Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Garden, Garden Creek Gap, and Watts

Random post. . .

I finally got around to planting a garden. Over the last couple of years, I've dug up flowers, bushes, and grass and replaced them with things I can eat. For the last few summers, I've had some nice zuchini, tomatoes, and peppers in my front yard flower beds.

Garden Creek Gap went ok. Compliments to Jess Dear for riding aggressively throughout the race. He attacked with 250 meters to go and nearly got the win. Chase out sprinted him though. McGovern got 3rd. I got 4th. After the race, I wished I had attacked at the bottom of the climb rather than wait until 250 meters to go to sprint. My excuses (not necesarily in this order) are: (a) my back was hurting, (b) I was scared that I'd burn myself up and give Chase and McGovern a nice lead out, (c) it was really cold and wet and my brain wasn't functioning properly. It was still a good race though.

Today I did some intervals. I intended on doing shorter intervals, but it ended up that I did 5 5 minute intervals up a climb. I recovered for 5 minutes between 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and recovered for 10 minutes between 2 and 3 and 4 and 5.

I learned a few things about myself. Here are the numbers:

Interval 1: 1 mile, 4:59.9 minutes, 5.73 power to weight ratio (based on norm power), 78rpm, 12.1 mph, 9 perceived exertion (PE), and 16.3 training stress score (TSS).

I was fresh for this interval. Lots of standing on the pedals. Relatively higher cadence. Best time. I was pretending I was Contador (he stands a lot).

Interval 2: 1 mile, 5:12.5 minutes, 5.20 power to weight ratio, 77 rpm, 11.6 mph, 9 PE, 14 TSS.

One of the hardest intervals. I felt like I was going to throw up. Mixture of standing and sitting.

Interval 3: 1 mile, 5:07.4 minutes, 5.45 power to weight ratio, 76 rpm, 11.7 mph, 9 PE, 15 TSS.

I stood for a solid minute. Standing and sitting off and on afterwards. Relatively high TSS. Second best time.

Interval 4: 1 mile, 5:22.6 minutes, 4.78 power to weight ratio, 79 rpm, 11.2 mph, 8 PE, 12.1 TSS.

Mixture of standing and sitting at the beginning. Sitting for the last 3 minutes. Worst time. Lower TSS

Interval 5: 1 mile, 5:07.4 minutes, 5.00 power to weight ratio, 86 rpm, 11.8 mph, 8 PE, 12.7 TSS.

Sitting the WHOLE time.

Of most interest was a comparison between Interval 3 and Interval 5. Interval 3 I stood quite a bit. Interval 5 I sat the whole time. My times were exactly the same -- not necessarily a time savings if I sit or stand. I went slightly faster (11.8 mph) for Interval 5.

HOWEVER, note that the TSS for Interval 5 was 12.7, compared to 15 for Interval 3. Note that my power to weight ratio for Interval 5 was 5.0, compared to 5.45 for Interval 3. In essence, I used much less energy for Interval 5, compared to Interval 3, but went the same speed. For me, it's much more efficient to sit, rather than stand. Although, if I do stand and really punch it -- like Interval 1 -- I will go slightly faster, at a much higher cost though.

Also note, that my cadence for Interval 5 was much higher. Although I pedaled faster, I used less energy because I wasn't pushing as hard.

Though this is something I know intuitively, it is interesting to see the data. This illustrates that although Levi might be boring to watch, he is smart and conservative.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Chess, Poker and Jousting

Yesterday, a group of us were climbing Big Mountain. As the road tilted upward, the following conversation ensued (one tactic that can be employed on a steep climb to get the fast guy to turn it down a notch is to start idle conversation):

Samurai: huff huff puff puff. So Blake, what road races are you going to do this year?

BZ: Road racing is lame.

BG: You're riding with the wrong crowd.

End of conversation. More huff huff and puff puff. Time to think of a new tactic. . .

I've written in defense of cross. And while there are definite times that I can't disagree with BZ, there are those times that I really like road racing -- so much that I haven't and can't (yet) make the transition to something else (like cricket).

One of the appeals of road racing is the tactics involved. Because there are tactics, it makes things a bit more complex and a bit more interesting. Tactics can also make it that much more discouraging. Tactics are kind of like your dog -- sometimes you really really get enjoyment out of it; other times you wish you could flush it down the toilet (or go mountain bike . . . ha ha take that!!).

Road racing is to some degree like a combination of a poker, chess, and jousting. Being successful (or so others say) involves a bit of luck, a bit of brains, a bit of strength. If you only have one of these, you might win, but chances are slim. Winners (or so I've heard) usually have a nice combination of the three. And that's what make road racing fun -- you've got to get that combination just right. Getting that combination right is hard and may be affected by other factors, like number of teammates.

Perhaps an application might be a bit more illustrative. This weekend was the Bear Lake Road race, a 104 mile race involving a bit of wind and a few minor rollers. The Cat 3s really raced it this year -- lots of attacking and chasing. We had a relatively big field at 40 plus. We finished in under 4 hours.

Out the gates, team Cyclesmith went out fast, obviously banking on luck and strength, and perhaps minimizing brains -- 104 miles is a long long time to be in a break. Dumb, yes. Rippin' strong, yes. Luck required, yes. Didn't work out.

Several other attacks went. I think I bridged up to one of them. Dumb, yes. Strong, kind of. Luck required, yes. Didn't work out either.

There were a few more attacks. Then Drew Nielson (sp?) attacked solo. He hung out in the wind alone for several miles. Dumb, yes. Strong, super yes. Luck required, yes. Didn't work out either.

And so went the race, over and over again. Of course, as time and miles increased, the "dumbness" factor went down because the more likely it became that a break would stick.

