I recently shared some endurance training advice with the Greater Eugene Area Riders club. Check it out right here:
The sport of cyclocross, and team Aeolus Endurance Sport-Cable Huston, was recently profiled in a Portland Monthly Magazine feature entitled "Break a Sweat Like Portland's Top Athletes."
Check it out!
I was recently interviewed in a local magazine. We spoke about coaching and, of course, VeloPro. Here's the article:
George Thomas had myself, along with VeloPro beta testers Jeff S and Monty H on the show to take last week's interview a bit further into the user experience realm:
Check out this great interview from George Thomas of Over The Top Radio. We discuss my VeloPro project in detail:
Barton Park is always a fun day out. Despite (or, perhaps because of) being held in a gravel pit and adjoining county park, the venue offers a host of challenges for cyclocross racers. There is deep mud, shallow mud, gravel, pavement, puddles like small lakes, steep drops and two run-ups that feature a unique mix of mud and somewhat large stones!
I showed up feeling a bit off my game and, having missed too many Cross Crusade races to score points, started at the back of the 70-strong field. My teammate Brook and I had a nice warmup spin, but we kept it short as the temperature was approaching 70 F degrees already – unusual for Oregon in November.
Barton is a fast course, and so it is tough to start at the back and have any hope of making up a lot of places. Despite this, I got a decent start and really made sure to relax and not give too much in the first laps. This strategy paid off as I began to feel much better later in the race. Once the field thinned, I gradually caught several small groups of riders.
On the last lap, I put in a hard effort over the triple barriers and got a gap on the group I was with, which I managed to keep to the finish. This was enough to net me 19th place on the day – one spot out of the points. Normally, this would be a bit frustrating, but with having arrived feeling a bit unfocused and starting at the back, I'm happy about it.
Sadly, there is no data to report or analyze, as my Garmin decided to take a holiday. Although it showed the data on-screen during the race, it did not record any of it.
Here are some photos from the day:
|In the beginning, the sun shone|
|It was hectic the first time up the second run-up|
|Remounting at the top of the first run-up|
|I'm beginning to get used to this running thing|
|It's faster to ride, but it's more fun to fly…|
Oh yes, it's cyclocross season alright. Today we raced the seventh round of the GPTB in Washington, just over the Columbia River from Portland. While it was relatively dry and dusty for the Cross Crusade in Bend, it was cold, rainy, and muddy for our race, as many think it ought to be for this sport.
Rumor had it that there was going to be a long, muddy run-up, so I prepared appropriately:
|I didn't have a costume, but I wore these fangs|
Just before the start, it was pouring rain and chilly, but not too cold. It was cold enough, though, that I did my warmup earlier in the day; and, in the moments before the race while I had the car to myself, I concentrated on taking some time to focus, staying warm and ingesting some nice, hot home made chai:
|Chai. Comin' in hot.|
With greased legs and a happy stomach, I rolled to the line. I have a habit of starting too hard for my own good and today I was determined not to do that. It seemed to work as, when the whistle blew, I settled quickly into 5th or 6th position. I stayed there for a lap or two while I got used to the flow of the course and the conditions.
Besides three barriers on the flat bits, including one cleverly placed in the middle of a hairpin turn, the course had two nasty run-ups per lap. The first wasn't too bad at 26 to 30 seconds, but the second seemed to take forever. I was to be able to do it in 45 to 50 seconds, depending on traffic. In seven laps, these add up to about 9 minutes of deeply-tracked uphill mud running – nearly 15% of the race! I went a bit faster up the long run in the middle and later laps, so my slow-start plan seems to have worked.
Let's have a look at my data file from today's race:
|David Douglas CX #2: Red is Heart Rate data, yellow is Power data, and blue is Speed data. The dashed red line is at 180bpm. The dashed yellow line is at 350W. Click the image to magnify.|
If we observe the relationship of speed (blue) to heart rate (red), it's interesting to note that the highest heart rates occurred at the lowest speeds. These were the run-ups. Each lap, there were two HR spikes where these happened, reaching 185+bpm. This speaks to the off-and-on nature of the race, and the difficulty the run-ups posed to good pacing.
