Sunday, August 12, 2012

Jason Lapierre Memorial Stage Race - Part II

Finish line photo from last night's crit!

Bergen Hills Road Race - 111 km

Well, just like I have for the past 2 years, I awoke on Sunday morning thinking, oh gawd... still have one more race, and I have to drive to Bergen Hills...
However this time I had very little pressure on me. After the great result last night, I reckon I was 1-3 points shy of upgrading to Cat 3, assuming there are no points for the ACSW or JayLap overall classification.
No rush for that I figured, maybe get to race Pigeon Lake in cat 4 next year.

Also, today I had a job to do for the team.
I arrive and warmup with Stephen Kenny and we discuss the plan. With Peter 30s back on GC Stephen would turn up the pain dial in the 2nd lap, try to shed guys, maybe cause a break.
Check. Dropped about 7 or 8 guys on the big climb on the back side.

I was trying to keep Peter from the front by marking the Bici bros, or any other serious attacks. There were none, a couple of solo flyers, none of which stuck.

Last lap, our selection of 14 intact, the pace was nice and easy. As we round the final 20 km, Peter was too far in front for my liking, but you can't contain that man... like taking a kid to Toys R' Us.
I asked Stephen if he could pull from 1.5 km out, and I would take Peter to the 200m sign. He confessed he had cooked himself and would likely not be much help in the leadout to the uphill finish.
Nonetheless, as we approach the last couple km but who else is back in the front but Stephen, behind him Peter, then the Bici's. I'm in right behind them, but the pace is slowing into that nasty headwind. I see Bryon Howard on the right, but there is room.
We pass the 1000m sign and nothing happens. Still have a long climb, then flat, then a short steep punch to the finish.
Maybe another hundred meters goes by and it's my turn.
I go flying on the right side like gangbusters, calling to Peter to latch on as I fly by.
I red line up the climb, then turn on the flat to indicate I'm toast and Peter can take it from here.
Except there's no Peter. Instead I see a Revelstoke guy and the friendly face of Barrie, independent. Then a gap. A huge gap!
The 2 guys I leadout take off and Barrie wins it! I am so roasted, I can barely ride up that last kicker to the finish. Thankfully the pack is still way back there. I barely manage to coast in for a 3rd place, and immediately pull over to the side and rest on my handlebars for about 5 minutes.

Talking with Peter after I guess he had no response to catch on to the wheel, but managed to keep his 3rd place in ACSW GC.


Well, I survived the inaugural Alberta Cycling Super Week, and all's I got was:
  • One less lung, thanks to mass sprint up COP hill. 18th overall, bitter...
  • Karma points in TdB RR for working for Isaac.
  • Road rash on 1/3 of my body and a bruise on my "lower back" the size of a grapefruit when attempting to cash in that karma point by having Isaac lead me out in the TdB circuit race.
  • More great teamwork in TdB crit covering attacks, blocking, and a decent sprint finish, +6 upgrade points.
  • 10th place in TdB GC, +1 point.
  • 7th place in 20km ITT - first ever upgrade points from the Orbea!! +4 points.
  • After volunteering cleanup of JayLap hill climb, I end up a disappointing 49 seconds behind the leader. GC hopes are shot, again.
  • First ever victory in cycling, JayLap criterium!! -1 karma point, +20 upgrade pts.
  • Back to back podiums, 3rd in Road Race. +12 pts.
  • Despite my atrocious climbing ITTs, I finish ACSW GC in 5th, and JayLap GC in 6th.
  • Add it all up along with the 18 points I had coming in, and that puts me well over the 50 needed to get to cat 3.
 All in all, a tremendous week. The races were mostly well organized, and the comraderie, as Andrew put it, was something I'll never forget. Very thankful they decided on holding off upgrades until the end of the 8 races. In previous years, you would just begin to race with guys and then they'd upgrade.
It looks like we'll have the same killer team in cat 3 next year, and many of the same opponents there as well!
Looking forward to it already, although I'm physically and mentally completely done with racing.

