Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Racing - June 24, 2014 CCAP Tuesday Night Race, Bs

Tuesday ended up a nice warm day. With the really hot day supposedly arriving on Wednesday this would be a better day. The reality, of course, was that it was pretty warm. I packed more bottles of ice water, both Podium Ice bottles, along with one of the bars I bought for the winter training (which really didn't happen, so I have a lot of bars left).

On Saturday I discovered a crack in the rear Stinger 6 wheel. This, combined with a chip in the surface of the Stinger 6 front wheel, encouraged me to bring just the Stinger 7/9 wheelset. I'd spent much of the day outside and it wasn't very windy at the house. I trudged around a bit, spraying the ever-present poison ivy, washed/clayed/waxed the wagon, and packed the car.

Of course when we arrived the wind felt ferocious. I wondered if the registration tent would fly away, and even a clipboard didn't keep the release forms from creeping across the table.

It was windy.

With no choice I put the 7/9 wheels on. The 9 would be fine, of course, since it's a rear. The 7 was my tallest front wheel. Given the choice I'd use a different wheel but I didn't bring the Stinger 6 and my clincher front is a bit wacky (rim is straight with no tension on one spoke, causing the wheel to wobble aggressively when out of the saddle).

I reluctantly rolled away from the car, regretting not bringing the 6 front.

The good thing about today was that it was the BBQ night, this time hosted by Cycling Concepts. It meant that we didn't have to leave to eat and therefore we could hang out for the A race. Junior loves hotdogs and since that's a staple BBQ food so we'd be all set.

I didn't get a chance to talk much with anyone before the race, nor to warm up. I hoped that things wouldn't be too crazy with the wind, although I knew that the wind would allow the more fit riders to take advantage of the others.

NBC News was there with two cameras, a mic, and apparently they interviewed some people. The link went up and it's here. You can actually see the B race in the background - the short guy with the helmet cam is me.

Very windy day, about 85 degrees F.

We had a decent field, a little smaller than some of the earlier weeks. With some final words from Karen, the official, we started off.

Gaps on the first lap.
Wind here is from the front right.

We didn't have a neutral roll out this week and the attacks went from the gun. Immediately gaps started opening up. I abandoned the whole idea of helping others because I was absolutely at the limit trying to hang on. My legs were a bit sore, probably from the "heavy" schedule of riding more than a day or two in the last week, and I realized that I had to make it through a few laps before they'd start to feel a bit better. Until my legs came around I closed gaps without asking for help but I didn't have anything left to try and help others. Within a few laps the field had probably halved in size.

The wind really hit us hard in two spots - one at Turn One, the other as we cleared the stadium on the backstretch.

The Turn One wind was brutal - the first lap I almost lost control of the bike, and I really had to grip the bars firmly to keep the wind from knocking my wheel off-line. It got better as the race went on so I started to relax a bit. Then one lap the wind hit me super hard just as I stood to accelerate out of the turn. The wheel turned just a touch and for a moment I thought there was a small chance I'd flip over the bars. A quick correction, a touch less weight up front, and it was okay.

The other spot was the end of the stadium, a normal wind spot as the wind swirls around any big structure. This spot was also brutal, with my front wheel moving sideways a good 6 inches the first lap. After that I realized I couldn't relax there either, so no drinking or anything like that. Putting a rider to my 2 o'clock really helped stabilize the bike as the rider at my 2 o'clock would take the brunt of the wind. Of course they'd get pushed to the left a bit so I would leave a bit more room than normal.

Early move with an Expo, with other Expos waiting.
Wind here, at Turn Two, is from the front right.

With Expo riders well represented, and with their fitness levels pretty high (I was one of the weaker ones), the day's race ended up belonging to Expo. The early moves all had Expo riders in them, with Heavy D launching the first attack, then dropping back to the field as someone else (not sure who) continued on for Expo.

Expo waiting for the next move.
You can see that Heavy D, in this case, is sitting third wheel.

The Expo boys let the others chase. Heavy D looked good, patient, biding his time. I told him to go with the next move. Just as the catch was made, Heavy D made the move of the day, launching up the side, passing the tired chasing riders and the tired break riders. He instantly had a big gap and set about broadening it.

Heavy D makes his move.
First four riders are the break coming back, the next two are tired from chasing.
This is a tailwind bit, immediately after Turn Three.

Back in the field the Expo boys marked moves. Only a few riders wanted to chase. ERRACE got two riders chasing but they came back. Expo John N rolled off the front inadvertently. I hollered at him to ease, which had the effect of making everyone around me ease as well. Because, you know, if the "experienced rider" says to ease then they'll ease.

Waving John and Nick to go.

Nick had accidentally rolled off the front and looked back questioningly. I realized that it would be a great time to go so I told them to go, even gesturing with my hand. Nick put his head down, rolled up to John, and they rolled away from the group.

Now although we weren't necessarily chasing our own guys down we were still willing to take pulls here and there. I figured that once whatever Expo group got more than about a length and a corner away from whatever group I was in then I'd chase, so whenever the gap got a bit big I went to the front. The idea was to let the other Expo guys save it for the counter moves.

Telling Aaron he has to go with the next move.

At this point we had two Expo riders dangling just in front of the field. I went up to Aaron and told him that he had to go with the next move. He was one of the stronger riders, with both him and Nick up there in the finale at the Cat 3-4 Berger race. I barely got the words out of my mouth when someone went up the left side.

Aaron launches.

A perfectly timed bit of advice as Aaron basically jumped when I finished telling him to go with the next move.

In the past the Cat 4-5 Expos would be at the front, working no matter what the race situation. When the inevitable moves went they didn't have the snap to follow because they'd just been pulling. They'd dulled the edge of their fitness and training by exhausting themselves before the moves started.