Speaking of pacing, here are my HR averages for each 20-minute third of the race, respectively:
So, despite the spikes required for the run-up (both on my shoes and from my HR!), I was able to start at a good pace and gradually increase it as the race went on. My HR average for the race was 173bpm – significantly less than my tested Threshold HR. Again, this is due to the off-and-on nature of this particular race.
In the end, I finished 3rd on the day, a result I am happy with. Here are some photos from the race:
|First lap – all nice and clean, with fangs exposed|
|The first time up the long run-up. Running makes me feel haggard.|
|Coming through the muddy twisty bits before the first descent|
|Going through the same|
|Over the hairpin barrier (in a very determined way, it would appear)|
It is no exaggeration to say that last week, here in Oregon, summer came to an abrupt end and winter arrived. One day it was in the 70s and sunny and the next it was in the 50s and raining. It's still raining, only now it is even colder.
This sort of thing, of course, makes for great cyclocross. I think it is safe to say that the dust races of 2012 are over and the mud is here to stay.
The weekend started with the Canby Cross-Word CX Challenge. A smaller race, not part of either local series, it was nonetheless well-attended and saw some good competition. It was also the first muddy race of the year, and we all had to adapt to the new conditions after dealing with hardpack and dust thus far.
I started at the back, but quickly made my way up into the top three. As you can see from the file below, I started a bit too hard and I paid for it later on. The first 1/3 of the race saw my HR average 183bpm, with correspondingly high power output (which I will keep a secret for now!). The rest of the race only saw an average of 179bpm – the cost of an imprudent start. At one point, I had caught the #2 rider, but a slip on corner saw him ride away and I had to settle for 3rd place on the day. Small mistakes often have high costs in 'cross.
|Canby CX: Red is Heart Rate data, yellow is power data. The dashed red line is at 180bpm. The dashed yellow line is at 350W. Click the image to magnify.|
Cross Crusade Heron Lakes:
The weekend's second race wasn't what this cycling coach had hoped for. The Heron Lakes course at PIR is one of my favorites – flat, fast, and hectic. I missed last week's race (I was attending the USA Cycling Coaching Summit, my first one as a Level 1 coach) and so I had forfeited my call-up and had to start at the back again. It didn't seem to make much difference as less than six minutes into the race, my rear derailleur decided to join my front derailleur and I was going nowhere. It was a curious failure as it did not seem to involve sticks or mud, or other riders. The body of the derailleur simply sheared off the pivot bolt.
I'm looking at the bright side – I have one 3rd place, and my bike frame and my body are intact. It's easy enough to get a new derailleur.
Here are some photos from the weekend:
|Canby CX. If I look surprised by the mud, it's because I am.|
|Heron Lakes: My teammate Monty (aka Montador) and I before the start.|
|Heron Lakes: Erik V and I round a bend in the first 3 minutes of the race. That was about the half way point for me!|
|Heron Lakes: My rear derailleur breaks, ending my race. Aw, muffin!|
Through competition, we discover ourselves.
This weekend was a cyclocross double header, with two races on warm, sunny, October days: GPTB Heiser Farms and the traditional Cross Crusade opener at Alpenrose Dairy. Since I'll be away next weekend, I decided that I would do the double.
I'm flying fit right now, so I am trying to take advantage of my good form and do as much racing as I can. I'm also having loads of fun and really enjoying myself. Plus, as a cycling coach, it's good to stay in the game and learn as much about myself as possible.
It would appear these days that my LTHR is a bit higher than I thought, or maybe it's not. Let's have a look at this weekend's races:
Heiser Farm CX
This race was fast and relatively smooth, in terms of one's efforts, with only one dismount over a set of three barriers. With the first Crusade race of the season looming the following day, attendance was a bit lower than normal with about 30 riders taking the start. The competition, however, was still strong with all of the series contenders in attendance.
Let's have a look at my HR file:
|Heiser Farm CX: Red is Heart Rate data, blue is speed data. The dashed red line is at 181bpm. Click the image to magnify.|
At the start, I accidentally hit the wrong button on my computer, so I'm missing data from the first lap. However, the separation really began on lap 2, and that is where we begin our analysis. My average HR for the race was 181bpm. From the graph, you can see that, after the first 3 laps, things settled down a bit. At this point, I was in the main break of 4 riders. With 2 laps to go, my HR goes up again as one rider punctured and the rest of us fought it out until the finish. I came 3rd in that battle, but I gave it all I had, so I feel good about my race.
