Posts Tagged ‘Roswell Criterium’

I’ve written about the illness and injuries that have derailed this season so far, so it’s becoming a bit of a broken record.  I was in pretty good form in February with low weight and high power coupled with tons of rest days.  I was getting ready to add shorter / harder intervals in March when I got injured ( 1 week), then sick w/ cold (1 week), then sick with stomach flu (1 week), and then medicine related cramps (1 week + still having issues).  So, the last six weeks have been pretty pathetic training weeks.  I’ve had a few good Tuesday workouts on rare healthy days that have luckily kept me from falling too far out of shape and a couple of bad races thrown in, as well, that kept some partial race fitness.

However, it is obvious when I enter a crit like Sunny King last week, that I don’t have any anaerobic power or ability to make repeated efforts.  To be fair, I could have spent more time training these areas on the rare days when I was healthy enough to train.  However, I’m a strong believer in building the house on a solid foundation.  I’ve raced Pro/1/2 at a CTL in the low 80’s with decent anaerobic power, and it is very hard to do well in the low 80’s in P/1/2 road races.  On the flip side, for a 60 – 90 min crit, it is better to have high 5 sec, 1 min, and 5 min power with the ability to do hard repeats over and over.  For a solid all around rider, you really need a decently high CTL coupled with a high FTP that gets layered with strong 5 sec, 30 sec, 1 min, 5 min power and repeat efforts.  A lot of coaches call it icing the cake.  I’m not sure if that is the best analogy, but I’ve raced P/1/2 road races with low CTL, and it is as frustrating as racing P/1/2 crits without any anaerobic training.  There’s no shortcuts unless you want to focus on just crits or just road races.  I decide to always rebuild using longer 30 min and 45 min SST intervals that only help with long road races.  They don’t put you in position to do anything other than hang around, but it’s a launching point that will better support anaerobic training at a later date.  In a perfect world, I would have several weeks to add anaerobic power now that my CTL is back into the high 80’s and getting closer to normal (about 10% below normal right now).  Unfortunately, a lot of crits are scheduled in April, so it was a case of race into shape.  That can work fine if you don’t care about results, but it is a slow process that takes many races over several weeks and is better done in late February / early March than late April.

Sunny King was a tough Cat 2 crit for me.  I got in one move, and I was gassed after the effort.  No ability to recover, and no top end power.  I sprinted for a midpack finish and was frustrated.  Without doing any interval training under 20 minutes this season, it was to be expected.  The next day, Foothills Road Race was easier since I hid out in draft and was never put in a position where I needed to go above high end level 4 the whole race.  I finished 22nd out of about 70 starters in a pretty good P/1/2 field, but I was not a factor and couldn’t go with any of the real moves, essentially pack fodder.

Athens Twilight AM Greenway race was this last Saturday.  Same story again in that race.  Only a week later, so Sunny King and a couple interval training days added fatigue without allowing time for muscles to repair and get stronger in less than a week.  I marked several moves and got away in a 2 man break with some DIY racer dropped just as a team Novo Nordisk rider bridged up.  We were off the front for about a lap before the pack caught us. My power file showed 4 separate hard moves with 2 long moves including the breakaway where my power was high end Vo2 for several minutes and burning at least a few matches. I had some weird muscle cramping in the quad this time.  Since it was raining earlier, I pumped my tires to 85psi, and then let out two large pushes on the valve upon arriving.  It dried up quickly, but I never put air back in.  It felt great in warm-ups, but taking turn 3 at 30mph could feel my rear tire getting squishy and folding over.  I could have probably raced, but when I looked down at my rear wheel after turn 4 at around 25 minutes, it looked almost flat.  I pulled into the pits to get a wheel changed.  The pit crew asked if it was flat.  I put my thumb on the tire and felt a pretty firm tire.  In other words, it was likely at the psi level that I started the race which was too low to race in dry conditions, but it wasn’t flat yet. I am pretty honest and said kind of…started to explain.  He was sort of shaking his head, so I shut up and left the pits and headed straight to the car.  I hate people who use the pits for their mistakes rather than true mechanical problems.  I was not going to be one of those people.  He was about to deny the request, so I made it easy for him, no further discussion required.  The frustrating part was two fold.  Later that night, I put a gauge on the tire, and it was down to 30psi.  So, I probably had a slow leak, but knowing that I started the race at too low a psi made that case pretty weak.  The other frustrating part was the 4 hard efforts had me stuck in the back and likely not going to be a factor for the rest of the race. However, I felt better than I did the following day in Roswell, so who knows…