Now, sheltering by default, they had the snap to respond to the moves, or, if so desired, to make them. Even though they weren't significantly more fit compared to a few weeks ago they were racing much more effectively. Aaron's instant response to the counter, Nick's move to go with John, and Heavy D's move to solo off the front all showed that they always had the strength to make the moves. Now they actually could make them because they weren't working senselessly in the wind leading up to the moves.

Pulling as the breaks are gone.
This is on the backstretch, at about the stadium "break", i.e. where the wind blasts us.

I turned to one of the few Expo guys left in the group and remarked, "I think we just team(work)ed ourselves off the back". When most of the field is up the road then not contributing to the workload doesn't make sense. As another rider put it, now the race would be just a hard workout. Those of us that could would pull.

I didn't pull much, to be frank, as I wasn't strong enough to pull much. I usually pulled into the wind, trying to offer shelter, so that made my pulls pathetically short - usually between Turn One and a bit past Turn Two, or even to Turn Three.

That was it.

I rode on the wrong side after the first turn, also to try to offer shelter. My weak point has always been the steady efforts, the FTP/theshold stuff, and I think for a while that one rider thought I was still blocking. The reality was that I had nothing more to give - if my team had asked me to chase as hard as I could I'd have gone the same pace.

My lack of form really showed as I slogged in bigger gears, unable to spin smoothly. I have to work on this as it's super inefficient. I even felt different muscles straining as I worked hard, particularly in my hips. I normally don't work so hard so consistently so the chasing efforts really socked me.

Heavy D lapping us.
(He's in the bright yellow shoes and socks.)

If that wasn't enough Heavy D rolled by, unexpectedly. I never heard anything about him approaching so it was a bit surprising when I turned left and saw him flying by. Two guys went with him but since Heavy D had lapped us solo we sort of ignored them.

Aaron (first rider) and Nick (to my front right) lapping us.
This is exiting Turn One, wind is from the front right, and just after we got the bell.

As we approached the final lap Aaron and Nick also rolled by us. No one else had lapped us, and they passed us just after the first turn of the last lap. Aaron admitted he'd pushed really hard to lap us, and Nick had rallied to bridge to him just as Aaron reached us. Eventually Nick would roll away from Aaron. Two riders were placed between Heavy D and Nick but I don't know when they escaped and I'm not sure when they lapped us.

I sat up in the last turn, my legs pretty spent, tired from a really tough race. I have no idea how the group did in the sprint, nor the other groups that were lapped and such.

I rolled to the finish, carefully crossing the line to make sure I officially finished (even if only the first three are scored). If it's important to finish then a rider has to make sure they actually finish.

Junior was tugging the Missus toward me. I carefully dismounted so I wouldn't kick his head (that would be bad) and Junior proceeded to touch different parts of the bike. He knows it's "Daddy's" bike, he knows "wheel", and he really likes the pedals.

Junior with my pedal.

Heavy D was all grins. He'd just soloed the race, lapped the field, a really great ride. Aaron and Nick were also really happy, lapping the field as well. All the Expo riders had done a great job with teamwork, with racing smarter. Although their fitness would not have increased substantially in four weeks their results were something else - they've been racing smarter and it showed.

With that we relaxed a bit. The Missus, Junior, and I didn't have to leave immediately, contrary to other weeks, because Cycling Concepts was hosting the BBQ night. With Junior's favorite (hot dogs) on the menu, and my favorite (burgers), we were both good to hang out for a bit and eat. Along with a couple burgers (few? I might have had three) I downed a Coke, feeling the need, but after that it was just water, water, and more water.

The A race was pretty spectacular as always, with local pro Ben Wolfe ripping legs off like usual. Expo's Lance had a great race, going basically at the gun, and taking part in the first serious three man move of the day. They eventually lapped the field but I think Ben not only didn't get lapped, I think he lapped everyone again.

Or something like that. It's the hot and hazy days like these that give rise to the myths, the stories, the legends. Maybe in twenty years I'll hear that Ben lapped the field four times. Who knows? Whatever the stories it was a great night out at the races, the way it should be.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Racing - 2014 Keith Berger Crit, Cat 3-4, 14th

After the thrashing I received yesterday I wasn't keen on the race today. The Keith Berger course, located in East Hartford, favors a longer final effort, something like a minute type effort, not the 20 second efforts that a New Britain or a Bethel requires. Since my minute numbers aren't that good I historically haven't done well here.

We'd spent a bit of time with family after the race Saturday so we got back pretty late, with Junior even refusing to go to sleep until we basically got home.

Sunday morning I woke up with really sore legs. In the last few months, for whatever reason, I don't get very sore. This is in my "1-2 hour a week training" period so I really didn't change much from one week to another. I suppose I don't race very hard (I sit in and hang on) and during my admittedly minimal training rides I go longer and sometimes harder than I do in a race. After those training rides, yes, my legs feel sore. After races, not so much.

The sore legs made me think that maybe I should actually warm up a bit because that helps when I have sore legs. Overall warm ups become more important to me as I train more. If my short rides are two hours and I'm doing 6 or 8 or 10 hours a week I need an hour warm up. If my short/only rides are an hour and I'm doing 1-3 hours a week then I really don't need much. Right now I'm in the latter schedule so warm ups haven't been important at all.

I worried a bit about my lack of speed, a problem I normally don't have. It's not sprint speed per se, it's the "sitting on the wheels in a tailwind section" kind of speed. It's what killed me at Ninigret yesterday and I knew that we'd have one tailwind straight at Berger. I hoped that my lack of speed was from not riding the day before, versus a lack of speed because I've been training just an hour or two a week.

Turning the camera on.

