Saturday, September 04, 2010

Gateway Cup, Day 1

I just followed Dan Holloway’s attack.

He's the 2010 crit national champion. He attacked at Gateway cup last night. I chased down his wheel. After I caught him (like 5 sec later), we were still doing 32+mph on a slight uphill for about 30 seconds.

Yeah, I didn't last very long with that breakaway.

He managed to stay away for a little bit, though. He got reeled in with 5 laps to go, but still won the sprint. Needless to say, I went to bed with some terrible leg cramps.

The course was 4 corners with wide lanes, but the high straightaway speeds made it difficult to move up unless there were periods of slowing down. I chased down a break, and even spent 1/2 lap in a break (see above). In all, we averaged 28.5mph for 85min of racing. Being so active at the front of the field took a lot out of me, and I was completely flat in the last 15 minutes. I forgot that I’m not as fast as I used to be.

With that in mind, I really love racing. I’m glad I’m “back.” This whole full-time job thing sure puts a damper into training. They should just throw me in with the masters, already. Sheesh.

2010 Criterium National Championships

I’ll start off by saying that I’ve been averaging about 5hrs/wk of riding since I got a job in late June.  I took a lot of time off since my disappointment at Collegiate Nationals, where I flatted in both races at critical times.

Crit Nats was in Glencoe, IL this year, a race I won as a cat4 my first year of riding.  I had to race in the cat1/2 field, so it wasn’t quite the same.

I have to make this brief, since I basically forgot how the race went by now.  I remember a couple crashes in a downhill, off-camber, right-hand turn.

With 1/2 lap to go, right before a medium-grade, uphill riser, some guy about 8 bikes in front of me pulled over and started puking.  We averaged 28mph, which was very surprising.

I got 20th in the sprint after having to close down a gap in the straight before the last turn, but I guess 7 people were off the front.  Sad, because it was an awesome sprint.  Surprisingly well considering I haven’t been riding much.

Friday, June 18, 2010

ToAD day 1, and other updates

My laptop broke awhile ago (early May) and it's STILL not fixed, so doing anything on the internet is nearly impossible. I really want to post pics of the last few days of California (Mt. Diablo and Mt. Hamilton were both amazing).

Since California, 4 weeks ago, I have only ridden my bike half a dozen times. That's 1-2x/wk for the past month. Yesterday, I suffered for it.

Tour of America's Dairyland, Day 1, Shorewood crit:
90min crit and no big names preregistered. Then, when I show up, I see Rahsaan Bahati, Chad Hartley, Andrew Crater, Cole House, and a bunch of other pros. 135 people took to the start line. This is going to hurt.

The thing didn't hurt. Well, it shouldn't have. We only averaged ~27.3mph. I'm not sure my powermeter was correct, but it said I only averaged 232w -- 20w lower than collegiate nationals. The only difference is that this one hurt a lot more. The hardest part was that I started in the very back after forgetting my gloves in the car and making it to the start line as the national anthem started. The yo-yo effect was terrible -- having to accelerate from 10-35mph between every turn and straight.

I worked hard to move up, but most of the time I was in the middle of the pack. Three times I was able to move up to the top 10, but I couldn't stay there. After I got there, they would attack and I wouldn't have much left to stay there. Or, even worse, the other two times they sat up and I would get swarmed on both sides.

With 2 laps to go, however, I made my way to around 30th position. They pay 20 deep, so I was sitting good for my situation. I started to cramp and there was a mass slowing in the field -- which was timed perfectly. But, then I got swarmed and physically couldn't fight for my position. With one lap to go, I was around 50th position, so I stopped wasting energy (and a possible terrible leg cramp), and cruised to the finish at the back of the pack. Well, I thought I was at the very back, but I finished 80th. Basically, a non-result.

To be honest, I don't have the fitness to do this right now. I would have done a lot better (who knows exactly how much) if this was in May -- right after collegiate nationals or California.

The good news is that I really enjoyed it, and I'm starting to like my bike again. Maybe I'll train for the Gateway Cup in September.

Monday, May 24, 2010

California pictures, day 1-4

Day 1: Forgot my camera
Day 2:

Day 3:

Day 4:
Albino alligator.

California training camp, days 1-4

Nick and Ryan are cat 3's from Milwaukee. Ryan has an aunt in Palo Alto, so he invited us to stay and train for a week. We were suppose to catch the Tour of California, but it headed a bit too far south by the time we arrived. Instead, we just rode our bikes. We landed on Wednesday, which is day 1. I won't disappoint on pictures, so I'll post them all separately.

