Becoming a tad bike snobbish

Well, I didn’t expect this….   After losing Speedy in March (not gonna lie – I’m getting Craigslist alerts from six cities every day – with no luck) I received enough insurance reimbursement to fully cover SpeedyToo.   Because of timing, I bought SpeedyToo the same week Speedy was taken from me so I would have a bike in time for racing Mason Lake 3.  I raced that weekend with a rather high stem set up in complete Fred fashion.  I just needed a yellow Shower’s Pass Jacket to complete the look.  Why am I the only one without warmers?  Wimps…HTFU.

59031205-Mason+Lake+#3+2015+141

I now have about 1,400 miles on SpeedyToo – and a few hundred miles since an early ownership upgrade.  Right out of the gate upgrades included hand built wheels – HED rims, Powertap rear and DT Swiss front hubs that have been flawless.  Love the wide rims with fatty 25’s that almost feel like 28s.  Excellent feel in corners and comfortable.

The most recent upgrade was a swap of the Ultegra brakes, front derailleur, crank, and brifters for mechanical Dura-Ace.  I looked at upgrading to Di2 Ultegra, but decided against it for no real rational reason – just figured I’d forget about the battery charging at some point.  The other change I made was a concession to aging joints and knees with an Ultegra mid-cage rear derailleur to allow for a 11-32 cassette that looks like a giant pie plate.

I am falling for this bike – the guilt of cheating on Speedy is fading.  It’s not made-in-USA like Speedy was, but I find the ride quality almost entirely the same as the Madone.  It feels light but stiff but comfortable all at the same time.  Holds tight on corners – I was easily inside on everyone on the final downhill at OVRR.  And, I really really like the new brifters and brakes.  The Dura-Ace is more crisp on shifting and the modulation is noticeably smoother through the brakes.  That’s the snobbish part. But, honestly, I haven’t felt any difference from the crankset – but it is rather nice looking so I guess that’s snobbish too. Yes, the saddle is probably the heaviest part of the bike, but it fits my a$$ – so stop snickering Mr. guy-at-the-bike-store.  Gotta call out Nick @Veloce Velo for making the custom number holder – top flight service from that shop every single time.

IMG_0104TBR11

How not to finish a race

Recap of the Tacoma Twilight Crit – and for the master’s, the state age group championship.  This is my last year in the 40-49 group and I was looking forward to a great race.  Most races next year will be some version of ‘masters’  – 35+ or 45+ and I’ll race with most of these same guys, but the state championships will be open category 50-59 and those old guys are seriously strong.

Right to the point…I botched the last lap and wasted my teammate’s hard work and wasn’t part of the final sprint.  Going into the race, Kent and I planned to ride safe, stay near the front, and then I would follow his lead out for the sprint.  I was coming off several weeks of great training, a nearly ideal taper week, and felt absolutely great.  At line up time, I think it’s first time I’ve heard in the race instructions that if there was lightening…they’d stop the race.  Thankfully, I was on a carbon bike?? TBR1The race course was new to me and apparently new this year…it was like two crit courses hooked together to make a figure 8.  One small square and one long rectangle – about 2k or ~1.5 miles. Seemed longer than a crit and more like a circuit, but it was through a cool part of town and offered good spectator access.  Lap after lap, Kent and just rode good pace in the pack.  There was one attempt at a break away (it was Justin, who is strong and won Capital crit that way) but it was pulled back in and the pack was together headed into the bell lap.

TBR6 TBR10 TBR11 TBR12

Here is the video from the bell lap through the finish.  Just as planned – moved up through the downhill run to Kent’s wheel. I knew he would move up on the left side of the course. But, I got moved off his wheel (I guess I wasn’t aggressive enough in my position and the Bike Sale guy on my right did not corner well) causing me to take the corner wider than I wanted. Then, the guy I lost the wheel to overcooked the very next corner, braked hard and drove me into the gravel.   I used all my effort to get back connected and just couldn’t hold a wheel to the finish line.  I think the power/rpm sync is fairly close in the video. Kent finished a well earned 10th and I was 17th. And, according to the Strava file, apparently I was able to go 34 seconds at a HR >200 and not die. 

