Friday, November 30, 2007

Race Weather Forecast

Forecast for Saturday night... snow storm.

Forecast for Sunday morning... rain / ice mix.

Put it all together and you get epic race conditions! The course is going to be full of snow, ice, mud, and pain! I'm so cranked up for this race I can hardly sit still!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Numbers Don't Lie

I had a good backyard cyclocross practice session last night. There was still snow on the ground, so I worked a bit on cornering as well as my usual barrier stuff. As of this morning though, they're predicting rain for Sunday. Doh! I felt pretty comfortable with my bike handling in the snow; I just need to stay loose and look where I want to go. I did notice that I got a little more winded than usual during my practice. In reality, it's because it takes more work to ride through the snow; unfortunately, it also feeds my "my fitness is going to crap because I haven't been doing anything for a month" neurosis...

What happens when you try to peak for a few races is that your training volume drops way down (in my case, roughly cut in half) but intensity goes up. When you're used to riding every day though, and then you start riding every other day (even though you're going really hard), it feels like you're not riding enough and your fitness is slipping. Anyway, I started worrying about this last night and then this afternoon again.

Tonight, I did the Spinervals workout "No Slackers Allowed". It's a pretty intense anaerobic workout, good for keeping the race engine tuned up. I felt pretty bad during the workout (not unusual), but my average power and the distance I rode were almost identical (actually, slightly higher) to when I did this workout 3 weeks ago! Intellectually, I understand that this means my fitness hasn't fallen off much, but I'm still not feeling good about it yet. Maybe it will sink in tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


"Losers quit when they're tired, winners quit when they win."
- Unknown (to me anyway)

More work on the cars last night. This time I put the snow tires on my car; there was no time pressure, so, of course, everything went quickly and easily. I also put a new battery in my car. The old one was 6 years old, and starting to show some signs of weakness. The new battery should be good (relatively inexpensive) insurance that I won't get stuck somewhere this winter.

I decided to do a relatively short sprint workout last night. I still wasn't feeling 100% recovered, so I opted for that instead of some longer intervals. It ended up being a pretty fun workout. I was really focused on going all out for every interval (it's not so hard when the interval is only 10 seconds long). I don't know if it was physically the optimal thing to do, but, mentally, I think it worked well for me.

I ended up hitting 971W for peak power ouput during the workout. I don't normally pay attention to peak power, but about halfway through the workout, I noticed I had hit 943W. After that, I kept trying to bump it up, I was trying to hit 1000W. I was still pretty happy with 971W; I'm sure that's a new PB for me.

In my copious free time, I've been trying to figure out how to win the race on Sunday. Step 1 is easy (to figure out), I just need to stay with the lead group. I was very close to being able to do this at Munson, but I couldn't quite hang on. Part of the problem there was that I didn't get close enough to the back rider. I was trailing off 5 feet or so and wasn't getting much drafting benefit. Step 2 is much harder... assuming I can stay with the lead group, how do I break away? There's at least one guy that usually finishes up front that I don't want to end up in a sprint with.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rest Day

Yesterday's rest day wasn't as restful as I'd hoped. We had a pretty decent little snowstorm in the afternoon, so I scrambled around trying to get Sarah's snow tires on her car. She had to go back out and coach last night. Of course, the tires had leaked a bit over the summer, so they all had about 20psi in them... definitely not enough. After I got that wrapped up, I shoveled the driveway. I probably didn't need to, but I wanted to keep it from icing up today.

I guess it really wasn't too bad, but I would have rather just lounged around instead. I was in bed by 8:30pm. I'm not sure that I'm fully recovered today, but I'll do a hard ride tonight anyway... it's my last week after all.

I'm considering the possibility of a snowy race this weekend. I expect that the snow we have now will melt by Sunday, but you never know. Right now, they're also predicting that it will snow on Sunday. The recommendations I've found are to run tire pressures low in the snow... so, I'll probably stick with my normal pressure of 30psi.

I ended up riding in the snow a bit this past Sunday. I didn't have any traction issues, but I was generally taking corners pretty easy. The big thing I noticed was that braking was much worse. I think it was taking several wheel revolutions for the pads and rim to clean up. I didn't shift much, but that may also be an issue.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


I came back from Savannah, Georgia this afternoon. I had a nice trip visiting some of Sarah's family this week. I kept the diet pretty clean and got lots of sleep, so I'm feeling pretty good today.