Day 1:
We took a quick spin to recover from a 5hr flight. It was basically 45min gradual climb to reach Old La Honda Rd, climb for 20-30min, then mostly downhill back home. I think someone told me that to be competitive in the cat 1/2 fields around here, you should aim to be under 18 or 20 min. I felt like crap the whole way to the climb, but managed to climb it in 19m40s. I'm guessing 18min is the cat 1/2 standard. Here is a screenshot of Nick's Garmin ride file. The green is elevation, the rest is his own training data (HR, speed). Ryan felt like crap and had to stop 2/3 of the way up and roll home.

Time: 1hr 48min
Kilojoules: 973
Day 2:
Today we did a little more climbing. We went up Kings Highway, which was about a 5min longer climb. Ryan stopped at the top of Kings Hwy because he again felt terrible. Nick and I then descended down La Honda, rode north on Route 1 along the coast into a brutal headwind, climbed the backside of Tunitas Creek, and back home. Tunitas was suppose to be some 6mi hard climb, but the last 3 miles were a super easy 3-4%. That was a relief.

Time: 4hrs 49min
Kilojoules: 2909

Day 3:
Ryan finally started to feel better, so we all got to do an 80mi ride. This time, Nick and I learned not to go north on Route 1, so we decided to take a flat road (Canada - Can-yah-da) north to 92/San Mateo Rd, south on 1, east on Alpine Rd. I don't have the Garmin profile image, but it was a pretty cool climb. All the climbs here seem like the same gradient.

We came back during rush hour, but the downhills were pretty fast. We could often keep up with 40-50mph traffic.

Time: 4hrs 53min
Kilojoules: 2908

Day 4:
Rest day. Ryan really wanted a rest day, Nick wanted to take it easy mid-week, and my knee was hurting. So, we went to San Francisco to some famous museum, watched a movie in the planetarium, and spent $40 each on some of the best sushi, ever. I think I gained 5lbs today...

Day 5 was an epic 7 hour ride. Look for the post on it tomorrow or Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

California, here I come.

I think the past week has been the biggest emotional roller coaster of my life. I:
  1. failed to finish both Collegiate Nationals races due to flat tires
  2. quit riding my bike for nearly 5 days
  3. decided to try riding, but hated every second of it. 3hrs @ 14mph. Sweet.
  4. signed a lease to a new apartment in St. Louis
  5. bought a new road bike
  6. graduated from UW-Madison w/a B.S. in mechanical engineering
  7. raced Wheels on Willy, where I somehow got 12th/110 starters
I leave for Palo Alto, California on May 19th until May 30th. I will try to take a lot of pictures, enjoy the bike again, write on my blog every day, and see the Tour of California. In the mean time, here are some pictures.

My new bike.

The kitchen in the new apartment, looking from the living room. This
might be a sweet place to live in a non-college town, for once.

Random picture of Christian VandeVelde winning the crit aroundthe square
during superweek (when it meant something). At 17yrs old. Siiiiigh

Monday, May 10, 2010

Nationals update

Sorry for not updating after every race. To be honest, I wish this weekend never happened.

Road Race:
The Friday road race around Blue Mounds was going really well for half the race. It was raining, in the low 40s, and the whole race was cold and miserable. I stayed with the group two times up Blue Mounds, and only about 30 of us were in the lead peloton, with everyone else dropping out or getting dropped. This was phenomenal for a non-climber like me. 2.5 laps into the 5 lap race, though, I got a flat on my front tire. I stopped and neutral support came up to tell me they ran out of wheels. Awesome. Not only that, but now I had to ride 5 miles in this freezing cold rain on a flat tire since no one offered me a ride. FFS.

The Saturday crit is what I cared most about. I started near the front, stayed near the front, and felt really strong. With 8 laps to go, we were doing well over 30mph average. I rode Matt Brandt's wheel up into the top 15 riders. Riders were pulling off as soon as they hit the front, meaning I would have been delivered to the line right at the front. I felt really good, I wasn't tired, I wasn't hurting, and I was ready for a really good finishing sprint.

With only 2 laps to go, my front tire flatted. 2 laps. I've been training for the Collegiate Nationals crit for 2 years -- even more in the past year since UW was hosting it, tapered/peaked only for this race, knowing I could do really well. I was in perfect position. Brandt even wound up getting 3rd place.

