Friday, June 15, 2012

Banff Bike Fest 2012

Surprise Corner Prologue - Thursday, June 14th

Described this one before, but essentially a 1.5km time trial, featuring 61m of climbing, peaking at 13% near the finish.

As usual, it was raining that afternoon, although much less than the years past. In fact, during our warmup and race, it was actually dry and even sunny!

Drove out to Banff with teammates Peter Regier and Steve Pickett, and after getting checked in and a light feeding (1/4 of a Tuna sub), we warmed up.
Pre-rode the race course, and maybe it's because I wasn't warmed up yet, but it felt painful going up it. Spun for a bit on the trainer right before in order to get the legs ready with some high cadence.

Then off we went. First sign of trouble was that I've come to realize that my Fulcrum race wheels, or rather the cassette on them, is not the same width as my commuting wheels. See my Velocity RR report for more details, and I never really tuned it since. Noticed a couple of "sticky" gears during the warmup ride, but decided it was better to leave it somewhat off, then risk making it worse right before the race.

2nd sign of trouble was the weigh in. Now, I have no delusions about the fact that I am at a competitive disadvantage on races involving elevation increases, due to my aluminum 58" frame and mid-range componentry, but it's never fun to see that 8.2kg on the scale (minimum weight allowance is 6.7kg, and there are plenty of bikes that are under that weight and forced to add things to make the minimum.)  Add that to my weight, which is probably 10kg more than the guys like Mike W and Darryl that I train with, and I can be assured I'm going to need a helluva lot more watts to get up those climbs.

Nonetheless, I had an open mind going into the race, as I do with all of them. I saw the field size was pretty small at 22 (small for an ABA race, but more than each of the last two years.) RMCC had 5 or 6 guys representing, which is always worrisome because these are guys that live in that high altitude (Canmore), are often involved in a winter sport at a very competitive level (biathlon, nordic skiing), and can rip it up those climbs.

My training for this event consisted of 2 parts. The first is 100% thanks to WKO+ software, in that it has helped me define my power profile, and allow me to measure my 1 min and 5 min max power efforts throughout my training. In fact, I can see my max power for ANY duration, and work on improving that.
Much of my winter training centered around the 5min max.

The 2nd part of my preparation was in the past week and a half, I've reduced my volume, and added some high intensity, power climb workouts. For that, I will thank Strava! There are now about a dozen segments in South Calgary with which I can explode on, test different pacing strategies, etc.
Managed to get 3 KOMs back in the 2 or 3 workouts leading up to the prologue, which also didn't hurt building up some confidence!

Anyway, the race... 30 second start intervals meant there was little chance of getting caught, or catching anyone else, on such a short distance, which means you really just have to do your own race.
I found a garmin report from D. Ashley Myers online from last year, and unlike my previous strategy of conserving some energy during the first 600m false flat, he hammered it!
So I was going to try this. I set out really fast; averaged about 42 kmph until just after the first turn. Quarq crapped out for some reason, but it would show a strong push at first, followed by a slight recovery where the road dips down right before the turn. Then wall. 2nd half average speed was ~20, with a minimum in the middle around 14! I felt like I was going to stall at that point, shifting down furiously (luckily no derailleur problems). Hit the last part of the climb and saw my clock at 2:00. Could it be? That re-energized me, and I turned myself inside out to the finish, heart and legs about to explode! Crossed the finish line and my clock said 2:50-something. Strava and the ABA clock gave me 3:00 and 3:01.66 respectively.

I was quite pleased with the clock, despite feeling like I totally bonked on the steepest part of the climb. My time was 40 seconds faster than last year! Some of that was undoubtedly a tail wind on the first part. Also, I went with my aero helmet this year for the first time.
Went down to await the results... couldn't believe it.. 3rd! Podium! Upgrade points! In fact, that gave me 12 pts, which coincidentally is what I needed to upgrade to cat 4! Wow, finally.
Amusingly, Steve finished 4th and Peter 5th, so we all came away with some precious ABA points!
Will continue to race cat 5 for this event, but with no pressure for points.

[EDIT] Due to some technical glitch the rightful owner of 3rd place was categorized as cat 4. Bumped me down to 4th so still have a bit of work to do! [/EDIT]

You can see where I rank with other riders of past and present:

Banff Bike Fest - ITT - Saturday, June 16th

Pre-rode the course the night before. I was feeling pretty good about it. Rode the hills pretty easy felt good on the Orbea. Looked at some past year's results, and I figured in order to get top 8 (and thus get my
precious upgrade points) I'd need a sub-33 minute ride, and having speed at 39-40 kmph would ensure top 5.

