Friday, July 31, 2009

Ramrod 2009 - From the City to The Mountain and Back

I didn't sleep too well before the start of this year's Ramrod, but that's usually the case for me and big rides. The combination of having to get up early (when I'm used to going to sleep late), and of course nervous jitters kept me awake.

Still, when the alarm went off at 1 AM I got up and prepared for a big day in the saddle. I could think of lots of excuses reasons why I shouldn't do the ride: the fact that I didn't lay down until 10 so I had less than three hours of sleep, or that there was a 20% chance of thunderstorms near Elbe and I couldn't find my rear fender, or that record temperatures were forecast, and that I just got a new stem (2 cm longer) and hadn't done more than 30 miles with that setup. None of these things could really stop me from doing the ride as planned, which meant riding to the start from Capitol Hill just like last year.

I had many generous offers of rides to and from the start, but the goal was to stick it out. After all if I plan on finishing that big 600k (aka "Ramrod++") this year stuff like this can even be chalked up to practice, believe it or not. Randonneurs really know how to take a nice idea like Ramrod and really stretch it out to its limits and beyond.. which is not to say that Ramrod is an easy ride - for me anything over 80 or so miles is a long haul, so this wasn't a walk in the park for me by any means.

In prep for the ride I'd forgotten to buy a good breakfast for the day before, and stuff to make caprese sandwiches. So the plan was to just have coffee and eat some Clif Shot Blox on the 60km/40mi trip to the start of the ride in Enumclaw.

Ciocc on 12th & Jackson in Seattle at about 2 AM:

Since I was starting an hour earlier than last year, the whole ride down to the 'Claw was dark this time around. But since I'd converted the Ciocc to an LD bike for the day, it was equipped with the dynohub & Schmidt E6 halogen light. That light emits a beam that's about 10 feet wide and about as long as you want it to be. The light provides the confidence I needed to roll through total darkness on some of the stretches of Highway 169 through Black Diamond, Maple Valley, and finally to the start of the ride in Enumclaw.

Now in Enumclaw at 4:30 AM or so at the intersection of Highway 169 & Griffin Ave. Making perfect time as it officially started at 5 AM:

The ride start at the highschool in Enumclaw:

Breakfast! So worth the $10 and 40 mile ride:

Soon it was almost 5 AM and time to line up for the start.

Saw Joe P. from SiR at the beginning, as well as my friend Jesse. After a few minutes of antsy waiting we rolled out. It was still dark and my E6 light seemed brighter than most others' lights out there. I guess you can say randos have extreme lighting to match our rides..

Compared to last year, when I didn't start until 6:30 AM and did this part of the route solo, I was flying. Pacelines were cruising at 40 km/h (~25 mph) and while I wanted to keep the HR down to about 140-150 bpm, it was pretty easy to sit on the back of some of these at 160 bpm or so. I took a pull in one line and just about blew up when we turned into a headwind and I was still trying to hold 40 km/h.. I'm pretty sure that's when my HR peaked at 185 bpm. It was time to back off so I let them go and cruised solo a little.

On the way to Eatonville I hear "On your left - hey Matt!" as Brian O. from Seattle Rando came flying by in another 40 km/h paceline. It was a huge one, with maybe 30-40 people on it and nobody at the back taking pulls - this shot was the best I could do at 40 km/h:

Before too long we arrived in Eatonville, though I'd let the paceline go on the uphill. I was riding by my heart rate and when the little climb came I had to let them go or risk wasting more energy than necessary.

Looking at the ride photos I was somehow the 36th rider (out of 765 photos, not sure how many riders actually came out), landing on Page 2. Last year I was on the very last page since I started so late! It's weird how you can't tell where you are in the group, I thought I was somewhere in the middle since I felt like I was only being passed by people.

