Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Comeback


Over the last month I have allowed my personal cycling life take second stage to numerous other items.  Honestly, I am not happy about this at all.  After numerous texts, Facebook messages and other social media inquiries, I am planning my Comeback.  This Blog will be the first step.  I am using it as a means of social intimidation basically making myself accountable to you, the readers.  

Each Sunday I am going to post what my next week’s workouts are and how I did last week.  The biggest problem with self-coached athletes is that they (we in my case) are not held accountable to anyone but ourselves.  This is a recipe for failure.  I can write some of the best plans to get athletes anywhere they want to go in our discipline, I have a fantastic one sitting in my inbox, but without execution, it simply is a plan, nothing more.

Looking at the race schedule I have identified two races that I want to be prepared for, the McDonald's Criterium in my hometown of Huntington WV, and Tour of Washington County in Hagerstown MD.  Both races are pretty close calendar wise, but it’s not like I have taken months off, just slacking since Jeff Cup.


The first race is the McDonalds Crit in Huntington WV.  This is a very simple crit, with four turns in a downtown area, fairly fast.

Power Profile - McD Crit 6/11

Building a plan for Criteriums

As seen in the chart above, fitness for criteriums is very focused.  The unfortunate part of the chart above is where the power numbers lay.  Zone 1, active recovery, well do not need to train for that part.  Zone 6, anaerobic capacity, well that means suffering and a lot of it.  

This means that the workouts over the next month will be focused in on VO2Max efforts, shorter lactic acid, and sprints.

The VO2Max Efforts will be between 3 and 5 minutes, while the higher Anaerobic Capacity efforts will be closer to one minute.  

For the VO2Max, I will employ a combination or 3 to 5 minute efforts, with equal amounts of rest between.  As my fitness increases I will slowly decrease the rest intervals and increase the intensity of the rest intervals.  These efforts will be high on the normal suffer scale but mid-range on the Sufferlandian scale.

Now the AC effort are a completely different beast.  This is where the suffering will max out.  The Anaerobic Capacity workouts will call upon my anaerobic glycolysis system.  This is the one that mainly used for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.  This 121 to 150% of your LT (Allen and Coggan 2010).

This means lots of 1 x 1 min intervals, when I say lots, I am talking 60 per week lots.   The method of 1 x 1 that works the best for me is Sufferfest Revolver and Sufferfest A Very Dark Place on the CompuTrainer, no cheating there.  This will not be easy, but will be necessary for success.  I will have to watch my ATL to ensure that it does not climb more than 7 TSS per week, to ensure that I am not over reaching  (Coggan 2013).

The last area that I will focus in on are my sprinting efforts.  This will help develop the Creatine Phosphate system.  This system is used for those all out 5-15 second sprint effort.  I will have to do a ton of these around Hains Point to build muscle and the coordination to execute.  This will not be nearly as painful as the AC efforts but will require absolute all out efforts.

So that is the basic plan.  I will post each ride on Strava and TrainingPeaks for your amusement.  Time for three solid weeks of pain, Sufferlandrian style.

Works Cited

Allen, Hunter, and Andrew Coggan. Training and Racing with a Power Meter. Boulder: Velopress, 2010.
Coggan, Andrew R. The scientific inspiration for the Performance Manager. 5 4, 2013.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Race Report: 2013 Fort Ritchie Criterium

Category 35+ 3/4       

Cascade, MD

Number of starters:   28
Road-ResultsPredictor:  23rd

Course description: This is a 1.3 km loop that travels clockwise. There is a slight incline just past the start/finish line and a fast chicane on the front half of the course. This venue consists of six turns and runs past a very scenic lake.

Weather:  Sunny but chilly, at the start, temperature was around 45 degrees

That's a fixable tactical problem.......
Jim Weinstein


Over the last several months I have been pouring over my data for MABRA criteriums.  What I have found is that ALL of the data shows the same formula, 30-40% Active Recovery and 30-40% Anaerobic Capacity.  So I switched my training strategy to maximize the AC intervals.  Using the CompuTrainer, PerfPro, and Sufferfest Video, in particularly Revolver, I have built into the training strategy sixteen, 1 minute intervals at Zone 6, perfect for crits.  Fort Ritchie was not considered an “A” Race for me, but a great place to test my fitness before the McDonald’s Crit and Air Force Classic.