After a 4th consecutive restless sleep, awoke bright and early Saturday morning (although not as early as the day-trip folks!) 8:08:00 start time. Teammate (and office neighbour) Rob Wooley was to be my 30' man, but was a no-show.
Warmed up on the trainer for about 30 minutes, then borrowed some sweet Reynolds wheels from Trev exactly 5 minutes before the race start, and headed over to the start line.

At the gun, I realized I'd forgotten to down-shift and was stuck a huge gear. I burned a match right out the gate trying to get up to speed quickly. I think I topped out at 1100 Watts!
Nice tailwind heading out of Banff, but I went out too hard.
Got to the gate (2km) and my average watts were still over 400!
Dialed it down a bit, but I still really hurt by the time I reached that first big climb.
Saw my 1:00 man from RMCC up the road and closing in quickly. He managed to hold me off until the last 4 kms though, as I flip-flopped a bit with the climbs up to Minnewanka.

On the descent, the headwinds were gusty in places, and I had a few moments where I was blown sideways and focused to stay upright.
Past RMCC guy at the gates on the way back into Banff, and kept looking at my speedometer. 38.7, 38.8, 38.9... Clawing my speed up in the last couple of flat kms.

Flew through the finish line and was content with a time of 32:28.
Initial results came up and had me at 11th place, but that has since been updated to 8th. A few guys got penalties for late starts.

Crit next! If the results hold up and I get my last 2 damn points, I'm going to play the teammate and bust it at the front, even leadout. Try to get guys like Peter and Steve some more points.
Maybe go for the prime.

Here is a quick comparison of my performance on the ITT in the past 3 years:

Official Time34:1234:5532:28
Avg Speed36.836.339.0
Avg HR-174172
Avg Power-257283

Criterium - Saturday, June 16th

WTF... no way I would have predicted it to go down this way.
First off, the course was totally different than the past two years, no longer including the 180 degree hairpin turn. But it was very windy still (see ITT report above), which would hopefully cause some havoc on the pack.

After an ample warmup, Speed Theory lined up nicely in the first 2 rows. Off we went, sitting close and together for the first couple of laps, then, crash, right in front of me. I brake to avoid going over, someone clips my back tire, more skids, then more crashes. Carbon crunching and moans behind me. Sensing blood, the front accellerated. I dodged and weaved to stay in contact. Thankfully, there were still around 30 guys left in front, although various in packs of 5-8. I spent the next 10 minutes or so moving up about 5 spots each lap. Bridging groups ahead of me, steadily progressing.
About the halfway mark I could see only a handful of guys between me and the lead motorcycle... finally!
By now, we had lapped many guys, and the side of the road looked like a charity ride, with folks nonchalantly chattin away, 2 or 3 abreast.
At this point, I was sitting very comfortably in about 4th or 5th wheel. Recovering nicely, and thinking to myself I really have a chance for glory today.
Great shot by Perdomo!
A few laps later, on one of the tighter turns, some of those lapped guys were a little encroaching in the road. The guy in front of me made a dramatic evasive maneuver which forced me to slam on my brakes mid turn. I saw the crash pad on the fence and ensured that when I slammed into it that I stayed upright, even clipped in still. Nonetheless, I went from 40 to 0 nearly instantaneously, and the 4 guys in front of me didn't. By the time I rounded the corner they were pretty much out of sight.
I did spot an RMCC guy (Murray Oshanyk) and we took turns pulling for a few laps, until I spotted Steve P and another ST, Chuck dangling up ahead. I upped the pace and told them to hang on.
With 2 or 3 laps to go, I kept the steam up strong. Going into the final lap, RMCC guy attacked with 2 corners to go, but Steve vaulted past him to take the coveted 8th spot. I finished just behind RMCC in 10th.
The results website has been rather flakey, so I can't be certain of any of my placings from yesterday.
To make matters worse, I forgot to start my garmin for the Crit, so no power data to work with!


  1. Hey!... Unfortunately I have some bad news :( ... The race officials showed me as being in the wrong Category (4, when I was really Cat 5), so I'm technically 3rd in Cat5 at 3:01:09. Sorry man... I tried to get them to change it early to avoid any disappointment that it might cause, but they just changed it a short while ago. I'll buy you a beer or something! :(


  2. Haha, ouch... half a second. That's bike racing I guess!
    Thanks for the posting!

  3. Good to meet you at the race!... I had a similar experience in the Crit... A guy cut a that corner with the crash pad and went down... taking out the guy in front of me. I locked up both wheels and did a power slide into the barriers but stayed upright... despite locking both wheels I kept moving and was able to keep some momentum to get back moving again!... Spent the rest of the race chasing though!... I think that was the decisive moment though, as the rest of the race I don't think there was anyone left chasing me... I assumed that everyone else was down :S

  4. Sorry bout the wipe out! hope ya make the cat 4 points soon!

  5. No worries man, I felt it was mostly because of the confusion with the lapped riders. Are you alright?
    Did get enough to upgrade, thanks though!