When we got to Eatonville they were still setting up the water supply - guess we were a bit early? Huge thanks to all the volunteers along the way - they really do a lot to help out the riders along the way:

The plan was to keep the stops short as possible, as practice for doing faster brevets, so I rolled out after filling up the water bottles. I've found it isn't so much rolling speed that holds me back on rides but the time spent off the bike or stopped. Brevets aren't races, but on the longer ones the faster you go the more time you have for sleep, which is of course precious on rides like that.

After Eatonville the riders seem to spread out more, and I rode almost solo from here to Packwood. It was clear out, but not as hot as I'd expected. There was plenty of shade for good stretches of the route which helped a lot. I was expecting to be baking on the tarmac but things were going well. And the rain forecast was totally off, as I was hoping, so it was smooth sailing.

Lake Alder near Elbe, Wa on Highway 7:

The township of Elbe - with the "Hobo Inn" on the right - last year I stopped here for water and food, but this year bringing a third water bottle and more food allowed me to continue on:

The tip of "The Mountain" was visible - having started north of it we were now roughly west of it:

Rolling to Ashford on rolling hills:

Food stop near Park Entrance - there was rider who said he went down on the railroad tracks a few miles back. Shane from SiR and others were helping him patch up the wounds and continue on. When you're doing a ride like this, where you've probably been planning it for a while, it will take more than road rash to stop you:

Heading down a long road - we were warned of an "incident" up ahead but at the bottom there was just a police cruiser and I saw the officer climbing back up over the railing of a bridge so I'm not sure what was going on there:

A bagel on the go - my other strategy for saving time was to eat on the go instead of standing around to do so:

Matt, a blog reader, and friend on Skate Creek Road - I was surprised at the number of people along the way that knew me or of me from reading the blog - it really is a small world out there.

There were some gravel/rock patches on this road, as we'd been warned about. Though they said to bring lights for the shadows my E6 didn't illuminate much, so after the climb I slowed down for a manageable and safe descent. A bunch of riders blew past me on the way down, but I was scared of the gravel patches I'd heard about.

Sure enough one came up and I saw a rider ahead of me fishtailing a bit in the patch - so I slowed down to what seemed safe (probably 20 km/h or 12 mph) and went through the patch in the straightest line possible. But soon I saw a pile of what looked like loose & deep gravel. As I hit my front wheel gave out a bit, and I had that uneasy feeling of being out of control of the bike. I was really happy, and lucky, to make it out of that one unscathed.

Nice little view on the way to Packwood - nothing like the stunning shots from the Paradise climb, which was blocked this year for us, but still beats the usual scenes I see in King County:

The Ciocc in Packwood at about 10:30 AM:

At the gas station in Packwod - the one Robert & I sat outside for hours once - I filled up on a Sprite & what they deemed an "egg roll." I'm not sure of what was in it but it was a nice change from the Shot Blox I'd been eating up to now. I sat down for a few minutes to eat, then put on sunscreen, and rolled out with Joe P, another randonneur. Joe just did a 1000k recently, the Portland to Glacier ride - just goes to show no matter how far you ride, there's always someone out there who can ride further. I've yet to do a 1,000k but one of these days I hope to.

Joe on Highway 12 - and the sign is spot on - "Mountain Pass Ahead":

At the turn on to Highway 123 off of Highway 12, they actually had a State Patrol trooper in the road allowing bikes to freely make a left across the four lanes. Plus we were going uphill and traffic is coming downhill around a blind curve. They had more water here, and Joe pulled off for water, where I decided to risk it and push on to the Deli Stop, just after the Cayuse climb. When I saw the "30 miles to next food stop" sign I thought twice about it, but decided my two full water bottles and Shot Blox were enough (I brought about 8 packs of Blox with me, thanks to Lloyd at Velo Bikeshop who helped me out).

The very start of Cayuse - not that steep:

The road slowly tips up and soon we were at the Park Entrance, where the 2-3% grade & rolling hills turns into a steady 5-6-7% grade for a few miles until the top.