Before the race I rolled around to drop off a bottle, my camera, and say hi to some of the guys. I spoke with two of the 4s, Aaron and Nick. I warned them not to go out too hard, even though this was the "team race" (Expo helped man a lot of the marshal positions and with the hay bales and stuff - I didn't do anything except race and take pictures).

With a "hometown" race (Expo was one of the two clubs putting on the race, although we mainly supplied hours rather than venue experience) the temptation is to fly the colors early. The problem is that when you do that you're done for a bit and usually just as the hometown team collectively blows up the winning break goes up the road.

I didn't want that to happen so I told Aaron and Nick not to do that. With that said, and with a short talk on getting away (Lance, a Cat 3), that was that for any team talk.

The Missus and Junior found me, Junior all excited to see me again. He's at the age now (about 2 years and 3 months) where he gets really psyched to see us again, even if he just saw me a few minutes ago. He doesn't have massive anxiety when we leave either so it's nice. The separation bit isn't that painful now (no monkey-cling and the resulting finger-by-finger peeling him off of me while he screams bloody murder) and he's even more excited to see me when he sees me again. A nice combo.

Junior happy to see me.

We lined up, I sat at the back, the announcer (a racer as well as someone heavily involved in trying to make the sport grow) commented on my stem, and the race went off. The field seemed pretty solid, no real obvious new racers.

The pace was really, really high for the first few laps. I didn't know who was pushing it but I'd told the 4s (Aaron and Nick) not to go hard at the beginning.

Ultimately, as expected, the breaks came back, but only after a lot of hard chasing. Ends up that Joe, a Cat 3 Expo rider that's sort of unretired himself, traded turns attacking with Lance, pushing the pace, flying the colors. So much for that advice!

Joe, a long time racer, knew his limits and he knew that he'd be done quickly, therefore he did what he could before sitting up. Lance, after his forays off the front, drifted back to about where I sat to recover a bit.

During the race there were a few consistent bobbles in the field. Nothing like the rolled tubular from last year, or the clincher blowout that resulted in two pretty injured riders, so it's all relative. I caught a couple of the bobbles on the helmet cam.

Oops. Second turn.

The above was a relatively big bobble, especially since the rider that bobbled was on his own avoiding the curb. The problem was that he didn't need to avoid the curb - he'd have been close to it but not hit it. The resulting bobble was pretty big but fortunately no one went down, even the guy doing the sideways power slide.

The chase back on - I was the third rider after the gap - hurt me. The speed felt extremely uncomfortable but I knew that if I didn't hold on my race might end right there.

Wind from the right on this, the second straight.
Break is already at the corner.

The main crosswind hit us on the second straight, from the front right, which is sort of the norm here. Sometimes I ended up on the right and it felt much worse than in the middle or the left. I actually grinned once when the rider in front of me carefully and determinedly fought to move to the left safely, succeeding just seconds before we hit the second turn.

Another oops, second turn again.
The rider in the middle of the screen is headed directly away from me. Everyone else is heading right.

I've noticed that this year there haven't been a lot of guys cutting the inside, like a conspicuous lack of guys cutting off others at the curb. On the other hand I've seen a lot of guys go wide, too wide, and end up slowing to avoid the curb or falling when they hit it. Because I wasn't in the midst of the bobbles I couldn't tell if it was one or two riders consistently making the same mistake (aka they don't know), if it was a course "feature", or if it was just a "racing incident". I've noticed this at the Rent as well so I'm going to keep an eye out.

Regardless I think there was one crash and two really close calls due to riders almost stacking it up on the outside of the turn.

I found myself consciously slowing approaching a turn, giving myself a gap, and then cornering more along the inside than the outside. I rode through guys that had slowed for the bobbles without having to brake or otherwise waste too much energy.

Basically I'd go into the turn a bit slower, I'd start pedaling usually before the apex of the turn, and I'd be right on the wheel as we accelerated up to speed. Less time out of the draft, room to maneuver if something happened, and reasonable efficiency. It was certainly easier than sitting up near the front, something I have a hard time doing, and I still had a lot of time/room to adjust for bobbling riders. The clip will show that better but I wanted to point this out.

Clawing back on.
No bobbles or anything, I was just suffering.

All the smart riding won't make up for lack of fitness or speed. So although I may have been riding as optimally as I could, I still struggled with the pace. This particularly applied to the faster bit, the back stretch. There I struggled to hold wheels, coming off by some decent distances on some laps.
Ultimately, though, with cornering speeds lower than necessary, I could close up the gaps pretty easily in the next corner or two. This wasn't ideal and I'd rather have been controlling the gaps (aka "tail gunning" or letting the gap go on purpose to save energy), not worrying each time that I might not get on.

Bottle toss.

When I realized it was getting down into the last three or four laps I gave my mostly full bottle a heave. It's one of my two precious Podium Ice bottles so I tossed it near the Missus so she could retrieve it. You can see Junior watching as I tossed the bottle - hopefully he doesn't randomly toss his bottles when he goes for a ride on his bike.

At the bell.

I'm on Aaron's wheel. He's a new guy, strong and savvy. Strong, okay, everyone is strong, but he's a bit more familiar with the bumping and barging of crits because he comes from a motocross background. This is like a few other teammates of mine and they're all good in the turns. This raised my expectations for him and he's met them.

I didn't feel good enough to yell at him to bring me to the front - I think he'd have dropped me - but I felt like the team had potential. Thinking back I should have done something but I don't know what. I didn't know it at the time but Nick, another strong 4, had been close by as well, maybe even on my wheel.

I realized that since we don't race together as much I didn't know how we could best take advantage of our collective strengths. Since the Rents are the only times I've raced with them and we haven't finished together in any organized fashion yet, I had no idea how they'd react to various scenarios.

