Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Yale Race Recap: Men's A

Hills! Finally!

Yale Cycling, in particular, Chris "Taco" Rittacco (sp?) put on a great race weekend as always. I'm fond of the races to the top of east rock. My best results of each of my 3 seasons as an A rider have come there, and this year was no exception. I picked up 3rd in the time trial by riding hard enough to power about three and one third light bulbs for 14.5 minutes. I was bested by 2 amazingly strong guys from Harvard, one of whom, Jordan, only just upgraded after dominating B's all season, and one of whom hasn't lost a TT he's done this season, and, based on his times at Yale & Boston, probably also ever in the history of time trials. No shame in losing 15 seconds to those studs. I felt confident going into the road race. After all, Lee beat me last year by 20 seconds, and I got him at the end of the road race on the steepest slopes of East Rock. Hopefully this year would be no different.

And, it turns out, it wasn't. About three laps in I had a small gap toward the top of the climb, and by following a falconesque (falcolnian? falconlike?) descender from VCU, we stretched the gap. Jordan from Harvard was also in tow, and he was great to have pulling on the flats. It was an ideal situation. The course had three parts: the twisty descent, a windy flat section, and the climb. (The climb really also had two parts, shallow, steady, straight, and steep, variable, twisty, but I digress.) And the break du jour was an amazing descender, a brilliant, 6'5"-ish time trialist with a diesel engine, and me, punchy grimpeur. Also, one of the better climbers in the conference is the teammate of Jordan, so he was a bit handcuffed, unwilling to work too hard to chase down his teammate, lest he bring other people with him.

We worked well together for a few laps until the VCU fellow got popped toward the top of the climb. It was me and Jordan. I needed just 16 seconds to claim the KOM prize again. I worked just hard enough to maintain the gap over a 3-man chase group, saving what I could for the finish. I may have exaggerated the toll the break was taking on me, breathing hard, panting, etc., while also encouraging him to work really hard, which he surely did. Unfortunately for him, a small break is a bit like a poker match. Bluffing and deception are part of it. I felt very comfortable on his wheel just as we approached the steepest part of the climb, two switchbacks at 1200 meters from the finish. I attacked right where it pitched up, and gave everything I had for the next 2.5 minutes, which turned out to be many more lightbulbs than I expected to be able to power after 2 hours of racing.

Jordan actually ended up getting 4th. About 300 meters to the line he punctured. This allowed 2/3s of the chase group to catch him. It's a shame. He deserved a podium for his efforts. Here is the finish line picture. I'm pointing to the logo of our primary sposnor, Breakaway Bikes, because they are awesome and had my bike in perfect running order and weighing in at sub-16 pounds for the race. Thanks to the mechanics there, Shawn & Richie, who built my tubeless powertap wheel and installed my Gore shifting cables on short notice! Those guys rule.

Hopefully I'll see some photos of me the next day sporting the KOM jersey on facebook or something and be able to post a link later.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Beanpot Men's A report

It's been a while since I've written a personal race report--mostly because I haven't had a lot to report about. My results have been mostly ho-hum, middle of the field. That's to be expected when the races I've done have been mostly short, flat and windy, two conditions that do not suit my strengths.

I had fairly high expectations going into the ITT at Boston. The profile looked fairly rolling, which I like, and it was a bit longer of an effort than the Rutgers TT. I haven't done much intensity training outside of races yet, but I thought a 6.7 (advertised as 6.3, but several cycling computers beg to differ) rolling TT fell closer to my wheelhouse than anything we've done thus far. I ended up 15th, which isn't bad, but I was a good 20 seconds behind the group of the top 10 or so guys, and I even skipped the TTT that morning. I had a powermeter to help with pacing, but overestimated what I was capable of doing. I started off catching my 20-second man too eagerly, averaging well over what I knew deep down I was capable of. Wishful thinking. Average power was right where I should have been from the start by the turnaround, but aiming 20 watts over that killed me. Averaged 35 watts lower on the return trip, got passed back by the 20-second guy, and went straight back to the truck for a sulky beer and a jar of peanutbutter.

