Sunday, February 21, 2010

Berkeley 2TT Race Report

There's nothing I like about Berkeley, but that's probably because I'm a Stanford guy and I have a fond dislike for those Cal Bears. However, I'll chalk up this event as one redeeming quality for Berkeley...

Last year Clark and I rode in the 70+ Masters category with our TT bikes, but this year we wanted to try something different. We signed up for the Merckx category. For those not familiar with this category you cannot use any aero equipment (wheels, bars, frame, etc.), not even a skinsuit! We found out prior to the event that our arch-nemesis from Morgan Stanley (Chris Phipps, Paul Dyrwal) were going to ride in the same category. Last year they took 4th place from us by 1.5 seconds.

Luckily we arrived with plenty of time because the registration lines were moving very slow. I think we wasted 30+ minutes at the reg desk because they were so disorganized. On the plus side both Clark and I learned that we can get a very effective warm-up in less than 25 minutes.

At the start line there were quite a few teams around us that were late. Thankfully we were on time (yes, it's the experience you bring to the table as a Master's racer) and ready to rock the course. Our plan was simple: ramp up the intensity and leave the tanks empty.

Off we went and Clark got us up to speed. The first couple miles along San Pablo Road had a not-too-friendly headwind. We probably passed at least four teams along this part of the road which was a nice confidence boost, but no luck in seeing the Morgan Stanley guys up ahead of us (they started three minutes ahead). In my effort to maximize my recovery behind Clark's draft I was riding dangerously close to his rear wheel. At one point I came about an inch from rubbing wheels, but I kept my mouth shut because I didn't want to distract my teammate.

As we rolled through the backside of the course and navigated the gradual climbing/rollers we kept the pace high. I forgot to ask Clark about this afterwards, but I got the sense that we tempered our efforts back just a little bit on this stretch of road so we'd be a tad more fresh for the upcoming hills.

The wind was enough of a factor that I actually could get a some protection behind Clark as we hit the first big climb. I was feeling pretty good so I yelled up to him to ramp it up just a bit. Around mid-hill I could sense Clark fading so I came around to hammer up the last half of the climb.

Up and over a few smaller climbs and we were still picking off teams left and right. Coming into the final hill we found a good tempo and got comfortable in the pain closet. Like the previous major climb I came around and led us over the last 3+ minutes. I didn't ride with my power meter, but I can probably estimate that I was pulling 450+ watts (5+ w/kg) on the final portion of that climb.

We flew down the small descent to the uphill finish line and emptied our tanks. We crossed the line at 43:15 and were pleased with the effort. Chris and Paul were waiting past the finish line and we swapped stories; come to find out Chris pulled Paul all the way from the start to the base of the first climb (12+ miles)! They won, but at least this year it wasn't by 1.5 seconds. Next year we'll probably go back to the TT bikes to see what happens.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Historical Trends - Cantua

Playing around with Google Analytics is a fun way to see what's happening with this blog and site traffic. To my surprise I was caught off guard to see that my old race report from Cantua nearly two years ago was the second most hit posting on the blog. I guess folks are searching the interwebs to find any additional info they can around this upcoming road race before they make the drive past the cows at Harris Ranch and pin on the race number.

Funny to also note who reads my random musings. I was riding on Sand Hill Road yesterday and saw a guy with a
Metrigear Vector water bottle. The conversation went like this:

Me: Nice bottle.

Rider: Huh?
Me: Nice bottle.
Rider: Oh, thanks. Got it at the low-key event.

Me: Cool

[some random chatter happens, then this...]

Rider: Hey, you look familiar...

Me: I'm Todd, nice to meet you

Rider: I think I read your Cantua race report last night. You're that manley man guy...

One joke here is that the only product released by Metrigear so far has been their water bottles. Second, I find it pretty cool that a cat 5 beginner who has a passion for racing is searching out race reports to get an edge...that's inspiring.

