Archive for July, 2008

Stage 3 – Fitchburg State College Circuit Race – 2008 Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic

Quick summary: 53rd, “the ramp”, “the roller coaster”, moved up to 60th in the GC

The stats: Power (348 avg / 800 max), Heart Rate (158 avg / 179 max), Speed (27.8 avg / 41 max), Cadence (85 avg / 123 max), Climbing (3196′), 72 miles (2:35:25)

The details: I was a little nervous about this race because I got dropped from it pretty early in 1998 when I was racing with the pros as a college student. We raced the same exact course as we did back then, but this year I was able to hang with the pack which dwindled each lap until there was only about 50. Mike Olheiser was able to lead Stefan Rothe out for several of the intermediate sprints moving him solidly into second place in the points competition. Mike got boxed in at the finish and wasn’t able to move up but still finished with the front group. With a few crashes and people getting spit off the back, Mike moved up a couple spots to 10th in the GC.

The race wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be, probably thanks in part to the feed zone, but it was still amazingly fast — 27.8 mph for just over 2 and a half hours. I staged at the designated area, first in line thinking that I was going to get a great start. Unfortunately, half the field knew that there would be no punishment for going to the real start line and jumping in as soon as the course was clear. So I started not in the first row, nor the second, but rather the 6th row about halfway back in the peleton. By the circuit’s long descent, I had moved close enough to the front to attack off the front so that I could cruise up the climb on the first lap. I had a decent gap, but the group was moving faster and I wound up towards the back of the group by the top of the climb. The next lap was tough until a break got up the road without Colavita Sutter Home. They moved to the front and set tempo for the next 50 miles or so gradually bringing the break back.

After the first few insane laps, I got into a good rhythm on the climb always making sure to carry some momentum into the bottom of it no matter where I found myself in the pack. I also made sure to be in my little chain ring before the bottom of the climb so that there was no chance of dropping my chain — which lots of people did and quickly found themselves off the back of the group. I was nervous about the top of the climb which had a 90 degree corner followed by a flat section, then a downhill onto the “roller coaster” (which I’ll describe in a minute). I thought that the pace would be insane across this section, but the feedzone was positioned there and I think that caused enough confusion to keep people from hitting the afterburners until the start of the downhill. But the afterburners were definitely hit on every lap, starting with “the ramp” that marked the start of the “roller coaster”.

What am I talking about? The “ramp” was a one foot paved angled drop from one section of pavement to another section of pavement that stretched across the entire road. This marked the start of “the roller coaster” — an extremely fast slight downhill that had a 90 degree righthand turn towards the beginning, then a very bumpy road with a gradual lefthand bend. We would hit between 35-37mph on almost EVERY lap. It was hang on to the wheel in front of you for dear life, single-file, until you hit a gradual climb marking the end of “the roller coaster”. At the top of the gradual climb, we made another 90 degree turn and the start of the circuit’s primary downhill which today was into a slight headwind. At the bottom of this downhill, a 90 degree turn put you immediately onto the steep climb to the finish.

With two laps to go, I was caught in a group of about 25 gapped off the back. I helped a smaller group of about 10 emerge from this and bridge back up to the pack which had dwindled to maybe 75. Then the same thing happened on the last lap accept this time, I wasn’t able to bridge back on. I finished at the front of the first main group behind the pack 1 minute back from the winner in 53rd.

Here is my HR and power data:

2008 Fitchburg-Longsjo Stage 3 Circuit Race

2008 Fitchburg-Longsjo Stage 3 Circuit Race

  1. My attack off the front on the first lap
  2. A little bit easier while Colavita was riding “tempo” at the front
  3. Getting harder here
  4. Gapped off, chase back on with 2 laps to go
  5. Last lap!

July 5, 2008 at 9:45 pm 3 comments

Stage 2 – Wachusett Mountain Road Race, 2008 Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic

Quick summary: 77th, 3 minutes and 48 seconds behind today’s winner, which moved up 45 spots in the general classification to 82nd, about 6 minutes 45 seconds back from the overall leader

The stats: 104 miles, 24.2mph, 306 watts avg power, 150 bpm avg heart rate, nearly 8000′ of climbing!, 4:18:05

The details: Whew. Hard race. 9 laps of a hilly 11.5 mile circuit followed by a 3k climb to the finish. Crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy descent where I maxed out at over 60mph! My stats show 59.3, but that is at 5 second intervals, I know I topped out over 60. Several other people in the race registered in the mid 60s for a top speed — and we did that descent 8 times!

First, the race was a little crazy because there were a lot of us and the officials were half-heartedly trying to enforce the yellow line rule. NRC races are not supposed to have a yellow-line rule for road races! There was one rough stretch of pavement, but mostly the roads were a ton better than the TT course yesterday. The first lap was fast and I did the climb at the front of the group. The second lap was also fast, but I started out nearer to the back of the group for that climb. The next five laps were not as fast with my teammate Stefan Rothe up the road with Shawn Milne (Team Type I). Then on the eighth lap I got caught on the backside of a major split in the peleton. I helped chase back onto the group by the bottom of the major downhill. The same thing happened again on the last lap except this time the peleton split roughly in half, and I was in the first chase group of about 10 riders on the wrong side of the split. We nearly caught back up right at the bottom of the finishing climb. A lot of people from the peleton had given up so I passed about 10 people on the finishing climb, but I also eased up towards the top to try to save my legs some for tomorrow’s tough circuit race.

The team had a great race with Mike Olheiser taking the first KOM sprint and then placing 12th overall for the day. Stefan Rothe got into a breakaway with Shawn Milne and was away for over 5 laps (55 miles) before flatting and falling back to the field. Everyone else stayed with the main field until the last climb when everything shattered.

