Saturday, July 18, 2009

Oh my legs...

I did the French Broad River Road Race today out in Marshall, NC. It's a brutal course:

Going into this race my plan was to use the first climb to form a group of about 10 to 15 and stay away to the second climb, where I'd try to shell as many as possible.

Well things didn't exactly go as planned. Foothills, your course description is spot-on. A sadist could not have designed a more wicked race course than this one. The first 20 miles are brutal, and the pace stayed high. Basically, there is no way to come into the first major climb with fresh legs.

I started this climb near the back (big mistake), and had trouble finding my rhythm for the first couple of miles. I went into it way too hard, blew up pretty spectacularly and had to recover while finishing the climb. I topped the climb with a group of 4, which became about 10 by the time we hit the river. This section is fast and fun. Even working hard in a rotating paceline, we didn't make up any time on the leaders, but we were still moving at about 30 mph.

I was able to climb the second mountain a lot better based on my performance on the first one - I had a target heart rate that would keep me from blowing up, and was remembering how to really climb a mountain. I gained one place on this climb for a finish in 32nd in the Cat 4 field. So not great, but not terrible either considering I haven't ridden in the mountains since early spring.

The race pretty much went like I thought it would, I was just not in a position to do anything about it: the first climb forced a selection, about 15 to 20 riders in the lead group I would guess, which stayed together until the second climb when the race was decided.

I have to say the race was incredibly well run - plenty of corner marshalls, plenty of highly talented motos, and a fast and easy sign-in. The only sticking point: no wheel trucks. Fortunately I didn't need one, but you should have heard the groan when they announced that.

Many thanks to the town of Marshall for letting us take over for a day!

One final point.... the return trip from the finish line to Marshall is a major hoot. It's almost entirely downhill, and coming off the mountain I think I hit about 50 mph. Lots of fun, and a nice cool down from the race.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. Great race, great course.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I'm not really in the mood to write a post today, so I will throw up some pictures for your viewing pleasure...

First, some shots of my completed fixed gear:

The pictures do not really do the frame justice - it is much shinier in person.

Second, some pictures of my new component group, SRAM Rival...

Prodigious use of electrical tape was employed to route two under-bartape cables on a single channel bar.

I have about 70 miles on the group so far. Initial impressions are extremely positive - the shifters are incredibly comfortable and feel very natural and solid in my hand. The cables are still stretching, so every so often the shifting goes wonky, but so far I would say upshifts (to harder gears) are faster than Shimano, while downshifts are a little slower. However, I'm still re-wiring my brain on how to shift, so take those observations with a grain of salt.

The drivetrain seems a little noisier, but I'm using a KMC chain with a SRAM cassette and I did not lube the chain - all it has on it is the factory lube, which does very little to quiet things down.

Not having cables coming out of the shifters still looks very strange to my eye... Kind of like there's nothing holding the shifters in place, so they should fall "inward". I love the clean look though.

The bar tape that came with the red hoods (aftermarket items, BTW) is nice - it really damps a lot of the road noise out. It's made by 3m, so I have hopes that it will be long-lasting and stay looking clean.

Did the Paceline ride this morning. Kathleen was leading it so it was a little faster than usual - 21.6 mph on a windy day. My perceived pain is all screwed up - I hurt at about 160 bpm, where in March I could get up to about 180 bpm before I really started to feel bad. I was hanging with the group fine, though.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


What a change from last Tuesday, when I felt on top of the world. Thursday's Northside was tough for me - I contested a lot of the sprints and did more than my share of the work. By the end of the ride I was pretty cooked, and had to take myself out of the rotation after almost taking out my own front wheel twice. I bailed on the Friday ride - I could tell I needed a couple of days off to recover.

Friday I took it easy - stayed completely off the bike. My stomach had been bothering me for reasons unknown for a couple of days. I did get over to Cycles de Oro and ordered SRAM Rival, which should be here Thursday!

Saturday I did the Red, White and Blue ride out of Hagan Stone Park. The ride started early, and I did not eat enough beforehand - rode over there, too. I met up with Will Shore and a couple of other guys and we decided to do the 70 mile route. About 25 miles in I was having trouble holding Will's wheel (well, pretty much everyone's wheel) and knew something was wrong with me. I bailed on the way back and cut it short to about 50 miles total. I bonked pretty hard coming back in. The main problem on this ride was I just could not injest and absorb enough food to dig myself out of the caloric hole I was in, in addition to feeling like absolute shit. Lesson learned: don't plan to get on the bike less than an hour after getting up - my body needs more time to get my metabolic engine fired back up.

So I plan to go very easy this week. Will probably skip the Northside ride and do just enough easy riding to keep my legs from going nuts. I have been eating insane amounts of food this weekend, so I might not have been eating enough these past couple weeks when I've been going hard. I've also felt really tired, despite getting plenty of sleep each night. My legs feel weak and "dead", so all signs are pointing to taking an easy week.

In other news, I decided a couple weeks ago to strip and repaint my fixie. Originally I planned to just repaint it black, but after stripping the frame I decided the brushed aluminum look was so pretty to leave most of the frame bare. This weekend I got all of the painting done. It looks really good. The painted parts (the headtube and a few inches of the adjacent top and down tubes, and the rear dropouts and a few inches of the stays) got 3 coats of primer, with spot sanding in between, then 3 coats of high gloss black paint. The brushed alu sections were sanded with around 400 grit paper, then cross-sanded to give it a brushed look. It came out really well. Then the whole bike was given 3 to 4 coats of clear coat, to protect the bare aluminum and the paint. After the paint fully cures later this week, I will take some 800 grit paper to it, then polish it. It's going to look very nice when I build it back up.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

June Wrap-up

June was a good month: 557 miles, which is my highest-mileage month after January. My fitness is good - probably the best it's ever been. Yesterday I did the Tuesday Northside ride. We averaged 23 mph for 41 miles, and I was one of 4 or 5 guys driving the pace and contesting sprints. A couple of weeks ago this same ride, at a slightly slower pace, was kicking my ass. Granted there are a lot of variables I can't account for by just comparing the two rides, but my feeling is my fitness is better than it was a couple weeks ago.

I've been concentrating more on my intensity work. Monday I did about 1.5 hours of LT intervals. I managed 6 of them, which is twice as many as normal, and a much higher pace. Duration was from 2 to 5 minutes per interval. My feeling is I now need to do a little work on my anaerobic acceleration for sprints.

The Saturday Paceline line has turned into a nice, easy social recovery ride for me. A year ago I could not hang with this group - what a change!

Overall, I have about 3,055 miles for the year. This is already several hundred over my total for last year. Riding this much feels great - being on the bike feels incredibly natural. Average weekly mileage is around 150 or slightly above. This is a slow, slight ramp-up from about 100 per week a couple of months ago.

Tomorrow, the Northside ride again. Friday, I may join a group riding to Hanging Rock and back, which depending on the route might be my first century.