This week started off a bit different with my first online podcast interview. A few weeks back I was contacted by Damian Ruse of SemiProCycling.com. Semi-Pro Cycling is an online podcast where Damian talks about all different topics. Pro tour riding, proper training, how to pick a coach, physical and mental aspects of bicycle racing, and so on. I was delighted to be a part of a podcast to chat about some of my coaching philosophies but also to practice being a part of the digital world again. I remember during college and doing on-air radio shows about the “Digital Divide”. It was my first experience with radio broadcasting and I loved the feeling knowing hundreds if not thousands of people would be listening. I also enjoy being put on the spot and this was the situation I fell into with Damian. During our initial interview, we got to know each other and chat about our cycling lives. It was a great “tune-up” interview but wasn’t recorded. I wanted the real deal! A few days later it was time to record for real. I didn’t ask Damian for any prep questions and he didn’t provide me with any. This left me feeling excited! The interview went great and you can check out the entire conversation on Semiprocycling.com .
This week’s topic is on cycling technology and the tools which provide us to think more analytical. The increased use of power meters and advancement with training tools for competitive cycling help to create more definitive answers for those seeking imperfections in their training regime. From this conclusion draws an important question. If technology helps us become more mathematically aware of our internal zones, does too much technology negatively effect our tactical sense? I suppose I’ll need to pick a side on this ever-changing topic. As Howard Zinn once said “You can’t be neutral on a moving train.” I believe there needs to be a proportional stable amount of technology and riding capability. Try to harness your tactical riding sense before diving into the deep section of power numbers.
If you have a cycling coach he or she should be the primary analyzer of your power training numbers. You as the athlete should be more focused on the day’s training than the day’s numbers. Let your coach steer you down the correct trail while providing important details to those power numbers. If you are the master of your own universe where you read your own power data on a daily basis then you will need to take a more subjective approach. Certain mental practices can help one to acquire a better understanding of one’s power numbers. I believe it starts with the setting at which you look at the numbers. It may sound insignificant but the time and place at which you look at your numbers can play an important role when analyzing them. Before downloading my power files I try and find a time that’s quiet in the house when I’m not feeling stressed or anxious to see the day’s numbers. This can promote a false pretense of feelings when it comes to specific power averages you hit during the day’s ride. Your mental state of mind plays a pivotal role on and off the bike. Once the files are uploaded I sit back for a few minutes and think about the week’s training load, how I felt both internally and externally, the past week’s hours in duration, and a realistic understanding of where my power zones should be this time of the season. I do these same practices when looking at athlete’s files.
This weekends training went well due to some nice early spring weather. Saturday was the Chatfield group ride followed by High Grade Rd. After the Chatfield ride (hour of power) I was quite spent. I underestimated the effort required during the first hour and once I hit the climb with several other teammates I was finding my legs unresponsive to any hard efforts. I truly believe that if I had remained in a Z3 (Threshold) effort for the majority of the climb (14 miles) I would have been fine. However when I started to branch out into those Z4-Z5 efforts I wasn’t able to settle back into Z3. This is a common mistake made by many cyclists and I too fell into this trap. Lucky for me this was only a training ride. Sunday our team headed back up Deer Creek Canyon ~ High Grade for some more climbing. This time around my legs felt great. We rode steady as a group until we hit the steep switchbacks. I gave a hard effort and rode alone for a while until two of my teammates caught me. From there we settled into a hard but steady rhythm to the top. Afterwards we headed back down onto the front range and had fun on some matted down dirt roads which border Chatfield State Park. Another week in the bag!
Last week saw some good training miles despite some inconsistent weather and a snowstorm thrown in yesterday. Saturday was about 4:20 total in ride time and I was content considering I already completed 10 hours for the week. So, with Saturday I was up to 14:20 and I still had a trainer ride left on Sunday to get though.
On Saturday after the Chatfield group about 10 riders including myself went through the Ken Caryl area for some extra miles. I was quite tired at this point but found myself able to do a few more hard accelerations when needed. Once through Ken Caryl a couple of teammates found this 5-8 minute climb in the small suburb called Willowbrook. I was surprised how steep it was with a few switchbacks thrown into the mix! This is now one of my favorite spots when not climbing in the mountains. I will frequent it on my solo training rides.
I woke up the next morning with some sore legs. Walking down the stairs was a chore but half way through the day my legs already started to bounce back. I have been consistent with my nutritional recovery this winter to make sure I am 100% ready for the next day’s training. The trainer session on Sunday went well. I did a mix of Z-3-4-5 work and the legs responded better than I had thought. Onto another week of training! Each day this week the weather keeps getting warmer.
Gaerne Mythos Carbon Short-Term Review:
Two years ago I went on a long search to find the perfect cycling shoe. I thought I had found it with the Mavic Zxellium’s. The lower portion of the shoe was stiff and the upper was supple which meant my feet wound’t ache on those 4-5-6 hour rides. This was exactly accurate. I could ride for hours without any signs of foot soreness or pain. I’m sure most cycling shoes provide this feature however after using various shoes in the past the Mavic’s were at the top of the list. The one issue I ran into with the Mavic’s was time. Over time the upper of the shoe became too soft and wouldn’t compliment the two velcro straps and buckle system. This left my feet slipping during a sprint. I remember once at the Meridian Group Rides I was in an all-out sprint and actually looked down to see my foot moving around in the shoe. This made me gasp, but I learned to deal with it since my foot was comfortable for the 59:45 of the group ride. However, as time would have it I’ve continued to work harder and harder with my sprint but felt I was missing a piece of the puzzle with foot movement. This thought stayed in the back of my mind for a while but I didn’t re-vist it until the Gaerne Mythos.
The Mythos arrived at my doorstep packaged nicely. Included in the box were the shoes, shoe bag, Gaerne catalog, and two Gaerne stickers. Taking them out of the box I felt like a kid in a candy store on Christmass. They were so beautiful to look at! OK, yes I may be exaggerating but its hard not to glimmer with a pair of real Italian made cycling shoes in your hand. I did notice they were a little hefty compared to my Mavic’s. Weight (to me) is secondary when it comes to functionality. I tried them on and walked around on my carpet for 10-15 minutes. (As the instructions said to do so!)
The sizing felt precise and predictable but slightly on the larger size for my feet. I wasn’t worried as I’d rather have them with more room in the toe box than having my feet feel as if they were squished together in a sardine can.
The heel was stiff and hard to put my foot in at first but then I realized I need to completely open the two straps. I say it was different because the Mavic’s upper was so soft I sometimes didn’t even need to open the velcro straps to get my foot in and out. The internal part of the heel is made very well. It has a mesh type material which feels nice when placing your heel up against it. The tongue is another one of my favorite features. No part of this shoe was overlooked. Normally a cycling shoe can get away by making the exterior ascetics nice but forgetting about those small details. The tongue is crazy soft and actually has two very thin small vented pads which cushion for the top of your foot.
The strap system is well built. Its part velcro part plastic which meshes well together. A few pulls and the straps are locked into place without any hint of coming undone. It also gives you a nice “clicking” sound when pulling the straps into place. The buckle system piece is a bit on the large size but once you clamp it down you realize how secure your foot feels. Having a secure footbed is important for sprinting and I’m happy to say in the few sprints I have done so far, no foot movement!
The Speedplay stack height isn’t too bad.
I’ve only gotten in about 5 rides. So far they are spectacular and quite comfortable. Keep in mind however, if you use speedplay the width between the shoe and the crank arm is minimized. Speedplay Zero has a stock 53mm spindle size. I found to have about 1mm of spacing between my shoe and the crank arm. However, this can be contributed to my personal riding style.
The quality and construction of this shoe is top notch.
It’s slightly heavier than most other cycling shoes but makes up for it with attention to detail.
Closure system ranks a 9.5. Only reason its not a 10 is because I would have liked to see part “Boa” part strap.
Style & Ascetics - Amazing!
Another year is upon us and I couldn’t be more excited. My blog has taken hiatus once the road racing season ended. Usually in the fall I like to get away from writing for a while and enjoy riding and training on a more subtle level. On a personal note my training couldn’t be going better for the upcoming season. I have been putting in sufficient hours on the bike including some key interval workouts to get ready for the racing season. Time has gone by very fast. As I look at the calendar on my desk its surprises me with the date February 22nd. This means only a couple months to our team camp in California and then the racing begins for the season in April. Officially it starts in March here on the front range of Colorado but only a few small time Criteriums.
I am also excited to be racing with some great riders for 2013. Last year I raced solo as the only 1/2 rider. However, this season we have picked up four other elite riders to join the party. There was definitely more than one race where I was wishing I had a teammate to work with or to work for.
From a numerical value perspective, my power has been consistently progressing over the past 6 months. I noticed however, my sprint numbers are high but my climbing numbers are a bit lower than expected. This may be to a slight weight increase over the winter months. My current winter weight is around 144lbs. This is about 8lbs heavier than my usual race weight of 136. However, as my weight begins to stabilize, my sprint power is on rise. I’m content with my current training weight however once April / May hits I would like to be sub 140lbs.
Back in November we began our team training rides on the weekend with 30-40 riders showing up. The beautiful fall weather was a major factor for such a large attendance by riders. The front range has been spoiled this winter with temps in the mid 50′s and sunny. This presented a good amount of base training miles. Currently we are going through a bit of a cold spell but next week looks like we will be back into the 50′s. I can still see my jersey and short tan lines!
Over the past two years I have had the pleasure and honor to coach various athletes. What I love about coaching is the art it takes to build and plan ones schedule. I have always believed in creating individualized training programs. This way specific workouts can be contoured for one’s needs. I wish all my athlete’s and all riders the best of luck for the 2013 racing season. I have also decided to write a weekly blog entry wrapping up team training and my personal training schedule. Thanks and God bless!
Here are some photos from the past few months to bring you back up to speed. Enjoy!
One of our first training rides before 2013.
Brandon on the left, one of our elite riders.
Greg D on the right. Greg is on his way to the professional ranks!
One of our epic mountain rides @ 8,000+ft of elevation.
Another great picture from the same day.
Some extra miles after a Saturday morning group ride.
Our new kits for 2013!
Oct. 13: Town of Oyster Bay Supervisors 5K, Oyster Bay, NY
The morning started off a bit cool so deciding what to wear was challenging. I opted for long pants, short sleeves and arm warmers. Those arm warmers have become a real favorite part of my running apparel. I almost always seem to overdress, so they are handy when I no longer need long sleeves! Got to the race with time to spare so I got a chance to do a warm up mile. I met a colleague of mine and another runner in my age group. She is speedy and even though she always beats me I appreciate all her encouragement at the races! The race course was very pretty but quite a bit of a challenge! It was about 1.5 miles uphill, a short downhill, about another 1 mile uphill and then about a flat .5 mile finish. I got to the finish line with a bit of ‘heavy breathing, huffing and puffing but not horrendous. I had to laugh once I crossed the finish line. I was trying to compose my breathing and a very elderly lady kept asking me if I was sure that I was okay. I was great! I like my time: 27:17 @ a 8:47 pace. Considering it was a hilly course I was more than satisfied with my time. It was a good thing that awards were 5 deep! I came in 4th place out of 13 in my AG. 94th out of 284 women! I was only 37 seconds behind first place! I was definitely happy with this race!
Oct. 21: 4 miles Blazing Trails for Autism, Bellmore, NY
It turned out to be a bit warmer than the last race a week ago. So this time I wore shorts, short sleeves and my trusty arm warmers. Yes, I really do like wearing them! My planning time in arriving at races has also been working out well. I think the regularity of having time to pick up my number and t-shirt, warm up etc. helps take out any stress before the race. I have been doing the same routine and that is a definite benefit. I noticed when I got to the race I did not see my usual AG competition. That took out some of the race day jitters although it seemed to be quite well attended since I did do a bit of driving around looking for parking. Chatted with a young woman about our similar teaching issues and such and before I knew it……2 minutes until race time. I said my goodbye and headed to the first few lines back of the start. I have also gotten better at placing my self at the start. And then…the gun…and we were off. I decided to listen to my nanno at this race. And ironically, for whatever reason (perhaps karma coach?) it was playing only 2 songs!! At first I tried fiddling around to change it but could not see! LOL! So, I gave up and just listened to the 2 songs for 4 miles! I saw one of the women in the AG below me who is fast and usually places so I once again decided to pace off her. After about 1 mile I noticed another women in my AG right in front of me! I passed the 1 mile mark at 8:15!! Whoa!!! I stayed behind her for about .5 miles and then I felt like I could no longer stay behind her and passed her. Then I passed the other woman and just kept running my pace. It was obviously faster! I passed the 2 mile mark at 16:55. I hit 3 miles at 25:55!! I could not believe I was flying that fast! No one was with me and I ran alone until about the last .75 miles. Then the younger woman came up beside me and took off. I could not catch up to her. Once again, no one around. Then I finally saw the finish line and heard the crowd (they were quite loud!). Just as I reached the line two really young woman crossed it with me. I kept it up and kept running over both timing mats and turned to receive two high fives from them! Nice race! Got my drink, my food and got my official time: 34:37!! 8:40 pace!! 1st place out of 8 in my AG!! 64th woman out of 377!! And…193rd out of 695 runners!! Awesome!! It really is nice to collect all this hardware!! LOL!!