The weather was nice, mid-70's most of the time. The city of Savannah is pretty cool, there are lots of nicely restored buildings and squares. We poked around the city some on Wednesday. I went for a run Thursday morning. Since I wanted an anaerobic effort, I did sprint intervals for about 20 minutes. On Friday, Sarah and I went on a kayak tour. It was quite a bit different than the kayaking we did in Alaska. We had to contend with a lot more wind and current on Friday; I had fun paddling through the waves though.

It was a little disappointing to come home to some snow, but the weather was good enough to ride. Unfortunately, it was dark by the time I was ready, so I rode the trainer. I'm planning to ride outside tomorrow for a while. I need to drill 'cross skills for a little while anyway.

Here's a familiar-looking guy enjoying his race at Munson:

(Photo: Andrea Tucker)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Still Fired Up

“If I am still standing at the end of the race, hit me with a board and knock me down, because that means I didn’t run hard enough.”
- Steve Jones

It hasn't taken me long to get fired up for the Waterford race, it hit me driving home from work last night. Another wave hit me last night before bed and I had trouble falling asleep. Too bad I have to wait two weeks! I really want to crack the top 3 at this race. I know it will depend on who shows up, but I'm going to do everything I can to make it happen. The key for me will be to stay with the lead group for the whole first lap and make that first selection. Then I'll have to figure out how to stay there...

I'm sitting in 3rd place right now for the overall series, but, assuming the fast guys show up at Waterford, I probably won't keep it. The most likely scenario is that I'll drop to 4th or 5th overall.

Anyway, there's nothing I can do about who shows up or how well they race, so I'm just going to really focus on getting myself ready for the next two weeks. After that, the season's over and I can take a break.

I'm heading down to Georgia this evening for the week. Once we get down there, it should be pretty relaxing. I'll try to do a hard run on Thursday, but that'll be about it. I was up at 4am to ride this morning before work; I was definitely not recovered from the race and hockey on Sunday.

Also, a picture from Steve Balogh from the Munson race...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Munson CX - 2007 Edition

"30 seconds, c'mon, anyone can suffer for 30 seconds!"
- Coach Troy

This morning was the 2007 edition of the Munson Park Cyclocross race. We got typical Munson weather too, cold and windy.

I got to the park on time, but I was slow getting my stuff ready, so I was feeling some time pressure for the warmup. As a result, I rode a little more aggressively in my warmup laps than I usually do, but it seemed to work out OK.

I got a good position at the start, front row in the middle (on the gravel path instead of on the grass). At the whistle, I made it into a group of 4 at the front. There was a small gap behind me to Mark C (FRCC) and John O (TSB). I stayed with the group pretty well until we hit the volleyball court, about halfway through the lap. I tried to ride it but got bogged down and had to get off and run. That allowed the other guys to open a gap that I was never able to fully close. So, that left me in no-man's land, working in the wind between two groups. I considered sitting up and letting Mark and John catch me so I could draft with them, but the gap I had was big enough that I didn't want to let it go.

I rode the second lap basically by myself, just out of reach of that front group. At the end of the lap, Mark finally caught me and pulled me down the windy front straight (thanks Mark!). I went back around Mark on the hill after the first barriers on the third lap. Since I was tucked in behind Mark crossing the line, I didn't see how many laps we had left, but I was hearing the announcer call "one to go" as other racers were crossing the line. It was sort of a critical point, because it was going to affect how I rode the rest of that lap, especially with Mark right with me.

I saw Sarah after the volleyball court and asked her how many laps I had to do. She thought it was one, but she wasn't sure either. I decided to ride as if it was one to go. I could see that Mark was just a few bike lengths behind me when the course doubled back on itself. When I got off the hill for the last time to go around the reservoir, I decided it was time to punch it. I couldn't see or hear Mark, but I kept after it (including that last hard effort into the wind). It was the last lap, and I finished a couple bike lengths ahead of Mark.

