August 26th Training Update
Today I finished up 2 easy weeks of riding, coming off of my last big race of the year (Tour de Millersburg, PA). Got in just under 29 hours of riding mostly zone 1/2 with a few days of zone 3+ thrown in while crushing the dreams of anyone I ride with (or getting my own dreams crushed in the process).
I'll be starting my fall clinical rotation tomorrow and with that will go into my next big cycle of training, which will take me all the way through December until I'll get a week off snowboarding in Colorado with the family at the beginning of January. As i mentioned in a previous post, I'll have limited time Monday-Friday to ride, usually between 60-100 minutes every evening between work (PT rotation) and work (soccer coaching). I plan on hitting various intervals between 1 and 10 minutes/repetition on Monday/Wednesday/Friday and then riding zone 1-3 depending how I feel on Tuesday/Thursday. I'll follow this up with longer endurance rides on Saturday and Sunday. I'll also use Tuesday/Thursday to ride my cross bike, since I do plan on riding a few cross races later this fall when I have the time.
Also of note, I invested in a Garmin Edge 500 cycling computer that should come in this week. This will allow me to more easily/accurately collect power data on my rides. I plan on posting all training rides on my twitter handle (see left side-bar) and many of my posts coming up in the next few months will be all about breaking down the numbers. With power tests once a month or so, I'll have a good idea of how my offseason training is going. Also, I still do hope to get in 12-15 hours of riding a week in during my clinical assignments, though we'll see how that goes.
So the season is over. Do I rest? Do I ride easy? The next 7 months for me are all about deciding what I want to get out of the sport and going after it. In my last post I spoke briefly about my offseason goals. Offseason goals for me are all about how I am best going to achieve my 2013 season goals. So, it goes to follow that first I have to decide what my 2013 goals are.
The way I see it now, my goal for 2013 is to get my cat 2 upgrade. This requires 25 points earned in a 12 month period. I would like to accomplish this primarily through stage racing. Instead of racing every weekend all year, I'm going to pick a few stage races and train specifically for them. Ideally I'd compete in 1 a month from April-August. In stage racing, my time trialing abilities will aid me to high overall finishes. Overall finishes count for upgrading from cat 3 --> cat 2. A few top 10 general classification finishes, along with a few random top 5's in cat 3 races, and I'll get the upgrade.
So how to train? Well right now I'm finishing up a 2 week block of no racing/hard rides. Rode 14+ hours last week and should get a similar amount in this week. Starting next week my time to ride during the week will drop to 60-90 minutes/day Monday-Friday. I will have almost unlimited time on the weekends. Here is how I see my training going:
- Every 4 weeks, power test 10, 3, 1 minute efforts, as well as 20 seconds.
- Intervals Monday/Wednesday/Friday (90 minute rides)
- Recovery OR Sweetspot Tuesday/Thursday (60 minute rides)
- Endurance/sweetspot rides Saturday/Sunday (3-5 hours each day)
I'd love to just ride 20 hours a week mostly in zone 2/3 all winter, but with my schedule that's just not possible. All intervals will be between 20 seconds and 10 minutes in duration. Most time trials I'll be doing will not exceed 20-25 minutes in length, so as long as I get my long rides in, the shorter and more intense intervals should be fine for improving my TT power while being the best training for other parts of my road riding. The most important thing will be recovery between sessions. As long as i take those tuesday/thursday recovery days seriously, I think I'll be good to go. Most importantly will just to be consistent in the saddle for the next 7 months. I do not think i need to improve very much to be at the top of cat 3 and move forward from there.
Next week I'll do my first round of power testing - check in for the "baseline" results
Tour de Millersburg and offseason transition
What a race this past weekend! Cat 3 is so much different than cat 4 - just a totally different mindsent is necessary. Every single guy in the race is a capable rider and there is no guarentee that I'll be there at the end of the race. This proved to be true in the stage 2 criterium where I got pulled/placed after only 18 minutes of racing. Also, finishing "only" 17th/60 in the TT, my definitive specialty in cycling, really showed me that I need to up my game significantly if I expect to win at this level (and then be competitive at the cat 2 level in the future). I was proud of the big move I made late in the road race, moving up from the back of the field right to the front on the last descent with 1 mile to go before fading to 21st on the stage. Having the legs to disrupt the leadout of the big players in the race and shaking up the overall results was very cool, despite fading at the line. Still, 21st is way better than I thought I'd finish, stuck at the back of the field with 2 miles to go. 24th overall out of 60 starters on the weekend was also a pretty good feeling. Only 9 places out of upgrade points and if a few things had gone different, top 15 might have happened. This is so motivating for next year, as I know I have a lot of room for improvement, and even a minor improvement in overall form should yeild solid cat 3 results.