Really, I feel like quitting this sport. I put everything in my life on hold for this. Everything was strained and suffered because I wanted to do well in this one race. And I didn't even get to finish it because of a flat tire. I will now never know what could have been in this race. I wish I could explain to anyone how much this hurts.

After being extremely disappointed from yesterday, I really didn't want to race. Since we registered, my fiancee sort of made me show up to this race. It was only 3 of us. You needed to finish with 3 (of a possible 4 starters) to be timed. So I raced. Bleh.

I borrowed a friend's TT bike. I've never ridden a TT bike before, and never raced a TT/TTT before. I got there an hour early, set it up 1000 times, kept checking with tech-inspection to make sure I was legal, then rode the TT.

Julio and Heile were on road bikes. Heile broke his Campy shifter and had to get a neutral bike setup and going. We lost out on at least 4-5min of riding. I know 2 teams passed us, and after we started again, a 3rd one passed us only a couple minutes later.

We finished with a time of like 44ish minutes. This was a 19mph average, I believe, which is slow than any of us could do solo on a road bike for less than 20 miles. It also put us in 12th place...of 12. The actual TTing part was strange. Not sure I ever want to do that again.

Thanks for tuning in, and sorry for the lack of updates. I really couldn't care less about bikes, right now.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Collegiate Nationals is here!

Cheer for me! I'm wearing race #59. It'll be a nice 39 degrees and raining at the start...and we start by doing a 5min descent.

Friday, April 23, 2010

obligatory overdue update

The past couple weeks have been super busy.  I started an anaerobic training block right after spring break, which allowed for a nice 5-6hr “rest” week.  I then built it up to 11 hours, and this week will probably come out to 18 hours on the bike.  I have another 3-4 days of next week of more hard riding.  I was shooting for 30hrs in a week, but it looks like it will be closer to 25hrs.

I’ve pre-ridden the Blue Mounds RR course at least 40 times since I moved to Madison, including racing it once last year for Tour of America’s Dairyland.  I did it again on Wednesday, and it never seems to get any better.  It just always freaking hurts.


rr_map  Africa
(it looks like Africa!)

The topo map is deceiving.  The gradient actually averages 7-9%, with a 12% kicker.  Not sure why that picture is off by a few percent.  Oh well, everything hurts the same when you’re racing up it.

I’ll update a lot more in the coming days.  I have collegiate nationals on May 7/8/9 and then I leave for Palo Alto for the Tour of California on May 19, 3 days after graduation.

Monday, April 12, 2010

My first P/1/2 race

This race was awesome, and there were some fast people there.

Jim Stemper (Kenda Pro Cycling) and Brian Rach (ISCorp), both whom I stayed with in Tucson, were there. An awesome sprinter, Chad Hartley (Kenda Pro Cycling) was there. Thirteen IS Corp riders were there (Matt Busche from RadioShack rode for IS Corp as an amateur). I have looked up to most of these guys for the past 2 years, so it was nerve-racking finally riding with them. I think I counted about 70-75 riders at the start, but was told only 62 at the finish by an official. Not sure if that’s how many finished or how many started, though.

I was worried, though. Would I do something stupid in front of them? Most knew this was my first P/1/2 race coming up from the 3s.

The course had two real turns, and two small risers, with a good amount wind. No brakes were necessary, but apparently they use brakes in the P/1/2 field, too.

Hartley said he averaged 270-something watts, but he was a lot more active than I was and he has 10lbs on me. Mine was about 230w, with 263w normalized power for the 55min. The thing I noticed – I could respond to every attack and recover within seconds. I wasn’t tired, even when it got really hard at some parts (Peak 60s = 551w). In the end, I sat 15th wheel with 1/2 lap to go, and we were doing 31+mph.

I sprinted up to a line of riders coming up on my left, took a small gap to take second wheel with 300m to go. The guy pulled off right after the turn, leaving me with a 200m, uphill, upwind sprint. A few guys gained on me, 1st won by half a bike length, but 2nd-5th were within 6 inches of each other.

4th place (of 62+) in my first P/1/2 race. Awesome.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

North Carolina: Day 8

Today was my second and last hard day on the bike.  We went to Blue Ridge Parkway, and I finally got to finish it with no knee pain or anything.  The first pass is a 10.5mi climb where I averaged ~280w for an hour.  Then a slight downhill for 3mi, with another 4-5 mi climb at the same wattage.  There were 5 tunnels that were pitch black – it feels like you are just floating, as you can’t even see your hands, let alone your wheels, bars, or the road.