Ok, that’s about it for tonight. Here’s my heart rate and power data along with my stats each time up the circuit climb and the last time up the finishing climb:

2008 Fitchburg-Longsjo Road Race (Stage 2)

2008 Fitchburg-Longsjo Road Race (Stage 2)

  1. First and second time up the climb were very hard
  2. Max speed of over 60 mph!
  3. Chasing back onto the group after getting gapped off on the feedzone climb
  4. Chasing again nearly onto the back of the pack before the start of the finishing climb
  5. The finishing climb – absolutely beautiful view from the very top of the ski resort mountain. Breathtaking wilderness view.

July 4, 2008 at 10:39 pm Leave a comment

Stage 2 – Wachusett Mountain Road Race Quick Update

Somewhere in the top 75, maybe top 60. Mike Olheiser made it into the top 10, and Stefan Rothe was in a 5 lap breakaway (55 miles) with Shawn Milne (Team Type I). Good race. More details soon!

July 4, 2008 at 7:15 pm Leave a comment

Stage 1 – Time Trial, 2008 Fitchburg-Longjso Classic

Quick summary: not dead last (127th out of 145 if you count the people who didn’t start), thunderstorm, “the river”, “the lake”, epic.

The details: I had a great warm-up and was feeling very good with my TT position on my road bike. My TT bars were far enough out that I could stand comfortably without hitting my knees. One downside is that I had to slide very far forward on my seat in order to have my arms at the right angle. Still, I felt great and felt like I was putting a lot of power into the pedals on the hills as I was warming up.

As I rolled up to the start line, I could see the storm clouds slowly moving in. I was one of the last starters so it was quite a disadvantage since a good majority of the field got to ride it in dry conditions. Five, four, three, two, one and right as I took off the thunderstorm hit with a torrential downpour, a little thunder and lightning, too. This normally wouldn’t have been so bad, except that the heavy rains obscured the cracks, uneven pavement, and potholes. A few times I almost fell and each time I scrubbed speed to make sure that I didn’t fall.

Even with all of that, I was having a bad TT but it wasn’t the worst in the world until I tracked right into “the river”. Yes, the rain was so hard that it had created a virtual river running down the righthand side of the road on one of the steeper climbs. I didn’t see it in time and ended up riding straight into it, nearly falling, and having to slow way down in order to get out of it and back onto the part of the road that didn’t have a river in it. Then at the bottom of the next downhill was “the lake” where enough water had pooled on top of a narrow bridge that it formed a lake that you came flying into at 30mph, huge splash, but kept it upright. Finally, a very sketchy 35mph downhill to the finish line, with potholes, uneven pavement. Nasty, cold, epic. Here’s my HR and power data for the ride:

2008 Fitchburg-Longsjo Stage 1 Time Trial

2008 Fitchburg-Longsjo Stage 1 Time Trial

  1. Going out way too hard
  2. Paying dearly for going out way too hard
  3. OK on the steeper hills, nothing left for flats or downhills
  4. Better here on the steepest climb
  5. Very sketchy downhill

In summary, I went out way, way too hard averaging almost 580 watts for the first minute, dropping to 421 watts for the next minute, 381 watts for the third minute, 324 watts for the fourth minute, and then averaging only 342 watts for the rest of the TT. Even then, the only reason I was able to manage an overall average of 363 watts is because I was still able to crank out some wattage on the steeper climbs. Hopefully, that means good things for tomorrow’s 104 mile road race.

July 3, 2008 at 9:28 pm 2 comments

Racing in the Northeast at the Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic

1300 miles of driving through 9 states and we have finally made it to Fitchburg, MA. We swung up through Nashville to pick up a U-Haul trailer and load it up with not one, not two, but about 30 bikes for all the juniors, pros, masters, etc. riding for Tri-Star. Check out our travel map:

Birmingham to Fitchburg 2008

After we pulled into the dorms at Fitchburg State College, we unloaded the bikes and took off up the road to find the TT course. We found it and had a chance to take a look at the course with some nasty potholes and cracks. The course is mostly uphill for the first 5 miles and then mostly downhill for the last mile. My start time tomorrow is 5:38 PM. Plenty of time to hit up a coffee shop in the morning to check email and get caught up on some work. There’s so much I could write about our trip up, from the beautiful mountains to how crazy it is to drive a GMC suburban pulling a very large and heavy U-Haul trailer for 1300 miles – but instead I’ll just describe one experience which was a highlight for me so far. We had just crossed a large river (the Hudson, maybe?) shortly after entering New York state from Pennsylvania and we needed to stop for something to eat for lunch. I was driving and I saw an exit with a couple of options and pulled over. We ended up at the Hometown Deli and it definitely had the atmosphere of a very authentic New York deli — lots of options with Boar’s Head meat and a buffet spread that had things on it that I feel like the locals would have recognized, but I had no idea what they were. The people there were actually nice, but we must have sounded funny with our Southern accents. I settled on “stuffed shells”, and they were very good. Ok, that’s it for tonight. I am off to bed! No wireless here in my room so I’ll have to post this in the morning from a coffee shop.

July 3, 2008 at 9:17 am Leave a comment

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Lots of repeats today. CAUTION - gravel washout at the one lane bridge at the bottom of Caldwell mill. I didn't see it until I was in it so I nearly lost it into the ditch. Stopped at the no-fun-bucks to cool off.

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Quick reference stats

Anaerobic Threshold:
Power:315 watts
Heart rate:180 bpm
Maximums:
Power:1097 watts (5s)
Heart rate:198 bpm (5s)
AT power estimated by critical power curve in Golden Cheetah, which predicts I should be able to maintain 315 watts for 1 hour.

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