Sunday, April 17, 2011

Stage 4

The final stage of the Tour of Walla Walla was a 91-mile road race around the backroads of Waitsburg, WA.  This was probably the hardest road race I have done.  The combination of speed and high winds made this race extremely difficult.  For the first time in a road race, I got dropped.  After 78 miles, on the final lap of 3, I could no longer sustain the speed and constant accelerations of the peloton.  I haven't hurt that bad on a bike in a long time.  Looking at the number of DNF's and the total number of riders that finished this race vs. the number that started is a good indication of how hard it was.  This was a battle of attrition.

The Tour of Walla Walla race has certainly become a priority race for some big teams.  The last time I did this race was nearly 7 years ago and I don't remember it being such an important race.  However, the number of Canadian teams that were in town for the race definitely meant something.  

With about 13 miles to go, I was slowly losing sight of the peloton and knew it would be a dog fight back to the finish with the high winds ahead.  I was caught out in "no-man's land" for about 4 miles before catching up to a few other riders that had been dropped.  A few more miles and we were catching more riders.  The 10K to go sign came and it seemed to take for ever to see the 1K sign to the finish.  After crossing the line my body had been completely zapped of energy, however, I now had to ride back to the staging area for another 4 miles...ugghhh! 

Considering this was only my 2nd race of the season, I know that this will only make me stronger for the season ahead, so overall it was a successful race for me.  Sometimes getting dropped and having to suffer alone can make you mentally stronger as well.  It's always good to find out your limit.  Now it's time to rest up a few days and let the muscles adapt and recover.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

stage 3

Tonight was the crit stage, a 55-min hammerfest held on the streets of downtown Walla Walla.  It's one of the more challenging courses consisting of a 1.1 mile lap with 8 corners.  The constant accelerations out of each corner begin to add up over time.  The streets were rough with several holes (some of which were on the corners) making it critical to choose a good line.  It was a safe race tonight without any crashes and another good hard race for me.  Legs felt pretty good during the crit, so hopefully they will be ready for tomorrow's big day.

Stages 1 & 2

The first two stages of the Tof WW are complete but not with some drama.  Stage 1 kicked off in Waitsburg, WA on Friday with a 63 mile road race. With a neutral roll out up the major climb on the course things started off mellow.  About 1/4 the way to the top the race was on.  Within 2 miles of descending, and rain falling, there was a major crash (not sure what happened) that took a few riders out of the race.  When the race was over and I was back at my car, I overheard someone say that a rider had severely messed up his face along with breaking a collarbone.  The weather wasn;t supposed to be a factor, but within an hour of the start it was evident that it would.  Temps continued to drop into the low 40's and the rain began to fall very hard.  Everyones hands wer numb and it was getting difficult to see at times; rooster tails were flying everywhere.  I stayed up near the front as much as I could, the pace of the entire race was very fast, and felt pretty good.  However, before the start of the race,. my quads both seized up with charlie horses.  I;m not sure what happened but it was very uncomfortable to pedal.  I thought it would eventually go away but it never did.  It was an unpleasant race from that stand point, however, I am surprised my legs were able to hold up as good as they did.  The finish was on the main climb and that is where the race was won.  About 1/2 way up the climb riders began attacking; I stayed with the main group but eventually fell off the pace and finished 1.5 min. behind the winner.  All in all a very hard race but another successful race for me.  My goal for these first two races (King's Valley, and Tour of Walla Walla) was to race hard, get some race miles in the legs and have fun...mission accomplished.   At the end of stage 1 I immediately changed clothes and turned the heater on in the car.  It took a while before my body began to feel warm again.  I think everyone suffered a little today.  These are the kind of races that you will never be able to simulate in training alone.

Stage 2 was the TT, and for me all I try to do is race at my threshold level (325-330 watts).  I don;t expect to do that well considering I have no aero equipment and don't train for TT's.   If I could I would just skip the TT, but unfortunately I wouldn't be able to start the other races then.  The TT course had 1 small hill and the rest was mostly flat, but the wind was blowing pretty hard so riding in an aero position helped considerably.  I think I was passed by 4 riders and ended up 4 minutes off the winning time.  For the 9.6 mile course I turned in a time of 24:17.

The crit is tonight and then Sunday is a 92 mile road race which has over 5500 ft of climbing.  Should be another good hard race; the good thing is that the weather looks to be much better.  More info to come later.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wine country

Heading up to Walla Walla, WA (well known for it's superb wineries) to compete in the Tour of Walla Walla stage race.  This is a 3-day, 4 stage road race that includes 2 road races, a crit and TT. I'm using this race to again prep the legs with some race miles for some bigger upcoming races.  The road race stages include 65 and 91-mile distances.  My goal for this race is to hopefully get into a break in one of the road races for a high placing, and get a good gauge of my threshold watts during the TT.

For more info on the race check out Tour of Walla Walla

Sunday, April 10, 2011

In the books

Yeah that's right, the first race of the season is officially in the books. I'm very happy with how my body responded to not only racing but my first group ride and effort above "tempo".  I have been training specifically for multi-day endurance events, so much of my training has been at or below tempo pace.  I am using the King's Valley RR and Tour of Walla Walla races to get in some speed work.  It felt great to not hold back and just let the legs loose.

I was a bit surprised how fast the start of the race began.  Literally right from the gun I went from 0 watts to about 530 watts for several minutes.  The pace didn't let up until about 15 minutes in.  King's Valley RR was a 75 miles (4 lap) rolling hills course.  Road conditions were very good and the weather was clear skies with temps in the high 50's; a nice change from what I have been used to in Bend.

For the first 2 laps I decided to play it safe and just hide out in the middle of the pack.  Not knowing how the legs would respond, I didn't want to blow up before the finish.  By the start of the third lap I was feeling pretty good, and decided to hang out near the top 10-15 spots the rest of the race just to keep an eye on any breaks that might look good to get in.  Nothing ever materialized until the final lap with only 1/2 lap to go.  I missed the break and continued to stay near the front.  The final 1K is a gradual uphill finish and going into that I was roughly  in 8th position but my legs didn't have any left to sprint to the finish (as usual) and lost many sports the final 500 meters.

Not concerned about my result, however, I am very happy with  my overall fitness right now.  My body weight is very close to where I want it to be and my legs have responded well to everything I have thrown at them.  Now it's getting close to see if they will respond when I REALLY need them. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tracking my rides

With the use of a Garmin Oregon 550t GPS device I am now able to keep track of all my training and racing log profiles.  This GPS is very useful and simple to use.  With all touch-screen buttons, it's easy to navigate thru each setting while riding.

This is from a ride I did out on some singletrack near Bend, finally able to get on the trails.  Still lots of snow above 4,000ft and even in certain areas below that are not exposed to the sun.