Even when I have an inkling sometimes people step it up a lot. For example in the last Bethel race, the Zwiedzanie, Joel went to lead me out. He'd blown up with about 300-350m to go the prior week so I hung back when he committed into the wind. I ended up in the wind a bit because he rode off the front of the field, dragging a few riders clear. I worked super hard just to draw even with him and he finally detonated only about 50-70 meters short of the line. If I'd stayed on his wheel I'd have had another 50 feet or so headstart, but since this was only the second time he tried to do something in the sprint I wasn't sure what would happen.

I also felt uncomfortable barking out a command or two because, frankly, we'd never been in this situation. I've been trying to help them win the B race but I either screw up (poor leadout moves) or they get caught in traffic. I didn't have a clear idea of what we could do so it made no sense for me to yell out much of anything at all.

After our race I watched the P123 race. The most active team really impressed me with its road captain barking out commands regularly. They ended up second, their leader simply outsprinted by the rider I thought would win, but they rode a superb race. I didn't see any tactical errors on their part.

First turn of the last lap.

At this point the race, for me, was static. I was just holding position, trying to gather my breath. I had no expectations, no plans for doing anything. Aaron has disappeared to the right. A guy had eased up in the middle, Aaron went right, I went left. After filling a hole or two I ended up at the first turn.

In retrospect I might have been able to move up a bit on the next stretch, after the first turn, but I think I was pretty cooked. I was relying on moving up on the long and wide backstretch so I sat and tried to recover just a bit.

Second turn of the last lap.

Number 812 did a superb job of cornering here. He hit the turn much faster than me and he cleanly slid through the gap ahead of me, ending up virtually on the inside curb. In a less experienced rider I'd have been worried but he did it so well, so smoothly, I was really impressed. I never felt endangered, I never needed to react. A good move. The only problem is that he left a gap - it seems like he was pretty blown.

I fought to stay on wheels but ended up dumped unceremoniously in the wind, in the middle of the group.

The fanning out on the back stretch, last lap.

You can see the typical fanning of the front. I wait for this and move up on the inside, sitting second or third row, gambling on finding an opening. However my legs wouldn't allow me to move up hard so I sat in the wind, a bit helpless. This is where fitness would have made a difference because I wouldn't have been back here, I'd have been 20-25 feet further up, right on the wheels, ready to pounce through an opening.

Third turn, last lap.

You can see that even though they slowed a bit I couldn't close the gap before the turn. This is all energy I had to expend and therefore didn't have for the sprint. I have maybe 20-25 pedal strokes in the sprint, and every hard pedal stroke here made my sprint that much shorter. I was holding about 32-33 mph here, so not ultra fast considering the fact that this was going to decide the race. My heart rate, on review, was about 170-171 bpm and holding steady, which is high for me. This explains why I couldn't move up quickly - I had very little left.

As we exited the third turn I pulled up right behind a few guys. They had slowed hard in the turn, mainly because guys tried to squeeze in from the inside.

Fourth turn, last lap.

I've obviously closed up, mainly because the front guys were slowing or the narrow third stretch made everyone string out a bit. I think the front guy was blowing up and the rest of them were waiting for the corner. I was going a steady 30 mph here, and my heart rate dropped a few beats per minute to 168 or so.

About when I sat up.

When I came out of the corner I did a few hard pedal strokes - my sprint was about 6 pedal strokes long, something like that, peaking at a relatively low 1075 watts. I was at 27 mph when I jumped, immediately went to 35 mph, and that was when I realized there was a lot of real estate to make up in not a lot of time, and in fact I think the winners were basically winning when I sat up.

In addition my jump was too weak to gain on anyone. At Nutmeg last week, when I hit a more respectable 1200-ish watts, I immediately gapped some riders. It helped that I was the first to jump and all that. In this sprint I only stayed even with the others. The rider to the left in the picture above? He was directly in front of me in the turn. Tactically speaking my sprint did nothing to change that.

On review my heart rate peaked at 171 just as I sprinted but only dropped from there. That means my sprint didn't really load up my aerobic system, showing just how little effort I put into it.

I didn't realize it until I reviewed the clip but I passed at least two people while I was coasting and may have pipped a third at the line. This put me at a non-pedaling 14th place, a great place considering the best I've done here is about a 10th (and I sprinted and blew).

For me, then, the finish was a bit of a disappointment. I was so far out of position that I didn't even feel like I could use my sprint, what I had left of it. Likewise, with teammates around but no plan, we couldn't coalesce and use our strength together to try and get a better result.

Junior greeting me after the race.

The Missus was a bit worried when I finally rolled back to the start/finish area. I think I'd coasted past her while shielded from view, so she didn't know if I'd stayed upright on the last lap.

Of course Junior doesn't understand that yet. He saw me and came running over. His first reaction is to grab a tire, then a skewer, then the brake lever. It was great to see his smiling face, his excitement.

I went looking for my bottle, which I saw bounce into one of those bushes there. Comically I couldn't find it, and after some digging around two other riders (father/son, Bethel regulars) came over to help me look. We really dug around a lot (no poison ivy, I was checking) and I finally found the bottle. It looked like someone dropped it in the middle of the bushes, and you had to peel back the layers just right to see it.

I didn't realize it until I watched that Cat 1-2 team work the P123 field afterward - the team needs to race together consistently to get the hang of different scenarios and appropriate tactics. It's a steep learning curve for everyone including myself. Two of my regular Cat 3 teammates last year, Chris and Joel, have backed off a lot from racing and two other regular teamamtes, Bryan and Jeff, have already essentially stopped racing this year. This really depleted our team of a few of our more experienced racers - the least experienced ones have been racing 3-4 years, and the most experienced ones for literally decades.