At least until cyclocross season in the fall...

Oh yea, lacking any kind of formal wrap up party, I'm thinking a BBQ in the next couple of weekends is in order.
More deets to come!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Jason Lapierre Memorial Stage Race - Part I

Hill Climb - 3.8km

Well, certainly NOT my finest hour, or 8 minutes more specifically! Not really too sure what happened here tonight.
I was a bit conservative in the beginning, keeping an eye on my wattage soas not to overcook too soon (A la TdB HC). I recovered a little in the 2nd km, with my watts being nearly 100 lower than the 1st km.
Then on the steep part up Springbank road I stood up and did a consistent 400W up the hill, coming over the crest and then hammering on the final stretch.

Finished 13th, with a time of 8:14, 51 seconds behind the winner (congrats Andrew!! At least there was no 0.5 second controversy this time!)

Comparing to Mike's (who finished in 7:35, 4th in Cat 3), it's clear to see that during each of the 2 major climbs I lost about 20 seconds. Also, his watts were actually slightly higher than mine, which is a sure sign of something gone wrong considering our weight difference.

I rode with the carbon wheels again to give some advantage in the wind and weight, but left my aero helmet in the car. Meant to come back for it after warmup but never did.

My HR was perhaps a little low, and took a little while to raise too. Perhaps due to my conservative start, or a sign of some building fatigue/injury recovery.
Sizing up the competition before the crit!

Downtown Criterium

Well, when I woke I still had that fire in my belly. You know the one, where you feel like you've let yourself down, embarrassed yourself? Well, it's the feeling I've had. Often, actually. Nearly every time trial or hill climb where I think going in that I'm going to crush it, but end up on the 2nd page of the results...

The beauty of these stage races is that you can channel that fire the next day. I guess it's only a benefit if you are physically ready for it, otherwise, the next day may not be good enough. I think of it like a goalie in hockey that is pulled after letting in 5 goals in the first period, coming back the next game and getting the shutout.

Well, JayLap crit. Third year racing and in each race, in pretty much each category, the story line has been the same. No escapees, no breaks, few lapped riders even. Then sprint for glory.
So, we came in with a game plan. We had 5 riders from STC, well represented. The race unfolded just as predicted. A few half-attacks, easily reeled in by various teams, including ours.
I, however, was not going to be doing the heavy lifting on this night. No, I kinda figured I'd done my share all week and this was my marquee event, so I sat nicely in the back 5 or so, right next to my bud Mike Hoang (winner of this race in 2010).
Each of my guys took some good turns at the front; Peter, Derek, even Darcy, and another chap who's name I don't know.
3 primes went by, and I didn't blink. Let them go.
Bell lap, I notice Mike H is a little boxed in the middle. I pull up behind Peter as we take corner 2.
Go! Peter takes off along the left side, into the long headwind stretch where guys start thinking about conserving energy for the final sprint. On his wheel, we pass the front of the peleton right into corner 3, taking it wider but probably 10kmph faster than the pack.
Mike H and I preparing to duel!
Corner 4 and we cut it nice and tight. Peter pulls to the side and I punch in. Time to go to work.
200 meters to go, I stand up briefly but I'm in too small of a gear. Sit and give it everything... silence for what seems like an eternity. Keep expecting the entire peleton to come flying past, laughing at me for going so early (Ok, I got issues!)
It doesn't happen! I cross the line 1st! Peter caught back on my wheel when I sprinted and finished 2nd!
Wow, all I can say. After missing out on the podium a few times, and the inopportune crashes, I finally did it.

What amazing teamwork this week. For the first time since I started racing, we've had (mostly) the same guys for the last week and it's paid off, not just for me but for Isaac and Peter as well, who'll both have their Welcome to Cat 3 emails coming on Monday.

Tomorrow is the road race so I gotta wrap this up.

Read Part II

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


A mid-week time trial that binds Tour De Bowness with Jason Lapierre Memorial, this race was held on the same course as the Crankmasters Adrenaline ITT in April.

