velodrome track race - kissena queens new york

Monday, October 12, 2009

Two years in review

Well, since I deleted two years worth of powertap data (see previous post), I may as well summarize what I've done/learned since I got the powertap.

1. Usually I don't have much stamina or brains for racing before 8am. This may be due to my living situation on the lower east side where it's impossible to get to bed early on a Saturday night. Otherwise I'm a fair all arounder when my head is in it.

2. Last year I won two silver medals (cat4) and a gold (master's) at the state track championships. I missed the 200m sprint starts and wasn't able to land a spot on the omnium.

3. This year I won my first road race, the tour of freedom crit in NJ with about 50 starters. The race started at 3pm. Getting there involved taking a train then riding 8 miles. The perfect stress-free warmup. Driving elevates my heart rate from rest by 10-15 bpm, taking the train or getting a lift does not.

4. Helping team mates and friends win is amazing - but I expect the same loyalty/effort in return ...this is probably asking too much.

5. Taking the outside line in a crit may be faster but more dangerous since the inside rider is more likely to wipe out and take others with him. This happened to me twice and resulted in one broken bike. In the last minutes of a race it's important to be at the front. When it's time to go all out for the line, it doesn't matter so much who's behind you as long as no one is in front of you.

6. Training to peak works.

7. Rest. Rest a lot. It's a good thing to take it easy and miss races. The "race less and win more" strategy worked pretty well this year.

8. As long as the equipment works, bike weight doesn't seem to provide a great deal of advantage. More important is durability and efficiency. Light bikes sure are cool though!

9. Tubulars are expensive!

10. Don't crash.

Saris PowerAgent User Experience Major Snafu $@#!

A week ago I accidentally deleted myself as a user in Saris PowerAgent.

I have the latest version (7.4.4) of the software; when I clicked delete I was prompted once "Are you sure you want to delete User?". I hit the enter button in haste and because the default option is "OK," I deleted myself as a user and also deleted two years worth of racing and training data.

Finally today I got around to calling Saris and asked if there's a way to restore the data. Unfortunately, the only way is from a system backup.

All of the user data is stored in a "repository," typically on the c_drive (in windows) under ~/documents and settings/username/.poweragent/repository

Since I do not have a backup of this directory I was unable to restore the data.

If it were up to me, the software would have an additional dialog after the "Are you sure..." question. It would say something like this: "Warning: this action can not be undone. Do you really want to delete user username and all activities for user username?"

I was surprised and disappointed that deleting the user also deleted all of the activities for the user. Saris, I hope you are reading this!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Racing just to finish

My last post was about winning. This time it's about getting dropped. It's happened twice this year, both times at Floyd Bennet Field, both times in the 1/2/3 race, on the backstretch near the old finish line. It was on very windy days.

The backstretch is completely flat but on windy days I should approach it like a steep hill. When a little gap opens up, it's just as tough as being on a steep hill. It's the kind of challenge where dropped riders churn a 39x17 at 70rpm into the wind while the field pedals away in a 53x19.

The first time it happened, on the 9th lap of a 12 lap race, I chased for about 3 minutes and gave up. After the race I looked at the results and there was only one cat3 rider who finished. Even if I'd finished last I would have been the 2nd place cat3. So when I got dropped on 8/18, after trying wildly to avoid this, I decided to motor on. How did I finish? DFL. But out of 33 starters I was the 18th and last finisher. This reminds me of the first bike races I did in 2005/2006, where I got dropped the first few times.

I'm actually happy about it. It feels like a challenge, and I like challenges.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Velodrome results

It doesn't happen often - but sometimes I win. Since this is an open personal diary (more so than anything else), I'm writing this post to remember what I did in the days prior to a win.

Sunday: governor's island bike race
Monday: very easy 17 mile spin
Tuesday: off
Wednesday: podium

Wearing glasses full time also helps me see things up the road, even when there's nothing there.

This is me off the front at the Governor's Island criterium on 8/09/09. Unfortunately my position at the finish was not great, I got 11th. Note to self: look for a landmark to initiate the sprint before the bell lap.

Photo credit: anthony skorochod

And here is my favorite photo, credit goes to my team mate Wai2Fast for taking this lovely panoramic at the Kissena Governor's Island Criterium.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Analyzing my first race as cat3 in a pro/1/2/3 field

Downloaded the powertap data and was surprised at what the numbers show.

Even though there were a lot of accelerations in the race, the numbers show a near "personal best" for 30 minutes power output (cough cough).

That would explain why later in the race I was unable to keep up with accelerations. Normally I have little trouble keeping up with riders accelerating but when the endurance number is pushed to the limit everything else is wiped off the table.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

First race as "cat3" rider

Upgraded to the 3's, here's my lame FBF race report:

I was pretty psyched see a guy in Team Bissel kit at the start line with us... racing with a pro!

