Saturday, August 13, 2011

Testing - Aug 2011

In light of my feelings about what's going on with my riding, I decided to do some trainer testing today. It's not the most fun thing, but it gets you some numbers to work with, which is good for us engineers!

The first test I did was a 5 minute critical power test. It was hard, but I crushed it compared to the test I did in March! I improved 14%! (That's the nice thing about testing infrequently, and comparing to an early Spring number.)

Then I did my 20 minute / LT field test. Doing it shortly after the CP5 test is a change to my typical test protocol, but my result wasn't so different. I had a good improvement here also, but not as much as I was hoping for.

The tests sort of confirmed what I've been feeling, that I can make good power over short periods, but I have trouble holding it. So, I'm going to try to focus on improving that over the next month and see how things go.

The other interesting thing I noticed in the 20 minute test was how I was using my gears. Since I can watch my speed / power on the trainer computer, I can see how my speed is influenced by gear selection. I find that I end up using a slightly harder gear on the trainer than I probably would on the road or trail. When I do switch to that easier gear, if my legs need a break, my speed drops off immediately and my heart rate starts climbing. I'd mentioned some time ago that I'd noticed my HR was getting lower for these tests, and I'm pretty sure that this gearing thing is why.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cross Practice - 2011

I did my first Tuesday night 'cross session at the track this week. We had kind of a small turnout, due to the threatening weather I think. Still, I was pretty encouraged about how things went. It seemed like my bike-handling has improved again from last year, and I had lots of punch out of corners, up hills, etc.

The not-so-encouraging thing was that I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to maintain that punch for very long. Pretty much also how my mountain biking has gone this year...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Big-M XC

I raced the Big-M XC race this weekend. I've never been there before, so I drove up Saturday to pre-ride. I have to say, I was a little disappointed with the course. It was almost totally non-technical; just the last big downhill required a little care. There was lots of climbing though, so it was tough physically.

I camped out with some other Rhinos on Saturday night, so that was pretty fun.

My class had a decent turnout for the race, 12 guys, including most of the usual East-side suspects. The first couple miles of the course were pretty flat, so the race was fast right from the gun. I did a good job hanging on to the pack for a while, but then I popped right before we got to the first long climb / false flat. In hindsight, I probably went a little too hard at the start, because it took me quite a while to recover from the effort. On the other hand, the hard start also let me drop one of the guys I beat, and I never saw him again.

I finally recovered a bit for the second lap, and the second and third laps went pretty well. I've been working on trying to maintain my momentum on the singletrack, and it seemed like I was doing that better.

My legs were feeling the effect of the climbs on the last lap though, and I was pretty cooked. Near the end of the lap, I saw a guy standing to the side of the trail sucking wind. I asked if he was OK and went by him (I didn't recognize him or check his number). He hopped on his bike and went by me. It wasn't until he had a bit of a gap that I wondered if he was in my class. I didn't have anything left to chase him, and at the finish, I saw he was in my class. Doh! So, he beat me by about 15s.

Anyway, I felt like I had a pretty decent race, and it was nice to beat a couple guys, even though I still finished at the back of the pack. It still seems like my weakness is just maintaining my power. I'm OK for the short bursty stuff and the climbs, but the longer efforts get to me.

For the first time I can remember, I also felt like I would have gone faster on a different bike. There weren't a lot of rough sections, but there was one section in particular that was mostly flat and had a bunch of roots. The roots were big enough that I felt like I had to do something (stand, unweight a bit, etc) to get over them without getting bucked around. When I was fresh, that wasn't a problem, but as the race wore on I was wishing the bike would just roll over that stuff faster. Supposedly, a 29er would do that, and I probably could have sat down and pedaled on a full-suspension bike. Since the mountain bike season is almost over, I probably won't do anything about it this year, but maybe next year...

Monday, August 08, 2011

Friday, August 05, 2011


Seems like I might be back on the upswing. Work was still too crazy this week, but at least I started feeling better on my bike.

I went downstairs Wednesday night to ride the trainer after the kids went to bed, and found that I had a flat tire! Seriously, how do you get a flat tire on a bike that just sits on the trainer? (Answer, it was an old tube and it developed a hole next to the stem.) Anyway, after I fixed the flat, I had a surprisingly good ride. It makes me wonder if my tire was going down last week when I couldn't finish my trainer ride.

Last night I rode with the Rhinos at Holdridge. My legs felt surprisingly good again and I had a lot of fun. Some of the flat pedal technique I've been working on is definitely carrying over to the clipless pedals and I'm riding much better because of it. Life is much better for me when I feel decent on the bike...

I'm racing at Big-M this weekend. I've never been there before, so it should be interesting. People say that it's a hilly, non-technical course. In past years, I would say that this was good for me. This year, I'm not so sure.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Grinding Down

Well, last week was only slightly better than the previous week. I was reasonably motivated, but I felt pretty bad on my bike. I crashed twice going pretty fast on the mountain bike; it's been a while since I've had a big crash. Work has also been way too stressful.

I feel like my training has been just grinding me down and making me tired rather than helping me build up. So, I think some changes to the training plan are in order, at least until I can start recovering a little better.