Xterra USA championship and Xterra Trail Run National Championship race reports-2012
Last weekend I raced in the Xterra USA Championship Triathlon and the Xterra Trail Run National 21k (actually 13.5 miles). The first race was planned as my big race for the year. The other race I signed for Sunday at the last minute.
Adam and I arrived in Huntsille, UT on Tuesday to relax and prepare for the race. Tuesday was an easy run/hike on part of the run course, Wednesday was a ride on the entire bike course. I rode the course comfortably, took it slow on the downhills and still rode faster than my time in the race from last year. After the preride, I was confident I could race the bike 10-15 minutes faster this year. I spent Thursday and Friday relaxing with just a short walk on Thursday and a short swim Friday morning. I was rested and ready to go.
Race morning was cold as expected. But it was supposed to warm up to above 80 so I wasn’t too worried about the cold.
Waiting in line for body marking
I was really nervous, but I felt ready. I lined up near the front of over 300 starters.
This must be before everyone lined up to start…
The pros got a 30-60 second head start. It wasn’t very organized because a canon went off and some age groupers started swimming with the pros. So some people got some free time. Before I could think twice about it, our canon went off and it was craziness–just no space at all. At the first turn buoy, I got kicked really hard in the left eye and some water leaked into my goggle. I was a little shocked from the pain at first, but then got over it and started swimming hard again. The second lap was a little less congested and seemed to go by quicker. I felt good about how I was swimming, but felt like I had been out there for a long time. At the swim exit, I checked my time and it was 29:45. I wasn’t surprised–the swim was long last year (1700+) and probably was this year too and so I didn’t let it get to me.
Trying to make a fast run to T1
As we were exiting the water they were announcing names and I was just ahead of a woman in my AG that I was just ahead of out of the swim last year. So at least I was consistent. I had a much quicker transition this year and exited T1 at 32:33. This was 28/107 women including the pros. Considering my lack of swimming, I was very happy with it.
Onto the bike I was moving pretty well but got slowed on the single track by a guy that was trying to put his shoes on while on the bike. Any way, once that guy got going I got up to a comfortable speed. A guy came up behind and wanted to pass. He had room to pass without me moving but I moved way off to the side onto the grass to give him tons of space.
Next onto the “road section” where we ride on deep slanted gravel–my least favorite part of the course. I got passed by two women, but then was keeping pace with them as we rode this section and then onto the Wheeler Creek trail. I was riding comfortably up the Wheeler Creek trail, I didn’t want to go too hard because it’s early and I don’t like some of the rocky spots (it’s really not very rocky, I just like smooth trails). I’m not sure how far up the trail it was, maybe .5-.75 miles up when I went over some small rocks and was forced to unclip on a section that I should have gone over easily. Of course I did this right in front of the tv camera too. I ran a bit and hopped back on but wasn’t going anywhere. I looked down and my front tire was completly flat. Not just a little flat but totally out of air. I’m thinking this flat tire came from pulling way off in to the grass a mile or so prior and that going over the rocks popped the goathead out of the tire causing it to go flat. Upon later inspection I had 5 in my rear tire, so it was only a matter of time before that went flat as well.
I pulled off to the side while the tv camera guy starts interviewing me. ”This must be devastating?” ”Um yeah” He continues to film me and talk to me. I get out my fix a flat and start using it-my tire starts to go up a little and then goes flat again. I ask the tv guy to please stop filming me, but he doesn’t go away. I try spinning it, more fix a flat. Nope. It’s still flat. As I’m doing this dozens of people are racing by. “Do you need help?” “What do you need?” I needed this not to have happened. At this point I am shivering from the cold, crying and frustrated. Even though people offered, I didn’t want a tube and equipment to get going again. I didn’t want to play catch up from this just to finish. I was just so cold and frustrated, my mind quickly turned to getting warm and doing the running race the next day.
I started walking my bike down the trail. It was a long unpleasant walk, with the tv camera guy following me for a lot of it. Finally, he said he would leave me alone. I passed many more people who asked what happened and if I needed help. At that point I just needed to get warm. At the trailhead there was a family that was waiting for their father to race by. They gave me a sweatshirt and two blankets and then gave me a ride up to the resort later. I was so thankful for their generosity. If they hadn’t been there, I’m not sure how long I would’ve had to walk to get warm and get a ride up to the resort.
I’m disappointed I didn’t get to have the race I wanted to have. I knew I was in shape for a strong bike and run on that course, but I will have to wait until next year to show it.
It was really hard to get up to race two mornings in a row. Even though I didn’t race much the day prior, it was mentally a little hard to get pumped for the running race. I knew I was going to do a run, but kept going back and forth between the championship race of 21k and the 10k. I finally decided on the 21k, even though I couldn’t remember the last time I had run longer than 7 miles. Maybe in May or June?
The course was a tough one with over 2000 ft of elevation gain. I wanted to start off conservatively so I lined up in the 5th or 6th row. I had no idea what time to expect but I thought a 1:45 for a half marathon on a hilly course would be a good goal.
The race started with a loop around the parking lot before a downhill on the road and then a turn to start the 1 mile uphill that parallels and then joins up with the xterra run course. In typical running race fashion, a lot of people went out really fast. Once the course went a little downhill I started to pass several people, then the first long uphill started and I was passing some more. I made it to the first mile right at 8 mins which seemed like a good pace. The next mile was mostly uphill and I ran most of it but walked a little just to stay conservative. Mid way up the big hill we ran into the middle of the pack of the 5kers. Poor timing of the race starts and poor course layout. There were a lot of walkers to pass. At the top of the hill came the single track and there were a lot of 5kers and half marathoners to pass.
The single track and downhills were my favorite parts of the course. Kinda the opposite of what I like in mountain biking. I passed a lot of people on the single track sections, then they caught up on some of the hills. Normally I’m better on hills…Then there was a long twisty downhill stretch of maybe 2+ miles. I got a little space between myself and a several women that were all bunched together. At the five mile mark I was just over 8 min pace but the aches and pains were starting; It was the usual suspects-my left IT band, my right glute and hamstring.
I got to an aid station, a woman there asks what I want, I told her water please, and as I am grabbing the cup, some guy cuts me off and grabs the cup even though he already has one! So I had to turn around and run back to get my water. I hope he had a pr or something.
This is where the run got really hard. We started to climb up to sardine peak and there were sporadic mile markers so I don’t know how long it was but I think it was about 2.5 miles of running uphill, with some gradual and some steep. It seemed like it was steeper towards the top, but that could just me being out of running shape. I thought I would get passed going up it, but I did more passing than being passed overall. I ran the first section with no walking and only walked towards the top when it got steep and I got tired. I tried to take some looks around to enjoy the view.
This is a view of one of the trails on the run up to Sardine Peak (taken from the Xterra facebook page)
View from the trail (also from Xterra)
View of Pineview Reservoir at the top of Sardine Peak (from Xterra)
I was relieved to get to the top and had a couple women ahead of me to chase. One had passed me towards the top. I passed her and she stayed with me as well as another woman I had passed earlier on the climb. I felt like I was descending ok, but the pain in my glutes and the fatigue was starting to get to me. I had dropped these women and the woman way ahead on the previous descent, why couldn’t I do it now?
I pushed hard the whole way down, a few times I felt a little dizzy on a couple of the switchbacks. I passed 10 miles in around 86 mins. I had slowed down, but I was still doing ok. Once we got to the bottom of the trail, I didn’t know how we got back to the finish. I was under the impression that it was mostly downhill. I was very wrong. The remainder of the race was mostly uphill and this was around the time when my body shut down a little. The two women I ran the downhill with slowly moved away from me. I got to mile 12 and had it timed out how long it would take to finish. It took me awhile to get to them mile 13 marker, but once I saw it I was so relived. Only .1 miles left, right? It was all uphill and each turn I thought it must be time to head to the finish, but it was just more trail and me by myself. Finally it was time to turn to the finish for the last uphill and downhill. Turns out it was 13.5 miles. Mentally it would have been nice to know that. I finished as fast as I could, which wasn’t very fast. I ended up finishing 19th overall and 8th in my ag. Looking at some of the top finishers in the race and even in my age group, 19th/8th isn’t too bad with the amount of running I’ve been doing. So I’m thinking maybe next year I’ll come back, and have a great race in the Xterra triathlon and be in shape to compete in the “21k” as well.
Tired after a long painful run
I admit it. I was nervous over nothing. I was asked to run a leg for a team for the very well known, to most runners, except me, the Ocean to Sound Relay. The race is 50 miles from the Atlantic Ocean at Jones Beach to the Long Island Sound at Oyster Bay, NY. 8 legs run a variety of distances from about 5.4 miles to 7 miles. My leg, #5, was located in a picturesque spot of Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, New York . Since I’m a new runner in the “senior 60+” category I was a bit anxious wondering if I could hold my own and run a respectable time as the leg of a team of much faster and more seasoned runners. All 8 runners were 60+ years old.I had never really traveled through the roads and decided I would make a dry run in my car the day before. I was under the impression that it was just “a little hilly.” I found out that the route was filled with beautiful homes, 2 lane very hilly roads with no sidewalks and no shoulders. My leg consisted of 15 turns. I was definitely stepping out of my comfort zone and giving myself a new running challenge. As soon as I got home from the dry run the the nerves started to unravel into “what have I gotten myself into this time!” No one at home wanted to listen to me and gave me a solid suggestion: call your coach! Awesome idea! Thanks to my coach I started to relax about this race and put it into perspective. Sometimes that is just who you need when you are blowing everything about competing out of proportion. So, finally, with my nerves under control I got ready for this race just like all the others I have run. I had a restless sleep that night, but for me, it is not uncommon before a race. I woke up early so I could have a light breakfast. I decided on the advice of another runner to write the directions of my leg on my hand just in case there were no signs or guides on the route. And then I left off for my race. I got to the start of my leg fairly early so I had time to take a run in the somewhat hilly parking lot of Cold Spring Harbor. There were very few people around waiting. After my warm up I chatted with a few people and ironically 3 or 4 people had not even thought about the leg, the conditions or the directions for the route. They just showed up. Was I over prepared? I didn’t care I felt comfortable and ready. I should have brought my fold up chair as there was a lot of waiting for my team mate or the driver to show up. I got to see a cool peloton of cyclists racing down the road just before the first runners came through! Finally! The hand off to me of the “chip on a velcro strap” from my teammate! The hand-off was seamless and I was off! The first about .75 of the leg was uphill. Very much uphill! I could not seem to get into a rhythm it took a lot of effort to “get up that hill.” As soon as a downhill came up and that flattened out I got into a rhythm and a good pace. I felt confident and comfortable. Breath was ok. Legs were ok. I was just running! After about a half mile I heard my name being shouted by a former student, “Mrs. Zimmerman!! You go girl!! You’re awesome!” Along the route a few challenges did arise. There were no shoulders and the impatient and impolite drivers that passed forced me to hop up on the grass incline so as not to get hit by the cars! There were quite a few up and down hops! The next challenge that slowed me down was a car that screeched to a stop behind me causing me to slow down and glance back. It had almost rear ended another car! Scared me good!! About 1/2 mile to the finish line I had to cross a very busy road. No crossing guide was there and tons of cars. I had to literally stop, and run in place until a car in either direction stopped and allowed me an opportunity to cross! .2 to go! The condition of the sidewalk that now appeared was awful. It was more like a dirt trail. But there was a course guide encouraging me to keep it up because I had only 300 yards to go! My breathing suddenly became much more labored and I was desperately trying to pick up the pace! But there ahead I saw the finish and heard a few people on the team shouting my name. I started taking off my velcro chip and pushing toward that finish line. The hand off went so smoothly! Best part of the finish? I heard someone shouting, “Mrs. Zimmerman!! What are you doing here? Wow! You’re in the race!” That was cool to have another former student give me a hug at the end! It really was a fun type of race and I’m glad I said yes and ran a leg of a 50 mile race! And the results for my leg? A 10K (6.2mile) PR….1:01:56. And my team? First place for the super senior masters category! 8 hours and 11 minutes!! Not too bad at all! A great finish for September!
On Saturday September 1st, I did my first Duathlon in Boulder (Boulder Sunset Duathlon). The start time was 2:15, so I got to sleep in a little bit. Well that was the plan at least, I woke up early because of my excitement to get there and compete. I got there about 2.5 hours early to get my packet and get everything set up and ready to go. I took my bike and gear over to the transition area and then proceeded to do a warm up run. After stretching and getting my last bit of nutrition in, I headed over to the start line with my parents at 1:45. I continued to stretch and looked around at my competition. The officials gave us a pre race talk and then we lined up. The gun went off and there was a small pack for about a quarter mile. One guy took off, so I stayed about 5 yards behind him and waited to see what he was going to do. We got to the 1.5 mile turn around point and it had began to rain pretty hard and the wind had picked up. I had worked my way up to the first place guy and realized we had a pretty big lead over third. The other guy was struggling, so I made a move and felt good about it. As we got to the end of the first run, I looked back and saw my lead was about 30 seconds. I had finished my first run in about 19:20. I changed my shoes and put my helmet and glasses on, grabbed my bike and ran out of the transition area. I knew that since I didn’t have a TT bike, I would have to ride well to keep my lead. The rain had picked up and the wind was terrible. It took me a while to get settled in and I wasn’t taking any risks around turns because of the wet conditions. I was moving along well, but after about mile 12 a guy flew by me. I tried my best to stay close to him but he gained a pretty decent lead on me. I just kept fighting and held on to second coming out of the 24 mile bike portion. Going into the transition area, I knew I needed a fast transition and a good 5k to catch the guy in first. My transition was 37 seconds.