Still shooting for about 140-150 bpm (195 max) I settled into a speed that seemed to hover around 10 km/h. When I did this pass on a 600k once, it seemed to be the slowest slog ever and I hovered at 5-8 km/h. Granted, that was on an old Miyata and after 300 miles..

Anyway I felt pretty good up the climb, and had a few riders up ahead to pace on. It wasn't that I was chasing them, but trying to keep the gap about the same. Of course single riders would blast by me now and then, but I just stayed put and let them go.

It wasn't too hot yet, even though it was 11 AM or so - and last year I was just about overheating on this section. I was wearing a wool jersey last year and I think that made the difference. Plus this year I was pacing more than usual, trying to keep things level so I could finish strong.

Nice greenery heading up Cayuse:

Rainier view on Cayuse:

A nice view of the tip of Rainier:

There was a water stop where I filled up a bottle, know that even just a few miles to go on a pass can take a while. The tunnel on Cayuse - "only" three miles to go!

Nice view near the top of Cayuse - it was a perfect day for a jaunt around The Mountain:

Cayuse near the top - I've always wanted to stop and see what it looks like from the edge, but I guess I'm always too excited to be close to the top of the pass.

The top of Cayuse - 4765 ft above sea level - it was nice to be done with climbing for now, get some more water, and get ready for a speedy descent down the other side.

In the official ride photos on the way down (with Rainier in the background) I was 128th or so - no wonder it felt like I was getting passed a lot, almost 100 riders had traded spots with me since the last photo. Not that it matters since this wasn't a race, but I like to know where I slot in just the same.

Even though I like my new stem, which is 2 cm longer than the old one, I couldn't quite get comfortable in the aero tuck for very long. But it was still fun to spin it up to 120-130 rpm and accelerate while going 60 km/h..

Finally I hit the deli stop, just before the climb up to Crystal Mountain. Huge thanks to all the volunteers that worked here!

Lunch in the shade:

Dirt buildup on the arms - my legs were covered in dirt as well:

Now time to head up to Crystal Mountain - I heard some saying this climb was too bumpy, and that the descent wasn't fun enough. Or that it was too hot to do it (it was starting to heat up now at 1 PM). But I wanted to complete the whole ride as set out by the organizers, just to say I did.

The climb up was pretty uneventful, and the scenery was OK but nothing special. Maybe I've been spoiled by all the routes provided by Seattle Rando, but it definitely wasn't worth doing if it wasn't part of the route. Still, it was a challenge and I wanted to complete it.

By this point I felt a little weaker than I would have liked, and was looking forward to another snack at the deli stop once I got to the bottom of this climb. Keeping my extra mileage ahead of me after the ride in mind, I was happy to keep about 10 km/h up this six mile climb. Sure enough, it took about an hour to get up there.

On the way up a few riders had just passed me, and I chased (only a 1 km/h acceleration, but that makes a difference over an hour) a little to keep the gap constant. Then a rider came up beside us and passed up like we were standing still. Not standing or mashing, this rider was spinning at a comfortable cadence and was obviously stronger than us.

For some reason one of the riders ahead of me poked at his buddy: "You gonna just sit there like that and let that happen?!" They accelerated slightly, one faster than the other, but the rider that had passed us ignored the comments and kept on spinning, clearly dropping us like a lead weight.

Not sure why it bothered them that a woman was passing them up the climb - even as a "joke", double standards aren't funny. There are those that will always try to push old, dead, and useless ideas, and judging from her speed I'm guessing she had to hear a lot of it on this ride.

The top of Crystal. Not a whole lot going on besides hot pavement:

On the way down there were some pot holes, but I could see them coming and the descent was still pretty fun. At one point I even sprinted on the downhill, going from about 60 km/h to 66 km/h or so. Good spinning practice for the races.

Upon return to the deli stop I found that many riders had since shown up. The back of the line you see there stretches all the way up to the tents where the food was served.. so much for my 2nd snack unless I wanted to wait for a while. So I pressed on.

