Archive for April, 2011
Before I go into the equipment meltdowns I had a couple weeks ago, I want to give a huge shout out to John and the rest of the mechanics at Bob’s Bikes who have kept me up and running even when I put extreme loads on all of my equipment to the breaking point. They get me back up and running again every time!!!
Also, I’m reviewing an iBike sports product below. I believe these guys have put together a product, the iBike Dash plus Power, that gives data junkies like me everything they could ever want to know about their rides and their training! Here is a review of my initial experience with the iBike Dash plus Power after a couple weeks usage and the essential features that I am using day in and day out. First, let me point you to this Velonews article which has much better pictures of the iBike. Here are my pictures: (yes, my bike is filthy, but it is supposed to rain tomorrow and what point would there be in cleaning it up before it rains!!!)
The wheel speed sensor mounted on the front fork.
The cadence sensor mounted on the non-drive side chainstay.
Setup was super easy. You simply slide the iphone into the phone booth, and the iphone automatically connects to the Apple appstore to download the free app which is the display for the power meter. Make sure you either have a phone signal or are connected to a wireless network before inserting the iphone.
You can customize each of the training screens, but I primarily keep mine on the power gauge screen shown above. This has the most important statistics for me: power, average power, speed, slope, max slope, cadence, and heartrate. Note that power and heartrate are both color-coded based on user-configuable Functional Threshold Power and Maximum Heartrate. Also, note that these statistics are completely customizable in very much the same manner as any of the Garmin bike computers.
Downloading and analyzing the data is accomplished via email. Click on Options, click on Send Ride Files, and then click Send next to the ride file you want to send. The iBike stores the email address so you don’t have to type it in each time. Once you receive the data file, save it to your computer, fire up the iBike software, and then click open. Browse for the .ibd file that you just downloaded from your email. iBike automatically reads in the file and saves it to a .csv file compatible with Trainingpeaks. Or you can analyze the ride file from within the iBike software. I personally think that the iBike software has the best graph layout of any software on the market! Here is a screenshot of a typical ride file:
iBike software ride view from top to bottom (power, speed/wind, elevation, slope)
Comparison with iBike Generation III
Prior to switching to the iBike Dash plus Power, I was using the iBike Generation III power meter. The Generation III meter is smaller, less expensive, and lighter than the iBike Dash plus Power. The larger size of the iBike Dash enables it to have more accurate wind sensor readings. Also, it allows the iBike Dash to have a beautiful large easy to read user interface. The older Generation III had an acceptable user interface, but there was no backlight so you couldn’t read it after dark.
NOTE about my iBike Dash plus Power setup: I am using my wife’s old iPhone 3G with no cellphone account activated on it, but it still works great recording all the GPS information and transferring files when connected via wireless network. But one of the big complaints against the old iPhone 3G is its slow processor, and you do notice that when running the iBike app. I would definitely recommend using an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4, which have much better processors than the old 3G. Having said that, I am using the iPhone 3G and can put up with the slow response time especially when switching between windows.
Summary If you are a data junkie or looking for a more affordable way to measure power, the iBike Dash plus Power is the way to go. You get a sleek user interface, a handy carrying case for your iPhone, and all the data you could ever want. Contact me if you have any questions about the iBike Dash or shoot me an email to setup a ride with me where you can see it in action.