I started the run feeling great and had a lot of confidence in myself. The rain had stopped and the sun was out, so the weather wasn’t as much of a factor as it was in the first two portions of the race. Getting close to the turn around point, I saw the guy in first and he was about a minute ahead of me. I made the turn and started to grind out as much as I could. I just kept my eye on him and started reeling him in. With about a half mile left, he was seconds ahead of me and we were approaching a final incline before the finish. I thought that if I could pass him on the hill, he might crumble and not be able to stay with me. I did just that and he tried to stay with me but I gave a short burst and didn’t hear his footsteps anymore. I kept driving to the finish and looked behind me to make sure there wasn’t going to be a sprint finish. I was surprised to see that he was about 20 seconds back and I was about to win my first race. I gave my mom a high five and crossed the finish line. I was extremely happy and pleasantly surprised to of won my first duathlon. It was a great feeling and I was ready to get back home and start training even harder for my next race.
Last Thursday I went out to do my tempo run workout in preparation for my very first one mile race. Mile 1 warm up I worked out the kinks, a stiff knee, a funky quad. I have finally begun to realize how important a warm-up is for getting the body ready to run. Mile 2 I picked up the pace to somewhere above my 5k PR pace and at the end of the mile my piriformis grabbed my sciatica. Ack!! I slowed down to a very slow pace and ran the next two miles home disappointed that this was a lost opportunity to workout before my race on Saturday. I should have walked the rest of the way but hindsight is usually 20/20. That afternoon found me in the chiropractor’s getting an adjustment and a treatment. Rest, ice, rest not what a runner wants to do most of the time!
Race day arrived finally and I was feeling better but tentative about my sciatica. My husband was volunteering to work the shirt table so we arrived much earlier than I usually get to a race: 2 hours before race time. I spent a half hour sitting in the car listening to some tunes waking up. Then I went out for a relaxed mile run to get those “kinks” out. Felt good no issues at all. The race start was about a 3/4 mile away, all uphill! Then more waiting until it was time to take that run uphill to the start. Got there with plenty of time to dump some water over my head and cool down for the start.
I don’t know why but I was really nervous about this race. I did not even see any of my usual competition around. Maybe it was because I never ran a 1 mile race before. Gun start…and we were off! Then almost immediately I had a “race lesson.” I had forgotten that I had my nanno still and it came loose and was now dangling while I was racing! I grabbed it and attached it to my shorts as I was running. Lesson learned don’t run with a nanno during a race. The most amazing part of this race was that it seemed so short. The first 1/4 mile was a short uphill and then in what seemed only a blink I was at the half mile time mark: 3:43. I was furtively trying to do the math as I was also breathing hard and racing! Math is not my forte. But that seemed fast!! And the hard breathing was starting and I could now see the final stretch on Main Street. And then the finish line was clearly in sight!! I saw an amazing sight: the finish line timer!! I saw 7:15 minutes from the distance. I really was trying to increase the pace but I was breathing really hard. Really cool…I finished at 7:46!! I can still hardly believe I could run that fast for a mile!! I came in 2nd place in my AG. I lost 1st place by 6 seconds and beat 3rd place by 10 seconds. Funny, I never even saw my competition; I was so in the zone! That was a lot of fun! I think I’ll try a mile race again in the future!
I have found that like competing and collecting more “hardware!” YAY! I have 99% accomplished what I set out to do this summer: Win, place or show in every race. I ran 7 races and placed in 6 of them. 1 in 1st place, 4 in 2nd place, and 1 in 3rd place. Not too shabby if I must say so! I know I did all the work but I could not have accomplished it without my coach! Thanks Adam!!!\
After how I felt last week and not being on the mountain bike after my crash, my decision to race didn’t come until Saturday afternoon. I took Monday-Wednesday of last week completely off then only swam on Thursday and still had some aches and pains. I finally got out on the mountain bike on Friday, and riding was pain free, but I had pain in my right quad when I got off the bike. I biked again Saturday and had a small fall at the end which didn’t help my confidence, and had some major cramping in my right leg on a short run. I kept going back and forth as to whether or not I would race. Finally, I decided that since Adam and Mickey were coming to watch, that I would go.
Race morning flew by and before I knew it, it was time to start. The walk to the water was in deep cold mud. The water levels are really low this year so we were starting the swim really far from transition.
Mickey standing in the mud waiting for me to start
The waves were seeded by swim and bike ability so there were a lot of people in our swim wave that were close to the same swim speed. The swim started off and right away it was pretty rough. Rougher than normal. I tried to keep my head down as much as possible, swam hard and did my best not to get kicked or punched. Early on two guys (I think) cut in front of my path and the next thing I know I am getting kicked in the stomach and chest by both of them. I slow down but there are people trying to swim over me now and people on all sides. There is no where to go. I finally got a little space but was sort of boxed in. I figured it was fine for the time being, I would just get pulled along at the pace of the group and could hopefully speed up later. After the turn around it opened up and I was able to start passing people. I felt like I was swimming strong and felt good for the first time in a swim this year. I then started to pass a guy and then I couldn’t get past him. I then realized I was getting pushed to the right and wanted to take a line heading a bit more to the left. I tried to start swimming more in that way and got really close to the guy. I then realized it was one of my teammates. It’s kind of funny recognizing someone underwater like that. He and I swam the rest of the way into shore until I thought I had to go to the right to exit. I started to get up and people were telling me I had to go to the left and out even though there was no barrier or timing mat. So I ran through the mud to get out where everyone else did and saw 11:20 on my watch. The swim was supposed to be 880m but was probably shorter due to the lower water levels. I came out with a couple other guys on my team which I have been a minute or so behind all year, so I was very happy with that!I ran slowly up the hill and got my wetsuit top off quickly, then stopped and took my wetsuit off before finishing the run up. The last time I wore this wetsuit I really struggled to get out of it, so I thought taking it off earlier would help and it did. It came off perfectly! I then finished the long run up to transition.Swim+ run to t1: 12:52, 11/98 women, 13:58 last year
The long run up to T1
T1: :46 1/98, it helps that my wetsuit was off already, 1:14 last year
Onto the bike I tried to push the first section on the road a little and any sections that were uphill. Everything else with the turns and sand I rode cautiously but was actually moving faster than last year. I was getting passed a decent amount on the first half of the first lap, but it was not a big deal. I had a pretty good swim and transition and I knew there would be stronger bikers passing me. Most people were very nice when they passed. Several people even said thank you which was nice. In general it was a much friendlier vibe this year.
I was feeling good but had no idea what place I was in. My teammate Julie wasn’t too far ahead and she is much better than me on a bike course like this so I figured that was a good sign. Into the second loop there were riders from later waves entering the course for their first loop. There were a few more people to pass but it didn’t seem congested. Not too far into the second loop I had a bad experience with a woman who was passing me and she didn’t understand proper passing etiquette and felt the need to use abusive and foul language towards me to get her point across. I won’t go into the details, but it was disappointing and a little scary to see someone act like this in a race.
I continued along at my pace passing some people, getting passed by others, and looking forward to the run where I felt comfortable. Once the bike was all said and done, even with my post crash tentativeness, I still improved over 1.5 mins from last year. Obviously I have a lot of improvements I could make on this course, but races on bike courses like these are not my goal races so it’s not a huge concern either.
Bike: 1:03:36, 22/93 women, last year 1:05:09
Mickey playing while I’m racing
Me coming into T2.
T2: :35 4/92, last year :44
My legs weren’t too tired heading out onto the run, and that was good because the run course is hard here. The 8k run starts with a gradual climb for maybe a half mile or so, and then the real climb begins for around 1.75 miles. Then it dips down a little before another gradual climb, before a steep and twisting descent for a mile or so and then a mile that is slightly downhill, then slightly uphill then flat to the finish. All in the hot sun with no shade. Besides hot sun with no shade, I love this run course.
I caught a few women before the start of the climb, including the woman that cussed me out on the bike. It was pretty satisfying flying by her on the run. I began the climb and passed another woman, but she stayed with me for awhile. I pushed a little to try to drop her. I could see I was catching a few other women so I pushed on hoping I could catch them too. I caught one with maybe 1/4 mile of the climb to go and my legs started to go and I could see she was running a little faster now that I caught her. I couldn’t let up. I focused on the guy ahead of me and slowly caught him. Then could see a few women far ahead. I started to reel them in at the start of the descent.
It wasn’t my fastest descent, but it was pretty good. I realized for a run like that, I need different shoes than my racing flats. I flew around some of the corners so fast that I started to come off the trail. I passed a few more people and once I was at the bottom I was alone. I could see a guy way ahead, but he had passed me long ago.
I was so happy to get to an aid station. There are none from 1/2 mile to 4 miles and I didn’t really need to drink anything, I just needed water on my head to cool off. The heat was really getting to me at this point and the last mile was pretty miserable. I pushed as hard as I could because with the wave starts you never know. I ran into the finish line, but had a little something extra. I accelerated after the finish line into the slip and slide and made it almost all the way down this year. Last year I only made it half way down.
Rounding the corner to the finish
Run: 40:35, 5/92 women, last year 40:54
Overall: 1:58:22vs 2:01:57 last year, 8th overall vs 7th last year, 1st AG (although technically I was second because a girl in my ag raced elite and beat me by over 10 minutes) vs 2nd last year
So I improved my overall time which was a goal, but interestingly enough I improved on everything, swim, bike, run, t1, t2, and my slip and slide. Now that’s a success!
Women’s 30-34 podium
I did compete in a contest for a free wetsuit that involved a sprint and slip and slide race. I lost in the first round to the woman who crushed everyone and thankfully not just me. I proudly made it almost all the way down the slip and slide again
15 Olympic-Inspired Exercises to Try Today
Thanks to Greatist.com for reaching out to the cycling world and asking my advice on different cycling workouts.
See the whole article here: Greatist.com
Here is a snippet:
10. Plank to Sit-and-Twist: Crouching over the handlebars on a bike can take a toll on the spine. Especially the lumbar region. Certified cycling coach and veteran cyclist Adam Zimmerman works his whole core by alternating between 60 second planks and sit-and-twists using a medicine ball. He recommends lifting and extending your legs in front of you on a mat, keeping you torso straight, and passing a light weight (no more than 8 lb) medicine ball over and under your legs in both directions 5 to 10 times. Good for: Abdominal and low back strength and stability, hip flexor strength.
11. Interval Cycle Sprints: In winter months, Zimmerman hops on his nearest indoor bike, warms up for about 20 minutes and segues into intervals of 20 minutes cycling at moderate intensity speeds he can maintain for an hour, slowing for 5, then going another 20 minutes and moderate intensity. Zimmerman advises working with a heart rate zone for those interested in training at shorter, more intense intervals that push them to their VO2 Max. Good for: Cardiovascular endurance, calve, quad, hamstring, and glute strength and stamina.
12. Free Weights: Zimmerman targets biceps, triceps, rear delts, and traps during his free weight routine. These muscle groups assist cyclists of all levels with steering and effectively grasping the handle bars. Even if you don’t plan to maneuver a bike, standard bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, overhead presses, and flies at low weights with high reps can strengthen those endurance muscle fibers that provide lasting power for all occasions. Good for: Building strength, stamina, and endurance.
The Sands Point 5K race on August 11th was a big disappointment. The weather had been very hot and humid but nevertheless I trained right through it. This race was on a trail/paved road combo. It felt like I was running through a rain forest as most of it was in the woods. I was ahead of my competition for a good portion of the race and then I tanked and watched as they all passed me. The only push I seemed capable of was seeing the finish line and not wanting to end up at 32 minutes!