That being said... OFFSEASON!!! Look for me to write a lot more about my training during the next 7 months between now and the collegiate season. I love planning/dreaming/scheming and having uninterrupted time to train. For now, here are some offseason goals I have:
1) Improve FTP from 280-295ish to solidly over 300w
2) Drop weight into the 155-160 range (currently 160-165ish)
3) Just ride a lot, every day. Build up the base and consistantly hit 3-4 hour rides every week to handle cat 3 racing.
4) 20 seconds on, 20 seconds off. do it again, again, and again until I can hang on during all those hard crit and RR moments.
Look for future blog posts about how I'm going to accomplish the above from now until April. I'm hoping to improve enough to compete at the Collegiate A level in the spring, so much work to be done.
Tour of the Catskills RR
As expected, the Friday TT proved to be my best stage of the weekend. Unfortunately it was not as good as it could have been. I knew coming in that I'd need to keep the power pegged right around 300w to do my best effort. Unfortunately I was closer to 310-315w for the first several miles. Normally this would have been ok. Sure, I would have suffered the last few miles, but would only mean a few seconds slower than my best. Today though, with temperatures in the 90's and road temperatures surely over 100 degrees, this destroyed me. From mile 7-10 i struggled to keep the power above 260. I ended up averaging 288w for the ride and 26.4 mph. This put me in 14th place of 76 riders, 1:12 back on the leader.
THIS was the day I was waiting for all year. 65.5 mile road race with the famous Devil's Kitchen climb about 10 miles from the finish. Many riders walk it and i was one of them last year. The first 20 miles of the race were also quite hard. Last year I got dropped on the first climb/decent of the race in the cat 5 division. This year I LED THE PELOTON up the first climb and down the first decent. Maybe not the very best strategy for energy saving, but it sure felt good mentally. Climb #2 of the day was taken very slow by the whole field. Climb #3 was the first KOM climb. Pace was ramped up quite a bit and it was not easy to get over the top but I maintained contact with the peloton and was not one of the 20 or so riders who had to fight back on in subsequent miles. From mile 20-55, we cruised. Small climbs here and there, but at this point the field was set for the hardest climb in the race. I made it up to 2nd wheel for a large bulk of this riding but was eventually shuffled back to the middle of the field. SUDDENLY we realize that our lead car has missed a turn. The whole field was forced to U turn to get back to the course. Then, finally, we hit the "5k to go" KOM sign and IT WAS ON. 400 feet of vertical leading to the 'base' of the climb turned into the hardest part! Fighting for position led to the pace being ramped up higher than it had been all race. We hit the climb exhausted. I immediately put my head down and targeted 300w, knowing that for a ~20 minute climb, especially in the heat and at this point in the race, going with the leaders could have ben fatal. So there I went, griding away, watching the tenth's of a mile tick by. My girlfriend and parents were at the hardest part of the climb which helped a ton as well; it was great to see them. Over the top I went with a few others and we TT'd the best we could the final 8 miles. I finished 5:49 back of the winner in 35th place. This put me 28th in the GC, 6:01 back. I was happy.
Footnote - I averaged 280w on the actual climb. This included soft peddling to recover on any flatter portions and the fact that we pushed major wattage leading up to the climb. Not the # I was hoping to see, but still not bad, about 3.8 w/kg.