My plan was simple, try to keep a similar wattage as last time, somewhere above 285.
Looking at the startlist, containing such time trial specialists such as Stephen Kenny, Rick Courtney, and Trevor Sorensen, as well as the all-rounders already ahead of me in GC, I was really not expecting more than hopefully top 10.

Lunch around 1, lasagna. PB&J Sandwich around 3. Banana and Hammer Gel right before the race.
Borrowed an STC skinsuit (note to self: Large - fit perfect) and some sweet 80mm rims from Trev. Gearing was a bit fucked with the new wheel but thx to Mike got it to shift nicely just in time to get in a quick warmup (15 mins or so).

With a favorable tailwind going out, I flew out the gate. First lap (5k) was I averaged over 48 kmph!
Watts were a little high, but not enough to worry me.
Second lap, ending at the turnaround, was still pretty fast, 46.4, although less Watts (closer to my target).
Didn't turn very well but got back up to speed/watts quickly.
I counted the time to my 1-min man, and he was still one minute ahead of me at the halfway point.
That concerned me a little, although in retrospect with that tailwind I don't think there was much difference between most guys in the first 10k.

Lap 3 I ran into a bit of headwind, although it wasn't as bad as I feared. Managed to average over 38, and now I was seeing my 1-min man getting closer, as close as 20 seconds now.

Lap 4 was more of the same, although I did struggle to keep the wattage high. Many times did my minimum-power alert start beeping at me to HTFU!

Passed 1-min man with about 2 km to go, although I had to go well over 300W as he'd picked it up a bit too at the end. Finished lap 4 with a speed of 38.3, which considering I dialed it up in the last 2 km tells me the first 3 were below my average.

Official time was 28:37, with an average speed of 42.3 kmph. Averaged 290W.

Results are here.

In comparison with April 29th:

Distance20.18 km 20.28 km
Time 28:39:00 30:36:00
Avg Speed 42.3 km/h 39.8 km/h
Moving Time 28:38:00 30:29:00
Avg Moving Speed 42.3 km/h 39.9 km/h
Max Speed 52.3 km/h 50.7 km/h
Avg HR (bpm) 168 bpm --
Max HR (bpm) 182 bpm --
Avg HR (% of Max) 91 % of Max --
Max HR (% of Max) 98 % of Max --
Avg Power (W) 290 W 289 W
Max Power (W) 764 W 662 W
Normalized Power (NP) (W) 293 W --
Avg Bike Cadence 97 rpm 95 rpm
Max Bike Cadence 114 rpm 127 rpm
Avg Temperature 28.5 °C 14.5 °C

Monday, August 6, 2012

Tour De Bowness - Part II

Courtesy of Ross Dance photography - Love this picture! Look of pain
in the faces of everyone! Also I seem to be taking an extra 5 degrees
of lean on that corner!

Circuit Race

Team strategy this time was to just all stay near the front, cover attacks, and we were gonna be lead out by Isaac on the final lap for glory.

Well, the first 4 or 5 laps of the circuit went pretty much as planned. I was always near the front but rarely right at the front.
On the final lap, I found Isaac on the long straight right before entering Glenmore park again, and secured my position. I heard a tire blow directly behind me and had a sneaking suspicion that was Peter (confirmed later.)

1000m from the finish, the road narrowed, guys were getting frisky and people started jumping. The problem is that some guys move right up but can't maintain the speed, and thus act as pylons on the road.
The faster guys have to swerve around them to catch the wheels up the road.

There must have been about 5 guys abreast and an RMCC guy collided with Isaac in front of me.
I could see it unfold but was boxed in like a sardine.
They went down and I went over, then down. Then I got run over.

Lay on the road, along with about 4 other guys, one of which sounded like he had a broken collarbone, howling with pain... yeesh.
Isaac was hurtin' too. I was pissed off, but didn't feel anything broken or bleeding too much.
Picked myself up, straightened my hoods, unlodged my brakes and pedaled to the line.

