Monday, March 28, 2011

First three 2011 "results"

In the month of March, I pregistered for four races, started and finished three and out of all of them, I have the least to say about the best result. It seems the old saying, "You learn from your mistakes" holds true in road racing too!

Long Run 4/5'ss - I started feeling bad Friday morning and ended up loosing about six pounds in 24 hours without working out. No one wants details, but I decided to stay in bed longer on Saturday and reevaluate closer to the 3/4 race.

Long Run 3/4's - See race preparation above in the 4/5's. I asked a few people if it'd be dumb to try it and some said, "Sit it out and rest." while most responded with, "Don't expect much, but if you've pregistered - why not see what happens?" So I ate what I could and mixed a bottle of Infinit, suited up, and got on the trainer. With so few matches to burn, I skimped on the warm up and still went to the line far from fresh. The race started, my legs turned the pedals, and I was comfortable in the front 10 or so. A couple solo flyers tried to be heroic (or something) but got realed in within a lap or so. The wind was awful, but emphasized how important it was to manage position going into certain parts of the course. Three laps in, we started getting lap cards showing a total of ten - hey, I'm still in the front! Four laps in - I'm still not feeling it, but I'm holding wheels, pulling through a little and might still have a sprint if I can just make it to the end without working too much. Wrong! 5.5 laps in and my body simply said, "NO!" And that was basically it - I had no calories left to burn, so I sat up and rolled in with the third group. What was learned? - Racing sick is no better than it was last fall. Even sick, I can hang with the 3/4 field. Race management is as important as fitness.

4/5 Off the front with Rob Harris, SIW
Lexington 4/5's - Unmotivated - probably would have turned the alarm off and gone back to bed had it not been my birthday and I not preregistered. Upon arrival, I checked in, rode a lap, and set up on the trainer. It was cold, but not freezing and the sun was out at least! Warm up was good, but mentally I still wasn't motivated. I got to the start line early and took a place in the front row and set the pace up the first hill. Not fast, but I guess fast enough as no one wanted to come around. I sat up on the descent and found a place to sit in for a bit and then the race got a bit boring. So I attacked, Rob Harris came with me and we stayed away for a lap and a half maybe? We got out to about 25 seconds and got stuck and that was that. From there I bridged to about 1/3 of the breaks and spent more time on the front than I should have. Then with one to go, made the worst mistake of the day. I moved all the way to second wheel and with half a lap to go, Rob took one last hard pull (for a team mate, not me) and I got stuck out in the wind with about 800m to go. Now what!??? I half ass started a sprint, tried to jump back in but got swarmed and I pretty much sat down and pouted about it crossing in 32nd. Lessons learned - It's dumb to chase breaks in a 4/5 race without a team. Spend no more time on the front than you have to if you have any kind of sprint what-so-ever. Manage your position going into the last lap!! Have a plan in the case that you're too far forward near the end. Don't freakin' sit down once you start a sprint, even if there's nothing left!

Just missing third in the 3/4 sprint.
 Lexington 3/4's - Basically, I learned from the first race of the day and sat in a lot, took a couple short pulls and only went in two breaks near the end of the race that I saw happening right in front of me - no solo bridging or attacking of my own. With half a lap, I was in about 10th and followed Ian Baker along the inside of the last turn dropped a few gears and stood up. I never really got a draft in the sprint as the McDonalds guys had come up the outside, but finished fourth. It's strange that there's less to say about a better result - but basically a lot of light bulbs came on after the 4/5 race - things that I had heard, I now truly believe. Hopefully they'll help the rest of the season!

Random note - Average power for the 3/4 race was 30 watts LOWER than for the 4/5 race and 2.5 mph FASTER. Go figure...

Friday, March 25, 2011

"BG" Body Geometry - Bike Fit

OK, so I'm way behind on posts but I can't leave out an important part of my preseason preparation. At the end of February I made a trip up to Gray Goat Sports, one of our generous sponsors for a BG bike fit. The fit system/theory was developed by Andy Pruitt and is "owned" by Specialized. It's based on comfort and utilizes front and side view cameras as well as lots of measurements of the body and bike.

Brian Gootee is one of the first certified BG technicians and did a great job. The changes were drastic. My saddle went up 15mm and back 34mm!!! That's huge when most bike racers would notice if their saddle moved just 2-3mm!

I have to be honest, even looking at the pictures/video I was still skeptical walking out of the shop that this was ever going to feel natural or more powerful. From the visual evidence, I easily conceded that I was more aerodynamic and that my upper body was more relaxed. But what about my knees!? I decided that I'd ride normal hours for 10 days or two weeks and just deal with it and if I still didn't like it, then I'd change it back but the fit at least deserved a chance - there's a lot of time and money invested in this process right?

Before and After - Knees are in better position over pedals, arms are bent and more relaxed, back is more aero...
 That week I had some pretty strenuous intervals on the trainer and one outdoor ride and for the first two, I felt like I was on someone else's bike. But by the third day I started to feel easier access to mid range power (300-600watts), especially while seated on gradual climbs. The fifth ride was a true test, I was in North Carolina for a getaway with my bike... err.... I mean with my girlfriend and I just happened to take my bike along. That day I was able to get in 50 miles up to and along the Blue Ridge Parkway including an hour long climb and a total of about 5k ft gained in about 3:15. I was 10 miles into the ride before consciously remembering the fit just 5 days earlier. It was amazing how quickly the body adapted - though I guess not surprising when it was simply adapting to what is "right".

Waynesville Blue Ridge Pkwy profile
 Since then, I've ridden over five hundred miles and once my calves and Achilles acclimated to a bit more extension (some soreness after the first longer rides) all has been great! I also upgraded to a Specialized Phenom saddle during the fit and it's nice having support under the sit bones instead of the nether regions! No more numbness - enough said!

If you are looking to improve efficiency or just be more comfortable on your bike - I highly encourage you to call Gray Goat Sports or your local Specialized dealer to see if a BG fit is for you!