Saturday, January 30, 2010

Palomar - The Work of Animals

I headed up Palomar today, my usual slog up the south grade, which starts on Rincon Ranch Road. I put in six nine minute intervals with three minute breathers between.

It was a beautiful day. I hope to have my power data downloaded tomorrow evening. I'm looking forward to comparing it to last year's numbers.

In the mean-time, amuse yourself watching a true legend of Canadian cycling. Steve Bauer:

Monday, January 25, 2010

CBR - Dominguez Hills

Me and some folks from the team headed up to Dominguez Hills for the first criterium of the Southern California racing season. This was the first time I've ever raced this course. It fits right into 2010's flat criterium heavy racing schedule, so I figured I'd give it a go. As it turned out, so did 100 or so others.

For some reason the first few races of the season seem to be like this. Everyone has been sitting around all winter dreaming of what their 2010 racing season could be. So they're all amped up to do some racing. Mid-season something like only 50 people will show up to this race. This time of year however, everyone and his brother is out. Plus, having not seen a crash happen in a few months, they've all forgotten the haunting sound of bikes and bodies coming together at high speeds and then bouncing around on the pavement. Folks are all incredibly brave and willing to dive into the corners, rub elbows, etc. So, looking at the field size I was pretty nervous that there was going to be a crash.

The cat 4 race went pretty smooth. There was the odd bit of bumping and tightening of lines through the corners, but in general it was a safe race. My anaerobic fitness definitely has a long way to go, but I already knew that, so no big deal. Whenever I was on the front I could definitely feel that I wasn't going to hold on for too long. As the laps counted down I got myself reasonably close to the front, but not close enough. With some of the surging going on I wasn't too committed to sticking my nose into the middle of it. Coming out of the final corner I was something like 20th, not far enough forward to do anything. I ended up finishing somewhere around 20th.

The cat 4/5 race ended pretty much the same way, but with a couple hairy situations on the last lap. Between corners 3 and 4 some guy kinda lost his balance in front of me and nearly got his skewer into my front spokes. I managed to avoid that one. Then coming out of turn four and sprinting for the finish some guy got a pretty good elbow into my left forearm, which nearly took me off my bike. I managed to stay up and again finish something like 20th.

No big deal. It was nice to get out and do some fast riding again. I think I'm riding faster than last year. My left leg seems to be doing more work and I can sprint better standing up. Once this last base period comes to an end in 3 more weeks I'll begin ramping up my anaerobic fitness and things should start to come together for these fast, flat races.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

2009 SDBC Cyclist of the Year

A couple weeks back I won the San Diego Bicycle Club's 2009 Cyclist of the Year award. Certainly not for my racing results of late. I'm guessing more for the leadership and time I put into the club in 2009. The award is given to the person who best exemplifies what it is to be a member of SDBC and is voted on by club members. So it's definitely a big honor to win the award.

Here's a picture of me with our outgoing president Ralph Elliott:

I started out 2009 with a minor role on the Board of Directors; I was the weekly update person. While not the biggest in terms of authority, this position requires a significant amount of time. Each Wednesday I was responsible for assembling submissions from club members, advertisers, and other content that wasn't submitted, but I knew should be included, into an html document and emailing it out to our entire mailing list of 800 or so folks. In general I spent 3 to 4 hours a week putting together the content and sending out the emails.

Then, halfway through the year I took over responsibility as the Sponsorship Director. When I took over it was in need of some serious attention. We had less than a month to get the sponsors for the team clothing signed, get bikes arranged for the 2010 elite team, etc. With some serious effort from me and others within the club we were able to surpass what we achieved last season. Hopefully 2010 will be another step in the right direction. I'm looking forward to it.

The bottom line here is that regardless of winning something or not winning something, it's great to be able to make a difference in the running of the bike club. This year we've got a bunch of new individuals who've stepped up and volunteered to serve on the board. Hopefully we can hold onto them throughout the year. Doing so will really allow us to take an even bigger step forward.

Monday, January 18, 2010

2010 Team Camp

Camp worked out pretty well this year. I'm definitely a lot more optimistic that we're going to put the hurt on people this season. Last season we definitely had some races where we got some good results, but too often there were not too many people showing up to race and when they did, we only had a couple guys who were getting podium results.

As an example, at last season's camp I was the third person up Montezuma (a 1 hour climb that averages a 6 to 7% grade). There's no way that a guy like me who weighs 180 pounds and has limited ability to pull up on his left leg should be beating the vast majority of the team up something like that. This time I was somewhere like 10th out of 28 guys, so that's much more encouraging from the perspective of team quality.

