Wednesday, April 20, 2011

HR data for Fat Tire Classic, Farmington, CT

From my Polar RS800 PTE:


Large Pic of this Data

From this data, my lap times were (rounded off by a couple of seconds):

lap 1: 25
lap 2: 25
lap 3: 26
lap 4: 25

Not exactly impressive!

That lap 3 was the slowest makes complete sense to me.  The first two laps are usually filled w/ adrenaline, wanting to do well, and trying to keep up w/ the Joneses.  Then the pain sets in and the reality that I am only half way done takes the wind out of the sails.  Lap 3 is demoralizing and is in no man lands.  I worry about sustainability and not wanting to over do it.  But then eventually lap 4 starts and comes with renewed energy/hope/end of the tunnel in sight... since this is the last one.  This is it!   Just have to survive it one more time and then DONE.  Every root, log, mud bog I hit will be the last time I will have to cross/fight it. I can tolerate the pain a little bit more since it will be gone soon.  

I did not get a medal at this race and my time was not very stellar, but if you look at my hr data, there is a clear proof of effort and hard work, and with that I am pretty satisfied!!!  Maybe I can call Jill and ask for an "effort award"!  I do have to admit that part of me is a little impressed that at my 40+ age I can still sustain an avg hr of 191 bpm for 1h 40 min!

I had this long conversation w/ my wife the night before this race about the state of our higher, secondary, and elementary education and one of the topic was how our educational systems rewards and even encourages mediocracy and even less! I'll try to keep it short here.  Case in point is how everyone gets a medal for participation.  The original intent behind this was actually quite good.  It was meant to reward, especially in the early grades, those who worked really hard but came just short of coming out on top; to recognize that hard work; and to encourage them to continue working hard in the future.  Sadly, like too many things, it has been taken to the extreme, since now the system just rewards everyone, including those who do nothing.  This now results in kids electing to not put in any effort since they'll get rewarded anyways.  Later on these same kids turn into a bunch of entitled teenagers who think the world should be handed to them, without having to do anything for it.

I do like my polar rs800 pte in that I can wear as a watch and never loose my bike computer that way.   Also the Pro Trainer software is really pretty good, though has a little learning curve.  What is nice about it is how much manipulation of the data you can post ride/race.  The real problems are that it breaks often and is today back at polar for the 3rd time in two years, and I would like power data, which Polar doesn't offer as an ad on.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Root 66 Race Series: Fat Tire Classic, Farmington, CT (4/17/2011)

Ah yes the annual leg opener.  The race that really holds that mirror up to how well you have prepared for the season and how fit you really are.   I love this damn race.  Even though there are no hills and there is nothing really technical about it, its a great challenge.  There are really no, and I mean NO recovery areas.  It's all pedaling all the time.  (There is actually one area where you can coast for maybe 100 yards: 2/3 of the way through coming out of the fire road left into a slight sandy down hill under the power lines.  That is it though.  And even there, if you are fit enough, you should not coast.  Which I didn't...on the first lap and I pedaled about 1/2 on the second lap. The other two laps, well they were what they were!)

It had poooooored the night before and driving on Route 6 from Providence to Hartford, there was a lot of flooding and could only imagine what kind of mud fest this race was going to be.  I almost turned around a couple of times and called it quits.  In my defense, since I had re-injured my IT band on my strained my knee two days before and it was still quite sore, the smart part of me told me to lay off the bike of a week.  I almost listened to that part. But I kept on driving!  It was the Fat Tire and the root 66 opener after all.

Got there later than I wanted (of course), and though it was cold, things warmed real quick in the woods during the pre ride.  I actually had to go back before the start of the race and peal off a couple of layers.  Glad I did too as I would have baked!