Of course it helps if I actually train and stuff. If I'm suffering at the back I can't do much at the front.

For training this week was a big one for me (relatively speaking for the last year or so), with four rides totaling 5 hours. Strava says I only did 37 minutes of rolling time at Berger when I really did about 65 minutes, so there's half an hour missing. I rode 6 hours in April, of which 3 hours was racing, and I did 8 hours in May, of which 3 hours was again racing. In June I'd done 4 or 5 hours before this week, bringing my total to 9-10 hours for the month.

My training log; for more info my Strava profile is here.

Considering the amount of training I've been (not) doing I can't be really unhappy with my racing. However to be there and not be able to do much, that's both frustrating and motivating. Going forward I want to be a bit more fit and I want to get the team to gel better. Both goals seem attainable to me, even with regular life stuff going on, so that's going to be focus for the rest of the year.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Racing - RI Masters Olympic Games, M45-49, Shelled

Ninigret Park, Rhode Island. For us now it's about a 2 hour drive, about the furthest I'll go for a bike race. Last year I didn't do well here, a small field, marginal fitness. This year, with less fitness and only five pre-registered riders, I actually contemplated not going to the race. In the end we did, partially because we planned on visiting family (that were visiting the area) after the race.

I felt a bit of optimism when I saw what had to be 50 or 60 racers line up for the M50+ races (it was actually closer to 35, according to the Missus). However when I lined up and there wasn't even a full row of riders…

The whole starting field, minus one guy way off to my left.

Although we got there sort of early I still managed to do only a marginal warm up. I didn't feel much like doing any efforts anyway and the typically ferocious wind kept my motivation down. The tailwind leg of the warm up loop (the parking lot) felt not-that-fast and the headwind leg felt really slow.

On the nice side the bathrooms have been redone. New walls, ceiling, the stall, I think the toilet was new, sink, hand dryer instead of paper towels, the entry door to each side, everything is really nice. I don't have a before picture so I didn't bother with an after one but, yeah, much nicer now.

Tip: if the little windows are open up top then it's probably open. If they're closed then it's probably locked.

Backstretch, heavy wind from right-front.

On doing the first lap I realized that the backstretch would have the most wind and therefore the most shelter. The last stretch before the sprint would be the weird one, the one with pretty high brush on both sides making the stretch a swirly wind thing. The main stretch would be a tailwind and therefore ideal for attacking or for shelling marginally fit riders.

The first attack, going into the tailwind bit.

The first attack happened as we entered said tailwind section and it seemed fine. Everyone responded and I thought, okay, this is good, it seems not quite so frantic.

Goaded into pulling on the last bit before the tailwind main stretch.

A short while later, it might have been a lap, maybe two,  I ended up near the front and obligingly took a pull. No one came around when I eased and instead of sitting up I kept going.

After three turns I decided that I would encourage the others to pull by putting them in the gutter (the unsheltered side of a crosswind section of course). I attacked out of the second turn of the course, intent on stringing out the field into the cross-headwind backstretch.

Exiting Turn Two.

Steady effort on the backstretch, on the left side of the course.

You might be able to see that I'm doing a quite unsustainable 700+ watt effort on the backstretch. I didn't know it, I wasn't looking at the computer, but I knew I was going way too hard. When I looked back everyone was strung out, there were gaps, and I knew that no one was benefitting from being behind me. After I sat up and they all regrouped someone took a pull.

Of course I'd gone deep into the red also but that was a different problem.

I never quite recovered from that effort and started getting in trouble first on the hidden wall-of-bushes last bit and then in the front stretch in the tailwind.

Trouble, wall-of-bushes section.

I chased back onto the small field on the main stretch after the first minor crisis I had, but I knew that the group hadn't been attacking as much as just "riding hard". I started hoping that the guys would ease up a bit.

Trouble again.

The next bit of trouble came on the tailwind section, when my legs wouldn't turn over fast enough and lacked the power to push a bigger gear. My heart rate wasn't high so the whole thing puzzled me but basically it's caused by something called "you blew yourself up and you haven't recovered".

I chased desperately into the wind and managed to latch back on, but I knew that I had very few efforts left before I really had to ease.

Trouble, the third time, this time on the main stretch.

The third time I got gapped happened on the main stretch, even before we got to the start/finish. I focused on getting back to the guy in light blue but when we came out of Turn Two I realized that he, too, was gapped. I tried to pass him after Turn Three, going into that backstretch bit, but by then the gap was too big for me.


When I saw the gap I almost immediately sat up. I had been redlined from the beginning of the main stretch, I already closed one gap (to the rider in blue), and now to close another?

Of course the group sat up just as I did so the gap didn't grow much for a few turns, and in fact I think the rider in blue got back on at about the start/finish.

The group opposite me, fragmented.

The group fragmented a bit after I'd dropped way back. I think the eventual winners were in the second group. Even if I'd made it back I think I'd have had problems with the group splitting and such, so my getting shelled was appropriate.

"I'm stopping this lap"

The Missus and Junior watched from the other side of the backstretch. I'd done one half lap of effort, then about one quarter, and now I was rolling around on the tops. Obviously I wasn't chasing hard but the Missus had to be a bit confused on what I was doing.

The race had two "finishes", the 20km and the 40km. I knew that if I finished 20km I'd get some kind of place because there weren't that many riders in the field. This pushed me to do a few laps on my own.

Plus I could do a practice sprint.

When I saw the Missus I was on my last lap, my 20km finish lap. I was reasonably recovered, I decided I'd sit up even harder just before the sprint, and I'd try to do a good sprint.

