Archive for July, 2012

Huntsville Omnium Day 2 – Wrapup

Summary – 2nd in the masters 35+ criterium, 3rd in the pro/1/2/3/4 combined criterium, plus 5 points on a bonus points prime gave me just enough to tie Beth Hollingsworth (Velocity Pro Cycles) in the overall, combined omnium. With the tiebreaker being the time trial time, I ended up winning the tie breaker to take 2nd in the omnium behind Chris Brown (Litespeed – BMW).

Masters 35+ criterium – this race started out fast, so fast that the field split at least once before the first prime. The field was back together by the first prime, but I wasn’t in good position to go for it. A couple laps later, however, there was another prime that I thought was for a bouquet of roses. In a field full of masters, I thought that this would be hotly contested (to bring home to give to our wives) so I jumped really, really hard on the inside on the short flat stretch before the final turn. I was sheltered from the cross-wind by the pack when I attacked and then when I made the turn I had a strong tailwind. It turns out that I jumped hard enough that nobody else contested the prime, and I had opened nearly a 10 second gap by the time I won the prime — (unfortunately, after the race, I found out that it was a gift certificate to a restaurant named Rosie’s).

About halfway through the next lap, I looked back and saw Chris Brown closing in fast bridging the gap by himself. When he got close, I jumped back up to speed and together we worked to try to fend off a chase group of 5 riders that had split off of the blown apart field. We worked together well, but the gap stayed at just a few seconds for several laps. Then finally after several really hard laps, the gap started to increase by a second or two every lap so that it eventually got out to 20 seconds. But then it started coming down again — by 5 seconds in a single lap to take our gap back down to 15 seconds. Then, the next lap it was down to 13 seconds. Fortunately, by this point we only had five laps to go in the race. So we turned on the gas one last time and held it to the end where Chris took the sprint.

Monte Sano – climbing
The Rapha Rising climbing competition had also begun today so I headed out after the masters race to do some climbing. I ended up breaking a spoke at the bottom of Monte Sano, turning around and getting my spare wheel, before doing the climb again. It was a long, steady, gradual climb but my legs were tired and I needed to rest for my the pro/1/2/3/4 combined crit later in the day so I only did the climb once. I’m in a deep hole for the climbing competition right now, but I am hoping to make up ground by Wednesday.

Pro/1/2/3/4 combined criterium
One of the unique things about the Huntsville omnium is that it is combined over all the categories. And to finish the combined omnium off, there is a combined Pro/1/2/3/4 criterium for the last race of the day. By the start at 2:00 – it was very hot – well over 100 degF in the sun on the start line. Combine that with the humidity that somehow hadn’t burned off from the morning, yet, and it was going to be a sweltering race that I wasn’t sure I could finish.

On the start line, as the race official said “go”, they also rang the bell for the race’s points prime – 10 pts, 5 pts, and 5 pts for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. I was on the front row so I thought about just taking off and going for it from the gun — especially since Chris had started farther back. But I also knew that it would be a long race and that if I won the prime, I stood a very good chance of not being able to finish the race at all. So I hung back in 2nd and 3rd position as a couple riders drove the pace pretty hard anyway. I started the sprint for the prime, but Chris was able to come around me just before the line. I figured that the race was over and that Christian Parrett (Global Bike) and maybe one or two riders would bridge up to us for the break. But instead, the field came back together.

Shortly after that, Christian began a series of attacks that eventually saw him get away solo. Chris’s teammate Anders got away in a chase group of 3. But one of the riders got shelled making it a chase group of two. Our average pace in the field slowed way down as there would be an attack and then when the attack was chased down the pace really dropped. After only 20 minutes into the race, Christian lapped the field which was down to less than 10 riders by this point – but the chase group of two still hadn’t caught us. So Christian went immediately to the front and began driving the pace. He very slowly started extending the gap on the chase group (we had been getting splits to the chase group behind us). At one point the gap from the chase group to the back of the field was only 20 seconds.

I had won a couple field primes during this time, but then while Christian was driving the front they announced a $230 giro helmet prime. I need a new helmet, so I went really hard for this one. Will Fyfe (Birmingham Bicycle Company), however, just got me at the line. Our effort for the prime, however, shelled some more riders from the group and later when Chris attacked I was able to go with him. He was in an awkward position because he couldn’t work too hard or we would catch his teammate. At the same time, though, it was safer to be off the front then contesting the field sprint. So we settled into a rhythm that looked like would keep us in front of the field but behind the chase group of two.

