Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mill City, November 12th 2011, Cat 3's.

It's my first Cat 3's race and I'm nervous. It's a great course for me, a fast grass start into two 180 degree corners with a set of barriers after the second, which comes out into a long uphill tar section leading into some more high speed technical grass sections, after that there is a very steep short ride-able hill that comes back down into a sand pit. the course climbs up and around a hill and comes back down, does a flat drag around a field Into a uphill barrier right before a downhill 180. It then goes into a series of about a half dozen of S-turns right before the tar finish.

There is about four really good 3's in this field, and while there is three top riders that are not here, the concept of racing against them is intimidating. The start is very fast. much faster than any start I have ever been in, and I drop back to the 20's. I come around the two 180's aggressively and gain spots. throughout the rest of the course I slowly gain positions, until halfway through the second lap I am 6th place. then on the third lap disaster strikes. I am coming up the hill and I fall over, which pushes my chain into my spokes. I take a quick look at it and know that I cannot do anything, so I pick up my bike and start to run to the pit, which luckily is a short distance away. I numbly watch the hordes of racers go by me, it's a good thing I was in a state of shock, as I did everything efficiently and did not panic. I switched bikes in the pit and got  going again, almost dead last.

The rest of the race I slowly clawed my way back up 24th place. My lap times were never as fast again, But my second lap was faster than the guy who won. I felt I could have kept that up, and while I probably would not have caught the top 3, I might have ended up top five. But "Would'a, Could'a ,Should'a", right? I might need to move up after mishap like that in the future, so It's a skill I need to work on. All in all I was happy with how I stacked up against the field, and excited for State championship.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Testing with Inigo San Millan

I stare out the window, fixated by the snowy twin peaks to the west that seemingly rise out of the highway in Denver. They are small in the distance, yet they radiate a aura of majestic size. I remember coming down this road last spring nervously listening to Andy while anticipating a important event that I had little control of, "Testing". Six months later the word held anticipation, not nervousness for me. I was emboldened by a season of  systematic scientific training, and intent on showing the improvement I felt in my body.

We rolled up to the large, modern looking building and found a place to park. As we walked through the spinning doors, Dad made a joke about me not knowing how to operate them last year. Andy and I laughed, as we sat down in the lobby waiting for Inigo. He walked out into the lobby and greeted us. He looked exactly the same as I had remembered. A quiet man with a firm handshake, twinkly eyes, and a Basque accent..

We walked into his office and I stared at the incredible memorabilia on the walls from athletes he had worked with. Yellow jerseys, National Champion jerseys, and a Garmin jersey signed by all the team members and a large "thanks for all the help Inigo!". I go change into my kit. Inigo then measures my height, my body fat percentage, and weighs me. In the protocol Inigo uses, I am on a cycle ergometer set up to fit like my normal bike, wearing a mask measuring ventilation and oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration of the inhaled and exhaled air to determine my VO2 max (which is reached when oxygen consumption remains at steady state despite an increase in workload).

Inigo then sets the resistance on the bike to one watt per kilogram that I weigh. I pedal that at 90 rpm for 5 minutes, then Inigo measures the amount of lactate in my blood. He then ramps it up to 1.5 watts per kilograms, I ride that for 5 minutes, and he measures my lactate again.This process is repeated until I reach my lactate threshold. This gives me my watts per kilogram (A.K.A, power to weight ratio). But more importantly, Inigo looks at my lactate accumulation and how my heart rate corresponds, then uses that information to set my heart rate zones based on lactate accumulation. He also puts a mask on  that measures my Vo2 max. It does this by measuring ventilation and oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration of the inhaled and exhaled air.

 Upon completing the test, I go shower while Inigo calculates my data. Once I'm done, we convene to discuss my results. While reviewing the data Inigo explains the changes we are seeing and complements me on my progress. The results from this session showed me just how important testing is, as my training zones had changed significantly from six months earlier.