Dana’s Race

I arrived at Ft Ritchie with plenty of time to spare, since I was there at ten to watch Dana race the W1/2/3.  It was a pretty exciting race including a solo breakaway from NCVC Alexis Zink.  Then a 4 man break with Dana, Cat Freck (Syn-Fit), Dori Buckethal (NCVC), and Colleen Gullick (Kenda); that stuck giving Dana a solid 5th for the day.  She also got a beer preme, something that I would remember in my race.

Warm-up Monnett’s Style

As I was watching the women’s race, Mark Monnett from SRAM offered me a chair to so I could stay off of the legs.  Mark is a Cascade native and started talking about a great warm-up around Ft Ritchie. Given that my plan was to just head back to the truck around 1 and get on the trainer, he offered to go ride and I took him up on it.  Lesson Learned for next year?  Use Mark’s loop for a warm-up, great loop and really gets the legs warm.  We rode for about 30 minutes over a mountain, pulled back onto Ft Ritchie, I changed into my race kit and rolled to the line.

The Race

My strategy was simple; sit in top ten for the first 56 minutes and then sprint to see if I could beat the race predictor.  As they say “no plan survives contact”, well or an antsy Chuck.  I get lined up slightly back on the first row, officially the second row, and the official says go, or start, or whistle… something and we were off.  A few riders upfront took off and we went into the chicane like a cross hole shot.  I was already heading faster backward then forward.  Through the chicane, a quick right and a quick left heading toward the back side of the course.  With the beginning of every race, there are always the race jitters, some riders braking, and the occasional scream of “watch your line”.  For the first two laps I was doing okay and then my legs started to burn and hands started to shake, a combination of both race effort and Carl Dolan stress.  I needed to make a decision, fight or flight.  Flight could be one of two directions, off the front or off the back.  Off the back meant that I was going to quit.  For those who know me, quitting has never been an option.  But I am going to have to redefine quitting.  In the past I defined quitting as purposefully DNFing.  Is rolling off the back and just pedaling the course until either the officials pull you or the race ends any different?    On lap two I realized that quitting is also giving up and watching the field pull away.  So decision time, fight or off the front.  Here goes Chuck again.  So the field gratuitously let me sit either off the front or on the front for the next 6 laps.  I pulled around the course averaging 24 mph and 359 watts for the next 12 minutes.  My nerves were calming and I felt pretty good.  Now I have no idea how far off the front I was or if I was simply sitting on the front, I am sure it was the latter not the former.   Then we had a preme lap, I jokingly hollered at the officials that after pulling for 6 they rang the bell.  The group let me dangle out in front all the way on the backside and to the final turn.  I actually heard Jamey Lees from Syn-Fit negotiating with the group to let me have the beer preme because “he deserves it”.  As we turned on to the main straightway, that was not going to happen and a few rides passed sprinting for the preme. 
Jamey Lees' got a good draft
I then settled back into the group sitting behind Clifton Gray from Artemis.  Clif is one of the few guys (from quick data sampling, Artemis must have a height minimum for the guys in my race!) that I can draft behind.  Well anyone of the three Artemis riders, Clif, Howard Tyndle, or Ted Dorsey.  All three have a good eye for riding in the peloton, a skill no doubt learned from Super Dave Osborne, so I was confident I had a good wheel.  For the next 10 laps, I set behind the Purple Train of Artemis.  After a few seconds of mental lapse I found myself behind and unfamiliar wheel that all of a sudden braked.  I had to do the same, my rear wheel skipped to the side, I stayed up, and Clif was to my right and commented, “Way to stay up Chuck!”  Heart began to race, hands started to shiver, fight or flight.  We passed by the start finish line and I heard the familiar sound of a bell lap meaning another preme up the road. 

I wanted the preme. I was still thinking about the flight, so I went off the front, pushed hard this time and got a pretty good gap.  Crossed the start / finish line and looked back; they were just finishing the turn.  I had room.    I dangled out there for four laps, about 9 minutes.  At some point I got pulled back into the group but I don’t remember exactly how that happened, like before I kept the same 24 mph 310 watt pull but just got caught.  We had about 6 laps to go, I was feeling good.  Found an Artemis wheel and settled in.  I knew that I could not win the field sprint.  Race predictor had me in the bottom third, so I figured with 3 to go I would give it a last try.  So with 3 to go, I sprinted off the front again and  I was able to hold this until the last lap. On the backside of the course, the group swarmed me andmy race was done.  I felt great, I raced my ass off.  Post-race discussion with my mentor and friend Jim Weinstein, he had some great words to say, That's a fixable tactical problem.......  Yes Jim, let’s do that.


