Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Can't Ride the Peak Wave Forever

Just when you're starting to ride a string of fast times and a set new PR, you get one night that pushes you back. So why would I ride over 30 seconds slower last night than the week before? First, there was a pretty decent head wind on the first half that didn't really seem to pay off on nice tailwind on the second half. It could also be the case that I just wasn't strong enough to take advantage of the tailwind. In the last month, I've ridden the state tt, nationals, almost every Cleves event, all the while averaging about 275 miles per weeek. Eventually, we all just get tired. I'd like to say that not having anyone to chase (I went off alone at 5:45) would be a reason but it really shouldn't matter. I'm ideally riding as hard as possible regardless of who's in front of me.

If I had to pinpiont one area that has been a problem in the last week it has been rest. While I'm taking the required days off the bike, I'm also finding that going to bed at 11:00 and getting up at 5:30 just isn't enough sleep. While on vacation from July 9-17, I averaged about 50 miles per day but also avergaged about 9 hours sleep each night. A recent study showed that athletes who get ten hours per night perform substantially better than those who average 8. Averaging under 7 just isn't going to cut it.

The great thing about Cleves is that we can come back the next week and do it again. I do want to thank Brian and Lisa for letting me go off early so I could make it to the Jackson Browne concert. You're the best!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cleves Time Trial: Why So Fast This Year?

I have had a number of people ask me why my times at Cleves have been so fast this year. My PR through last year was a 22:05 and my average time was around 22:35 or so. I had 2 or 3 nights in 2008 with time in the 23:00 to 23:15 range. So far in 2009, my slowest time is around 22:45 and I have three times in the 21's with a 21:48, 21:53 and recently a 21:34, the second fastest time ever. Here are some changes I made for 2009:

  • switched from 700x20 tires at 140psi to 700x23 Bontrager Aero TT tires at 120 psi
  • switched from an aluminum/carbon frame to all carbon
  • moved my saddle back about 2 cm beyond the 5cm set back requirement, but still ride on the tip of the saddle, sometimes;
  • lowered my bars just slightly (1/8")
  • brought my elbows as close together as possible with my hands now touching at the end of the bars
  • tried a couple different helmets starting with the Spiuk and now using a LG Rocket TT (I have to thank Frances Manfred for the previous three)
  • increased my power during training by about 2-3% in my steady state and tempo efforts; I think this is simply many years of training coming together, with the indoor winter work playing a key role
  • set my mph goal at Cleves at 28 mph; I used to try for 27 to 27.5; raising the goal is probably been the most important aspect of my increased speed; once I realized I could ride that fast, I've been able to repeat it
  • started using the Ultimate Cyclist self-hypnosis cd; check it out---it can't hurt; its a great way to relax and get motivated about your training and racing; weekly time trials can take it out of you as much mentally as physically; we tend to ingore the mental training; I was skeptical at first but I listen to this once or twice per week
  • started using my time in the gym for true strength training; this means low reps (8-12) using 75% of my one rep max; I also stopped using most of the machines and opt for free weights, plyometrics, and a few very key core exercizes; your speed and endurance come on the bike; strength comes in the gym; I gained strength, and lost 5 lbs
  • sleep: I'm getting more, and making this as important as riding in my schedule
  • having fun: I'll be the first to admit that I get tired of the training and racing; the cd has helped me keep my focus on why I ride, and thats to have fun; when its not fun I'll be finished, and I'm not ready to quite anytime soon

I hope this helps you reach a new PR.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Nationals Thoughts

Master Nationals Time Trial 2009
The 2009 Masters Nationals Time Trial, held in Taylorsville, KY, was my 8th time participating in this USA Cycling championship event. Oddly enough my best placing was the very first year I rode it in 1997 where I took 14th place in the 40k with time of around 56:40 or 26.3 mph. My fastest avg mph was in Spokane ,WA where I rode at over 28 mph but finished 25th. My worst placing was 36th in Seven Springs, PA where we rode in the rain on a course with 50 mph descents and 14 mph ascents. I've been 17th and 18th a couple times and finished 21st this year with a time of 32:25 or 27.3 mph. My finish time each year usually puts me in the top 50% of riders in my bracket.

You may wonder, as I do sometimes, why I keep going back when I'm not really in the running for the medals given to the top 5 spots. I guess the main reason is to simply participate and to walk away knowing that while I'm not going to be invited to the world championship that I'm at least still competitive within my age bracket. I think that as you get older (I'm 47) that you tend to have a greater appreciation for the continuing commitment to fitness that is needed to keep riding local, state and national events and to still ride them fast. To actually ride faster each year, even just a little bit, is a motivating factor in my desire to keep going to these events. I never take my fitness for granted, and I don't plan on backing down any time soon from my regimen. I just told my coach that if I don't get any slower, and maybe even get faster over the next ten years like I have over the previous ten, that a top 5 finish may just happen. Sounds like I'm already talking myself into another long winter in the basement on the trainer hammering out intervals.

A great part about riding nationals is being able to compare yourself to other riders from around the country not only in your bracket but also those below and above you. In the men's 30-34, the winner this year rode the course in 29:20. He's also a recent world time trial champion. Its a big three minutes between his time and mine, but at least I know where I stand. If you take my time up the brackets, I'd be 8th in the 50-54 and 3rd in the 55-59. Remarkably in the 60-64 I'd only get 2nd with the winner beating me by 39 seconds. Essentially I can't get any slower over the next 15 years and I have to hope that most of the faster riders decide that they have enough national jerseys and medals. If it all plays out the way I hope maybe someday I'll actually have to wait around for the medal ceremony, someday.

I always mention in my time trial clinics and spinning and circuit training classes that the only reason we lose fitness as we age is that we stop challenging ourselves. In some cases, we stop training all together. If you want to see what a 60+ year old person is capable of, check the results for Masters Nationals. At some point, you make a commitment to staying active and pushing yourself to new levels of fitness or you decide that watching television is all that life has to offer. I'll take finishing in the middle of the pack in a national event anytime.

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