My goal of place, show or win in all of my races for the summer evaporated at this race. I was really bummed. The next week, I persevered and continued my training in hopes of a better race the next week. August 18th Hope Runs Here 5K started out with a steady on and off drizzle of rain. The temperatures were cooler and I even more my rain jacket as I warmed up for a mile or so before the race. I scoped out my competition and noted who was there. Funny, I did not see any of them running before the race. I did all my race preparations and headed to the start line. During the Star Spangled Banner I realized I left my nanno in the car! Oh well! No time to head back for it! I moved up towards the front of the starting line. I like to run near people who seem to be actual runners! I noticed a woman in the AG below mine who runs fairly fast, so I decided she would be my pacer. I figured if I could keep her in my sights I was running at a good pace. And then we were off; I kept diligent about my pace being consistent. I stayed with my “pacer” and at times getting a little closer. At about mile 2.5 I was trying to pick it up a bit and heard some “heavy breathing” on my right. My competition was closing in on me fast! My breath was getting more labored but not yet impossible to maintain. She was on a mission to pass me!! So as we closed in on the 3 mile mark and I could hear her trying to make another move and then she was right next me!! I kept it up and as soon as I saw the finish line and the time I also started to put the pedal down a bit more mainly because I wanted a win and also because I could not believe the time I saw!! 26 minutes!! Whoaaa!! That was a bit of motivation right there. We were definitely next to each other straining to keep at it!! I said to myself there is NO WAY I am going to not at least stay with her to the finish line; and at least step on that mat at the same time. If it was going to be a tie, that would be ok with me; but I really wanted to beat her! As soon as we stepped on the timer mat, I felt like I was going to heave…but a minute of walking took care of that! I recovered; got a drink and a banana and took a walk to the time sheets to see how I did at the finish. 26:41!!! I beat her by 2/100ths of a second. Wow! I CRUSHED my PR by 52 seconds!!!! I came in 2nd in my AG (2/16) and 3rd overall for Breast Cancer Survivors!! 2 plaques and a rose!! This was a very sweet finish for me!
I was rather nervous when waking up Saturday morning for my first cycling race ever, The Lookout Mountain Hillclimb. I arrived at the race at about 7:15 for my 8:50 start time. Walking up through everyone to the registration stand was kind of intimadating. Realizing I had only been cycling since the end of May, the thought of getting myself in over my head was crossing my mind. I decided to take the negative thoughts out of my head and told myself that I was going to do great. After registration I got back to my truck and changed into my cycling clothes. I then started to get my bike ready for the warm up. I rode up and down the hill that everyone had parked on for about 15 minutes, when I realized that I had a broken spoke nipple. Looking at my watch I realized I didnt have enough time to do anything about it, so I decided to take it easy on my bike and stretch some for the rest of the time before the start. I made my way up to the start time at 8:30. I wanted to see the start of the race before mine, so that way I could see how it went down. 8:40 came around and I lined up at the start line a few rows back. As I stood there straddled over my bike I looked around at everyone to see what I was going up against. When the started said 1 minute until the start, I got my head right and took one last drink of water before the start. The starter blew his whistle and we were off. Everyone flew off the line but I wasnt worried because Adam had told me about how everyone would start very fast and most likely come back to me. When we got to the first switchback I looked back and saw how far back I was in the field but didnt freak out. I just stayed smooth and before I knew it, I was passing riders. I kept passing guys through the switchbacks and when we got to the first section where it leveled out, I was feeling pretty good and moving at a decent pace. I took a few drinks and dug in for the next set of switchbacks. I passed a few more guys in that section, which I thought was the toughest part of the race. I looked at my computer and saw that I was 3.4 miles in and I decided to start my drive to the finish. Getting around a few more turns, I kicked it in even more and passed a few more guys. Passing the 200 meter sign, I felt like I was flying and going all out to pass this guy in the distance. I got close to him but the finish line came too soon and I crossed the line before passing him. I scanned through my computer and saw around 24 minutes. I was pretty happy about that time. I grabbed some water and decided to head back down and see my buddy who had come with me. I didnt go too fast on the downhill because of my broken spoke nipple. When I got to the bottom, I handed the time chip that I had rented back in and got my ID back. Returning to my truck, I told my buddy how the race went and I loaded up my truck and headed out. Overall, my first race was a success. My time was 23:49 and I got 24th out of 48. I really enjoyed racing and want to do a lot more in the future.
My last race report was on the Salida Road Race which was my first race in over a month. It took me 2-3 days of easy riding to recover from that race and finally around Thursday of last week I started to feel on form for this coming weekend. This weekend was the downtown Bannock Street Criterium. It’s a fun race with a bunch of turns but not too technical and narrow like some other neighborhood Crits (Sonic Boom Crit). All week I had been trying to boost my confidence and doing some serious self-talk about getting in a breakaway this weekend. Last year’s race was won in a break away so I figured the chances of another breakaway happening this year were high. I wouldn’t say breakaway riding is my strong suit but if the pace is just right I can sprint well from a break.
I arrived to the race with about two hours to spare. I met up with some teammates who were warming up for the CAT3 race and chatted with them for a a while. It was very hot, even in the shade. I went through 1 & 1/2 bottles of water just standing around watching a race or two. My body doesn’t seem to do well in the heat (past experiences) and I was a bit worried of overheating. I brought my trainer with me but opted out of warming up on it since it was so hot. Once all suited up I started to roll around the neighboring blocks but found myself a bit bored. One block away from the race there is a small parking lot where I decided to finish my warm up. It only took about 40-60 seconds to get around the parking lot circle but it didn’t bother me. Around and around I went while watching the women’s race. All the 1-2-3 women were racing together and I was actually surprised to see a field of 25+. Every year I have been racing, more and more women are participating and its a great sight to see. I’ll still never forget one of my first 1-2-3 races in Central Park, NY where they combined the 1-2 women with us. Very cool!
I guess I don’t have the most “aero” position!
Thanks to Dean Warren (DeanWarrenPhotography.com) for the photos.
I went through another 1 and 1/2 bottles during my warm up. A lot of the water was poured over my head just to keep my core body temp down. Our start was underway and the racing began. The first 5 laps were ridiculously fast and I was already starting to get dizzy from the heat. I was holding my line well and remained in the top 15. If a break was to happen, I wanted to be in it. On the 4th or 5th lap riders were attacking with so much force. I tried as hard as I could to hold their wheel but started getting tunnel vision and my legs were shaking a bit. This wasn’t a good sign. I can’t recall how many riders got away. I was sitting second wheel as the gap started to form. I jumped hard but didn’t go anywhere and the break kept getting distance. I was furious I couldn’t hold their wheel. Had I not trained enough? Was it the heat? Or maybe the course didn’t suit me? All these questions kept going through my mind.
Once the breakaway was established I found myself in various spots throughout the main field. On the front, in the middle, on the back. It was a disaster. I couldn’t hold my line 30-40 minutes in like I was during the first few laps. Then out of turn 3 I hit a giant pot hole and my rear Zipp 808 made a loud Boom! It went flat right away and I put my hand up. The rear moto-bike official told me to start heading to the wheel pit. Lucky I wasn’t too far from the start and as they were changing my wheel out the break came flying by. Boy did they have some time over the main field. I was jealous not to be in that group. Now back in the main field there were a serious of short attacks where 1-5 riders would get some distance but it would be fizzled out because they either didn’t work together or were too tired for any serious efforts. At 60 minutes in I should have started moving up the group for the field sprint. It was tough to move up and I never fully got the chance. We turned the corner for the last lap and I was boxed in from every direction. I pretty much came in somewhere at the middle-back of the group during the sprint. Overall I was a bit disappointed in my effort. I wanted nothing more than to get into the breakaway. However, coming back into realistic terms I’m happy I made an effort and finished with the field.
The past month and a half have definitely been life changing. I married the love of my life Maija in Breckenridge Colorado on June 30th. The planning for the wedding was a major undertaking but was worth every minute. Maija and I had a small wedding at a beautiful house we rented above the town of Breckenridge. Breckenridge, known for being a major ski town in the winter sits at 9,600ft above elevation. The house was about 4 miles up the road and was around 10,500ft. The house itself was quaint, secluded, quiet, and was surrounded by hundreds of hiking and mountain bike trails. I believe we mountain biked almost every day while staying at the house. Actually, a newly created trail was made near the house which coincidentally is named after the house (V3 Ranch). Very cool! The closest trail to the house was called the Sally Barber Trail. As soon as you hit the trail you begin to climb up for 1-2 miles before making a fast descent which then provides you with various different trails to choose from. At the top of the first hill is an old coal mine. The views were incredible as we were around 11,000ft. Each day Maija and I tried to find different trails to take for new adventures. One day specifically we were climbing back up to the coal mine from the opposite direction. Maija threw in a surge and actually started to drop me! I maintained my distance to her but if the climb was any higher or longer I think she may have gotten more distance between us. I sometimes have trouble climbing above 10,000ft in elevation. Maija seemed to get used to the less oxygenated air in a expedited fashion. I on the other hand, was having trouble on some of the MTB rides. None the less, it was an amazing extended weekend in Breckenridge and I grew a new love and respect for mountain biking. Mountain biking is vastly different from the roads. I tend to feel closer to nature and my body when riding on narrow single-track.
Every morning Frito would sit on the deck from the Master bedroom and watch the deer run through the woods.
Maija and I riding up Sally Barber Trail
On top of the first climb on Sally Barber where the old coal mine was located.
The fire road connected us from Sally Barber to various other trails.
What a cool sign!
View from the backyard of the house we rented.
View from the top of a tough climb. Yes those are 29 wheels!
The wedding tired Frito out. I think this was from the morning after the wedding.
Mickey ready to greet the guests.
After a week in Breckenridge we went on a Honeymoon in Edwards which is down the road from Vail. We stayed at a resort on the top of a small mountain and the view from our room was spectacular. On the second day of our trip we went horseback riding! I had never been horseback riding before and neither had Maija. I could tell she was nervous and I was too but tried to hide it for her sake. Once on the horse however, we both grew comfortable to them and it was a great time. I’d definitely like to go on another more advance horseback ride where we get to gallop with the horses.
The resort we stayed in had a nice spa which we took advantage of. It was nice to leave the pups with our friends and family for a couple of days while we enjoyed some newlywed time together. We also went on a long mountain bike ride at the Beaver Creek ski resort. Maija recently had a race there so our initial goal was to ride the mountain bike course for the race. Unfortunately we took a few wrong turns and ended up on another trail which was very challenging. I don’t know exactly how much climbing we did but it was one of the longest days on a mountain bike I’ve ever rode before.
Not so sure if Maija was happy for me taking this picture but the view was incredible and shows how tough this climb was.
There was a small trail which connected the resort to a restaurant.
Salida Road Race Report:
Yesterday was my first race is over a month. I usually never take this much time off during a race season. Although I rode during the wedding it was all mountain biking and a different style than the smooth riding I’m used to on the roads. Then, after we returned home I sliced the palm of my hand badly with a knife cutting a bagel. The cut required 15 stitches and resulted in taking 10-12 days off the bike. I did ride during this time but it was VERY painful and I usually only made it 20-30 minutes before I had to turn around and go home because the pain was too much to handle. Once the stitches were out, my legs felt good during hard efforts but I could sense my fitness and breathing was playing catch up to how rested my legs felt. This is an issue during race simulated efforts as I would tire out more quickly than usual.
The road race was located in Salida which is a 134 mile drive from my house in Littleton. I opted out of staying in a hotel for the night and made the long drive at around 4:00 a.m. The race started at nine and I wanted to have some extra time to warm up. The drive to get there was beautiful. Normally highway 285 is packed with tourists but at 4 in the morning I was one of the only cars on the road. The sun was starting to gradually come up from the east and since I was headed southwest I wasn’t blinded by the sun when it was fully up for the day. I arrived at registration with about an hour and a half to spare. After getting my number pinned and headed out onto the main strip of highway to get myself warmed up a bit. I felt good warming up but was a bit unsure in my overall fitness to race against some of the best riders in Colorado. The course was around 5.7 miles which included two short punchy climbs for a total of about 500ft of climbing per lap. The roads leading up to the climb created false flats which gave you the sense of riding fast but made riders work hard at the same time. During the first 5 laps of 12 laps total I felt good and in control of my overall position. A few times on the climb I even found myself around the top 10 riders and staying in contact with them on the descent. It was either lap 7 or 8 which completely blew me out the back from the main group. The lap before had been tough on the climb but once lap 7 started it was a long pace-line of riding all the way up to the climb. This effort seriously put me in the red and I was detached from the top 15 riders or so. Shortly into the next two laps I was caught by another rider and we rode together for the rest of the laps. The other rider was doing more work and I could sense he was feeling better than myself. I tried to do my share of the work and go to the front as much as possible but his short accelerations were putting me back into the red zone. With two laps to go my legs were almost completely spent. The neutral feed zone was great as volunteers had bottles ready for us every time we came around. I went through 1-2 bottles of water a lap. Trying to keep myself hydrated and core temperature down. No matter how much water I took in or gel’s I ate, my body was not responding and I felt sick and nauseous. I knew in the back of my mind, my fitness wasn’t where it was two months ago but I quickly dismissed those thoughts and kept pushing. On lap 11 Nate (the other rider) and I finally caught two guys from our field. One of the riders I knew well and this was actually the first road race I saw him in. Interesting I thought considering he usually places top 5 in Criteriums. We caught them on the descent and flew by them. They latched on going through the finish line but Nate put in another acceleration and we gapped those riders. This was also where I finally hit the brick wall. Nate pushed a little too hard and my legs had nothing left. I kept him in sight all the way to the climbs but once I reached the top he was long gone on the descent. I barely made it over the top and I could feel my legs starting to cramp up a bit. I soft pedaled most of the descent and crossed the finish line alone in 21st place. During the race, a lot of riders had dropped out. I wish they had stayed in because we could have had a nice group to the finish. I was pretty spent after this race and looked forward to some R&R at home.