A fun dinner with the team, especially ever-entertaining Joe D picked my spirits up, as did the sauna and hot tub at the swank-yet-deeply-discounted Westin Hotel. (Two shower heads! Robes! Mini bar! Slippers on demand! Keurig machine!)

The crit
Long story short, I got 4th, continuing my streak of finishing last out of the winning move (cf Lower Providence, Bloomsburg, Green Mountain, Nanticoke, Turkey Hill) to just miss the podium. Still, I rode a strong race and am happy. Much respect for Evan Murphy, Ross Marklein, & Matthew Buckley, the top 3. They were the better riders on the day.

Now, for the long story long. I did very well to win the race before the race before the race by being crafty. (I've gotten plenty of experience.) Before the first race of the day, I set up the trainer at the start of staging. I was a bit thrown when they decided to have every field do a practice lap first though. Still, I got a front row start on the practice lap, and held my position through the lap to start on the front line--severely out of breath--with the MIT, BU & Tufts folks. Funny stats on the practice lap:
Time: 1:33
Power: 388 watts
Max Power: 856
Speed: 22.2 mph

I would top that max wattage only once more the entire rest of the day.

The race started fast and stayed that way. People were very aggressively moving up. Those who cornered poorly or who got shuffled to the back were doomed. About 3 laps in I was able to move up in the headwind section to be right near the front. I saw Evan & a UVM rider up the road, and saw several other UVM guys near the front set to disrupt the chase. Evan + anybody off the front is cause for concern, so I swung right and hammered it as hard as I could go for the next five minutes or so. I think my solo chase lasted two or three laps. All I know is it hurt a lot for a while, but I was gaining slowly but surely. I hit my best in-race, non-climbing 5-minute wattage number since September when I had much better form. Suffice to say I was pleased with it, being well over 6w/kg, and even higher than my rutgers ITT target # (which I failed to hit as it was). When I was about 3 seconds back and at my breaking point, I hear looked back and saw the green shades of our new green jersey. He'd gotten 2nd in the TT, and had just come out of the pits after cracking his brand new HED S6 (major bummer!) so I was unembarrassed or unrepentant about sitting on his wheel and letting him tow me teh remaining 30 meters. He came by so fast though, it took everything I had to sit there, and I continued to just sit there for about the next 6-8 laps.

I usually try to work in breaks as long as I have the legs. I know bike racing is about doing what it takes to get the W (legally!), and sitting on is not disallowed or anything, but I am not the sort to sit on all day then come around on fresher legs at the last moment. I wanted to work, but I had just TT'd well outside myself for a long time, and "sitting" on wasn't exactly easy anyway. I still was averaging right around 300w, with my running normalized power for the race 30 minutes in still sitting above 330. (My new Joule is so handy!), so I was at my limit for sure. When I finally felt ready, I started taking my turns for the last 20-25 laps.

I was not the strongest in the break. Not even close. The wind was brutal, and especially as Ross and Evan pulled through the homestretch, I was doing over 400w just to suck wheel. Hence the pain-face I was pulling each time I went by our friendly announcers, usually toward the back of the group.

With 8 to go, as we were starting to lap stragglers, Ross attacked hard through the start finish. I was in back, and Evan was able to follow. Matt was a bit late to respond, and I had to choose between helping him chase, sprinting around him (both which might cause me to blow up), or forcing him to do the work and hoping. I opted for the last option, which in retrospect was the wrong move. How Pozzato of me. My legs were starting to return by that point, and if I had gone before hitting the headwind, I think I would have made it. But we rounded the corner just as a big gust came through. I could see the gap go from about 3 to about 10 seconds just through that stretch. The front two caught the field and that was it for our chances at the W. Having worked all day amiably with Matt, I didn't see reason behind attacking him early, and he seemed of the same mind. With 3 to go we caught Matt's teammate, which I had hoped to avoid. Still, it was nice to just have an extra guy rotating through. Race for the W was over, and I was guaranteed a top 5, and 3rd vs. 4th made little difference to me. I felt as strongly about this sprint as a town line sprint. Wanted to take it for pride, but wasn't super motivated. I sat in back while Derrick pulled for a lap, then with 1 to go attacked across the headwind. Matt matched it, and thus I was stuck in front for the remainder of the lap. I led out the sprint, almost held on, but lost it by half a wheel. So it goes.

