Saturday, December 20, 2008

cross nats 08 : back to KC



The 2008 season is over. It ended with cross nats back in Kansas City again, but this year at a different venue and with some different weather as well. We made the drive out starting on Wednesday, stopping in St Louis and arrived at the venue on thursday afternoon. The course was awesome! Not your typical cross course, this one was on the side of a pretty serious hill....so the majority of the course was uphill, then back down again...nice and wide with very little in the way of technical sections. For me this course was about as good as it gets...pure fitness not finesse. At first the course was pretty sloppy from previous rain...but by the time of Cara's master's race on friday it was nice and tacky...soft, but not messy at all. Cara had a very good ride for 9th in a tough 30-34 yr age group.
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My age group race was friday..and the conditions were just as good. Temps in the 50s and soft but grippy ground. To top it off I was 9th on the call-up and with one no-show I ended up with the last place on the front line. With 120 of my closest friends next to and behind me, it was going to be a battle. Even with a course that suited me and a primo start position, I didn't come into the race this year with lofty goals. I didn't have anywhere near the fitness I had for my couple of 2nd place finishes a few years back....it has been a strange and long season...but I WAS hoping to get the best out of myself. Was a podium (top 5) out of the question???
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The whistle blew and I had a good start, found my pedal and had a good first few pedal strokes (it is unbelievable how important those first few seconds are in a big cx race). Then, just as we were about to get off the pavement I had the sensation of being pulled backwards....did I go too hard? I figured out pretty quickly that my rear wheel was rubbing my brakes, but was not sure why...no time to think too much about it yet...I just needed to drive hard. I managed to stay in a decent position...probably just outside the top 10, but my gears were slipping and something just was not right with the bike. Near the end of the lap, just after the barriers, I reached down to try to tighten my rear skewer....it was WAY loose: problem identified. I reset the wheel and tightened the skewer. I thought I had it fixed, but the gears were still slipping so I knew I would have to change bikes. In the meantime I had lost a whole bunch of spot and after my bike exchange I was back in the mid-20s.
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With a fresh, properly working bike, now it was time to see how far up I could battle. I actually did a really good job...rode to my abilities (read: really, really hard) and made it back up to 11th at the finish. I was pleased that I was able to make myself suffer so hard and go well...but something about 11th place is not particularly satisfying. No excuses here...even without my first lap difficulty I figure the best I could have done was something like 8th...just a few spots better than I was....it really comes down to simply not having the fitness to hang with the amazingly strong guys at the front of that race. I will get back up there...but cross is becoming more and more competitive at every level, and to get there I am going to need to make it a focus of the entire season. This will not happen next year, but sometime in the next few years this will become the number one goal. I was really hoping that fellow ashevillean Will Black was going to win, but he had a bit of a bad day and bailed...my guess is he will be back for it next year with a vengeance.
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Sunday was elite race day. Here is where the weather story of the weekend comes in. When we got up in the morning it was 60 degrees (no joke!) but at the start of the women's race it was somewhere around 25 degrees....crazy. At least we knew it was coming...but we didn't think it would be that sudden. I was able to see a little of Cara's race while I was warming up...enough to see Katie Compton crush all....and Cara have a decent mid-pack finish on the lead lap.
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The elite men's race was crazy-insane as usual. I have no illusions here...I was doing it for fun and to be part of the big show....if I could make it to 1 lap to go before being lapped by the leaders I would have been happy. The worst part of the race was standing at the start waiting in the cold. Once we were off I just tried to stay safe and ride hard....which is exactly what I did. I started mid-pack and that is about where I ended up being scored. By the end of the first lap my hands were screaming in pain from the cold...but I was able to push that out of my mind with the help of hundreds and hundreds of screaming spectators. If you have never been to a cross nats....you need to get your butt to one to see what I am talking about. I will gladly hand over my $50 entry fee to be in the elite race for just that experience...it is always a highlight of the season and a great way to end the year. I rode hard. My gears started skipping again about mid-race. I still can't believe I went all year with my bikes working PERFECTLY other than a couple of punctures..then they don't work at nats?!?!?! I changed bikes with about 4 laps to go, but knew my time left in the race was limited. Ryan (the winner) lapped me as he was heading in for his 2 to go. In the big uci events (nationals IS a uci race) you get pulled from the course either just before you are lapped, or at the start/finish just after you are lapped. I was pulled when I would have seen 3 to go ...which is why in the results I am listed as 3 laps down...no I wasn't lapped 3 times in an hour...I am slow, but not THAT slow :)
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It was so cold after the race we didn't really hang around ...we just packed up and hit the road. Unfortunately we didn't get to say goodbye to everyone. One of the other great things about cross nats is just seeing everyone one last time for the year. Some of the guys from the west coast we actually ONLY get to see at nats...and it is something that I will miss if we don't get to go next year. So that was it: the 2008 season is in the books. Was it good? bad? It was certainly a strange one. I will do a season summary soon and see if I can't objectively quantify how I feel about it......
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We headed east and spent a couple of days in (very cold) St Charles, MO..had a nice holiday visit with Cara's family, then made our way back to our lonely cats in Black Mountain. I won't be taking too much time off the bike this year.....while I am somewhat "retired" from road racing...I am still cooking up some cool plans for 2009. In fact I did get out for a couple short rides on the new cannondale 29er....more on that later.
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a2

Sunday, December 07, 2008

one week to go!

The final weekend of local cross racing was great. We raced at the MSG series in TN on saturday in a nice snowstorm. I was able to take my first "A" race win of the season....really I was able to benefit from a couple other riders bad luck. It went like this: Of fthe start we had a lead group of 5...4 Lees McRae riders and me. Not looking good for me. We drop one, then 2 get a gap...so it is me chasing 2 leaders with one of their teammates on my wheel. I lose the teammate and one of the riders ahead drops back. Now it is me chasing the leader with one of his teammates on my wheel. OK, 2nd or 3rd is acceptable. Then, we pass the leader who is running after he flatted...now it is me leading, towing the other rider around who (rightly so) is hoping his teammate will catch back. Into the final laps when it is obvious no one is coming back to us he is just waiting to jump me....he comes around strong just before a slick off campber downhill turn. I see it coming as he lays it out in the turn. I carefully get around him without going down myself and hang on for the very unexpected win.....hey...I will take it when I can get it!

Sunday was the NC series final. I was in 3rd going into the race, with no chance to move up, but with 2 strong riders breathing down my neck to get ahead of me. I needed to have a good race...and honestly I did. I was able to have a decent start(or in my case simply not as bad as usual) and I was ahead of both my rivals after the first lap. We ended up in a gorup of 3 chasing the 2 leaders...who were gone.....so it was a battle for 3rd with me knowing I needed to finish ahead or right behind Noah (currently 4th in the series). I felt good and tried attacking with one to go, but was brought back. I stayed on Noah's wheel and finished 5th...just behind him to hold on to my 3rd overall in the series.

To top it off: Cara won her races both days and won the NC series overall....

Tomorrow we hit the road for Nationals in Kansas City!
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a2

Sunday, November 23, 2008

nccx uci races

Our big hometown cross races were this weekend. Well....as close to hometown as we get since they are down in Hendersonville about 40 miles away. Friday we headed down to recon the course and help set up....nothing like pulling metal barrier fencing off trucks for an hour or so as a pre-race warm-up. With a little cold snap happening the temps were low, but the course was great...fast, fast, fast. Some nice little problems, but for the most part a full on speed course.

