Monday, March 18, 2013

CSU Race Weekend

First full weekend of racing of the 2013 race season in the books with the Colorado State University Race Weekend in Ft. Collins! It was a great weekend with a 60mile Circuit Race Saturday and 50min Crit Sunday. As a coach for the University of Colorado Boulder Cycling Team, it turned into a marathon weekend of long days at the race venue!

To recap the collegiate racers. We won the C race Saturday, 2nd on Sunday. Took 2nd on Saturday and 1st on Sunday in the B's, and won both days handily on Sunday in the A's. The guys definitely showed their horse and firepower against the competition and are looking better and better with each ride they do!

Moving on to my races. Had 2 teammates in Matti Rowe and Mike Wolfner on Saturday. A 7.7 mile loop with a 1.5 min climb, a fast decent and a 2km dirt section were pretty straight forward. 50 or so toed to the line ready to start their 2013 seasons. The game plan was to be attentive to moves with Matti and I looking for breakaway's and longer moves and setting up Mike for a sprint at the end. Throughout the race, there were only a few attempts at breakaways as the only real good place for one was on the top of the course but the block 25mph headwind negated any attempts to get away, or were quickly swallowed up in the tailwind section. Legs felt great, but nothing was going to happen, so Matti lit it up on the dirt the last lap and I led Mike up the final climb, but went a bit too early for a great lead-out and actually gifted the win to pro mountain biker Bryan Alders as he used his quick 30-45sec power to gap the field and win with a great finish! Mike was able to blast up the hill for a 6th place finish. A good showing in the first race together by us 3. Legs felt good, and according to the power file below, fairly easy race! Placed 32nd/52 after leading out Mike doesn't seem so bad.

Strava File

Sunday, I was by myself at the Oval Crit in Fort Collins. A great course on the CSU campus. Only about 35 guys showed up on Sunday for the race. Got in a good 60min warm-up on the trainer to be ready to rock from the gun. Race started fairly calm and after a couple laps I ended up off the front with one guy, but the field was ready and chased us down. About midway through the race, there was a group of 5 that got up the road and it seemed fairly serious so I bridged up to this group. Unfortunately not one of the guys knew how to ride a breakaway/rotate and it became a surge/slow fest for the next lap until we were caught. A few null laps went by and as I was pulling off the front of the pack, FasCat athlete Chris Lundberg took off. A great attack as the pace had just been high and others chose not to follow. He quickly built up a gap and we never saw him again. After another lap, a group of 3 got away and still no one would chase. You can see as there is a major lull in power and HR in the 3/4 part of the race file below! Finally in the last lap a few guys hit the front and we had the 3 within striking distance as we hit the Oval. I was second wheel and punched it with about 400m to go, knowing that you had to be 1st coming out of the last sweeping corner. I had it right and almost caught the 3 guys just in front of us. But had to resign myself to 5th for the day. That's the first "Field Sprint" I have ever won, so I was pretty happy about that.

Strava File 
Race Photo of  "The Bridge Attempt" Courtesy of (Dejan Smaic)

                                                                 Bridging to leaders
                                                                Policing the Front
                                                       Sprint Finish! Almost caught the break!

So overall, a great race weekend!!! Had a blast getting back into the racing scene, and glad I chose to do it. Wish I wouldn't have downgraded from the 1 / 2's. But it will be good to learn how to win again! The only frustratin thing in Cat 3 racing out here in Colorado is the serious "Negative Racing". Everyone races not TO LOSE, and won't take the initiative to chase or make a race hard, and race TO WIN. In the Cat 1 / 2 and Collegiate A's field. It was so awesome to see such aggressive racing, where guys would race for each other and make things happen, not just sit and ride a group ride for 2 hours then sprint the last 200m. In the Crit Sunday, there were about 10 guys who ever saw the front, and I swear there were only 10 of us racing. It was nice to hear compliments from the other guys that were on the front during the race and trying to make things happen.