So, I got another 4th place, which I'm happy with, but I was hoping to break the top 3 this weekend. While it was my mistake in the volleyball pit that opened the gap, I don't think I would have ultimately been able to stay with that group. Especially with the wind, my threshold power was just a little too low to hang with those guys today. The Waterford course in a couple weeks will be much different (but potentially also windy), so we'll see how that goes. It'll be the last race of the season!

Last point is about how my tapering has worked. I definitely feel better than I did when I tried to taper last year. Last year I felt like my fitness really dropped off when I tried to taper, but I'm not feeling that way this year. I think the key has been going really hard when I do ride during the week. The legs felt very good during the first lap today, I didn't feel that lactic acid buildup like I usually do.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cyclocross Linkage

Jeff Weinert's blog. Jeff's a local guy that always seems to finish at the front of the 'cross races in Michigan.

A couple of links about Jon Baker, an American racing in Europe this Winter. Here and here.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fired Up!

My motivation to race has been very high this week. It started Tuesday morning, I was just fired up on my way into work thinking about the race this weekend. I've pretty much been like that ever since. That's one of the nice things about the Race phase; the reduced training volume leads to pretty high motivation.

I did some nice hard workouts on the trainer tonight and Tuesday night. Last night, I got out and did a little backyard cyclocross practice before it got dark, and I also went for a short run. I've been revisiting my Chi Running book, so I was focusing on technique on my run. My calves are a little tight today, but not too bad. I was planning to run again tomorrow night, but unless my calves are fully recovered, I'll skip it to make sure I feel good for the race.

Monday, November 12, 2007


I played hockey again on Sunday night. For some reason, I never seem to play as well on nights when I don't race as I do on nights when I have raced... doesn't make much sense to me. Anyway, my legs felt dead and I didn't play particularly well. I think part of the problem was my nutrition over the weekend. I didn't do a very good job about eating lots of fruits and veggies; which means, on the Paleo diet, not too many carbs. I'm sure it had nothing to do with me not being able to stay out of our leftover Halloween candy corn...

The second weird thing was that there was an on-ice "incident" earlier in the day that had the rink running about 30 minutes behind schedule. We found out from the Zamboni guy that someone had fallen and hit his head pretty hard during open skate. Anyway, it meant that we started late, and finished late, and so I only got 5.5 hours of sleep. (Not that there's really a huge difference between 5.5 and 6 hours of sleep.) I'll get to bed early tonight though.

Also, a nice article about why people do what they do, and a link to a quick story about a 95-year-old man who set a new (age group) World Record in the 100m.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Running Article

I had a nice ride out at Pontiac Lake this morning. It was the first time I've ever cleaned the whole trail. There were a couple of steep climbs near the end of the trail that I've had trouble with. I really committed to making the first one today, but once I made the first one, I knew I had to make the second one.

Once I came home, I did a little cyclocross practice in the backyard. I felt like my barrier and remounting techniques were a little sloppy last weekend. I worked a bit on shouldering the bike for runups too. It's something that I seem to be doing more and more this year. The shouldering motion is a little slower than suitcasing or pushing the bike, but I feel like running with the bike shouldered is much more efficient. The key for me today was finding the right spot to grab the downtube so that my elbow didn't bang into the seat tube.

I ran across an interesting article about the state of distance running in the US. He cover, among other things: barefoot running, nasal breathing and anaerobic training.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


This week I'm continuing to work on peaking for my last two races. Basically, I'm doing hard rides every other day and taking the other days off. I'm trying to keep the hard days really hard and the easy days pretty easy. I think one of my mistakes last year was not going hard enough on the hard days during the Peak and Race phases.

My ride on Tuesday was just OK (I probably wasn't quite recovered from the races last weekend), but I felt pretty good tonight. Unfortunately, it gets dark so early now that I'm having to do these rides on the trainer. I'll try to do some riding outside this weekend though.

Here's an update on Rasmussen's TdF scandal. He now admits to lying about his whereabouts to the UCI, but he still claims that he didn't dope. I probably wouldn't have linked to the article, but there's an interesting table at the end showing his hematocrit and hemogloblin levels.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Colin Powell

Presentation from Colin Powell on leadership. Some interesting points here.