So this is where everything went to shit. This was to be my victory day, where I was going to finish the ToC after dropping out last year. My goal was a modest one, simply finish top 38 on GC. Coming into the day in 28th, and finishing 35th the day before, things looked great for maybe even a top 30 finish. If I could make it over the major climbs earlier in the race, the finish suited me, so a top placing in the stage was honestly in the back of my mind, although I told no one (See below for description of the stage). Stage started off with a BANG!! With a 7 mile decent coming from mile 7-14 and difficult terrain after, a break went up the road immediately on the false flat for the first 6 miles. With a cross/tailwind hitting the field, things went single-file immediately and it was desperate times at the back. Even in the draft, I spent 10 minutes at 274w, with 1 minute powers at times MUCH higher than that. And remember, 274w in the draft is TOUGH because there are going to be many times where I'm coasting. Take the zero's out and I'm sure I was well over 300w for that section of the race. I was not in danger of being popped, but it was very hard work for so early in the stage. Then came the descent, finally. Unfortunately this is where things fell apart. My breaks started squeaking and became insanely hot and a mixture of that and who knows what else (does anyone ever know why it happens really?) caused a massive death wobble to start while going 45+ mph. I came to a stop after launching a bottle out of my bike and sliding all over the road. By the time I checked the bike and got back on, it was too late. I hammered for several miles and tried to use the cars behind the race to catch back on, but it was not to be. I dropped out at the first feed at mile 27. Next year, I'll be sure to try again.
Tour of the Catskills Preview
Only fitting that my first race as a cat 3 rider is by far the hardest one on my calendar for the year, the Tour of the Catskills. 90 minutes from my parents house, the 3 day stage race takes place at Hunter Mountain and Windham Mountain, two ski areas where I spent much of my youth. Last year this was my first attempted stage race, a day after crashing in a local training crit. I raced in the Under 35 cat 5 field, taking 10th of 26 in the Friday TT, 19th of 24 finishers in the Saturday RR, and then DNS on Sunday. The race was just too epic for me, way over my head. I did vow to return a year later and give it another go, so here I am 365 days later, a bit lighter, way stronger, and *KNOCK ON WOOD* uninjured up to this point in the year. Here is what awaits me this weekend (and my very modest goals):
STAGE 1 - 12 mile individual time trial
74 riders will be starting the TT in the cat 3 field. Simple course: 5.5 miles out on a straight, slightly downhill road, 180 degree turn, 5.5 miles straight back up the same road before a right hand turn followed by a quick left hander that takes riders to one final right hand turn and a 400m final climb to the finish in the Hunter Mountain parking lot. I'm going to try to go out in around 290-310w, keep it above 300w for the entire second half and then everything I got up the final climb. Looking to average around 310w for the race while keeping good areo position and hopefully staying within 2 minutes of the winner and taking top 15 or better in the field.
STAGE 2 - 65.2 MILES - 5557ft climbing
"The Devil Awaits" is the theme of stage 2. This refers to the Devil's Kitchen climb that we'll hit around mile 52 and suffer through for over 2 miles. With an average grade of 12% and many sections between 20-25% (or steeper), many are reduced to walking (including me last year). Relatively simple ride to this point although there is a short climb followed by a nasty descent early in the race as well as a slightly longer climb half-way through followed by a several mile descent. Based on previous years, the cat 3 field seems to stay together until the final climb, so my strategy will be to most likely surf the back of the field using as little energy as possible and eating/drinking as much as i can. I may try to come to the front at the base of climbs to save a bit of energy as well. If I reach the Devil's Kitchen climb with the field, I'm going to immediately climb at my own pace. Keeping it under 400w as much as possible will be the key. Hopefully I can reach the summit within 4-5 minutes of the leaders and then use my TT talents and hopefully pick up a few others who are motivated and close the gap in the final 8 mile drag to the finish. Finishing in the top 1/2 of the field with minimal time loss and minimal energy spent will be the goal.
STAGE 3 - 62.5 miles - 5003ft climbing
The hardest stage of the race, partly because it comes after a grueling stage 2 finale and partly because of how the stage is laid out. Starting around mile 29 is the Airport climb. While not QUITE as steep as yesterday's climb, it lasts for 4-5 miles and will surely split the field. I have no desire to stay with the lead group; I will most likely try to conserve a bit, stay with the 2nd or 3rd group on the road, and hope we can catch back on over the next 15+ flat/downhill miles before the 2nd large KOM climb that starts a bit before mile 50. At this point I'll bury myself to get over the top as close to the front as possible and then hold on for dear life over the last 10 rolling miles to the finish. Again, top 50% will be the goal.
As i see it, with a decent showing in the TT, if I can come in top half of both saturday and sunday, I'll be in the running for a top 15 overall spot in the race (which is the minimum for upgrade points). This would require some luck for sure. More realistically, I really just want to finish this race in one piece, give it my all, and fight for every second out there to see how good (or not good) I am. This is a race I see myself doing every year, so no matter how this week goes, it'll serve as a benchmark for the future. Looking forward to cat 3 race #1.. here we go
UPDATE - 7/31
OFFICIALLY A CAT 3 rider!