Moving forward, fitness is great right now and I am working on sharpening the knife over the next month and a half before the big goal of the Tour of Gila! Thanks to the Cycleton Race Team, Cycleton Bike Shop, Specialized, ClifBar, Camelback, Thule and all the great team sponsors! The season is only going to keep getting better.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Frostbite TT Recap: 1st Podium of 2013

Finally back on the bandwagon here the I will have things to chat about now!

Frostbite TT:
Toed to the line for my first cycling race in about 1.5 years Saturday during the 11 mile Frostbite TT up north of Ft. Collins near the Wyoming border. This course is on a frontage road right off I-25 and can bring about some horrible winds. The forecast was calling for a relatively "calm" day, with NW winds from 5-15mph. It all seemed to be going swimmingly when Will Buick and I were driving up there, not getting blown around. As soon as we hit the course, the winds really picked up, go figure! Had plenty of time to pin up the new Cycleton skinsuit, and get the bike prepped and ready to roll. My teammate Kevin Flanagan also made the trip to hopefully start the season out on a good note and get some BAT points for Cycleton. With about 1 hour to go, I hoped on the bike and started warming up. Adding in some Tempo/Sweet Spot and a few short Anaerobic efforts to open the legs up. Legs had been feeling good the whole week before with watts on the TT bike coming easier and easier over the last couple weeks. Downed my Clif Shot Gel with about 20min to start line and got ready to rock.Time to go, mentally prepping myself on the start line for the short and hard effort that was about to come. Positive mental reinforcement does so much for an athlete and visualizing the race can help calm nerves. I knew it was going to be a very fast course on the way out with a slight tail/cross wind and new I needed to be a bit reserved and let the wind get my speed up and not effort in order to save some for the return.

5.....4.....3......2.....1.......GO! I was off, and quickly brought the bike up to speed, seeing 30+ mph quickly and efficiently. Settled into the aerobars and off I went, keeping any eye on my 30sec man. I reached the top of the plateau and the cross-winds off I25 started to really hit. Good thing I had some 60mm wheels thanks to my buddy Gui Campos, a disk was too dangerous! HR was rising steadily and I was happy to see I had been a bit reserved in the first 4-5min. I passed my 30sec man about 1 mile from the turn around, and had my sights on my 1min man as well. At the turn around, I had clocked 12:00 flat and 28.7mph. After a quick turn around, I quickly tried to get back up to speed for the slightly uphill return leg. I was able to catch my 1min man after about another mile, and at this point, US Pro Triathlete of the Year Cam Dye came by me. Cam and I trained together last year when I was doing multi-sport and he offered up some good words of encouragement. I didn't let it get to me that my min man had caught me, he is probably the strongest US triathlete on a bike and won the whole day as it was. I told myself to stay as close to him as possible over the next 5 miles and it would help my overall position. I was able to keep him at probably 15-20sec for the remainder of the race. With about 1.5 miles to go, I was really starting to suffer and constantly had to reassure myself that it's almost over...Only 4, 3, 2, 1 min to go. With one last sprint to the line I finished and was left gasping for any amount of air I could find. The return leg was a bit slower because of the slight uphill and head/cross wind, with a 13:56 for a total time of 12:56, and an average speed of 27.0mph.
Here is a link to a picture by Dejan Smaic  HERE

I had done what I came to do, put out my best effort and was rewarded with a 3rd place finish on the day, behind Cam by 1:15, and a Nick Applegate (GS Boulder) by just a mere 15sec. If Cam would be allowed to race in an Open 1/2 category based on "Pro Status", I would have been 2nd. Poor Cam has to beg just to be a Cat 3 when he was the strongest guy on the bike!

Good finish to the first race of the season, and the races start coming hot and heavy the next couple months and I am so excited to start racing again and get some good results. I have never trained as well as I have so far this season and have never had Power numbers this high (even at lower elevations). So it's going to be a great ride this season! The season keeps rocking next weekend in Ft. Collins for the CSU Road Race and Oval Crit!