Monday, September 27, 2010

Centurion Cycling - Canada

Thanks for checking in again!

I have been laying low the past week+ as my body does it's best to recover from the beating that was the Village of Blue Mountains Centurion Event on September 19th. The event was put on by NA Sports, the same group that owns Ironman Canada and used to run Lake Placid, California, Wisconsin, Florida Ironman events before selling them to the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC runs/owns Kona and the brand "Ironman") I emphasize the organizer because Graham Fraser and his team put on the best events period. I have raced his events and events that are not his, and by far his are the best!

The event is set for the masses, 25, 50 and 100 mile options through the steep hillsides of the Niagara escarpment in Collingwood. The point being to bring every level of cyclist together to enjoy an epic day of bike riding. This met that goal and was impecably organized. Many of the Ontario riders I race against throughout the year, usually really tight with race fees and such, commented how they so received their money's worth from the $110 race fee vs. half that fee for Ontario Cup races. MEaning, Ontario racing really does suck. We had OPP escorts, helicopters, feed stations, safe roads, incredible roads, great course, buffet food, timing chips, swag bag, rock bands...list goes on. Ontario racing you get fined, cursed, shit courses. It's why our team goes to the US and Quebec to race a lot. Ontario racing = training!

Anyway, as for my race, it was the last of a long season and I did everything I could to try and break up the group and get away over 100 miles. I didn't succeed. I cracked so bad I almost fell off my bike at 101 miles. The race was long, I didn't account for that and cracked bad. I finished 26th on the day but should have been up front top 5. Humbled, lesson learned in bike racing...don't do the work, that's someone's else's job!

Great event, highly recommended.

Click on this link for my power file from the event: I spent 55% of the time above threshold; 20% at max...over 5 hours that adds up!!! Hence, the cracking and sudden darkness-:)

I can't wait for Graham's team to learn and grow the event. Talk is already started of a hill climb TT the day before with combined time winning stage race type format!! If anyone can do it was excellence, its his team.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ontario Provincial Time Trail Champiosnhips

Dear friends and family:

September 12th I decided to throw my hat into the Provincial Time Trail (TT) championships for the 30-39 age division. This meant a few things:
  1. I would have to change the position on my Cervelo P3 to make it legal with the Union Cyclist Internationale (UCI) rules. These caveman of the UCI have put major restrictions on equipment and fit so as not to provide, what they believe, is an unfair advantage to lesser countries/athletes financial means. Recently what this has meant is that master athletes or triathletes like myself could have equipment deemed illegal for UCI races but perfectly legal for triathlon and in fact we would have to spend MORE money to make things legal. For me, this mean buying a $70 stem to bring the bars closer to my body, cutting my aero bars by 3 cms to bring them closer to my body, and then moving my seat back 5cms to make the fit legal. Consequence is the fit is far tighter and more uncomfortable then the triathlon position I have been riding for 10 years.
  2. I was going to hurt, A LOT, for about 50 minutes.

I was hoping to get a spot on the podium for our team sponsors as a special thanks for all their support this year. I arrived far too early but had some groove tunes to keep me occupied, warmed up for an hour on the trainer, got the bike dialed in with a Zipp 808 front and disc wheel on the back, strapped on my aero helmet and hit the start. Funny story:

There was a rider that was a bit of a character (will remain nameless). At start they were calling my number for bike check so I went to front of line and got my bike checked to ensure the fit I did was legal, then walked through. 5 minutes later said guy came through and I realized I had just totally budded in front of him for bike check. So I said, "Oh crap dude, I just totally budded you for bike check. Sorry, I thought they were calling me forward there mate.." To which he replied, "Well, you should be" and then turned his back to me. I said nothing (hard for me I know!) internalizing my revenge out on the course.

So I hit the start line and reminded myself this is 38km's of suffering for about 50 minutes. I need to breath controlled, suffer like a dog, but not blow up before the end! My start was smooth and I instantly found a groove and felt pretty good. We had a headwind on the way out and coming to the turnaround my diaphram started to cramp, I eased up and breathed deeply to let the cramp subsided for a few hundred meters before the turn; smoothly took corner, sucked back a gel and some water then flew with the now tailwind. I was catching my guy up front slowly but surely but still was unsure how my ride was. I know I was suffering badly and that this pain was only temporary!