The conditions indicated there'd be a break as it was very windy. The first few laps (in the 1/2/3 field) were much more aggressive than in the 3/4s, with hard efforts followed by periods of relative calm and me sucking wheels. I should have been much less active in the beginning. Joaquin was off the front for a while with a few others. I didn't have the legs to counter and realized that I'd spent most of my capital in the first few laps. Duh!

Around lap 5 (of 12) I decided no more chasing attacks or efforts, I ride as efficiently as possible in order to finish. But the field kept wittling down and it was impossible ride caboose, even in the middle I kept having to close gaps.

Around lap 6 a champion systems guy shouted in Spanish, "ok, let's get some training in" (it helps to be bilingual). They (champion systems) started riding tempo at the front and things got really strung out. On lap 7 I was expending over 4/wkg just to stay in a draft on the back stretch.

Lap 8, coming out of turn 2, the guy in front of me pops. I knew it was going to happen but was hoping someone else would make the effort to close the gap since there were a lot of us stuck behind him and champsys was still setting the tempo.

Willie Payton(?) passed me but he was going to fast for me to latch on. I started working harder to bridge the gap. Coming out of turn 3 I saw a rider whom I know from the velodrome up the road. He seemed to be losing steam so I shouted at him to come on, we can make it. As I passed, I noticed his front tire was going flat! I've never seen so many flats in a race. Horrendous attrition in this race: 47 started and only 16 finished. I suspect some guys carry thumbtacks to use at the most opportune moment - when they think they're gonna get dropped they'll bust a derailleur with a bit of fishing line, or pop a tube with a tack to avoid embarrassment. In the end only two from my group made it back to the group, and I wasn't one of them. I struggled to finish the lap while realizing the gap was getting bigger. So I survived 9 laps.

Funny thing is an hour ago when I started writing this, I was going to write that the race was hard and upgrading sucks. But I took a break for a phone call and some beer. Now I think it feels good to push hard. New things to learn and new limits to expose. Wiser tactics to unravel. In essence, a whole new piƱata of fun.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Crescendo, Peak, Start Over. A race report... sort of.

My last post was about over-training in order to (hopefully) bring about a peak.

Unfortunately the event I was peaking for, (NY State Master's Track championship) was canceled this year. According to the officials, the reason was too low of turnout but I think it had to do with the bad weather that was predicted for the weekend. New York does not have an indoor velodrome, although one may be in the works. An indoor velodrome would be great, and profitable if they sell food, beer, and allow gambling on site, in my opinion.

Rather than let all of that hard training go towards nothing, I wanted to find a raced suited to my training and found one. It is called the "Freedom Tour" criterium organized by high gear cyclery. It required that I hop on an NJ Transit train to Stirling, NJ then ride 8 miles to the start. It also featured a late afternoon start, which for me is a big plus.

I lined up with 42 other racers, and 25 laps later I was the first one across the finish line.

With my very basic understanding of physiology and training, I was able to bring about peak form. I raced hard, covered almost every move, and somehow still had enough juice to sprint for the finish.

I guess this means it's time to take a rest week, then begin a new 3-week cycle. The $100 prize is much less than what I spend on eating, training, and bike parts but it's the biggest prize check I've ever earned. I still don't think I'll be signing with a pro-team anytime soon (or ever). Just gettin' my ride on, here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Building Fitness

It's been a hard 3 days in a row of racing.

I raced Floyd on Tuesday night and did not make the break. Wednesday I raced at the track and qualified for the "A" feature. And last night rode to and raced at Rockleigh with several team mates, it felt very hard, was in several moves but not in the two-man break. Got 4th in the field sprint.

My body feels different, happy and tired bike racer.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Training shortcut does not equal Good Result!

Lacking sufficient time for a long ride this weekend I decided to do repeats up the Williamsburg bridge on Sunday night. I warmed up a bit then used 50x17 gearing to get to the first apex where the path splits, sprinting most of the way. I think it's about 600 meters. Monday I did not ride at all, would have been good to go for a light spin.

Raced FBF tonight and felt a little jagged, like I was pedaling in squares. I missed the split and did not contest the intermediate sprints, so my racing sucked.

Maybe this type of training will help recruit some more fast twitch muscles for short sprint events like the flying 200m. NY State Championships start July 24.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Free mountain bike race series at Highbridge Park

Highbridge park is an Urban park in New York City with a nice technical mountain bike course.

I recently learned of this free race series. It runs on alternate Thursdays at Highbridge and sponsored by NYC Velo.

More information available at the website

On a different note...

Up until just a few days ago we've been having rain non stop in New York City. The sun is finally starting to peek out.

For a laugh, play the video below. We rode out to Rockleigh, NJ and this is post race, repairing flat #5 in a downpour. The race organizers were kind enough to stop and let us borrow their floor pump.