Highway 410 heading west to Enumclaw - a now familiar road since I've done this on quite a few rides and brevets.

I rolled out solo, and felt decently strong, though I was never going as fast as I wanted. On what were measured as only 2-3% grades by the Garmin 705 I was only pushing 16-20 km/h, e.g. not impressing anyone. Of course eventually a paceline passed by, and I hopped on the back. Speeding up the flat speeds to 32-40 km/h again we were covering good ground.

Eventually the makeshift paceline (actually I think there were five team mates and two of us stragglers) broke up when most of the riders stopped. Two of us continued on, and I just sat on their wheel for a few minutes. Eventually they said "your turn" and I tried to keep it around 40 km/h, what we were doing when I was drafting. But after a few minutes of that I looked back and my lone partner was in the distance, a dot on the horizon. Oops.

Close to the Mud Mountain Road turnoff there was a volunteer warning of another "incident" up ahead. There were a bunch of bikes on the ground, a few cars parked around, and a group of people, including my friend Jesse, holding up a sheet to block the sun for a rider on the ground. He looked awake but had apparently fallen hard.

I wasn't sure what was up, but didn't want to stop and get in the way of what looked like a bad scene. I heard the guy went to the hospital, hope he made it OK.

I bombed down Mud Mountain Road like I've done a few times before. Though at this point I was expecting to be surrounded by other riders, but was alone and my folded up cue sheet was too deep in jersey pockets to dig for, and I got off course. Turned right at that forced turn on Mud Mtn Rd, then took the left just after that. I remember missing that turn on a previous ride, but was it Ramrod? Hmm, not sure. I saw a rider behind me, so I figured I must be doing something right.. unless they're following me.

Eventually I'm in unfamiliar territory and seemingly off course, the rider behind me gone. I could have sworn this was the way back to the start/finish at the high school, but it apparently wasn't. I could tell from the sun I was heading the wrong direction, west when I figured I should be going north. Finally the road turned back to the right and I saw a stream of riders going straight on a road perpendicular to the one I was on. So that must be the course.. I threw in a few bonus kms but was happy to be back on course.

Before too long another trooper was directing me through an intersection and there were a bunch of volunteers clapping and cheering me on. At about 4:30 PM, roughly 11.5 hours after starting. About the same amount of time it took to do last year's course, but finishing a good hour earlier since I started earlier this time around.

The ride finish - for now:

I was considering taking someone up on the offer of a ride home, as my feet were starting to feel it a little, but nobody I knew was around. I think my "summer socks" are so thin they don't provide enough cushion, or something, because normally I can ride further than this and not have foot pain.

But the free ice cream sandwich, cold water, and shade provided at the end was enough to lift my spirits and get me thinking about rolling out for the ride home. I got some more sunblock at the Medic's tent, and while there overheard the volunteer say something about it not being a good idea to do any more riding today. She was probably right, but I thanked her for the sunblock and got ready for the ride back.

On the way back a few cars with cars on the back gave a light honk, which helped keep me going to get the ride over with. Even if this isn't the longest ride I've ever done, that certainly didn't make it easy!

One guy in a Jeep with a bike on the back turned around, and stopped on the other side of the road. As I passed, he said something like, "Hey are you Matt?" "Uhh, yeah." "I know you eat these big rides for breakfast, but I can give you a ride home because of the heat if you want." "Thanks! But I'm set on riding home. I appreciate it."

It was nice to know that people would help me out if needed. But I figured this just wouldn't be the same post, and it wouldn't be the targeted training, if I skipped out on the last 40 miles.

"Food" in Maple Valley - about half way between Enumclaw & Seattle. I realized somewhere along the route that I didn't really eat enough real food on the ride today. Not that Mc'D's is real food, but it counted for some calories.

