Archive for May, 2011

menko

A few good days on the bike

For their last field trip of the year, the cub scouts got to learn some bicycle safety and do a group bike ride together. Matty quickly decided he was going to race everyone, and faster than I could even get the camera out, he was gone.

And besides learning how to pass safely on the left, they somehow found every…single…puddle and bit of mud so that they were covered in seconds. Who can blame them, its a blast!

Add this to the bike fun we had yesterday as I chased Matty around an office park, and its been a good several days on the bike

Event: Mt. Hamilton RR E3
Date: 05.29.11
Teammates: Jeromy, Markus, Dave N., Ross (and Tom Dillon in the feed!)
Place: 14th/61
Avg/Max Power: 226 w/60s 325w
Avg/Max HR: 176/193

Left it all on the road - photo copyright Thomas Preisler

For those who aren’t familiar with this course, it starts with an 18 mile climb (http://app.strava.com/rides/643612#9576628) which isn’t ever all that steep, but hits 7-8% grade for the last few miles to the top, for a total elevation gain just shy of 3700 ft. The other downside of this course is that it starts immediately on the climb—making a good warmup essential as you quickly find yourself being forced deep into the red. This year was no exception to that.

Jacob Berkman set a blistering pace right from the start, and unfortunately for us, he never let up (his name is now on my blacklist!). The ironic part of this was that he had no chance of winning, because in talking with him in the past, his Achilles heel is bike handling, so he loses all kinds of time on descents like Hamilton. So this was his chance to shine, and he shattered the field. Once he learns to handle his bike, he will be a top-notch rider. But I digress.

This year I was determined to try and stay on over the top, but by mile 15 or so I was digging so deep that no matter how much I mentally dug in, the body was going to hit a limit. I had been doing 50+ mins at about 185 beats and 270 watts, which was just more than I had in me. Jeromy and I both lost contact with the leading group of about 20 riders but worked with a group as I tried to recover for the rest of the ride ahead. I have seen people overreach on the climb and blow on the long windy sections of Mines Rd, so I dialed back and latched on. Even then, I climbed this a whopping 10 minutes faster than last year’s E3 race! At the summit our chase group was about 1 minute down as we started going down, and I made my first tactical misjudgment.

I could have bombed the descent, but went over the top 4th in our group, and got stuck behind someone who could not descend well. The gap quickly opened up and I struggled to get around him. Just then, the eventual 3rd place finisher flew past me blatantly disregarding the centerline rule as though he was in the Tour of California. This really pissed me off because I clearly could have gone faster, but my respect for my own life (and the fact that my wife would kick my ass) kept me from following suite. This proved disastrous as the guys in front of us opened up even more space until I could safely get around the block. At that point, the small group ahead had opened up a 500m gap, and we spent a good long time bridging back up to them. Eventually we did and struggled to work well together as the stronger riders would take strong fast pulls that the next rider couldn’t follow, so we couldn’t put it all together. This is where my second tactical decision of the race haunts me. One rider decided he was tired of our speed and jumped out on his own, and hauled two riders who had been sitting on with him. They motored away and while I waffled on whether I should jump or not, they got away. I was hurting badly on the flat sections and wasn’t at all sure I would be able to hang in. This group did bridge back to the lead group that was about a minute up the road. We saw them all as we came to the last significant climb of the race, and they weren’t going all that fast. I had a glimmer of hope…

Which led me to dig in a little deeper yet again and put everything on the line up the climb. I could see we were making up some ground on them, but I wasn’t able to catch them and that was the last time I saw them. We regrouped at the top of the climb and motored the rest of the last 20 miles into the finish. Things eased up a little and I just kept watching the miles tick down, but not nearly fast enough. I had started getting a side cramp at mile 30 that seemed immune to my food and fluid intake, and it finally let up with about 10 to go. Everyone seemed content to take pulls and get us to the finish, but I suspected it was the calm before the storm.
Sure enough, as soon as we could all taste the finish coming in, Kyle Glernum (Thirsty Bear) tried to launch himself away from us, and I worked to cover all of the accelerations to let Jeromy rest up for the sprint finish. Kyle bombed the final descent and put the hammer down, but the wind was strong so for once I was able to stay glued on and I may just have been smiling as we carved through the canyon.. Coming into town, I saw the bridge and moved myself onto the front just outside of 1k to go. My legs were protesting loudly, but I just put my head down and started leading the train into the finish. Jeromy was third wheel and just waiting for Kyle to go, and when he jumped around I watched the crew speed away and wasn’t able to muster much of an acceleration. Unfortunately the miles took their toll on Jeromy’s legs as well and he seized up just before the line and got passed by two of the guys in our group. But all in all, I came into the race prepared mentally and physically, and left it all on the road with nothing left in the tank. I just didn’t quite have what it took to stay with the front group.
Lessons learned: stay focused—I knew it could be dangerous to not be in the lead at the descent, but that also applies to a group of any size, not just the field. Unless you know them, get in front of them! Tactically, I rode as best I could, and took a fair amount of risk but didn’t let it all ride on the line. I need to push myself a little more to see if I can risk completely shelling myself instead of being more conservative. Mental tenacity was strong, at one point I had to keep saying “I Can Do It” literally over and over to the cadence of my breathing because my body was screaming at me to stop. Forget it. Shut up legs!

at 23% grade, its an achievement to crest it

Event: Cat’s Hill Crit

Category: E3
Distance: 20 laps (19 miles)
Date: 5-14-2011
Teammates: Jeromy, Mark C., Tom, Erik
Bike: Time with 50×34 | 11-23
Placing: 17th

 

Last night getting prepared for the race, I was like a bird in a cage, bouncing around with nervous energy.  I had spent the week resting from several weeks of hard work secretly concerned I had inadvertently dug myself into a black pit of over-training in my zeal to prepare for big races in the next few weeks.  Add to that the fact that I had a score to settle—I was pulled from this race last year with 5 laps to go, and that scar has stayed with me, like a jailhouse tattoo.

