Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Cannondale is Plenty Stiff

Wow the Cannondale frame is stiff!

I went out for some interval riding with some of the Mission locals yesterday morning. We were out on Matsqui Prairie, which is a flat piece of farmland in the bottom of the Fraser Valley, so it tends to be a pretty windy place. We warmed up wih some small ring sprints, moved on to some hill repeats and finished it up with some alternating big/medium gear intervals.

I was able to crank out the big gear intervals in 53x11 with a 80ish cadence heading into the wind. As I was mashing away at the pedals, there was definitely no flexing of the new frame. Pretty amazing really. I know that my aluminum Specialized E5 definitely doesn't go into the wind like that. It makes me want to trade out my Specialized frame for a Cannondale. Maybe this fall when we do a deal with Nytro again I'll get myself another.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Cannondale is on the Road

Today was the first day that I really got out for a good ride on the new Cannondale.

I bought this frame as part of the bike deal that SDBC did with Nytro. I got pretty close to wholesale pricing on the frameset (frame, fork and headset). It took a bit of looking on-line to find a good deal on a Campy group. I ended up finding a 10 speed Chorus group for $1000. Then I bought an aluminum FSA ergo bar, stem and a Specialized Toupe saddle on-line and I was pretty much set.

The thinking here was to build up a bike that I could transport up to my parents and have to ride whenever I'm up in Canada. So, the Cannondale will be staying here for a while.

Tomorrow I'll be heading out for an early morning hammerfest with some of the Mission locals. I need to be on the road by 7:30am or so. It'll probably be something like 40 degrees F at that point. Looking forward to it.

Olympic Biathlon

If you've had a hard time finding me around San Diego County the past few days, that's because I'm up in Vancouver attending the 2010 Olympic Games. Right now the two events I'm planning to attend were/are Biathlon and the Men's Curling Semi-Final.

Biathlon was yesterday. Being a former middle distance runner and current cyclist I tend to be drawn towards more endurance based sports. I've seen biathlon on TV from the Olympics a number of times, but never had a chance to see it live. If you get a chance to go to an event sometime, I highly recommend you go.

At a high level biathlon is kinda like a cycling time trial, just obviously done on cross country skis. The big difference being that after each lap, the competitors stop at the shooting range and try to hit five targets from 50 meters in five shots while either lying on their stomach, or standing (it alternates each lap). Normally you are forced to ski a small penalty lap for each miss. Yesterday they skipped the penalty laps and just assigned a one minute penalty for each miss. Pretty simply, you didn't see anyone with more than one or two misses in the top ten finishers of the men's or the women's races. For example, the Canadian man would have been right near the top five if he hit all his shots. Instead he missed two out of twenty and finished something closer to fifteenth. This is where I can see a big part of the attraction and challenge is to the sport. Not only do you have to have an incredible engine to TT your way around the course on cross country skis, but you then have to stop at the range, slow yourself down, relax and try to hit your shots.

Maybe this sort of format is something that southern California cyclo cross promoters should consider. You've already got the bike TT going on. You've probably also already got a bunch of gun toting athletes on the course. Just set up a firing range and you're all set.

The other thing that I really enjoyed about the sport, is that just like cycling, all the fans at the event got into supporting all of the athletes when they put in a great performance. As an example, one of the Russian men had to deal with his riffle strap breaking while out on the course. When these folks aren't shooting, they carry their riffle on their back with a strap that goes around each shoulder, kinda like a backpack. Because the Russian's strap broke, he had to carry his gun in his hand while trying to ski. The guy was also one of the few men to go perfect on the range. So as he was fighting his way around the course he had fans of every country urging him on. He eventually got his strap fixed and ended up coming home in something like fifth.

Anyways, great event. I'd definitely go check it out again.

You can find some of my pictures on my Flickr page -

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Roger Millikan - Full Meal Deal

As I've stated before, Roger Millikan is a course that I really enjoy. It's got a 2 to 3% incline up towards the final corner and then maybe a 1% grade up to the line. It's relatively fast, having only four corners.

On the agenda for today was the cat 4 and 30+ cat 4/5 race.

Cat 4:

My goal for this one was to get my legs going early on, ride fairly close to the front and then as is the case with all cat 4 races, get to the front at the end and sprint for what I could get.