I caught my minute man (same guy as funny story above) and when I caught him with 5kms to go and REALLY hammered by him and dropping him, he drafted me and then 2 minutes later he was cutting the apex of a corner beside me. This goes on for another 4kms while I do everything to stay legal and eventually he has more oomph at end and rolls forward to finish just ahead of me. It ends up he was parked beside me so I walk by and give him a little thumbs up and he says NOTHING. Wow, I thought; taking this all a little seriously aren't we? Where's the fun dude!

I was really spent and my hip flexors were a mess thanks to the UCI legal position but overall I felt "OK" with my ride. Not stellar, but not too bad.

I came 4th, the dreaded 4th, by a whopping 0.13 seconds! OUCH! Average speed was 43.1km/hr

Results are here

Last stop on the 2010 cycling season is the Blue Mountains Centurion.

Thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Green Mountain Stage Race: Race Report

Hi friends and family:

My "A" race of season has come and gone over this labor day weekend. For the second year in a row Meredith, Gatsby and I ventured east to Waitsfield, Vermont for the 10th annual Green Mountain Stage Race. This is a 4 day stage race consisting of:

- Day 1: 8.8km Time Trail
- Day 2: 72 mile 3.5 lap circuit race with a 2.5 mile climb per lap
- Day 3: 70 Mile point to point Mountain stage with 3 passes of the Green Mountains finishing on top of App Gap
- Day 4: 40km Criterium in downtown Burlington, Vermont (PS: home of the band PHISH!)

My training going into the race was actually quite good. For the first time ever I didn't run for over a month and focused solely on riding my bike. As many know, I went out and watched Ironman Canada and did some seriously hard riding out there as my final tune up then came home, packed up the car, and hit the road. My power meter tests out in Penticton show significant improvement with a "career" high 4.9 W/kg for 20 minute effort. This is significant as stage 1 should take about 15 to 16 minutes to race and the higher W/kg is, the faster you are!

Last year I raced CAT2 and while competitive, I was clearly not going to win so I chose CAT3 this year noting that the Sound Solutions team from Toronto were also racing CAT3. These are a good bunch of guys so I figured I would check my ego at door and do CAT3. The rest of the Endurosport PFR Powerwatts team are in the 40+ category where I will be next year!

Stage 1: Time Trail - 2nd overall in 14:51!
I knew I was in good shape but honestly this was a shock! My time was 2 minutes faster than 2009 but the winds were favourable so I figured I was actually 1 minute faster. For the first time EVER I had a good TT warm up. 45 minutes on the trainer, 30 minutes rest, 10 minutes on the road with a few sprints, quick pee, then to the line. All made possible because the start times were ON TIME because the organizers are AMAZING here at GMSR!

Stage 2: 19th place safe and sound
This stage I was 5th in last year in the CAT2 and, at that time, was the hardest effort I ever put into a bike. This year I needed to be a little more cool about things given my overall position. On the final climb Victor in the Yellow Jersey surged stringing out the group and I bridged over, we nailed the descent causing some splits and as we turned right with about 10km's to go I came around him and called out an attack. We did a 2-up TT, caught the break of 2 riders and thought we might stay away but the peleton organized and shut us down about 5km's later. From there is was conserve time and make sure no time was lost.

Chris Wood from Sound Solutions, an excellent sprinter, nailed it taking the win! I celebrated like he was a team mate because the boys over on that crew are so straight up. A great group and Wood's dominate performance was sweet to watch. Ed Makurchuk took 5th as well from Sound Solutions so they had a good day!

Stage 3: Queen Stage - 10th but man oh man, what a day!
We started the day and it was 58 degrees with a downhill neutral start. Suffice to say, everyone was frozen by the time the race started. I was expecting attacks right from the gun but nothing really got going for awhile. I even had time to pull over to the road side, STOP, and pee! Some riders rolled off that were going for the sprint points (green jersey points) and to keep them close the speeds really picked up down the valley. Then we were neutralized as the 40+ riders in a break from the race that started after us rolled through. Cary Moretti from the Endurosport PFR Powerwatts was one of the 3! Here is where things got interesting! One rider in the break up the road was a guy from the Planet Placid bike team that I knew could win as he won Catskills. They didn't neutralize the break and they instantly got 4 minutes. Once the race was back on it was truly chess on wheels for about an hour and I knew, after we crested Middlebury Gap's 5km climb and the yellow jersey gapped me pretty easily that I would not stick with him on App Gap. I needed time going into the final show down so I pinned the descent to get back on and went to the front trying to encourage some attacks. Some went, but were caught and after a flurry of this I looked back to see yellow about 15 riders back so I jumped really hard and took rider 327, Eric from NYC, with me. We pinned it hard for a few minutes then looked back. NOBODY!