Came in 2nd in the cat 4 East Aurora Road Race 2 weekends ago (lost by .15 seconds in sprint for the line!) and got my 20 points for the upgrade. Followed this up with a 5th place finish in the local criterium series racing the cat 1-3 race for the first time last Thursday and I'm feeling good.
Up next this weekend is the Tour of the Catskills stage race - a MAJOR race weekend that has been on my calendar since last year. Little did I know that I'd be racing in the cat 3 field. I have a lot of goals for the weekend, as always, and I'll outline them as well as a full race preview in the next few days. Top 15 in the individual TT on Friday and a top 50% overall GC finish would be a great start to my cat 3 career in a race that features several gigantic climbs. As we know, I suffer to survive anything more than a 1 minute power climb so 10-40 minute climbs are obviously not going to be my cup of tea. This is an EPIC race though - look for coverage on my twitter handle @ryanajoyce as well as the race preview!
RECENT ACTIVITY UPDATE
Short report of recent activities! Tour of the Valley last weekend was epic. About 75 guys started the cat 4 omnium and I came away with a 5th place (podium!) overall finish. This included 3rd in the Friday inidividual time trial, 7th in the Saturday road race, and 38th in the Sunday criterium.
The time trial was an 8.5 out and back course with one turn near the start/finish that was about 115 degrees. Gentle uphill/downhill and headwinds/tailwinds were present as well through the entire course. I broke 20 minutes (19:40) and averaged 26.4 mph and 313 watts for the course; definitely my best TT performance to date. I finished day 1 in 3rd on the overall GC
The road race was a 2 circuit 54 mile race with ~4000ft of climbing. I barely hung on over the last few LARGE rollers but was able to stick to the final 26 person group and launch a flyer off the front with about 400m to go. I was reeled in by the sprint train but held on for 7th place. Put out 691 watt average over the final 30 seconds of the race, which just was not quite enough to stay away. It was really exciting having nothing between me and the finish line with under 200m to go, but the win was not to be on this day. I finished day 2 still in 3rd on the overall GC.
The crit was actually my favorite race of the weekend. I was part of an early 2 man break that built up a gap of about 15 seconds and stayed away for the first 6-7 miles of the 18 mile race. Eventually the organization of Team TBS doomed our aspirations and we were reeled in. I stayed at the head of the race thoughout, staying out of trouble and keeping great position. I got dropped back to 10-15 with 2 laps to go and suddenly was in the pack. Exhausted at the base of the climb with 1 full lap to go, I managed to slam into a deep hole and drop my chain. This ended my day and I finished out of the points, last on the lead lap. Averaged 255 watts, with almost too many spikes over 600 watts to count. Finished the day, and the weeknd at 5th overall in the GC.
This past thursday I won the local Cobblestone Criterium cat 4/5 training race with a race-long breakaway. Averaged 24.7 mph on 285 watts on a wet day that allowed me to use aggressive cornering and superior TT power to pull away and stay away. Each of my 3 attacks (drop group, drop 2 guys in break, drop last guy in break with me) had just over 1000 watt max and were not sustained for long. My last attack at the start of the last lap was just mid 600's watts for 20 seconds before I was able to sit up and take it easy to the finish. Not the most challenging race of my life, but when you win, its always a little easier. This was my first mass start win of the year (although only a training race) so I was pretty happy.
Tomorrow is the East Aurora Road Race. Similar course profile to the Tour of the Valley road race. 42 riders and probaby a bit easier overall competition, so I'm pretty confident. The course is very difficult and my main goal will be to surive until the final right hand turn with 1.5 miles to go. At that point, its a flat drag to the finish and in a reduced field with more climber types left I'll be pretty confident. Hopefully I'll have the balls to drag myself over the climbs to get to this point though. Look for twitter updates tomorrow.
