Monday, September 27, 2010

Race Report and Complaint Section - Ed Sander's Memorial Cyclocross Race

Post race beer and waffles.
Well, this will at least be an interesting race report. First and foremost, hats off to the promotors for Ed Sander’s Race, it was awesome. The venue is great, the course was a blast and thanks to Lily Pons for letting us have the race there. Nothing like post pace beer and waffles.

I entered the CAT 4 race and was ready to roll for the 9AM start, but like most 9AM starts, things get off a little slow. I am assuming that was the reason why our 40 minute race was shortened, but that is okay, I understand the issues. I had a decent spot for the start of the race and entered the hole shot around tenth, I gave a few positions up and then caught a few. Cross Results predicted that I should finish around 61st in the field of 100, but I ended up 24th. So yes, I am very happy about that.

Now the complaints. First, why is the CAT 4 race not considered within the MABRA series race? Second, what could be done about the sandbaggers??

So for the first complaint. I have spent the last hour of so reading the 2010/2011 USAC Rulebook I have seen nothing that would suggest that we could not participate in the series, any differently than the other 16 classes. Why can there not be an overall champion, why could we not track the series points? I find this to be a very interesting situation since the CAT 4 race is SOLD OUT every race. I am not asking for jerseys or grand prizes but you would think the crowd that filled every race would get something other than USAC upgrade points. Oh, without the series, doesn't the top five in the race get USAC points anyway? just sayin’. Maybe the concern is that the top position would be taken by the sandbaggers, well guess what? It already is. Which brings me to the second complaint, sandbaggers.

Unfortunately, upgrading from 4 to 3 does not have the same rules as the others. Basically, 10 qualifying races or 10 upgrade points, no mandatory upgrades. Unlike 3 to 2 and 2 to 1, we do not have the “win 2” CAT up clause. Hopefully this year will be a little better than last and with the addition of most of us looking at, peer pressure might kick in. I have a buddy of mine bitching about my upgrade. Yes I have exceeded my 10 races over the last three years, just verified on cross results, I am sitting at 20 races, 16 in the Midwest and 4 In the MidAtlantic, but my highest finish out here is 24th (Sunday). So I am not a threat to front and CAT 4 is probably where I should be, for now. But if you look at some of my fellow 4s in which they have equally as many races but have 3 wins or 12 of their races in the top 25% or well you get the point, race the 3/4s. Fine, you can say I am whining and instead of blogging I should be in the garage on the trainer spinning, but today is a recovery day, so I thought I should take a few minutes and speak my words, so to speak. Maybe each week I will have a sandbaggers list.... Would that help?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Race Report - Charm City Cross - Day 1

In order to get Charm City by a 7:30, get number and warmup, it required and early 5 AM wake up call. Not too bad but still a little early. I rolled into the Druid Hill Park, picked up my race number and went out for a warmup. The weather could not have been nicer.

Around 7:45 we all headed to the start line. The call up was based on registration, thus first to register got front row. I was sitting on the fourth row, which was really good for a pack of 125.

Start of the race was like all others, hard start, massive amount of riders trying to hit he hole shot. I entered in around the top 25 and held until the second lap. My first lap was around 8:15, not a bad 2.9 km lap.

I have to back up to a few weeks before. I had posted to some friends about tubulars and clinchers. After several emails and posts, I decided to go with a friends advice from Kansas. Ted Crisco, former teammate, sent me an hellava email laying out exactly what to get. But there was one line I really should have heeded to, don’t just use tape. Well, I bought the Mavic Reflexes from Excel Sport and had them “glue” them up. The sales rep said that Tufo tape was just as good as glue. Okay, Ted, I should have listened. Two weeks ago at the cross clinic I rolled the rear wheel and then went through Stu’s Glue the Belgium way from I only did the back and did not pull the tire from the front. BIG MISTAKE.

Back to today, second lap, came hot into a corner and rolled the front tire and did an endo, pretty spectacular. So for 46 seconds, I flopped around on the ground, got up, finally got the chain back on, then had to unscrew the rear derailleur, then realized that the tire was off the rim. While all of this was happening, about 30 riders went flying by. After the crash, I slugged along, would make up a few spots and then loose a couple. The next three laps I maintained a fairly steady pace around 8:50 a lap. Hit the deck a few more times through the sand pit and on an off camber. Finally on the last lap, I rolled the tire once more and limped in for a finish. Ended up 70 out of 125 (105 finishers), not quit the 39th on the predictor.

So I going to shoot for the 39th for tomorrow. I have the clothes packed and ready to go for tomorrow, Oh, and a clincher for the front wheel.

Monday, August 30, 2010

2010 Cross Season - Day 1 - Cross Clinic Wrap Up

Well, the 2010 cross season is upon us and I am ready and willing to go. So far this year, in preparation, I have upgraded by Redline Conquest Pro to a Cannondale CAAD9 and have tricked it out with Mavic Reflex tubulars with Challenge Gripos mounted up. I have a few more additions that I am going to add but that will be for a later blog. For now, it is about my first weekend of cross, the 2010 Fulcrum Coaching and JBV Coaching Cross Clinic with Jeremy Powers, Dan Tille, Chris Mayhew, and Fatmarc Vanderbacon.

Day one, or I should say night one, was a social. Read all about it here on Bill’s Cyclocross Website In the Cross Hairs.