The ride back to Seattle really is pretty much downhill, and I just cruised on the shoulder of the small two-lane road that is Highway 169. Yes there's the Cedar River Trail parallel to this road for a while, but I enjoy the open road compared to a trail that crosses driveways and has posts to slow you down.

But the section of 169 near Renton is a little rougher, and the road opens up to four lanes with no shoulder or bike lane. Last year I remembered being buzzed and honked at quite a few times there. So this time I decided to hit up the trail and play it safe. Seemed to take longer that way but it was much quieter for sure.

Before too long I was on 2nd Ave in Renton, heading towards Rainier. On Rainier I was finally on the home stretch, only about 12 miles to go. Not quite the reception one would hope for at the end of a ride (not much of a bike lane on it), but it's a quick way to get back into Seattle from the south:

I was really happy to make it back to Seattle in one piece, even if few in the city even knew of my adventure of the day. Luckily I have this blog so I can trumpet my escapades to the world!

Full photo set here.

Ride Data

The graph summaries for power, cadence, speed, and heart rate. The yellow is power, and the one that shows "training zone" shows that I spent most of the time in the Active Recovery (e.g. light pedaling) or Endurance zones. Fitting since I was pacing, or trying to. Cadence (green) shows I spent most of my time in the 60-80 rpm, as intended. Heart rate (red) was mostly in the Endurance zone, followed closely by the Temp and Active Recovery zones.

The ride graph. The little gaps are the stops along the way. You can see how the HR (red) was high in the beginning of the Ramrod, then of course went down over time as energy levels went down in general. But overall I was happy to pace it correctly and not waste too much energy, even though I did a good deal of that too.
(red=HR, green=cadence, yellow=power, blue=speed (km/h), orange=elevation)

Cayuse Pass (5.4 %)
(the drop in the middle was the water stop)

Cayuse pass:
Duration: 1:04:15
Work: 667 kJ
TSS: 41.7 (intensity factor 0.624)
Norm Power: 178
VI: 1.03
Pw:HR: 5.15%
Pa:HR: 0.74%
Distance: 13.051 km
Elevation Gain: 870 m
Elevation Loss: 171 m
Grade: 5.4 % (698 m)
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 362 173 watts
Heart Rate: 124 165 148 bpm
Cadence: 20 100 59 rpm
Speed: 0 30.9 11.8 kph
Altitude: 729 1427 1093 m
Crank Torque: 0 62.8 27.8 N-m

Power data for the entire ride, starting and ending in Seattle. I think the actual ride time was 15.5 hours or so - some of the data got dropped.

Entire workout (134 watts):
Duration: 12:58:20 (18:57:12)
Work: 6517 kJ
TSS: 476.4 (intensity factor 0.608)
Norm Power: 173
VI: 1.23
Pw:HR: 16.24%
Pa:HR: -4.11%
Distance: 385.486 km
Elevation Gain: 6859 m
Elevation Loss: 6859 m
Grade: 0.0 % (0 m)
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 894 141 watts
Heart Rate: 80 188 133 bpm
Cadence: 15 124 69 rpm
Speed: 0 196.1 26.1 kph
Pace 0:18 0:00 2:18 min/km
Altitude: 5 1428 412 m
Crank Torque: 0 204.2 19.0 N-m

Another great Ramrod edition, even if it wasn't the "classic" route. Still, the weather was perfect and the ride was great from my perspective. Thank you to the organizers and volunteers who put in a lot of work to pull this off. Having volunteered for a much smaller ride, I can't imagine what it takes to run an event with 800+ riders in it!

Other Ramrod Stories

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Gearing Up For Ramrod 2009

I was planning on doing the SiR Whidbey Island 200k today, but instead decided to sleep in a bit and watch a big mountain stage of the Tour de France. While I was looking forward to another brevet, I guess having already doing a 200k-600k this season has made me lazy. And I didn't want to spend 10+ hours on the bike, only to spend 4+ more hours watching bike stuff on TV. Well I wouldn't mind that too much, but I also want to maintain some sort of life outside of the two-wheeled world. Anyway I chose to just watch bike racing on TV instead of riding one; wow, some of those cols make local passes like Stevens or Cayuse kid's play.

