Tuesday, January 1, 2008

How to climb in your drops

Contrary to most people, I woke up this morning without a hangover and ready for a little devil of a climb up San Bruno Mountain for the first race of the year. Here are some random photos from the bottom and top.

My goal was to break my time from last year which was 18:56. After doing the recon ride two weeks ago I felt a good target would be 18:30. Today turned out to be clear, cool and breazy. Their was a pretty good tailwind blowing that would be nice on the first part of the climb.

I did a lengthy warm-up since I jacked my back moving Christmas stuff into boxes two days ago. The back loosened up and I was feeling pretty good. This year the race had two waves at the start; last year I remember them sending everybody off at the same time, so kudos for this improvement.

Most everybody was still wearing their old kits from 2007 except for the VOS guys. Much better uniform design than what I've seen in the past. We lined up, waited for Casey's (lead official) final instruction and then waited for the whistle. Immediately things went into turbo-mode. My peak 2 minute wattage was at the beginning of the race. At one point I looked down and saw myself pulling around 500 watts! I knew this was a bad sign, but one I'd have to live with...

The tailwind was nice but it negated the ability to draft up the hill. I was hoping to conserve some energy by getting on some fast wheels, but it didn't pan out. I kept jumping across from wheel to wheel as people began to burn out. As we approached the turn-off into the park, I came across two riders who I hoped to hang with. One guy dropped off the pace while the other was just a tad too fast for me to stick on his wheel.

Just as the road jacks skyward and turns up the mountain, the tailwind became a nasty quarterwind/headwind. One teammate passed me on this section, but there wasn't any relief from trying to stay on his wheel. A few turns left and then I quickly learned how to climb in the drops.

It's much like doing a TT. The wind is blowing in your face, sweat is flying off your chin and hitting the road fifty feet behind to your rear and you feel like you're killing it. However, climbing in the drops is all of this and then just a little bit less. You're only doing 8mph and crawling. Standing would have dropped my speed down to around 6mph. Why so slow? A teammate emailed me his graph of the wind speeds from his iBike and there were 30mph gusts at the top.

I think the timing wasn't correct for the posted results; I trust my Powertap more since I clicked off the intervals at the start and finish lines. I killed my goal and did 18:14! I finished 12th out of 40 in the open M35+ category.

Here are some tasty power numbers for you wattage geeks like me:

  • Average Watts - 393
  • Normalized Power - 402
These are both new highs for me. Time to adjust my training zones to these new marks. All in all I was really pleased with the effort for so early in the season.

7 comments:

Absolute Goose said...

Todd, Fantastic result. Congrats on a great start to the season.

Tall & Manley said...

Thanks! I definitely started out a bit harder than I would have liked based on my power numbers, but so did everybody else. There was one large group of riders I probably should have bridged across to, but I didn't want to burn too many matches on that effort. Next year I'll show for a mid-17 minute result.

Wonder said...

My question is this: What was your TSB coming into this event?

Tall & Manley said...

On race day my TSB was +38. Quite a peak since my CTL was around 88 before my rest week (2 weeks ago). Then after getting the head cold/sinus infection last week my CTL dropped even more and my TSB went through the roof.

I wasn't intentionally trying to peak for this race, but it looks like it when you see the PMC data.

Robin Horwitz said...

402!!! Tour de france is calling.... Oh wait, I forgot - you're tall and big :)

Wonder said...

O.k. Stud, One more question: according to YOUR calculations, what is your new FTP?

Tall & Manley said...

Here's my calculation:

20-Minute Normalized Power = 394

394 x 0.95 = 374 watts

That's what I'll working against going forward. Too aggressive?