A little back ground, this begins my third season racing cross and my second Fulcrum Coaching and JBV Coaching Cyclocross Clinic. So I have enough knowledge to know what I am supposed to do but not the skill to put it all together yet. I should have been ready for the initial question given to all campers, “What do you expect to get out of the camp?”, but instead I attempted to be witty and said a few words about where I was from and how much cross I had raced. In retrospect, I should have simply stated that I wanted to have someone critique what I was doing. For me that would have been the honest answer, just watch me and dime me out for the stupid stuff that I am doing.

The day started out with introductions, as I alluded to up front, then we went on the skills. The remount, by far, is the hardest thing for me, either I don’t have faith in myself or I am just to lazy to do it, I don’t have the leap, all I got is a little hop. For those who have raced cross, you know what I am talking about. It is the half ass commitment of going airborne onto the saddle, instead I do a slow walk or just a leg straddle over the saddle and mount, not efficient at all.

After that we went on to additional skills like dismounting, barriers, off cambers, and starts. Each of these have its own challenges. The one thing that I always hate to hear, at the beginner levels is the term “personal preference”. What is always good about this camp is that JPow (and the rest) do not hesitate to say, “Do it this way”. I think this attitude is great, “personal preferences” come in long after the beginner and intermediate stage. I could not imagine going to my first guitar lesson and the instructor say, well finger positions are a personal preference. Yes, Jimi Hendrix later developed his own way of thumbing the G Chord but to start with, here is what you do. Experience allows you to make your own changes, but for now, this is step one. Hey, isn’t that what I am paying the money for, I can figure out personal preference in the local park. Enough of that, bottom-line this clinic tells you the things that work both at the amateur and professional level, and I like that.

For me, the clinic was a great success, I got to work out a few bugs on the Cannondale, got some great tips for the guys, some evaluation, though I would have liked a little more, and the basis for this years season. Now I am looking forward to two things, 2010 Cross and 2011 JBV Clinic. Thanks guys for a great weekend and best of luck to JPow in his upcoming year.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Race Report - 2010 Church Creek Time Trial #3

Good weather. I did not get the warmup that I should, I need to work on a little time manager. After the two hour drive, I did not realize that I had a 6 mile bike ride out to course start. So my warmup was a 19 minute slow pace ride to the start-line, instead of a fairly intense trainer warmup.

Once again no power numbers, but I think I will start using the PowerTap to get good numbers. I have a power tap on a 404 Zipp but I have been TTing on a 2005 Zipp Tubular Disc. Since I have been placing around 22nd, I don’t think that there will be that big of a time difference, whereas having power numbers might help in the post race analysis. Don’t get me wrong, the PT is more for post race then in race. I know there is an argument out there on power pacing but in my case I am not sure how well that would work.

On to the race. First, skin suits are not for the timid, especially at 203 lbs. But, hell, I have the rest of the equipment and if I could stay on course, it might help. One thing that I have noticed was that the skin suit feels much cooler than a standard kit.

Start of the race was good, I got my HR up pretty quick and set there for the next hour. Still have a little bit of a fit issue with the TT Bike, pressure in the manly area and a little pain behind the right knee. This really did not effect me much for the first 20k, but for the second 40k I had to adjust my sitting position and could no longer stay aero. So I worked as hard as I could from a more up right position. To get the same output for both half, I had to up my HR by about 4 bpm to get the same result.

This is basically the same issue that I had at Virginia Beach, so I have duplicated the pain, now I need to do something about it.

My biggest fubar of the day was at the 15k point, I had my head down, going the best I could looked up to see the police officer and flag men (no gender specific way) telling me to turn right. As I blew by them I had to go back and regroup . Got back on the course. It took a total of 21 seconds, oh well, my fault.

I ended up 23rd overall with a 1:02:4.36.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Chesapeake Crit - In the Money

Trying to bridge the 23 seconds
The night before I started getting the bike and immediately noticed that the rear tire was flat. Now normally this would not be a big deal, but on a set of tubulars, less than twelve hours to the race, its a big problem. Armed with a can of fix-a-flat and some superglue I did a hasty patch. No idea if it would hold.

The day started off as if it was going to be a nightmare. Started off with a four hour drive from Washington DC to Chesapeake Virginia. Once there I began the normal setup of the bike, was pleasantly surprised that the back tire was holding pressure. Got setup and began to roll and realized that the seat was way to low. Oh yes, last weekend my son was in town and we went riding, now he is two inches shorter than me so the saddle was lowered. I grabbed an allen wrench guestimated the height and tightened it down. This left a total of about 10 minutes to warmup.

The race started off fairly fast, we were strung out from the go. I settled in about mid-pack. I guess around the third lap two guys went off the front, they were never seen again. For the next 40 minutes it was pretty much five of us on the front doing the work. I would stay around third or forth wheel take a pull then work my way back into forth. With about six laps to go, two of us moved to the front and did some pretty massive pulls to get back the 23 seconds from the guys off the front, but we were unable to gain any time back. I figured at that point in time were were racing for third place.

Last lap I got myself into a pretty good position and was sitting second wheel. With one turn left, one of the guys took off from third or forth wheel. I decided that I need to go right then and was able to get on his wheel. I came out of the corner in first with about 300 meters. At this point I decided that all I could do was ramp up the speed and hope that I did not get caught at the line. My 21 second, 800 watt average, yielded 35 mph, 200 bpm heart rate and second palace in the field. One ride nipped me at the line for third overall. Great sprint on his part.

