Sunday, April 29, 2012

Crankmaster's Airdrie Adrenalin 20k ITT

Well, the name pretty much describes it. The race of truth. No drafting, no wheel sucking, no recovery. Dang, those are my fortes!
I really wanted to do this race, despite the fact it was merely a club race, worth no upgrade points, no medals, no prize money. I needed to do this for a couple reasons.

First, it would be my first "pure" test after what I'm calling my breakthrough off-season.
Prairie Roubaix was a test as well, but I thrived there not because of my watts, but also my tactics.
This would expose me to myself.

Second, I needed to get in a serious ride on the Orbea before Velocity. I didn't know if I could hold the same watts as on the Trek. Also, would that automatically equate to higher speeds? Or was I still lacking something fundamental in my bit fit?

Thirdly, being the first ITT of the year, I reckoned a good number of guys would show up and would provide yet another baseline to see where I stood, and who was of good early season form in my category that I should watch for at Velocity.

So, Mike and I made the voyage up to Airdrie, and while I prepped my race machine for the test, Mike signed us in.
What a guy, he graciously put me down first, literally, the first rider to start the race. With himself 2nd, he would have a one-minute delay before trying to reel me in! Happy Birthday, he says... gee thanks!

Well, managed a decent warmup of about 20 minutes. Rode nearly half the race then turned around. Legs felt nimble enough. Still a bit awkward on the TT bike, felt some of the gears slipping a little and found myself sliding down on the saddle a bit. Will have to take a look at that soon.

11:00 - off I go! Stumbled a bit clipping in but got into the groove pretty quickly.
Kept an eye on my wattage. Thought about all the pacing articles I read recently. I was in between the double-peak and the negative split pacing method going into it, decided on the latter.
After the first 1k or so, I settled into what is probably 5W over my FTP. First 10k was into a bit of a headwind, and slightly uphill. Not a significant amount of either, but sufficient resistance to make it easy to push TOO much power. I fought the temptation and was thankful for it. I arrived at the turnaround feeling pretty good, and had maintained a very even pacing so far. Speeds were not great, ~36-37 kmph, but I was never really looking at that.
So nice to rely on power for once!

What I was surprised with, however, is that Mike had not yet passed me. In last year's Acme 40k ITT, he had about 4 minutes on me, so I expected him to pass well before the turnaround.

After the turn, I did see him entering just behind me, couldn't have been more than 20 seconds or so back. A cyclemeisters guy was right behind him! That guy started 3 minutes after me!

I knew the 2nd half would feature a slight downhill and tailwind, so if I could keep my watts up, I might be able to hold my own...

That was sometimes easier said than done. I definitely did NOT underpower my first half, for I felt my reserves depleting a little, and it took more effort to maintain the same watts as the first half. Speeds were up in the 40's now, and some quick math suggested I might be just over my stretch goal of 30 mins.
Still nobody was passing me.

5k to go, really wished at that point that I had be taking it easy so that I could hammer the finish.
Couldn't... Took everything to keep my power up.
Into the final turn to the finish, 500m to go. Sprint... ugh, barely added 50W... 50 meters to go and I feel totally drained. Can't muster any sprint... feels like I coasted across the line, although the garmin tells me I managed to raise it a little after all.

Finished with a time of 30:30 or so. Mike sailed in right after me, and Cyclemeister right after him.
Distance was 20.28 km. I always dreamed I would be the first racer to cross the finish line. Although this wasn't exactly what I meant, I'll take it!

Feel pretty good about it. My average speed was 39.8 kmph. That is definitely a PB for an ITT, although I've only ever done 40k's and Banff ITT, which is a hilly 21km.
Still, compared to last year's Banff ITT, I averaged Watts more. For that, I am quite pleased.

Results available here.

