Sunday, April 24, 2011

Stormy racing

This weekend was a stormy affair, but racing in the Cinci-nasty area all the same. Honesty I almost didn't go. Night before the race Bloomington had tornado sirens, crazy wind, crazy rain and all that. Mostly 1-2am to boot (I had to get up ~5am). Looking at the radar when i got up, those storms were heading east and not moving particularly fast. So I was going to drive following the tornadic storms to go ride a bike in them, right? Check. Problem was I pre-registered. I wasn't about to loose $20 for safety's sake or any other sake for that was on.
I'm glad I went. It turned out to be a pretty nice day and an ex excellent race course.

(early on. group was still kind of big)

I had never done this race before, but I've heard it's a tough course w/ lots of climbing. So I was excited for it.
Given the storms that had rolled through, the roads of the course were a mess. Tons of water (running across the road in several places) and all kinds of debris. it was pretty bad conditions, but that's what you get sometimes; you can only roll with it.
(these two pics are taken in sequence, we've thinned it down quite a bit. This was the break for most of the race)

The climb was ~1.5miles and we basically started at the base of it. I could tell from the start I was feeling good. I had a teammate in the race w/ me and he and I race well together, usually w/out ever even talking about it. We both have a good enough tactical sense that we usually know what each other is doing. He's not a 'climbing specialist' though (and we were climbing w/in ~2min of starting) and I didn't want to end up missing out on a move in the first lap, so I rode toward the front from the gun just in case. The climb was 5+minutes long and as expected the group was splitting the first time up. I'm finding myself more and more being what Paul Sherwin and Phil Liggit used to call a rider like Thomas Voeckler, a breakaway artist. I am consistently finding myself in the break and/or am getting the break going.
Anywho, I think the break was established on the second lap (of five) and we whittled one or two off in the remaining laps and ended up w/ 5 riders.

(this is probably leading into the final lap I had to take off my glasses because they were so covered in road spray that I couldn't see a thing)

I felt good and thought my best chance was probably to lead up the final climb and set a hard tempo until ~300meters out then go. I thought if I set a hard enough tempo it would minimize the chances of the others attacking me on the climb. With ~200-300meters to go I ramped up the pace from "solid, hard tempo" to uncomfortable, and as the line approached I was overtaken. I didn't really feel like i had another full-on burst left, but I gave it a go and finished 4th. I really feel in hindsight like I didn't go full gas and probably could have given more and probably have won. Coulda, woulda, shoulda...It was a good race regardless and an awesome course.
The weather for this week's training looks like total sh!t. Going back a few days our forecast is 6 days of "severe storms." WTF? I'll get in what I can though. I plan to time trial this weekend.
I think this post is long and I'm now even boring myself (which happens when I start a pot one day and finish it the next), so until next time: thanks for reading my lame-ass blog!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Wind tunnel testing

Not really. I didn't test at a wind tunnel per se, it was just windy as a bastard out today and I rode a power test.
I fully planned on time trialling today (Sunday), but the weather this weekend was not great. It wasn't terrible either, but Saturday was 40-50deg and rainy all day; miserable day. It set a bad stage for Sunday. I decided that if it was above 50deg when I got up to get ready for the TT I would go, under 50, back to bed. It was in the high 30's. It's not that I'm a total wuss (or rather not ONLY that I'm a total wuss) but being in a time trial position pushing as hard as you can on the bike for an hour or so can be bad for your body. And I don't want to acquire a new injury for no good reason. So back to bed I went.
But I rode my TT bike 3 days this week and I figured I'm ready to race. (sweet shadow pic of me on my TT bike. I have a behind-the-seat bottle holder for training because I can only fit 1 small bottle on the bike and barely at that)
So I decided to go out and do a power test since 1) I've needed a good test for a while now and 2) I was race prepped, so no reason to waste it.
I've experimented w/ a couple of different courses now w/ border line embarrassing results on one and consistent good results on the other. I chose "the other" and will continue to do so.
I rode easy out to the start point realized I was going to have a nasty headwind coming back on the test course. I would normally prefer a slight headwind to test, maybe 5mph. But this was more like 20mph, pretty major. Due to my stature and lack of raw power I can't really push huge watts into a killer wind, but I was committed. I got to it and felt really good starting out. But once I got into the wind I felt like I was coming unglued. I felt like my power was dropping and I was really struggling. But I kept going. When I finally finished I was just 3watts off of my personal best. So it was a god test. I felt good enough and it was nice enough day that I went out for another 1.5hrs of riding. All in all I had a good day.
This coming weekend is the first MTB race of the season. There's also a road race I'd like to do and they're on the same day. I'm not sure yet what's going down, but I'll do one or the other.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Racing...the weather?

