Finally, not a loss (although my check engine light came on during the ride home so continue to FML). Not a win either, but third, and bested by second by only .2s over 20km.
I did this race two years ago and while I put in a faster pace (average speed) then, I placed 12 positions worse. I noted then that it was windy that day, but it was clearly even windier today as times were roughly 3:30-4 minutes slower (I was 2:30 slower). There was also an additional .5mi this time around. Cliff’s – slower speed, much better result, I’m faster… I think.
I also borrowed a TT bike this go around, but after a few rides I wasn’t able to get comfortable or feel efficient on it. The night before I even popped it on the trainer and completely overhauled my positioning. No idea if I got it right or even close to right, but it had to be faster than my road bike… right? It had a power meter and my wattage was right around what I would have expected based on previous hard efforts of this length on the trainer, but low considering my FTP – maybe my FTP is off? I mean another 23 watts for another 29 minutes in theory? Something ain’t right.
I don’t think they had awards or anything so just some pride earned. Would have been nice to get 2nd for the additional upgrade points, but I’m hopeful I’ll be reaching 3 before the season gets into full swing.
Years ago I was overwhelmed, wrote about it, and was happier for it. Times have changed and I’ve recently felt I’d be happier doing more. When asked if I’d be interested in joining the board for my cycling team, I went for it and got the position. As of this week I am the webmaster/communications dude for Prestovelo/Bicycleattorney.com.
I don’t have anything significant planned as the person previously in the role did a great job and left me nicely setup (he inherited a much tougher job), but I’m floating a handful of ideas specifically to improve event awareness/tracking/participation.
Noteworthy – during this regular shuffling of the board, the team became the first coed team in Oregon history (as far as we can tell) to have a female president. Kind of surprising considering how progressive Oregon is, but less surprising when you consider how male dominated cycling is.
By now you probably know I do a lot of trainer/online bike riding from the comfort of home. I haven’t raced online much since last off-season and am pretty focused on a training plan right now so again no real time for racing, but now and then I fit quick ones in… like today.
I’ve progressed enough with my cycling that I’m now in an open category, which means my functional threshold power is over 4 watts per kilogram. I’m only barely over that mark so I typically get crushed in category races by folks who are comfortably in the category. Today, either none of those folks showed up, or I was a tactical genius. I’d like to think it was a bit of both.
Conveniently, there was a 1-hour easy ride scheduled just before this race, which served as a great warmup. After that concluded I had a chance to hit the restroom, top off my water, and even reweigh to make sure my power to weight ratio (that’s what this stuff is all about) was correct (it was – I’m +10lbs over race weight… eek! but within 8% though so nothing to be too concerned with).
This particular race was an all-out 1-lap race. That means gunning from the start, which I’m usually ill-prepared for and end up off the lead group immediately and completely out of contention. NOT TODAY. For the first 5 miles nothing occurred. Nobody pushed the pace and I was my typical vocal self egging folks on 😉 On the final hill, a short to medium 4%, one guy broke away. A few seconds later, another. With the group not jumping, I became the third to break. There was a 3-4 second gap between each of us at the top of the hill. I think the first guy gassed himself or realized how long a 1-mile slog by yourself can be and his power dropped significantly. The second guy caught him and a short while later I did too. At this point the pack was still only 4-seconds back. Sensing blood, I pushed the pace. The other two grabbed my wheel and we pulled further from the pack. Knowing tactics (I’m usually the breakaway guy because a solo break is fun as hell and VIDEO GAME), I wasn’t going to let them ride me in. I eased off a touch as they picked up their paces at the 1k mark and began sprinting shortly thereafter. I bided my time, but stayed in their draft. With 400m left I dropped the hammer. For a moment I thought I had started my sprint too late, but I edged them both at the absolute last possible moment before the line for the win.
I only pulled a 4.1w/kg for the race, which usually isn’t enough for a win, but this one came mostly down to tactics. I could have certainly put more power in, but until that last mile I was biding my time and saving juice as opposed to being combative and making things interesting like usual.
Today’s lesson? Smart is less fun, winning is most fun. Race smart.
Yesterday marked the end of bicycle racing season. You can read about my somewhat abbreviated road season here. There was no mountain biking worth mentioning.
Cyclocross season started out with big hopes; I won the last race of the year last year (you can barely notice the damage anymore unless you’re all up in my grill, but still a bitch having the fake front teeth – might go for the serious replacement in the next few years when I get a few $k burning a hole in my pocket), I was in better shape than ever before, and, well, that was enough for big hopes.
I was not disappointed. I started the season with a podium and a pair of near podiums. I was also skirting that line of a mandatory upgrade, but was going to be able to eke out a series podium before getting the bump… and then bikes happened… I flatted in three of my next four races. The first occurred early in a race so having plenty of gas left, I decided to self upgrade for the afternoon. I never returned to the lower class and missed out on a series award solely due to not having finished enough races (I had the points for it) – had I walked across the finish line on that flat day I think I would have qualified, but it is what it is. I KNOW IN MY HEART I’M A WINNER!