* I decided to keep posting my race summaries, including power, because I believe in full transparency. As a new racer starting out, I often found myself lacking enough information to "study" this odd, fringe sport.
Hopefully anyone who reads this can benefit from it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Prairie Roubaix III

Race guide here

Would I have learned anything in the last two years, and how has my fitness improved?
No chance to taper for this event, as a few heavy workouts late in the week would reduce my ambitions for the race to *hopefully* a top 10 result.
After last year's cancellation I was really looking forward to this one, and curious to see if I could hang on a little longer this time.

If you read my 2010 post you might recall I placed something like 27/60(ish), so needless to say I had fairly low bar to exceed.
 Forecast of 20C and sunny; race is a go!
 Big bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, Mike picked me up at 0730, and after a quick stop at timmies, Lochend Road, here we come!
Parked a good 8-9k from the start, which made for a perfect 20 min warmup, including one pass over the gravel Glendale road, and once up the big climb immediately following.
Huge crowd awaited the start area, what must have been close to 200 racers. This being a pre-season race, did not segregate the riders by UCI rankings, rather, anyone could arbitrarily chose one of 3 divisions to race in. Cat A would do 5 laps, and was generally consisting of cat 3's and 2's. Cat B would do 4 laps, and would be 4's and experienced 5's. Cat C would be newer cat 5's and most women. Then again, it's an honor system, and anyone could enter wherever they wanted.
First time out I entered the B race because I thought C would be only women. Turns out quite a few cat 5s entered C and I probably should've too. This year, I wanted to fare myself against the 4's and better 5's in order to measure my offseason training.

Pre-race Strategy: Leave the 23mm tires on the front (as opposed to the 28s I had on training this week). This would hopefully allow me to hang on during the climbs. I would rely on my weight/handling ability to get me through the gravel section. I contemplated leaving the 28s on so I could attack more on the gravel, but figured my real challenge would be holding on during the climbs.

B group rolled out about 0915. Within meters, you face the first major climb, but everyone is so fresh and eager at this point that it does little to thin the pack. Following that is a slight downhill that typically used as a recovery section, tailwind included. Then you turn south for a series of rollers, into a medium headwind. Pack stayed together nicely at this point, and Mike and I sat comfortably in the top 20. Another turn West for a few Kms, then North onto Glendale Road, and the infamous gravel!
Mike and I taking a sharp corner - photo by Dan Alboiu
Having pre-ridden it once, as well as a couple of rides around Chestermere lake on gravel roads, I knew what to expect. Especially with such a big pack still together. Sure enough, BANG!! Now the race begins! Immediately, the pack of 40-50 was strung out in two dysfunctional lines, and although I was fishtailing a bit on the descent, I was moving up quickly!
End of lap 1, and we ascend again. At this point, there are less than a dozen in front of me, but I see a pack of about 6 forming at the front. Mostly Niklas Group it appears. A chase group forms of about 20 guys, including me, Mike, Andrew Paul, and another Speed Theory guy (Carl). We make it past the "recovery" section, and I go to the front to attempt a bridge. The lead group is close, maybe 200m ahead, totally doable for a group as large as ours. I pull for a while, but realize that I am pulling uphill. Okay, I may be many things but I'm not a climber. If I'm at the front on a hill, looking at my speed dwindling, this pack must be either scared shitless or exhausted. Nobody is surging by me to help bridge. Eventually, RMCC guy, Andrew Paul, and Mike take turns doing some pulling, but not with any kind of sustained effort, and the gap grew. Back on the gravel, I find a nice line and feel comfortable again.
Lap 3 was probably my favorite! Our group was now about 10 strong, and because we could no longer see the leaders, nobody tried any funny business. Very gentlemanly ride for the entire lap. Lap 4, not so much... Someone attacked during the "recovery" section, and we trimmed the group a little. The rollers were at first tame, but then a guy from a new team, Aerobic Powerhaus started putting in some attacks. These were pretty painful. I managed to hang on to Andrew Paul's wheel (no easy task I might add). Must have been 3 or 4 in a row, seemed like each turn he was going for it. With that in mind, I started taking the corners better to avoid getting a gap. It also dawned on me that it was Jack VanDyke doing all that damage. Yes, same JVD that I went to for brief coaching and power profiling last year. He is a cat 3 racer, powerful in crits and cyclocross races. Not a climber either. I knew I just had to hang on, and he would provide a good line through the gravel. Going into the gravel section, I was sitting around 4th, with Andrew and JVD, and Mike just ahead of me. He graciously let me in that 3rd spot, which was a great tactic and very selfless act. Chapeau! (he would lose ground on the gravel section whereas I would be able to hang on with the top 2. )
The plan worked, and at the base of the first ascent on the gravel, I attacked past Andrew and Jack. Was flying nicely, until all of a sudden my tank was empty! Andrew got a bit of a gap on me, Jack was behind me. That's all I knew. Few cat C stragglers in various lanes, forced me to change lanes too often... I just couldn't catch up to Andrew. Also, my bike cages seemed to be rattling something fierce!
I knew Andrew could push some big watts and showed no signs of cracking. I really hoped to stay with him and outsprint him at the finish. I suspect he considered that I would try this, so he never let me back on the wheel. Down the final descent, Andrew is 30m ahead, Jack 30m behind... and so it would stay across the finish. Ok, yes were racing for 6th, not 1st, but a spririted finish no less. Mike would come in a few seconds later, maybe 10th?
Noticed a funny thing too, upon crossing the line, restarting my heart and lungs, and inspecting my front wheel. Turns out the skewer was just barely hanging on and the wheel was quite loose. Another pass through the gravel section and it would have undoubtedly fallen right off!