This weekend a teammate and I went down to Somerset KY to race the Mt. Victory RR. It was rumored as a very hilly race, (from the event's website: ...consists of two good climbs, several hills, many rollers, a few flats, and great scenery) so I kind of wanted to do it. I opted into the 3's race (as opposed to the 1-2-3's) for a couple reasons: 1) the 3's was paying out and the purse was only $50 less than the 1-2-3 race and I have a better chance of doing better in the 3's. 2) My teammate reg's for the 3's, so I figured it be good to do the same race as him. And 3) my back was still bothering me some from the weekend before and the race was shorter.
The weather called for 50% chance of thunder storms. So we were winging it for the most part. It was sunny and ~70+ deg at the start line, so I wasn't complaining...yet.
(I don't ave any race photos yet so I'll throw up this pic of some flowers popping up in our yard)

We got going and I could tell w/in about 10minutes that I was feeling really good. I decided that I was going to be aggressive and try to get something going in this race. My teammate Scott and another guy took off early on and stayed off for several minutes. I decided I was going to counter hard as soon as they were reeled in. The field was all together and I wanted to whittle it down. When they were caught, I went, but the group was on me so I sat up. We hadn't hit the big climb yet, so I figured I'd be better off conserving some and trying to split things up on the hill. Prior to the climb we descend (I know Issac Newton would think this is weird and I did too, but I guess we gained enough elevation rolling that we actually went down before going up) And the descent was long and fast (50+mph).Once we hit the climb I went to the front and rode a good solid tempo and split the field down to about half (it wasn't a big field to begin with, so it was about 8 of us left). hat was too many for my liking and while about 4 of us were working, we had way too many passenger's and baggage; I wanted to split it further. But w/ people sitting in and a few of us pushing the pace, I knew it wasn't going to happen until we hit the climb again.
Second time up the big climb I again went to the front, but this time it blew things apart. Only two others were present by the end and they seemed plenty strong, so we started working together and drove that breakaway of three of us to the finish. Once you complete the loops (we did 2) that contain the big climb/big descent you turn off the loop and have a 10mile section to the finish. This is where things got interesting. Almost the second we turned off of the loop the sky darkened and it starting spitting rain. Bummer, but no big deal. Then the wind starting picking up fiercely. Sucks, but whatever. Then it started to hail. Big hail. Like ping pong ball size hail. And it hurt when it hit you. Add to that trying to ride 25mph and things were getting nervous. The hail didn't last long, but it was enough to shake me up a bit. With all of that, the 10mile road to the finish line seemed to go on forever. Furthermore knowing my madd sprinting prowess, I knew that if I took these two guys to the line w/ me, I was very likely going to be third on the day. The finish was at the bottom of a small descent and I remember there was a cone at the top of it. As soon as I could make out that cone, I took off. But my break-mates were on me and as I expected (and possibly because I expected) I got third on the day. However, the "fun" wasn't over. The finish line was in front of a fire station and as we crossed the line people were yelling for us to get into the fire station ad against the back wall. Why? Oh, because there was a tornado warning.
So it ended up being a pretty epic day. Great racing, excellent course, I felt great and it was the first time I've ever needed my helmet to protect my head for hail!
I was reminded of one of the bummers of winning money at races: waiting around for 1-1.5hrs to get paid. That part sucks.
Pretty happy with my ride and the weekend though.
I think it's time to start some time trialling next weekend. Looking forward to racing the TT bike.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Disappointing "race" weekend.