I watched Cara ride to 5th on saturday, then lined up for the elite race. We had about 30 guys ...and the field was pretty deep...with quite a few traveling from far away to try to grab a couple of uci points before nationals. I had a second row start position, which was fine, except I pulled out of a pedal on the third stroke! Damn, my starts are bad enough without that kind of trouble and I found myself pretty much at the back after the first couple of turns. I obviously missed the front group and struggled to find a group to ride with. I got in with 3 others at about the half way point and we kept a good pace. I felt stronger as the race went on and with 2 to go I started pushing the pace....one to go and I dropped all but one of the guys I was with. I was having a great last lap and we closed in on 10th and 11th place and caught them with just a couple hundred meters to go....unfortunately I made a couple of small handling errors and ended up at the back of that group for 13th place at the finish. Fitting as my bib number was 13. Overall I was pleased with my ride....my cross season thus far has been less than stellar, but not terrible either considering the lack of specific training....this lack of specific training is for psychological reasons more than anything. I have just had this gut feeling all Fall that if I pushed the specific intensity workouts I would burn out and not want to race the rest of the season.
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Today (sunday) was a little warmer and the cast of characters was about the same. Cara had a great ride..and was 4th after dangling behind the front group , then catching, and attacking, dangling again, then catching and attacking again...very fun to watch. I had a much better start than the day before (which is still not great). The winning group of 3 took off on the first lap and there was a big chase group....I was just behind this group for lap after lap...I felt like I could reach out and touch them, but I just could NOT get there. I was with a couple other guys and we passed Johnathan Baker who had flatted. He got a bike change and came back through us. We were still really close to the group ahead and I thought by staying with him I could get there. I dug DEEP. We were just 5 seconds ...maybe even less ...off the back of the group and I made a small bobble and lost contact. I chased hard and then blew up. Unlike yesterday where I went stronger as the race progressed today I used it all trying to get to the group riding for 4th. After I blew I was riding at a steady mediocre pace....and was unable to catch anyone else. I suffered in for 15th place. Actually I was not all that far behind the big group ahead...or even the winner for that matter, but it felt like a million miles. Definitely less happy with my performance today. I should have been able to stick that group on the first lap and stay there...even if I would not have placed much better, it would have been a more pleasant day. After the race we stayed and helped tear down the course. Loading those metal barricades back on the trucks after a hard race is tough.
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Only 3 more weeks of cross left! While I have not been training hard...I have still been riding...and I am still really enjoying the racing....and as it is with every season, I will be sad when it is over....but I am already excited about 2009.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

wind tunnel

Yes today was extremely interesting. I got to spend the whole day in the wind tunnel with Floyd Landis and Rory Sutherland. I was not there in a technical capacity, more just to help out and take some pics and video. It was a blast..... I will write a full post on the experience later....
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a2

Saturday, November 08, 2008

bad weekend and some Fall work



Last weekend was miserable racing for me. I flatted both days. Saturday in Bristol TN riding in 2nd I clipped a course marking stake with my front wheel and tore the sidewall out. One dead tire and a lot of coasting and running to the pit had me fighting back from just about last place. I got back to 6th, but no better.

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I managed to salvage the day by winning the single speed race immediately following the elite race....it was just 30 minutes, but I had to really dig deep as 2nd was chasing @ 10 seconds or so the whole time.

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Sunday we raced in Lenore, NC. The course was awesome for me...lots of fast, straight pedaling sections. Unfortunately I missed the lead group of 4 or 5 (again) and was chasing with 2 others, when...you guessed it....I flatted....and just past the pit on a very long course! By the time I made it around to change my wheel I was about 2 minutes BEHIND LAST PLACE! I was very close to throwing in the towel, but I put in a challenge to myself: don't get lapped and don't get last. I rode really hard...probably as hard as I would have ridden in the front group...and managed to accomplish both my goals. I rolled in for an exhausted 15th place. Damn, that was a hard ride for 15th!

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Funny thing is that I have been racing cross for what....like 12 or 13 years now... and honestly I can almost count my flats and major mechanicals on one hand. Well...maybe two hands, but the point is there have not been too many so I can't complain.....and after all, while I could call it bad luck....in reality we usually make our own luck in cycling. Saturday I cut the course marker too tight and paid the price, operator error for sure. Sunday I am not certain exactly what happened but I might have hit a lip on a bridge just a little too hard...again probably my own fault.

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Hoping for better luck at the sate championships tomorrow.

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In the meantime, over the last couple of weeks we have been working on preparing to move the home office to a different room in the house. If I had all day for a few days I probably could have gotten this done in 3 days....as it was, squeezing in a couple hours here and there between writing schedules, email, phone calls and fit sessions it took 3 weeks! But now we are ready to move which will give us a nice downstairs guest bedroom and a place for Cara to study for her CPA exams.


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a2

Friday, October 31, 2008

what a weekend...Oktoberfest and Boone CX

Last Saturday was my final MTB event for the season: the 8 hour endurance race at the National Mountainbike Oktoberfest. With rain on friday night the course was quite slippery...while it was not super muddy, the roots were wet and most of the track slick. The field was small...but there was a host of the top guys there. I love the pic of the start above. Nat Ross is on the front, I am to the right, Tinker and Jeremiah Bishop are on the left, Harlan Price is in there as is Ernesto Marenchin.
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The start was fun....not too fast and I snagged third wheel for a while, then rode on Tinker's wheel for a bit....then we hit the woods. I was really tense on the slippery stuff and quickly fell off the pace of the leaders. In fact every time I felt like I was getting into a groove and gaining some confidence to go faster I would crash or slide out causing me to back off. After a few laps my arms were super tired from being tense. Laps were short...my first few were around 36-37 minutes.
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I was running about 7th or 8th for the early part of the race, but I decided not to worry about that much and I didn't even know for sure where I was or what the gaps were. Because of the short laps, and that I had Cara there pitting for me, I decided to go with bottles vs a camelbak. This can be dangerous for me as I tend to not drink enough with bottles.....but I got into a system of exactly where I would drink every lap and was going through about 2/3 to 1 full bottle most laps. Nutrition - wise I was eating something every lap. Either 1/2 package of bloks, or a gel...I kept on schedule and finally felt like I got it right.
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Right about dusk Jeremiah and Harlan lapped me and I was able to ride with them for a while. These guys are some of the best in the business and it was a blast for the 10 minutes or so I was able to stay with them. Riding with them I realized how much I need improve my riding! Talk about smooth....and while I am pretty good at holding a normal conversation at race pace, they were full on trading recipes the whole time. In general though I was feeling good...and riding to my limit because of my skills and not my fitness. I passed at least one solo rider and the attrition rate was high so I knew I had moved up some, but still was not sure where I was.
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As darkness fell, the track became even more slippery....or maybe it was just because I couldn't judge the roots as well. My 11th lap was mediocre and with one to go before the 7:30pm cutoff to go out on another lap, I was dreading the last long technical trail section. Tinker lapped me as I slid out on a root so I was not able to ride with him at all :(, then just as I entered the long singletrack, rooty part of the course Nixon (an asheville guy) caught me up and we rode together ...this was great as it kept my mind off the slppery-ness and my growing fatigue. As we hit the final climb that had been a steep muddy unrideable hike-a-bike the whole race, I put it in my easiest gear and made it about half way up before dismounting to slog the rest of the way. Nixon, to my chagrin, rode the whole climb! Good thing I was a lap ahead of him or that would have been demoralizing.
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I finished 6th....the first guy behind all the superstars. In fact the next rider ahead of me was Nat Ross, so I couldn't complain. It was nice to be able to pack up and head out quickly without having to wait around for anything.
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The next day was the NC CX series race up in Boone. This race is up in Seven Devils at an old golf course, literally on top of a mountain. Pretty cool. Only problem was that it had huge amounts of elevation changes...not so great just a few hours after an 8 hour race for me! I saw large amounts of suffering coming and I was right. I had an absolutely miserable start (as expected) and faded all the way back to 14th after the first lap. I was able to steadily move forward after that and found I was rolling pretty well...a surprise. I was hurting, but the course was really fun and I was moving up every lap. I made it up to 7th, then 6th, then finally 5th for the last couple of laps which is where I finished. I was really happy with that result considering my condition....
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Cara had a good race as well and was 2nd....so it was a successful weekend. One more endurance race for experience and a respectable finish on sunday. This week's training has been fairly light. One day of near 3 hours, otherwise short rides....most of my time has been working and doing house projects.
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Next up: Cross in TN saturday and Lenore NC sunday.
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a2

Friday, October 24, 2008

Iron Cross VI - finally!