All in all, great day. Finally placed in the money. I was really happy about my results. Hey, it is always rewarding when other rollup afterward and congratulate you on a good race, not something that I have had happen before.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Product Review - Saris Joule 2.0

Is the Joule a real Jewel?

I was persuaded to place my Garmin 705 on the shelf and give Saris’ Joule 2.0 a test. Typically, when I test a product I give it a good two-month run. Also rate the product on ease of use on the bike, post ride and support, if required.

My initial setup was Zipp 303s with a Powertap SL+, Garmin 705, Garmin cadence sensor, and TrainingPeaks WKO+ software (loaded on a Windows 7 computer). My test setup was the same Powertap SL+, Joule 2.0, WKO+ and Saris’ Power Agent. In many ways I am reviewing several products at once, Joule 2.0 and Power Agent.

At the beginning of my use in May , Training Peaks had not worked out their issues with using their Device Agent, so to get the data from the Joule to WKO+ took a few steps but this was just a ease of use issue. By July Training Peaks fully supported Joule direct download and works very well. Connect the Joule to the computer, start WKO+, hit download from device and works great.

Power Agent is a completely different animal. This is one piece of software that has potential but has been problematic from the beginning. The first issue that I had was during the device download I would get an error message that stated that there were “one or more rides have not been saved”, I still have not figured out this one. What happens if you get this error, you cannot pull the information into Power Agent. Fortunately, WKO+ does not have this error and can download the information, so the data is not lost, just not in Power Agent. Side note, if you still want it there you can export from WKO+ to a CSV file and import it to Power Agent, works but not ideal. The next issue is more of a Windows 7 and Joule issue, but to get the Joule to eject or “be safely removed” you are out of luck, almost always it errors out, so each time after you are finished you have to disconnect and get the Windows device eject error. My concern was that this could be corrupting data.

Now, on to the Joule itself. The unit was about the same size as the Garmin 705, so no concerns there. The first two positives that I found right out of the box was the ability to pair several Powertaps and the TSS function. So I could instantly setup my Zipp 303s and 404s (two different Powertaps). Thus when I went for a ride or race, select which Powertap that you have and it pairs. No more watching Garmin try to figure this out, or having to pedal a quarter mile away from a teammate while the Garmin figures out which Powertap to pair with. I LOVE this feature. As far as TSS, this has been really nice when my coach Kirk tells me that my ride should have a TSS of greater than 150, I can focus my, between interval efforts, to support this goal. The Garmin 705 does not calculate TSS, so you are forced to figure this out long after the ride is complete.

But these were the only to functions that I found positive with the Joule. I had cadence spikes being registered on the Joule but that was eventually solved by adding the $49 additional Saris cadence sensor, the cadence spikes probably occurred with the Garmin 705 but since I was using the Garmin cadence sensor I was pulling the measured data from there not the calculated cadence from the Powertap. So if you are using the Joule with the Powertap, add the cadence sensor. Side note, Garmin Cadence Sensor is not ANT+ so you cannot use it with the Joule 2.0, but not Saris issue, Garmin’s.

Ease of use became a little issue for me too on the Joule. I was use to the Gamin being setup where if the bike rolls the Garmin comes on and collects data. The Joule’s requirement to hit the mode button and Stop and Save or Stop and Delete or the Joule going to sleep and not waking until you hit the mode button was a little annoying. Got it. It’s a learning curve; I am pretty good about doing this now but did lose a bunch of data because of it.

The Garmin and the Joule both fail pretty miserably on workouts. Grant it, this might be because of my frustration on the other parts of the Joule that I did not spend a lot of time trying to figure it out but my initial reaction is that it was not very user friendly. You also have to use Power Agent to setup a workout before heading out and executing.

Saris’s saving grace? Technical support! I could go on for pages on the superior support that they provide for their products. I think by the end of my two-month journey, I could have requested a new unit and they would have FedEx’ed overnight without question. I might even be on their Holiday Party invite list, well until this review…. Their tech support is far superior to Garmin’s, probably the best support I have had with any company, so hats off to them.

Overall, I am very disappointed in the Joule 2.0. I have $550 in Joule and sensor. If I opt to sell it on eBay or Craigslist, I will fell obligated to make the buyer read this review before paying me money. I am going back to Garmin 705. It seems to be more stable and have never lost any rides or data. I cannot say the same for the Joule 2.0.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Race Report - The Air Force Cycling Classic Crystal Cup

Great course today. It started on long straight, 90 degree right turn followed by another 90 turn. The course then did a quick right, slight down hill to a left hand turn on the main route Cool part was another right hand turn that went under one of the skyscrapers in Crystal City. Then eventually back out to an extremely long straightaway to the start finish.

As any 3/4 race it started out fairly quick and backed up in the first turn. Yes, it was a 90 turn but for this race there was not one place that the hands should have been on the brakes. The first 6 laps started to shred the field, I did my best to claw my way from the back to the middle of the field. I never made it past the back quarter of the pack.

So what happened. Well, I think I am playing catchup. What I mean is that early in the season I had great form and fitness, lots of trainer miles in the garage and team camp in California. Since then my riding has been hit or miss while others have increased. Their form and fitness has caught and by passed mine. So now I have to figure out how to play catchup and be in good form to start cyclocross this fall.

But for today, I had a good start and held on as long as I could. But that has just got to be better.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Been away but still riding

Yes yes, I know... I know... I am delinquent on a few things, several race reports and just things in general. My cycling has taken a bit of a hit. I am not sure of all of the factors, work, funeral, training plans, meal plans, blah blah blah. Bottom line is that I have slacked off the last month or so.