All in all a good day. Awesome course, well-run weekend in spite of the weather, game effort from the teams with the road race setback. And I'm especially pleased with how sore I feel today--means good training this weekend. And the numbers were some of the best I've seen. 327 normalized for 67 minutes, best hour average was 300 even and normalized was 330. Looking forward to some hills next week!

Monday, March 7, 2011

The season has begun

Saturday morning, 2.2 mile individual time trial, flat course, slight rise for 1.2 mi, then turnaround and down the hill for 1 mi
Men's A: 21st/52 Charlie Zamastil
Men's C1: 34th/57 Alex Lambi; 45th Sean Butler 
Men's D1: 27th/52 Mark Linzer; 37th Peter Smyth; 42nd Joe Diberadinas 
Men's Intro: 19th/35 Steven George; 20th Ross Creed; 35th Jacob Colon 
Women's Intro: 5th/24 Lindsey Knast; 12th Adriane Hairston
Saturday afternoon, Criterium, flat, 4 corners, 1 super sharp, 20mph cross/headwinds between turns 2-4, tailwind finish

Men's A: 23rd/58 me
Men's C: 17th/60 Alex Lambi; 28th Sean Butler
Men's D: 28th/56 Peter Smyth; 44th Mark Linzer, 46th Joe Diberadinas
Men's intro: 23rd/46 Ross Creed; 32nd Steven George, 45th Jacob Colon
Women's Intro: 3rd/27 Lindsey Knast; 9th Adriane Hairston

Sunday, Points Race format, but held on open road not a velodrome. .91 mile tear-drop-shaped circuit, 1 sharp turn followed by 600 meter 2-step uphill with the finish line after the first step up. Fast sweeping downhill for rest of course. Points went 4-deep, with sprint laps every 4th lap. Very rainy but not super cold.

Men's A: 6th/46 me
Men's C: 26th/49 Alex Lambi;
Men's D: 38th/45 Peter Smyth
Men's Intro: 21st/35 Ross Creed
Women's Intro: 4th/22 Adriane Hairston

So the big stars of the show were our women's intro riders, finishing in the top 12 in all their races, and Lindsey getting on the extended podium in both her races. Personally, I was just happy to finish the crit upright for the first time in now 4 tries.

Rutgers did an excellent job, and the points race turned out to be a lot of fun. We're all looking forward to another great race weekend held by Columbia and Stevens in just 5 days!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Training Meeting Recap

In lieu of watching the "sporting" match (and I do mean that to be ironical in every sense of the term) between the birds and the Washington Redskins, the fine athletes from Penn, Drexel, Temple Cycling teams gathered at Drexel's DAC (Dragons are cool) for a meeting to discuss how to train to race bicycles at the collegiate level.

For those of you who attended and were disappointed to miss the "game," I believe I found highlight footage here:

And so for those who were busy with other matters and could not attend, or for those who were too distracted by the glare coming off Charlie's receding hairline, I'd like to give a brief recap of what we talked about. Those of you with listserv access should be able to access the powerpoint; those who do not, listen up.

At some point, or whatever reason, whether to lose weight, to rehabilitate from a running injury, or for a penchant, you cyclist decided you'd try cycling. And now you want to race. But you're wondering...

What should I do?

Should I go out and ride 100 miles every day?
Should I do tons and tons of squats and leg presses in the gym?
Should I both training at all, or just show up and race?
Should I contact Joe Papp and ask him to pump me full of Chinese EPO?
What should I do?

First off Lebron, the answer is No--o all of those (and also to the question, "does this ad campaign reflect positively on me?"). But there are good lessons to be learned by asking each of these questions (yes there really was a point to them, other than making fun of Mr. James).

