Cycling

Race: Barton Park Road Race

Posted on Apr 26, 2017 in Cycling | 0 comments

18057845_1775096625850424_8187806973124088326_nDouble the number of road races as last year and we’re just getting started!

I hadn’t planned on doing this one, but my legs were feeling good after a light week of travel/not riding, and two friends/teammates would be in my group (pictured) so I went for it. The weather was more of the same with temperatures in the 50s and rain. At this point I’m used to it.

The race was to be seven laps of a seven mile loop with a significant climb near the end of each lap. We ended up doing eight laps due to an officiating mixup that apparently also happened last year, but them’s the breaks.

I found myself pulling the pack through the entire first lap, which I never want to do, but with speeds as pedestrian as we were going (18ish) it really made no difference. That lap we would call a scenic one. It gave me a casual look at the hill. It wasn’t too long and wasn’t too steep, but changed grades a few times and would require me to use my front derailleur, which has been finicky ever since I got my bike (yes, I’ve tried everything short of getting a new drivetrain). I’d have to be extra careful at the crest of the hill to not drop my chain as things leveled out and hit high gear, where the race would ultimately be decided.

Round and round we went with the lead group dwindling every time we came to the hill. What started out as 25 riders was down to 12 or 13 when we hit the hill the final time. I felt pretty fresh and hit the incline pretty well, but ran out of gas just as it hit its final grade increase, gapped from the lead five, which then became four for a sprint finish that I was not present for. All in all I’m pleased with a 6th.

My GPS seems to not like calculating elevation properly anymore (it’s about a year old and cost $400 so why would I expect it to?), but the proper race distance was around 55 miles and 3300ft of climbing.

I’m currently sitting in 2nd of the Cat 4 BAR (Best All-Around Rider) standings, which I can’t really make sense of other than I’ve done a time trial and most others haven’t. It’s a moot point because I’m Cat 3 in cross, I don’t know what in mountain bike, and a beginner at track (I really hope to try it this year if the rain ever abates) so those results won’t count towards it. What it does mean is I’m knocking on the door of Cat 3, which is probably where I’ll live forever unless I have a lot of trouble finding a job and put in a gross number of hours; age isn’t exactly on my side at this point unless I go to Master’s racing, which I’m going to avoid until I truly feel myself slowing.

Race: Kings Valley Road Race

Posted on Apr 10, 2017 in Cycling | 0 comments

It’s not often that I preregister for a race many days in advance. It’s never that I preregister for a race given a grim forecast. It’s 100% of the time I do both that a grim forecast turns into some of the most miserable weather a human being can endure. This weekend made me one for one. Sub-40 degree temps, downpours, constant spray from wet roads and no fenders, sleet, etc. Finishing was a moral victory and that’s what I did. As you can see in the results, upwards of half of some fields did not finish.

This was a 56-mile and relatively flat race. Given my talents (diesel engine) it should have been a day for me to excel. I ended the race with the lead group, but when asked to answer the sprint call, the legs did not answer. Following the race and the day afterward my legs felt perfectly strong so I think this was more of a survival mechanism shutting them down rather than a training/muscle/cardio failure. Regardless, I could really stand to do more long riding rather than the daily 1-2 hour sessions I’ve been getting in all winter. Road season will benefit from it and Leadville, the big goal, will too.

I finished 10th of 25 in my category, but we rode with the “faster” category too (I actually beat a larger percentage of them than my “slower” category) so you could say roughly 25th of 60. Nothing to write home about, but I’m pleased for my first road race in a long while (I dehydrated/bonked in my one and only last year so this is a clear improvement).

Following the race a few of us went back to the local watering hole for some drinks and burgers. Sometimes cycling makes you question your sanity, but those questions are answered when you treat yourself to some suds, massive piles of beef and fried potatoes, and don’t feel an inkling of guilt for it.

Nothing cooking this week or weekend so it’ll be a big week for training as long as I can escape the rain  that’s forecast for every damn day. Next week starts the two weekly weekday circuit races and the weekend brings another road race, all of which I’ve penciled into the calendar.

[GPS]

Dalles Mountain 60 errrrr 56 or 57ish

Posted on Mar 28, 2017 in Cycling | 0 comments

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A few weekends ago was this annual unorganized gravel ride on the Columbia an hour and a half east of town. Last year was my first and I had fun so I went and did it again.

Nothing too noteworthy to report. The weather was absolute garbage to start (high 30s and raining), but around 2/3 of the way in the sun poked through, serving to dry and warm. The midway gas station chicken tenders were key. They didn’t have a full order when I got to the register so I got a steep discount to boot. WIN. We had great team turnout, which makes a miserable day all the more palatable. Our reward was beers and burgers at Pfriem in Hood River. Nomnomnom. And no, it’s not 60 miles. [GPS]

Technical notes for my future self:

  • Year 1 I learned to not use road pedals; they don’t handle mud at all.
  • Year 2 I learned that CX race gearing is not great for days of long slippery climbing; was forced into a stronger than desired effort because I had to keep the cadence up.
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Yes, I brought the box of wine again. This time I’ve found a brand I really dig, and it’s French so that keeps with the cycling theme really well.

Race: Jack Frost Time Trial

Posted on Mar 5, 2017 in Cycling | 0 comments

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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.

[GPS]

Doing More

Posted on Feb 24, 2017 in Cycling, General | 0 comments

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.

Race: WBR 1 flat lap – By a tire

Posted on Feb 5, 2017 in Cycling | 0 comments

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Lead group finished

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.