There was lots of great racing going on that day, thanks to Joe Jefferson for putting on such a great race.  Congrats to Jamey Lees of Syn-Fit for an outstanding win.  Artemis thanks for the Purple Security blanket keeping me from bailing.  Super Dave…  Always a pleasure to watch, you are always in a break.  I working at matching your success and I will be there some day. Dana for always being at the race even if you had to sit around for 5 hours after yours.

By the numbers

By the numbers:

AC greater than AR this time
·         Duration:  57:32

·         Norm Power:  311

·         Distance:  22.88 mi

·         Power:   Max 1117 Avg 305 watts

·         Heart Rate:  Max 190    Avg 176 bpm

·         Speed:  Max 33.6    Avg 23.8 mph

Full Ride Link to TrainingPeaks

Good decisions: I RACED!!!  Stupidly but RACED
Bad decisions: see above.

Overall finish: 28th.

Thoughts for 2014:

·         Use Sufferfest Revolver on the CT as a main training aid in Jan / Feb / Mar.  My prediction was correct, 42% active recovery, 34% anaerobic capacity.
·         Laps run just at 2 minutes each.  Prepare yourself for plenty of AC intervals during the lap.
·         Practice moving up the center of a race, you can use the sides for explosive moves, but for  proper positioning get use to moving up the middle.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Race Report: 2013 Morgantown Road Race

Category 3/4
Morgantown, WV/Mount Morris, PA

Number of starters:   59
Road-Results Predictor:  51st

Course description:  45 mile course on country roads through PA and WV.   First 10 miles consists of rollers then an area of about 5 miles that goes from 1% to 5%.  Not a major climb, just up hill.  This was followed by a decent climb at the 25 mile mark for 3 miles.  One more climb for 1.5 miles and then off to the finish, with a short little bump before the line of about 5%.
Weather:  It would be hard to ask for better weather.  High 50s and sunny.

Photo Credit:  Fred Jordan
With the race season in full-swing, the weekdays between races are filled with training and race prep.    While I have written race reports for several seasons, this year I want to incorporate past lessons learned in order to race smarter and get stronger.  I have spent a tremendous amount of time looking over years of data from my races and training rides in order to better understand my own strengths and weaknesses, oh I mean limitations. 
One of the limiters I identified is how quickly I fatigue at VO2Max, specifically 1 to 2 minutes.  To mitigate this “deficiency”,  I added Sufferfest Revolver each week to work on those intervals.  I have also started adding a section to my race reports that lists my lessons for racing / training in general and then specifically for that race next year.

Quick pre-race strategy:   The plan was to start out in the top twenty, sit in until the climb, and do everything that I can to stay with the field up the hill, descend and do it again on the second climb.  I had no intention of covering any breaks or trying to create one.  I had pre-ridden the final climb and sprint, and knew that I could use this to my advantage at the end of the race.  Here I would be testing my VO2 numbers.

How the race played out from my vantage point:  We rolled out at a fairly calm pace averaging around 21 mph.  Somewhere in my lack of focus, I started thinking about my pre-race plan and became annoyed with myself for just participating and not racing at Black Hills.   I made a rash decision. I am going off the front.  I attacked and got away.  At one point the moto ref gave me an update that I was about minute to two off the front with a four man chase trying to close the gap.  A few minutes later the ref informed me that the chase had grown to seven.  I will say, it is the first time I have been in a position to receive updates.  It was pretty cool.  I could imagine Phil Ligett or Bob Roll’s commentary on my break, with the former making some prognostication about my potential for cracking on the hill and the surprise in his voice as I held on for the win. 
After being away for about 45 minutes, I was caught by the pack of seven.  I reintegrated with them and hoped we could work together but those guys were either not willing or able to do some work.  I put in a couple of efforts trying to get away again, but without sustained success.  I thought it was just the eight of us, but after the race, Jordan Cross from Evo told me that the main field was only a few seconds behind the eight of us, which explains why the others were not trying to increase our break.  No one was dumb enough to pull the entire field, well except me. 