So it took me 2 weeks...but finally an Iron Cross report.
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I have come to realize after racing Iron Cross for 6 years that it is currently in fact my favorite event on the calendar. A great course, promoters, swag, prizes and tons of fun make this a must do ...even if it means skipping the 3 big uci cross races that were even closer to home that weekend :)
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Usually I hit up a cross race in TN the day before IC, but this gets me to the venue late saturday night and with a 9am race start sunday, this year I decided to forgo racing saturday and just make the drive up to PA earlier. I got in at dusk and had just enough time to do a bit of a leg opening ride before darkness fell. I stayed in one of the bunkhouses right on the course this year which sure makes morning preparation easy....as well as fun hanging out with some old (and new) friends. One of my race kit essentials is ear plugs.....unfortunately we had a snoring bunk mate and I forgot my ear plugs! Oh well.
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Race day weather was perfect...sunny and warm....not even as cold as usual as the 300 riders lined up for the start. Off we went and I took 2nd or 3rd wheel as we headed around the "traditional" cross course then out onto the big loop. The pace was not as fast early as in previous years...which was fine with me because I almost immediately developed a nasty side stich. I am pretty sure this was caused by my poor last minute decision to take a gel just 5 minutes before the start. I had one of my normal pre race meals (granola w/ soy milk and a banana), but for whatever reason paniced and thought I needed more calories for the 4 hour event. Not a good decision.
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Up the first climb, across a rolling dirt road, back onto pavement and onto the KOM climb we had a large lead group of almost 30 riders...the biggest I can remember. We shed some of them after the KOM, but it was still a big group. As we approached the turn for the technical lippencote trail climb there were 3 riders just dangling a few seconds off the front. I saw them sit up and start looking around (for the turn) as we got close to the trail. I had a good idea where it was so I blew past them and was able to get the lead as we hit the trail. Perfect! This trail is quite difficult on a cx bike and guaranteed to be frustrating if you get stuck behind other riders. I was able to take my line at my speed. I was not in too much of a hurry, more just concentrating on being smooth and not making any mistakes. As the trail leveled out, Ray Adams came around me and I was able to follow his good lines as we descended to the pavement. Out onto the road we now had a lead group of 7 which quickly became 9....with no other riders in sight behind.
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Down route 30 and onto more up and down dirt roads, Cameron Cogburn attacked as the group was setting a moderate pace (a good move). I was not in a hurry to follow (still battling my side stich at this point) but 2 riders did ...one of whom was eventual winner Chris Beck. Not long after that we hit the big wig wam run up .... which is really a very steep "slog" up a rocky grade. I love this part of the race and, one foot in front of the other, pushed the pace as best as I could. Over the top of the next "run up" we had a group of just 3....chasing the 3 already up the road. We were 3 chasing 3 with a time gap (that held for quite a while) of 3 minutes....interesting.
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As we traveled up and down the dirt roads, then some pavement, I was feeling pretty rough. In fact, the other 2 guys seemed to be going a little better than me and I was preparing myself for a tough battle to hang on going up the next long climb. As we hit this climb (one of the toughest on the course ...I think it is calld hog back) I went to the front, set it in my easiest gear and just started churning out my "I can ride like this for a long time" pace. After just a couple minutes things got quiet. I didn't allow myself to look back for a few more minutes, but when I did I saw I had a sizeable gap. Nice. That was a dangerous point though....go too hard and you blow up, get caught and can't hang on....go too easy and lose the gap. I was good and kept my comfortable, but solid pace. Over the top of the many false summits on this section and I was out of sight....onto a descent and the next long trail section. Everything was going well...I was riding smooth, then I hit a detour from the old course that shoots us down a rocky descent that we were warned about. I started down and thought I was ok, until the trail dropped away and I decided it best to get off the bike. A little too late as I ended up not only off the bike, but in a nasty sticker bush that tore up my legs. Oh well a little blood makes it look like a harder race....off again and back onto the regular course...into the groove and heading to the last section. I was flying down a grassy trail, looking ahead when my front tire hits a groove and next thig I know I am sliding on my back. Great , 2 crashes in just a couple I miles ....I need to get things straight. I got up and was a little worried about the bike as the shifters took the brunt of the impact, but I was able to twist them back into place and carry on.
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One more nasty trail section, a run-up and a really steep short ride up, a mile or so of gravel, then onto the downhill pavement! As I made the left hand turn at the bottom of the descent with just a mile or two to go, I looked back. Sweet, no one in sight....I could be a little conservative on the run in.... save just a little in case there is a last minute charge from behind. Nope....back to camp thompson and across the finaish line....for 4th overall...but wait! As I crossed they told me I was 3rd overall! Cameron had taken a wrong turn and lost a bunch of time...so I was in fact 3rd across the line and 1st for the old guys (>40). A great day.
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IC takes a lot of specific bike preparation to do right. I spent an entire day getting my regular cannondale cx bike "iron crossified". This year ...after 6 tries ...I finally got my wheel /tire combination right. I used huchinson bulldogs set up tubeless with stans on a set of spinergy x-aero wheels. I mounted top mount brake levers and changed out the right shift/ brake lever for a 9 speed. This allows me to run a MTB 11-32 cassette in the back (of course causing the need to change to a long cage rear derailleur). I happen to have 46x36 chainrings, so this gave me an easy gear of 36x32....perfect for sections like lippencote.
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The tuesday after the race I felt like I was recovering well...leg-wise anyway...but picked up a head cold. I felt crappy all week and while my legs felt fine, I was not well enough to do any real training (just about an hour a day). Leading into the first weekend of the NC cross series I was not feeling particularly "snappy". I did have a good race saturday for 4th on a sloggy / windy course in Raleigh. Sunday I blew it and missed the lead group on the first lap. I chased hard essentially alone the entire race with no hope of getting back to the front of the race. I finished a disappointing 7th. I was pretty bummed with that result....but I have to remember how I felt during the week and most likely what Iron Cross took out of me. Historically I don't think I have done well the weekend after IC, but still.....
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Next up: tomorrow a solo 8 hour MTB race near charlotte against some of the best in the business (Tinker, Nat Ross....etc). I hope to see where I stack up and have some fun in the process...hopefully the rain today will be through by race time tomorrow. Then a cx race on sunday in Boone where I know I will be suffering and exhausted......all in good fun eh?
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a2

Thursday, October 09, 2008

12 Hours of Dauset Details

After having a couple of weeks to look back on the 12 hours of Dauset, I can put together a bit on what I did right and what I could have done a bit better. First a race summary:
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I went out pretty quick, but at a sustainable pace. I had the lead, but didn't know it until lap 4. I really concentrated on driving the bike around the course conserving as much energy as possible while maintaining speed. This meant really nailing the turns at the right speed, braking less and shifting at the right times. The course was all single track, but it was not particularly technical and while there were a few climbs they were not particularly long or steep.
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I was really strong through 6 or 7 hours and was feeling good but a little apprehensive going into the last 1/3 of the race. I had a decent lead at this point, but I knew that the guys chasing me had more solo experience....so I could not let up. I had one really rough lap...lap 10...I think this was a mental issue more than anything at a frustrating point in the race. Fatigue is setting in and there is still quite a bit of racing left. This was also probably my low point as far as fueling...I suspect I had low blood sugar and it made me cranky. I took a long pit after this lap...mounted up my lights and had some food. The next lap was much better and I was able to stay relatively consistent through lap 13. As I came through after 13 I was not sure if the guys behind would make the time cut to start another lap or not....so I headed out for #14. After riding about 15 minutes I heard Cara calling for me as the course looped back past a parking lot. She told me the other guys missed the cut and I had won...but I had to finish my lap. This made me feel good...but at the same time now that I knew I won, pedaling the bike started to get really hard! I took that last lap SLOW.....I think it was quite a bit over 60 minutes.
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I did 140 miles of single track in about 12 and a half hours....what a day! Here are my lap times:
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APPLEGATE
ANDY
46.17- includes leMans run start
45.65 - my fastest lap
47.42
50.81
49.70
51.94
53.48
51.71
52.67
60.40 - worst lap...but this time does include a 5+ minute pit stop
53.10
56.56
56.30
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So I learned a lot about solo endurance racing....here are some things I could have done better:
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Pit - My pit was a bit disorganized, I was not sure what I would need so I was a little haphazard setting it up. Once I realized this during the race it made me a bit flustered more than once.