I am still “recovering” from a series of accidents that left me banged, bruised and piecing together bikes. My Dogma frame is still off in California getting repaired at Calfee’s. I am hoping that it comes back soon. But in the mean while I have been riding a CAAD 9 and working well. I have also upgraded by Garmin 705 to a Joule 2.0. Now that I typed upgrade, I think I might have to reconsider that term to something like equivalent but not necessarily upgrade. I will have a product review on it in the next couple of days.

So what is on the horizon? Several races are coming up, Tour of Washington County, Giro di Coppi, Lost River, Herndon Crit and Reston. I just spent the last few hours with Kirk, my coach from VeloWorks and setup my training plan for this week. It looks as if I will have promising weather and a good plan.

As the week progresses I will update my progress.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Race Report - Leonardtown

Nothing to say except this was a fast race. I threw my hat into the 3/4 race even though I knew that this was a very technical race. We lined up ready for the start and with the whistle it was a full out sprint. The first thing that went through my mind was wondering if this was cross race and we were going for the hole shot. The answer is YES. Why??? Well on turn one there was a 120 degree uphill turn. If you were a 3 and in front, you negotiated this pretty easily at high speed, if you were a 4 in the middle or back, hold onto your backside. Yes, lap one wreck one. I made it through unharmed but there was already a gap. So here was massive effort number one to get back on the back of the main field. This effort would be repeated every time until another wreck that broke the pack into threes. About 20 racers were in the front, ten of us in the chase and a group off the back.

After about 30 minutes, my chase group was gaining no ground no matter how hard we pushed. Finally, after being 1:15 off of the main field, the refs said that we were on our bell lap and the nine of use should sprint for glory. So we came around, out of the saddle for a “chase group” sprint finish so that we could graciously be pulled. So I got second in the nine man sprint, which gave me 23rd overall. For as fast and as technical, it was a good day for me. I just wish I could have stayed in the main group.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Race Report - Bunny Hop Crit

Okay, these entries are starting to sound the same. Felt like crap, got into the race, raced hard, rode smart, and did not finish. Well, same thing today. You can stop reading if you want......

So... you decided to stay. Today was the Bunny Hop Crit. My start time was 3 PM so Evan, Andy and I went out for a little recovery ride this morning before the race. All three of us got to the race around 1:30 or so and began questioning our sanity for racing today, especially after I raced yesterday. I did not feel great, possible a little dehydration from yesterday. I did have a good ride this morning, decent breakfast and lunch. I had packed my pre, during and post race drinks, trainer and bike. I was physically ready but not mentally.

We lined up for the race and from go, the race started single file. I was sitting in the mid pack when I saw the Cycle life crazy rider and the Velo 1 guy who caused the wreck from Saturday (or at least was in the wreck). This is the same guy that I saw dive all of the corners at Smithfield thus I had no desire to be near (or behind) him, so I immediately moved forward. Now don’t get me wrong, this guy is strong and is normally in the front and has much better finishes than I, But I just was not going to take a chance and be behind him. So I moved into a top five position. The pack stayed single file for the first 10 minutes about 7 laps. At some point it calmed down, but when it did the main field began to form six or seven across. I found going into the corners like this was just to dangerous. We came around and were told there was 27 or so laps to go, about 50 minutes. At this point, one of the Coppi riders (Andrew??) started moving to the front and taking the lead. For the next 15 laps, there was Andrew, myself and a few others that basically rotated and pulled the entire group. We occasionally got a few seconds on the main field but normally one through ten were single file and then the rest of the field.

There were a few break aways that got a couple of seconds, but Andrew and I would chase then down and bring everything back together. The only time that I was not sitting in the top ten was the premes and finish. With two laps to go I moved forward and really started going hard. I felt really good and not taxed at all. The course was setup to have a left hand turn and then a gentle 500 meter false flat to the finish line. With less than 700 meters to go I was still in the top 10 or so, but things were starting to get chaotic riders moving up to get in position. At this point in time it was where I failed. Instead of taking the inside line that I had taken for 35 laps, I gave up the position and moved to the outside, we came around the corner and started on the straight away, my top ten faded quickly an I powered to a pathetic 27th. WTF???? I worked all of the time and settled for 27th. Why????? If anyone has any insight I would love to hear it. I was NOT smoked at the end, I had not burned all of my matches, I just did not finish. I should be winning these races or at least in the money. Oh Velo 1. Yeap... in the money. Great :-(

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Race Report - Michael Murad Road Race

Today was the 2010 Michael Murad Road Race. The race is near Poolesville Maryland. The course was an eight mile loop and for the Men’s 4, this meant 6 laps. I figured we would average between 24 and 25 miles per hour thus a two hour race. Being that I still am not supposed to be peaking, I had determined that I would work in the back of the pack, getting use to the peloton and get rid of the jitters that I have from several wrecks so far this year.

After eight hours of traveling from being in San Diego and a little bit of dehydration and jet lag, I took the preemptive strike and brought two sets of bids, “Just in case”. Evan, my teammate, said he could pony up some Imodium AD, but since I am not use to taking stuff like that a begrudgingly declined. The weather was beautiful and started to heat up a little, I had my game face on, but with reservation, upset stomach, a bike that I just put a new group-set on that had exactly zero miles on it, and my longest ride since spring camp had been Jefferson Cup a few weeks prior and to top it all off, I had been on the bike four times in the last three weeks (travel and death in the family) had kept me off of the road.

