Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ciao, Giro!

It was an emotional Giro.

There were flat stages and there were beautiful mountain stages. There were bunch finishes, a punch finish and break aways. Winners and losers, too many to note them all.

Riders fell, leaving the peloton in its saddest state.

Persistently, a rider battled without respite. He was deservedly rewarded with a jersey. The green jersey of the Giro.

And while two men scuffled for second best, as well as young riders for the white jersey, there was only one man for the pink colour of the Giro, his name was Alberto Contador.

Far from the colours of the Giro, another man, Spanish Xavier Tondo, senselessly left the pro peloton.

Moreover, in Belgium this time, a champion returned to racing and finally won his home Tour. What's next for Gilbert?

I can't wait for next year's Classics and Giro d'Italia.

A solid week towards the Tablelands

Around here, and after a forced and needed recovery week, I managed to put in some good, hard kilometers. And it felt great. True, I watched a few mountain stages of the Giro (and how could I not?) so it could've been better but having day's off work allowed me to sleep in and get out for rides in the warm times of the day.

A second ride on Thursday, the Club Fish & Chips Ride on the single-speed, helped to keep the numbers up and the easy spin helped to get rid of some lactic acid in my legs.

Again, it could have been better still if I had followed the script but high TSS rides made me also tired and by Saturday (and back to work for an early, early shift) I could not get on the bike at all. I slept instead.

A good week, now it is time for a rest again and the plan is to stay fit and fresh for the next eleven days. A bit of speed work to keep the legs supple and perhaps a race at Lakeside.

We will see.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Alberto's Panache

"Veteran climber Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) took the first victory of his 12-year career as he came in just ahead of race leader Alberto Contador at the summit of the third-category climb into Macugnaga. The Italian had made his move with 6km remaining of the long drag to the finish, only to be caught by the race leader with just 400m to the line. But, after a few words were exchanged between the pair, Contador took over the pace-making and led his former domestique at Astana towards the finish, where Tiralongo came through to take what is a long-overdue success." Cyclingnews.com

"With 1500m left, Contador made his initial move, to which his rivals Nibali, Scarponi and John Gadret all responded. Gadret launched an attack of his own, but could not find an answer when Contador went again and swept past with almost ridiculous ease. First Dupont was caught and dropped, then Rodriguez. Just as he had done in the Nevegal time trial on Tuesday, Contador clearly demonstrated the gap between him and the rest as he flew up the closing part of the climb to reach Tiralongo’s wheel." Cyclingnews.com

"There was no question that he could have gone on to win, but there was little to be gained by doing so. Instead, like a true patron distributing favours, he allowed Tiralongo his moment." Cyclingnews.com

Lots of Panache, I just hope everyone is clean!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Changing plans and a fun criterium race

It wasn't the first time and I am sure it does happen to everyone in some kind of training regime. In my situation, sickness was the reason for the first change.

Last week, I tried to keep going thinking the head-cold wouldn't last but the way I felt after the Recovery ride on Monday (admittedly not as easy as it should have been) indicated I needed to rest and stay off the bike.

So, I swapped the second week of Build for a Recovery week. In fact, I rode even less as the flu kept me in the house for a couple of days.

The way I see it, and it is probably obvious for many, we have to get rid of the sickness before we do some intensity training again, or we will end up loosing two or three weeks. A couple of days of rest and many hot lemon&honey drinks did help, specially at 1 AM while watching the Giro live.

Club Crit Championship

Club Championship races are fun races. OK, they are still very competitive but they are kind of mates racing mates and having fun. My plan was to get a good warm up for the first 15 min (I was late and drove the 5 or 6 km to the track) and then try to get rid of a couple of experienced sprinters in the bunch.

Simple but not easy because sprinters can jump quick and follow wheels very well. Hence, getting rid of them was too hard and was costing me too many matches.

Sprinters!?! I didn't want to get to the final 300 m with them so I changed my plan to riding a conservative few laps and a fully commited jump with two laps to go. A little conspicuous, I know, but I thought it was my only chance.

It did work... well, kind of.

2011 HPRW Crit Champs Masters 5 by Adam on Vimeo.

The graphs clearly show how the race went (burning matches, resting, jumping, etc) but also show the areas I need to work on. Loving the new tool!

Match burning and resting

The last two laps

Back on track with a hard Build week and then Recovery before the Tour de Tablelands, 11th to 13th June.

Ciao for now!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tour of California: the work of a lead out man and getting cross-eyed...

New Zealand's Greg Henderson, last lead-out man for Team Sky's sprinter Ben Swift, has one of the hardest jobs in pro-cycling. He has to take the team's sprinter as close to the line as possible and in front of the rest of the galloping bunch of fast finishers.

To do that, he must ride all out for 20 or more seconds, starting at the right place, 200 or 300 m before the finishing line. Nearing the end of that effort, his body is so full of lactic acid and his heart rate so high that he just can't do it any more. He has gone ALL OUT. After that, his power output drops to zero and he gets outdone by ten or more sprinters who have been drafting behind him for the last 300 m.