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Nutrition- good and bad here. I need to train my body to take in more calories while riding. I know if I can do that I will be stronger late in the race....but I usually end up with a slight nausea that makes it difficult. This will be an ongoing challenge
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gloves! - I usually wear gloves with no palm padding....ouch my palms were bruised for days after the race.
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Chamois creme - I put plenty on to start, but need to make sure I reapply several times...again...ouch!
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What I did right:
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Pacing! It seemed like I nailed the pacing right from the gun for a race of this duration. Of course it would be nice to go faster...but I got it right that day.
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nutrition- I know I need to work on it, but in this case I got what I needed to keep a relatively steady pace except for one lap....so not too bad.
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equipment - the scalpel was absolutely perfect on this course
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event choice - A fantastic race for my first long solo effort.
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OK....after that weekend we did 2 weekend with cross clinic on saturday and races sunday. next up: Iron cross this weekend, then NC cross races, followed by an 8 hour endurance race then cross races every weekend until nationals in december!
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a2

Saturday, September 27, 2008

12 Hours of Dauset - short version

Last weekend I did my first solo 12 hour mountain bike race on the Dauset trails south of Atlanta, GA......and I won! It was a great experience and I learned a ton. I will post more details later.
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check out cara's post on the race here: www.caraapplegate.blogspot.com
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a2

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bookends - Univest GP 08

Last weekend was most likely the final big road race of my road campaign that has lasted 10 years. I can't say I did very well, or that I was even prepared for Univest this year, but it was a fitting end as exactly 10 years ago at the very first edition of the Univest GP in 1998 I competed in my first elite level road race.
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Previously I had been doing a handful of big road races every season (like Fitchburg, Altoona and the Iron Horse Classic) as a cat 3 while focusing on MTB racing. By end of the 98 season I had some good road results in big events and was just coming off a 2nd place on GC at the Killington stage race. I upgraded to a cat 2 and was asked to ride for a regional all star team for the inaugural Univest race. That team was sponsored by a bakery called "Yum Yum Doughnuts".
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In that race I was in WAY over my head....I had no idea what I was getting into. For this race, the promoter had invited several European development teams and all the best US amateur teams to compete (no US PRO teams). I thought as an amateur event, how bad could it be?? It was incredible....I remember vividly being amazed at how fast we went out for that 100 mile race. I suffered in the crosswinds, riders were being shelled all over the place in the first 10 miles. I made it exactly an hour in before being dropped on an uphill crosswind grade. At that point there was less than half the 120+ rider field left in the race. I limped back from the big loop and watched the finale play out (the race is a 60+ mile loop followed by 11 laps of a 3-4 mile in-town circuit). Watching those riders suffer at the end of the race was a life changing experience. In particular I remember watching a young Jon Hamblen battle it out with 2 French riders in the 3 man break at the end. I was transfixed. I was hooked. I knew that I had to start racing on the road full time to see what I could do with it.
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Shortly after that I signed on with a regional elite road team Ideal Tile. In 1999 we went to Univest again. This time my goal was to finish...and I had great fitness going in. I rode well and made it back to the circuits with the lead group...perfect...I felt great and I was going to finish and do well. Then I was taken down by an inattentive rider in a turn. I was up quickly and back on the bike before any of the service vehicles arrived. Riding in the caravan, I was not going to have any trouble getting back to the field. Then my front tire went flat. I stopped and looked back to see all the support cars (including my team car) stopped at the crash 200 meters behind me. By the time I got a new wheel mounted, I was way back. I rode 2 laps of the circuit, then was pulled from the race, extremely disappointed. If memory serves, this is the year that an up and coming guy named Tom Boonen won the race....which I got to see from the sidelines once again.
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In 2000 I returned yet again to Univest with the Ideal Tile team....and again since this was one of my season goal races I had great fitness. Again I made it back to the circuits and was feeling ok. This time however, I had done a poor job with fueling while out on the course and started suffering for it with 25 or 30 miles to go. I was not too far away when the winning move went and had I been smart with fueling and hydration may have made the split. As it was, I suffered and hung in with a large 2nd group to finish somewhere around 60th place. But I finished on the 3rd try! Once again my goal was to come back and get a real result in this special race.
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In 2001 I had moved to NC and had hands down my best season ever. I won my age group road race at the national championships in Spokane and myself and my new Cane Creek teammates had won a huge amount of races in the southeast. Again I had absolutely the form of my life coming into Univest week and things looked great. On top of that Cara and I were married on Sept 10th and were going to head up to visit my parents in NJ before heading over to the race Saturday. Then came 9-11. We were driving TO the NY area when we heard the news. The race was cancelled...and rightly so IMHO. A couple years later I did the race in a tropical storm where the course was shortened to just the 4 mile in town circuit,,,,it was miserable and I didn't finish. There was also a sunday crit added this year ..which I did finish.
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It was a couple of years before I was on a team invited to (the now PROs included) Univest again. I had a couple of miserable experiences where I got dropped early ...even though my form was good. This year (2008) when I was put on the squad going I can't say I had much confidence for a result. My modest goal was to survive and make it back to the circuits in town with the field.... Again the weather forecast called to tropical storm remnants to hit the area on race day.
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We rolled in Friday and stayed with some great host families near Souderton PA. A light rain was falling as we lined up on Saturday morning. The start was again blazing fast. We were doing 38-40mph for the fist 10-12 miles on the flat part of the course. This was fun, but a little sketchy on the wet roads. I was quite worried about what would happen when we hit the hilly part of the course where there are numerous tight turns. I was suffering, but doing ok riding up in the front half of the field. Then, the legs came apart. I lost power on a long uphill and could not keep the power up. I watched helplessly as nearly 100 riders went by. I was done. I tried to recover and rode hard staying in the caravan for a few miles...then I started coming up on crashes, slowing me down. On one downhill off camber turn there was a crash and I was riding up next to the broom wagon....as I moved left to go around so did the car and I was run off the road entirely. Kind of funny, but the time I lost killed me. The rain and wind was picking up and I joined up with one other rider to get through the 65 mile big loop to get back to town. At some points it was raining so hard I thought I would drown....but in some ways it was kind of fun also. We rode quite hard and caught up to a large group just before we got back to the circuit. As expected we were not allowed to enter the circuit and our race was over.
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That was it, an inauspicious finale to my big road race experiences. That is not to say I am quitting though! I will focus on some different kinds of racing in the upcoming season, and while you won't see me lining up at any more uci, or probably even nrc road races, I will still do some road events.
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So 10 years of Univest. It is kind of fitting that I started and ended on the same big event....bookends.
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a2

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Race Across the Sky – Leadville 100 - 08