Decision time was made, we had 25 miles to go and it was going to be all out. We caught 4 riders of the 7 that were in the days break. One of them was Chris Wood from Sound Solutions and the 4 worked with us giving Eric and I the much needed recovery between pulls. We hit the days second climb, a 1Km steep pitch with a 2 minute gap back to the yellow jersey but the split feedback to the leading 3 up the road were sparse at best. The best I could garner was we closed it to 1:45 from 4 minutes by this point.

Eric and I rode tempo dropping the 4 riders. At the top we turn left then hit the DIRT ROAD descent! 2 of the 4 riders worked really hard to get back on to us in time for the ride through Bristol and over to Baby Gap, from there it is a few km's up hill at 7 to 14%, then some flat road up, slight descent, then to the 4km STEEP PITCHES of App Gap! We rode steady together and I took in 3 gels to fight off the hunger bonk I was feeling before we hit Baby Gap. We rode well together on Baby Gap and as we crested one of the steeper pitches there were spectators handing out coke! Perfect!!! Then I realized one of those spectators was MEREDITH! Awesome!! a can later I was feeling pretty fresh and ready to tackle App Gap proper. The motorcycle official told us we still had 2 minutes on yellow. If that was the case, I was racing for the yellow jersey on the 4kms of App Gap.

When we hit the climb I surged for 200M to see what the other 3 had and only Eric came with me. This boy was strong and quite a bit bigger than me. We chatted and agreed to ride our own tempo and most of our time together was side by side. We hit the switch backs and I glanced back with 2kms to go to see Yellow but still some 500M back. That is still quite a gap I thought and wondered would it possible to stay ahead for the 24 seconds I needed. I asked the official how far up the road the 3 riders were and he said a minute. So depending on who those 3 were, I was still fighting for yellow.

I dug deep but stayed smart; steady tempo. Then Victor and 2 other guys caught me with 750M to go, I got on the wheel of the 3rd rider and fought like hell. They rode off, I fought back, they rode off. Eric did the same with me....finally, the elastic snapped and I was done with 400M to go. More riders were coming, I had to fight, dig, dig, dig...almost there, 20% into a headwind are you kidding me???? DIG, DIG, DIG....finally I hit the line and then everything went black. I couldn't see, breath, like nothing ever before. 2 medics picked me up off my bike and carried me to the sidelines, putting a blanket over me and getting me some hot shots. It was cold up here and I couldn't breath.

10 minutes later the drama was over and I was bundling up to head back down the mountain to our B&B. Things got interesting as I hunger bonked so bad, that 300M from the house I had to get off my bike and take my last gel! I just couldn't make it any further!

Home Meredith put together a killer spread on for me and put me back right. Without a doubt that 25 mile break and the fight to try and get yellow was the hardest day EVER on 2 wheels.

Stage 4: 35 laps of 1.2km circuit in downtown Burlington
I saw Victor in the morning and he lost his yellow jersey by 1:20. He was going to attack to take it back and I said I would help! Problem was, when he went I was boxed in on a corner and couldn't latch onto his wheel. A lap later I attacked and gave everything but the gap increased so I shut it down knowing the 28 seconds I needed to get back on the overall podium were lost and Victor needed a miracle to get yellow back.

Miracle? Get this! Victor and 2 other riders buried themselves and lapped the field! Victor got 2nd on the stage and with the time bonuses easily took back his yellow jersey!

I stayed up right and safe and protected my 7th overall on General Classification.

GMSR is an amazing race, incredibly well organized and for the most part really safe. This said, 2 friends left with broken bones. Paulina Allen with a broken wrist and my team mate Andrew Stewart with a broken collar bone. In my CAT3 group there was a crash in stage 2 and the poor guy needed 30+ stitches across the bridge of his nose. I hope all heal well in the coming weeks.

I love bike racing but if there was a 5th stage, honestly, not sure I could do it! How riders do 3 weeks I will never know!!

Vive le bike-:)