Early this week, in California, and with the help of another three or four Team Sky riders, Greg did his job to perfection and delivered Ben Swift to the line ahead of everybody else. It was on a "criterium" type finish as the race stage ended in a circuit on the streets of Sacramento. That means, he rode more than 100 km before starting his duties for the team.

I said rode and not raced because for most of the 100 km he didn't do much. In fact, he didn't pedalled for near 19% of the time. His best 20' wattage output was only 349 W, and that's when things were already getting a bit fast, and the average for the whole stage was just 203 W.

It looks like I could do that stage, my best 20' is 311 W and my Mt Baw Baw Classic average was 215 W. OK, I am dreaming. I wouldn't even make it to the outer suburbs of Sacramento, that day. That's because through the stage, those guys in the peloton are doing efforts of up to 900 W (many times) just to get over little hills or to hang on when a rider or group of riders decide to attack.

But this is not about me, it is about Greg Henderson and how he did his job at the end of the race on the streets of Sacramento. The highlight of his performance being the last twenty seconds before he stopped "racing", when he averaged 806 W and 63.4 km/h. He maxed at 1210 W!!

Next day, he went to work again. He got on his bike, sucked wheels for most of the stage to Modesto, not pedalling for 14% of the time and getting ready for another criterium like finish. This time, he stepped up one more notch when he started to do what he is employed to do and finished it off himself...

He did that without planning (I think!). It was just his amazing power and huge amount of adrenaline that kept him going harder, and harder, until he crossed the finish line first, leaving his sprinter behind. Power analyses specialist, Mr Hunter Allen, attributes his win to a "fatigue resistance incredibly high" (here is his full analyses of Greg's file).

"It was pretty chaotic really. Jeremy Hunt brought up the pace and it was my job to take it from 500 meters out and I went Full gas for 300 meters and thought, oh, well they'll start coming around me now and I just couldn't feel anyone and so I thought, ‘I just keep going’ and I got to 150 meters and I was so lactic, so cross-eyed and just wanted to sit down, so blown that I thought I'd just keep my speed to the line and I was lucky that no one could catch me. I was so lactic that I couldn’t even do a victory salute.." Greg explained.

How did he do it? Well, he averaged 1026 W (1193 max) for his best 20" and more impressive than that, he kept going all out for another 7 seconds decreasing his average power by just 80 W (less than 8%)! That was a huge effort and with a bit of luck (sprinters always need a bit of luck) it resulted on Greg leaving everyone else behind and a fantastic win!

Luckily, we have this great media cover of the event, YouTube, CyclismoNews and the guys at Training Peaks to show us how complex and fascinating a bicycle race really is. Also, a big THANK YOU to Greg Henederson and Team Sky to let us see those files. I can't wait to see Simon Gerran's data as he climbs some of the mountain passes in Europe.

Keep racing!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hours and kilometers have less importance... and another Zupps Ride

It is a bit of a relief to read that on Joel Friel's blog because my hours and kilometers last week (a Build week) were down by 4.5 h and 85 km.

As a matter of fact, looking at those two figures, I could've come up with one ride, or two, with an average speed below 19 km/h to make it up but unless those rides were strictly going up-hill, they wouldn't have done much for my training anyway. As far as I know, I need to work with higher intensity, race like workouts, in this phase.

The figures I am looking at after a few weeks of training are the ones under Recent Weeks (chart below). They show me data on my TSS, my Kj figures, and peak wattage for different time frames (check here for explanations on those). As well as duration and distance, we all like looking at those.

The chart shows a Recovery week after Baw Baw, two weeks of Build, another Recovery week and the first week of another two-week Build phase. The numbers might not tell I am going to win my next race but they are high when I had to do the work and they are low when I did have to recover. That's what I want.

It looks like I am going in the right direction on my preparation for the Tour de Tablelands, an event that Sandra and I, for many reasons, always love doing (2008 Tour).

The other numbers, Peak watts, are another story. I can't tell everything!!

Another Zupps

The thought of joining Brisbane's premier bunch ride came to mind as I had to finish last week with a long, medium intensity ride. I could just do some work until the point where things get a bit crazy and then let the bunch go. Perfectly planed if the bunch behaved as it has been behaving in the last couple of years.

It didn't. A smaller number than usually made for a better traffic-behaved (actually stopping on red lights) peloton and although not much slower it felt safer to push a bit harder and try to stay with them.

The picture below illustrates the actual ride, Zupps-Hornibrook Bridge-Sandgate, and the work I had to do to stay with the leading bunch and finish behind the sprinters. It also shows the pace picking up after the 50' mark.

I must say, a lot of the local top riders weren't there because of an open event being held in the country over the weekend. Possibly an easier ride but does that say something about the good behaviour of the bunch this Sunday?

I hope not.

Zupps ride, three years ago

Saturday, May 14, 2011

When are we going to get tested?

Stories are many and often we hear the remark “He must be on drugs!”.

It is not too uncommon that an amateur cyclist gets done for using some kind of illegal drug to enhance his/her performance. A few years back, in Melbourne, someone who won a couple of medals on the track tested positive for an illegal drug and “got in trouble for it”.