Finally, a rider (Drew again) attacked, two bridged up, and the winning break was formed. Dumb, not so much, actually smart. Strong, yep. Luck required, yep. Gutsy (a facet of dumbness, depending on how you look at it), yes.

Of course, when the three rode away, the peloton collectively was thinking that the break was too small. The peloton therefore placed its bet: odds are that the break won't survive, dumb move, you're bluffing, we're not going to chase. We acted at our peril.

So, as the three got a bigger gap and it looked more and more like the break was going to stay away, and as the three started looking smarter and luckier and stronger, another set of options were presented: (a) sit in and save for the sprint, (b) participate in a chase, or (c) break away and hope that someone joined and that the pack would allow it.

Hard call. To choose (a) would mean that the break might stick and I'd lose all chances of contending for the win. Obviously it assumes that there is a possibility for actually winning or doing well. And I would look like a chump, sitting on wheels and not trying to race. Choosing (a) would place an emphasis on brains and luck, but not strength.

To choose (b) would likely mean I would end up working for those who chose (a), only to have those chumps outsprint and bury me at the finish. Unless you're my teammate Jake and happen to be riding really strong, in which case, you could both contribute to the chase and contend for the win or sprint finish. Choosing (b) would place an emphasis on strength. A little dumb? Yes.

Why dumb? Because as was the case on Saturday, your contributions might be in vain. The break may not get caught, and you'll have spent matches chasing, when they could be spent sprinting.

(b) also has a very high glory factor. Cyclists like warriors. Cyclists who are warriors get respect. If that's your goal, then choosing (b) isn't a bad thing.

Finally, regarding option (c). Option (c) is super high on the glory respect scale. It requires strength. It requires smarts. And it requires luck. It requires ALL THREE factors, so that's why it's so high on the glory scale. A true winner (so I hypothesize) would choose (c).

So, which option did I choose? Let's just say that I tried option (b) for a few pulls, but then realized I didn't have the necessary strength and that it was kind of dumb. So then I tried option (a). But with 2k to go, I threw all the capital I had earned by choosing option (a) out the proverbial window, and took a flyer with 2k to go -- kind of a half-baked option (c).

Based on my calculus of brains, luck, and strength, I never really committed to either one, but I more or less tried them all. I guess that in itself ups the dumbness factor.

So, back to BZ's comment. What's my point here? I like road racing because it's interesting trying to get the right combination. Chess, poker, jousting -- all at the same time.

Friday, May 9, 2008

What Goes Up, Must Come Down

On Monday, I felt a cold coming on. By Tuesday, I had a cold, but went and raced the RMR anyway. On Wednesday, I thought I would ride through my cold and went out to do some intervals. The intervals were cut short when I couldn't breathe. Yesterday, my head felt like it would explode and my cold got worse. Today, I'm not riding, I'm not working, I'm not doing much at all except for exorcising my cold, which includes gargling listerene and shooting salt water through my sinuses. I doubt I'll be able to race tomorrow.

It's a fine balance. When you're in a build phase, trying to coax your body to a new level, sometimes it rebels or simply can't handle it. In my case, I pushed it a little too far and probably compromised my immmune system. Or perhaps my body decided I was taking it for granted, flogging it on hill repeats and the like, and simply decided it needed a break. It makes me realize how much I take health for granted. For example, even now I'm moaning and groaning over a simple cold, but there are others who are coping with much more serious things, i.e., Fatcyclist. Health and fitness really is a combination of luck, work, and blessing.

On another front, last night I had a weird dream. Clintster contacted me and told me that two teams had complained about me riding erratically and dangerously and that they were going to sue me for damages. I responded they wouldn't win because no one crashed and there weren't any damages suffered. He responded that the UCA was going to suspend me from racing in UCA races for 1 day -- yes, one whole day. Weird.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Build 1

I'm in a build phase now, trying to put more hours in than usual and stressing the system more than usual. To that end, I put a nice (for me) 4 day block in this week. Last year, I did the Gila around this time, which was a hard block, and two weeks after I got back, I felt like I was going pretty well. Hopefully, I'll get similar feelings this year; results would be nice too.

Day 1: 2 hrs skiing at ~10,000 feet with 2 30 min. LT efforts. This workout is good for the aerobic system and strength. Downside is that the next day it can be hard to get the legs spinning normally.

Day 2 was a ride up Big Cottonwood canyon, focusing on fast cadence to get the legs spinning and focusing on getting some time on the bike. On Storm and Silver Fork, I got in a few efforts.

Day 3 was a leg breaker prescribed by the DH, which entailed doing 6 laps on a 750 foot 11 minute steepish climb. Sharp and Jon took it to me on the first 3 laps, and then went to soccer/lacrosse games. I started this workout at 5:30 in the morning and was done by 9:30.

Day 4. I wasn't looking forward to Day 4, but the MTB crew -- Bart, Stupidbike, Alex G. and his roommate, Ohran (who burned it up Dry Creek today) -- saved me and helped me get in a good ride.

Next week will be even bigger, I hope.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Nice Job Tuttle

And nice job to Sohmy (2nd is nothing to sneeze at; the look on your face is priceless; better to have reason to have that look than not; don't worry, it's your turn next time)

And nice job to Billy (running 2nd on GC as of 5/1 in his first ever Cat 2 race).

And nice job to Lofgran (in the top 10 on GC in the 2s).

And nice job to Burke (4th on GC).

The Utah guys are tearing it up.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I'm Back!!

I left for work this morning loaded. I had my TT bike and biking stuff on one side of the Subie. On the other side, I had my skis and skiing stuff. I really need to ride this week, but wasn't too disappointed when the TT was cancelled. So, Sam and I took off for some after work turns.

We found 12-15 inches of new snow on top of some rotten gunk. Skinning felt good. Skiing wasn't bad either. It was nice to be in the high country on the ridges again.

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