The E3 team lined up behind a goal of getting Jeromy to the last corner in a position to win the race.  Both Tom and Mark have had good results already this season, and Erik and I have been steadily progressing, so I felt we had a real solid chance of executing the plan.  We had 20 laps to get through, with 9 primes, and knowing it can be tough to move around, we agreed to all be at the front with 5 to go.

Always nice to clip in fast and be first to the corner

PV assaults the Hill

 

 

 

 

 

Personally, this course is a real challenge for me.  20-30 second bursts of power aren’t my specialty, so I wanted to

make sure I didn’t over-exert myself on the climb, and was constantly moving forward instead of sitting in the pack.  Last year I found myself losing a few spaces all along the course, and was suddenly on the tail end and unable to make up enough ground when it mattered.  This year, I came with better fitness and the field never really got a consistent group of people willing to take the front, which let me conserve energy for most of the race.

 

We had some solo fliers and occasionally they were joined by a second, but each time that happened, Mark ormyself was at the front and ready to pull them back if they got too far out.  This was made even easier with Clark calling out splits so life was good. And thank god for all of you out there cheering—on the hill, on the backside, and everywhere in between.  Each time I hit the wall, I heard someone yelling my name or “go PV!” and it gave me that extra little boost to dismiss my suffering and dig just a little deeper.  It was energizing and empowering (see videos!!)

 


Cats Hill E3 a video by nekoball on Flickr.

The video itself shows Jeromy well, but I’m on the far side. What’s great is the voices of our children cheering us with all they have. Its the reason I was able to dig deep on this hill, their support was the extra bonus


Cats Hill E3 a video by nekoball on Flickr.

Here’s a great angle of the bottom of the hill when we’re carrying speed into it. That speed drops precipitously by the top where you struggle to turn over the gear and keep the rear wheel connected with the pavement

Here’s a video from Tom Dillon’s camera of the last 6 laps.  You can see we were working hard to control the speed near the end.

Fast forward to 5 to go, and I’m sitting about 12 guys back on the climb.  Mark and Jeromy are in front of me, and just as I start to wonder where Tom is, he comes cruising by me with those twin pistons of his putting out some god-awful amount of wattage.  I really didn’t know if I would last to this point, so I felt great to be there, and proceeded to cross the redline repeatedly as the climb and little bump after started to be faster and faster.  Still, I was able to make up spots whenever I wanted on the top straights and downhill’s as people stuck to one main line to avoid all of the other holes and ruts.  I guess I was missing cyclocross, cause I just stuck to the curb and went for it.

The trick is going fast while dancing around your redline

Pushing over the top: Photo by Focusoncycling.com

With two laps to go, I came through the Start/Finish in the top 5, and took a pull for a few corners until the climb.  Once I hit the climb, I felt like I started going backwards as people really started killing it and I was forced to ride the gutter to try and stay in contact and keep moving up.  Mark and Jeromy were up in the front 10, so I felt like we were still in good shape.

The last lap is kinda fuzzy in my mind, probably something to do with oxygen deprivation and pain in too many places on my body.  Things were getting spirited and I was cut off by someone chopping the corner on Turn 1, forcing me to slow down and sprint to try and catch on.  At the hill, I was about 15th, and by the top about 25th.   I knew this was it, and I dug even deeper and just kept the hammer down all the way past the bump to the corner.  I made a risky move up the right side that forced me to sprint hard to get to the corner while the front was still single file or I’d be cut off from my line.  As I arrived there, I saw Jeromy about 10 riders in front of me, sitting on the front of the field.  That was not the plan, and while I knew he can uncork wicked amounts of power, I wanted to try and give him a better chance.  Everyone in the top 5 slowed down at this point watching each other so I put my head down and came around on the inside, picked up Jeromy, and tried to imagine I was Cancellara with 1500 watts waiting to be unleashed. Unfortunately, it was probably little more than a 5th of that, and Jeromy came around me before the turn and I tried desperately to coax just a little more from my legs to get me over the last 250 meters.   Unfortunately, the bridge must have been speaking a language the engine room couldn’t understand, because no more power came.  I was a little bummed because I really felt with 2 to go that I could hang on for a top 10, but it didn’t work out that way today.

Pushing the limit to lead Jeromy out photo by Focusoncycling.com

 

But all in all, it was a good effort and good day of racing, and I conquered the Hill.  Tactically I rode smart and kept myself in the running.  Lessons learned: keep moving up, don’t let off the gas after the hill, and do more 5 min intervals before Cat’s Hill to give myself enough punch to make it from the bottom of the hill to the finish line.  Practice fast paced turns and keep your team upfront.

MJ

 

Lots of great pictures from several people including my wife Cami, enjoy the gallery.

menko

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