The race started fairly calm, the course was pretty uneventful, with the exception of some of the standard characters, the Coppi rider who loves the gutter and spends a majority of the time riding in gravel and dirt, hmmm, wonder why you flatted at Jeff Cup?? The Cyclelife rider that I have personally witnessed caused two wrecks at Vint Hill and finally, the Velo 1 rider who ALWAYS bombs the corners, drinks straight up right looking to the stars and generally is up front but all over the place. Oh yeah, and the NCVC guy who gets relegated to the back of the group EVERY race for crossing the centerline. I am not saying that I am the pro rider in the group, but I at least try not to be a danger to others and myself.

The first five laps was standard, we just pedaled around and kept a pretty good pace. I had decided that I would move up during the last 5km to have a decent chance at being at the front during the last 1km. The way the course was laid out, we would make a right hand turn and the have 1km left. So I figured at about 5km out I would start to move up through the pack. I had early on considered this a training event and was sitting toward the back. With the descents and ascents I would just coast down hill and let my weight take away any gap that would have occurred It worked well for each lap. On the last lap, Velo 1, must have either ran into the back of another rider or just lost control, I saw his bike just start wobbling and then he went down hard, taking out three or four to my right, I was able to get around on the left without much effort.

As I began moving up through the pack, the speed began to greatly decrease. Two teams had gone to the front and began blocking. I heard someone scream out that this was a race not blocking practice. What it looked like, was that the two teams were allowing their teammates to move through the group so that they could have a heavy representation at the front. Coppi and NCVC did not seem to be able to organize to move forward so I did. I got up to the front and they were really blocking. I basically moved to the right and got around them and took off up the road. It took a few minutes and I was joined by two or three Coppi riders as we began to move forward the moto-ref drifted back and sent the Coppi riders to the rear, apparently they had reacted to my break and had crossed the center-line to get around the four. After that I keep the pace the best I could for a kilometer or so. Basically, I caused chaos behind me.

We hit the turn for the 1km mark and I was sitting in the top twenty or so. There was a lot of left and right movements, two riders slammed into each other but both did a great job of staying up right, I kept pretty good power going and was not in contention for the top 10 so instead of “sprinting” for the finish I just keep pumping hard and came in 20th.

I was happy with the result until this morning and I realized that once again, I worked hard, rode smart but still did not finish. There was no reason not to have been in the top 10.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Race Report - Tyson's Corner Circuit Race

I went out early this morning to watch the 5s (Vaughn and Andy) race. I will be the first to admit that between one and ten, I was about a one and a half of my desire to race today. I really just did not feel good and my body was hurting from the falls on the last two weekends. After the races I started setting up and getting myself ready for the 12:30 start time.

My plan was to setup a trainer and do about one hour of Spinervals Sprinting Machine. Then head out on the course with about 15 minutes till race start and do a few laps. One thing that I noticed in the 5s was that with an uphill start several had troubles getting started and clipped in, so that was something that I was going to plan for in my field also.

I got the bike setup on a trainer and started a routine. I had not uploaded Sprint Machine but I did have another video so I through it on the iTouch and used it instead. The funniest thing of the day was that an NCVC guy had setup his trainer about 15 feet from mine. I was just spinning and caught a glimpse of him falling. Yes, the NCVC guy wrecked on his trainer. I am not sure how, but he went down. He got up, muttered something to his bewildered girlfriend , put his bike on the trainer and tried again. After about 40 minutes, I got the rest of my kit on and headed out to the course.

The course was fairly fast with one pretty good descent and one climb, of course so, it is a circuit. The descent was fairly long and my first time down, I did not feel great. I just felt a little sketchy from yesterdays race. I continued around and made the climb, piece of cake, that was not going to be hard. I moved around to the start finish line, Coppi and NCVC had already started to lineup, 20 minutes before the start, wow, already. So instead of doing another loop, I stopped also. The last thing that I wanted was to be DFL on the start. After a few minutes the head ref asked why everyone was already cued and sent everyone around. When we lined up I went to the far side and picked a pretty good line, I figured this was going to be a cyclocross start and I wanted the hole shot. I think there were 88 starters. Sure enough, as soon as the whistle blew, we took off. I had a great line and hit the hole shot in third, right where I wanted to be. I did hear some chaos in the background. I found out later that some guy could not get clipped in and took out two others. Yes, a wreck at the start line, nice.

The race took off and I was sitting third, I settled down and dropped back a little bit knowing that it was going to be a fast one hour race. Nothing really exciting happened during the first ten or so laps. I really did not feel good. Kinda like a little PTSD, but I stayed on the top third. Each lap I would catch 20 or so riders on the climb and would loose about the same on the descent, I just did not feel like descending at a high rate of speed and either way, it did not take long for me to coast back into the pack.

I did pull on two laps, the first time, I just was getting to nervous, I had one of two solutions off the back or off the front, with the first not being an option. So I went off of the front and lead the climb, flat and then got passed on the descent. But I knew it was going to happen because it was a preme lap. As we came around the last corner for the climb to the preme, I hopped behind one rider that was going fairly aggressively I figured that if he went for the preme I would go with and try to catch him at the end, he came out of the saddle but did not last long, so I just settled back down and did not sprint for the finish.