The winner, it turns out, had separated from the lead group around lap 2 and soloed it in alone! Dang.
Guy was on JVD's new team, don't know who it is. Niklas had the next 4 positions.
Considering I know of at least 3 cat 3's in that top group, and the rest cat 4's, I felt pretty good with my 7th place result.

Next up, 20k ITT in Airdrie next weekend. Should be a great preview for the Velocity ITT and a final check to make sure all systems are running smoothly on the Orbea.

Hopefully pics to come. Here are the results, although there still appears to be some slight indescretions. For now, here is the Garmin report:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

2010/2011 Brief race analysis

Compliments of istockphoto

Meant to do this at the end of the year, but finally got around to documenting a brief synopsis of what went right or wrong in each race, over the last 2 years.

skip to 2011 


Champions Relay Duathlon (40km bike leg)

Pro: Despite heavy winds, steel frame, I felt good and passed a ton of aero-nerds and college kids. Astrid and I, FTW!
Con: Never worked on longer sustained (FTP) efforts before.


Pro: First bike race. Finished strong during the last lap.
Con: Fell off the pack during first lap, bike was not well maintained and gearing cludgy. So were the legs! Big ringed the first big climb which burnt a match.

Pigeon Lake

Pro: Massive peloton, held on, stayed upright. Tried a couple of attacks. Managed a good sprint on uphill finish to pass a dozen guys.
Con: Sprinted from too far back, unable to maneuver through the peloton very effectively.

BBF prologue (HC)

Con: Borrowed tire, not properly installed. Late to Banff, no warmup. Lacklustre performance.


Pro: Leveraged my dissappointment from the HC to put 100% effort into ITT. First time trial, managed a very respectable 10th out of a large field.
Con: Again, no FTP training going into it.

BBF Crit

Pro: Studied the results and tactics from previous years. Kept a strong pace going the whole race and didn't get lapped. In fact, ended up 8th for my first ever ABA points!
Con: Missed the break and could not bridge the gap.


Pro: Hilly circuit race, but held on to the selection of 15, despite thinking I was going to die each lap.
Con: Didn't know when the last lap was upon us in order to contest the sprint. In fact, when accellerations began, I packed it in thinking oh gawd, we still have another lap to go!

TdB HC (3-up)

Pro: Paired with Andrew Paul, we managed a fun little sprint at the end.
Con: We were sprinting for 28th! Fat and heavy bike, plus poor CP4 were the culprits. Also I think the grouping makes a big difference.