So the "Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day", aka Ramrod is happening this Thursday, I can't wait. Last year's edition was fun, even with the 76 extra miles thrown in. Signed up for a breakfast ticket, so that will be a nice treat after the 3-3.5 hour ride to the ride.

The course has been changed a bit this year due to a washout, so we'll be skipping the Paradise climb and instead heading south towards Packwood, where we'll turn back up north and head up Cayuse, this time doing the full length of it. Oh, and they added the Crystal Mountain climb to the mix just to make sure nobody says this year's edition was too easy.

Training, or lack thereof

I haven't done a ride over 60 or so miles since the big 600k + 80k ride last month. Not the best training for a big ride like this, but hopefully my butt hasn't forgotten how to get to know a saddle..

Since that 600k I've done about four races or so, so the fitness is still there if not better. On that note I recently held 32.x km/h (20 mph) average for one full hour (while solo) for the first time evar. The route was from Capitol Hill down Lake Wa Blvd, through Renton, up and over the plateau to Issaquah, e.g. not exactly flat - of course from there to Redmond, Bothell, and back to Seattle the average went down to about 29.9 km/h.

One thing I'm doing differently than last year is to avoid wearing my SiR wool jersey. Even though I'm a sucker for that blue jersey I remember baking on Cayuse last year, and this year might even be hotter. Back to a simple jersey for me.

I'll probably need to head out of the house by at least 2 AM this year in order to get there in time for breakfast and rolling out around the 5 AM start time. But it sounds like a few others might ride to the ride this year as well, so maybe I won't be doing that part alone.

See you on the road!

8/1/2009 update: I made it!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Redmond Derby Days 4/5 Crit

Today was another USAC (e.g. "official") race, the Redmond Derby Days Criterium. Apparently the oldest bicycle race in the U.S. Even though there are familiar faces and the ranks are the same, these official crits are definitely a bit tougher than Seward Park. They are flatter, faster, and seemingly more dangerous.

But to get another upgrade credit to get to Category 4, I needed to do this race. So here we go.

Ride to the Race

I allocated two hours to complete the ~30 kms it takes to get to Redmond from Capitol Hill, via I-90. That way I could take it really slow, and that I did, averaging about 22-23 km/h on the way over.

I like riding to rides of all sorts, but it's important to pace it correctly unless you don't care about "wasting" energy when you're not even in the event. This means turning down the sprint for a green light, or an uphill attack. Just take it easy, and ride like it's hour 20 of a brevet.

The skies were clear though the forecast called for a 50% chance of thunderstorms. Forecast called for a high of 85-ish in Redmond.. actually wasn't too hot by the time I got there.

The Course

I knew from their page that this was another four-corner flat course, but once I got there I saw it was even shorter than I thought. Sweet, this is gonna be nice and fast..

Criteriums like this come down to little races from corner to corner, and you're usually sprinting out of most of them just to stay on the wheel ahead of you.


I ended up lining up on the sideline/staging area first, just to watch the Men's Masters (40+) race, where one rider was on a huge breakaway, nearly 200m out in front. He got sucked up by the end though.

And the competition for the lineup didn't just start at the line, there were guys jockying for position even before we got on the road, squeezing in around me. Eventually the official blew the whistle and we rolled out for a 20-foot race to the line. Ended up in the 2nd row, slightly to the right. Guys lines up next to me elbow to elbow (as in touching elbows), I'm thinking this will be an interesting start! Just want to stay upright and get around the (inevitable) set of riders that can't clip in for some reason. This is why you really want to be on the line itself...

We get the whistle to move forward 5 feet to the real line, which of course a few riders think is the real deal and have to back up a bit. Lots of nerves.