Really really frustrating way to finish a race, especially with all work Kent had done and the final lap plan actually coming together. But, the season isn’t over yet ….Jo Ma this weekend, then Georgetown, and a new event down in Puyallup are all on tap for July.  Keep learning and keep racing.

TBR19

Thanks to Coach Jessica @ Evergreen Endurance for getting me ready to race again, thanks to my family for coming down to cheer, thanks to Dad for the awesome pictures, and thanks to Mom for the after race cookies.

Capital Stage Race

Post race analysis of Capital Stage Race.  The plan going into the weekend was to continue to gain crit time.  This is another ‘C’ race like MOE two weeks before.  Complete the TT, then hit the crit and live to race another day.    Let’s see how the effort grades out.

Pre-race work:

Solid week of training, I felt well rested and ready to race this weekend. I have found a perfect neighborhood for surges, cadence ladders, and the like, that are final tune-ups before race weekends.  The roads are in great shape, traffic is low residential and there are good straights for 15-60 seconds with enough roads for 3-4 minutes EZ spin too.  An added bonus is getting to see how the other half (well, not really the other half, more like the 1%’ers) live.  The neighborhood is ideal because it’s a good ~20 minute warm-up from work and another ~15 minute cool down back to MI.

newport

Race Day

First, the not-so good.  Since moving, getting terrible sleep.  Going on ~9 mths.  Didn’t realize how quiet and still the nights were on Tiger Mtn.  We have a new noise machine and it’s getting better, but still….gotta get some sleep.  Second not-so-good, I’m not hydrating well on the weekends and I felt like I waited too late to drink Saturday and upset my stomach.  Third – total amateur hour – forgot to check the TT times the night before and got up at 4:45 to be ready for a 7:15 start time…that was moved to 9:00.  I know better than that.

Now, on to the good.  Warm-up was very solid.  Oddly enough, the iPod was playing exactly the right music…because a musical genius had programmed it… I was in the shade and watching the cat-4’s go by.  The average temperature was 82 degrees….so, that’s seriously hot and might be the hottest it’s been this year.

warmup

More good.  I lined up right on the front line and settled into the front 1/4 of the pack for the first several laps.  Here’s a clip of the opening lap.  I think the power and speed data in the video is synced about right.  If you look at the profile of laps on Strava – they all look about like this, saving effort and spending effort.  Still working on being steady and taking great lines.

story

Right about 15 minutes in, on the merchandise prime, the winning move happened.  The rider moved up well along the left, took one rider with him and stayed off for the time bonus and the win.  This is where others had moved up too and I just had shifted right.   I was pretty happy with the next several lap until I ran out of gas. You can see the speed increasing on the front stretch “uphill” and my HR touching near max time after time.

laps

Overall

Generally happy with the day – it was a C day at a C race – oddly enough, the effort was good enough for 22nd of 31, so I’m optimistic for the rest of crit season.  Appreciated hearing teammates cheering under the HBSC tent, thrilled for Len’s first stage race and crit, super excited for Mel’s big win (!), and the weather was perfect.  See you at Ballard

Olympic View Road Race….aka the state championships for the old men having fun.

It’s just April, but time for the annual state road race championships for the Masters men.  I do like that term – “Masters” – sounds better than old, or crotchety, or up-in-years.  The race is held in Brady – just on the other side of highway 12 from the Vance Creek road race held April 12th.  ovrr