I started the day dead last by about 10 minutes.  I caught up to the 12 person B’s group by the top of the second climb, as they took a minute to fill their water bottles.  Then, I proceeded to bomb the 9mi descent at 42+mph average, with one person still able to hold my wheel.

Starting the second climb was a big pain.  After descending for 9 miles, I am terrible at warming up.  Everyone caught  and dropped me by 50-200m (it split up) before I re-warmed up.  After I felt better, I attacked again, averaging only 250w for another 13.5mi up a mountain and over a couple rollers.  I finally hit 6100ft of elevation, where we rested for awhile.  It was 90 degrees today, and the sun was killing us the whole time.  The thin air at altitude was still in the 70s, so I got burned really bad.

I hit the descent hard, then climbed the 9 miles with K.Hess at ~220-230w, not wanting to go any harder.

Finally, the last 9mi descent came.  I went down as hard as I could, again averaging over 40mph.  I passed 2 cars, and nearly passed a third if he wouldn’t have taken up both sides of the road and generally acted dangerous.  The tunnels were pitch black, and at 40mph, REALLY scary.  But, they were tons of fun since I came out alive and unharmed.

My powermeter said I averaged 700w up the first climb, and that my peak 30 minute power was 1070w, even after zeroing it at every downhill.  Hmm, this thing is worse than I thought.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

North Carolina: Day 5 and 6

Day 5:

Day 5 was a rest day, so I went to a local coffee house and hung out for some 4-5hrs.

Day 6:
Cherohala is the penultimate day of not only spring break, but of my whole season. Depending on where you start your watch, it’s about 60-75min of climbing, reaching a peak altitude of 5400ft. Afterwards, there is a 20min climb up Stecohah Gap (and a 4mi 1-3% grade up to the climb). Throw in some super-steep rollers, a few extra miles on the end, and you have 100mi day in the mountains.

With about 20 people, the ride started slow. Then really fast. Our 60s pulls were over 500w, with a constant rotation. In the draft it was right at threshold. We stopped at the ranger station 7mi from the climb where we dropped off our warm-weather clothing in a support vehicle.

Then, we hit Cherohala. For me, hard. For the first 20min, I averaged 310w and there were still about 10-12 of us in the group. People slowly started to fade, and 3 went up the road – a cat1 from Kelly Benefit, Stoveken, and Dave Z. Our group started to fade, so only Brian of my GDVC team, Cook, Gehling, and I were left. Cook got dropped, Gehling pulled away, which left Brian and I to finish together at the top.

I averaged 290w up the climb, which was surprisingly good considering my circumstances. Now I just have to drop another 7lbs and I might be a decent cat2.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

North Carolina: Day 4

Today was another day of crappy weather.  We started at 11am, the rain started at 11:05am, and it didn’t stop until 5 minutes after we got home.  I seriously have the best luck, ever.

We were going to do Junaluska to 7-11.  Junaluska is a 4mi climb at a steady 6-8%.  Not hard, but it seemed to drag on forever.  I was on my 4th day of riding, I was feeling miserable, but I needed to do one more day before a rest day.

So, Tank, Cook, DZ, Jamie (a cat1 from Virginia who drove down for a few days), Dallas, Pat H, and I headed for Junaluska.  We killed it on the way there, got soaked, lost feeling in our feet, and then turned onto Junaluska Rd for the climb

Cook attacked, Pat H and DZ followed, and I went my own pace.  I averaged about 265w for the 35min climb, which was surprisingly high after yesterday’s ride and feeling like I wanted to pass out all day.  We cut the ride short, skipped 7-11, and made it a 2.5hr ride.

Since this was yesterday’s ride, today is technically a rest day.  Tomorrow (Wednesday) is Cherohala, which is an awesome 60-75min climb that is super hard.  It’s always made into a century to add to the pain.  Hopefully, my powertap will be working again by then.  I’ve had to replace the battery 3 times in 3 days, and this most recent one was giving me tons of problems with power readings (eg, reading 73w when I’m drilling it up a mountain, or 470w while coasting).

Edit before posting: My left knee really hurts.  Thank God today

Monday, March 29, 2010

North Carolina: Day 3 and 4

Day 3 – Backside of Wayah Rd:
Day 3 was the most brutal day I’ve ever had on a bike.

There was a threat of rain all day.  It was suppose to downpour and potentially hail, with a high of mid-50s.  Rides weren’t leaving at 10am like they normally do, many people skipped, and finally, a few rides went out.  Rain would intermittently pour and then switch to sunshine.