AND NOW ONTO THE EQUIPMENT WOES…
Here is a bulletted list for what didn’t make it into the picture:
- Sunday 4/3 – Broken front derailleur – I was climbing a steep grade and all of a sudden I hear a clunk/ping. I continue the climb but notice that my chain is rubbing on the front derailleur. On closer inspection at the top of the climb, I notice that there is a rivet missing from the front derailleur and so the whole derailleur is essentially split into two halves with the bottom part rubbing on not only the chain but also the front chainrings. I rode home very slowly trying not to ruin the chainrings. I ended up swapping out bikes and riding my old Trek after a little bit of work on it to make it rideable again and ended up just doing tons of climbing near my house – http://app.strava.com/rides/387911
- Monday 4/4 – Double flat – I was enjoying a slow, easy, wandering commute home with a ton of climbing when I started down the descent of Hackberry. I hit a small rock and heard the hissing sound of leaking air. Well, it turns out that it was a pinch flat (probably from not having pumped up the wheel in a week). I patched the tube and pumped it up to as high a pressure as I could with my frame pump (maybe 80psi?). I continued on my way home and then at the steepest part of the descent, which I was doing slowly, the tire went flat again. I was only a couple miles from home so I called Kristine to come pick me up, and she and Josiah came to my “rescue” a few minutes later! http://app.strava.com/rides/390412
- Tuesday 4/5 – Broken spoke – I was riding an old Cane Creek wheel because my Mavic training wheel was in desperate need of an internal hub cleaning to the point that it was no longer safe to descend at above 40mph without pedaling fast enough to keep the freewheel from spinning. The Cane Creek wheel was in pretty bad shape to begin with, but held together well on my Monday ride. Tuesday, though, I broke a spoke at the farthest out point of my ride. The rest of the wheel still had enough tension for me to ride home slowly. http://app.strava.com/rides/393157
- Wednesday and Thursday passed without incident.
- Friday 4/8 – Another flat tire – This was a puncture flat from a 10 week old tire with about 3600 miles on it. This was a rear tire which hadn’t worn through to the threads yet so I was surprised to puncture. I patched the tire up and made it home with no problems. http://app.strava.com/rides/401319
- Tuesday 4/12 – Another broken spoke – I was climbing up a hill in Mountain Brook and as I pulled over to a shady spot to pull out a powerbar from my backpack, I heard the familiar sound of a spoke breaking. I looked down and sure enough, I had another broken spoke. This one really put the wheel out of true, and I had to ride very slowly home to keep the tire from rubbing the frame. Definitely time to say good-bye to the Cane Creek wheel. $5 or best offer. Needs new spoke. Other spokes are frozen in place if you are looking to part out the hub you may need to cut the spokes off. http://app.strava.com/rides/419270
- Wednesday 4/13 – Extra wheel ride – All of this brings us to me riding home with my Mavic training wheel strapped to my back (photo above). And hopefully my run of bad luck / equipment breakdown is over for a while! http://app.strava.com/rides/424389
After hearing about all my equipment woes from the previous week, Roger hooked me up with these sweet Michelin racing tires, which I used for Dothan and Mississippi Gran Prix. Next up for these tires is Barbers this weekend and then USA Crits Speedweek (Athens, Roswell, Spartanburg, Dilworth, Sandy Springs). Also in this pic are the Rudy Project strydon sunglasses that I won from the January KOM climbing competition on Strava.
So that about sums up things, and randomly, here is my 4 year old mountain biking through the woods in our neighborhood. Check out those skills and no training wheels!
Quick summary – I had to miss this race last year, but I was reminded again this year of how lucky we are to have such an amazing stage race within a few hours drive of Birmingham. This race is an amateur only stage race, meaning that the overall winner is determined by the cumulative time from all of the individual stages – just like the Tour de France. But this race is only open to Category 1, 2, and 3 amateurs. Tria Cycling p/b Infinity Med-I-Spa and donohooauto.com had a great weekend as summarized below:
Friday downtown criterium: 2nd Pat Allison, 3rd Brian Toone
Saturday road race: 3rd Pat Allison, 5th Brian Toone
Sunday circuit race: 3rd Pat Allison, 4th Brian Toone
Stage race overall: 3rd Pat Allison, 7th Brian Toone, 17th Justin Bynum
Another teammate, Mike Lackey, raced with us and was a strong workhorse all weekend sacrificing his chances at the overall to help cover moves throughout the weekend.
Our weekend started out with very high heart rates, but it wasn’t just from the race. On our drive over from Birmingham, we had to dodge several tornadic storms that seemed to be following the interstate. We were driving through Meridian when it was under a tornado warning, and I snapped this picture.
Downtown Meridian wall/shelf cloud (Tornadic storm #1)
We were so focused on this storm that we didn’t see the other tornado that was much more of a threat to us. We made it past this second storm JUST in time. The map below this second photo shows our route (in green) and where these two pictures were approximately taken from.
Tornadic storm #2, we didn’t even see this one until we were almost in it!
