Friday, May 29, 2009

Top 3 Reasons I Shave my Legs

1) So I can admire the stringy IT bands when using "The Stick"
2) I enjoy shower time and need an excuse to extend it
3) So bandages stick easier and pull off painlessly. Like all those band-aids I seem to use when I nick myself, shaving.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hot, Hilly, and Crowded

Silverton! First OBRA race of the year for me. Hell of a race to start with! I think I heard 81 starters mentioned by an official at the line. It sure looked like it. And 81 degrees, too. And 6,000+ft of climbing over 4 laps. Bleh!

Some stats:

Duration: 3:01:04
Work: 2523 kJ
Norm Power: 299
VI: 1.29
Distance: 112.535 km
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 1122 232 watts
Cadence: 29 193 85 rpm
Speed: 3.6 76.6 37.3 kph

OK, got that? That's the grand total. For the 3 hrs. Now let's see what the hardest hour was... oh look, it's the very first hour of the race:

Peak 60min (258 watts):
Duration: 1:00:01
Work: 928 kJ
Norm Power: 325
VI: 1.26
Distance: 37.675 km
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 926 258 watts
Cadence: 30 183 85 rpm
Speed: 16.6 76.2 37.7 kph

325W normalized for the first hour with 256W average explains why we started to shell guys. That's a decently solid pace. But the first 20min were even the hardest 20 minute of the ride:

Peak 20min (284 watts):
Duration: 20:01
Work: 341 kJ
Norm Power: 351
VI: 1.24
Distance: 11.732 km
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 926 284 watts
Cadence: 31 183 87 rpm
Speed: 20.3 76.2 35.2 kph

20 minutes at 284W isn't bad at all, but normalized to 351 means that, if you weigh what I do, you probably needed to have a threshold power near that number otherwise you were going to be one hurtin' unit, and pay for it later if you hung on. Scale for size, of course, positioning, ability to shelter from wind, etc etc, but that's a good guesstimate.

And what did the very fist climb look like? Like this: 5 minutes at 393W at 27.3km/h (that's a guess on the actual climb time as my PowerTap doesn't do GPS - just picked what was likely). Uphill with wind. That effort started the 20min effort listed above which also started the hardest 60min effort... which is why, after the first two laps, we pretty much had half the field left. Or something like that.

So then what happened? Well, some really fast guys rolled off the front early. Then HP Chiro decided to chase. And chase. And reel stuff in. But not bridge or create big selections. So after the first lap I drifted back to watch, thinking it was going to be just attrition. And it was. And by lap 3, we were all just hanging out playing games.

We played a few different games, which included:

- Let's Guess Who's Going to Chase Now!
- Avoid the Front!
- Let's All Watch Ryan Trebon! (very popular game)
- Attack! (Just Kidding)

Then, on (I think) the start of lap 4, another group got off. I attempted to follow some moves and do some of that bridging suff, since they weren't that far away most of the time, but it never really went anywhere. And everyone was looking a little bit stuffed. So, at the last corner maybe 4k out I kind punched it into the head/cross wind and sure enough, they all let me go. I did an 8minute time trial, or something like that. La-di-da, I got 10th. At least it's in the money.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Le Pissin' Rain

Sunday TTT: 38F and raining. And windy. With clip-ons on the road bike. I have not been that cold on a bike in a very long time. Owch. Immediately through the finish I got in the car, turned on the heaters, and took off all of my icy wet clothes (yes, they were mostly wool) and sat there in a wool shirt until I could feel my toes again, at which point I put on underwear. When I could use my hands enough to work zippers and buttons, I put on the pants. Then I drove away.

On the plus side, the Wild Boar Coffee in Ft. Collins has free refills on house coffee and does Belgian waffles. So after caffeinated rehydration therapy, I made it back to Denver in more or less good condition.

Of course, the pissin' rain followed us home again. It's off and on a bit, but right now I am ready for some sunshine.