Here is a race I thought I would never do. After moving away from Colorado in 1996 I didn’t think I would ever be up for competing in a race that takes place between 10000 and 12600 ft of altitude. Well….after a call from my old friend Mark Wolff last winter who said he could get us into the race, how could I refuse? Mark’s friend Reid is a sponsor of the 100 mile running race in Leadville and as such had a couple of reserved entry spots available that we could take advantage of….thanks Reid ! (I think :) ).
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I figured I would make a late season trip out of the event and drove out to stay with Mark in his Airstream trailer in Buena Vista, CO. Buena sits at about 8000 feet in the Arkansas river valley in the shadow of the Collegiate range mountain peaks….very cool. I arrived late Monday night the week before the race. Tuesday I was so tired from travel and affected by the altitude that I was useless and didn’t even ride. Wednesday was a little better and I got out for a couple hour ride on some fun trails near town. Thursday was feeling like I was adapting at least a little to the altitude and again went for a moderate ride near Buena with Mark. The weather was cool and rainy and we hoped that race day would be a little nicer. Friday we headed up to race registration in Leadville (just 35 miles north) and after the race meeting drove to look at a couple of key points on the course. I was a little bummed that I didn’t actually ride any of the course before hand, but it just didn’t work out.
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The pre race meeting was an interesting affair and it was cool that Lance Armstrong showed up and said a few words….he played down his chances in the race, but I suspected he would give 5 time winner Dave Weins some serious competition the next day. There were about 1000 registered riders….but the registration process was so well organized that we were in and out in just a few minutes. With a 6:30 am race start we decided on a 3:45 wake up so we could get organized and up to the line with plenty of time. I am definitely not a morning person, but somehow early race starts don’t bother me once I have my mind set to what is needed for proper waking/eating/travel/ arrival at venue times.
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With the shotgun blast we set out on the 100 mile course. The neutral start was a little sketchy, but I was able to stay safe and end up near the front as we hit the dirt and the official race start. I was about 10-15 riders back at the beginning of the first climb just 5 or 6 miles into the race. This climb went well and I crested about 11000 ft in 19th position. Onto the road for a fast paved downhill I was in the 2nd group (Lance, Dave and about 8 or 9 other guys were just up the road). This descent bottoms out and goes right into the next climb. It was not long after the start of this one when I realized the altitude was already starting to get to me. I was feeling nauseous with every pedal stroke. Oh well…nothing to do about it, just keep riding.
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This climb went up to around 11.5, the last couple of miles being pretty rough….then comes the power line descent. I had to back off a little on the climb, trying to stave off the ugly feeling of altitude sickness and I gave up quite a few spots, but I was surviving. The power line descent was really fun…although I was kicking myself for not having pre-ridden it during the week. Off the descent and onto the rolling / flattish portion of the course I was in about the 3rd group on the road and at aid station 1 was riding in a group of 20 or so. After that the sensations started to degrade and I had to continue to let off the pace. Every time I pressed hard on the pedals I felt like I was going to be sick….not a good feeling. I kept hoping I could “ride through it” and feel good on the big upcoming climb….but that was wishful thinking. My big panic was that I felt so sick that I could not properly fuel or hydrate. I did my best, but I knew I was fighting a losing battle there…..so for once I did something really smart: I went into conservation mode. Don’t get me wrong, I was not poking along (yet) but I was definitely holding way back…not riding fast …and not worrying about other riders. I let plenty of riders go by and tried not to be concerned about them. Now, instead of racing for what I had hoped to be a high placing, I was going for that 9 hour mark. I knew I could make it IF I stayed within myself and managed the nausea.
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I actually rode through aid station 2 at twin lakes only about 5 minutes slower than my predicted time…not bad so far, but I had not counted on feeling so poorly…and with a climb over an hour long coming up I knew my time would fall WAY off soon. The area around twin lakes was a mass of people…it was incredible all the people out cheering and supporting riders. For about a mile I felt like I was riding Paris Roubaix or something….I guess Lance really does get the spectators out. Just past twin lakes was the “crew only” aid station where Mark’s wife Kitty had set up shop to support us. I pulled in and took my time getting some food and drink in preparation for the climb up to the Columbine Mine.
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The first long part of the climb was uneventful….in fact I didn’t see many riders at this point. I passed a couple of riders and a couple of riders passed me, but we were all going our own pace. After maybe 40 minutes of climbing the road degrades into a rocky trail. This part was fun for about a mile and this is where I saw Lance and Dave come flying down the mountain…and I still had over a mile to climb! Further along and the trail turns into a rutted path that has very steep pitches. All of a sudden I was above tree line and could see for a long way up the mountain: a long line of riders struggling up, walking at times. I had been climbing for over an hour and still could not see the summit and turn around. The closer I got to the top the faster the riders were coming at me on their way down. This part of the race is pretty sketchy as the uphill riders stay to the right and the downhill riders are forced into a rutted, rocky gully. I was able to ride most of the last uphill portion…I was only off the bike for 2 or 3 small steep sections. I suspect if I was fresh (or closer to sea level) these sections would be easily rideable. As sick as I felt I did still take the time to look around…. Amazingly beautiful….even if there is no oxygen to breathe. Over the crest of the high point of the trail there is a short downhill to the summit aid station and the turn around. This is kind of comical as you actually have to ride back uphill after the turn around…just about the last thing I wanted to do at that point.
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Onto the downhill …which was a blast…seeing the endless line of riders struggling up as I was blasting down the mountain was sadistically fun. I didn’t stop at the crew aid station on the way back and decided I would wait and make one more stop at the final aid station which was still between 2 and 2.5 hours from the finish. Across the rolling part of the course I was feeling worse and worse, trying to eat and drink, but knowing my caloric deficit was increasing. Now I started to ride slow. From this point on I felt like I was racing in slow motion, just turning over the pedals trying to manage the altitude problems as best as possible…..looking for that last aid station where I promised myself I would actually get of the bike for a few minutes. I was playing numbers games with myself, guessing exactly when I would get to the stop and setting time tables as to how long it would take me to finish from there. I figured if I left the station after about 6 hours of riding I could easily make the 9 hours total.
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When I finally made it to the stop I was suffering pretty badly. The “flat” part of the course actually has some really steep and difficult hills. I got off the bike and looking at my watch gave myself 5 minutes of recovery. Several riders passed but I was not worried…I thought I heard someone say I was in 69th pulling into the stop….so I told myself I would be happy with a top 100 placing. Out of the aid station with *just* 25 miles or so to go, I knew I was about to face one of the toughest parts of the course: riding UP power line. My thoughts went something like this: how hard could it be? This is the last really difficult climb (not!), after power line everything is easy, how long could it take? 30 minutes? HA! Power line on the way back IS the most difficult part of the ride. It is steep and it is long. I rode all but a few short sections and that was just because I had that nausea when pressing too hard on the pedals. There are 3 or 4 false summits. You think you can see the top, then you get there only to see another summit in the distance. On top of this it started to rain pretty hard just as I was nearing the top. As I finally crested…after what felt like hours of climbing in my easiest gear (really probably 45-50 minutes) I stopped briefly to put my rain jacket on for the descent. This descent was interesting as it was muddy and my glasses became useless….oh well, I still got down pretty quickly and next thing I knew I was on that real final climb….mostly pavement…but still a tough bit of ascending. I passed a rider who was having the same thoughts as me….just wanted to finish in under 9 hours without needing a trip to the hospital afterwards. I figured that the finish would be just about an hour or a little less from the top….and as it turns out I was pretty close with that estimate. I crested the last climb and felt a small surge of energy as I got back onto the dirt. I was hoping for an immediate downhill, but the trail rolls around a bit on the crest before the final descent. Once my wheels pointed downhill I got some confidence, but I knew that at the bottom I still had a 5 plus mile gradual uphill grind back to town.
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The return to town is slightly different that the route at the start…and slightly longer as well, just to add a little bit of extra cruelty. When I hit the pavement I thought I was home free….but in fact I still had a bit of suffering to complete. Instead of mostly pavement to get back, they send you off onto a loose gravel road called “the Boulevard”. Here is where I was cursing myself for not having looked at the finish section. I was on the boulevard, grinding away, but the town was nowhere in sight! I kept thinking “how far could it be!”....but it just would not come into view. Finally I asked a couple of spectators who walking along the course (almost going the same speed as me) how far it was and I think I heard a little chuckle as they said less than 2 miles. OK, I can walk 2 miles if I have to, so this set my mind at ease. I was crawling…but I would finish…and well under 9 hours. I made the final turn onto the road and hit the last couple of rollers up to the finish. It was awesome…there were hundreds of people out cheering for ALL the finishers….and since Lance and Dave had finished almost 2 hours earlier it was incredible to see this much support. I crossed the line in 8 hours 39 minutes in 71st place overall and somehow managed to hide my exhaustion because a few people were talking to me and I can’t really recall much of anything. I felt so sick, I still couldn’t eat and I went up to the car and just sat in the passenger seat trying to relax and let my stomach settle enough to start replenishing calories. This took a long time, but I had to wait for Mark to get in so I had time before I had to move around much.
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I went back to the line to wait for Mark and as 11 hours passed I was getting a little worried that he would not make the official finish cut off of 12 hours….on such a brutal course anything can happen. He made it in at about 11:22….great! As we were starting to get ready to leave and the 12 hour mark was approaching, the countdown began. One minute! At the finish you can see for several minutes down the road so you can see the riders suffering trying to make that 12 hour mark. 3, 2, 1 Bang! They fire the shotgun again at 12 hours signifying the end of the race….All I could think of was riders who were still out there hearing that gunshot and knowing they missed the cut off.
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We headed back to Buena, a big meal, and thankfully a couple thousand feet lower altitude. After an hour or so I started to feel better and the appetite came back nicely. The awards ceremony was at 8:30 am the next morning and it really was quite an affair. The race promoter actually reads off the name of every finisher under 12 hours. You get a belt buckle for under 12 and a bigger buckle for under 9 hours. Pretty cool. The winning tandem time was 10 hours and 17 minutes….there were actually quite a few tandems….and believe me I took note of that time….hmmmmm.
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After the awards I wandered around town a little, and then hit the road for the 2 day drive back to NC. What an experience this event was…I am so glad to have done it. I didn’t even come close to my potential time on the course….I suspect with the right acclimatization and training I could get close to 8 hours….but that will have to wait. Maybe next year?

a2


Sunday, August 17, 2008

HEKMAN 3RD AT US PRO CRITERIUM CHAMPIONSHIPS !!!!!



