Monday, March 30, 2009

Breakthrough Threshold Workout

I broke out of my training rut today with a great 2 x 20 workout on the road. I averaged 334 watts for the first 20 minutes headed North up Hwy 269. I did the second one in 328 watts, but it was on a less than ideal route, with a left turn, two stop signs and almost no flat stuff. I did manage to finish strong averaging 397 watts for the final minute.

This is the first time I've averaged over 330 watts for 2 x 20, since 2005. I just hope it wasn't a fluke. My legs really felt like they should when you are tapering for a peak. It wasn't really planned, but due to all of the racing I've done lately, and being sick last week, I backed off some and as a result my TSB has been positive for about 7 days in a row.

Tomorrow I'm planning to make it to the training crit. I really like stacking two hard days in a row, and it works much better to do structure on day one, then a crit on day 2, than to start a two day block with a crit.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday Intervals

I stuggled with a sinus infection earlier in the week and didn't do much training. I did a 2 x 20 workout on Tuesday morning about nine hours after taking a dose of Nyquil, with predictably mediocre results. The next couple of days I spun easy for a few minutes and let myself recover.

Friday morning I felt much better so I again did a 2 x 20 workout. The goal was to go a little below threshold just to get the work done. I rode at 97% of FTP, but struggled near the end.

Today I felt better and banged out a pretty nice workout, once again on the trainer. I opted for the trainer(bailing out on my buddies who are out doing 110 miles), because I wanted to start early(before sunrise) and because rain was on the way. I decided to try something new - a 20 min set of micro-intervals. First I did 20 minutes at a little under FTP. I averaged 313 watts and didn't have to kill myself to hold the pace, which was perfect. Then I set out to do 20 minutes, alternating between 30 sec at 400 watts and 30 sec at 200 watts. That would lead to 300 watts avg, but I felt really good doing these so I upped the pace a bit and averaged 313 watts with an NP of 328. Surprisingly, the micro-interval set felt easier than the well paced first 20 minutes.

After that, I had enough in the tank to cruise for 12 minutes at about 90% FTP, to rack up a few more TSS points, ending with 112 for the day in 1:25. Post workout I polished off a giant stack of pancakes, easily replacing the 1319 calories I just burned.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Win at Out Like a Lion 35+ RR

I won the Out Like a Lion road race yesterday in a 7 up sprint! No that's not a misprint. I certainly wasn't the best sprinter in that group, but I was sitting in a perfect position heading down the stretch, 4th wheel right behind Charlie Brown, with Pete Cannell in front of him. I jumped as hard as I could on a small rise with 300 meters to go. I got a gap and crested the hill with momentum and was able to hold them off on the flat section to the finish. The numbers on the sprint were 5 sec @1105w and 24 sec @866w. This came after riding the final hour at an NP of 325 watts. I can't sprint any better than that no matter how fresh I am. The funny thing is that the finishing effort was a carbon copy of what I did last year at this same race, but last year I was in a 3 up sprint for 3rd place with Charlie on my wheel. I jumped at the same spot with the same effort, but he covered it and came around me. This time Pete and Charlie were watching each other and I was able to sneak up on them.

There was a whole lot that happened before the finish. Here's a recap. Ladd, new PV teammate Rich (aka sufferfest), and I lined up with about 60 other shivering souls on a cold morning. The race took off hard right from the parking lot as everyone jockeyed for position before hitting very narrow curvy roads on the 6.6 mile loop we would ride 6 times, before coming back and finishing in front of the school where we started from. I lost the positioning battle and didn't see the front until late in the 2nd lap. Rich was up near the front and covered some early moves, while Ladd moved up and lit it up during the second lap. Nothing was sticking as the pace stayed high. I got to the front late in lap two and attacked a few times unsuccessfully. Then in a counter move three guys including Cannell and a Carolina Masters rider got away. I sensed that this was THE move and jumped across bringing 3 with me including 2 more Carolina Masters. When the dust settled, the break was seven riders with 3 Carolina Masters. Terrible odds, but at least I made the break.

I NEVER felt good in the break. In a 15 minute period including 7 or 8 minutes before getting into the break, I averaged 325 watts with an NP of 360. I just never had a chance to recover from that, and some of the guys with me are stronger than me to start with. Cannell is the reigning masters TT national champ for God's sake. He is the same weight as I am, likely has a much higher FTP, was riding a Zipp 1080/880 combo, and was wearing a damn skinsuit, just itching to ride away solo.