The chase group had been out front for a long time in the hot conditions so we ended up catching them with about 5 laps to go. This put four of us working together to stay in front of the field. In one of the corners, I felt my rear wheel slide a bit. It felt like I had a flat tire. But I bounced on it and it didn’t seem to be bulging out too much so I kept on going. By three laps to go, though, the tire was rolling on the faster corners. I went to the front to drive the pace so that hopefully I would have enough time to get a wheel from the pit and stay in front of the field since there was no more free laps. But in the end I decided to just risk it since it seemed to have enough air to not be rolling on every corner. Fortunately, the sprint at the finish didn’t start in earnest until after the last corner and I was able to give it max effort up the hill to finish just behind Chris for 3rd place. Here is a picture I got right after the race – I’m guessing that the slow leak had taken it down to maybe 40 psi by the end.

All the data
With five separate races this weekend, I have gobs and gobs of data. So I’ve highlighted what I consider the most interesting data and then put the rest into a gallery. First, I set three new power records this weekend … the first was during the masters road race over the range from 17″ (916 watts) to 20″ (878 watts). The second was during the time trial over the range from 1’07″ (607 watts) to 1’30″ (545 watts). And the final power record was during the P/1/2/3/4 combined crit (probably sprinting for either the points prime at the beginning of the race or the giro helmet prime) over the range from 2″ (1107 watts) to 16″ (930 watts).

New power record set during the Masters 35+ road race.
New power record set during the 1K time trial.
New power record set during the P/1/2/3/4 combined crit.

The next two most interesting data items are the heartrate plot and summary for the Pro/1/2 road race Saturday morning. This was a particularly difficult race to start out the weekend with!
Pro/1/2 road race heartrate summary
Pro/1/2 heartrate and power plot (power smoothed with 30second smoothing filter)

The time trial power plot is interesting … speed data is from GPS, but it looks like there is a second in the middle where my Garmin dropped the power reading right around the time that the GPS-based speed was getting goofy. I wonder if it was because the Garmin was devoting more processing power to trying to pin the GPS signal and dropped the power reading. I stayed big chainring the entire time trial and never stopped standing so my power should never have dropped to zero.
Heartrate plot for the timetrial

Finally, here is my lap data from the two criteriums on Sunday.

MASTERS 35+ criterium - 2nd place
Lap	Time	AvgPow	NormPow	MaxPow	AvgHR	Avg Spd
1	1:47	234	205	725	138	23.6
2	1:38	197	176	626	144	25.6
3	1:38	197	169	528	142	25.4
4	1:38	215	186	668	145	25.8
5	1:39	188	155	636	150	25.3
6	1:38	220	204	664	149	25.7
7	1:38	267	238	1092	146	25.6
8	1:31	323	268	647	170	27.6
9	1:27	364	319	1067	167	28.5
10	1:29	333	281	775	180	26.6
11	1:32	306	259	594	179	26.9
12	1:34	299	251	610	177	26.4
13	1:30	299	243	624	178	25.8
14	1:31	281	229	718	178	25.9
15	1:36	291	242	643	179	25.8
16	1:38	286	242	546	179	25.4
17	1:36	267	231	577	176	25.4
18	1:40	268	223	539	176	25
19	1:39	268	229	536	174	25.2
20	1:34	290	239	548	176	26.1
21	1:35	281	235	639	176	26.2
22	1:31	269	212	499	176	25.8
23	1:31	287	234	699	177	26.1
24	1:33	284	225	571	176	26.8
25	1:34	263	222	600	174	26.4
26	1:36	270	224	696	173	26.2
27	1:34	234	194	613	172	25.1
28	1:42	252	226	759	165	24.3
Pro/1/2/3/4 combined criterium - 3rd place
Lap	Time	AvgPow	NormPow	MaxPow	AvgHR	Avg Spd
1	1:37	398	321	1108	151	26.6
2	1:28	326	265	801	171	27.8
3	1:28	344	297	1086	170	26
4	1:30	341	282	1039	171	25.9
5	1:31	262	232	1033	176	25.3
6	1:36	234	202	673	165	26
7	1:40	214	181	784	162	24.8
8	1:38	166	146	451	158	23.7
9	1:49	168	149	773	150	23
10	1:44	216	190	931	152	23.9
11	1:46	254	253	968	151	23.5
12	1:37	247	198	780	168	24.2
13	1:25	361	303	1110	171	27.7
14	1:43	238	205	918	171	22.8
15	1:26	270	240	897	170	26.5
16	1:40	241	208	793	168	23
17	1:46	212	187	933	158	23.8
18	1:47	186	167	722	157	23.3
19	1:42	218	192	951	153	23
20	1:36	205	184	645	162	23.8
21	1:33	232	192	910	156	25.2
22	1:31	222	182	568	156	25.3
23	1:33	213	176	775	156	24.9
24	1:39	220	186	662	156	25.1
25	1:33	221	184	674	155	24.9
26	1:37	284	253	1125	154	25.6
27	1:36	230	193	623	165	23.9
28	1:30	405	378	1044	168	27.9
29	1:28	289	239	627	181	26.5
30	1:29	274	222	619	179	26.3
31	1:32	292	238	654	178	25.1
32	1:32	243	200	630	176	25
33	1:34	283	235	899	171	24.7
34	1:33	274	230	862	174	24.8
35	1:33	348	292	1111	177	24.8