About halfway through the 40 minute race a guy from Fast Friday took off up the road. Normally you don't really worry too much about these sorts of guys in a cat 4 race. They pound away for a few laps then eventually blow up. This guy however had been away for something like a lap and hadn't even looked back once. Whenever I looked up the road to him he looked like he wasn't going to come back. So I figured, what the heck, maybe this is a case where he and I can stay away for a while, get a few more to join on, and hold it to the end. So once we turned onto the hill, I jumped away from the field (a big accomplishment for me in itself as getting a gap on the field isn't something I've been able to do a lot lately), and I started to steam up to this guy. The closer I got, the more I started to worry. The guy could see that I was catching him, but even as I was maybe 10 meters back, he didn't slow in the slightest. Once I'd caught him and somewhat recovered behind him, I put in a few pulls. We were definitely pulling away from the field. The problem for me was that I just couldn't hang with this guy. Whenever I looked down at my heart rate monitor my heart rate was over 190, sometimes over 194. My max heart rate is something like 196 or 197 and my threshold heart rate is 183, so I knew that I was going to blow up big time if I kept riding with this guy. After 3 laps or so of suffering with this guy I threw in the towel and dropped back to the field.

Here are a couple of pictures of me enjoying trying to hold on to this guy's wheel (these pictures were taken by John Nuttall, you can visit his site here -

After a few more laps of recovery I had my heart rate back into a manageable range and was feeling somewhat better. I knew however that the break had burned what matches I had. So I adjusted my goal to simply ensuring that I got my team-mate Brian O'Mara up to the front at the end of the race so that he could sprint for the win. With two or so to go, I had Brian on my wheel and we were headed to the front. By the top of the hill with one to go I had Brian at the front. He pretty much did exactly what he needed to do from there, winning the bunch sprint and taking second (a different guy than the Fast Friday guy had gotten up the road to take the win). Here's Brian out sprinting the field (again courtesy of John Nuttall):

I ended up finishing something like 22nd or 23rd. Again, not bad for a field of 100, but I definitely would have liked to do better.

30+ Cat 4/5:

Again, this was a full field of close to 100. After the really hard effort of the cat 4 race, my goal in this one was to stick to my plan for the cat 4 race. I settled into a comfy spot near the back of the field and gave it 20 or so minutes for my legs to cycle through the lactic acid that remained from the cat 4 race. About half way through I slowly started moving up toward the front. With 4 laps to go there were some really fast guys on the front, who really strung things out. For me, this sort of thing really plays to my strength as it makes life tough for those who aren't as well trained as I am and keeps people from surging from the back. I sat there in 10th for the last 4 laps and sprinted for the finish. I didn't see the final result, but my rough estimate had me finishing something like 15th. As I was sprinting for the line I was really trying to make sure that I got my left leg going as much as I could. This was probably the strongest sprint I've done since I hurt myself. It was definitely satisfying to know that I'd done everything I could have done.

So, things ended up quite well. A team-mate on the podium and some really hard racing. At the end of the 4/5 race I knew that I'd left it all on the course and for where I am with my cycling in 2010, that's all I can ask of myself.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Red Trolley and an Afternoon of Riding

Red Trolley has always been a tough, tough race for me. Even when I was a cat 5 this course was really tough for me. It's got a sharp climb right before the finish, which definitely isn't my forte.

I'm not going to say too much about the "team plan" heading into this one. Suffice it to say, my role for this race was to race for myself. I had hoped to race at the front, taking it relatively easy and then see what I could do in the last half lap.

So some observations from today's race:

1. I'm definitely getting stronger. The first time I raced this course after coming back from my crash I got dropped on the 3rd lap. The second time out I didn't get dropped, but finished well back. This time I was right there at the front, actually finding myself riding faster than the pack as we crested the hill.
2. I can't sprint worth a darn. I went from 10th or 15th at the bottom of the hill on the last lap, to 25th at the line.
3. My approach of racing for the fun of it, rather than competition, this season is leading to some much happier moments.

After the race, Matt Marshall and I headed up through Fairbanks Ranch, up Del Dios, and west through Harmony Grove and Elfin Forest. Matt then split off for home and I headed back towards the coast and back to my car. 3.5 hours of riding that definitely left me drained.

Next week is a recovery week for me, followed by the Roger Millikan Crit next Sunday. This race went really well for me last year, hopefully I can really crank it up for this one before heading out of town for the Vancouver Olympics.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Well, No Power Data

Gotta love it. I can't get my stinking powertap CPU to sync with my PC. I was having some issues a few months ago with syncing to my laptop, but at the time my laptop had some other serious issues and I knew I was going to get it re-imaged. My thinking was that that I'd just re-install PowerAgent once my laptop was re-imaged and voila, back in business.

Apparently not the case. So, there will be no Palomar data until I can get some answers from the folks at CycleOps. If you've got any experience dealing with a java.lang.UnsatisfiedLinkError with PowerAgent, I'd love to hear from you. It's an odd one in that it looks like the driver installer does put the driver libraries into the folder where it is looking for them. I've tried re-installing the driver. I've tried running the CycleOps firmware updater, but that also fails for the java.lang.UnsatisfiedLinkError.