Tour of the Valley Preview
This weekend I'll be making the 3 hour trip to Youngstown, Ohio, to race my first stage race of the year, the Tour of the Valley. Put on by the ABRA (Appalachian Bike Racing Association), it is one of the largest amateur races in the area and has been on my calendar since my transition to cycling-only earlier this year. As of now, with online registration closed there are 66 riders racing the cat 4 omnium on the weekend. Each race will also feature additional riders signed up for single day racing who will not count in the GC but will affect upgrade points. In order of importance, here are my goals on the weekend:
1. Earn upgrade points (top 9 in road race, top 6 in criterium will be the minimum placing to accomplish this)
2. Finish top 10 in the GC
3. Ride to best of ability (pace well in TT, stay well positioned in RR and crit)
Here are the stages and what I hope to accomplish from each:
Friday - 8.5 mile Individual Time Trial - 6:45:30pm start time
Basically, just ride myself deep into the pain cave and stay there. This is the only time I'll be actively hurting goal #1, because there are no upgrade points in the TT. But, I consider myself a TT specialist and am considering making a run at the NYS TT Championships next weekend AND this is probably my best chance to get on the podium (yellow jersey?) so I'm going to give it 100%. Very simple course with one turn slightly greater than 90 degrees and a turnaround at the halfway point. I plan on capping my wattage at 310w on the way out, and depending how I feel possibly 320w on the way back. I recently averaged 281w for 32 minutes at the Recycle ITT. This TT will be 10 minutes shorter and I'm a bit more rested heading into the race so I'm hoping to average >290w on the day, if not 300w. Top 10 score omnium points and I really expect to get on the board here.
Saturday - 54 mile Road Race - 11:30am start time
The "High Roller Course" is new this year at ToV. 2 loops with 6 large rollers between miles 11-23 should make the course fairly selective. KOM at mile 14.1 at the top of the second roller will be of no interest to me (while it may help GC aspirations, it will not help my upgrade goal) but should prove to accelerate the field or at the least encourage early breakaway attempts. My goal will simply be to stay in the top 15, out of the top 5 (I've been caught on the front way too often) and I will not go with any early breaks under any circumstances unless they are greater than 5 or 6 riders. The finish appears to be a straight (for a few miles) false flat with a slight kick at the end. We'll get a preview of it on lap one and if I am reading the elevation profile correctly, it suits me pefectly. I am confident that I'll get over the rollers with the GC group, especially since they are situated a ways from the finish. The goal will be to stay as fresh as possible for the last few miles of the race and at that point I'm confident I can bring it home. Top 15 score points for the GC and top 9 will get USAC upgrade points.
Sunday - 45 minute Criterium - 11:20 start time
1 mile loop, 6 turns, with some climbing/descending. Since only top 6 score points and I will be freelancing, aggresive riding might be the word of the day. If I'm feeling good, I'll be looking to get in an early break and staying away. A lot will depend on the course and on the day if a break will be possible but I'm not yet confident enough in my sprint to wait for a field sprint to claim my top 6 position. If I'm still with the field with a few laps to go, I'll probably take a flyer and give it my best shot. Other than that, I'll fight hard for top 5-10 position, corner aggressively, and see what happens.
Should be a great weekend on the whole. The Bike Shop and Dynamic Physical Therapy will be the two teams with the most riders representing. TBS had great success in the cat 4 race last year and with probably even more firepower this year, they'll be the wheels I'll try to follow during the road race and crit. Follow my twitter for updates on the weekend and look for a race report next week, thanks for reading
Empire Road Race and Recycle TT short race report:
Last saturday, took 5th in the local USACycling sanctioned Empire Road Race in an all cat 4 field of 20 riders. Tough race, my highest relative intensity of the year. Had all kinds of new critical power bests, including 610 watts for 1 minute, which was HUGE for me. Did not have much left for the final uphill to the finish (.75 miles long) but was able to come around a rider for 5th to earn 2 more upgrade points.
Sunday was the Recycle ITT, another local sanctioned race (awesome weekend of NOT traveling!) I paced well on a 13.3 mile course that included well over 700 feet of climbing. Averaged 281 watts, which is definitely the best I've ever done for >30 minutes in the TT positon, and was able to come away with the cat 4 victory (out of 10?) and 7th overall out of over 60 riders. Averaging over 25 mph on this hilly course gives me great confidence going into the Tour of the Valley prologue ITT where I will be looking for a high finish on day 1 of the race. Came away on the weekend with $80 in the pocket, not bad for a Faux Pro.
Look for a Tour of the Valley preview from me this coming week!