And here is a gallery of all the data and photos from the race weekend… organized by race.

July 16, 2012 at 12:42 pm Leave a comment

Huntsville Omnium Day 1

Heading towards the space and rocket center not too long after sunrise

Huntsville Omnium Day 1

Quick summary
Two roads races and one time trial makes for a long day of racing. It was a lot of fun, though, and I ended up getting 3rd in the Pro/1/2 road race, 3rd in the Masters 35+ road race, ? in the Pro/1/2 time trial, and ? in the Masters 35+ time trial. After racing two road races in the morning, thankfully we only had to race the time trial once to be scored in both categories based on our time.

Before I dive into the details of the races, some quick stats:

Race Avg Power Avg Speed Avg HR
Pro/1/2 213 watts 23.4 mph 159 bpm
Masters 35+ 200 watts 24.0 mph 152 bpm
Time Trial 586 watts 26.2 mph 166 bpm

I wanted to post these stats because the Pro/1/2 road race and Masters road races played out so differently and yet I got the same place in each race. I was already thinking even before the end of the Masters road race that it was going to be really interesting to compare the data from the two races as well as the tactics and how everything played out.

Pro/1/2 road race
First, the pro/1/2 road race was a pretty small field, but it was quite strong. This meant that whenever somebody attacked, there was always somebody strong enough to bring it back together. The days action started out with Nate Robinson going solo and establishing a 1 minute+ lead. At some point the entire field got into a rotation, and we started to gradually close the gap. Then the attacking began. It’s hard to remember all the attacks because there were so many. I launched one attack that led to a good break with me, Christian Parrett (Globalbike), and Anders (Litespeed-BMW). We worked together really well and were absolutely drilling it, but the gap never got more than maybe 20 seconds. Anders teammate, Chris Brown, bridged up to us and even with the extra horse power, the rest of the field brought us back on the downhill/headwind section of the course.

After the umpteenth attack was brought back on the last lap, we had about 5 or 6 miles of steady very slow riding. Then John Hart (Friends of the Great Smokies) put in the first attack to start the end game with about 3 or 4 miles left in the race. The sudden attack after several miles of slow riding meant that it was “cramp city” for me and probably a lot of other riders. I was able to fight the initial cramp and go with Anders when he countered John’s attack. After these late attacks, the field had been whittled down to just five riders – and we were at a stalemate going into the last mile. Christian put in the first attack with about 1K to go. Anders covered that move with me on his wheel. But then Anders stepped up the pace to lead out Chris. Christian ended up on Anders wheel, then Chris, then me. Christian started his sprint on the downhill leading to the finish. I was still in third position as we hit the bottom of the hill. The finish line seemed so close, and I was in perfect position so I attacked thinking that we had maybe 200 meters left. But after a few seconds into my sprint, we then crossed the 200 meter mark so I had gone too early and both Chris Brown and ? (Harpeth Bicycles) was able to come around with me taking third.

Masters road race
The masters road race had a larger field of maybe 25 riders. I was still tired and very hot from the 8AM race which had gone longer than expected because of our slow average speed. I wanted to race conservatively to make sure that I could finish. Fortunately, there was an early break that got up the road. Also, fortunately, there were some strong riders/teams at the front that worked well together to slowly bring the move back after about a lap and a half. This meant that for the first 15 miles of the race, the pace was very smooth and I worked hard to make sure that I stayed out of the wind as much as possible.