Without testing I can never know you, and you can never know what philological systems you are training.” Inigo San Millan

Friday, November 11, 2011

Velo CX November 5th 2011

Velo cross is a grassy, twisty, fast race by the Velodrome in Blaine, Minnesota. It starts on tar, and rolls over slight inclines and downhills and around sharp 180's on fast, mowed grass. It has two up hill barriers that are about 5 inches high and very hoppable, two 3 inch barriers right before you dive into the center of the velodrome (also hoppable), and two close-together, 14 inch high barriers that are definetly NOT hoppable. It features two off-cambers, and seven 180 degree corners. I just came off of a large training block, but I am determined to race smart. The whistle goes off and I am in 4th wheel. I work my way up to Jeff, who is in second place. I work with him for a while, but Ryan is strong, and the gap is still at ten seconds. Jeff bobbles on a corner and I seize the oportunity. We battle for the better part of two laps, but he is strong and I can't shake him. We come into the 180 corner after the tar on the last lap, shoulder to shoulder playing a high speed game of "chicken". I have the outside and am at a disadvantage, but am also more confident in my abilities. I come out of the corner a fraction ahead and attack with everything I got. The final corner is off of a ditch and you can either try and stay on the top of it and dive down for more momentum, or you can stay low and take the corner inside-outside. I had taken the high line every time and Jeff knew what I was going to do. He took the corner extra wide to cut me off, but I had more momentum from the ditch than he had figured and I slipped up beside him. Shoulder to shoulder, we went towards the finish line, but I had more momentum and he couldn't match my attack. I won the sprint and finished second place! I was very happy at how hard I battled with Jeff. and while I didn't beat Ryan, I knew it had not been in the cards that day. I recently upgraded to cat 3's, so this was my last cat 4 race.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Crossnight CX October 30th 2011

The whistle blows and off we go! I'm going to play this cat 4's race smart, I think to myself. Right off the bat I get on to second wheel. It's a "tar" start, which means its important to get to the front, but to still draft. As I fly around the corner I think of how it feels like the start of a crit, then the thought vanishes as we hit the grass. Myself, and 7 others quickly seperate away from the rest of the field, and begin to develop a large gap. Derek is at the front, driving the pace hard and on by one, all are dropped but Ethan and I. On the fast stretches we reach up to 25 mph. I'm hanging good and I know were I want to attack, but I botch my remount on the run up and I get gaped with 2 laps to go! Aaron has also been dropped, and I attack him were I was planning on attacking, finishing 3rd.
 Me bunny hopping the barriers in the Junior race.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Green Acres 2011 Oct 23rd

"It looks hard" I say to my dad as I eye up the hill. "That's good" Dad replies. I have just finished pre riding the course and am happy about its difficulty. My philosophy in Cross is; "it's always going to be hard for me, so why not make it harder for everyone else?".  I continue to warm up, surveying the course. There is a sandy run up with two inclines and a three foot flat in the middle. Dad comes over and watches me struggle to ride up it, "It's not ride-able" I say with frustration, "the second half makes sure of that". Dad eyes it up, "yes but riding the first part and dismounting is way faster than running the whole thing. Try coming into it with more speed and then shifting down" I try it again and make it.

The announcer calls the cat 4's to staging, and I line up. The USAC official walks up and gives us the rules. He tells us that we are going straight up the hill at the start on the first lap, and then continue on the normal course the rest of the race. I am not happy about this, its a power start and power starts are not my thing. I tell myself to get over it. It is what it is. He blows the whistle, and all heck breaks loose! as expected, I am a little ways back coming up the hill. About tenth position. But Ethan is at the front with the hole shot looking strong. I pass a bunch of racers on the flat section at the top, and get on to Ethan's wheel right before the down hill. I come down the hill smoothly, but hit my wheel on the first barrier a little bit and slow down. Frustrated, I get back on my bike, and go after Ethan. Even with such a tiny mistake, he gaps me. He is riding strong and I realise this will be a tough race. I come up the run up and bog out on the first hump, stumble and botch my dismount! now Ethan has about 30 seconds on me. I ride the rest of the race strong and smooth, but Ethan is strong and I only make up 15 seconds before I finish in second place. I finish frustrated at my bobble's, but happy at how much time I had on everyone else.

It's the start of the juniors race, and I'm tired. But I already signed up for it and I would give it my best. I again do not have a ideal start, but I'm far enough up to make it to the front on the flats. I go through the barriers and up the run up with out flaw. Coming around on lap one Andris is just off my wheel, with Ethan and Alec shortly behind him. I come up the hill feeling very strong and drop all them but Adrian, however he cant keep up with me on the flat afterwards. I come up the hill for a third time, happy but still full on the gas. Ethan has caught Andris and is going hard, but not hard enough to catch me. I come around the final corner with 30 seconds on Ethan, zipping up my jersey and putting both hands up in the air with a big smile on my face.

Afterwards I enjoy good friends and the warm glow of success.