The tornado map and our path (shown in green). We were in downtown Meridian while the tornado sirens were going off. We were VERY lucky, but there were many people — even some on the same interstate as us, that weren’t so lucky.
Friday night downtown Brookhaven criterium
By the time we made it to Brookhaven, the weather had completely cleared out, and the Friday night block party / activities / fun zones / entertainment was just getting under way. I have got to figure out a way to convince Kristine to come down with the kids next year. Plus there were three trains that passed within 50 meters of where we parked. Josiah would love to see those trains going right through the middle of town!
One of the great things about this crit is that the Cat 1/2/3 field is the only field racing on Friday night so you can do your entire warm-up on the course for over an hour on blocked off streets. I was a little slow getting everything together, so I only had about 45 minutes to warm-up, but that was more than enough time to ride nearly 15 miles of warm-up on the course! Almost everyone was warming up on the course so it was great to chat with riders from the other teams during the warm-up. We had four riders representing Tria Cycling. Herring Gas and Marx and Bensdorf had really large teams (about 8 riders each). Team La’Sport had a small but very strong team with the defending champ, Matt Davis, and super-domestique Russ Walker. S3 Racing, Sigma, and Tiger Cycling Foundation all had teams with about 3 or 4 riders each. In all, there were 41 people that lined up to start the criterium.
After a color guard ceremony by local firefighters including the national anthem that wasn’t quite finished when the third train of the night passed through within 50 meters of the start, we were off! And we were off fast! I clipped in first and made it to the first corner first, but having learned my lesson this year from both Tuscaloosa and Dothan, it is better to let someone else put in the first attack. So I let up a bit and got passed by a few riders before digging in to maintain my position near the front of the pack. On the third lap, I was sitting in maybe 10th position when I saw Matt Davis (Team La’Sport) and a Herring Gas rider (Bain Foote) attacking from near the front going into the only lefthand corner on the classic six corner course (Turn #4). I had to wait just a second for somebody to move out of the way, but once the lane was clear, I shot up the lefthand side between turns 4 and 5 and then latched onto the two-man break before turn #6. We had a couple second gap and absolutely buried it (the average speed for Laps #4 and #5 was 29.5mph).
Meanwhile, back in the field, my teammate Pat Allison began covering moves and made it into a two-man chase group. When those two guys ran out of steam, he attacked and finished the bridge solo up to our break. We kept the pace super high, but two more Herring Gas riders (Frank Moak and Tim Reagan) and Bryant Funston (Marx and Bensdorf) and an independent rider were able to bridge up to us bringing our break up to a total of 8 riders. The independent rider fell off after a few laps (probably exhausted from completing the bridge up to us!). The seven of us established a pretty good rhythm and flew through the entire course.
One disruption came when they called a $50 prime. I was feeling very good so I attacked going into Turn 3 and was able to hold it all the way to the line to claim the $50. Matt Davis got a gap chasing me, and the two of us tried to get away, but the three riders from Herring Gas were able to pull us back in after a lap. For the next 10 laps, we worked well together. I felt like several riders were struggling so I wanted to attack to see if we could get a secondary break going. Pat gave me a leadout from the back of the group through turn 6 into the start/finish area, but as I came off of Pat’s wheel to attack, my left foot cramped behind my toes. So here I was trying to attack and trying to calm down the cramp at the same time while surprising no one! So even in the moment of all this happening, I chuckled thinking how comical it must have appeared. By this point, our break was getting closer to lapping the field and despite my foiled attack, we continued to rotate and fly through the course.
When we got within a corner of the pack, I attacked again to bridge up to the group. I was hoping that in the chaos of lapping the field, that we would have a better shot at winning the race. As soon as we caught the field, I found myself on Pat’s wheel, and he wisely moved all the way through the group to the front. By this point there were only two laps to go. Just as we made it up to the front of the group, we could hear a crash happen in Turn #2 behind us. We were ahead of the crash, so we made it safely through. With one lap to go, Matt Davis’s teammate Russ Walker got to the front and drilled it for the entire lap. This worked out great for us because we didn’t have to fight for position since it was single file and we were lined up right behind Matt, but Russ had done such a fast leadout and Matt launched such a strong kick that none of us could come around anyone so we finished in that order. Bain came up the right side and almost caught me at the line, but I held on for third with a photo finish bike throw.
