Sunday, February 21, 2010


I entered Sublime Sublimity Road Race for one reason only.  To see where my fitness sat relative to the field.  It's a race that requires no strategy except to conserve energy as much as possible and keep near the front to cover breaks.  For me, there wasn't even that.  I just wanted to shake the legs out before the Banana Belts and test the fitness against real competition.

Given this, my race turned out good.  First, I found on the first lap that it didn't require that much of me to keep position in the pack on the climbs.  Yea, it was hard, but I wasn't redlined or anything.  Just on the first hill; no warmup and some hard tempo on the climb made for a rude awakening, but other than that, everything was good.

I ended up off the front once with two others at one point.  I got caught.  Stayed back with the pack until half way through the third (and last) lap.  Then dropped up a steep climb out of a gully.  A bit more attention on my part to pack positioning going into the gully hill might have seen me pack slide my way up the hill and keep contact.  As it was, I was a bit too far back in the field and I wasn't able to chase back on the following downhill.

So, the verdict?  I feel good about how my form is coming along.  I didn't like how I got dropped; I would have felt better if I hadn't, but a sprinter getting dropped on this course is not totally unexpected, even if I am a little disappointed at allowing it to happen.  Makes for good motivation to keep hammering those interval sets and getting in those hours on the saddle.

Next up: Banana Belt.  This course has treated me nice in the past... but the Cat3's are a new field.  Should be fun.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Training Update

A couple minutes to type out a training update for a little motivation before getting it up to sit on my trainer for 40 very painful minutes...

Basically, up till about a week ago, I've been doing only base.  This cumulated in a 45 minute private time trial test to see where my fitness was.  For that 45 minutes, I averaged 330W, which is better than last year. Pat on the back.

Last weekend was the first race of the season.  You can read all about that in the previous post.

Now, it's back on the saddle to do interval training to try to increase my threshold power.  The last couple years, I've been doing 2x20min intervals, with 5 minutes in-between.  Compared to last year, I am starting my interval training waaayyy late.  I was doing this stuff in November last year.  This year it's February and I still haven't strung together any significant interval sessions.  Another difference is I am trying a new workout.  8x5min with 1 minute between each interval.  It's the same 40 minutes of pain, but with the rest periods evenly distributed throughout.  It's supposed to be better for race power development than the 2x20min sets.  Or something.

Anyway, makes sense to me.  Only in the breakaway or a long climb are you doing 40 minutes constant, and even then, the pattern is more akin to the 5min on/1min off pattern than it is to a time trial.  I'm not focusing on time trials this year, so it makes sense to be focusing on intervals that more readily duplicate race conditions.

Plan is to do this until two weeks before the Cherry Blossom Stage Race in late April.  That gives me 7 weeks to get my shit together and bang my way into race shape.  No 7 mile infinite hill at Cherry Blossom this year... maybe I'll have a shot at the overall (really?).

Sunday, February 14, 2010


First race of the season!  Cherry Pie in the beautiful gray skies and wet roads of Corvallis.

PV brought out five riders to play.  The field started off about five minutes early, meaning we didn't have Team Ironclad to deal with.  The rollout: stop and go as per usual.  It makes me wonder when the lead cars at Cherry Pie will figure out that they need to go a bit faster down the hill and a bit slower up hill during the neutral stretch, rather than the other way around.

The race started red hot as everyone uncorked their legs from the long slog of winter training.  This lasted for several fast miles before people settled down.  I can't lie, it felt good to let out the leash in anger for the first time of the year.

After that, the pace settled down, a smallish group of six got off the front and I concentrated on staying up in the top 30.  Nobody was in the mood to catch the little group, so things kind of bumped along for a good half hour, with lots of slowing and speeding up, brake grabbing, and a bit of bumping as people tried to move around in the bunched up peloton.

We get to the finish hill for the first of two times and it's time to test my legs against the competition for the first time of the season.  Surprisingly... the legs are good!  Last year on this hill, I was pack surfing like mad; going from the very front to the very back and not making it back up to the front until the very end of the second lap.  Not the best thing to do in a race (apparently, all us pack surfers going backwards get in the way of the guys with actual fitness), but us sprinters, man, we've gotta hold onto the pack using whatever means necessary.  This year?  I was surfing up the pack(!) and went over the hill at the tail of the front group.  Only a true sprinter can know just how pleased I am by this change of fitness.

The second half of the race featured a successful effort to bring back the breakaway, who I found out from Mitch, contained a guy who was some East Coast State TT champion.  I was able to organize a good chase effort and we caught the guy fairly quickly.  From then on, it was covering attacks and trying to keep Mitch in position to attack the finish hill with the front group.  The East Coast guy attacked several times.  The second or third to last time this guy attacked, Mitch was ready and right on his wheel when the guy took off.  It was about five or eight miles from the finish and it was a good move too, if it were anyone but Mitch who went with it.  Nobody in the field knows the East Coast guy (Mitch knew of him from the internet; Mr. East Coast is a regular contributor on the site ""), but everyone knows Mitch...  The collective opinion of the field was if Mitch was marking this guy, then everyone else should too, and so the move was brought back in a real hurry.  But besides that, Mr. East Coast was the feature of several breakaway attempts, so it was obvious he was a strong TT type fellow who would be dangerous in the closing miles.

Mr. East Coast went a couple more times; the last time at about 3 miles out.  He made a strong move that nobody followed.  At that point, I was on the front with Mitch on my wheel.  For the next near eternity, it was me on the front with Mitch flogging me for more speed at 24.9 mph into a headwind (I remember the "24.9" number very distinctly...), while Mr. East Coast slooooowly increased the gap, foot by foot, minute by minute.  I finally fell off the front a few minutes before the base of the finish hill and limped home.

In epilogue, Mr. East Coast was finally caught with 200m to go (which means my efforts were not for naught), right before a freak crash-that-can-only-happen-on-the-first-race-of-the-season brought down 10 or 15 people and kept Mitch from a good finish.  As for me, it was a good race: a good test of my fitness and a good indicator that this year should be a pretty good year for me.