Another man, in Sydney this time, was charged for importing certain drugs. He was well known for being part of the cycling community, at amateur level. In the US, two or three years ago, a master cyclist was also caught and lost his national championship medals.

Thus, the suggestion of a few people out there taking the “stuff” just to win the weekend club criterium is not totally unsound.

But why, as amateurs, would we do it? We are not racing for sheep stations, are we?

No, we are not but there are people out there that would advocate and apply the “win at any cost” strategy in any race, even the weekend club criterium. Based on that, what would stop them from taking something which would just bump their performance by a small percentage, just enough to keep them away in that break for half of the race… race after race?

I must own up and tell that I take some “stuff” and have been taking for years. The “stuff” I take isn’t in any pharmaceutical black list, primarily because they are natural, unprocessed products. And I take them with my breakfast, which I believe is performance enhancing and great for my taste buds.

For a few years, I have been adding Goji berries to my morning meals and for the last two years I have added Maca powder to the mix, which also contains dates, one type of cereal or rice, rice milk, a banana or an apple, some Jalna vanilla yogurt (my absolute favourite) and a few nuts (walnuts lately).

Is my mouth-watering (I think about my breakfast before I go to sleep the night before, sometimes) morning feast performance enhancing? I think so because it makes me healthier, makes me stronger, consequently making me faster on the bike.

Have I mention the big glass of black coffee with it? Triple shot? And my intake of vitamins (1st Endurance’s Multi-V)? Now, these are performance enhancing stuff...

So, what are you taking?

Note: The timing of the post and the release of the UCI's Suspicious List is purely coincidental.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Shared Zone

After the high intensity of the Battle, it was time for a good recovery before doing anything even slightly intense again. It suited me. It was also time to sit down and try to digest the data that has been collected with the power meter in the last month (I need to thank Sandra and Michael with all the Q&A).

Gathering data isn't too hard, it just takes getting on the bike, pedalling and downloading the figures when back home. That's when the huge amount of information appears on the screen, some very familiar (eg. distance, time, hr, average this and that...) but some very new to most of us. I am certainly not too familiar with the best 5" output or average torque, to mention a couple.

It will take some time to understand and fully take advantage of all the possibilities provided by such tool and software (I am using WKO, btw). However, there are a few things that can be looked at from early days which will give a good notion of where I am and what I have to do to achieve my goals.

It is looking like lots of hard work ahead!

This first image is pretty much what I have been doing for the last 6 or seven weeks. The Yellow line showing my training loads and how fatigued I became after the ride and/or race, Red indicating my form (or how fresh I am) and the Blue line telling me what my level of fitness is. That's an easy one to follow. The hard part is to train correctelly so all these lines can get to where they should be comes an A race.

Again, it looks like hard work ahead.

The next image, the Power Profile Chart, is what my friend Mick (old training partner from Cairns) told me is what I should be looking at, primarily. This chart ilustrates my strength and weaknesses by determining a watts/kg ratio for certain key efforts (5", 1', 5 min and FTP) and placing me in pre-determined categories, keeping in mind the parameters were not set for master riders. Interesting.

It's early days. But it is great to have a more accurate tool to see where I am and where I am heading with my training.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Battle raced and won

My friend Stephen,

I must apologise for not catching up with you again and for not returning your text (my mobile phone was turned off for the weekend). But what a great weekend it was. Sandra and I stayed with friends in a huge house. Plenty of room, a pool and a well equipped kitchen where great meals were being prepared. A great place to recover after the tough races we had.

So, another Battle on the Border was raced. And how tough was it? Tough! For me, because it is so early in the season, it was very tough. As you know, I haven't done enough high intensity training, or racing to put myself in form to even stay with the bunch. The result? I was dropped in all the stages.

I came to this race for a good, high intensity workout and to, somehow, measure my form against the big hitters I will be racing against later in the season. I am not saying I didn't want to do well. I had a plan and like last year's BoB, the plan was to work as hard as possible and for as long as possible in the road races, cover early attacks and perhaps, just perhaps, get a break going.

Another reason for putting myself through all the fun (and pain) was to make use of the power meter and collect lots of important data to be used to put my next training program together. I did that and here are the results:

Race One: I didn't go too hard, wanted to save my legs for the road race later in the morning - 25th.

Race Two: I did a fair bit of work (perhaps too much) in the first half of the race and cramped really bad going up the climb for the forth time and got dropped (1:50') - 23rd.

Race Three: I planned to attack the bunch around the 12 km mark but things started to happen much earlier (it was fun!) and got dropped as we got to the climb (0:40') - 24th.

Race Four: That was hard, I lasted 9.5 minutes with the bunch and pulled out 10 min later...

The final result? I think Sandra's picture tells the story... I think the weekend was a big winner!

Now, I did see you racing the crit and thought you looked pretty good in the front group. Later, I saw the GC results and found your name in the top ten. Mate, that's is fantastic! Congratulations!

See you on the road,


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