Check out that average speed! 27.4mph. NOTE – this is only 0.1 mph slower than Sunny King, but my average heartrate was 7 beats higher in Sunny King. The reason is because we bunched up so much in turns 3 and 4 in the Sunny King crit, whereas in the breakaway in this race we flew through the entire course without touching the brakes at all!
Saturday road race
This was a great race for our team with Pat Allison making it into the winning breakaway and securing a position on the overall stage race podium. And I got to rest easy in the pack and save up for the field sprint, which I won by a lot. There isn’t a lot to report about the race, other than that it was windy with a headwind through the start/finish stretch and a tailwind on the backside of the course. There were lots of attacks, but there were also lots of strong riders able to bring back each one. My teammate, Justin Bynum, made it into a great move with Ben Gabardi (Herring Gas) on the third lap. The two of them got a good gap on the field forcing other teams to set tempo at the front to real them back in. The two of them were away for quite a while. By the start of the final lap, we had caught the break, and I realized that there was pretty much no way that both Pat and I were going to be able to make it into a break together. When I saw Matt attack again with Bain right on him, I yelled up to Pat who was in much better position than me to go with it. He did, and I stayed back which meant that both Team La’Sport and Herring Gas were happy to let the break get away from the field. Travis Sherman from Marx and Bensdorf was already up the road and latched onto the break when it came by, so they too, weren’t going to chase. The other teams in the race (S3, Sigma, and TCF) chased and kept the break very close for a while, but eventually the elastic broke and nobody was left to chase. I realized that Travis would be passing me in the overall if the break got too far up the road, so I went to the front and tried to set tempo. Eventually, I realized it was hopeless and that it would be better to go for the field sprint than to try to conserve one spot on GC. So I stopped working and just sat near the front waiting for the field sprint. The field sprint came, and I rode wheels navigating through a tight bunch sprint. The uphill drag though really favored me, and I won it by a lot. Meanwhile, in the break up front, Matt eventually took the sprint win followed closely by Bain, Pat, and Travis in that order.
2011 MSGP Saturday road race hr summary
Saturday evening time trial
The time trial was the start of the race within a race. Three guys battled for the podium spots (Matt, Pat, and Bain), while Frank, Tim, and I battled for fifth place. Travis had fourth place locked up after the road race. The time trial course was the new three mile course from last year. Since I missed last year, this was my first year to race it, and it was awesome. The course was rolling, fast, and into a headwind. I pushed the pace as hard as I could riding Eddy Mercx style, but ended up sliding behind Frank and Tim in the overall. Pat raced a strong time trial, but slid back to third pace overall after Bain won the time trial with a blistering 6’01” (nearly 30mph). A couple things to note in my heartrate data – I averaged 168bpm for 6’40”, whereas at the Sunny King race, I averaged 181bpm for nearly 90 minutes. Obviously, the fact that we had raced a long road race in the morning would impact my TT heartrate, but there has to be something else too – any suggestions out there??
2011 MSGP Saturday time trial hr summary
The best part of the time trial, though, was trying out our new “bib skinsuits”. All three of us in the picture raced this way, whereas Mike was the only one of us who had a real skinsuit and raced that instead.
Sunday morning circuit race
Due to a scheduling conflict at the technical college where the circuit race is normally held, the circuit race was held on a 6.5 mile loop around Lake Lincoln State Park. The course was a great course pretty much constantly rolling with sections of rough pavement and sections of good pavement. The finish was a long gradual drag leading to a steep final 200m uphill kick to the line. At the start of the race, Matt Davis was in lead over Bain Foote by 7 seconds. Pat trailed Bain by 32 seconds. Meanwhile, Frank held the fifth spot 7 seconds ahead of his teammate Tim who himself was 3 seconds ahead of me. With a maximum of 16 seconds of time bonuses available, the time bonuses could help me move up in the GC. It wasn’t to be, though, and with a good uphill finish, Pat and I were able to take 3rd and 4th in the final sprint just behind Ben Gabardi and Matt Davis.