The faster group that I ride with left at 11:30am to do the backside of Wayah.  It started to downpour right at the start, and the radar looked terrible.  I skipped it, knowing how bad it was last year when I had to descend the front side of Wayah in the pouring cold rain.

Time passes, and it stopped raining for a few hours.  There was still a threat, but whatever, I needed to ride.  Actually, it looked like it would pass north of us and I was going to head south.  By 2:30pm I hopped on my bike and went on a solo ride up the backside of Wayah, thinking it would be about 4hrs.  I wore a long sleeved base layer, leg warmers, booties, and brought a rain jacket.  Here is the chronological order of events:

0-1hr: gorgeous weather, dying of heat.  Think about taking off leg warmers, roll up base layer sleeves
1-2hrs: some on/off rain with mostly sunny skies, but started to drizzle at 1:45.  I got lost for about 45min by taking a turn too early.
2-2.5hrs: pouring rain that turned into pea-sized hail.  Yes, hail.  I got completely drenched, and it hurt like hell.
2.5-3hrs: climbed the backside of Wayah in a down pouring rain, lost feeling in hands and feet
3-4.5hrs: the top of the mountain was a cloud, and I couldn’t see more than 10ft in front of me for the first 10min while descending
4.5-5hrs: pouring rain finally eased into dry air, but the sun set and the moon was out.  Hands and feet were purple; I couldn’t shift or hit the brakes.

Most. Epic. Day. Ever.  I had double, blurry vision, I was nauseous, I had frostbite, and everyone told me, “I look like death.”  I would give nearly anything to take that ride back.

Day 4:
I’ll actually save day 4 for tomorrow since tomorrow is a rest day.  Check back then!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

North Carolina: Day 1 and 2

Day 0:
Stephanie faxed in my paperwork.  My interview went really well last Friday that they extended me an offer on that Monday.  Awesome!  I had Steph fax in the paperwork with my signature, so I officially have a full-time job this summer.  It starts June 21, 5 days into Tour of America’s Dairyland.  Wow, I’m going to be a grownup.  It feels unreal.

Day 1 – Front side of Wayah.
I spent 14hrs in a car with no sleep.  Compounded with 5hrs of sleep the night before, I was running on sub-empty.  So, to fix this problem, I went for a 3hr ride.

It wasn’t hard, really.  Only 210w average, 150 TSS, and 50mi.  A few harder efforts were thrown in, but the last thing we wanted to do was blow our immune systems on the first day, get sick, and ruin the rest of the week.  It was a 7.5mi climb with two descents, averaging 7% gradient.

I got home, went to bed at 9pm (which is only 8pm back home), and slept for 11.5hrs.  It would have been more, but the rest of the crew from UW-Madison got into town and made a lot of noise.  11.5hrs was reeeeally nice.

Day 2 – Fontana Dam:
I almost got arrested today.  More on that in a minute.

Today was the first real test of the legs.  Apparently, yesterday was harder than I thought.  I had 4 days completely off the bike due to 2 exams the previous week, so it may have been a shock to the system.

We did 80mi, 3000kJ (roughly 3000 Calories), in just over 4hrs of riding.  One of the stronger riders this year, Jon Cook, attacked up one of the climbs and I killed myself to stay on his wheel.  Fontana Dam is by far the most scenic ride of the week, and it was perfect outside.  We even got to stop and take off arm/leg warmers to work on the tan.


When we got to the Tennessee border, the road was blocked because of a rock slide a mile ahead.  They blocked it 10ft in front of the “Welcome to Tennessee” sign, then had a metal barricade another 50ft after it.  I wanted to say I crossed into Tennessee, so I went between the plastic construction cylinders and turned around long before the metal barricade.

(last year Fontana, without the construction barricades 50ft behind it)

The metal barricade had a construction worker and a cop.  About 10 seconds after I turned around to head back down the mountain, they called for me.  Okay…  I preceded to get my head bit off by the construction worker.  I told the construction worker to chill out because all I wanted was a picture next to the state border sign.  They then threatened me with, “an instant trip to jail” for crossing the construction cylinders.

Cook said I should have done it because the club would have bailed me out and it would have made a great story.  It would have also been another 40mi less of riding that day, and many more hours in a dirty chamois.  Gross.

Tomorrow it is suppose to rain a lot, so it may be a short ride or just cancelled.