The following day was the Roswell Criterium, so I lined up for the Cat 2/3 race in pouring rain.  The course literally had small creeks and rivers flowing across it.  It was raining hard with slight breaks throughout the race.  However, the amount of water on the course made it impossible to go fast in turns.  Turn 1 was very slippery and caused an early crash where nobody was hurt or even had trouble getting back in the race.  I felt terrible.  The lack of anaerobic power made slowing for each slick turn and ramping speed back up after the turn very hard on me.  For the first time in my life, I was creating gaps in the field that I couldn’t close.  I didn’t have enough top end power to close down the gap I was opening in each corner.  I was very afraid of crashing, so I’m sure I took turns at least .5 mph slower which opened gaps that I struggled to close down coming out of corners.  However, the front guys were attacking over and over and over.  This was a 60 minute crit, so with 15 minutes left to race, the pace of the field and jumps out of corners dramatically dropped.  My power files show my average power in the first 15 min was very high, then next 30 min very low, than last 15 min was very high as I came to the front and rode in the top 4 slots the last 15 minutes.  It started to feel like a road race with fewer hard attacks, so my legs felt pretty good.  Also, 5 minutes into the race, I had terrible cramping in my quad again, same pain as Athens.  It was so bad, I almost dropped.  I’m still blaming Cipro because this has never happened to me in 5 years of racing, not 5 minutes into a race.  It went away with about 15 minutes to go, so that helped out a lot as I was favoring my right leg this time (left leg at Athens and prior week at Foothills).  With 1 to go, I was sitting 3rd wheel behind Evan Murphy (CRCA Foundation) and another ride.  My teammate, Benji Coil, went to the front and drilled it on the back section to line things out and keep us positioned.  He took us through turn 4 and 5 together, and then pulled off.  Evan took off quickly and got a nice jump.  I misjudged the distance and came out of the draft early and pulled even with 2nd place rider, but I couldn’t pass him.  I reality, I tried to come around 2nd place guy way to early.  Also, I was very high up, and I need to be lower when sprinting and more aero.  However, my power file showed me that it was one of the lowest power sprints I’ve ever done.  That’s a combination of poor fitness, no sprinting this year in training, lots of fatigue, and maybe even cautious with wet roads so no rocking the bike hard.  It was so low, I will not even say, but let’s say that my 20 sec sprint power was close to what I did for almost 1 min last year.  So, I got 3rd.  Yes, it’s a podium, but I was cramping and wanted to drop most of the race.  I was mentally prepared for a 20th place finish and frustrated that I couldn’t make any moves.  I got lucky, and had a great teammate, but it was not a good race, and I am nowhere near podium form.

This weekend is Sandy Springs, then there’s a nice two week break.  I’m hoping that a decent Tues Night Crit plus Sandy Springs will be the final few workouts to get the anaerobic power starting to build prior to some rest and longer SST blocks again.  This time, I’ll do at least one anaerobic workout during rebuild in prep for late May races.

Below is a picture of my teammate Benji Coil in the wet race conditions at Roswell Criterium.

Roswell 2013

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Roswell Nalley Criterium - Cat 4/5 Race