2011 MSGP Sunday circuit race summary
The weekend was a great weekend of racing. Pat Allison had his best result ever in a stage race, and we all worked really well together in the team. Check out his excellent recap of the weekend. I’m SO excited for the rest of the season and know that we are going to take home many more wins before the season is done! Happy cycling everyone!
Check out my Strava data for all four races, including my lap split times for the crit. Also, the MSGP capped off another 400+ mile week for me this season. I’d like to give a shout-out to Sport Legs and compression socks (aka leg warmers) for helping me with amazing recovery this season. Now it’s time to taper a bit before Athens Twilight – maybe 350 miles this week and then 300 for the week ending with Roswell.
Friday night criterium – http://app.strava.com/rides/433284
Saturday AM road race – http://app.strava.com/rides/438401
Saturday PM time trial – http://app.strava.com/rides/438403
Sunday circuit race – http://app.strava.com/rides/443934
Here are some more photos and videos from the races earlier in the day … I posted photos, videos, and heartrate data from the pro/1 race yesterday. Great racing by everyone!
Sunny King NRC criterium summary – I survived to finish 36th place with well over 100 starters and only 73 finishers. I moved up quite a bit on the last few laps, but it wasn’t enough to get into the top 30. Considering how hard the race was and how bad I felt early on, during the middle, and then late in the race, too – I was surprised to be able to finish at all, let alone move up so far by the end. It is easily the highest heartrate I’ve ever had in a race of this distance. There really isn’t much to report about the race. It started out really hard, stayed really hard, and never really let up. The speed was slower than previous years, but the race was harder. The annotated photo below the heartrate data is a visual picture of why the race was so hard – turns 3 and 4 this year were much slower than previous years. But the start/finish stretch was just as fast normal. This meant that the further back you were in the group, the faster you had to reaccelerate up over 30mph EVERY lap. Our average speed was 27.5mph with at least 1/4 of the course (heading into turn 3 and then all the way through turn 4) at less than 25mph, which means the rest of the course was really fast. Check out the stats, photos, videos, and statistics for the details!
2011 Sunny King heartrate summary – 93% of the race spent in Zone 5!
Videos from the Sunny King criterium pro race taken by my wife -
Videos I took of races earlier in the day -
I’ve got some good videos of the Cat 4 race I will post tomorrow. Ed Merritt and Brandon Thorton both rode really strong in their first Cat 4 race. Ed took 4th and Brandon was in the top 10. JD also had a great ride, and overall it was a really showing by BBC who factored into just about everything in the race.
Foothills Road Race report – Last year, there were about 60 guys in Sunday’s race. This year, there were over 100! And many of those racers were strong pros looking for some Tour of California hill training and just looking for a good hard road race. Well, they found one for sure! Here is how the race played out.
We started at 8AM in the morning just over 10 hours after finishing our hard criterium the night before. I was suspecting that an early break would be let go because of how hard the race was the previous night. I was hilariously wrong. Riders were attacking from the start line. We were not reminded of a yellow-line rule before the start, so many of the pros who are used to racing on closed roads attacked from the start line on the wrong side of the road. In fact, the entire group of 100 riders was strung out single file within 500 meters of the start on the WRONG side of the road. I was chuckling and all of a sudden VERY excited about the race. Bill did a great job of getting us all back on the correct side of the road, but with such a large group and so many pros anxious to attack and/or chase down breaks, it was pretty much impossible. Bill made an excellent decision to stop trying to keep us on the righthand side of the road. Instead he rode his motorcycle in front of us to block oncoming traffic, as well as getting a police car to go well in front of us on the descents to make sure that all oncoming traffic was stopped at the base of the hill.