The race is a short, two lap affair, with a little bump where the circle is and along the north arrow .  The “N” represents a narrow section through a very pretty state park area that then opens up to a wider road with a good shoulder.  It then goes back into a very very slight slope before diving down a great 190 degree curving hill to the finish stretch.  Last year, they moved the finish line further up the road after the downhill section so the 1000m and the 200m feel longer than they really are.  Wind again this year was mild and from left to right relative to the drawing and noticeable at the finish . It was foggy when we arrived at 8:30 for the 10:10 race, but it burned off and the rain stayed away for nearly ideal conditions.  Not sure the later races were as lucky with conditions. I had new warm up gear to wear from Evergreen Endurance that might be my new lucky top.  And, a new pit crew…

warmup2

start

Both times I’ve raced it the pace has accelerated coming out of the right hander at the green dot/start/finish and strung the field out.  Then, the little hill has caused a pack split – not a break per se, but enough pace that guys were caught out off the back.  This year, the pattern held but very early – in the 10 minutes in range, a strong rider, Justin Tornow, made an early effort to get off the front.  He’s strong enough to TT a course that short and worried me enough that Kent and I joined in the chase to pinch that gap.  That was an effort (circle below) that felt way hard way too early.

heartrate

In years past, that would be been more than I could recover from but fitness is really at an all time place.  Soon after, a break did form up – 3 guys, but honestly I’m not sure how that happened or who was in it…I wasn’t well positioned, but I don’t think the HSP guys nor Cucina was in it.  That was disappointing because I had aimed to maintain better pack position during the race. Over the next 20 minutes or so, the pack got somewhat organized enough that with a few strong pulls, the break was pulled back right before the end of lap one.  The HBSC guys, Kent Hu, Scott Stout and I did our fair share of work on the south leg – you can see my efforts in the ~30-40 minute range in the HR charts.  So, first time over the bridge, all neat and tidy.

lap one

The second lap was about 2-3 minutes slower than the first and you can see from the HR graph not nearly as much effort on the southbound leg – the 1:15 or so mark on.  None of the efforts to extend pace or animate the race were very serious as the pack was headed toward a bunch sprint finish.  After the downhill curve and back over the bridge, the 1000M comes up pretty quick.  This year, the pack did not accelerate as hard and was still very bunched at the 200M flag.  The HBSC guys were a little boxed in as nobody moved left at the 200M mark and we didn’t get to open up our sprint early enough and we ran out of real estate.

sprint 1

sprint 2

sprint 3

But, all in all, great day of racing as I think we represented the team well.  And, I got homemade peanut butter cookies at the end from my pit crew. Photos from my Dad. Well done!

Final stats…

stats

Wind wind and more wind.

What a difference a week makes.  Or, really, what a difference the weather makes.  Sequim #2 (Tour de Dung) yesterday featured the usual wind – 15-20 mph and gusts above that – but thankfully no rain.  The picture below is level… we’re coming into a right hand turn…but look how hard to the left we’re leaning.

IMG_9429Race Summary: We had five guys in the field of 39 this week, including Kent in his road race since college!  That’s cool.  We let a break of 8 guys go and finish about 3:40 ahead of the pack and no HSBC guys were in it.  That’s not cool.

IMG_9470It looks the break got away for good around the 55 minute mark which was mid-way through the second lap.  In looking back at the tape – I found three spots that we could have been approached better.  Naturally, the buggie virb software isn’t syncing the gps data.

The race got pretty heated right away…..   The first part of the video is from about the 13 minute mark after the right hand turn when the pace picked up.  Nice tailwind section and soon those of us with compact cranks are spinning out our 50×11’s flying down Anderson road.  The first part of the video shows an early break forming – Travis from Sbux moved to cover and so did Ken from CycleU.  I had overhead Ken say this was his first race since an injury and so his mind was willing but his body was not and he didn’t catch the wheel.  Edgar was up the road exposed, so I worked to keep on Travis’ wheel and eventually our added pace brought enough guys back that this break didn’t make it.  By the little rise at the end of Anderson, I think we were mostly back together.