Towards the beginning of the 3rd lap, Chris Brown (Litespeed-BMW) launched a hard solo attack. I was in good position to cover so I drilled it as hard as possible and was able to catch up to him. At this point, there was a solo rider up the road and I figured that we would bridge up to him and have a break of three. But lo and behold, the field came charging up to us just as we starting to get into a rotation! We sat up and our pace dropped leaving the solo rider still close to a minute in front of the field.

I’m not exactly sure what happened next, but only a couple miles later I ended up off the front with three other riders (Britton, Chris, and John). We drilled it hard, fully committed to the move and yet two riders were able to bridge up to us from the field (GW and somebody else). This meant we had a group of six chasing one guy. We worked well together as a group, caught the solo rider towards the end of that lap with one lap to go. Our group worked well together all the way to the end. This time in the sprint, I thought I would wait as long as possible and it worked pretty well as I had a ton of speed for the finish coming up hard on the winner (Britton) and second place – but it was too late as they had already crossed the line leaving me in third again.

Time trial
Two road races down and only one very short (1K) time trial to go. It turns out that there is a lot of strategy that goes into a 1K time trial – especially one that starts out at the bottom of an 11% hill, then crests to a false flat downhill with a massive tailwind. How hard do you go up the hill? How much do you need left in the tank for the false flat downhill with a tailwind?

I decided ahead of time to meter my effort based on average wattage. I know that I can maintain 500 watts for over two minutes – so for a 1K effort that would take about a minute and a half, I was aiming for about 550 watts given the 100 miles of road racing that I had just done. I took one look at my power meter, however, saw 800 watts and decided not to look at the power meter anymore. I ended up with an average power just under 590 watts – so I was happy with that although I’m not sure how that will compare to everyone else.

July 14, 2012 at 8:40 pm Leave a comment

Alabama State Time Trial (do-over)

My attempt at the Alabama State Time Trial last week shortly after having some pretty bad food poisoning went really poorly. I had been looking forward to comparing my time with what I had done two years ago, so today I put my clip-on bars back onto the bike and swapped out to my Reynolds Wheels so that I could try again. I picked a relatively flat route to get all the way out there to Columbiana since it was going to be a long ride in the heat. But showers this morning, cloudy skies, and rain still in the air brought the temp way down to 70s and 80s for most of the ride.

When I finally made it out to the high school, I put my foot down on the start line, hit the lap button and took off. I initially set a target wattage of 300 watts, but I felt good and kept the average (including the initial surge from the start line) closer to 325 watts for the first few miles. Watts were gradually dropping from my average as I tried to keep my current wattage close to 300 on the flatter sections and 400+ on the steep rollers. On the downhills, though, I didn’t want to spin like crazy so I just let the power drop to the low 200s.

At the turnaround, I still had a 310 watt average and 24.5mph speed average so that gave me confidence to push it hard on the way back to keep a 300+ watt average for my effort. I ended up setting a half hour’s worth of power records along the way. My time ended up being just over 58 minutes, which I believe would have put me into 3rd or 4th place in the Pro/1/2 category. Definitely redeems the miserable 1 hour, 17 minute effort last week.

New power records for today’s tt effort (click to enlarge)

This course is really a great time trial course for criterium racers b/c you can take advantage of the steep hills to use your upper body strength and give your legs a bit of a break. And since you are only going 10-15mph on the steeper hills, the aerodynamic penalty of rocking the bike back and forth doesn’t matter so much. Of course, if you have a disc wheel, large front chainring and full aero setup, you might be able to carry enough momentum on the steep downhills to top out some of the rollers.

Heartrate summary for today’s tt effort

Heartrate/power/speed plot for today’s tt effort. Power smoothed with 30second smoothing filter (click to enlarge)

Pedal force vs pedal velocity for today’s tt effort (click to enlarge)

And finally, some Garmin screenshots from the ride including the lap summary screen with different stats shown … (and my TT position setup, which is the most comfortable I’ve ever felt in a time trial so I wanted to take some pics to remember how to set it up like this again in a couple weeks for the Georgia Cycling Gran Prix time trial)

July 7, 2012 at 8:04 pm Leave a comment

Signal Mountain – another Alabama Cat 2 climb

Well, today’s mountain bike ride definitely fit the bill for a “cycling adventure”. Highlights included riding in and behind a thunderstorm, riding through a pilgrimage of devout Catholics, stumbling upon a small forest fire, discovering another Strava Cat 2 climb for Alabama, lots of mud, lots of flying ants, and lots of yellow jackets. Here are annotated topocreator maps of my route.