Lately I have been racing at a HR a few bpm above my normal LTHR. This could be for a few reasons:
- I underestimated my LTHR (not likely)
- I'm relatively fresh coming into the races these days as CX in-season is largely race-and-recovery
- I've had some anxiety as of late and that raises one's HR
- It's been warm and even a bit hot at some races.
It's not uncommon to have a "fresh" LTHR and a "fatigued" LTHR that is a few bpm lower. With the combination of the above factors, and keeping this in mind, it is not a stretch to say that my effective LTHR these days is more like 181bpm than 178bpm. The next day proved this again.
Cross Crusade Alpenrose Dairy
This race, in contrast to the day before, required a lot more short, hard bursts of effort. The course was hard and bumpy with several short ride-up sections, a set of barriers, and two run-ups. Here is the HR file:
|Alpenrose CX: Red is Heart Rate data, blue is speed data. The dashed red line is at 181bpm. Click the image to magnify.|
This time I hit the correct button at the start, so my data is complete. The start saw the highest HR as all 93 riders in my field careened down a short paved section and into a loose dirt and gravel s-turn. A short descent was followed by a steep ride-up that had everyone fighting for traction. After lap 2, when things began to separate, I got down to the business of making up as much time as possible. I missed the races at which I could have had the possibility of scoring call-up points, because I was busy racing MTB Marathon Nationals. Thus, I started in the last row. Other than a bit of pacing difficulty mid-race (which is easily seen in the data), and legs which were a bit tired from the day before, I was able to put out a steady effort. This netted me 17th on the day, just inside the points!
Despite having raced the day before and ridden to this particular race, I was able to maintain an average HR of 182bpm. The heat and a bit of under-hydration played a role in that, I am sure. That, and the crowd support was fantastic.
Here are some photos from the weekend:
|The start at Heiser Farm|
|This is what I look like just before I have a great time|
|In the mix on the first lap|
"It is not so difficult. Go flat-out before the corner and then go flat-out again."
-Tommi Mäkinen, four-time World Rally Champion
Today I raced the Battle at Barlow, a traditional course east of Portland on the grounds of a high school. The course was dry and dusty, consisting of some open, although bumpy, grass sections, one bit of asphalt, and a few twisty singletrack climbs. The centerpiece of the course was a two-barrier descending dismount, followed by a steep run-down, a wooden bridge, and then a series of tall railroad ties as a run-up. Confused? So was I when I hit it at full speed.
I started several rows back, due somewhat to bad luck, but mostly to laziness. This was a mistake. On such a fast, twisty course, it would prove very difficult to make up time on those ahead, even once I found my rhythm. The race started fast and within 30 seconds I was at my LTHR. Today would prove to be another data anomaly as was able to maintain a 181bpm average for the entire hour. Again, I was able to maintain a higher-than-normal average for a couple of reasons:
- It was warm again, and this always elevates HR slightly at a given effort, and,
- I was very fresh, having done very little riding in the previous week in order to try to fully recover from a pulled muscle in my left leg.
So, although I didn't feel like I was on a great day, I can see from my data graph that I was able to pace myself well and do a very good effort:
|Battle at Barlow CX: Red is Heart Rate data, blue is speed data. The dashed red line is at 178bpm. Click the image to magnify.|
A dropped chain on the third time up the railroad ties cost me about 7 places. I think I managed to get a couple of those spots back, but I never saw the other guys. This guaranteed that I would be out of the top 10 on the day. One pays dearly for small mistakes in cyclocross.
It wasn't the greatest race ever, but I made the best of it and managed to learn a few lessons along the way. I also had the mid-race pleasure of seeing the always-friendly Ira Ryan and that awesome smile. He looked so happy to be racing his bike.
Photo updates here as they happen:
|Comin' in (sorta) hot|
|Leading a small bunch around one of the asphalt corners|
|Over the triple barriers|