Below are some pictures of the carnage to my body and a dent on my bike.
(kieran counted something like 27 separate instances of road rash on my body, not to mention the swelling on my lower back from the chainring puncture and stiff neck from the head impact)


Well, after a painful shower, a bottle of polysporin, new helmet, gloves, replacement kit, minor tuneup, a restless night, and a box of tegaderm (thx for the recommendation Andrew!), I performed a damage assessment in the morning, and thankfully felt somewhat okay.
My wrist felt worse and the lower back was quite sore, so I decided to head out early and do a nice long warmup ride on the trainer.

Still felt fine after the warmup so no DNS for me!
Lined up at the front alongside my #2 and #4 GC teammates Isaac and Peter. Bit of a botched clip-in, but off we went.

Stayed in the front 8 for most of the race, twisting around the gnarly streets of bowness.
Much more in control when you're up near the front.
On the 3rd and final prime lap (intermediate sprint), I found myself sitting in second going into the final turn, right behind the overall GC leader, Evan Burtnik (juventus).
Sat on his wheel for about the first 150m and decided I could over take him so began my launch. Just then a cyclemeister's kid knocked into my handlebars with his as he was attempting to pass me. We have 4 open lanes to ride on and this kid was way up in my space! I backed off immediately... not worth crashing on a straight open road going for $100 prime.

On another lap, APH guy came from outside in on corner 2 and I found myself heading straight into the curb. It's sort of a half-curb alongside the curb, only a couple inches above the ground, so I jumped it and kept my position!
Me chasing down the pink leader's jersey!

Peter launched an attack and I immediately went to the front and blocked to slow down the chase. He lasted out there by himself for about a lap and a half, surprisingly, with little help. A couple other attacks happened but were reeled in immediately.
Then Isaac attacked with about 5 laps to go.
Juventus team had just worked to reel in another attack and were too tired to respond. Peter and I went to the front and blocked again. It was working. A couple guys tried to bridge but we reeled them back.
Burtnik did manage to bridge and the two rode it in, with Isaac just missing out to the young Juventus power.
In the bunch sprint that followed, I came around the final turn in about 10th and managed to sprint past a number of guys, only getting passed by the pure sprinter Mike Hoang (he looks like he has a turbo in his bike when he sprints it's incredible).

Ended up 5th in the sprint, 7th overall. Not too displeased with this as I believe nearly the entire field stayed together, again. Wow, that cat 4 group is very tight.
Peter came in 9th too so we had 3 Speed Theory guys in top 10.

General classification remained the same since there were no time bonuses or gaps, I think I ended up 10th overall. It all came down to the hill climb, as predicted.

Next up is the midweek 20km ITT, then Jason Lapierre Memorial weekend, with all events counting towards the Alberta Cycling Super Week General Classification.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Tour De Bowness - Part I

Part of Alberta Cycling Super Week, the Tour De Bowness kicks it off with a hill climb, road race, circuit race, criterium, and an overall classification.

Hill Climb - 1.25km, 3-up time trial

2 years ago, I attempted this brutal race. It's 1.25 km, on the switchbacks road up Canada Olympic Park, parallel to the bobsled track. It's a 3-up race, meaning you and 2 competitors start together in 2 minute intervals.
In 2010, only one guy from my group showed up (Andrew Paul). We worked well together, but neither of us are strong climbers. I ended up 26th in Cat 5, clocking a time of 5:00 (the Cat 5 winner did it in 3:56 - to add some perspective.)

In 2011, the Stage Race was exactly the same format, and with me not being in omnium contention, I decided to skip the hill climb and rest for the following race.

This year, the format has changed to a general classification (overall time, not points), and they've moved the hill climb to be the first race. Much less chance of a DNS that way.

So, made it over there, and paired with Niklas' Bryon Howard and Bicisport Peter Swart.
I had 2 game plans going into this race.

First, I would try to ride at my max 4 minute pace, somewhere around 450 watts.
Second, if I was paired with a really fast guy, I would try to hang on as long as I could.