Following my upgrade, I continued to flat all over the place and battle a bike I probably should have fully overhauled in the off-season. Bearings were seizing, brakes a mess, tires/wheels not working out at all. Not something I cared to deal with with double-header weekends all over the place so I went full tilt and ordered a new bike from Norco through Western Bikeworks (both team sponsors). Upon arrival a few days later I converted it to tubeless, sized it up, and that was it – fast, futureproof, and reliable. I’ll likely set the old bike up as a pit bike over the off-season since it’s worth very little used.
Racing the new category was… interesting. Due to some reworking of classing, moving from 4 to 3 puts you up against the 2 racers as well unless you’re 35+ (next year – shit) so it’s effectively a two class jump (some 2s race 1/2, but they don’t like getting beat up so many do not). This put 3s in a really funny position where they have to beat all of the 2s to even become a 2. I knew I wouldn’t be competitive, and I wasn’t, but it was refreshing to not care about winning, have fun, and watch the lines of the guys passing/lapping me. I started the final series finishing towards the back of the pack due to overthinking things and making a bunch of mental errors, but I’m safely in the front half now despite not having a call-up (the first ~25 riders always get to start at the front, which is a monster advantage) all season.
Yesterday was likely my best race of the season. I started 7th from the back and finished 29th of 64. It was a course that really suited raw power over my lack of technical ability.
What’s next? I’ve already accomplished my yearly mileage goal so I’ll probably take a few weeks “easy” (ratchet down to ~100 miles/week), think about an offseason training plan, put on a few pounds, get involved in some online racing (how badass is this kit!?), and start planning out the 2017 season.
The goals for 2017 are pretty much already set since cycling progression is pretty clearly defined – upgrade to 3 on the road, try track, maybe pick up a new mountain bike so I’ll actually go out and do that, get to the front of the Open 2/3 pack or upgrade to Masters 2 in Cross, and generally do a lot more travel/riding stuff – trace along with the Tour of California, maybe go to Italy with a teammate, maybe go to France for the Tour, PacNW/Cali bike touring, etc… Bikes are good and making it through an entire year (24 races) without a trip to the ER is great.
Hi there! Still alive. Lots to share about the summer, but we’ll save most of it for later. Road racing season has come to a close and while it’s fresh in my mind I might as well write about it!
I had an amazing off-season thanks to my Kickr. Came into the season with a ton more focused miles and strength than ever before, but my mind wasn’t really there. Life, burnout from 31 races in 2015, crashing in the final race last year… In the end I didn’t really race much – ten races, mostly weeknight series.
The bulk of my racing was at the Tabor series. I upgraded in the middle to end of the series last year and it was a struggle. I had resigned myself to winning prime laps and hoping to hang on. This year with added fitness and down about 10 pounds, I actually had some climbing skills! I still couldn’t hang with the big guns for the final sprint, but I was there at the end of the race and even capable of going for primes and recovering as if they didn’t happen. Last year I averaged 15th place, this year… hrm, only 11th, but it was overall a much stronger note than last. I finally got things together with a 6th in the final race with lots of gas left so while I think I had the fitness all along, I simply didn’t know how to race it until the end.
Following Tabor I did a couple of Monday/Tuesday races at PIR. Things went surprisingly poorly following a 4th in the first race. Tactical errors above anything else, but that’s part of the game. I’m certain had I done more races and gotten a handle for it I’d have seen a handful of podiums. Alas, I wasn’t focusing on road this year so no big deal.
On a whim, I went out and raced the state championship down in Eugene. It would be my first and only proper road race of the year. Things were going pretty well in the 3/4 race, but it was an extremely hot day and without support it was not possible on the two bottles I had. With ten miles to go (sixty mile race) I ran out of fluids and my body shutdown. Pretty miraculous I made it to the finish. I probably should have stopped when I noticed myself woozily avoiding riding into ditches on uphills. Yeah, bad… A lot of folks didn’t finish that day so I don’t feel too bad about it, but it was a lot of effort for naught. I hadn’t done a lot of long riding this year either so I pretty much set myself up for failure by not knowing the resources I’d need to get through it or even having the muscle memory/makeup to make the ride possible.
No podiums, but also not much effort. I’m the strongest I’ve ever been and (spoiler alert!) it’s really showing in cyclocross. I’ll provide a wrap-up of that and other things around November.
I really dig indoor park riding. So much so that I went out and bought a bike for it. Unfortunately, it’s hard to learn at this age and hitting the ground at my size or really any adult size hurts. About half the time I go riding I return home with something to mend (screw digging through my elbow, crushed shins, a limp for weeks, etc). I’m currently dealing with a hip pointer that’s more than a month old and not getting too much better (hip flexor is still OW). Last week I did some soul-searching and put the bike up for sale and it sold yesterday for my asking price. It’s not often that I sell a bike without it being an upgrade so this is a big deal. We had a good run and I learned some techniques that will help me in my other cycling, but my days jumping things and getting rad are now over. The new owner will be traveling the US in a Eurovan so the bike is sure to see some great sights and I’m glad somebody will be using her better than I could ever hope to.