There was a slight delay in the beginning due to a rider on a mountain bike, one official questioned another about him, but the response was "well he's got a number so he's good to go." I don't have a problem with mountain bikes/beginners getting in on these races, but pulling them (if they get lapped) at the right time is crucial. He came into play later in the race..

The Race

The whistle was blown and of course two guys in front of me had issues clipping in. Went around them and eased into a spot roughly 15-20 riders back, the front third of the pack. The plan was to play it safe, stay out of the wind, and get in good position for the final turn. I was exactly where I wanted to be. Of course, it takes a bit of work to stay where you are in a pack, and it's such a fluid thing that "if you aren't passing riders you're moving backwards." So you're passing riders just to stay in the same spot, if that makes sense.

It's hard to "play it safe" when you're surrounded by 60 other riders, all wanting to be at the front of the same pack, or somewhere near it. Of course, there are also those that were content on the back, or off the back and working to catch up.

Cornering in the pack is always interesting, but add in the gazillions of reflectors that were on the course and it seemed like everyone was all over the place. I'd pick a line and try to cut between two reflectors, but it probably made me swerve a bit. I didn't want to hit one at an angle, it'd be an easy way to go down it seemed.

And I even got yelled at for the first time, it was "Hold your line, 460!" Hmm, it was Kevin, someone I know, tell me to ride in a straight line. I'd just jumped into a spot in front of him - I suppose it was a bit of a dangerous move. It's easy to let the adrenaline take over.

The Mountain Biker

So when we come around to lapping this poor guy, for maybe the second time, I hear that sound, and look over to see a rider slider on his side. Ouch. Somehow going around the mtn bike guy a few people spilled.. I actually felt bad for this kid, he just wanted to have fun but instead probably got yelled at by a bunch of over-eager Cat 5's on $4,000 road bikes.

I guess he got pulled eventually, as I never saw him again after that.

Edit: Looks like someone captured this crash on video! Oh man... he's never going to live that one down. (Though it might not have been his fault that people crashed around him.)

Hanging In

The plan was to hang in and just stick it out for the final sprint, but I thought about "taking a flyer" off the front a few times. It would be similar to when the small French teams go on doomed breakaways early in a stage just for air-time. If I could stay out front for long enough, I wondered, would they even announce my name? (They'd get it wrong anyway..)

Of course it's one thing to get away, entirely another to stay away. Sure I might be able to move up, jump, but after about 30 seconds I'd probably be out of gas. It's hard not to go all-out but you have to for at least a little while when off the front.

But I didn't go off the front, I took the easier way out and sat in. Didn't chase any breaks, just kept moving up in order to stay in that front third of the pack.

Looking closely at the power data from the race, I was basically pedaling hard (600-800 watts) for 8-10 seconds, then coasting for a few seconds, and doing that over and over the whole time. (With bigger spikes coming out of most of the corners)

There was hardly a portion of the race where I pedaled for more than 20 seconds at a time. It's because I'm accelerating into a draft, hanging in there for a bit, slipping back, then accelerating back into it. In the end I spent a lot of time coasting, and that was one of the goals. (To conserve energy for the end)

Final Lap

Coming out of the 3rd corner on the last lap, I was probably 20th wheel, e.g. not positioned well on the last lap with one corner to go. So I put in a little (Ok, big) effort and moved up the side of the field, closer to the front 10 or so.

It seems like whatever position you're in coming out of the last turn is what you'll end up with more or less.. that is of course unless something gets in your way..


As we straighten out for the final sprint, a rider two ahead goes down hard, sending the guy behind him down too. (I bet it was a reflector that did it) So the guy in front of me just went down, and his bike ends up sliding to the left on its side towards my path.

So in this split-second I'm thinking "here we go", I was picturing how the bike on the ground would scoop out my wheel and send me down - most likely to break my collarbone, the most common cycling crash injury. I was trying to turn out of the way but it didn't seem like I was going to beat his bike.