Right off the start, Peter takes off. Woah... Bryon and I are left in the dust, and it takes me about 10 seconds to catch his wheel. I'm thinking "yes! Got a fast guy in the group!"
The garmin is screaming numbers over 700W at me, and I have a sinking feeling like I should have followed my first plan, not the second one.
A couple switchbacks in, Bryon and I pass Peter. I'm hanging with Bryon for a couple turns, but as the grade gets steeper a funny thing happens.
My RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion - aka, how much it hurts) stayed the same (really high), but my watts started slipping down. I was bonking, hard.
Bryon slipped away and I could not respond. I'd cooked my legs too soon and had nothing left.

Rolled through the finish line in 4:15. Yes, 45 seconds faster than 2 years ago! Nonetheless, that served to land me a mid-pack 18th place in Cat 4. 25 seconds behind the winning time in Cat 4. (Michael Persson of Highwood pass ride 2 weeks ago crushed it, winning cat 5, coming in faster than the cat 4 winner!)

So, not surprised by my results, and not really disappointed with my time either, considering how much I've improved.
Here's the strava file with warmup and cooldown (note the big spike at the start of lap 2, 1150W max! First minute average was 583! Finished with an avg of 422W, so quite a drop at the end and thus lower overall than I'd hoped for.)

Road Race - 88 km

Speed Theory had a strong lineup in cat 4 for this race, including Isaac Beall and Peter Regier, both recently upgraded from Cat 5.
Not much of a game plan going in, except that I figured Peter and I would work to get Isaac the win.

This course consists of a 44km out and back loop, done twice. At the half way point of the lap, there is a very steep, often decisive climb.

The first lap was fairly inocuous, a little punchy on the rollers, then we got to the big hill and sure enough, pain cave...
I hung in, drifting down to around 15th at the top. I felt good at the top and soon began driving back to the front, thanks to some encouragement from Andrew R to shake some of the guys that barely made it up with the group.
Little did I know, Isaac had flatted at the bottom of the hill, and I was only making it harder for him to catch back on.
But, like the monster he is, he did regain contact, and shortly after the start of the 2nd lap, he was back near the front with me. Andrew R and Rob Leishman (APH) put in a valiant attack and we left them out there for a while. When I saw them ahead, working really well together and growing a gap, I realized that having a team of 5 and nobody in that break meant we should probably help pull it back in, especially since Andrew was 3rd in GC, only 1 second behind Isaac, so I surged to the front and initiated the catch. We caught them shortly before the hill, which was perfect.
2nd time up the "hill", it was a little slower though. I guess our group had shed a dozen guys or so along the way, but by now the group of 20 strong were not going to let anyone get away. 
Peter, Isaac and I were near the front, covering some surges.
A quick plan was born that Peter and I would lead the charge from about 10-5 k out, ensuring there were no late attacks or funny business.
I was hoping to wait until a bit later, like 1-2k so that I wouldn't lose too much GC time to my closest rivals, but around the 8k mark, a couple guys ahead of me all but performed a track stand in order to avoid doing any work at all. We had already been warned several times by the commissaires to speed it up, so I moved to the front and began the loooong leadout.
Pushed around 280-300 watts for a couple minutes, then Peter came around and took over.
We traded pulls, with Isaac nestled in safe behind.
Not a soul came up around us.
Final turn and the base of what Strava considers a category 3 climb to the finish, 3km from the line.
Peter passes me, but this time I am so roasted I cannot swing in behind him. The pack of 20 slowly pass me, and I latch on to the back.
The climb flattens a little 1km later, and with the tailwind and full draft I was able to recover a little, to my surprise, and even found myself moving up again.
Going up the last kicker and final 1km, I pass a few more guys.
Final sprint and although I'm spinning out with a cadence ~120, but passed a couple more guys, finishing 9th.

Pleased with the contribution and teamwork we showed today, and I'm surprised I still managed to muster a top 10 after all that. Didn't lose any time in GC, and a few of my competitors did.

Click here for part II