Vets Park - Race 2

First off, a little more news about Ryan Shay. He apparently had an enlarged heart and was told, at some point, he would likely need a pacemaker to help address this. So, his dad thought that Ryan likely died of cardiac arrest. I also just saw that the first autopsy results were inconclusive.

So, getting down to my race this morning. The course was a little easier and a little shorter today. I also felt better going into it; I got lots of sleep last night and my legs felt pretty good (I thought they seemed a little dead yesterday).

The race actually went about like it did yesterday. I got off to a very good start; I rode a decent chunk of the first lap in second place (two of the guys up front fell early). I couldn't keep up the pace though and had to back off. After the first lap, it looked about like yesterday (just with some different people), the first two guys were gone, and then I was in a loose group of 4, and then there was another big gap.

Unlike yesterday, I wasn't able to stay in very close contact with the group and was dangling in 6th (off the podium) for most of the race. In particular, on the 3rd lap, Mark put in a pretty big attack on a TSB guy; I wasn't watching closely enough and they got a big gap on me. Still, the hills were wearing them down, and I kept working and had nearly closed it all up again toward the end of the 4th lap.

The TSB guy fell on an off-camber corner late in the 4th lap; he did a good job getting up quickly, but the damage was done and I got by him. Once I made the pass, I punched it, thinking I might be able to push the rest of the way. This also had the effect of closing the gap to Mark; Mark saw me coming and wasn't having any of that, so he cranked it up and finished ahead of me. I kept my gap to the TSB guy and finished (a lucky) 5th.

So, even though I felt better today, I raced a little worse. I just didn't have it in me to close gaps when I needed to in the middle laps today. Still, it was a good result. I'm basically where I wanted to be for the year. My goal was to do well enough in the C races this year that I'd feel comfortable moving up to the B's next year. I doubt that I'll be battling for podium spots in the B's, but I shouldn't be getting completely crushed either.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Vets Park - Race 1

We've got a cyclocross double-header going on this weekend. Today was race 1, tomorrow is race 2. This year is the first year I've done races on back-to-back days; the UCI race weekend wasn't too bad, but we'll see how this one goes.

So, the race this morning went well for me. The course suited me well, lots of climbing. I went out hard at the start, like the last race. And, like the last race, I quickly found myself in 3rd behind a couple guys who looked intent on checking out; I had to let them go. Near the end of the lap, it became obvious to me that I was still going too hard and had to back off. Once that happened, a few people started coming by. I tried to keep the gaps small; the one exception was a guy in a plain blue jersey who I thought would surely pop and come back to me (I was wrong, he finished 3rd).

The bulk of the second and third laps saw me in a group with English Mark and 2 Team Sandbag guys (the Team Sandbag guys are usually not, as their name suggests, sandbaggers). I had some trouble staying with the group on the 2nd lap (Mark, in particular), but I did, and the third lap was a little easier. What became clear to me riding with this group was that I could take them on the hills; I didn't play this card until the last lap though.

So, on the last lap (4), the group was still basically together. Mark was ahead of me, but we had gotten by the TSB guys (if I'm remembering correctly). Mark was tiring a bit, and after the first barrier section I found myself in the front of the group. Still, the other guys were within striking distance and we had a long way to go. I decided that I'd try to use my climbing advantage and open a gap well before we got near the finish. My idea was to punch it hard up every hill and then ride at our normal pace on the flats. It took a couple of hills, and then the gap started to open. By the end, Mark was a couple corners behind me, and I could relax a little to the finish. I wound up 4th (another podium); about 30s behind 3rd.

Tomorrow, they're going to tweak the course a little bit and we'll basically ride it backward from today. The basic character should be the same though, so I'm hoping for another good day.

I came home today to check out the Olympic Marathon Trials coverage. The big story was not the race, unfortunately, but that one of the runners collapsed and died about 5 miles in. Some articles from ESPN here and here. I'll be interested to see what they find out about the cause; it's hard to fathom an elite marathoner collapsing 5 miles into a race. My guess is that they will say "previously undiagnosed heart disorder". Assuming I'm right, this is one of the reasons I've made my diet change; we're seeing increased scientific and anecdotal evidence of a link between high-carb diets and heart disease (that Shay was on a high-carb diet is my assumption #2). Anyway, that part of the race news has me bummed out this afternoon.