She said something back to me but I couldn't hear with the wind and such, but she pointed over to the car so I figured she was saying "I'll meet you back at the car".

With that I did my sprint. Ultimately the numbers were good but my starting speed was too low to make it an actual fast sprint. I did a 1200w jump and sustained 900 watts average for 20 seconds. This compares favorably with the best "race" sprints I've done, with a 1250w jump and 1100w sustained for 18-19 seconds.

My very low starting speed, about 22 mph, meant that I spent virtually my whole sprint getting up to speed - my power dropped off a cliff as I hit 37 mph and it was all I could do to maintain something close to that to the line.

Bike throw.

Note how I'm down to 755w in the picture. The screen doesn't update super quickly - I've learned not to try and correlate points on the download to images I capture on the helmet cam - but 755w is the end of a sprint. I'm actually applying zero power since I'm not pedaling at that moment. I don't know how the SRM figures that out, if I throw the bike and complete the pedal revolution a half second later.

The Missus, with Junior looking back.

When the Missus heard me say I'm doing one more lap she figured it would be at the same pace as when I talked to her, i.e. on the tops and such. She got the spare wheels (that's what she told me she would do, not meet me at the car). As she leisurely started to cross the course she heard me barreling down the straight and hustled a curious Junior off the course.

I did half a lap to cool down and went back to get my wheels. When I saw the wheels weren't there I realized that the Missus had picked them up.

I rolled by the trailer rig used by the finish line folks. I thought it pretty funny because their tow vehicle is about the same year as the Expedition (based on the similar color) and their trailer looked pretty new as well. It was like a 2/3 scale version of the set up I ended up with.

Compact trailer set up.

I thought about my trailer, if maybe I'd been over eager to get a big trailer. After some mulling I realized that having two registration windows makes sense and that by itself required at least 14' of trailer (the windows are 6' long). Once at that size the larger trailer, except for navigating narrow driveways (ahem), becomes almost the default choice based on virtually identical costs and weights.

The barn doors in the rear make a lot of sense. I got the ramp so I could get the leaf blowers and snow blower in/out easily as well as to increase resale value. The ramp is heavier, added a few hundred dollars to the cost, but my thought was that if I had to sell the trailer it would be much easier selling it as a car hauler than a registration trailer, and car haulers need the heavy duty (5000 lbs rated) ramp. For registration and finish line stuff, though, the barn doors are fine. The big advantage with barn doors is that you can close just one door, leaving you room to tape results and such, and helping keep the wind/chill down inside.

The trailer had mosquito netting hanging in the window, that makes a lot of sense to Mister Mosquito Magnet me.

With the race out of the way I got to change and take pictures of the finish. I thought the guy in purple would win based on my limited time in the field, and I thought he did, but then I realized later that I'd watched him win the 20km race from atop my bike. The 40km finish he got second.

The Missus was chuckling over stuff she overheard the racers say as they rode by. Apparently when I got shelled for real one of the riders told the others, "Hey, we just dropped one of the better sprinters, let's keep it that way."

The next lap, with me noodling around way back there on my tops, the rider concluded, "Yeah, he's done."

I'd had some recent discussions with others about various riders, talent, and such. Based on the sound thrashings I've received from really good sprinters I consider myself about an 80% sprinter. In comparison I'd rate myself as the bottom 1-5% in time trialing and climbing, so there's that. At any rate I understand my place in the world, and although I can sprint okay, I know many who can really trounce me.

But still, to hear that I was a threat, that was nice.

Apparently I'm one of the better sprinters.

Let's keep it that way.

My number that day.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Helmet Cam - 2014 Nutmeg State Games, M45+

Or "How to win a field sprint on less than 2 hours of training a week".

This was a good race for me because it has all sorts of elements in it and it was bearable in terms of pace. I almost sat up, didn't, and did about as good a sprint as I've done in a while.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Promoting - Trailer Work

Ah, the trailer.

What started out as a glimmer of an idea a year ago had turned into something much, much more.

Trailer when I picked it up.

Trailer at the dealer.
6' tall inside. Tall enough for me, not for some of the taller folks around.

Trailer at the dealer.
Note the pristine leading aluminum trim piece.

I think the first week with the trailer? It was raining.

If you look carefully you'll see the window hatch things are pointed above horizontal. They streamed water into the trailer. If we had used the window support struts they'd have been pulled down a bit and water would have flowed away from the trailer. Next time.

The last week at Bethel.
Note the not-so-pristine leading aluminum trim piece.

The trailer worked well at Bethel, based on its "unmodified" status. With full size tables inside we didn't have that much room. No organization so it took a while to pack up. No finish on any surfaces so spilling stuff caused a ruckus as we scrambled to clean things up. It certain beat a tent, though, and on the rainy day it was great.

The trailer and tow vehicle in their glory.

After the 2014 Bethel Spring Series ended I embarked on a project to fix up the trailer to make it much more efficient. I wanted to make it a bit more pleasant looking as well, more professional. Finally I hoped to make it a bit more durable, by finishing the wood, and by doing some preventative stuff to the steel frame.

I took some "before" pictures, after clearing out the trailer. I made the mistake of washing the deck and hosing it out. I think I should have sanded and then just stained. Washing it out, just before a few days of heavy rain, meant the floor absorbed a lot of water, probably warping it a bit.

However it's done so I went ahead and took pictures before staining it. I used Wolmann's deck stain, solid "Cedar". Solid means it covers the most, masking imperfections the best. Since the floor was made with low quality 3/4" plywood it was basically the worst looking wood you could get. Not a problem for a contractor or car hauling trailer but I wanted the trailer to look a bit more like an office and a bit less like, well, like a beat up contract or car hauling trailer.