With about three laps to go I moved forward again and off the front with an NCVC guy and Kelly Benefit. The Kelly rider was strong and was trying to organize the five of us, but it was apparent that just him and I had anything left, and neither one of us wanted to drag the other three, so we settled back into the pack. With one lap to go, I had a pretty good plan, I wanted to take an inside line on the last turn and then power up the climb as I had done several other times. Bike Rack had got organized and they were moving five guys up to the front, NCVC and Coppi had several riders each but relate were not communicating. One Coppi guy just went off the front by himself Still not sure why, he had a half dozen riders he could have worked with. Bike Rack did a good job of moving forward, I grabbed a wheel and was promptly cut off by a another rider. ironically, I remembered him from last years Vint Hill, he did the EXACT same thing last year causing a wreck on the last lap. I came into the turn and picked a good line, but the front of the field already had a good lead on me. I got around the one jackal and took the inside, I had a good sprint up the hill for a 27th position finish. I didn’t wreck... that was my goal today.

My numbers:

Average Speed: 24.7 mph
Normalized power: 247
Max power: 1207 watts
Average HR 167
Max HR 186

Next race Chantilly Crit next Saturday

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Race Report - Tour of Walkersville

The last week has been spent trying to get wounds to heal and building up a new bike. The Dogma frame was cracked as the Zipp 303s. So Conte’s built an aluminum CAAD9 with my Super Record 11 parts. The bike looked slick and was ready to go. Friday was the first day that I got to get on the new ride and took it out for about an hour ride. It felt odd but still a steady bike.

This morning at Walkersville I felt okay, not great but okay. I did a short warmup ride about thirty minutes. The wind was howling so I knew that I had no desire to be on the roads time trialing. I got out of the saddle three times and felt good about the bike. It was solid.

The race lined up for a neutral roll out. When the race opened some months ago I had signed up for the 4/5 Masters race. In retrospect I should have got in the Cat 4/5 race with Vaughn, Robin and Evan.

The race started out with a fairly slow pace. Within a few minutes of starting there was already a wreck in the back of the field. This was caused by the slinky effect due to the surges in the race. The first lap was littered with yellow line violations and heavy braking. Several NCVC riders were relegated to the rear of the race due to the yellow line violations. It was amazing, did then not listen or just didn’t care. The first lap speed average was around 22.5 mph. It felt as if we were just crawling. Nothing exciting going on except the yellow line and the braking.

The second and third laps were more of the same. Personally I spent a lot of time just coasting and staying tucked in the center of the pack staying away from the wind. My average speed was 22.5 and average power when pedaling 260. For me this was a very easy day.

By the middle of the third lap two guys had got off the front and were up the road about 45 seconds. The pack was neither gaining nor loosing ground. So they were allowed to sit out in the wind and pedal. Three riders from Kelly Beneficial had moved to the front and was setting the pace. NCVC was over playing hopscotch with the yellow line giving the moto-ref something to do.

On the forth lap, I got tired of just sitting in and when the field took the first right after the start / finish line on to Devilbliss Bridge Road, I decided to move up on the wind side and attack. This really got the field excited and stretched out. It felt good and really was not that big of an effort. This lap really began to speed up, which was my intent. After a few minutes (probably less than a minute), I pealed off the front and settled back into 10th or so. On the final stretch we had gotten packed back together and on the straight away, two bikes got tangled up and hit the deck. This was right in front of me, nothing I could do, I attempted to reenact my Smithfield crash. Acting upon the advice of Art, I was able to bunny hop over the first bike only to be hit by the bike behind me. I went down and added to my current road rash artwork on my left thigh. After collecting the yard sale of bikes and people I got back on my bike only to find it would not move. The front tire had come off of the bead but did not puncture the tube. I had to flatten the tire, put it back on the rim and borrow a pump. Once back on the bike I approached the finish line only to be greeted by the official telling me the race, at least for me, was over. I have no idea what place I finished in, those results will be published later.

After inspecting the bike, there were no issues so that is good. Old tegaderm removed from the Smithfield crit and new added for Walkersville. Tomorrow is Tyson’s Corner.

Checkout my power file on training peaks.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Race Report - Smithfield HAMmer Fest

The 4 race was a bit more entertaining/terrifying then last weeks Jefferson Cup and definitely more technical and faster than Vint Hill. Evan and I had pretty good placement at the start.  On "go", Jake King from Celerity Cycling sprinted off the front taking a few confused riders with him. The gap that opened didn't last but it was fast enough to split the field and begin the carnage of riders spread over the 3/4 mile course.  I saw some of the sketchy riding I have ever seen, one guy from Velo One, would continue to dive the corners.  It was getting ridiculous and dangerous.  Almost every corner I would see someone swing out and clip a cone or hay-bail.  I stayed in my drops the entire race, and toward the front, that made SUCH a difference, I never felt out of control and was able to turn each corner at speed.  The main field stayed together for the duration of the race with the exception of those shelled riders that were eventually lapped on the course's only climb. Unfortunately this became quit dangerous.  We were averaging just over 25 mph and were turning laps in under 2 minutes.  The lapped riders they were taking up the entire width of the course as we came through and seemed to take offense when shouted at, this caused the chase referee to call forward and have the main ref begin pulling dropped riders.  But this may have been a little to late... Two or three laps later, with one and a half to go, we once again hit the descent after turn 3 and speeds quickly picked up, my max speed on the descent was 42 mph. During this lap, a Tri-Power rider abruptly crossed the course from right to left, hitting the wheel of Chad Holm (also of Tri-Power), sending him reeling. Unable to recover, Chad went down right in front of me. So at 36 mph (according to my garmin) I grabbed every bit of brake that I had (Art yes I was in the drops) and tried to maneuver around the two bodies skidding on the ground,  But straight in front was the bike of Chad, there was nothing that I could do.  I hit the bike straight on.  Once I realized that I was going down I did my best roll, to protect my titanium enhanced collar bone, after a good landing on my back I slide to the bottom of the hill leaving bits and pieces of me and my Freshbikes kit etched into the pavement.   Four other guys hit the deck, three from Celerity Cycling, in which one broke his wrist, one had to be taken away in an ambulance due to a big cut on his head, still do not know his status.