Should you ride 100 miles every day? Well, certainly it'd be nice to have the time, and some top level riders probably ride close to 100 miles many times each month. One reasonably effective training plan is the "get on your bike and ride a lot" plan. The more you ride your bike, the faster you will be. But very few collegiate races are decided by one's ability to ride 100 miles. Your races are more likely to be an hour long than 6, and the intensity of a 1-hour ride will come as a shock to a person who only does very long, relatively slower rides.

Also--doing 100 miles a day is really hard! A good training plan requires periods of intensity, but also recovery. Training breaks you down, and resting builds you back up even stronger. Like a Phoenix! Or LL Cool J!

Should you do lots of squats and leg presses? Not really. Leg strength is important in cycling, no doubt, but (road) cycling is first and foremost an endurance sport. When you lift weights, you are building skeletal muscle mass and recruiting fast twitch (type II) muscle fibers. Cycling is an endurance sport, requiring slow twitch (type I) muscle fibers. Type 1 muscle fibers derive their energy from your oxidative metabolism: that is, they require oxygen--they are part of your "aerobic metabolism," that is, the production of energy fuel, ATP, using oxygen as a key ingredient. Fast twitch muscles are reliant on anaerobic metabolism, and thus fatigue much faster. If your legs muscles are primarily type II, then they will be very explosive at the start of the race, but they tire quickly, leaving you huffing and puffing, in want of more oxygen, very quickly into the race. Anaerobic metabolism simply cannot be sustained for that long; you need to have a good, efficient aerobic metabolism. This means you need to improve your lung capacity and your cardiac endurance, even more than your overall leg power, to do well in cycling. Think of your muscles like your brain: if the body can't deliver oxygenated blood to them, they don't do so well. This is what happens to people when not enough oxygen gets to their brains:

So before worrying about overall leg strength, start thinking about building up your cardiac and respiratory endurance.

That said--lifting can play an important role in your cycling training. But save that topic for another day.

Should you bother training at all? Like all answers this one begins with: That depends. If you just want to show up on weekends, have a blast, goof off, and get a little bit of fresh air, then no, really, you don't need to train much. A reasonably fit person who rides a few E races each weekend will probably be fast enough by the end of the year to move up a category. Racing is training, after all--just way more fun. And it's some of the best training you can get. I call this the "race into shape" mode of training. It can get you pretty far, but once you start getting into the upper categories, your natural abilities don't cut it. You'd be hard pressed to find a category B or higher rider who doesn't spend at least 1 other day of the week on the bike outside of race weekends. But the beauty of cycling is that there's something for everyone, from the serious elite racer to the weekend warrior. Decide what you want to be, and plan accordingly.

Should you dope? No. Seriously, dopers are an affront to fair play, and they are harming themselves, their peers, and the wonderful sport of cycling. Forshame.

What should you do? Have goals. Have a plan that helps you achieve your goals. Train your weaknesses. Race your strengths. Know what those strengths and weaknesses are.

Potential goals can be to win a race, upgrade, secure a certain number of podiums or top-10s, or maybe just finish a race. Doesn't matter what they are, just have them.

A plan that helps you achieve your goals is fairly simple to devise. You want to have a plan that incorporates periods of gradually increasing volume (time on the bike) intensity (how hard you're going on the ride), followed by rest. Come to priority events with a good amount of hard training in your legs, but also a fair amount of rest so you're not too tired. A standard plan might look something like this:

4 weeks of "base training"--low intensity, high volume
3 weeks of building, with increasing volume & intensity from week to week
1 week rest
3 weeks build
1 week rest
3 weeks build, with some racing
1 week rest
Big Race Week
Big Race Week
1 week rest

and repeat. Good training also involves specificity. If your main events require you to go long distances, ride long distances. If your rides require repeated short efforts at high intensity, do some high intensity intervals.