Let me repeat that: Mark Hekman just grabbed the bronze medal at the US PRO criterium championships in Downers Grove, IL. This comes exactly one year after crashing and breaking his heel in the 2007 amateur edition of the race. I couldn't be happier for Mark. The pic above is not from crit nats, but will have to suffice until we get one.
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Those who know Mark are familiar with his laid back style and sense of humor. What they often don't realize is the unbelievable amount of work he puts into his cycling profession. Of all the athletes I have had the pleasure to work with over the years, Mark has by far the ability to sustain the highest training work load. The other thing that really stands out is his consistency of race results. Week in and week out all year long Mark performs.....He has had some really good results this season, but 3rd today is some great payoff for all his efforts.
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Also a big congrats to Marco Aledia and the entire Inferno Racing team for Marco's 2nd place in the elite amateur crit championships earlier in the day!
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And it doesn't stop there! Asheville superstar Lauren Franges (Tibco) won the Saturday warm up race in Downer's where VeloSports coach Laura Bowles (Advil) was a driving force in the 4 woman winning break.
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a2
Leadville report coming soon...I promise!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Nationals TT Details....












My individual TT was at about 9am. As luck would have it, the rain started about 5 minutes before my start time. It rained for about 90% of my time on course, but I don't think it affected my ride at all. The Power file above is my individual ride....here are the numbers:
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entire ride:
Time: 50:52 ( I think my official time was 50:53 or 54)
Average (and normalized) power: 344 watts
avg cadence: 92 rpm
distance: 24.13 mi
speed:28.5 mph
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Splits:
Out:
time: 24:46
power:342 watts
cadence:93 rpm
speed:28.94 mph
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return:
time:26:04
power:345 watts
speed:28.03 mph
cadence 91 rpm
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I really felt pretty good during the ride and knew pretty early on that I was going well. My target "cruising power" was about 340 watts. I knew I was good as every time I checked I was at or above 340 and feeling comfortable....or at least as comfortable as one can feel while riding nearly all out.
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What can we glean from the numbers above? One thing is pacing: note that the return was significantly slower than the out leg, but the power was higher. This is due to the tailwind out , headwind return...and I also suspect that there was a net elevation loss going to the turnaround as we were going downstream along the Ohio River. This is good pacing. It would have been easy to overcook the first half, feeling good riding with a tailwind. I held back slightly and it paid off. My weight was about 147lbs or 66.82kg. The power over this TT gives me about 5.15 watts per kg @ FTP. Not bad. I am quite happy I was able to do that...for 4th place in my age group..., and I believe it was about the best I could have hoped for given my current fitness level.
After my individual ride the weather cleared, but the wind kicked up significantly. I had just under 3 hours between this ride and the tandem ride. Unfortunately I didn't rest as much as I should have. I found myself walking around, talking to other riders....which was great, but not the best for recovery. Just as Cara and I were headed to the start on the tandem, I noticed my age group was on the podium. I ran over, jumped on my step, raised arms for the photo then ran back off to get on the big bike. The whole thing took about 15 seconds and was really quite funny.
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With a huge wind behind the tandem on the out leg of the TT course we were FLYING. I have no metrics, but we were riding 29-34 mph most of the way out. Since they started the tandems at 2 minute intervals it was difficult to tell where we were in relation to our competition. I knew the return into the wind would be very tough and tried to hold back some. At the turn we saw we had only gained 15 or 20 seconds on the team ahead of us. I admit I felt a little panic. We would need to ride hard to the finish. Everything was great....we were riding fast and strong until about 109KM to go when the fatigue really started to hit me. i have to say that the last 5 miles of that ride was one of the most excruciatingly painful things I have ever done. I suffered....knowing that we needed to push all the way through. We did and we won....but ouch. Our time was something like 50:42...faster than my individual time! We have never done that before....usually we are close but just a little slower.
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We had the fastest mixed tandem time of the day by about a minute and were faster than all but a few of the men's teams.
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Tuesday I was wrecked.....
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a2


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Hekman wins Iron Hill edition of USA CRIT SERIES

Congratulations to Velosports Performance Center athlete Mark Hekman on his win at the Iron Hill Twilight Criterium in West Chester, PA, the 5th stop in the USA Crit Series.

When the phone rings late on a weekend night and a coach sees it is an athlete we work with on the caller ID, it is usually either really good news or really bad news. Thankfully it was all good tonight.

Hekman went on a solo break during the 60 kilometer long race, eventually lapping the field.

Nice work Mark!

Friday, July 04, 2008

4th of July: Natz mission accomplished

We won a hard fought tandem road race yesterday afternoon. It was wet and there were plenty of crashes. Hopefully a real report later, but of my 3 events here in Louisville I won 2 national championships and got on the podium for the other....so needless to say it was a good trip..

Time to head home!

a2

Monday, June 30, 2008

quick update: masters road nats

Cara and I are in Louisville, KY this week at masters road nationals. Today was the TT. My individual TT was at about 9am this morning. I was pleased to get 4th in my age group with a time of about 50:54 for the 38KM undulating course. It was raining for most of my ride, but I don't think it slowed me down any. I averaged 343 watts which gives me slightly over 5watts per Kg....about as good as I could have expected today.

At about 1pm Cara and I set off for our tandem TT. We rocked it even though the wind had picked up dramatically. We did 50:43 ! Faster than my individual time ! We have never done that before. The return leg had a serious headwind and the last 5 miles were excruciating.....one of the hardest things i have done in a long time. We had the fastest mixed tandem time by about a minute.

Mission accomplished so far: one podium and a national championship......

Tandem road race is thursday.

a2

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Friday, June 06, 2008

GAME OVER: paralympic trials road TT

Just finished the road time trial for paralympic selection. We rode really well and did 100.9 % of our time standard of 1 minute 17.6 seconds per kilometer. We rode a 17:56 on a tough little course with some difficult turns and hills. Unfortunately it was not good enough to get selection for the team. The hand cyclists and amputees ruled the day. 3 of them did 95% of their time standard! I don't know just what their standard was, but that is incredible. With only 6 male slots for the team and 3 of them "ring fenced" we would have needed to ride about 97% of our standard to get selection . We rode over 28mph average....and honestly no matter what we could have done we would no way have been able to ride fast enough to do 97%! To do a 97% for the pursuit we would have literally had to come close to setting a world record!
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So in the end...after all the hard work and time....training for an event I had never done before (pursuit) and travel, we never really did have a shot at making the team. The way the selection rules are written, and the small size of the team the US had qualified for the paralympics we were fitghting a losing battle from the onset.....of course we did not know this until recently....most of this is new for this paralympics as the uci recently took control of the cycling events and new rules are in place for Beijing.
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I do know that we trained hard and raced well....to the best of our abilities....and for me, the experience was truly amazing.
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I hope to have some pictures and more thoughts up here soon....
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a2

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

4:43 something

That was our time for the 4KM pursuit today. We rode really well..especially for a team that had never done this event before. I was hoping for better, but we rode to our ability and this is what we came up with.
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We did start a little too hard. The start itself was near perfect about 28.0 sec for the first lap....then the big problem: 21 seconds for the 2nd lap!...too fast!!!! We knew this, but the damage was done....we needed to hold speed as long as we could.....and we were doing really well. Lots of low 22 sec laps...then into the 23s ...we made it past 5 to go with good times...then started to pay for the early effort with 24 second laps for the last 3......ouch.
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What an incredible experience though....this event is crazy hard..the focus it demands is complete. During the ride it was like we were on another planet....there was nothing else in the universe except us, our effort and the patch of track in front of us....
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When we finished all I could think was that I did not want this to be my first AND last pursuit with Matt...we have one more chance to move up and make the team.
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Our ride gave us the bronze medal for the national championship....but was 105% of our time standard....so we are still in 4th for the team selection ranking with just the road TT left on friday. We will need to ride FAST.
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No pics from today yet....maybe tomorrow.
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a2

Paralympic Trials Day 1

Today was day 1 of the trials. The pic is Matt and Anton starting the kilo. They had an unbelievably fast start and ended with a 1:06.8 . This gave us a 102% ranking...meaning they were 2% off of the elite standard for this event. 3 riders (one tandem team and 2 individuals) had better rankings so we are now in 4th. This means we have to go FAST tomorrow and friday.
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It was a little stressful for me to be out there watching and not riding. I have to say I was a little underwhelmed by the amount of spectators (look at the throngs of people in the stands above!)..and even by the amount of competitors....but even though the fields are small for the track events the times were wicked fast and the competition is extremely fierce to get those team spots for Beijing.
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After the event Matt and I did a short road ride, then I headed out again after lunch and did some leg opening efforts. I can't say I felt great, but I was putting out the power so I think I will be ok for tomorrow. Conditions were great today....if they are the same for tomorrow we should be able to ride a fast time.
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Hopefully I will be able to put up a good post tomorrow.....but now to bed.
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a2

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Almost Time for Trials !



