Thursday, April 8, 2010

Racing at Seward Park - 4/8/2010

Seward Park 6 pm training crit (Cat 3/4's)

It's a good sign this race is feeling slightly easier every time. Racing against 3's was at first daunting, but for the most part they seem like 4's who've just been riding for a while, and are a tad faster. The pack is smoother, and tighter too - experienced racers joke about how the 5's ride with two feet between each rider, which feels close enough for those new to racing - but in this pack we're less than a foot from each other, sometimes less. Not much room for sketchy riders, and luckily I didn't see many.

My plan, if I even had one besides getting in a good workout, was to "sit in" and save my energy for the finish. Since I weigh 145-ish lbs these days I have perhaps a slight advantage over some on the uphill-ish sprint finish. "Sitting in" always sounds easy but there are no free rides in a race.

The plan was loosely defined, and I just went with the flow. There were four "prime" laps, where the first person across the line wins $10 & some Nuun tablets and a water bottle. Enough to get the race animated! But I planned on ignoring those.

A Cat 3 on our team went for the last prime, with about 3 laps to go. On the downhill section he had a nice lead on us, he actually looked small in the distance. Chris & I got on the front and tried to control the pace, e.g. slow it down a tad to let our guy get away for the prime, though we probably didn't do the best job of it. This is important stuff folks! Winning a prime is not just for the material benefits, it's the bragging rights we're all after. A noble pursuit indeed.

But on the uphill just before the finish we could see that our guy was running out of gas.. so Jordan jumped to go for it and I hopped on his wheel. We blew buy the blown RCR guy and I'm sitting second wheel cruising up to the line, in perfect position to come around for the prime! Or so I thought..

I probably thought about it too much, and just when I was about to make my move Jordan's team mate Mark came flying by the both of us, taking the prime. Good job Mark, well played.

Well, that was fun but now I had to recover at 185 beats-per-minute & 25 mph! Only two laps to go so I better recover quick. And you'd think you can just coast on the downhill, but it seemed like there was a nasty headwind there and you had to fight just to keep up with the rest of the pack. A few seconds of coasting here and there felt great, but I lost positions on the climb the next time around.

On the final lap I was in the top 20-30 (e.g. not placed great), the pack was really fluid, but I saw the guy that won last week (from Garage Racing) and marked his wheel. He was moving up through the pack so it seemed like a good wheel to be on. We got to the climb and started winding up, but it was so crowded there wasn't much space to move around.

Still, I passed a few gassed people and was making up decent ground - certainly not gunning for a win but at least better than last week, maybe a top 20. Just as we're cresting the hill I see commotion out of the corner of my eye and look over to the right to see Mark sliding on the ground, with another guy tangling with him.. Yikes!

Sounds like the guy was either getting lapped or was just gassed, and decided to pull off to the right when he heard the pack coming - without checking behind him.. So Mark was coming up the outside (where there was some space) and this guy just ran into him. For the record, the correct thing to do when you're ready to check out of the race is just ride in a straight line; people will find their way around you. Mark ended up with some road rash, but he seemed OK and his bike was still functional.

Came in somewhere around 20th. Racing with 3's is great training for the 4's crit at Volunteer Park on Saturday, I hope. Feeling good, had fun, what more can I ask for. It was great to see all the familiar faces and get to race on dry roads.

Race Stats/Data

Duration: 42:46 (missed first two laps)
Work: 613 kJ
TSS: 73.1 (intensity factor 1.013)
Norm Power: 294
VI: 1.23
Distance: 17.095 mi
Elevation Gain: 1886 ft
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 1090 239 watts
Heart Rate: 148 189 171 bpm
Cadence: 25 139 82 rpm
Speed: 1.6 55.8 24.0 mph
Crank Torque: 0 1654 232 lb-in

Recently raised FTP estimate to 290, I think it's about right.

Peak 5-sec was 1,038w - best I've done in the last few months - alas, only 15.8 w/kg or so.. gotta work on that. (Good enough to drop your local commuter, or myself last year, but not good enough to win a field sprint outright)

Training - The Big Picture

Here is my Performance Management Chart from the last few months. It's a visualization of the "training load" you've accumulated over time. When the yellow bars are down and the blue/purple lines are up, I'm putting in lots of miles and fitness ("form") should be there. And while like any other approximation it will never be an exact representation of where I'm at (how I feel) - it gives you an indicator, a reminder of where you've been, training-wise.

In roughly the middle of the graph you can see the big dip in yellow and the corresponding rise in the blue/purple lines - I believe that was my "Base 3" phase - four weeks of 10-15 hours per week of endurance riding.

If you have no idea what I'm saying understand this: I've been gearing up for the Volunteer Park Crit!! Ready to tear off some legs on Saturday.. been waiting years to do this one. (all this mumbo jumbo & graphs is from the WKO+ app, by the way)

Bike Links

In other news I've added two pages to the blog that offer links to all kinds of cool sites.

If you have other sites you think should be on either of those pages, send me a note!


Michael said...


I'll (probably) never race, but over the last few months, it's been extremely interesting to read your blog. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I was wondering what event your Joe Friel peak was going to cover. Now we know. I'm on your wheel this saturday (if I can keep up). Good Luck. Tim

matt m said...

@Michael: Thanks! I have a lot of fun doing these events and I'm glad if I can translate even 50% of the experience onto the blog.

@Tim: Hey! Yeah I guess you can say I've shown my hand - this is indeed a target race for me, even though I've never done it before! So we'll see.

And while it may seem a bit early in the season to "peak," the great part about it is there can be more than one per season. So I should be able to peak again for the Ballard Crit (not saying that's another target race... but if it were I would definitely target another peak there)

See ya at the race tomorrow!