Unfortunately we spilled some stuff inside the trailer so there were some stains (coffee, hot chocolate), hence my "washing" effort. Overall though that isn't a bit deal, I'm more worried about the floor rotting than anything else.

I have to seal the bottom of the floor as well, meaning from outside I have to spray up to the exposed wood underneath, so that's on the agenda somewhere. The wood is currently painted but I have no idea how durable the paint is; I want to use automotive undercoating that's flexible and chip-resistant.

View to the rear, after the Bethel Spring Series.
D-rings in the floor are rated for 5000 lbs each, apparently anchored to the 6" steel frame tubes.

The wheel wells intrude because the trailer is the legal maximum width of 8.5 feet. This means the wheels need to be recessed. On a 7 foot wide trailer the wheels sit out at 8.5 feet and the trailer's interior walls are straight. I opted for more room, especially considering that the "foot print", meaning the width at the tires, is the same. Cost increase was negligible, and towing won't be hugely affected either, with the 7' and 8.5' trailers only a couple hundred pounds different weight-wise (the 8.5' trailer is also 4' longer, accounting for most of that extra weight; both use the big 6" steel frame tubes).

View to the "back" of the trailer, the left side (for me the "front" is the side with the concession windows)
Note more D-rings. There are eight in the trailer.

I ordered four extra D-rings because I need to tie down tents and such. The best place to put all the mass is just in front of the front axle. Basically everything heavy will sit between or directly in front of the wheel wells. If I stuck with the four original D-rings I'd have anchor points at the corners. Adding four more anchor points just around where most of my gear will sit… that was a no brainer.

The nose of the trailer. I added the fire extinguisher because that's the way I roll.
Forward D-rings.

Up front I plan on loading the bins with lightweight things like numbers, release forms, radios, printer, first aid kit, small microwave, stuff like that. I have maybe 10? bins for up there. I set them up in a row between the front D-rings and pull one tie down strap over them. That's super secure and works well.

I hope at some point to have a little fridge up there. A fan will be necessary in the summer. I'd like to have real heat but I need to figure something out. The big windows on the side will negate any attempt to fully heat the trailer, but to keep it "warmer than freezing" would be a good thing.

I added the fire extinguisher just because.

Deck Stain

The first layer of deck stain.

After the first coat on the floor.

I didn't mask or anything so it's a bit rough. Also no sanding, so the floor is literally a bit rough.

Wood Verticals For Folding Table/Desks

I want to have built in tables for registration. By using narrower tables (18 inches instead of 36 inches), there will be more room in the trailer. Also we don't need tons of room on the tables - we just end up piling our own junk on the big folding tables we used earlier.

Okay, I piled up my stuff on it, not everyone else, but still, we don't need all that table top space.

I planned on wood verticals to hold hinges. The tables will normally be open but they can be folded down if I need to put something big in the trailer, like a car or something. The verticals will support the back half of the desks, I'll have legs for the front half.

Trimmed the wood to clear the baseboard, if you will, and the vent hole.

The verticals have screws running to the steel studs in the walls (the studs seem to be about 1-1.5 inches square steel tubing). Since the tables will have legs the verticals will only need to keep them from tipping over, they won't support all the weight.

Wood verticals between the windows.
The verticals are poplar, the softest of the hardwoods.

The center verticals are shorter due to the wheel well intrusion. The verticals are "screwed and glued" to the wall. The glue will help secure the verticals to the plywood walls, while the screws into the steel actually anchor them. You can see the tube of construction adhesive on the wheel well in the picture above.

Originally I was thinking of a set of shelves between the two windows, to hold the printer and such, but I realized that when it rains all that area will get wet. Therefore no shelves right now for the printer and such.

The forward part of the trailer, the forward wood vertical is leaned up against the wall.

Although I would like to have shelves up front for now I'm leaving that alone. I'm more concerned with the tables and securing some of the load against the back wall.


The next step would be the primer. I used Zinsser acrylic (water-based) primer. Zinsser because I had some and could get more. Water based because of the easier clean up.

Primer (Zinser).
Note the wood on the wall about a foot above the wheel well - this is for storing the tables and such.

I decided that I'd install lightweight D-rings on the wall. I'll place the folding tables (for release forms and such outside the trailer), the folding tables, and other lightweight stuff. I'll keep them "floor supported", meaning the objects will sit on the floor, and I'll use either bungee cords or tie down straps to hold them against the wall. This means the D-rings will only need to keep the stuff from tipping over, not actually support the weight.

The spare tire is mounted in a similar fashion. The tire sits on the floor and the bracket is there simply to keep the tire from falling over.

Primer layer, looking at nose and back wall.

You can see the wood planking on the wall for the lightweight D-rings.

Primer layer, nose.

You can see the breaker box up front. There are three circuits, one for the overhead lights, one for the front plug, one for the rear plug. The big cable drops to the outside and plugs into an RV type plug or, with an adapter, into a generator.

The silver thing next to the breaker box holds the cable for storage.

The big rectangular bracket is for the spare tire. The little bracket is for the fire extinguisher.

The box up top is the battery for the electric brakes. If the trailer detaches from the tow vehicle a cable gets yanked and it deploys the electric brakes. Since the trailer is detached there's no power from the tow vehicle so the trailer has to have a battery.

Second Layer Primer

I decided to do a second layer of primer. I wasn't sure if the wood would bleed through the first layer.

Primer layer, tail of trailer.

Primer, more detail on the wood on back wall.

Close up of my rough primer job and the two verticals between the windows.

Note that I didn't prime the "baseboard" bit of trim. I planned on painting them black and figured black doesn't need primer. I was also contemplating buying proper baseboard vinyl type trim but that's not in the budget for now.