2012 Steamboat Lake Sprint Race Report
This past weekend I headed up to Steamboat Springs for the first time for a sprint tri. I am almost positive this is the furthest I’ve traveled for a sprint. The 5 hour drive home in mountain traffic was most certainly the longest I’ve ever driven home from a sprint! I thought many times about not going. After Beaver Creek last week I was very tired. I was also feeling like it was a long trip for a sprint when I’m not very good at road tris anymore and it was just a race I signed up for in the winter because I wanted to go somewhere new. Since some of my teammates were still going, I decided to just deal with the long drive and go, And I’m so glad I did. It is beautiful up there and was very well run and a very scenic race for a road tri.
Race day started off rushed as I got to the race site at 7:10 for an 8:00 am start. I didn’t worry about finding a “good” spot in transition, I just worried about finding one period. I got all my prerace stuff done and probably could’ve done a very short warmup, but I already put it in my head that I had no time for one, so I did no warmup at all.
The swim was 750m with plenty of buoys. Women 30-39 started in the 4th wave, 3 mins back from some of the younger girls and others in the prior wave. The waves were pretty small, maybe 50 people, so a very good size. There was pretty minimal roughness at the start. While I’m in pretty poor swimming shape right now, I felt like a was swimming as well as I could despite that through the first two buoys. Then we turned into the sun. Right now my only goggles are clear and this hasn’t been a problem so far in the season. But I couldn’t see at all once I turned the second buoy. First I just went with it, but then realized I was all alone. I popped my head way out of the water to see that I was way off to the left. Sigh. I slowly swam back in with other swimmers and after that the rest of my swim went pretty good. I passed swim caps from all 3 waves ahead of me which is always a goal of mine.
I got to the beach in 12:06 which I was okay with. But then I ran really slowly to transition, stumbling a little as I pulled my wetsuit top off. Maybe it was swimming at the 8000+ altitude that made me disoriented and stumble, or just being clumsy. My swim plus run to transition was 12:35, 17th among the women, and 2.5 minutes behind the fastest woman, which finally pushed me to go back to masters swim this morning for the first time in 7 weeks. I don’t like starting the bike with such a deficit.
In T1, I struggled a bit with my wetsuit legs, and was surprised to have the second fastest transition. I’ll take time where I can get it!
Onto the bike I struggled a bit getting into my shoes. I’ve only practiced it a couple times this year and it’s always easy when I do it in practice so I don’t do it much. I guess I need to practice it more before my Olympic in 4 weeks. There were a lot of people to pass from earlier waves. It was a little chaotic as I’m not used to this–it’s different in Xterra. People riding to the left, riding all over the road. It’s not something I miss.
The first quarter of the race was just a lot of passing people. I wasn’t getting passed much (if at all, I can’t remember), so that was a good feeling. I was relieved that the course wasn’t flat. It was rolling with one steep hill in it. So it gave me on my road bike and no aero bars a little bit more of a chance. I did have my aero helmet on though which was just uncomfortable on the road bike. I felt pretty good and while I didn’t know my speed I felt like the fact that I wasn’t getting past dozens of bikes was a good sign.
A few miles in I passed a girl in my age group. She passed me almost immediately. I dropped back 3 bike lengths like your supposed to do and then repassed, I think I may be the only person that ever follows that rule. Everytime I passed, she would pass back right away. This went on for awhile. Up one of the hills I could hear her huffing and puffing when she passed me, while my breathing was fine. So I knew soon enough she would finally drop off.
Once I got to the turn around I saw my teammate Kathy not that far behind me. I shifted into a bigger gear and pushed the pace. I think the girl in my age group passed one more time before I made a final pass that stuck. I wasn’t worried about the girl in my ag anymore, I had to ride hard to keep Kathy from catching me! She caught me with a couple miles to go. She passed hard and I just maintained my pace. She got a little ways up the road and then I seemed to maintain my distance for the rest of the race. I had another annoying pass towards the end, get passed battle with some guy until he finally dealt with the fact that he was getting passed. Another part of road tri that I don’t miss much.
My bike split was the 7th fastest for the women. I would like to be faster, but for a road tri that is only rolling, not too bad.
I came flying into transition and saw Kathy there putting her shoes on. I had a really good transition (fastest one!)and was running up behind her as we exited t2. She is my friend and I always want to see her do well, but we also have a bit of a competitive rivalry going, so I wanted to beat her to. I started off fast, so she and anyone else who might me coming out of transition could see that I was running at a fast pace and looked strong, even if I didn’t feel it. Actually, I felt okay on the flat. It was when we turned and ran up the long steep hill that I was hurting. I wanted to walk so bad, but I didn’t want people behind me to see me walk and see that I was tired. I was thankful for the downhill where I could open up my stride a little. It was definitely a tough 3.5 mile run. I was happy when we finally got to the trail section, but my legs had no turnover. They weren’t tired, they just wouldn’t move fast. I was slowly catching some women ahead of me. One at time I slowly caught them. Then there was the last one. I was running the same speed about 30 yrds behind her for the last 3/4 mile. I inched up to her with a 1/4 mile to go, saw she was in the wave ahead of me, and totally gave up on trying to pass her on the singletrack because I didn’t need to. Lazy, I know. I felt super slow and know that once (not if) I start training normally for the run, my turnover will come back. I still had the third fastest run, but…
I ended up finishing 3rd overall which I was pleasantly surprised with. 4th finished 20 seconds behind me and guess how much faster my T2 was? Exactly 20 seconds! Thank goodness for fast transitions! I’m happy I could be competitive at this race when I was thinking I would only be cracking the top 10.
My first overall podium of 2012
Now, I already got started on getting back into shape by going back to masters today. Tomorrow, track practice.
This is one of my big races for the year and I was looking to improve significantly over my prior years performance. Last year I was 24th overall, 13th amateur, 4th in my AG, with an overall time of 3:06:04. My aggressive time goal was a 2:50 which was doable if everything was perfect.
Waves started 2 minutes apart and the women started in the 4th and last wave. The start was a little rough, but not nearly as bad as what I remember from last year. Maybe I just found a good spot.
The last 6 weeks leading up to the race I swam only 7 times for no longer than 2000 yds at a time. This was by no means my ideal training plan, it was just how things ended up working out and I was a little concerned about how I would be able to race on so little training. I was surprised that I didn’t feel to bad. I didn’t feel fast, but I got into a good steady rhythm and just swam along at the same pace passing the earlier waves. After the first lap I started to get a little fatigued but moved along ok I thought. I was mostly surrounded by yellow and white caps from the waves ahead of me, so I thought that was a good sign.
I got out of the water in 25:50, compared to 23:27 from last year. Now, most peoples times look a little slower this year from last year, maybe a 1-1.5, but not the almost 2.5 minutes slower that I swam. I guess I really need to get back to regular swim training.
I came out of the water with two other women. As we were running while taking wetsuits off one of them elbowed me hard in the still goggle covered eye. Ouch! Once I got my wetsuit top off I dropped my swim cap and ran back to get it (I’m not sure the rule on dropping things in transition, but I don’t want to find out).
Speaking of rules and transition, while the sprint race was going on we were watching and waiting to get back into transition. One of the racers rode his bike through transition, wearing headphones, and no helmet. He attempted to head onto the course with no helmet. When they stopped him and told him he needed one, he had no idea what they were talking about. I’m not sure he could have broken more rules at once if he had tried.
Anyway, I wasted a few extra seconds in transition than I should have, but overall not too bad, only 5 seconds slower than last year.
The bike course started out on pavement and I tried to hit it hard right away but there were places where we were supposed to stay in a coned off section and there wasn’t much room to pass. It was a little annoying. Then we start climbing. For a long time. I started passing people, riding in the higher grass to accomplish this. It was rather daunting looking up ahead because it was just a long single line of people to pass and a lot more work to do the passing. I still made my passes and lost count how many people I had passed.
Then we got to a tighter section of trail and it was tougher to pass. If I had more nerve I probably could have done it. And it just seemed endless–you pass one and then you’re stuck by someone just as slow. I felt like my great climbing fitness was going to waste a bit because of the way the waves were set up and because of my lack of skill in passing. I just used times like these to rest my legs.
Then we got to a section of trail that is not really technical but a couple little steep spots gave me trouble in the preride and of course those same spots and more gave me trouble in the race. I started wobbling and had to unclip. A couple people go by. I get back on quickly. Further up the trail, I don’t make a steep turn. What seems like 20 people go by before there is room for me to get back in line. 2 of these are women in my age group. I have trouble getting back on. More people go by. I get stuck behind some slower people on single track and can’t pass for 5 mins or so.
After all this I was so mad and frustrated with myself. All the work I had done passing people was gone. Minutes added to my time from stupid mistakes, hesitations.
The course at this point continued to climb up a paved road for almost a mile. I climbed hard a passed back some of the people I had lost ground to when I was stopped on the side of the trail. All I could do was look forward and not worry about what had happened.
I was not even 5 miles into the bike ride and I had finished 2 of my 3 gu’s. I really should have brought 4. Finally the climbing ended for a little while and we started to descend. While I wasn’t flying, I felt like I was compared with how I rode this last year. Last year I was terrified on the downhills and even going fast on the flat sections. I got passed a lot on the downhills and flats last year. This year, only a little. I kept glancing quickly back, expecting a line of bikes waiting behind me, but except for one occasion, there were none. It was a great boost of confidence.
The course changed in one section compared to last year and apparently it was a little shorter, maybe 4-5 mins, but the section they added, for me was a lot more technical. Right before we got to this new section, a girl in my ag passed me. So I knew I was likely in 4th place. We still had a while to ride so I was a little deflated by her passing me. At the new section I made one turn, started to fall, unclipped, and just ran the whole new section to the bridge. Then crossed the road and saw there was a whole other new section I didn’t know about. Several people were trying to ride it and falling down. So, I got off and ran some more. The next section down Allie’s way was really scary for me last year, but felt like no problem for me this year.
Then to the new corkscrew. Last year on the corkscrew I fell 4 times. Then a few weeks ago they bull dozed it and I hoped they would send us back to transition on the dirt road. Nope, they went and built a new corkscrew. I tried the first couple turns, started to fall, jumped off and ran down the whole thing with my bike. Running downhill with switchbacks wearing bike shoes is not so friendly on the legs, but it is better than falling 4 times. A quick ride back to transition and I was relieved to be done.
I finished in 1:39:43 compared to1:52:15, so I got the big improvement on the bike I was looking for although I know I could do a lot better based on my fitness if I could keep from coming off the trail. Ugh. And the improvement is not quite as large due to the course shortening. I would much prefer to go the old way and ride a little longer.
Transition I was slower than last year 1:18 vs 1:02. I ran in and my bike rack was full. There was no where to put my bike near where my shoes were. This is the problem with point to point transitions. I looked around panicked for a bit then moved a bike over and squeezed mine on.
Off on the run my legs didn’t feel to bad, I just felt overwhelming fatigue. Like I wanted to go take a nap or something. I got my turnover going pretty good on the flatter section at the start and started to pick people off. Then the uphill started and my legs started to feel it a little. Then the steep aspen glade trail started and I had to get myself to run as much as possible. There was a lot of run walking going on. My run training all year has been 1-2 runs a week, and it’s moments like these where I really regret my laziness on the run training.
Finally after over 1.5 mile of uphill its time to run downhill. I make up some ground on the uphills, but the downhill is where I make up most of my time and pass the most people. I only wish it lasted longer. Back to climbing and I swear I’m only going to walk on this one steep part of the trail. Nope, I’m walking earlier. I see my teammate Aaron walking. This makes me want to walk. I catch him and we talk for a while while we run/walk up the hill. Finally I get it together and pickup my speed. I only have 1.5 miles or so left and it’s mostly downhill. I go flying by a few more people, but no one in my AG. The course was different, but I’m not sure about the distance. Maybe the same or a little longer? My time was 48:07 this year vs 48:01.
Overall I finished in 2:56:21, 4th AG, 19th overall, 9th amateur While I wanted to be on the podium in my age group, I did move up overall, I just have a tough ag. My bike time has improved and I don’t think the improvement shows what I am even capable of. I need to actually train the swim and the run if I wan’t to improve and use those as a strength. Now I am just skating by in those. The race was a good test of where I am right now and a good kick in the pants for what I need to do to prepare for nationals. It is definitely the hardest triathlon I’ve ever done. Not too many out there with 3600 ft of climbing on the bike and 1500 ft of climbing on the run all at altitude.
Last Sunday, Adam and I drove up to Georgetown to race the Guanella Pass Hill Climb. The day started out rough for me. I had a big coughing fit which ending in me throwing up my breakfast before we even left the house. I brought a banana and a lara bar to refuel and hopped in the car hoping I would feel better.
We got up to Georgetown, which is around 8500 ft elevation. The winds were strong with big gusts, and of course with a headwind in the direction we would be riding. I was starting to get really nervous. This was going to be my first non-time trial start bike race and it was scary windy down at the start. Adam started 70 minutes ahead of me so I had a long time to watch the wind.
I was planning on warming up for an hour, but with the wind, I scrapped that idea and just did a little running and no warm up on the bike. Maybe a bad idea, but I wasn’t feeling great and was a little afraid of the wind. With 20 minutes to go, I had a pack of Gu chomps, thought I was going to throw up and then got ready and walked to the start. I started to get nervous seeing all the women in my category–we had a decent sized group to start with.