My strategy ended up being quite simple - Conserve energy when possible, close gaps when necessary, and try to be around for the finish. The Carolina Masters riders started attacking late in lap 5 and I had just enough to cover and stay in the race. Late in the final lap Ryan Jenkins, Cannell, and Charlie got a gap. That easily could've been it, but I closed the gap pulling the other three with me. From this point there were no other attacks and I had about 2 minutes at 201 watts to recover for the sprint. That 2 minutes made all the difference. Also my position right behind the two main contenders was perfect. Those things combined with some luck, got a win for PV.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Openers

Went out on the road today for an easy ride with a few openers. A few 1 minute or so hard efforts really jacks up the VI and thus the normalized power. So, my little 18.4 mph ride at an average HR of 122 had a 242 watt NP. It was a very hilly route and there was a lot of wind. Check out the 13 minute section on the graph, where I did the openers. 325 watts NP because of a few efforts, but there was also a lot of rest in there. My HR did hit 179, but was coming down quickly during the rest and only averaged 130 during the 13 minutes.

I may have seen one of those shovel ready stimulus projects while I was riding today. I was on the Fairfield county portion of Pine Grove Road, which is easily the worst paved section of road in that county. This road is nice and smooth with zero traffic in Richland county, but when you hit the Fairfield county line, it turns into a bone jarring, rock paved, pot hole ridden mess. A road crew was filling the pot hills with asphalt, so now the road is rock paved with little mounds of ashpalt. Big Improvement.

Tomorrow I'm going up to Salisbury, NC for a short 40 mile masters 35+ road race. Looks like the field is gonna be stacked. This one's going to be fast like a crit and I'll need to line up near the front and go hard from the gun.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wednesday 2 x 20's

I kind of messed up with my training plan this week. I raced three times over the weekend and should have given myself Monday and Tuesday to recover, especially since I have a road race this Saturday. Instead I decided to do intervals on Tuesday morning, assuming I could handle it. Wrong. I attempted to do a 2 x 20, but wasn't able to complete it. I managed to do the first 20 minutes at around threshold, but struggled big time in the second one and had to stop at 16 minutes.

Wednesday I felt much better, although not 100% and I managed get the exact same workout done at 314w and 318w. I should've been content with one workout this week, and made it count. Also I need to recover for the next race. After this weekend I won't be racing for about a month.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Forest Acres Crits

Day 2 of the local crit racing weekend, brought even worse weather than day 1. I had pre-registered the night before to get a two race discount, hoping that the weather would improve. It didn't. It was 48 degrees and raining. While my wife stayed home sick with the flu, I drove into Columbia to ride my bike around in circles in the rain. Riding in the rain when it's cold seems crazy or dumb, but there were plenty of other racers out there to join me.

36 lined up for the pro/1/2 race at 1:30 pm. I liked the course, because it was wide open enough to be safe even with the wet pavement and there was a long hill up one side. I thought the hill would break things up, so I went hunting for a breakaway once again. Eventually, I found one. Just after the half way mark, I bridged up to a lone Global Bike rider and was away for about 12 minutes, only to be reeled in with about 15 minutes left in the race. In the break, including the bridge up to it, I averaged 332 watts. Once we were caught the pace in the field stayed high as another field sprint became inevitable. I attacked about halfway up the hill on the final lap, but didn't have enough left in the tank to make it stick. I hung on to finish 12th in a sprint that hit 42 mph on a fast downhill.

Normalized power for the 1 hour race was 326 watts. Again I was at my limit.

After the pro/1/2 race I was soaking wet, and got really cold waiting for the combined 35+/45+ race to start. It turned out to be Ladd and I for 35+ and nine guys racing 45+. Eventually I wound up with the 45+ winner, while Ladd and Langston came across next together. So, officially PV finished 1-2 in 35+ and 2nd in 45+.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Blythewood Crit (Pro/1/2)

It was a hard weekend of crit racing in bad weather conditions against some of the top racers in the southeast. Saturday's 1.4 mile course was a mere five miles from my house, so I was motivated to line up for the feature race. It wasn't a big field, maybe 35 or so, but there were plenty of heavy hitters, including five from the Team Mountain Khakis pro team plus a few other former pro's.