The past couple years I've been at camp it's been a hilly, long day on Saturday. There's the slog up Montezuma. Then we head down the S22 and turn left on San Felipe, where a hammer-fest ensues as we blast our way down to the 78 for lunch. At that point, people are usually pretty gassed. Then we have some sort of combination of racing/pace-lining back east on the 78 to Borrego Valley Road. From there it's often a casual ride back home, not so much this year however. If you know Borrego Valley, it heads through a small valley, which of course gives everyone the desire to attack up the hill.

Sunday we head out to an empty development on the north side of Borrego where we break up into small teams and practice some criterium strategies. Here are a couple pictures of me heading through the corner before the finishing straight.

In this first one, I'm in the process of trying to bridge from the chase group to the break-away. Our team of three had a good strategy going into this race; however, the guy we had up the road ended up getting bounced out of the break about half way through the race. That left me and my remaining team-mate trying to get up to the break that was about 30-45 seconds up the road. Unfortunately I never made it, but certainly felt the pain while trying.

This second one comes from the second race where I was chilling in the chase group.

For more team camp images, you can check out my team-mate John Nuttall's site:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This Weekend

Sunny skies and 70 to 75 degrees. You can't beat that in January. This nice weather is especially appreciated by me after having spent two weeks riding in the cold and wet.

I got 4.5 hours in on Saturday as I headed out on my favorite San Diego County endurance ride:

Start in La Jolla, up El Camino, east on San Diegueto, El Apajo etc. up to Del Dios, Del Dios east, Via Rancho, San Pasqual, Old Milky Way, and the 78 east.

Then back on Bandy Canyon, Highland Valley, Pomorado, Scripps Poway Parkway, Black Mountain, 56 bike path, south on El Camino, etc.

I really love this route. It's got some climbing, but not too much, or at least not too steep. It's got some windy spots, but not too many. And for the most part traffic is a complete non-factor. Plus from the time you cross Del Mar Height Road heading north until you get to the 15 there's not a single light. And then once you get past the 15, no lights again until you get to Pomerado. That's close to 2.5 hours of riding without having to put your foot down.

Then today I put in a casual 2.5 hour spin up the coast and back.

Since I've been back in San Diego I've really noticed the difference that the time on the rollers in Vancouver has made to my left leg. I'm definitely pulling up a lot better right now. All this after only putting in something like 7 hours on the rollers when I was home. When I think back on where things fell off the rails last season, I'm definitely starting to think that more regular time on the rollers would have made a big difference. So from here on out I'm going to see if I can put in at least a couple hours a week. Maybe my 1 hour speed workout, plus some shorter endurance rides every now and then.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Back in San Diego - Cycling No Longer Equals Pain

Having done the vast majority of my road riding in San Diego, I never knew just how good we had it down here. The trip back to Canada was great and I'm really glad I took my bike along with me. What I learned however, is that road riding in Vancouver in winter time is serious business. Normally it takes a certain amount of drive to get me off my butt and on to my bike, but once I'm going I could go all day. When you're riding in a place that is cold and wet, getting onto your bike is only a small part of it. Keeping going is the biggest challenge. When your feet are frozen, you're wet, you're covered in road sand that's kicked up off the wet road, your energy bars are frozen, etc.; it's hard to think about anything more than trying to keep going for 5 more minutes.

Racing season is starting to become visible on the horizon. The SDBC Cat 3/4/5 team camp is coming up January 15-17th. That'll be when things really get kicked into 5th gear for me. I've been doing lots of base building and slowly starting to work more tempo and threshold work into my schedule. Team camp will be the first time I'll really put my foot on the gas this season. If it's anything like last year, we'll have 10 or 20 miles of full on attacks and chases to deal with on our Saturday ride. The climb up Montezuma will also provide an excellent opportunity to compare my fitness to last season.

My goal for this season is to enjoy racing and training. Last year, I set myself the goal of competing at the front and getting promoted to cat 3. What I learned last year, is that the nerve damage in my leg didn't make it possible to achieve this goal. Thus starting the downward spiral of discontent with racing performances, which resulted in decreased desire to train and ride, which then led to even worse performances, etc., etc..

Last year I also spent too much time trying to be the rider I was before I hurt myself. For example, not being able to keep up with people in hilly races like the Omnium road race really drove home the point that I'm not able to ride like I did before my crash and probably never will. So, I'm not going to put myself in those sorts of situations again. At least not until I can do well in the races that are at least suited to what I can do best; namely flatter criteriums.

So this year I'll be trying to focus on races like Redlands, Ontario, Dana Point, Long Beach, etc. and won't even bother myself with things like the Omnium and Red Trolley.