I lined up in the second row and before I knew it we were off, The first mile of the race was neutral and we rode through town at a painfully slow pace. I was right around 10th place during this section–not too far up that I was taking the wind, but not so far back that when we got to the climb I would have to move around a lot of people.
Once it was time for the race to really start, a few girls got out ahead right away. I got out pretty quick and found myself right there with 3-4 women a bit back from the first two riders. We went into some pretty steep switchbacks almost immediately. Some of the women would surge ahead briefly, but I just held my steady pace and eventually they dropped back one by one until I was chasing the two ahead. I slowly started to reel in one of the girls, passed her, then started to reel in the next. I caught her and she rode with me for a while. The wind picked up so I suggested we work together. She got behind me for awhile, but not after too long I had dropped her. So, I was out front of the cat 4 race around 3 miles into a 12.3 mile race. It was going to be a long climb.
I soon started to catch earlier starts. I caught up to two of my teammates from 5 and 10 min earlier starts and said hello and saw another friend up the road. We got to a flatter/downhill section that was windy, but welcome for my legs. I knew I would probably lose time, or at least not gain time in this section, I tried to keep pedaling hard even though I didn’t want to. I chased Sandi (my friend) all through the flat/downhill section and made up no ground, but once we finally got back to the climbing I caught her and kept looking up the road for more people to catch.
The last 4.3 miles were miserable. It was windy, steep, I got dizzy, I wanted to stop and get off my bike, I thought I was going to throw up most of the way, and I didn’t have nearly as many people to catch so I was having a hard time moving fast. I kept pushing hard because I just wanted to be done. With just over 1k to go I saw Adam and he told me I had 1k left. I thought I had less so that was hard to hear at this point. Adam snapped a picture of me there. I look like I am just out enjoying a ride, but I felt like I was going to die.
At around 1k to go
Making my way up the climb
The last kilometer felt like forever. I kept thinking I was almost done and then the climb kept going.
Great photo near the finish taken by Mountain Moon Photography
Wondering where the finish was. Another picture by Mountain Moon Photography
When I crossed the line I wasn’t even sure if it was the finish line so I kept riding just to be sure. The climb topped off at 11,700 ft for 3150 ft of climbing. I couldn’t stop coughing when I got to the top.
I finished in 1:10:51 and 1st in Cat4s and 7th time overall. I wish I could race in the higher cats for hill climbs, but that would require actually bike racing which I don’t really have time or a desire for.
Adam and I rode back down together and stopped around halfway down to take some pictures.
Posing with my bike
I really love hill climbing, and may do 1 or two more this summer. I wish there were some road triathlons with big climbs like these.
Its been a while since I’ve posted and I seem a bit backlogged when it comes to race reports. Since my last post I’ve done a few more Criteriums but finished only in the top 20. Last weekend I was set to compete in the Hugo Road Race but they decided to cancel it the day before. I was a bit upset to hear the news considering we do not have many road races here on the front range.
After watching Maija race up Lookout Mountain in the spring I did some convincing she should try a longer hill climb based on her past performance. Maija has this amazing hidden talent of racing up mountains on a road bike.
Guanella Pass is located in Georgetown, CO. The hill climb is slightly over 12 miles in length and reaches 11,000+ft of altitude! This was not an “A” race for me but I was excited Maija had decided to race. I signed up a couple of days before and the finial start list said 25 riders. Small groups are always interesting, especially on a hill climb. I had a feeling I would be riding the majority of the climb alone. Maija’s field was not going off until an hour after my start time. It would have been nice to warm up with her but there was too much of a time difference. We arrived at the parking area in Georgetown with less time than I had expected. The wind was blowing strong from the south and it seemed as if we would have a head wind going up the climb. As we sat in the car and I pinned our race numbers on our jerseys the car was shaking from the 30+mph gusts. I could tell Maija was nervous about the wind so I kept quiet. I attempted to warm up on the trainer but couldn’t find a flat piece of ground. I rode for about 15 minutes on the trainer before I decided to finish warming up on the roads. Our starting area was pretty relaxed as the riders sat around chatting before they blew the whistle. The start was neutral until we got through the majority of the small town. Right away the road started climbing up. There weren’t any sudden attacks but the pace was high and I was breathing pretty heavy. I kept my cool and tried to stick with the main field but once we hit the first batch of various switchbacks I was detached from the lead riders. I wasn’t upset or disappointed, I just rode at a slightly agressive intensity. I’ve never done this climb so I had no idea what to expect. The night before Maija and I studied the race course profile on Google Maps. We were able to determine when and where the switchbacks would be but when you are at 8,000ft of elevation and riding close to your limit, all those bits and pieces of information go out the window. The first section hurt pretty bad and I couldn’t wait until it was over.
After 15-20 minutes of climbing high in the sky there was a respite in the road gradient. “Finally!” I said to myself. I was a bit surprised how long the flat section was which ran parallel to a small lake. At this point I was accompanied by two other riders. I was familiar with both riders but for two different reasons. One of the riders I’ve raced against many times. The other rider was Alexi Grewal who was the first American to ever win an Olympic gold in road cycling. I felt like a kid in a candy store riding next to him! Alexi did a lot of the work once the road pitched up again. His style of riding was quite unorthodox from comtemporary cycling. He was riding what looked like an old steel or titanium bike with down-tube shifters. Also, his handlebars were tilted downward in a negative degree position. I didn’t fully understand why his handlebars were like this but after 30 minutes of riding with him I realized he liked to get out of the saddle a lot. Alexi rode in an inconsistent manner which made me feel like I was at the end of a race rather than riding a steady hill climb time trial. Every time there was a switchback he would attack and then slow down. I tried to maintain my own intensity but more times than not, I was attacking with him. This was making our overall time slower.
Notice how far down his hands are on the handlebars?
It looks as if he is reaching for a water bottle but he is actually shifting from his down-tube!
With about 5K from the finish I summed up enough energy to pass him. I gained some time between us but somehow he was able to bring me back. Alexi also had the record up Mt. Evans back in the 1990′s. A time of 1:47 to be exact. Alexi and I rode together the remainder of the climb until we hit 1K where I pulled ahead once again. He didn’t seem interested in battling to the finish so I rode in alone. I crossed the line in 1:03 and change. Not the best time but I was happy considering I had never done the climb before. Knowing a climb beforehand helps ones psychological state of mind.
Thanks to Mountain Moon Photography for all the great pictures!!!
It was cold and windy at the top so I started making my descent. I knew Maija was beginning her race but I wanted to be close to the finish so I could cheer her on and let her know about other women in the race. I was really excited for Maija. I had a feeling she would do well on this climb. After about 2K of descending I found a sunny spot on the road sheltered from the wind. I started to cheer people on and it felt nice to give others encouragement. A lot of people were asking me “How close to the finish?”. I swear over 25-30 people had asked me this same question. Obviously I wasn’t the only one who had never done the climb before. I would yell back “A little over 1K!”. A sigh of relief came over their faces. After about a half hour or so, I finally saw Maija coming up the road. Her cadence looked fast which gave me a good indication she was doing well. “I think I’m in first!” She yelled to me. “I think you are!” I responded back. Maija is considered a CAT4 since she doesn’t compete in mass start cycling races. Her overall time was 1:10:51! Her performance was amazing considering she only trains on the bike 1-2 times a week. Maija won the CAT4′s and had the 7th fastest time of the day from all categories including the pro women.
Sunday was a tough day in the saddle. I opted out of Saturday’s Criterium so I could save some money since the road race was a bit expensive. All week I had been feeling great on the bike. My legs were coming around nicely. Threshold power numbers up Deer Creek Canyon were above average. My mind was whispering positive thoughts about having a good race come Sunday.
I arrived a bit early to the race and took my time registering, pinning my number, and warming up. One quick note about registration. Since I was signing up for the road race only they gave me a race number in the 800′s. This was a bit annoying since most 1/2 races always have numbers 100 or less. I wish the organizers of the race could have saved some double digit numbers for the 1/2 riders. I also saw other riders from different categories had numbers in the 800′s as well. I feel this adds confusion when out on the race course. Officials on motor bikes may get confused, and if there is a chip timing error rider numbers can get mixed up. It was also the first time in four years I was taken back by the attitude of the race organizers. I politely went over to the registration booth to ask if they happen to have any numbers under 100. A woman and man both quickly dismissed my question as if it was ridiculous to ask. Please understand I’m not trying to speak negative about the race as a whole but I was a bit insulted by the situation. Overall the race was put on very well and there was plenty of neutral water in the feed zone.
The warm up went well and my legs felt rested after a solid half hour. I didn’t want to warm up too much since this would be a 3+ hour race. Our field was the first to go for the afternoon and I was happy they started us an hour before all the other categories. This ment we would complete a 1-2 laps before any other race was underway. We started riding neutral for a half mile or so before hitting the climb for the first time. We rode the “wall” as it’s described, at a realistic pace the first time up. My heart rate was a bit labored but I felt good when the series of attacks came once over the climb. During the first lap a break of 5-10 riders formed but was brought back by various riders racing for different teams. This seems to be the norm here on the front range. A break establishes itself once all the single team riders are either too tired or unmotivated to chase. Not having other teammates means I need to conserve as much energy as possible and keep myself in a good position. We finished our first lap and my legs felt good. This was about to change however once we started our way back up “The Wall.” The pace was furious and I was holding my position in the middle of the field but was riding close to my limit. During this time period the breakaway was finally able to get some time on the peloton. I would have loved to ride in the break but knew it was a step above my level. If I was close to riding at my limit in the peloton, it would have been disastrous trying to ride in the break. Half way around the second lap I could see the breakway up the road but no one in the field was trying to chase. This seems to be a similar occurrence in front range 1/2 races. I decided to make a solo break to see if it would be possible to bridge to the breakaway. Bad idea! I was solo off the front for 5+ minutes before the field brought me back. It was fun to try but I paid for it dearly. Finishing the second lap up The Wall I was hurting bad. The attacks were plentiful and I was completely spent. I lost contact with the main group and rode the entire third lap by myself.
I looked behind on the open road and saw no one. I put my head down and tried to ride close to my threshold. I was around 1:30 into the race and still had 3 laps to ride! The 1 1/2 mile climb was fun mainly because there were lots of spectators out. At the start of the climb there was neutral water. I grabbed a bottle and made my way up the climb. There was no one else going up except myself so I decided to have a little fun with the crowd. As I crawled my way up, the crowd could tell I had been dropped from the group. They were quiet and I could hear my breathing. As I neared the top I raised my hands in the air and yelled out “make some noise!”. The crowd went crazy and everyone started screaming and cheering. One guy even start riding next to me and gave me a pat on the back. It felt great to get the crowd on their feet and it provided a short burst of adrenaline. On the back side of the course I caught up with two Horizon Organic riders. We chatted for a few minutes and finally were greeted by a small group from my race. I can’t tell you how nice it was to have some people to share the work. It wasn’t too windy but enough to make a solo rider tired. Our small group of 4-5 rode together and I was hoping we would pick riders up who had dropped from the main group. This was not the case. A few riders we passed didn’t even try to ride with us. I have a feeling they weren’t going to finish. The last two laps we rode well as a group taking turns at the front. I was tired, hot, and was looking forward to getting off my bike. Coming into the finish another category caught us and we rode among them to the line. I pushed hard and beat the riders in my field but at that point it didn’t matter since we were minutes behind the leaders.
Out on the course solo. Beautiful shot with the mountains in the background!
I rarely chat about my power numbers in race reports but I think it’s sometimes good to see the efforts in numerical value. I averaged 230 watts for the entire duration of the race (3:31). Still, I was 12+ minutes back on the leaders and finished 39th place! Even more so, last year I was 26th place and had a finishing time of 3:25. Big difference from one season to the next. I enjoyed this race and the suffering will always help in regards to overall training and fitness.
I can’t recall why I didn’t do Wheels of Thunder last year. I honestly don’t remember. But, with a large showing from my team (Giant Cycling World) and in close proximity to my house, I figured this would be a great race to do. All week leading up to the race the weather was beautiful and I was able to get in some good training. My legs had been feeling fresh at the Meridian group ride both Tuesday and Thursday night. Normally, I only go to Meridian on Tuesday nights and then train solo for the remainder of the week. Since the forecast called for showers all weekend I decided my best chances at getting in two solid rides would be at Meridian in case I couldn’t race. I took Friday completely off since it was raining intermittently. I also had a lot of planning and/or things to do for our Wedding. Yep that’s right I’m getting married on June 30th to the love of my life Maija. Our plans have been coming along nicely but as you may know (if you are married) the last month or two are quite stressful.
I slept it in late Saturday morning and woke up around 9:00. Usually I’m up when the sun is rising but Saturday morning called for some extra rest. My race was not until 1:00 and with a short drive to the course I took my time getting ready. Coming from a Military background, I usually have everything I need for race day laid out the night before, or if I’m feeling advantageous it’s already packed in the car. It drives Maija a little crazy when it comes to my organizational skills but I find it to be a positive trait! Driving over to the race I looked out at the cloudy skies and in some respects was waiting for it to start raining. It was cold too as the car temperature gauge read 46 degrees. I routinely get my number, head to the bathroom, and start getting my race clothes on. More of my military past starts creeping up as I hear a small voice saying “Hurry up and wait!”.