It was 43 degrees and the roads were wet, but we were lucky enough to not get rained on. I had no teammates in the race, and my goal was to get into the winning break. Yeah, that might be a long shot, but sitting in the field and waiting for the finish is a waste. I rode aggressively near the front a lot in the first half of the race, attacking a few times and going with a few moves. Absolutely nothing would stick. I don't think Mountain Khakis wanted a break, unless maybe they had at least two guys in it. In the second half of the race I was really tired. I was able to attack a couple more times, but didn't get anywhere. The last couple of laps were really fast leading up to the field sprint. I was able to get in there and finish a respectable 15th, which was enough to earn a small sliver of the payout.

From a wattage perspective this was quite a workout. 322 watts normalized for just under one hour. The final 1:18 of the race was 454 watts and the final sprint was 806 watts for 20 seconds up a slight rise. For me that was a very good sprint, but everyone else is fast too, so that only allowed me to advance one spot.

Props to all the guys on PV who had great races Saturday. Marc was 3rd in 3's, Nick was 2nd in 4's, and Ladd got 2nd in 35+.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

L4 Intervals on the Road

Yesterday after work I did some threshold intervals on the road. Usually I do this stuff in the morning on my trainer, but after the crit the previous night, I needed more time to recover, and the weather was just too nice to be inside. I did the first 12 minute interval headed north on 269 and averaged 325 watts. Then after resting a couple of minutes I came back south for 12 minutes at 329 watts. I added another 10+ minute effort at 327 watts mostly uphill on Cedar Creek Road as I headed back home.

My legs didn't really feel good, but I was able to maintain the pace. It just hurt a lot. This morning I gave myself a break and rode for 45 minutes at 62%. Tomorrow if its not raining, I'm going to ride over and do a couple of laps of the course for Saturday's crit, which is a mere 5 miles from home.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

First Tuesday Night Training Crit

We had a big crowd tonight for the first Tuesday Night Criterium World Championship of the year. After sitting in my cubicle all day it was great to bust out and enjoy the extra daylight and 75 degree weather. During my warm-up I squeezed in a 9 minute steady threshold effort at 314 watts.

The race started out fast and I took several big pulls early on. The pace was high enough that people were going off the back after a couple of laps. I started attacking after a while and was off the front some. The winning break began a little before the half way mark. Originally it was four riders, including only Nick from Palmetto Velo. I jumped across bringing Marc with me. Brian C. came up too, so we ended up with seven total in the break with three from PV. Casey, fresh off her big win at Rouge Robaix over the weekend, was in there too.

I took a big pull as soon as we all got together and after everyone else rotated through we were quickly out of reach. With about 10 minutes to go, I kicked off the attacks. I never got very far, but probably wore some people down. Eventually Nick was able to get away and win solo. Marc won the sprint for second, and I came across third.

The power numbers were really good today. 328 watts NP for the race at an IF of 1.04! For the entire 1:10 that I was on my bike the IF was .97

Sunday, March 8, 2009

River Falls RR 35+

I finished 3rd in the River Falls RR yesterday morning. The field was probably over 70 riders and included a few current and former national champions and a former world champion. The sunny 70+ degree weather motivated everyone to show up this week, compared to last week's race ridden in cold rain.

After last week's 1-2 finish, LL and I were looking for another big result. With the quality of the field, we had our hands full and weren't able to exert control on the race like we did a week ago. The race loop was about 5.6 miles including a 1K climb at the end. We only did 6 laps, so it was a 34 mile road race. The race was ridden aggressively throughout, leading to a finish time 4 minutes faster than last year. I won't bore you with a full blow by blow account of how the race played out. I'll stick mostly to the power numbers.

First of all the climb, required a pretty big effort all six times. The lap 5 ascent required 457 watts for almost 2 minutes, and even the easiest trip up the hill saw me average about 360 watts for 2+ minutes. I only weigh 149 lbs, so some others were probably working much harder than that.

My first two laps were the easiest due to the fact that I was lined up in the very back at the start and it took me two laps to make it to the front. I was in a couple of breaks for short periods of time and on lap 4 I spent about about 7 minutes solo off the front at 329 watts average. After the huge effort up the climb on lap 5, I was sitting about 6th or 7th wheel while we were lined up chasing John Patterson from Carolina Masters. It looked like we were going to catch and then the counter attacks would come. Wrong! Before the catch, Tony Scott from Texas Roadhouse jumped across. A little bit later, sensing that the two were a big danger, I got away by myself and chased them, but wasn't able to bridge the 15 second or so gap. I did stay away from the field for the final 11 minutes to finish alone in 3rd. That final 11 minute effort was 332 watts AP at a VI of 1. In hindsight it looks like I should've been able to go harder at the start of my chase...maybe a do or die 3 or 4 minutes to make the catch or go down in flames trying.