The refs stopped the race while we got bikes and various accessories off the course. While incident reports were filled out, those still standing lined-up for a restart of the final two laps.  My zipps were shot and the frame questionable so Evan put his bike and shoes in the pit and I jogged up to the start finish line and hopped on his bike.  After a break just long enough for everyone's legs to stiffen up, they restarted us.  Myself and three other guys who were allowed to take advantage of the pit had to start last.  At this point in time I was bleeding, on a bike two small, clipped into shimanos that I had no idea how to get out of. Two more crashes (one in turn 1 and another in turn 4) and the field finished. I am not sure where I finished yet.  With the number of riders pulled, wrecked and passed, I had a field finish.  Good times in the Ham Capital of the World.

(some of the verbiage and events were borrowed from

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Race Report - Jefferson Cup

The race entry was 125 but I am not sure exactly how many really showed up, I am positive it was over 100. The CAT 4 race was 4 laps thus 40 miles, Evan had estimated that it would take between 1:40 and 1:50. The best thing that I (we) did was pre-ride the course. It gave me the confidence to be able to descend the hills at full speed and if able how fast to take the corners. I also had a pretty good idea of what would be fast and where gaps could occur. Evan's email and our assessment was spot on for the 4s and really kept me in the race.

We had a neutral roll-out from the school down to the start line and Evan and I had staged ourselves in the first quarter of the field. So much for neutral, trying to stay in this start position, half of the field behind us creaped along the flanks and by time we got ready to start we were in the last quarter of the field. This only was a factor for a little while because it was not to hard to crawl up to the top quarter on the first lap. it could have been tragic if there was a wreck or anything, but it worked out.

I stayed in the main field the entire race. I never felt like I was going to be dropped. The only issues were some of the turns, the field would almost come to a stop and then have to come out of the saddle to catch back on. I used the climbs as a means to gain positions. I would swing out and then move on the outside of the group as the slower guys would drop through the center. After the second lap of having cars in the on coming traffic lane, I moved to the right hand side and no longer had to deal with those on the far left. As they would get jammed up due to on coming traffic, EVEN if the car was off the course and complete stop, the right hand side just steadily went along, no brakes. Nothing I hate worse then braking going UP hill.

The last lap really separated the field and the last five miles was a crit. Art and Tomas, thanks for the Santa Barbara help, I went into the drops and did not come out of them until the finish line. It was a SIGNIFICANT advantage. I jumped on a a Coppi Rider's wheel (Joaquin) and stayed there for the majority of the time. Coppi, District Velocity Racing, and Fat Frogs started working together. It looked as if Crowther (Coppi) and Church (Dist Velo) had the best fitness (of the teams represented) so I tried to stay in the Dist Velo line. With 1K left things got sketchy. There was actually a guy trying to squeeze by on the left screaming "on your left", "move" over. I decided that I was not going to give up any room on my side. I was sitting within an inch of a Coppi rider so I could not advance, and surely was not going to give up my spot. The guy then moved over off the shoulder to pass, yes in the grass. Karma has a way, and i heard the eerie hiss of a tire flattening, "on your left" was off the back with a flat.

At this point we were about 800m and ramping up for the sprint, I was about 5 meters from the front and was in an okay position when all of a sudden, I believe a Fat Frog racers bike exploded. Apparently, his head tube separated from the top tube. he went down and the field feel apart. I came out of the saddle and took off again behind the Coppi rider, who just set up and quit pedaling. i am not sure why. After that I smashed the gears and finished the race 24th.

What kept me from top 10. Purely tactics. I have to work on this badly. My numbers suck. My max watt was only 800 watts. I got all the way to the game and did nothing at the end. My race numbers for each lap showed a similar story. Positives was that I coasted 24% of the race. So zero cadence and zero power. My average lap power was around 225w and my Normalized Power for each was 300 w. Basically, the numbers showed I could have done more. If you looked at the race in comparison to our over all training rides on Sundays, for me the Sunday ride appears, according to the data, harder. My next goal, win the effing race, field finish is not long the goal.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Race Report - Vint Hill Classic

Vint Hill Race. I raced the 3/4 race today. Did not get a good call-up so started in the very back. The race was extremely fast. The first 8 minutes were miserable. I wanted to quit so bad. It just hurt, my nerves were shot due to the 100 riders. But I settled into a rhythm toward the middle of the race. I did not try for any of the premes, really could not have if I wanted. I moved back and forth in the pelaton. At one point in time I was sitting third. My goal was a field finish. I did not have great lines into the curves so I ended up having to sprint back into the pelaton after each curve

I ended up in 36th of 100. I felt really good, it was a great race ESPECIALLY since it was a 3/4 race.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Product Review: Oakley Jawbones

I have been asked about my Oakley Jawbones, so here is a quick product review.  Share if you so desire.