Mickey my Border Collie mix telling me to go back to bed.
Around 11:50 I started to warm up on the trainer. Right when I clipped in the sun started popping out and this shed new light on a gloomy late morning. In my last few race reports I was complaining about not getting in enough of a warm up. This was not the case today. I finally got in the hour long warm up I’ve been yearning for. Around 50 minutes I ate a PowerBar gel (with caffeine) and made the few last preparations before the whistle blew. I had not read over the flyer in detail so when the announcer told our field there would be seven $100 primes I was quite surprised. There are only a handful of races I have been to with these type of purses. A few other races with good money come to mind; Tour of Somerville and Chris Thater Criterium (NRC Race in NY), Many riders in the 1/2′s (I assume) are working part time jobs, making enough money to support themselves so they can get a professional contract. I’m in no way trying to insult all the full-time workers and family men in the field who race the Pro 1/2′s. I actually commend their hard work and willingness to race often against many young riders. Anyway, I knew a lot of people would be going for the cash and it would make an overall fast race. The attacks were plentiful in the first 30 minutes of the race. This was also the first time I looked down at my computer. I tend not to check the time or laps left left when passing the start/finish until the latter part of the race. I’d rather be focusing on my position. Around 30 minutes in I had a good feeling this would be a field sprint. I was definitely looking forward to a field sprint and have actually been surprised how many Criteriums on the front range finish in breakaways. Maybe it has to do with rider mentality, fitness, or geographical location. 75-85% of the time on the Northeast Criteriums end in a field sprint. When I first started racing bicycles I feared a bunch sprint. I was coming from a running background and at 130 pounds my sprint was mediocre at best. During the next 3 years I have gained about 8-9 pounds and have spent countless hours working on my sprinting abilities and tactics so I could increase my chances during field sprints.
I tend to compare and contrast New York metro bicycle racing to Colorado front range racing a lot. I think it’s important for riders on the front range to understand the differences in rider mentality, intensity, and stereotypical race cues such as field sprints, breaks, and group splits. Colorado has a smaller group of 1/2 riders who aren’t as vocal during races. The one interesting characteristic about front range riders is their workhorse mentality. I feel a lot of riders are willing to work and sacrifice for the greater good of their teammates. During many races here in Colorado, everyone seems to ‘go-to-work’ when the whistle blows. Race tactics are also different here on the front range. Teammates work hard at getting 1-2 riders in a break while opening up gaps and blocking at the front. I particularly don’t care for such tactics. I rarely see team lead-outs even when teams have 3-4-5-6 riders in the race. So far, I don’t think I’ve seen one single lead-out train. This is not the case in NYC. NYC tends to have teams which will work hard at keeping the field together so their sprinter can have the glory rather than risk a breakaway being caught. No tactics is better than another and all depends on the race course. In the end it’s just different.
I went off on a rant here…
After the first 30 minutes of the 60 minute race, a couple of riders would get off the front but were brought back quickly from a fast moving peleton. The course was more of a circuit than a criterium with only 1-2 slow spots when making left-hand turns. After the first lefthand turn there was a short uphill which didn’t take more than a minute or two. I maintained a good position in the top 20 almost every time going up this hill. Although during one lap I wasn’t paying attention and ran over an orange cone. A few times I would look back and see a short split in the field of riders. I kept crossing my fingers there would be a split but it always came back together.
With 5 laps to go I was getting myself into position for the field sprint. I was 100% focused on where I sat, who’s wheel I was drafting, and so forth. Just waiting for the last 300 meters to unleash. I’m a bit spoiled at Meridian when it comes to the last lap and sprint finish. I usually have a bunch of teammates from other categories who will give me a nice lead-out. Not having any teammates for a lead-out makes you work slightly harder when sprinting as you have to work your way through the field to keep a good position. Meridian is also the place where I have posted some of my highest sprinting power numbers. My sprint is always over 1,100 at Meridian and just this past week I hit 1280. Not bad for a 135 pound guy! My legs felt good with two laps to go and I was getting excited. I was sitting around 13th position watching us catch a few riders who had gapped the field.
On the last lap the pace was red hot and we were flying down the backstretch of the course. I was sitting about 10th or 11th position. Right where I wanted to be. There were a few guys up the road in a small group but at the speed we were going, it was almost certain we would catch them. I came out of the last turn in the same position and we made our way down the final stretch. This included a small hill before it flattened out for the finish. At the crest of the hill I was getting ready to thrown down all my cards for the sprint when a rider next to me fell hard on the pavement. I’m not exactly sure what happened but it looked like he hit the crack in the middle of the road. As he fell I flailed hard to my right and lost the riders wheel in front of me. Now I’m in a headwind with no wheel to draft off of and I had stopped pedaling so I could swerve hard and not be taken down. I lost all my momentum. In a split second I gained my composure and drove hard to the line. As I was towards the end of my sprint I could already see the winner throwing his hands up in the air. Events happen so fast in a bicycle race. I felt a bit cheated and I was frustrated given the situation and how my legs felt. My max sprint was only 940 watts which tells me I was nowhere near full sprint mode. I picked off two or three riders near the line and came in 15th place. Ironically I was 15th last week at Deer Trail. I will be looking forward to next week’s Criterium where I can once again try out my sprinting legs. Thanks to the Steve Pye for suuport from Giant Cycling world and to Jody Grigg for the amazing pictures. If you have some time please check out Jody’s website and contact him if you have any photography needs.
I love road racing. I’ve always enjoyed racing on the open roads compared to the “Nascar” style racing of Criteriums. But, Colorado brought about many changes in regards to racing on open-barren roads with no protection from trees or the wind. During my first two seasons of road racing on the Northeast I can’t recall a time where I rode in an Echelon. The winds are usually mild all year long in the Northeast. Of course during a tropical storm you will get blown furiously around on a bicycle. But, for the most part, the winds are placid in New York compared to the persistent blowing during late winter and springtime in Colorado.
Deer Trail was close to being defined as “In the middle of nowhere”. It was about an hour drive on 1-70 East of Denver. I hitched a ride with a few teammates who were racing the 3′s. We got to the race with only 30-40 minutes to spare before the start and I knew I wouldn’t be getting in the warmup I had planned. On a cooler day I like to warm up close to an hour before the start. On course like Deer Trail, warming up is essential because everyone in the group needs to work with crosswinds. This means the pace can be hard from the minute the whistle is blown.
The course was bit unconventional with narrow roads and 180 degree turnarounds. Yes that’s right, we had to make a complete 180 degree turnaround with the entire peleton. Only 1-2 riders can make the 180 at the same time so it nearly brought the entire group to a halt. We rode up and down some rollers and then I decided to attack. I wasn’t looking to attack the field today but it was slow and I wanted to test the legs out. Also, attacking can help one to learn how the field reacts to you as a rider. When I attacked, not many riders responded. This can mean a few things. It’s too early on, they think I’m a weak rider, or the course and wind will slow me down. Well, all of the above went through my mind when making a small attack. Two riders bridged up to me and we worked together for about 5 minutes before the field caught us. The attack didn’t hurt too much but I probably burned a match I didn’t need to. Soon after the attack, we did our first 180 degree turn. The field was together but the pace of the leaders was very hard. We were single file and at times I had trouble holding the guys wheel in front of me. This is when the winning break forms. I was suffering and having trouble holding the intensity. I looked up at saw 5-7 riders creating a gap from the main group. I saw them up the road but couldn’t sum up enough energy to try and bridge. I wanted to as I knew this breakaway would stick (and it did). It can be frustrating at times to see the winning move of the day and not be able to do anything about it. A few riders from the peleton tried to bridge, but were working so hard to catch by themselves they ended up not closing enough ground. The one interesting aspect of a peleton is how dominating their size can be over a break of 5-7 riders. If motivated, the peleton could have caught the breakaway within a few miles. The problem lies within the riders in the group. When teammates have a rider in the breakaway they will sit on the front of the peleton (main group), block and wait for riders to attack. One rider attacking out of the peleton on a windy open course is not going to change the overall speed of the peleton. Teammates wait for these attacks and shut down the party. The Boulder / Trek team was all over the front of the peleton once the winning breakaway was established. I now knew there was a 90% chance the break would add more time down the road from us.
The course went up one road, did a 180 degree turn, then we road back down the same road and then made a left. Now on this other road (I don’t remember the actual name) this is where we would ride out and back three more times before the finish. The roads were narrow and from my perspective the wind seemed to either be a cross-tailwind or a cross-headwind. Riders we constantly trying to find someone to draft off. There were a few attacks and at one point three riders has some distance from the main field. The group was motivated enough to catch them, but not motivated enough to try and close down the gap from the winning break. Once or twice I even found myself off the back from the main group. I’m not sure how it happened but on more than one occasion I had to put in a hard effort to catch back up. Coming into the last lap the pace started to become very easy. I could tell everyone was waiting for an attack. Once we made our last 180 degree turnaround the pressure was on. The rollers over the next few miles felt endless. We were either going up or descending at a high rate of speed. One of the riders kept attacking on every roller and after every attack, the pack got smaller and smaller. Guys were popping left and right but I was able to maintain my position. On the last roller (short hill) before it flattens out to the finish, that same rider attacked once again. This time I wasn’t able to respond as before. Him and two other guys had a small gap. Shortly after, a bunch of about five riders came up fast on my left and I had to put in a serious effort to hang with them. I saw the sign for 1K to go and started moving into position for the sprint. In a small group I am confident in my sprinting abilities. As time goes on I am becoming more assertive about my field sprints. The problem was I was boxed in to my left. The road is narrow and unless I wanted to attack on the grass, I would have to play the waiting game for an opening. The 200 meter sign was coming up fast and I was getting anxious. I saw a small opening between riders and squeezed my way through (NYC Style Racing? Hmmm Maybe.) Once through them I laid down every ounce of energy I could for the sprint. I didn’t time it the best as three riders passed me right at the line. 12th,13th, and 14th passed and I came in 15th overall. Although my timing on the sprint wasn’t the best, I was happy I took the chance instead of waiting for someone else to jump. Over the years I have enjoyed sprinting as I have become stronger. Deer Trail was a bit boring in regards to location but working hard in the wind on narrow roads definitely keeps you busy!
It was Friday night and I still had not made a decision whether to race Saturday morning. Usually I’ve made my decision to race weeks in advance so I can plan accordingly with my training and logistics. A couple weeks back I had crashed at Boulder Roubaix . My frame was cracked along the top-tube, but I only walked away with a some road rash and a very stiff body. It took almost two weeks to feel like myself again on the bike. I would try and ride hard but my legs were not responding. I was also using Maija’s bike which was not fit correctly for me. Finally, Thursday night at Meridian (group ride) my legs started getting back to normal and I felt better than I had since the crash. It was as if a lightbulb went off in my head saying “Time to start racing again, Adam.” My body was still getting used to my new bike and I knew the best way to break free from any psychological barriers was to race.
My race was to go off at 1:45. I got to the parking lot where registration was, pinned my number on, and got dressed. I made the big mistake of not warming up enough for the start. I personally need a lot of time to warm up for a Criterium but since this was more of a circuit style race, I figured I’d be in the clear with a half hour of easy spinning. Once on the bike for the warm up I rode the opposite direction on the course. The wind was howling and blowing from all different directions. I had a feeling this would be a factor during different parts of the course.
As I said before I was not nearly warmed up enough for the start of this race. Once the whistle blew we were flying down the road. After only a 1/4 mile we hit the dirt section. Another mistake I made was not pre-riding the dirt section. I had no clue what I was in store for. The pace felt very fast. The dirt section lasts around 2 miles and there is one major 30-60 second climb called “The Koppenberg”. It’s a very steep short punchy climb. On the first lap leading up to the hill everyone was jockeying for position and the pace was furious. There were about 5 guys at the front who wanted to make it to the hill first and leave everyone else behind. Position on the hill was tough but we didn’t have more than 50 guys so it wasn’t too difficult. Once over the small hill you ride on a flat dirt section for about a half mile before it turns back to paved road. By this point I was already dropped from the lead group. The field was strung out and smaller groups kept forming. I found myself with a couple other guys and finished the first of 8 laps. (4.5 miles for each lap) I wouldn’t say I was completely demoralized but it was surprising to be dropped after one lap. Only 2 weeks ago I was on top form in the lead group of Boulder Roubaix.
The Koppenberg Hill
About half way through the second lap I had a feeling I would never catch the leaders. Ironically enough many other riders went out way too fast and we started catching guys from our race. One by one we would start bringing back riders. It was a great feeling to know I may have a chance at top 20. Laps 3-4-5 were all done at a steady consistent pace. Mostly everyone in our group worked well together sharing the pace work at the front. One interesting thing I realized was how a few riders were not comfortable riding close to others while on the dirt sections or on fast paved descents. They would get gapped off the back and then work their way back into the group.