Like every year, this race brought out a lot of racers, and the field at line up was quite big.  Tried to look for the familiar faces and found a couple but also noticed many of the past years usuals were missing. I knew the start was going to be a mess as the start was again sandy fire road into a sandy turn and then quickly into a single file singletrack w/ a slimy log crossing that needed to be taken slow.  And it was indeed quite a mess almost having to com to a full stand still.  After the log, the pace picked up nicely and stayed there.  (I like that in cat 1 racers start at a pace they can usually sustain.  I guess if you made it to that category, you have some fitness self awareness!  In cat 2, there were a fair amount of guys that would sprint to the front at the start but then blow up 300 yards in, fumble, and hold every one else up.  Always the same damn guys too...)

Though Farmington is far form a technical course, since the course was tacky and the roots were wet, it did require some attentiveness as some tight fast turns could get quite slippery and if you did not pay attention, you could end up w/ a mouth full of bark. I heard someone crash behind me close to the start but could not turn around to find out what happened. They had added some new singletrack sections this year which made for some nice minor changes. They did remove the off camber drop.  Too bad as I liked that one, though I bet w/ the wet course that would have been a neck breaker! There were two large mud pits. The first was very watery and going straight through the center created quite a splash but did not really slow you down.  The second one was towards the end and was the same one that was there last year (and is in the picture at the top of this blog from the 2010 race).  This one was long, like peanut butter, and had no line through it.  It sucked the energy right out of the legs.

I lost track right away of my placement in the pack.  I didn't really care anyways.  I was more competing against myself at this race and testing my overall fitness/endurance.  Also, I needed to make sure I was warmed up before trying to hammer to make sure I protected my knee as much as possible (which I had triple wrapped).   As we hit the first open sections of fire road and the passing began in earnest, I was able to keep up w/ whoever tried to pass me and stick to their wheel.  A guy on a 29er Giant passed and set a good pace so I stuck w/ him for a while.  Eventually on the short steepish fire road climb I passed him and he stuck to my wheel for a while.  On the start of lap two, some guy on a Cannondale passed us and I was again able to grab his wheel.  Again on all the climbs I was able to make up space.  Towards the end of lap two I had passed him again and was holding him off (barely).  I was feeling pretty fast and my knee was showing no signs of any pain.

Yet going through the start/finish area into lap three, I suddenly started to worry I was not going to be able to finish the race.  My legs were starting to really feel heavy and my tank felt like it was about to run out.  I had no idea how I was going to be able to finish another two laps.  (Endurance is such a weakness for me since I really only get to train for about 1.5 hours when I go out. I know I should be doing double or triple that, but just don't have time.)  Gu shot to the rescue, which helped just a bit!  Through lap three I was able to hold both Mr Giant and Cannondale off, though they felt very close, and I could spot them at the switchbacks.

As lap four progressed, they were no longer there and I had been able to get a little pull by the 50+ fast guy that passed (I believe his name is Josh).  I kept on checking behind me but there was no one there.  On the road section towards the end, I looked for any traffic coming through the wood but again I seemed to be in the clear and should not get passed before the finish.  I worked through the last mud pit and up the short steep climb w/ less than 1/2 mile to finish.  Somehow how though, some guy in my age group passed me as I started to climb up to the finish line!!!  I have no idea where he came from or how I missed him but he beat me by 7 seconds! Had I known he was coming I most likely would have been able to hold him off (or so I tell myself).  I've replayed this in my head a couple of times, and really don't see how I could have missed this guy or how he could have caught up to so quickly towards the end. Hmmmm....

The nice thing about finishing mid pack is that you barely have to wait for results to be posted.  I finished 16th out of 29.  Not great but honestly I am okay w/ that result.   I was able to leave the race w/ out blowing up my knee (which is a little sore today but nothing too bad), and no blood was shed on the course!

Some random thoughts after the race: 1) I somehow really need to find time to do longer rides.  2) though the there were really no real climbs,  I really did quite well, comparatively speaking, on the short climbs, being able to catch up or shed anyone on my wheel.  I wonder how that will translate on a climbing course. 3) I need some precise warming up routine.  The showing up late and getting a frantic 10 mins in is most likely not very conducive to a good start.  4) I also need to develop a decent cool down /post race routine.  5) Gu really seems to make a difference towards the end. 6) what the hell is up w/ my knee?  7) Damn I am far from first place time.  I would need to improve by 10 mins to move into top 3...