But somehow, magically if I don't say so myself, I did a tiny bunny hop off his wheel! At least it felt that way. So I was actually an inch or two off the ground, and as I came back down I resumed my sprint. Of course through all this I'd tapped the brakes, enough to lose 5 spots easily.

Wow, I got really lucky not to take a spill in that race. It seems like I'm getting closer and closer to crashing though... got me thinking about trying to ride back home with road-rash, that could really suck. Or if the bike was totaled, I'd have to bum a ride or take the bus. Oh well, it's a risk I'm going to take.

This racing stuff is risky, but fun!


I felt like I'd done a solid 15th or so, but upon checking the results list it showed me as DNF/?. What?! Even though as a Cat 5 it only matters that I started the race to get an upgrade point, but I just had to check what happened. I wanted to know where I came in.

I asked an official and upon reviewing a sheet of scribbled numbers, I was indeed missed for placing and should have been 18th. I'm sure they were laughing to themselves that I even cared, but I just couldn't let it go.


Here are some photos from the race, from of - I'm definitely going to be buying some shots from this race, there are some nice ones.

Cat 4/5 race lineup (actually from flickr):

Off we go:

Here's Kevin pulling the pack around. That guy is strong.
Mtn bike in the race!
Crash when going around mtn biker:

Hey look it's me! I look like I'm solo or OTB ("Off the back") but I swear I'm in some kind of pack/paceline here..

Jordan, enjoying the pain:
The peloton with three laps to go:

Race Power Data

Duration: 36:23
Work: 507 kJ
TSS: 47.8 (intensity factor 0.888)
Norm Power: 253
VI: 1.09
Distance: 25.364 km
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 958 232 watts
Heart Rate: 112 195 179 bpm
Cadence: 19 132 87 rpm
Speed: 6.3 59.9 41.7 kph - a tad slower than Joe Matava crit, but a little faster than Ballard
Crank Torque: 0 199.7 23.1 N-m

Friday, July 10, 2009

Seward Park 7/10/09 - The Opposite of Smart Racing

What's the opposite of smart racing? Me at Seward Park yesterday. Too much work with nothing to show for it. But I guess it was a training race so that's what it's for right?

Pulled the peloton around for the first lap, stayed up front until the first prime, went too early for it. I was fourth wheel and saw the three ahead soft-pedaling and coasting, playing cat-and-mouse so I attacked hard from the back. I had a gap but ran out of gas on the uphill towards the line.

Then it took me just about the rest of the race (10 more laps) to recover, and I slowly slid backwards in the pack, ending up in the middle. Moved up for the last lap, and ended up stuck in the wind on the front with two up the road. Had nothing for the (uphill) sprint..

When I got 3rd in this race I sat in until the final sprint - I'm thinking this means I need to get smarter. Or stronger. Or both.


Early in the race I think, here I am 3rd-wheel. A strong junior (Max?) was pulling the field, and look who made a guest appearance in 2nd wheel? Mr. Elbows. He kept them to himself this time it seemed.
The pack coming up to the peak/turn:

The peloton coming up the 4% hill - this is what you get to sprint up at the end!

Here's Chad going for one of the primes.

And then coming in for the win, a First Rate Mortgage rider. If I'm not mistaken he also raced the Masters 35+ at the Joe Matava Crit last week, and looked strong there.

Thanks to Beki for taking these shots!
Power Data

Duration: 28:59
Work: 408 kJ
TSS: 53.5 (intensity factor 1.052)
Norm Power: 300
VI: 1.28
Distance: 18.555 km
Elevation Gain: 376 m
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 973 234 watts
Cadence: 24 132 83 rpm
Speed: 1.3 98.4 38.3 kph
Crank Torque: 0 196.9 25.2 N-m

In other news, the STP is happening this Saturday. But instead of doing it like I've done for the last few years, I'm doing a race in Redmond instead. Looks like it's going to be a great weekend of riding!