We came to the first ‘big’ climb, and I got engulfed by the main field.  My new plan?  Sit in until we descended, move back to the front and try to escape again.  I wanted to race; I felt good and liked the feeling.   The main field got a little gap on the climb but I knew I could reattach on the descent and then just move through and off the front.   I got passed by the Moto Ref and the Wheel Van but I was still doing okay, main field only 100 meters in front.  
Then at the 32 mile mark there was a long crack across the road, I didn’t see it until it was too late.  I hit it hard and the all too familiar sound of carbon cracking on a Zipp wheel echoed in my ears.  West Virginia roads were not two for two on cracking my Zipps  I got out of the away of the guys behind me and pulled off the road.  I watched the main field and the wheel van roll away.  
Two more races passed and a wheel vehicle from the 4/5s rolled up.  I had been standing there for 15 minutes.  I got a wheel while Mike Russo from the 4/5 field grabbed one too.  He had met the same fate as me.  We took off with about 10 miles left including one ‘big’ climb and then the final climb.  As I started on the final climb something felt odd, I looked down and the wheel out of the van had a 23.  A 23 for the final two climbs?  Really?  Ha!  I soft pedaled up the hills and crossed the finish line.

By the numbers:

Photo Credit:  Fred Jordan
·         Duration:  2:12

·         Norm Power:  First 1:30 – 321 Watts

·         Distance:  45.6

·         Power:   Max 1120 Avg 263 watts

·         Heart Rate:  Max 185    Avg 166 bpm

·         Speed:  Max 44.7 Avg 20.92 mph

Good decisions: I raced, not just participated
Bad decisions:  Maybe thinking a 43 mile TT was a good thing.  Situational awareness or pre-riding the course should have seen the crevasse.

Overall finish:  59th

Thoughts for 2014:

·         Get to the front of the race as soon as possible

·         Use the climb and the follow on flat to get some space on the group

·         Be in a position to make a decision to go off the front on the last big climb

·         Use Sufferfest Revolver on the CT as a main training aid in Jan / Feb / Mar.  My prediction was correct, 42% active recovery, 34% anaerobic capacity.

·         Race, don't participate

Monday, March 25, 2013

Race Report: 2013 Black Hills Circuit Race in Honor of Sean McCormick

Category 3/4     
Boyds, MD
Number of starters: 78
Road-Results Predictor: 61st

Course description: Course was a 1.5 mile on rolling terrain in clockwise direction. One short, small ring climb. Lots of twists and an uphill sprint finish, all within a great park setting. Yellow/centerline rule in effect.

Weather: cloudy and overcast, start was around 40 degrees

The Climb

This is going to be another of Chuck’s ‘would’ve could’ve should’ve’ excuse filled race report. We entered the park with plenty of time for the race only to find an ambulance on the course working on an Evo rider in the CAT 5 race. My nerves went hay wire, thinking back to what others have told me the scene was for my race almost a year ago next month. After a few minutes of shaky hands, sweaty palms, we found out the guy was going to be okay after a short trip to the hospital. (Side note: we got an email last night, from the rider, saying he was home and doing well). 

For the next couple of hours we watched some of the racing while Dana got prepared for the Women’s 1/2/3 race. Got to hang out with some fellow US Military Cycling Teammates; Jim Weinstein, Sunny Gills, Scott and Katy Giles. My race was immediately following Dana’s so I decided to head out and get a few laps in to warm-up. I had pre-ridden the course on Saturday so I was already familiar with what was in store for today.

Quick pre-race strategy: The race would start out in the parking lot, right turn and then immediately had about a 30 second climb (.2 miles) around 8-12% grade. I had grabbed a 28 cog so I could climb in my 53. Then there was a sharp right turn with a winding road down to another small incline. I figured that at the top of the climb some folks would attempt to rest and jam up the turn, while others would carry the momentum down the backside. On my pre-ride, I was able to ride the entire course pretty hard and never touch the brakes. After the small incline there was another sharp left turn, more winding roads, another left turn, then the road would bend back to the climb, total of 1.5 miles. I knew that the climbs would be Zone 6 (anaerobic) and the flats zone 1. So my race should pan out to be about 50% Active Recovery and 30% Anaerobic Capacity, just like a crit.

How the race played out from my vantage point: 

It was hard to tell the total number of riders but it was close to 60. We got to the first climb pacing around 16 mph and 600 watts. It was jammed pack, lap one and I was having to make left and right maneuvers to get around guys who either couldn’t climb, wrong gear, didn’t like the tight quarters. Made it to the top and was correct, log jam.