Eat right. Spend some time alone riding, so you can focus on your own specific workout goals. Tell someone like a spouse or boy/girlfriend, and have them ask you whether you did what you said you were going to do, and make them hold you accountable. Spend time riding in groups, so you improve your bike handling and comfort level riding in a peloton.

If it's feasible, buy a heart rate monitor or power meter and learn your training zones (I discuss how a power meter can help your training here. Consider hiring a coach--they come in all shapes and sizes...

But finally, remember that you have to love this sport to do it at all, let alone do it well. But doing it well also requires some effort. No one is born a brilliant endurance athlete, but anyone can become one. Really, I do mean anyone.

Monday, November 1, 2010

We're back...

...to blogging, at least. Also, training--kind of. Today's November 1, la Toussaint in Franceland, and perhaps the Catholic parts of Quebec, but more importantly to this blog, it is the unofficial start of training for our roadies. Of course, it's also a Monday, so this blogger has decided to kick of training in proper fashion: with a rest day!

We'll also be back to competing in the ECCC road season this year, and 2011 looks to be an even more successful year for Temple Cycling. We've nearly doubled our roster, and let's just say that describing the increase in support we've received from some local businesses and the school sports club requires abundant use of the lemniscate. To those places, we want to extend a huge thank you. So:

Thank you Zorbas!

Thank you Breakaway Bikes & Fitness!

Thank you Mayer Enterprise!

Thank you Jeffrey Lichtman, esquire!

Now, hopefully, we can be a little more competitive with our crosstown rivals/good friends, UPenn Cycling.

That way, at the conference championships, the comparison between the two teams' roster sizes won't be quite so stark. Compare the Penn nice photo:

to the Temple nice photo:

then the Penn silly photo:

to the Temple silly photo:

That's right; we had to borrow a Penn rider just to get a silly photo. But this year, 2011, can be different, with your help!

And if you'd like to help, why not do so in style? Order a Temple kit and choose to donate to the Temple University Cycling Club, a 501 (c) (3) organization (so you can write it all off, you charitable soul, you!).

Oh, and don't forget that we now have a twitter account. Follow us at www.twitter.com/templecycling, and be our friend with/without benefits on facebook.

Thanks for reading. Please vote tomorrow: it's the perfect way to not look like a jerk when the person outside the grocery store asks you if you've voted. See you on the road.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Recent Reports may be Substantiated

It is often said that everything is bigger in Texas. For Contador this may be more true than for the rest of us... For years reports from the 2009 TDF competitors and teammates have been the same. Recently photo evidence may clarify things for all parties involved.

New TT kits 2010

This year Temple Cycling has decided to become more patriotic in their quest for the coveted ECCC leaders jersey. It is no secret that Temple will be a power house this year. USA Cycling has already pronounced them a "Major force" on Twitter. "We only need to ride as well as we'll look" -Tyler Bauer
Eat your heart out David Zabriskie.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Off Season coming to an end...

Philadelphia can be a hard place to ride during the winter. Granted none of the ECCC teams have great year round riding. Those Collegiate Teams based in Philadelphia have it comparably better off. But none the less temperatures lately have been consistently below 30 degrees and with the shorter day light hours many riders choose to spend the off season on indoor trainers.

Our sponsor Breakaway Bikes for the second year is offering Collegiate trainer classes utilizing their many Computrainer systems. Members of the Temple University Cycling Team take full advantage of these classes. Nick Rodgers can be seen getting ready for such a class in the adjacent photo.

This past weekend Breakaway Bikes in Philadelphia held it’s first annual Tour de Breakaway, a 120km indoor stage race. Congratulations to Charles Zamastil for his second place finish.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

We will chest-bump each of you when we return...

After a small (Charlie) showing at Army, we plan on a more impressive showing for Yale (none). Sorry if you were counting on us for... well... nothing. Its sorta hard to race up yonder when we are slowly sun burning here.

At ease,

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sorta like unplugging your Computrainer in mid-race...

Simply posting again to throw us at the front of the blogs on the ECCC Blogosphere. It is almost like we are doping. Please read the fresh post below that I posted today but for some reason is labeled for being posted on Sunday...