Saturday I went out for a loose spin to Red-rocks Amphitheater, which, if you haven't been, sits in between two natural red cliffs and carries sound wonderfully. Looking down past the stage you can see the city and the high plains in the East without much noise pollution from the town. You sit up in the hills and just kind of observe the plains stretching themselves away. I rolled up there and grabbed on to the guard rail at the top and heard guitar strumming coming off of the stage. The place is usually full of visitors, and completely open, so there were plenty of people around and one guy with a steel radio flyer wagon was giving us his own show. I was kind of digging it until I picked out the tune and a couple of the words - it was a John Denver song. So I left him lamenting about leaving on his jet plane and rolled back down to town.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The air up here

As I write, I am sitting in Lakewood, CO, the day after racing the collegiate nationals road race up in Fort Collins. A race marked by what Velonews described as 'gale force winds' - which is not much of an exaggeration.

Last week some of us who were making the trip hooked up with the UO physiology lab for some quick altitude acclimation work in the lab's environmental chamber, which allowed us to sit at a simulated 10,000-14,000 ft and adapt a little bit to the oxygen poor air. We didn't do a course long enough to boost hematocrit, but rather followed a procedure to improve ventilatory response and O2 use at altitude. We took turns sitting on a stationary bike pedalling at pathetic wattages with pounding hearts, and sitting around doing homework. I think that it worked, because I have felt better than I ever have visiting Colorado, but it wasn't really enough to get any sort of results.

We started off with a 'neutral' rollout that was apparently clocked at ~36mph as super strong winds pushed us around inside the rolling police enclosure. There was a pretty big pile-up resulting from the field riding gutter to gutter and swarming around, where guys were moving out to occupy all possible pavement including right turn lanes, etc, then swinging back in as the pavement expired and they faced curbs, ditches, and what-have-you. Eventually some guys just collided and mayhem ensued. The whole Oregon team avoided that but it was a major annoyance at just 7 minutes into the race.

The entire field basically blew to bits on the first climb. We hit a little bugger of a rise into some weird wind patterns and went hard up the climbs and before you knew it, it was carnage all over. And I sucked. I started hyperventilating on the climb and freaked myself out a bit, calmed down, and realized that I was in a really bad position. Plus, the short efforts like that are my Achilles heel - I really, really suck. If it involved any portion of fast-twitch muscle, I just suck. Anyhow, over the top of the climb I put it into TT mode and started catching and dropping groups of guys, just riding right through them. A lead group was up the road a little ways and a relatively big chase group right behind them. I got so close. But with the winds, either tail or head, it was just a bridge too far.

Sitting just a few seconds down from the second group, a few miles after the major carnage, a third group rolled up and caught me. Then we watched group 2 start to roll away. I was pissed. I tried getting the paceline going but it was just not moving all that fast, even though you could tell some guys were pretty much dead. I rode away - without attacking - on all of the climbs and got 2/3 of the way back to group 2 until headwinds killed it again, and again, and again. I must have done that three times, the climbs were just too short and followed by winds at the top where a larger group would just roll away. A group of maybe 8 fell off of group 2 and motivated our guys enough to chase hard - until they got within 5-8s and started looking at each other. What?! They literally stopped chasing. So I took the opportunity to jump across - again, no attack, just accelerating from 6 riders back and making the junction. That group went another 5-6 minutes, the group behind finally got their act together and connected, and I went away on the very next climb. Just big-ringed it when everyone else put it in the 39, one guy from Midwestern States followed me and it was just us. A little while later we caught a Colorado State and the three of us went bye-bye. We were within 30s of group 2 for the longest time - closing on climbs, losing ground in tailwinds - and eventually couldn't see anyone behind us any more. So we tempo'ed it home.

The winds... insane. I was stopped on the last descent by emergency services who has just arrived (an ambulance was in the caravan) to pick up a Marian college rider who had gotten picked up by the winds and hit a rock when he got dropped back down. I rode the brakes down the descent to try and keep everything under control. Not exactly a good time.

Today, I'm skipping the crit, and resting up for the TTT tomorrow. With calmer winds forecast and a borrowed Zipp sub-9 and 1080 wheel combination, there will be some serious hammer throwing. At least, by Oregon standards.