Corner finally clearing
Finally got around them and to the flats, but it took very little effort to be back in the pack. Rinse and repeat the last few lines 13 more times. The only other little bit of info; I could not believe how much I had to us the brakes. Every time we would come to a little climb the full accordion effect would occur and I had to apply the brakes. At 200 lbs the last thing you want to do is brake before a climb. Tactical mistake number one. I was just field fodder. I must have missed the part that I should be racing and not just sitting in. I was conserving my energy to do nothing more than a pack finish. I am very disappointed in my lack of racing. I remember thinking on the fourth lap remaining that if I was on the front, I had the power to go off the front. But I did nothing to get there. I continued to sit in.

The last lap I finally decided to do something. I started moving up from probably around 50th. I was pushed to the edge of the double-yellow line due to the five or six riders across. Apparently there were several well represented teams that decided that the yellow-line rule did not apply to them as three (on the same team) passed clearly to the left. Interesting. 

How to stay within the rules and still move forward if there was a sift flowing of unimpeded riders on the left, but I digress. STAYING WITH IN THE RULES, I continued moving forward as I SAFELY could. Finally we came to the bottom of the climb, the road opened up and I made great Finishline Poster Filler for the 30 guys in front and to the right of me. The sad part is this is a great race for someone like me; it plays to my power and minimizes my limiters. Two good parts: Rubberside down and beat road-results. As we always say, if it didn't happen of Strava it didn't happen, so here is the link.

By the numbers:
Duration: 52:36
Normalized Power: 357
Distance: 20.56 mi
Power: Max 999 Avg 243 watts
Heart Rate: Max 183 Avg 153 bpm

Speed: Max 35.4 Avg 23.5 mph

Good decisions: I participated; better race prep
Bad decisions: positioning for the start of the race, not racing, just riding

Overall finish: 32nd.  Well officially even though the picture above of the finish line 374 was 21st and two guys I know for a fact I passed are listed 29th and 30th.  Another reason to be in the top 5.

2013 Lessons to learn:

  • Race, don't participate
  • Get to the front of the race as soon as possible 
Thoughts for 2014:
  • Get to the front of the race as soon as possible
  • Use the climb and the follow on flat to get some space on the group
  • Be in a position to make a decision to go off the front with 3-5 laps left
  • Use Sufferfest Revolver on the CT as a main training aid in Jan / Feb / Mar.  My prediction was correct 42% active recovery, 34% anaerobic capacity.

Power Distribution Chart

Monday, March 18, 2013

Race Report: 2013 Shamrock Criterium

Category 3/4
Virginia Beach, VA
Number of starters:  50

Course description:  40 minutes, flat, four corners. 
Weather:  cool and clear, around 60 degrees

How the race played out from my vantage point:

This year I changed things up a little then last year.  I had an issue with my race wheels last year, so this year they were on the bike prior to the warm-up.  Did a really good warm-up and had timed things about right.  This included getting to the race with plenty of time and not rolling in 15 minutes before the registration closes.   With 20 minutes to race time I went out on the course to do a few laps, and they were already lining up.  So, like last year, I was now I was lining up dead last.  NOTE:  first bad decision.

Looking at last year’s numbers and this year’s, they are almost identical, including my weight, back down to 202 lbs.  So again, the race started off very fast!  The first 10 minutes the average speed was just less than 29 mph.  I was tail gunning trying to move forward unfortunately due to my bad positioning with the start, I was trying to bridge between guys getting shelled off the back.  Not a winning strategy.

I never gained much ground and was on the back of the pack as long as I could hold on.  Given that the average power for the first half of the race was around 325 watts, I should have been able to stay on.  But I finally got detached and found myself alone.  After a few laps I caught a Conte’s rider, James Schaefer, and we took turns pacing around the course.  Finally the lead group came around and we reattached.  By this time I was basically cooked, instead of coming back midway in the pack I tried to hop on the tail end, apparently learning nothing from being there in the beginning.  I hung on a few laps then dropped off and promptly my race was over, ending up 32nd of 50.  So road-results was close, which really sucks.  The worst part of it all, is having the data from last year, there is no reason I should not have stayed and bettered by 18th place finish last year.

Like last year, poor luck in the beginning and tactical failure at the end.

Good decisions:  I raced; better race prep
Bad decisions:  positioning for the start of the race

Overall finish:  32th.

Thoughts for 2014:

1.)   This race will be fast, anticipate at 28-30 mph for the first 10 minutes.  For me at 202 lbs, that is a 340 watt NP effort.  3.74 w/kg effort

2.)    Course is flat with 4 corners – Cassette selection 11/2x

3.)    Va Beach riders line up early, anticipate being at the line by 15 minutes before

4.)    Trainer warm-up (yes there are roads out of the park, but pretty busy)