Pictures courtesy of cycling photographer extraordinaire Casey Gibson. Team King is the one on top....that is Anton, Matt, and me.......extra points if you can tell who is the sprinter and who is the endurance guy. Between Matt and Anton that is a lot of quadriceps muscle!
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This was essentially our last real week of preparation for the trials next week. Now we are in "taper" mode. We did some hard work Tuesday-Friday on the track....well except Thursday when a car ran into the track overnight and they would not let us do a workout....no joke.
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Honestly the workouts this week are a blur. I know they were hard. We did get 2 motor paced sessions in as well. OK.....motorpacing is relatively challenging. Now: do it on a tandem, with a fixed gear, on the track, in the aerobars, and on a really windy day. Let's just say the learning curve was pretty steep.....but it was an absolute blast. Today we tried to do a 4 KM slightly above race pace with 1 lap on and 1 lap off the motor. That was somewhat of a disaster with the wind....we really got less than half a lap recovery each time....so while we didn't get exactly the effort we were looking for, it sure was hard. Next we did a 4KM effort on the motor the whole time. This went pretty well. The first couple laps were a little ragged, but then we settled into low 21 second pace for most of the effort...until the last couple laps when we fell apart. After a rest we did 6 or 7 KM behind the motor in an easier gear and at a more moderate speed. After this I FINALLY really got the hang of it...too bad the session was over!
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As far as fitness we now have what we are going to have for trials....time to do some easy workouts, rest, get all the race gear dialed in, and try not to stress too much....which is easier said than done.
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out for now
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a2



Friday, May 30, 2008

tour of leelanau

After a week of training on the track in Colorado I flew to northern Michigan for the 110 mile uci road race near Traverse City. I knew the travel would be tough....but after landing in Chicago and sitting on the tarmac for 45 minutes I missed my connecting flight and the day became super stressful. For a while i thought I was going to have to rent a car and drive the 5+ hours the rest of the way....but luckily I got onto an evening flight.

The race course was beautiful....lots of tough hills. I actually RACED at the front for at least a while. I was feeling good and went with the very first attack.....ummmm....not such a good idea. We were looking good for the first hour....riding well, then it started to rain. I managed to get gapped off on the first KOM climb and had to chase back for a few KM...ouch, but no worries....got right back to the front and was able to mix it up a little more....then we hit a twisty/ wet/ pot holed descent. I was still in contact with the group as I passed a teammate right near the bottom. I waited for him and tried to pull him back to the bunch. Just as I was making contact I looked back and saw he was behind, so I slowed again....big mistake. the field was going fast and as it turns out he was not really having any problems....Ryan Gamm came around us and drilled it to get us back on. Ryan pulled off and I went hard up the base of a small climb. Joe was able to jump around and get right back on the group and I ...well....I got dropped. Of course at that point there was only about 50 riders out of the 110+ starters in the field....but still. I chased hard for a bit but was soon caught by a group of about 6 riders from behind. These guys were motoring and I slotted right in. We kept the gap at 15 to 20 seconds for several miles...then the gap blew out and we lost sight of the field.

I had good company with ex teammate Shaun Adams and MTB superstar Mike Simonson. We kept the pace high enough to hurt, but our goal was to make the tight time cut as we knew we would not see the field again until the finish. We rode hard for the rest of the course but still managed to miss the time cut....what a drag to see a DNF next to your name when you did actually finish the race....oh well ...that is what you get when you try to play with the big kids.

The highlight of the day was as our group was finishing up the final steep hill. Simonson and I were going really hard....not sprinting mind you but riding hard for the finish. Just as we got about a half a meter from the line, neither of us wanting the distinction of sprinting the laughing group we both jammed on our brakes and came to a virtual track stand at the line..... I am not sure who won that contest :)

After the race I got to spend some quality time with my teammates....while we were bummed that the team performance was not the best, we did manage to have some fun.

Up at 4:15am on monday morning and back to Denver and the drive back to C-Springs by noon.

Next competition: the Paralympic Trials !!!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

back on TRACK



I am not even sure if I can remember everything that has gone on since my last post....but I will try.
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OK, so I went home from CO Springs, did the Rock Hill road race weekend with Inferno (a great team weekend), then did the Cohutta 100 mile MTB race ...(where I finished 16th and which really deserves it's own post)...then did the Airforce uci road race (where I was dropped like a rock), came back to C-Springs for a week of intense track pursuit training with Matt, flew back to Asheville for a whopping 5 days and had a great time doing the 12 Hours of Tsali MTB race with my Kobold / Cannondale teammate Daniel Corum last saturday(where we were 3rd in the 4 person open team category with just 2 riders...hope to do a post on this race individually as well). Got up the day after the 12 hr race, packed and DROVE 2 days (10 hrs sun, 12 hrs mon) BACK to Colorado Springs again,.......which leads us to this week.....keeping up??? I am not sure if I am !
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Now things are hotting up with our training for the Paralympic trials. We have been KILLING it with our workouts on the track. I have to say in my almost 20 years of racing bikes I have NEVER done this much specific all out intensity work...nor have I put this much energy and sacrifice into preparing for a certain event....and I suppose that is saying something. I am convinced it will pay off.
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Training for the 4 KM pursuit on the track is quite complicated and specific. I am certainly learning a lot. Matt enlisted Chris Mirabella to help with our training program (husband of famous track star Erin Mirabella)...so a special thanks from my aching legs goes out to him :) > I should also mention the incredible help we have had from Bill Lahman ..who has done everything from airport runs, to lap timing to wrenching for us....not to mention training with Matt. So far this has been a real team effort.
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Today's bout of pain was a long track workout consisting of a nice warm-up punctuated with a 4KM effort building to 130 rpm or so in a light gear (51x17 I think). Then the fun began with 4x 3KM all out efforts in our expected race gearing. It was super windy and our lap times were not great...but our effort was really good. We finished off doing 2 start efforts from a real starting gate...which was good practice. This workout left us completely spent. We then took about 30 minutes off followed by a 2 hour easy ride up through the Garden of the Gods (pictured above).
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The picture on the top is Katie Compton doing a serious motor paced track session......
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Now I need to recover for tomorrow's killer session again...
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a2

Sunday, May 04, 2008

US Air Force Cycling Classic

Andy is racing in the US Air Force Cycling Classic as I type this, with his team, Inferno Racing.