Well I strolled into my LBS (Conte’s of Arlington VA) to look at either getting my two pair of Specialized Sunglasses repaired or replaced.  I had had great successes with the Specialized glasses except two things.  First, the lens on the San Remos, which theoretically, should be bombproof, was scratched and secondly, the frames of my second pair (San Remos) looked like the paint job of an old 2001 Ford Tempo.   I am tough on sunglasses so the scratch I understood but the red finish scratching and flaking to reveal the white frames was a little much, I digress because this is more to do with the Oakley Jawbones than it does reviewing a Specialized product.

In the past, I had become accustomed, through a slow but continuous desensitization towards  cost, to purchasing expensive but decent sunglasses.  The recommendation was made for me to look at the new Oakley Jawbones.  Now my experiences with Oakleys have varied in the past.  I had never purchased ones for cycling, but have used them as daily wear glasses and on a couple of tours to Iraq and Afghanistan.  My experience was that they were just okay, not something that I would run out and buy, and when given the opportunity to wear my $30 Under Armor glasses I picked up at Dick’s Sporting Goods or the most expensive Oakleys, I would take the Under Armor everyday of the week.  So on to the Jawbones.

First, there was the price tag, almost $280.  This was for the custom frames that would match the team kit and the VR28 Blue Iridium Vented lens, without the custom frames it would be about $195.  Here is my first and only gripe about the Oakleys, there is not enough “standard” frame designs.  My opinion, only one of the four-color combinations offered of the shelf is not hideous, so custom is the only way to go.

Out of the box, the Oakleys looked sharp.  You open them up and others gather round to gaze.  Presentation was awesome, case, lens, soft case, and the extra “accessory” lens.  When you pick the glasses up for the first time, they will feel a little bulky but that is the last time that you will even think of that and will only be reminded when first timers pick them up and ask.  Playing around with them in the LBS does not do them justice; it is the first time on the road that you can tell that you have bought a great piece of equipment.
The first ride was a cool February morning, snow had melted off the streets, but water still glistened informing you that the first time behind the rider is going to cause a rooster tail effect of salty water in the face.  The glasses felt amazing, very light, full field of vision and fit the face perfectly.  The clarity of the lens was absolute.  The first opportunity for the group to paceline provided the next opportunity for test.  As water sprayed in my face and a quick wipe of the gloved finger across Oakley's Hydrophobic lens cleared the lens immediately, I remember being shocked that there were no streaks.  By the end of the ride, I was absolutely sold on the Oakley Jawbones.  Only for a brief second did they fog up at all.  We had done a really hard climb followed by a steep decent to a stop sign.  As I came to a stop and reached down to grab a bottle of Heed, the glasses fogged for a second, but they cleared equally as quick.  Not once did they fog during the ride.  I remember thinking, I cannot wait to try these in cyclocross where fogging has always kept me sans free on wearing eye protection during a race.

The final sale, I pulled up to the truck to finish the ride, I took off my glasses and was blinded by the sunlight.  I remember putting them back on thinking, really?? That big of a difference? Yes, that big of a difference.  Therefore, I am sold, $280 for a pair of sunglasses, well worth the money.  Optimal comfort, no streaks, unbeatable clarity, these are legit!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Book Review: Racing Weight

Racing Weight:  How to Get Lean For Peak Performance
By Matt Fitzgerald
Velopress, 2009, 288 pages, $18.95
Reviewed by Charles Kyle

Like many other books on cycling fitness,  I picked up Racing Weight purely do to advertising within Velonews.  I really had minimal expectation and figured that this book would layout the obvious points that many others do at each publication.  The first thing that caught my attention was the second chapter entitled, “How to Determine Your Optimal Performance Weight”.  Noticing that it was just a mere 21 pages from the beginning, I resisted the urge and started on page one.  Unlike many other writers, Matt Fitzgerald kept my interest peaked as he explained the five steps outlined in Racing Weight.  My eagerness to jump to page twenty-one was set to rest as I began highlighting information just in the introduction.

Chapter Two continued information that I have been looking for since my first cycling event over a decade ago.  My calculation of what I felt would be a good “weight” was close, but the concept of %body fat and water had only been a reading that I saw on the three hundred dollar Tanika scale that sits on my bathroom floor, not something that I would train towards.  Though I had to read chapter two twice, to gain a firm grasp of the concepts, I walked away with the ability to log onto TrainingPeaks and enter a season goal, based on knowledge and research, not a blind assumption on my part.  I now know my BMI Goals.  Notice I did not talk weight goals, why not, read Chapter Two and you too will be thinking is this manner.

Matt continues his book by articulating the five steps to achieve this Optimized Weight.  The steps are simply improving your diet, balancing your energy sources, timing your nutrition, managing your appetite and training right.  Though this information is sporadically found in other books, Racing Weight lays them out concisely and provides a simple means of calculation, unlike other books trying to account for the number of calories in that last Mocha.  Matt’s methodology looks at food in a more holistic view, based on quality not on strictly counting.  Yes, that Snicker’s has carbs but should it really be counted as part of the typical 60-20-20 carb, fat, and protein ratio?

Matt finishes off the book with a chapter showing what a professional athlete consumes, a chapter giving the recipe of some “Endurance Fuel”, and finally the obligatory appendix on some strength exercises.  I am looking forward to trying some of the recipes.  Matt also includes a very informative chapter on the roles of supplements, which many cyclists will find interesting.

All in all, Racing Weight is well written and a fast read.  Mine is now littered with highlights, notes, and sticky flags and will become part of my daily reference library.  This is necessary read for all amateur cyclists who desire to take their training and racing to the next step.