The second video section is when the winning break made the separation.  Same tailwind section after the right onto Anderson. 43 minutes in.  The big mistake was positioning before the turn.  We let #826 in the non-team-fred kit into the line.  At the 1:45 mark into the video he looks down at his legs ’cause he’s toasted – I have been there and done that more than once. Sbux sees the gap forming and we move to cover.  I literally cannot keep the wheel and while it might have been enough to get Edgar connected it’s not enough for the group to stay connected.

The last section of the video is at the 55 minute mark in the race – second lap, second time into the wind.  The pace was super slow coming up the little rise on woodcock.  The break is visible up the road and I notice – oh, crap, Edgar’s on the pointy end of the pack!!  How did that happen again? And, we’re not chasing the break at all.  I notice that an Audi guy is on Edgar’s wheel who had been working in the chases before, so I move around the pack to “lay down some tempo” and see if the pack will organize a chase.  We can still see the break and we’ll never close it at our pace.  I give it 15 seconds, swing off (note to self – don’t swing off too far like a fred), and see that it worked – Audi is now on point, the pace is up, but oh snap! – I hadn’t noticed that CF and HSP are next in line! And, they have guys in the break. Sure enough, I fall back in line and the chase is over.   Note to self – tell the team and allies (Sbux) to rally to the cause and count more heads to see who can help next time.

Photos again courtesy of Dad.  Road side cheering courtesy of Mom. And, having a place to shower and eat a big home cooked meal after the races is awesome.

 

Back to racing

Now that forced blogging for grad school is done….back to doing it for fun. Interesting how that works – hard to do some things when they are forced.

Training season has been going really well – over 1,000 miles of base and overall increase in volume from last year by 1-2 hours/week.  Spent time in the gym 1-2 days week with low volume, heavy weight upper body work.  Well, at least it was heavy weights for me.  Managed to avoid getting sick – just one 3-4 day stretch mid-last week, more mild than last year.  Focus now will be adding some speed and racing to get ready for the primary aim this year which is crit season this summer.

Annual first race of the season is Tour de Dung which took place over in Sequim yesterday.  The thought is that it’s usually nicer weather in Sequim this time of year – drier but often will be windy.  We could not have asked for a better day  – mid to upper 50’s, light breeze of 4-6 mph from the usual direction.   Second race for my folks to come to and along with Sherry and Emily it was nice to have the family cheer squad.

IMG_9021

The course is a 12 mile circuit – two rollers and one rise.  Two 90 degree turns and one sweeping 90 degree turn. Last year the finish moved to the first roller on the downwind leg.  The previous finish line was on the cross-wind straightaway and was really too dangerous for amateurs like us.

sequimThis year, the Hagen Berman Society Consulting team sent five guys for the 40+ 4/5 which was awesome – I think that’s the most guys I’ve raced with on the team during a masters race.  Usually have to race the open 4’s to get to be with that many teammates.  We were still going to be outnumbered by the Cucina team; HSP and CycleU would have a good size turnout as well.  Our plan was to monitor the front the whole race and then line up to help Edgar podium.  This was an A race for him.

First part of the race was right on plan, but we did let an HSP guy off the front for a solo win.  The HSP team did a good job keeping the case from organizing and Cucina and CycleU never got themselves organized either.  In hindsight, we might have partnered with SBux to chase.

IMG_8993

Here’s the video and analysis of the lead up to the finish.  On the back stretch, Scott, Edgar and I were lined up on the right side.  Len was probably just over my left shoulder.  At about the 1 min mark, I was thinking I needed to swap spots with Edgar.  At about 1:14, the 1k comes and at the point the whole road is open.  We really didn’t have anywhere to go as the pack didn’t widen much at first.  Around 1:30, I’ve lost the contact I wanted with Scott and got too boxed in by the Cycle U guys and was late to the surge that comes at the ~2:00 mark.  It also looks like I was aiming to get on Travis’ wheel – that must have been an old habit. Around 2:11, I settle into strong tempo hoping the next bump up the road will slow things and I’ll catch on.  At this point HR is pegged at 200 bpm and RPM is too high.  At the 200M to go, the sprinting starts and I haven’t gotten back on a wheel to follow, so it’s a bit of every man for themselves.  Finish line comes up pretty quick at the point – Edgar wove through traffic well for a 4th – Len came around me for a  solid 18, I finished 21st and Scott was 23rd.  Mike was an official finisher – so the whole HBSC crew finished…12 DNFs in a huge 60 man field.  Video ends at 3:12 and my HR is still north of 200, good lord.