I didn't win, but did have a good result, and with an IF of .97 for the race, I'd say that I got all of the training I could possibly handle. It is billed as a "Training" series after all.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Pre-Race Openers

It really felt good to ride in the 70 degree sunshine today. It was really windy, but after all of the rain and cold we've had lately I'm not complaining. A couple more days like this, and I'll have my farmer's tan back. Before today I rode 5 days in a row on the trainer, and the day before that was a road race in a rain storm.

The workout today was simple; Spin around for a while and do some openers. About 50 minutes into the ride, I did 4 x 1 minute on, 2 minutes off at around 460 watts each. TSB is gonna be about +5 tomorrow, and I'm not feeling fatigued, so I should be in good shape for this weekend's Greenville Spring Training Series event - the River Falls RR.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wednesday 1 x 44

I continued my L4 extravaganza this morning by knocking out 44 minutes at 100% of FTP (315 watts) on my trainer. Today hurt more than yesterday's 2 x 20's, but I survived. I did well to get to my current fitness level by doing tons of SST and distance rides over the last couple of months, but to see further increases, I'm gonna keep doing L4 work over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tuesday 2 x 20's

After a hard race Saturday, I wanted to let myself adequately recover so I could have a good two day training block this week. My legs felt really good today, and I was able to go a little harder than I did last week doing this workout. I did the first 20 minutes at 322 watts, rested for about 4 minutes, then did the second 20 at 324 watts. I'm hoping to get above 330 watts for 2 x 20 at some point this spring, so I'm pleased with my progress so far. My weight is 149 lbs today. I'm starting to look like an anemic climber again.

Openers on Monday

I did my basic pre-race openers workout Monday, to shock the legs into being ready for a hard workout Tuesday. I was actually toying with the idea of doing threshold intervals, but when I was warming up, my legs just felt dead, so I aborted and did 5 x 1 min on, 2 min off. The 1 minute efforts were between 455 and 464 watts, or pretty damn close to as hard as could go and finish all 5. I highlighted the 13 minute segment containing the intervals to show how much a few hard efforts like this can drive up the normalized power. It was 341 watts.

Today I had much better legs for my 2 x 20's. More on that later. I better get back to work.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Team Win at Fork Shoals RR

My teammate Ladd and I went 1-2 in the Fork Shoals 35+ RR yesterday morning! It was an awesome result for us in our second race of the year. On Friday we were wavering about whether or not to even go to the race, since the weather was going to bad, but we both came to grips with the idea of racing in the rain, and plans were made. Rich's text Friday that he was definitely going helped prod me into going. So, the three of us drove up in the pouring rain, and took our place at the start line, where the rain continued.

They combined 35+ and 45+ and cut the distance down to 45 miles. I'd say we had about 60 riders total. The plan was to attack early, and try to get 2 out of the 3 of us in a break. Attacks started immediately, but the early moves were covered. I just stayed near the front waiting for the right time to do something. Those first few minutes were pretty hard, 312 watts NP for the first 13 minutes. At mile 5, I jumped away at one of those lulls, where an attack has just been brought back and everyone pauses. I got clear quickly and no one followed. I stayed above threshold at first, then gradually settled into a pace just below threshold (304 watts NP for 61 minutes). The first five minutes was at 345 watts AP to establish the gap. Once I was out there alone one of the thoughts going through my mind was, I sure wish I was running my carbon 58 mm deep front wheel instead of a box rim training wheel, just to have better braking in the rain. Oh well.

I never got more than perhaps 60 seconds ahead, and could look back and see the field on some of the long straight roads. I figured eventually a small group would make it up to me. That is exactly what happened at mile 29, just before starting the 3rd lap of 3. My Palmetto Velo teammate Ladd, and Jim C. from Globalbike bridged up to me. I had seen a group coming for a while and had backed off when they got close to save some energy to catch onto them, not knowing who it was. I was relieved to see that it was Ladd. I knew right then that we should be able to win the race. The field was out of site and three strong riders would hold that gap. We motored along working together until about 5 miles to go.

Then it was time to decide things. I was trying to decide exactly when to attack, but Jim beat me to the punch and went first. Ladd covered and I followed. Then I went and Jim covered. Finally Ladd countered and was gone. Race over. Jim and I took a long pause to watch Ladd become a speck on the horizon, then we settled back into a steady pace to avoing being caught. I came through for 2nd to make it 1 - 2 for the team! Meanwhile, Rich was in a break of his own and finished next in 4th.