Continuing the Crank Saga

The bottom bracket fix seemed to do the trick on the Zipp cranks, but check out this latest problem:

If you look closely you'll see the threaded sleeve moves back and forth as I try to tighten/loosen the pedal. It only takes about 0.5Nm of force to make this happen. I'll be having an interesting conversation with Zipp on this problem.

I've since gone back to the old aluminum SRAM Rival cranks. Today will be the first ride with the old crankset and I'm hoping it will be enlightening particularly around the stiffness and lack of chainring flex. I did notice a bunch of flex with the Zipps and recently confirmed that their new chainring design due out in March would fix this problem. Too bad I won't be running your cranks Zipp to let you know if the problem was fixed.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cranky BB Bearings

After last season's mishap at the Madera Stage Race I decided to play around with a set of Zipp cranks. Shaving off nearly a pound from the SRAM Rival cranks was a nice bonus, but other interesting surprises have popped up.

In the past seven months I've burned through two sets of ceramic bottom brackets. I'm not sure if I'm getting sloppy seconds from Zipp, but this hasn't been much fun. Each time the BB decides to bite the dust it makes the loudest click-click sound you could imagine. I'm sure a few guys riding near me at Cherry Pie yesterday were wondering what was happening to my bike. Trust me, as annoying as it is to you my fellow competitor, it's ten times worse for me. I get a bit OCD when it comes to having a quiet bike.

I'll let Zipp know about this failure and see if their steel bearings might be a better fit for me. Each breakdown of the ceramic bearings has had the same result. It feels like grit and sand has worked its way into the ball bearings; definitely not rotating smooth, but very rough. Thankfully I've got a spare set of BB's on the shelf that will keep me on the bike. If these break down again I might just have to find another crank alternative.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

SJBC Training Camp

This past weekend marked the second year SJBC has done a winter training camp. Last year was our initial trek down to the ultra-secret central coast location. Ok, it's no secret, but Solvang is still a nice quaint small town. Again we were treated to perfect weather and plenty of sun.

Friday's mid-trip stop in Paso Robles was an excellent way to break up the drive and get a quality ride into our legs. Peachy Canyon, Vineyard and some other back roads were excellent. Caution had to be given in most corners due to the debris in the road from the recent rains, but for the most part people were safe and had a blast. I can probably throw this blanket statement out there for most everybody when I say that our pace was probably a little too brisk for the first day of camp. We must have been itching to throw down because my power file showed some pretty high numbers for extended amounts of time for a January ride. Ok, I was one of the instigators...

The next morning brought on Figueroa. Riders had the option of doing a shorter ~50 mile loop or toughing up and doing the ~95 mile route. For some reason climbing up the backside of Figueroa this year didn't seem as hard as last year. It was a few degrees cooler this past weekend, but I think what made it easier was knowing the climb. I was expecting much worse for myself because I had my own personal challenge that I set for myself; I wanted to stay with the lead group all the way up the climb. I accomplished that which was nice. Also, the elevation profile wasn't completely truthful. After completing the 95 miles we had put in nearly 8,000 feet of climbing.

After our team meeting Saturday night, some excellent food and a good night of sleep, my dead legs were put to the test on Sunday. Thankfully there wasn't any significant cramping all weekend, but it was still hard to roll out of bed and know I had another 75+ miles waiting. The plan was to ride out to Jalama and back. I did map out a longer route, but there weren't any takers and I needed to be back to Solvang by 3pm. To make up for the shorter distance, I made sure I put in some pretty serious digs to get out of the ride what I wanted. For those that had to peel off early and head back to Solvang before reaching the coast, I advise you make the effort to stay later and ride Jalama Road all the way to the beach. One of the best rides I've had!

It goes without saying that all of this couldn't have been possible without the tremendous support of our SAG folks. They did a great job keeping everybody hydrated and well-fed, safe and took some pictures too (I'm trying to track all of them down...). And I'm glad the wives who came along had a great time too. I know my wallet is a little lighter from wine club memberships and shopping, but that's an insignificant expense when you consider the compromises our families make to allow us to ride and race.