Things to work on next time.  Keep focus during all four laps, be tighter on following wheels, pay attention to the wind and where to be left side/right side.  Overall solid first of season racing.  Thanks to Len for bringing the tent and thanks to Dad for the awesome pictures.

IMG_9347

Thoughts on emerging media….ninth in a series.

Dave Grohl is awesome. It’s true. And, Foo Fighters are awesome. It’s true. And, due to being on Late Show with David Letterman this week…he’s “trending”.   Actually, it’s interesting to decode the way Grohl is showing up across my “digital life” and the range in which social media changes how I heard about the appearances on the show.

Stage 0 – No one I have run into in person has talked about seeing the show. I don’t watch Late Night Show anymore, so not direct contact either.  😦

Stage 1 – I had one friend on Facebook, Chad, mention the show, Dave Grohl, and the first night performance specifically and directly on his Facebook feed. This friend and I both “like” the Foo Fighters both from a digital and real-life perspective. This is about as close to old-school, water-cooler type chatter as I can get. If this friend and I were still in the same office in Colorado, we should have actually talked about it in person. But, in both the digital and “real life” version, it’s like hearsay. The actual event wasn’t shared.

Stage 2 – Brands I follow on Facebook: Rolling Stone. Esquire. Both had direct links/shares from shows. This is not too far from how I would have heard about the performances in the past….through print magazines. But, now digital (!) so I get to enjoy.

stones

Stage 3 – I think this is stage is called Machine Learning or Artificial Intelligence. “My friend likes”. This is one more step removed. For example, Heart shared the Late Show’s posting about their appearance with Foo Fighters. And, one of my friends likes Heart on Facebook and one of my friends “liked” the shared post, so I saw that as a recommendation on my feed. And, I didn’t capture the screen shot in time, but I think it was shown as trending on my feed as well.

heart

And, finally because it wouldn’t be fair not to share.

Thoughts on emerging media….eighth in a series.

I wanted to check out Digg this week, as an alternative for a curated/aggregation site.  I like the new MSN layout for a “one stop shop” of getting news from multiple categories but I’m open to finding new options.   Often, my Facebook feed feels like a news feed for Huffpo, Esquire, The New York Times, NBC, and products from companies I like….with the occasional posting from an actual human friend.   The new MSN redesign from last month is great.  I suppose it’s like a portal.  🙂  But, for me and my consumption pattern which is most often on a PC, the format and content are perfect.  One place, highlights of all the major categories and I’m done…

msn

Digg was founded in 2004 and is an editorially driven news aggregator.  I have occasionally seen a digg button on a story. Digg offers several mobile options, a browser based option, and an email feed (similar to what I’m getting from Mashable.)  One thing that is not offered though, is a Windows app – but both iOS and Android are available.

The layout is clean and basic, which appeals to me.  I’m a fan of a modern and uncluttered look and feel.  The page loads quickly and has a pretty broad variety.  But, several stories I’ve seen from Esquire (through email feed and FB) NYT (FB), and GQ (FB) are represented in the current main page and the real estate is maybe a little too sparse, causing more scrolling.  [All of this was PC based reading]

The history of Digg is pretty interesting and a bit of the cautionary tale of the rise and fall that can happen during the second internet bubble I think we’re in.  (I was part of the first bubble related to the overbuild of the telecom capacity ~1999-2002).  From 2010, traffic declined, a redesign was a flop, competition heated up (Like button on FB), Reddit was exploding, and Twitter kept growing.

For now, I’ll continue to use MSN as the Digg format is not compelling enough to switch or add to the palette.