This weekend of racing started like most others. Saturday evening is a quick 45min-1hr ride to open up the legs for the coming effort. Then gotta get everything packed and ready. Get the race wheels on the bike and the car loaded. Then eat a whole bunch.
Saturday my back was hurting more than normal all day at work; no huge thing, it happens. When I got home and did my openers session I felt really good, so I wasn't too worried.
Sunday when I got up I felt better than Saturday, so I was feeling ready to go. But when I started stretching (which I do every morning) my lower back was giving me sharp shooting pains. It hurt to stand up and it hurt to sit down. I wasn't sure I wanted to drive to a race, pay to race and have my back limit me and possibly make me quit. I decided to not go race. I hate doing that. I hate not racing when I plan to.
But I wanted to ride. I didn't want to waste the entire day. My general theory on back pain is (I'm) better off doing something to keep moving than lying around all day getting stiff. I have no science to back this up, but it makes sense to me.
I had n option to go mountain biking, which seems like a bad idea w/ a messed up back, but the plan was to ride easy, so I figured 'what the hay,' and went for it. I felt fine riding, but I can't really say it made me feel any better. But I really needed to get my MTB out. It needed to be shaken down. The bike worked well. I need t make a few tweeks and I broke a spoke, but otherwise I'm happy w/ it.
So that was my weekend. W/ my computer being infected, my personal info being stolen, all the crap I am having to do w/ the bank to get that squared away and my back getting screwed up, I think I had a pretty terrible week last week. My life is basically sailing and generally great, so I guess a reality check every now and again is probably good. Let's just hope that it's lesson learned for a while. As of now (Monday am) my back is better, but not as better as I'd hoped it would be (like 100% better). I'll be fine soon enough...

Friday, April 01, 2011

I'm Me!

I'm me people. Just if there's confusion.
This week has actually been pretty crazy for me. I had my identity stolen and have been dealing w/ all the fallout that follows that all week. Well, I guess it's not really stealing if you give it away right? Long story short, I was duped by a pretty elaborate virus on my computer. I feel like a total idiot in hindsight, but this thing perfectly mimicked my banks website and asked me to confirm sensitive info AFTER I had (supposedly) logged in. Anywho, I had cancel all of my accounts and open new ones, cancel my debit card and get a new one, changed all UN's/PW's, spend shit-tons of time at the bank, monitor my credit (to make sure lines of credit aren't being open/used under my name) and take my computer to the repair place.
As of now no financial damage has been done; just hassle. I'll keep my eyes opened for a few weeks to make sure nothing funny is going on, but it seems to me an ID thief would work really fast to get your money/credit before you realize it. Luckily I had my account access shut off w/in minutes of realizing I'd been had.
To top off all that good stuff the weather has basically been shit this week. Which means my training has followed suit. It's been cold, grey and has even snowed some. I've tried to salvage something of a training week, and I've put in a few miles, but as for a purposeful week, it's basically been a throwaway.
I did get a new component set for my MTB. I got my old road group sold (finally) and had the money to update my MTB.

I have been running a ghetto set up 2x9 set up for years and decided to go ahead and get a legit 2x10 system now that they're refined and readily available in configurations under $2,000. I don't have it fully set up yet because in true Sram fashion it was missing parts that have to be sent to me separately, but I expect to really like it once I get it going.
As I flipped my calendar over to April I see MTb racing, more road racing and even TT racing. I don't feel behind on fitness in any regard, but I haven't ridden my MTB since probably August of last year and I have only been on my TT bike a couple of times. Good news is I have felt good on the TT bike. I'm excited to race it. I'd like to get out on the MTB soon to 1) give it a good shakedown and 2) give myself a good shakedown on it. I gotta put that up on my to do list for real.
I'm going to go race road this weekend in OH. I'll hit up a report when I get back.