Monday, April 18, 2011

King of Burlingame

I ain't no King!  Nope, not even any type of royalty for that fact... more of a peasant, or a serf...

I love that the season is starting and that we'll be racing mountain bikes for the next 5 months.  Sweet!  I jumped a little from joy just writing that sentence!

Last year I flatted, and w/ all the mud it took forever to fix the flat, so I ended up a time of 40+ minutes and dead last placement in my age group.  That was a good way to start my Cat 1 experience!  The year before that I think I was at 34 and some.

 I "pre-raced" the course two weeks ago and posted a 34.04.  It was a little disappointing as I was hoping to break at least into the 33s.  And to feel like a real cat 1 racer, I wanted to break into the 32s!  Winter time spend locked up in a dingy dank stale basement watching the snow fall through a tiny dirty window as pools of sweat formed from being on the trainer all boiled down this: how low in the 30ies was this going to be?!  Was all that going to amount to anything?

I had a chance to pre ride the course several times over the past three weeks and felt like i had come up w/ a good strategy: ride to my hrm max on the non techy parts, but really slow down and recover before hitting those few technical sections to clean them well! Use them as mini recovery zones.  Also instead of hammering like a maniac out of the gate, I needed to slow down my start and build up.  This, plus my usual mantra of riding smarter (ie: stop looking at the rock you don't want hit, and look down the trail not the front of your tire) was going to be a lot to remember. It sounds stupid, but when I am racing I usually am not all that conscious since all the nervous energy, adrenaline, endorphins, heart trying to jump out my chest, a couple of verses from some random stupid annoying song echoing in my head, etc... really keep me from being aware.

I arrived to the race later than what I wanted to (like always), but was able to get a decent warm up.  I pre rode the second techy section (if you count the first drop into the small stream as the first), trying to stay high on the right and drop straight in between the two high rocks w/ enough momentum to clear the next step up.  In the previous pre rides I had gone left around the tree w/out too much problems but did not like the angle coming through those two sharp rocks, and worried that at race pace this would become an issue (especially w/ carbon chain stays!).

At the start of the race, I was able to remember to go fast w/out over doing it.  The plan seemed to work as I remained calm and was able to clear w/out issues the above mentioned section. The techy drop that soon followed was also no issue at all.  During it I spotted the guy who started before me, and  I passed him before the first left turn.  On the next left down into the fast slight downhill-ish single track, I spotted Frank and got to draft him for just a bit before he let me pass.  I then spotted Freddy on the fire road climb and was able to pass him before the top back into the single track.  After the stair drops, I saw Adam and quickly passed him.  In my little head I was having a party!  Passed 4 guys before the 1/2 mark, one of which was Adam.  I somehow caught & passed Adam!!   (turns out he had a flat which I had not noticed, which would be logical explanation for me passing him).  As I came onto the first road section,  I barely caught the sight of someone exiting the other side and entering the single track whose colors looked like an NBX guy.  Damn, could I possibly be catching Rich?  When I pre rode w/ him last week he beat my time by well over 1 minute!   In my excitement I gave it all I had hoping to catch him.  My "strategy" went out the window with the result of entering the muddy climb way too fast and trying to hammer through this and the next step up section.I picked the wrong line and I ended up having to put my foot down a couple of times. Stupid is as stupid does (yeah I did really just use that quote!).  I was able to regroup and stay clean until the next road section, where I finally caught the next rider.  Not only was it not Rich but it's the Bikeman kit from Alex that looks nothing like the NBX kit.  Don't know how I made that mistake.  Wishful thinking I guess. I passed Alex once we entered the last section and tried to dig as deep as I could to push through that long false flat to the finish.

My time ends up being 31.45, with a placement of 11th in my age group and 21st overall.  I was pretty exited about the time but disappointed by the placement.   Rich beat me by 17 seconds, so I never got close to him.Next year, maybe next year... for now I am looking forwards to my favorite race of the early season: Winding trails!

(Nate on the race course)

(Mike on the race course)