At the top of Koppenberg on the 6th lap I made a slightly harder acceleration from the group I was in. I could sense they were riding a little slower than I had liked. I also noticed a small group of about four riders ahead of me. I could barely make out their race numbers but I saw the numbers were below 100. This gave me a good indication they were from my race. Seeing their numbers also made my acceleration more worthwhile. I caught up to them and said “There is a larger group behind us”. No one said anything back but they jumped on my wheel and down the road we went. The group behind was split up into two chase groups. One of those groups latched onto us and we then had a group of 7-10 riders. The Masters 35+ 1/2 group caught us and began to pass. No one from our group tried to jump in their race and I was happy about their etiquette. Through the start finish we went heading into our 7th lap of the race. As soon as we hit the dirt section I noticed a Horizon Organic rider nod his head to a rider from Natural Grocers. Soon after this non-verbal communication they attacked very hard. I was watching their attack unfold and used every ounce of energy I had left to catch their wheel. I was getting tired at this point and didn’t have help from the rest of the group. Their gap increased and I found myself in no man’s land. The group behind was working hard to catch and the two riders ahead of me were putting a serious effort to get away. I decided to push as hard as I could hoping the entire group wouldn’t catch. It worked and only two guys from the original group bridged up to me. The three of us worked well together but it wasn’t enough to close the gap on those two riders. I now knew my overall placing would come down to myself or these two other riders I was with.
We crossed the start finish for our final lap and I started to feel good again. I motored up Koppenberg and my legs were responding. A little too late! By this time the lead group of the race were about 5-8 minutes ahead of me. Still, I was poised to finish this race and get the best placing I could. Once over Koppenberg one of the two riders I was with attacked hard on the flat dirt section. I quickly responded by jumping on his wheel until he let off the gas. The other rider soon bridged up to us and we hit the paved section where there was a slightly longer climb before dropping down into the finish. We took turns at the front but no one was about to ride hard considering we only had 2 miles to the finish. I looked back a few times and saw the larger group working hard to catch us. We had a nice fast descent coming up and I knew we would hold them off. Coming into the finish you have a flat fast descent, then a sharp right hand turn before hitting the actual road where the start / finish is. The finish line is a long stretch, probably a 1/4 mile if not longer. I was sitting second wheel coming out of the turn. The rider in front of me started sprinting but I could sense he didn’t have much. Half way down the finishing straight I took off on his right side and didn’t look back. I crossed the finish line 19th for the day and was pretty happy with my effort. Overall Koppenberg was an exciting course and I’ll definitely be racing it next year with some better form. Unfortunately not all were safe from the course. A friend of mine who is an athlete I coach broke his elbow going up The Koppenberg during the first lap. I wish him a speedy recovery!
All photo credits by Annette Hayden
Boulder Roubaix was my first major road race of the 2012 season and I was rested and ready for it. For the past couple of week’s since being back from the team training camp I had been testing my legs out at the Tuesday & Thursday night Meridian grou rides. I use Tuesday’s especially for sprint and paceline work. In the weeks coming up to Boulder Roubaix I was on form and recovering enough to ready myself for the race. Boulder Roubaix reminds me of Tour of the Battenkill which takes place in upstate NY. I had raced Battenkill every year since I started racing four season ago. Ironically enough, every year at Battenkill I had something go wrong.
My first ever road race was Battenkill in the CAT 4′s. I had no clue what I was doing and brought one bottle and no food for the 56 miles of suffering. I can’t recall much about the race now but I do remember cramping up several times due to an uncommon heat wave which struck the northeast in early April. It was about 80 degrees during the race.
The next year at Battenkill as a CAT 3 I was in a serious crash when most of the peleton smashed on top of me and dragged my body and my bike down a loose gravel descent. I spent the next 24 hours in the hospital as the nurses scrubbed rocks out of my legs and arms. Comically, I was on serious amount of morphine and got to watch a star wars marathon in my own hospital room. It was an intergalactic experience.
The following year in the CAT 2′s I was on form and feeling good until the first hill came and my chain snapped into pieces. We had neutral support and the mechanic gave me a new chain but by the time he was done, I was 5 minutes down on the field with no way of catching back up. Not the best luck in past years!
Coming back to the present; I was excited to try out a dirt / paved road race here on the front range of Colorado. Boulder Roubiax is a series of paved and dirt roads on a 15+ mile loop. Based on your category depends upon how many loops you complete. I enjoy mixing things up and a Roubaix style course does just that. Many riders tend not to know how they will be able to handle their bikes on matted down dirt roads. For some reason, this notion of uncertainty excites me!
I showed up on race day a bit earlier than usual so I could do a bit of recon on the course, and watch some friends race. My race was set to go off mid-day around 11:30. It was a chilly morning in the 50′s but the sun was out so it didn’t feel too bare. I rode down to registration and watched as groups of racers went by. I started to get excited but was calm and confident in my recent training weeks. The legs felt good warming up although I didn’t spin for too long before the start.
It must have been only 30-45 minutes of warming up before I found myself in the second row on the start line. I looked around and saw a lot of domestic pro jerseys. “This was going to be a fast race.” I thought to myself. We were held up on the start line (which was dirt) for a bit longer than I would have liked. The 60+ riders were set to go off in front of us and we needed to give them enough time to make it around the course. I think it would have made more sense to start them directly after us but within 10-20 minutes we were off. The race started fast almost at the same intensity of a Criterium. I wasn’t quite ready for this quick start but I found myself in the upper portion of the group holding my position well. I could see the lead riders in my field of vision and I was content with where I rode and satisfied at the current moment. 3/4 of the way through the first lap (4 lap race = 76 miles) a few riders created a break. MY plan wasn’t to make a break today as I thought they would be caught from various motivated riders willing to give chase. The first lap went by and I was totally focused on the task at hand. I was in a great position (top 20) and was beginning to feel my legs warm up to race pace. I felt this based on the several attacks from riders and how my legs responded. As the second lap progressed I looked back a few times and saw the group was still large but smaller than before. If you were to get separated from the group at Boulder Roubaix it would be quite difficult to chase back on. There were many turns and wind changes during the course which could frustrate a solo rider, or even a group of 5-10. 3/4 finished with the second lap and I was feeling better than before. Riders would accelerate and my legs would sing positive notes of reciprocation.
The group was about 1/2 mile away from the finish when the crash happened. This finishing half mile included a sharp right turn and then proceeded into a short punchy climb (where the feed zone is located) before dropping down flat and to the finish line. We were flying at speed upwards of 25-30mph when all of a sudden the group starts moving around like a bunch of rabbits scattering away from a dog chasing. I was drafting close to the rider in front of me and when he moved at the last second I had no line of sight and rammed right into a rider who was unclipped and standing in the middle of the road! This is not something you see everyday during a race. I keep asking myself why was he in the middle of the road and not off to the side. I hit the rider so hard it sent me flying through the air and landing somewhere in a ditch. Interestingly enough, other riders went flying into the air as well and landed on top of me. I stood up, looked down at my legs and only noticed a few scrapes on my legs. “Well, I may as well get back on my bike.” I said to myself. A spectator came over, picked my bike back up, put my chain on, and gave me a push down the road. After a few pedal strokes I heard a horrible cracking sound. I looked down at my toptube and saw had a massive fracture.
I kept riding down the finishing straight and as I passed the announcer he said “Well it looks like Adam Zimmerman is done for the day.” I was a little annoyed by the comment since he thought I threw in the towel so I got off my bike, lifted it up in the air while pointing at the massive crack in my toptube. “Ah! That’s a good reason to stop racing.” He responded. I smiled and rode my broken frame back to the car. I was a bit bummed out about the whole situation. Mainly because how my legs were feeling during the race and the fact I had a broken frame in the back of my car.
At the end of the day, I’m happy I wasn’t too badly injured from the crash and only walked away with minor road rash. I’m back to riding now with a new bike but my body is still beat up and stiff. My form is not what it was a couple of weeks ago but with some hard training days ahead I should be back on schedule to race in a few weeks.
I’ve learned sometimes you can be doing everything right in a race but everything can go wrong in the blink of an eye. One minute I’m riding along feeling good, the next minute I’m laying in a ditch with a broken frame. I ask myself questions; Could I have been paying more attention? Was I still too far back in the group? These rhetorical uncertainties will never truly be answered as we can’t jump in a time machine and change the past. I’ve also come to realize the reasons stated above is what makes bicycle racing so epic. Crashes, flats, mechanical issues, cramping, and so forth are what elevate cycling to a proportional level and generate those bittersweet wins.
It’s almost spring! The front range of Colorado has seen a long winter, at least through my eyes. I was fortunate enough to train outdoors for a significant part of the winter. This however did include some VERY cold rides. I don’t mind the cold, but obviously some day’s chill you right down to the core. I did enjoy the tranquil winter training provides. On my daily training I would see on an average of 1-5 other riders. Not many riders compared to the parade of people currently out cycling through Chatfield State Park and the surrounding bicycle paths. After a visit in NY during the first week in January, the faster winter training began with Saturday morning group rides. I can remember a few times waking up in the morning, looking over at my phone and seeing 18 degrees. A fast group rides is always great motivation when the temps are below freezing. This winter I invested in an amazing pair of cycling gloves by Pearl Izumi. Pearl Izumi P.R.O Barrier WX and it was well worth it. I believe my coldest ride was around 14 degrees (without the windchill included) and my hands stayed warm the entire ride. I did use the liners which were included and without them I think my hands would have been cold. If you train outside all winter like me I would highly suggest them. If you follow my blog I don’t normally promote products but when something comes along that changes my training I like to let others know. Since I’m on the same subject many of you may be asking yourself what does Adam use during training and racing? Well, let me tell you! I LOVE Powerbar Gel’s and use them during most rides. They are easy to swallow and it seems to enter my bloodstream fast.
I started noticing a few psychological changes during this winter. I was recovering faster on those 5+ minute efforts. I have also been noticing my weight fluctuate more in the winter months than past years. My heaviest weight was 141 this winter, but I’m happy to report I’m currently at my goal race weight for the season of 135. It’s sometimes hard to master race weight in early spring. A hard training cyclist will see lots of burned calories during a winter of training and one’s appetite can be superfluous. Maija and I have gotten into a consistent eating routine for dinner and this has helped keep my weight more balanced. I tend to have an over-conscious zealous attitude about my weight more than power numbers, heart rate ranges, and any other psychological aspect which relates to competitive cycling. I don’t weigh my pasta but I’m regularly checking the scale to make sure I don’t go off my goal race weight.
My season kicked off with a small Criterium (I took 11th) in City Park, Denver and I left the next day for my team’s training camp in sunny southern California. I decided to drive the team van from our shop (In Littleton) to Thousand Oaks, CA. We had this crazy idea we could drive straight through for 17 hours by doing 6 hour shifts each. I did the first shift and actually didn’t feel too bad. We hit a few rough snow storms over the mountain passes which left us driving 20mph on the highway with zero visibility. By the time my driving shift was over all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball on the back seat and sleep. That’s exactly what I did. I would wake up every now and then to the van’s undulations. The last 6 hour stretch through Nevada was a long one and I could barely keep my eyes open. Every now and then my head would rock backwards and I’d be in a state between being awake and asleep. Nonetheless, we finally made it to the hotel where we would be staying and I took a long nap, relaxed in the room, and readied myself for the week’s training.
James, Jeff, and I before our excursion to California.
I’ve had this Red Stripe T-Shirt for many years but have never actually tried Red Stripe. Turns out I don’t like it at all!
Training in southern California is awe inspiring. All of our rides started from the hotel and after a short 30 minute warm up through the town we would hit the mountain sides which stood tall near the endless Pacific ocean. You could smell the slaty ocean air as you pedaled, and feel the dampness in the atmosphere. I first started cycling on Long Island, NY and my house was only a 30 minute bicycle ride to the ocean. I quickly became used to the humid damp air Long Island provided. In California, I felt these same weather traits and it was a welcoming nostalgic memory. Pedaling along the highways was also a treat as they ran parallel to the ocean. We would ride along the coast as a group and the road would pitch up, slightly and navigate through mountain rock formations, and then drop us back down to the coastal highway. The week of training was tough, especially the longer climbs of 5+ miles. I’m beginning to learn I can hold my own on long sustained climbs but I really shine on those 3 mile or less climbs. My legs seem to respond better when they are presented with short punchy ascents. I also felt my legs starting to open up after 3 hours in the saddle. This was a good feeling as many of the coming races this season will be 3+ hours.
Below are some of the pictures from my team’s training camp. (Giant Cycling World). I had an amazing time meeting a large majority of riders while on the trip and I was impressed with how well organized our itinerary was. If you ever have the chance to ride in southern California do it! Once you get into the hills the traffic is minimal and the roads are endless.
We were also fortunate enough to have Jody Grigg along with us. Jody is a professional photographer who takes some amazing shots of cyclists. He has a passion for cycling and this trip would have been a lot different had he not been snapping photo’s out of our team van and helping us with other things along the way. All photos from the team camp are credited by Jody Gregg. Please visit his website and check out his work or if you are interested in using his servies. He is a great guy and easy to work with. Jody Grigg - Jodygrigg.photoshelter.com.