Semi-gloss White Paint

I used WeatherAll from True Value, their outdoor paint. Lifetime warranty or something.

Semi-gloss outdoor paint, one layer.

If it looks a bit tan it's because I painted it and then sanded the floor. The dust from the sanding went everywhere and the walls have a film of tan dust on them.

Semi-gloss outdoor point, one layer, windows (which are shut obviously).

Looks much better, more together.

Tail of trailer, white semi-gloss.

The back looks better also.

White semi-gloss, back wall towards the tail.

I really wanted to do the baseboard but ran out of time. I was spending 3-5 hours at a time working on the trailer, in lieu of training or yard work or whatever else I might do while Junior is in daycare. I only had two half days during the week (daycare time). For a couple weekends I spent all Saturday and Sunday working on the trailer, with the Missus kind enough to look after Junior for that time.

Back wall with semi-gloss coat.

Sanding Floor

I decided to sand the floor because it was so rough. When I hosed down the floor it really raised a lot of wood grain and I didn't want to have chunks of floor catch on stuff. I only have the little sander so that's what I used. I went through three packs of good quality sand paper. I used some cheaper stuff and that lasted literally a foot of length of the trailer and even then I was only sanding the smoother bits. The good stuff lasted maybe two to three feet of floor, and I used it on the roughest stuff.

Sanding the floor before the second layer of deck stain.

Deck Stain Plus Baseboard Paint

Once I got the floor sanded I brushed the dust off the baseboard area (it was pretty thick) and painted the baseboard. Good brushes let you paint trim accurately, and the Purdy brush we had at home was great (1.5" angled XL). The brush really helped, I could draw a nice straight edge without any taping. It was nice also because I was tired and I lay on the floor while painting the baseboard.

After the baseboard paint I did another layer of deck stain, backing out to the front door like the first time. Since I'd sanded down a lot of the stain in places the coating wasn't super even but it's what it'll be for now.

Baseboard done in black, second layer deck stain done also.
I didn't do any extra layers on the ramp, it's just one coat.

I did notice that the original layer of stain had penetrated deep into the wood. This is good because that was my intent, protect the wood. Also if I dig the edge of a leaf blower into the floor it won't be raw wood right away, it should be stained wood for a bit.

Not that I, ahem, have dug the edge of a leaf blower into the floor.

Baseboard done, second layer deck stain.

Baseboard and second layer deck stain.
Trailer is full of deck stain colored sanding dust, it needs to be wiped down.


The biggest initial project for me was making tables that worked inside the trailer. Due to the jutting wheel wells the folding tables ended up crooked inside the trailer. Also, since we didn't need all three feet of table, it took up a lot of room.

My plan was to make two 18" deep tables, about 6' wide (the width of the trailer windows). They would be mounted on piano hinges and fold down out of the way, with folding legs. As I learned more about what I needed to do, and with the realization that I needed to simplify things, I modified my plans.

Eventually I went with slightly wider tables, about 79" so that the tables extended about 3" to each side of the window. This would allow me to use big hinges on each side - the piano hinges would bind if the wood warped, and with all this stuff exposed to the elements, I figured I'd be looking at warped wood.

John S, a long time friend and supporter, made the tables for me, so my thanks to him. He also advised me on some of the logistics of securing the tables to the sides, weight bearing things, and other topics that I didn't know I needed to know.

For legs I decided to get the type that screw into the base of the table top. The folding legs would involve more hardware, more planning, and for the screw-in legs I just had to buy four legs and four plates. It took a few minutes to secure the plates, a few more to mount the tables.

As far as unfolding the table it takes about 15 seconds to install a leg, it's a one person job, and in less than a minute I can have all four tables set up. I plan on leaving the tables up since the 18" depth doesn't take up much space.

Tables, with finished legs.

For wood people the tables are made with 3/4" plywood with a veneer thing on them (I forget the name of the veneer).

I got the legs and plates at Lowes, finishing them with Minwax stain and a spray can poly.

D-rings, strap bars

I wanted an organized place to store some of the often-used lightweight stuff. This included the folding tables, folding chairs, tripod, tie down straps, broom, some other stuff.

Tie down strap rack.

I spend an inordinate amount of time untangling the straps if they're in a bin. This way they're easy to use, "pre-loaded" if you will, and easy to put away. I used two 18" towel bars, anchored in the 3/8" plywood sides. I don't put a lot of tension on the straps, and in fact many of them are loose but the hooks keeps the strap in place.

Yellow straps are heavier duty, red ones are lighter duty.

Although used for transportation (tying things down in the trailer) they also get used to tie down the tents outside. When setting up it's nice to have organized straps.

Securing lightweight items like tables, chairs, tripod, and, later, a step stool.

The floor bears the weight so the sides only have to keep them from falling over. I've secured wood on the side of the trailer using construction adhesive as well as screws anchored in the metal studs. The idea was to keep the light stuff vertical and out of the way. Based on my trip to and from White Plains, including some pretty rough pavement, everything works fine.

Tape hooks.
I added white duct tape (ideally a finish line is a black line in a white background).
The curtain rod is currently not used, looking for a better idea for a sun-screen type thing.

So that's the trailer, as it is now. I'll do a post on the White Plains Crit, where I used the trailer with its modifications for the first time.

Hopefully I can get some more things done to it and make it an all season trailer.

Supplies bought at:
Valley Home and Garden, Simsbury, CT ("VHG") - everything but what I got at Lowes, so paint, stain, hooks, bars, all hardware for securing things to the walls, fire extinguisher, paint brushes, all tapes (Caution, blue painters, white and black duct tape), paint supplies, drill bits, sandpaper, and who knows what else.

Lowes, Bloomfield, CT ("Lowes") - wood, table legs, table leg plates.