One of the Hincapie development riders went off the front after the initial flurry of attacks and rode solo for a few miles leading into the first climb. We caught him on the climb and flew up the climb, but no break could be established with so many strong teams in the group. There was a pretty steady stream of attacks that were all brought back. I attacked at about the same place where Travis Sherman and I bridged up to the winning break last year. It turned into a good break of about 6 guys with Bissell, Kenda, Team Type I, and Pure Black represented, but we couldn’t get a good rotation going with everybody going a different pace on the hills, so our break was doomed just like all the others before it. The break that stuck went shortly after ours on a slight downhill leading into a long less rolling section of the course. There was representation from seven pro teams (Kenda – Johnny Sundt, Team Type I – Ty Magner, Bissell, Kelly Benefits, Mountain Khakis, Real Cyclist, and Pure Black (New Zealand)) so nobody was motivated in the group to chase and our pace plummeted.
Several things happened at this point in the race that contributed to the demise of the break:
1) The Real Cyclist and Mountain Khakis riders were dropped from the break.
2) Several strong amateurs attacked occasionally ramping our pace back up
3) We went over two Cat 4 climbs back to back.
I felt good on the climbs, but still found myself about mid pack on both of them. The descent after the second climb was AWESOME. It was full of tight, banked switchbacks and we were flying down it. Unfortunately, Brent Mahan (Nashville Cyclist) went down on one of the corners but was able to get back up and finish the race minus some skin. By the time we made it to the bottom of the second descent, both the Real Cyclist team and Mountain Khakis were at the front leading the chase. Behind them sat Bissell and Kelly Benefits. Then behind them was everybody else fighting for position trying to stay on the correct side of the road (but many times spread completely over the road).
Eventually, I was tired of being way back in the pack and pulled out into the wind and moved all the way up to sit in front of Bissell and act as the gatekeeper for the riders who were working. I don’t think Bissell was happy about it, but we were still far enough out from the finish that they really didn’t care either as long as I was the only one in front of them. As we got closer to the steep rollers and the final climb near the finish, positioning became an all-out battle. I was pushed farther back in the group and fought hard to stay right behind the Bissell and Kelly Benefits trains. I had to fight some wind, too, but it was worth it to be able to keep my position close to the front and stay out of trouble with some 50+mph short steep downhills. I heard screeching brakes more than one time during this section. We made it to the final climb, and the break was visible higher up on the climb maybe about 30-45 seconds in front of us. Cesar Grajales put in a strong attack and got some separation, but a group of about 20 riders including me bridged back up to him on the descent. Another 20-30 riders bridged across to us a couple miles later right about the same time that a string of attacks led us to catching the break of five riders with less than 2 miles to go.
I was fighting hard for position at the front when a Garmin development rider grabbed my jersey and pulled back on me. I guess I didn’t look “pro” enough to be fighting for position with the leadout trains of the other teams. But I paid my money to race, and believe you me, I was going to race! I entered the sprint in great position and was riding with very little effort in the draft of a strong Kelly Benefits rider (Dan Holloway?) when I decided to give it a go with 150 meters to go. Well, there is a big difference between drafting a large rider at 40 mph and trying to fight the wind at 40mph. I had such a good draft that I didn’t realize how much I was just being sucked along. When I pulled out into the wind to sprint, I was promptly passed by 3 or 4 people who started their sprint from behind me. I did end up passing a couple other people, but I would have been much better off just staying on the Kelly Benefits rider’s wheel. I ended up 14th, when I was really aiming for a top 10. Cole House (Real Cyclist) took the sprint win. Disappointing finish for me, but the race was definitely raced at nearly the same caliber as an NRC road race. I would normally be ecstatic about a top 20 in any NRC event, so I am trying to convince myself that 14th is OK given the quality of the field and the intensity of the racing.
Here’s my heartrate summary and data:
2011 Foothills Road Race heartrate summary
2011 Foothills Road Race heartrate data
Oh, and here are my lap split times from the Sunny King crit (including calculated power and average speed):
All ride data from the criterium can be viewed on Strava here:
All ride data from the foothills road race can be viewed here:
What a fun weekend of racing at the Dothan Cityfest crit. Check out all of the photos and videos below. Check out my recap of the Pro/1/2 race.
Pro/1/2/3 women photo
I thought I had more pictures from the women’s race, but now I realize that I was busy warming up and Kristine was with the kids. Here is a picture of the field sprint! Congrats to Jill Lot and Katherine Herring for racing strong!
Cat 2/3 photos and videos
More fun videos from the day