Yesterday was the Roswell Nalley Historic Criterium, and it was a great day for racing.  At 1pm it was a pleasant 78 degrees, and there was just a very small breeze if you were lucky.  The race featured a mix of groups from Professionals and Cat 1/2 to Cat 4/5.  The race had a 35+ and a separate 4/5 (no age limit), so I chose to race the group of 4/5 with 100 other riders.  In hindsight, I am not sure that it is better to race 4/5 since you end up racing with some very fast cat 4 riders who are 22 years old as opposed to a mix of categories in the 35+ group.  However, it is possible to race with a cat 3 or higher in the 35+ group who may be racing in multiple races.  If anyone has experience racing both, I’d like to know which group they think is faster.  I found the 4/5 group to be riding very, very fast from the start.  A lot of the other groups “pace” themselves a bit more since realistically, it is very difficult to break away early (although it did happen in the pro race…).  So, the 4/5 group came out fast.  I had way to much caffeine in my system at the beginning of the race and had trouble clipping into my pedals as the mass start whistle blew.  I have been riding Shimano SPD SL’s for years and SPD-R’s before that, so there is no excuse with trouble clipping in for me.  I think it was a combo of caffeine and a few bumps as the race started from adjacent riders trying to do the same to get started.  After no clipping in, I got nervous that I was in the first row starting and suddenly about 50 riders back on lap 1.  So, I used lap two to sprint back to the front….bad decision.  In cycling terms, this is called “burning a match”.  In cycling, if you are racing above anaerobic threshold (i.e. criterium race), then you probably only have a few hard sprints in your system.  To burn one of those up and all that energy on lap 2 to get back to where you started the race is a huge waste of energy and definitely put me on the back foot from the start.  I felt so tired on lap two, and that is not even close to normal for me, even when riding with faster riders.  So, that was mistake number one.  Mistake number two came at the end of the race.  I had worked my way up to the 8 position with 1.25 laps to go.  I rounded the last turn prior to the start/finish line where the final lap would begin.  As I rounded the turn wide looking to gain position on the outside, I noticed one rider had crashed into the outside railing, another rider t-boned him, and a third rider was about to hit them, as well.  I had plenty of time to cut it more sharply and avoid them.  However, I was so focused on them that I didn’t cut it tight enough and headed straight into them.  I had time to stop my bike before hitting them, but I was so close (about 1 foot) from the crash at that point, so I had to unclip, backup, and push myself around them before getting back clipped in to ride again.  By this time, about 40 riders had gone around me if not more.  I burned another two or three matches to get back to the back of the group, but I had nothing left with about half a lap to go.  All my energy got burned trying to get back into the race after the crash, so I ended up finishing in the back of the first group which was probably around 40 – 50th out of 100 riders. OK, not terrible, but pretty bad when you are riding 7th or 8th with 1.25 laps to go and feeling pretty decent.  If I hadn’t made the mistake at the beginning clipping in and avoided the only crash in the entire race at the end, I am confident that I would have finished top 10.  Oh well, first crit, no worries.  Also, it gave me a feel for how strong I need to be for these crits.  Unlike road races that gradually speed up, the crit comes out fast and stays fast.  I really should be training more at lactate threshold and adding sprints every few minutes.  I also was feeling pretty dehydrated from all the caffeine and alergy medicine that I used that day, so that probably didn’t help.  My power numbers were not impressive even for me, so that also points to something being somewhat off.  I was actually riding much stronger three weeks ago, and I think that I tapered way too much for a 40 minute race.  Lessons learned.  I am sure the taper would have helped on a longer road race, but I found myself out of it and not really feeling very strong.  I was fresh, but I was not nearly as strong as normal. 

Power Tap Stats from Roswell Nalley Crit:

Entire workout (263 watts):


Duration: 37:27

Work: 590 kJ

TSS: 71 (intensity factor 1.068)

Norm Power: 309

VI: 1.17

Pw:HR: 9.98%

Pa:HR: 3.39%

Distance: 16.121 mi

Min Max AvgPower: 0 1147 263 watts

Heart Rate: 127 192 183 bpm

Cadence: 22 128 87 rpm

Speed: 0 33.7 25.8 mph

Pace 1:47 0:00 2:19 min/mi

Hub Torque: 0 620 69 lb-in

Crank Torque: 0 1653 258 lb-in


Since this was a criterium with a lot of turns (6) where you don’t pedal entirely through the turn, you are not generating power the entire time.  So, WKO+ software uses a reading called Norm Power which is essentially what the software thinks you would have generated without the coasting or zero cadence parts of the ride.  I show 309 watts of Norm Power which is good, but it is not my best effort.  Considering there were no hills, this may not be as bad as it looks.  My strongest efforts of avg watts for an entire effort or even norm power usually have a few hills in them which makes it easy to have larger numbers.  In theory, many will say this is not the case, but I know that for the same perceived effort, I can generate more watts climbing than on flats…..maybe that shows I’m bad on flats…hmmmm.   Also, I didn’t warm up at all since the parking lot was a ways from the race start…..bad idea…we started out going hard, and I know that hurt my legs since they were not warmed up….I’m sure that contributed to something…not sure what though….just more excuses really….more areas to improve, I guess.

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Today’s Wednesday Night Group Ride (Atlanta Cycling) Silver Lake Loop was finally a turning point in my training.  I finally past the 300 Watt mark for my Functional Threshold Power.  The norm power for the entire 1hr 30 min effort came in at 311 watts.  Unfortunately, I have not been able hit my weight loss goals, so I am still at around 191 – 192 lbs.  If I can somehow lose those last fifteen pounds, we are talking about some serious improvements and potential strong race results.  If I can add another 10 – 20 watts to my FTP, then at least I’ll still be front of pack at most races and in position to enjoy the event.  May 4th – is the Nalley Roswell Crit and shaping up to be  my first race of the season and my first criterium ever.  I am a little worried about my first crit since there are a typically a lot of crashes in criteriums.  However, I have now missed the first two races of the season due to various excuses (rain, too far, etc…), so I am going to do this event whether I think I am prepared or not.  At tonight’s group ride, a rider who did the race last year said that the crits are not any tighter or more crowded than our Wednesday night ride, so I guess it will be fine.  We’ll see…  Below is my latest power profile chart. 

April 16th Power Profile


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