Annotated topocreator map of the entire 280 corridor (click to enlarge – 3.5MB)

Ridges stacked on top of each other — approximately what the view from Vestavia Dr on Shades Mountain would be with enough visibility and clearance (click to enlarge)

We had some thunderstorms roll through Birmingham this morning, so it was lots of rain on the long ride out to Double Oak and eventually over to Signal Mountain. Most of the thunder/lightning activity stayed just to the east of my location, but it was still disconcerting to be on the edge of a thunderstorm while climbing over the highest ridges in the area. Apparently, lightning from the storm had struck the top of Signal Mountain as I would later discover a small forest fire near the top.

Forest fire near the top of Signal Mountain – lots of smoke under the pine straw.

Before climbing Signal Mountain, I had to first climb up and over the Double Oak ridges taking me down into Bear Creek Valley. As I rode north on Co Rd 43 through Bear Creek, I noticed hundreds of cars parked alongside the road. This was really unusual, but it got even stranger as I started reading the license plates which were from all over the country. I eventually made it through the cars to this field and found out by asking someone walking back that some devout catholics believe Mary appears in this field every year near the Fourth of July.

Devout Catholics gathered in a field where they believe Mary appears every year sometime around the 4th of July (click to enlarge)

Continuing on Co Rd 43, I eventually made it to this barn which used to have a cool concrete statue of cyclists resting on the ground with their bikes propped up behind them, and turned onto the street/driveway (Moss Rock Trail) that leads straight down to Bear Creek itself and the low point for the start of the Cat 2 climb up Signal Mountain. I turned around at the bridge and began the climb by heading back out to Co Rd 43 and turning left to go back all the way through the pilgrimage area until I reached Season Rd, which is the start of the steep part of the climb.

Cars near the field where some devout Catholics believe Mary appears every year near the 4th of July (click to enlarge)

View of Signal Mountain (click to enlarge)

I’m pretty sure this will be the only time I ever do the climb. It is a good climb through a beautiful area, but the majority of it is on private hunting grounds (hence the name “Season Rd”). I reckoned that on a rainy Monday morning in the middle of summer everything should be deserted, which it was. But this is property that should generally be avoided. At the top of the climb is a single radio tower, which is ironic given that the name of the mountain is Signal Mountain.

The climb starts out steady and steep for the first mile before leveling out when you cross over from the back side of the ridge to the front side of the ridge. The view along the front side of the ridge is absolutely amazing – overlooking the valley over 1000 ft below and the adjacent ridge of Double Oak at nearly 1000 ft above the valley floor as well. After about a half mile, the climb bends around the side of the mountain again and really kicks up in elevation. It was just past this bend where I saw the forest fire. Also, I had to run the last bit because I got off-balance in the wrong gear, and it was too steep to remount – but theoretically the entire climb is rideable without stopping.

3D annotated view of double oak and the new signal mtn cat 2 climb (click to enlarge)

3D annotated view of all the ridges between the Cahaba River and Signal Mountain (click to enlarge)

After I made it down the mountain, I rode back to the pilgrimage area and reported the fire to a Shelby County police officer who was helping with crowd control. He thanked me and called it in on his radio. Then it was time for me to head back up and over Double Oak ridge … the mountain was swarming with yellow jackets and flying ants. Because of the earlier rain, I had to run several sections and with every footfall there would be a yellow jacket rooting around in the rocks and mud. I was super careful, but it wasn’t until I was actually riding on a slight downhill at about 15mph when a yellow jacket, bee, or wasp came from in front of me and collided directly with my head. The sting was immediate – I couldn’t tell a difference between the “thud” of the bee hitting me and its sting. One day later as I finish off this post, the entire righthand side of my face is swollen along with both sides of my neck.

To view the ride interactively on Strava, click this link:

Finally, here are all the pics that I took during the ride:

July 3, 2012 at 4:08 pm Leave a comment

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Quick reference stats

Anaerobic Threshold:
Power:315 watts
Heart rate:180 bpm
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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