Tdb Crit

Pro: Stayed with pack the whole race.
Con: Suffered from the yo-yoing of poor cornering, falling out of the stream. Not much of a final sprint. Got passed by Mike in the last 50m!

Provincial RR

Pro: Felt really good, made it up the one major climb in the top 8. Formed a breakaway and tried to organize the group to echelon-it. When caught by peloton, spent much of the time at the front, reducing exposure near the finale to conserve my legs for a sprint.
Con: 300m from the finish, sitting between first 2 riders. Hope was that no matter which one of them surged, I'd have a wheel to lead me out. Instead, got a bit boxed in when surges happend around them. One of them veered inside and clipped my front wheel... down I went.

JayLap ITT

Con: Cold day! See above about FTP training. Also had a problem with the clip-on aero bars not being the right length.

JayLap Crit

Pro: Drove the pace, lots of time in the spotlight! Decent sprint for top 10 finish.
Con: Too much time at the very front of the race, except when it counted!

JayLap RR

Pro: Better positioning throughout the whole race. Mike and I sipping champagne at the very back. Good kick on final climb and sprint. Good tactics on being aggresive on the final descent into the last climb.
Con: Should have moved up sooner to hang with Mike H and Dale Hildebrand.


CB&I Tri

Pro: First Tri! Quite happy with my run split and the fact that I finished the swim.
Con: Terrible swim time, and not happy about the bike split.

BBF prologue (HC)

Pro: equipment and warmup went better
Con: Still suck at hills, and VO2 max is low.


Pro: First race with Orbea!
Con: Poor pacing, and poorer fitness.

BBF Crit

Pro: Hung on to chase group.
Con: Not motivated or inspired at all in this race. After a crash, I missed the break group and spent the remainder of the race in chase group, again.

Stampede RR

Pro: Hung on for one lap with the big boys! First race featuring ~100kms. Also met & rode with some good guys from Bicisport.
Con: No match for the cat 1/2/3's driving the pace in this race. Couldn't position myself in a wind-safe spot in the rough cross-winds. Also, no motivation in group I was with to complete the 5th lap.


Pro: Hung with speedsters Jordan Bryden, Anthony Killick, etc through the first lap, including the "big climb". After forming a chase group, managed an attack with >1km to go, passing a rider up the road and holding the rest of the chase group away.
Con: Didn't have the juice to stay in that lead selection. Suffered from a cold all week and was phlegming up the whole race. Tactically sound.

Tdb Crit

Pro: Great starting position on front. Hung in with leaders for entire race. Cornered very well and virtually eliminated yo-yo effect on the final turn by properly placing behind someone.
Con: Timing in final lap, not in position to contest the podium, passed in sprint by Callum.

JayLap ITT

Con: Forgot my HR strap, so couldn't pace on HR. Also no FTP fitness (see above).

JayLap Crit

Pro: Sat pretty the whole race, somewhat contesting the one and only prime (3rd), and also somewhat contesting the final sprint (6th). Good accelleration at the end.
Con: Poor timing and didn't put myself in a good position to truly factor.

JayLap RR

Pro: Sat in nicely. Had a teammate in the 3-man break so we had to do no work. When the attacks happened, I strategically outsprinted 3 guys I crested the final climb with.
Con: Couldn't hang on to the chase group in the final 10k. Couldn't bridge that group later either (not without trying).

Provincial RR

Pro: Strategized a lot over this race. Recognized the importance of cresting the KOM near the front. Worked my tail off to try to make that happen. Pushed hard to bridge once I missed out on the selection. Continued to push hard the remaining 60k, and a solid sprint to authoritatively claim 7th place.
Con: Could have gotten closer to the front before the climb to allow more drift. Obviously needed more sustained power to either keep with that group, or bridge after the crest.

Blowstreet SuperCX

Pro: First CX race. Had Fun. Finished strong, even sprinting for 35th place! Even passed a bunch of people.
Con: Weak start. Not at all aggressive in first quarter lap, where the race is mostly decided.