Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bubble Gum Race

We call it "the course."  It is a "flat course", "brutal course", a "fast course."  We are talking about the roads we race.  We use the word "course" because, in part, we race the same roads over and over.  Mason Lake, Sequim, Independence Valley.  The excitement is the race, not the repetitive road.  

With that said, I am always interested in new "courses."  I recently visited Pike Place Market.  I stumbled onto "Post Alley" and the Bubble Gum Wall. 

No idea how it started but there is a portion on the cobbled alley that leads up to the Market upon which there is wall covered in used gum.  Disgusting really but for the artistic value. 

When I first saw it, there was no real explanation for all of the gum. My most recent trip to the shrine, I noticed a bubble gum machine.  Gas to the fire. 

Cyclists should note that I used the word "cobbled."  Granted, the Puget Sound does not have 28 sections of cobbles as does the road from Paris to Roubaix.  But, we do have the bubble gum wall. 

So, here is my idea.  Mass start from Tacoma, down Levy Road, up the STP route but onto Duwasmish trail into Seattle with the finish at the Bubble Gum Wall.  Winner gets a bag of donut holes from the Market!  

Pics from the Race. 

Heading to the Start

The Finish

Bike Racks in the Assembly Area

When you finish the race, it required to replenish the wall!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Training Unplugged

I am not a proponent of training with technology.  The day I unstrapped myself from my heart rate monitor and took my power tap off my bike was a day of liberation.  I now return from rides and I do not know what time it is let alone my average watts, speed and cadence.  

I should explain that I worked with a coach for quite some time when I began to race.  I also obsessively uploaded and analyzed by stats to include power, heart race, speed and all the other data.   I believe in periodization and structured training.  But there are ways to gather gauge your performance by simply paying attention to your body and your racing.  Here are a few examples. 

How to Tell When You Are Peaking
You know you are peaking when you assume you have a tailwind but you don't.  Or, you keep flicking your elbow for your wheel man to take his pull and no one is there.  Or, you keep wondering when the neutral roll out is over and the pack will start racing. 

How to Tell When Your Peak is Over
You know your peak is over when you keep looking down to see if your brake pad is rubbing.  You ask team mates to check if your back tire is low.  You keep shifting down but there are no more gears. 

How to Tell When Your are at Threshold
You know you are at threshold when you feel your heart where your tonsils used to be.   You catch yourself trying to breath through your tongue.  Or it feels like you forgot to take your blood pressure medicine that morning. 

How to Tell When You are Over Threshold
You know you are over your threshold when it feel like your heart fell down into your stomach.  Or, even the words you are thinking are slurred.  You feel like your sunglasses suddenly went two shades darker.

How to Tell When You are Over Trained, i.e, Burnt Out
In the Wenatchee TT, you think about work.  In the Wenatchee Crit, you envy the due who loses his chain.  In the Wenatchee Road Race, you ask one of the spectators if they have a gun.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Lull

If a road race is over 30 miles and assuming it is NOT an uphill finish, in a noticeable number of cases, the pack will hesitate somewhere around 3 to 1 K to go.  It is a lull - a breather.  The thing that surprises me is that the guys in the middle part and back of the field do not elbow their way forward.  The guys in the front adjust, drink some water and reflect on the sprint finish that is coming.  I guess the guys in the back are just apathetic. Not their day.  Tired. 

I first noticed "the Lull" last year at Dung #2 and literally yelled at the 1K mark "will you PLEASE just GO!"  Like I always say, if you can't beat em at least try to persuade them!  It happened again at Dung this year, at IVRR and yesterday at Ravensdale, just before the last corner. 

Velo News points out that Cancellera won three races in three consecutive weekends: E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke, Flanders and then Paris Roubaix.  In each race he attacked at 50K to go.  In Paris Roubaix, the attack was so definitive, he was not required to attack again.  So, here is my thought - in Pro races, "the lull" is 50K to go!  If you look at Paris Roubaix, Cancellera's main competitor paused at 50K.  Sank back to the cars.  A drink of water.  The lull.  Those in the lull no doubt thought that any rational racer would do the same.  50K is a long way out and those who were there would surely finish together.  Save for the sprint. 

Personally, I do not care much about winning for myself.  I do care about racing.  As long as a team mate wins, it was an awesome day! Here is my conclusion:  in order to beat opponents, it would be better to shell some of them before the sprint.  Just saying.  IVRR ended in a crash.  I was second wheel at 1K during the lull and selfishly waited for the sprint.  BIG mistake.  A roadside bomb went off at 50 meter line and we ended up in the ditch. Had there been an attack at 1K, the result of the race would have been different. 

This is why bike racing is a team sport.  1K to go is a LONG, LONG way.  It might as well be 50K to go. 
I am as impatient with amateur fantasies about "tactics" as the next guy, but a team that could put 2 or 3 on the attack during the lull,  would be well nigh unbeatable assuming they had a ringer or two to exploit it.  Clearly, this is exactly what the pros do.  At our level, I have never seen it.