate, Darryl Seelhorst, was riding super strong on the first part of the climb, but after taking a feed from the feedzone halfway up got caught out by Matt’s second acceleration for the second half of the climb.
- Easy up the climb the third time. We could see the remnants of an early break in front of us which had three of Mike’s teammates, but we discussed that the best strategy would be for us to wait until the last time up the climb and then catch and pass them on the climb at a speed which would prevent them from catching onto us.
- We underestimated the break a little bit though and had to ride a somewhat fast tempo to keep them within sight and close enough to catch on the climb
- Catching and then passing the break at an insane speed (25 mph through the feedzone, average speed of 16.5mph for the entire climb).
- Here I launched the first attack out of the group with less than 3k to go.
- Here I led out the sprint, got a good jump and took the last corner at 30+mph before accelerating to 40 on the slight downhill and then unfortunately getting caught with 25 meters to go!
Awesome, strategic, fun race. Kudos to Mike for taking the win yesterday and Matt for getting it today.