Sunday, February 25, 2007

9th Place - Ontario Dare to Race GP

This afternoon I rode in the first Ontario category 4/5 race of the year and finished 9th. Today's race was 45 minutes on a really flat course that included 7 turns. There were a few real positives in today's result:

1. Finishing 9th out of 75 riders is pretty darn good, especially when you're competing against a number of guys who are in a category higher.
2. I proved to myself that I can hang with the really fast riders in a crit.
3. I proved to myself that I can generate the power and leg speed required to be able to sprint with the big guns. I just need to do a much better job of getting to the front earlier on in the final lap.

Here are today's results

Just for kicks and giggles I've also posted the details and summary outputs from my PowerTap power meter for this race. You'll notice two big spikes in power during the race. The one in the middle of the race was me thinking I could jump the field to win a prime for some bonus series points. The second is from the finish. As you can see my max power was only about 937 Watts for the race, which is about 300 Watts less than I know I can do. i.e. I need to do a better job of putting out my best effort at the end of the race!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Palomar Mountain

Today was my second trip up Palomar Mountain. The idea of today's F2 (force) workout was to climb some hills of up to 8% grades that take at least 6 minutes to climb. HR was supposed to be no higher than LTHR.

So this week I did four 15 minute intervals with 4 minutes of rest in between. Today I went all the way up to the top of the South Approach Road (basically the top of the mountain). It was about 11 miles of road and about 3700 feet of climbing from where I started (Rincon Ranch Road). If you work that out you get an average grade of 6.4%. My average speed on the way up was about 9 mph, note that this includes the four minute recoveries where my speed was more like 2.5.

I also set some new personal average wattage records:
TimeAverage Wattage
5 min363 Watts
10 min337 Watts
30 min297 Watts
60 min267 Watts

Here's a view from Google Earth of the route I took:

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Aero Helmet

In an effort go get myself set up with an aerodynamic time trial package for my bike I purchased a new Rudy Project Syton SuperComp aero helmet last night (click the image to visit their site).

About 90% of the energy expended in pedaling a bicycle goes towards moving the body of the rider through the air. Futhermore, the drag that your body creates increases exponentially with speed, so as you go faster, aerodynamics become more and more important. At a basic level there are 3 things one can easily adjust that have a very large effect on drag:

1. Body position. Getting into a good position where your back is parallel to the ground and flat, elbows are in, chin is up, arms are preventing your chest from acting like an air damn, etc. makes a big difference. i.e. I need to buy a set of aero bars and work on my body position.
2. Head. Once you're doing well with your body position, your head is normally the next biggest source of drag. Hence the helmet.
3. Rolling resistance of wheels. Getting an aero set of wheels can make a difference. I don't see myself spending $1500 on a pair of wheels any time soon, so this one is probably going to have to wait. I might look into something used on Ebay if the right opportunity comes along.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Last night was my third week of doing Joe Friel's M2 (muscular endurance) workout. Muscular endurance is related to your ability to sustain an effort at or just below your lactate threshold heart rate (LTHR). Fundamentally your LTHR is a level of effort you can sustain over a given period of exercise at a relatively high level of perceived effort. If you ride at a higher HR than your LTHR for too long your muscles fill up with lactic acid and you eventually crack. Typically cyclists determine their LTHR by doing a 30 minute all out effort. Your average HR for the last 20 minutes of the ride should be your LTHR. The last time I measured mine it was about 183 bpm.

The M2 workout is based upon riding successive intervals at a level of exertion that will bring your heart rate up or near to your LTHR. After each interval you do a 2 or 3 minute recovery. You then do another interval, etc.

Typically I do sustained workouts like this in the gym at my complex. I have a set of CycleOps rollers that I can ride on continuously without having to stop at lights, worry about hills, rain, wind, etc. When I start riding on my rollers I get a lot of funny looks from people, some concerned, some impressed, but once they see that I'm actually not going to fall off the rollers they seem to relax a lot more.

BTW, if you've never tried anything like these, it's quite the experience. Getting to the point that you can ride on these things is like learning to ride a bike (the first time you learned). They require an entirely different level of balance than simply riding on the ground. Consequently they do amazing things for your pedaling efficiency and smoothness. When you're riding on the ground you can choose to stop pedaling, turn, lean, etc. in order to balance yourself. On the rollers you need to keep yourself completely balanced at all times.

The first week of the M2 workout was one hour workout. That week I did 6 minute intervals with 3 minute recoveries. At the end of each interval I felt like I was going to fall off my bike.

The second week was a 1.5 hour workout. That week I did 8 minute intervals with 4 minute recoveries. I no longer felt like I was going to fall off my bike, was able to be much more consistent with my effort, and had to grind my way through 8 minutes of pain. Somehow the difference between 6 and 8 minutes is pretty noticeable to your mind.

This week it was a 2 hour workout. I did 12 minute intervals with 4 minute recoveries. Yikes! Last night's workout was pretty much the most pain I've ever felt on a bike. Every minute that goes by you're telling yourself something like, "okay only 11 minutes to go". Not so comforting when you realize just how far you have left to go. I did all 8 intervals however, so I was really proud of myself. It can be pretty tough to motivate yourself to do these sort of workouts when quitting is so much easier than doing the exercise.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Passed by Chris Horner

Today while out on my Sunday endurance ride I was passed by Chris Horner. I got a "howdy" from someone passing me on my left, looked over and thought, I know who this guy is. Anyways, for those who have no idea who I'm talking about, Chris Horner is a San Diego native who rides on the Pro Tour with the Predictor-Lotto team. He actually started out riding in the San Diego Bike Club:

Chris Horner in Wikipedia

This incident is one of the sort that you encounter occasionally while riding around San Diego. There are numerous world class cycling athletes that live and train in and around San Diego. Horner is obviously one of them, Floyd Landis lives up in Temecula (about 45 minutes northeast of San Diego), and numerous world class triathletes are locals. So sometimes when you're out riding on the roads you can find yourself being passed by some pretty big wheels in the world of cycling.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Roubaix Sold

Some are aware that I recently listed my Specialized Roubaix road bike on Ebay. This was the first road bike I ever owned and the first big ticket item I've sold on Ebay.

Well, it sold over the weekend and I shipped it out today. So I'm back down to one bike, my Specialized S-Works E5. I plan to use the proceeds from this sale to purchase some other things I need like some aero bars and new shoes.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Red Trolley Report

Well, my first real crit is in the books. The race turned out to be a lot of fun. If you're not familiar with the course it's a simple 4 right hand turn affair around a block. The only wrinkle being that there's a hill on one end of the course, so you have a little hill to climb on the start of the home stretch.

I rode at the front of the pack for the first half of the race. There was a two man break up the hill about half way through the 30 minutes. One of my team-mates was in the break. If your team-mate is in a break like this your job is to not chase them down (the last thing you want to do is bring them back to the pack). So I spent the rest of the race riding with the peloton. You can view all the results here. Looks like they had me down as 19 out of 50 or 52:

Red Trolley Results

I'm looking forward to the Ontario race which will be much flatter and have more corners. It should be better suited to my skills.