Read the live report here: http://live.cyclingnews.com/?id=latest

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Colorado Springs

So since last tuesday i have been out in Colorado Springs training with Matt King on the tandem. This trip has been focused on track specific work looking toward qualifying for the Paralympic pursuit.
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I was up @ 3:30 am last tuesday morning and in Denver by 9:30 am. Matt's riding partner Bill picked me up at the airport...and we were on the track in the Springs by 1:30pm This was a tough session with 2 and 3KM efforts and some starts. This was my first experience ever on a banked track....and to do it on a tandem , in aerobars, and near race pace was quite the challenge.....and it was a blast. I had no trouble at all...although trying to hold the tandem on the pole line @ 34 mph and 120+ rpms is quite ineresting.....I didn't feel too bad at altitude (the springs is @ 6000+ft), but after the track session I felt like death. We took a 45 minute spin after and I thought i was not going to make it :)
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Thursday was another productive track session with a series of flying 500 meter (2 laps) and 3 lap efforts....and of course some starts. We went FAST this day, but to think of sustaining that pace for 4KM not just 500 meters is a bit daunting. After this session I was COOKED. I went back to Matt's house and slept most of the afternoon.
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Friday we were rained out of the track....but it cleared up enough for us to go out and do some road TT specfic work....which turned out to be 2x20 min @ TT pace up a 3-5% grade....a GREAT workout and we felt strong.
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Saturday was ENDURANCE day. we set out to do a 5 hr ride, mostly rolling north through the Air Force Academy then out east. The wind was moderate at the start, but was picking up all day....when we turned south we had a full on gale for a cross headwind....which of course was changing constantly to give us a headwind for about 3/4 of the entire ride. When we turned west again we were crawling into the wind. On small descents where the tandem would have easily been doing 30+ MPH COASTING, we were pedaling hard @ 15MPH. this turned out to be a 6 hour tough ride....character building my Dad would likely say.
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Sunday was cold and a well needed recovery day.....we did about 90 minutes easy mostly on bike paths.
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Monday (today) it was back to the track for some more solid work. We did 4x5 KM (15 lap) efforts. We didn't quite hit our performance goals...but it was really windy again and Matt and I were both not @ 100% ( I was just still feeling fatigue from saturday and Matt was up all night with his son who was sick). We still got a killer good training day in though....capping it off with some really good start efforts, then a 45 minute spin on the road.
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2 more days of track work to come before I head home on wednesday night. Tomorrow we plan to head up near Denver after the track workout to recon the road TT course for trials.
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Matt has such a great support system here. His regular training partner Bill is a huge asset, and his family (wife Kim and kids Lavyn and Spencer) are completely behind his bid to get back to the games.
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Another note is that while we have been at the track some other Paralympic athletes have been there as well.

It is amazing to see these folks training. You have not seen anything until you have seen a rider with one leg doing standing starts in pursuit race gearing....unbelievble.....
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a2

Friday, March 28, 2008

catching up again....

The problem with my blogging is that if I let it go without posting for more than a week, so much happens it is tough to get caught up with any amount of detail. Oh well...I will give it a try:
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After the TT from the last post I got back with a solid training week (about 23 hours) including 2 great days of training with Mark Heckman who was staying in Brevard for a few days. The week was capped off with a super fun 6 hour MTB race down in Georgia. I rode ok, not great, for 6th place and it was a blast. Other than having some serious foot pain from over supinating on the technical trails, I had no major issues....hydration and fueling were perfect. The course was quite technical (twisty with plenty of roots), so it was good practice for my less than stellar single track skills.
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The following week (last week) was slated to be a very high volume week. I got right back to riding after the endurance race....which was a mistake. After 2 days of lack lustre riding I finally took a day off (wed). When i got back to it on thursday I felt reinvigorated. Lesson learned: take a day off after an endurance MTB race in order to recover enough to train properly! I should know that already.
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Friday was the beginning of what has become an a2 annual tradition of a killer training block over Easter weekend. Since there are never any events this weekend it is the perfect time to get a nice crash block in. Friday Cara and I did a solid almost 4 hour ride on the tandem. Enough to properly fatigue me for the hardest training weekend of the season.
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Friday night Mark Hekman and $Rich$ "showtime" Harper drove over to stay and train for sat/sun. Saturday we set out to do a ride I have been thinking about since we moved to Black Mountain. My idea was to do my 100 mile (from Asheville) Hotsprings/ Doggett Mountain loop....but from Black Mountain. I knew this ride would be over 6 hours and probably over 120 miles. Of course we set out at a pace that was just above my normal solid endurance pace (which is about 245 watts). Everything was fine until we hit the Dog (Doggett Mtn) climb 80+ miles in. We had a cross tail wind on the stretch from Hot Springs through Spring Creek and Mark decided to pin it...and pin us in the gutter most of the time. We were too tired to complain and just rode.....About a mile from the base of the climb I cracked HARD and struggled up the 30 minute climb alone. After the descent I was feeling a bit better, but we still had (ouch) more than 40 miles to go. Thankfully the last 15 miles from Asheville back to Black Mountain was with a nice tail wind....and it was awesome to watch $rich$ and Mark suffer as much as I was for the last 30 minutes :) ...Ok maybe not suffering quite as much as I was. We ended up with 130 miles and almost 7.5 hours of riding on the day.
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Saturday night while I sat pondering how exhausted I was, the guys drank more beer than imaginable....I have no idea how they do that and still ride....quite amazing actually.
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Sunday we saddled up the mountain bikes and headed out for a nice 5.5 hour ride on most of the off road assault on Mt Mitchell course. This was done at a pace considerably slower than saturday...but it was great. We included what i call the "endless climb" up Curtis Creek road to the Blue Ridge Parkway..then continue the climb on the parkway to the old Mt Mitchell toll road. The Curtis Creek climb is about an hour long (14 miles?)...then the climbing on the parkway just seems endless before the turn back down the mountain.
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We survived.... and so ended the epic weekend.
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That brings us to this week and the next post........
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a2

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Camps and Such


As usual much has been going on since my last post. After Matt left, VeloSports put on a very successful MTB skills camp, then a few days later I headed off to the Inferno road team camp in Macon GA. This camp was tough...not from a riding perspective, but from a work perspective. Since Wobble Naught is a sponsor of the team we had to fit all the riders in just a couple of days time. We had "king wobble" himself (Tom Coleman) helping with fits and doing video analysis with Dartfish (more on that in an upcoming post)....along with myself, team rider and fitter Jim Baldesare and 55-Nine WN fitter Eddie O'Day. Even with all of us working non-stop it took 2 full days to get everyone set up. I spent so much time crawling around on the floor taking measurements and setting up bikes it left my back in a terrible state, BUT we got everyone set. One really cool note is that Thomson was the main sponsor of the camp (special thanks to Dave Parrett)....and at one point we had a few riders having trouble getting proper saddle set back (including myself) due to the Masi frame geometry, saddle rails on our new SDG saddles and the 1.6cm setback of the Thomson posts. How to solve the problem? Simple: have Dave custom bend some posts at the Thomson factory to get additional set-back......I feel pretty special now :) . Kudos to Chad Thompson for putting together an incredible team for 2008 and all the team sponsors for the support. There are a few sponsors in particular I will be talking about in future posts....stay tuned.
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So after a couple of tough days with that work and other logistics, we got to some good riding in great weather. We actually cut loose a few times and let some of the riders with a little better early season fitness kick it up.....the last 10 miles of the saturday ride was particularly fun. Sunday was a short ride dedicated to photos and the like....then after everyone headed home, I was able to get Tom to take a look at my TT set up and make a few really cool refinements. After that it was the drive home and back to work.
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My back was pretty darned sore when I got home from all the fitting work, and Tuesday I somehow managed to make a wrong move and pull a muscle in my lower back. Ouch. It was pain, pain , pain....so much I could hardly move, let alone get on a bike. The closest pain that I can compare it to was my hernia repair back in the early 90s.....yes the pain was THAT bad. It was frustrating not being able to ride for a few days....and the recovery was gradual, but is almost complete. I was worried about the TT we were going to on Saturday , but it turned out that my back was not a limiting factor in performance at all.
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Friday night we headed over to TN for the Spring Forward 40KM TT. The weather forecast was dismal, more like cyclocross weather, but we were determined to get it done. The weather was in fact abysmal: 30 degrees, snowing and gale force winds made for an interesting event. The course was quite rolling....not much flat, mostly big rollers....more down on the way out and more up on the way back. Cara finished with a couple of inches of ice caked on her bike. The wind was close to a full on head wind going out and it was a struggle to keep the bike up to speed and going straight. I dressed with multiple layers and heavy gloves...which was a good choice. I took the turn -around at about 30 minutes....slow! and my power was all over the place, very difficult to keep a steady rhythm with the conditions. After the turn was easier to be steady and even though there was more elevation gain, I was FLYING getting through sustained sections at around 38MPH....ahh tailwinds feel good. I was over 5 minutes faster coming back. I felt good about the ride even though power and time was poor. I felt I managed the conditions well and put in a solid ride. Turned out I had the fastest time of the day by quite a bit....and Cara had the fastest women's time as well...so it was worth the trip.
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out for now
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a2