Sunday, February 28, 2010

Snelling 45+ 4/5

I haven’t written a race report since the Early Bird RR, and I am hesitant to write one here. This race was disappointing for me on more than one level. It was a 2 ½ hour drive from home to get there and I had no teammates to race with. On the plus side, the weather was clearing by the time our group lined up at the start. There were reports of a few spots on the course with standing water in the roadway, and I had heard stories of numerous flats in the earlier races. At any rate, they sent us off for 4 laps.
The ride from the park to the course is neutral and we began “racing” when we got to the actual course. I put racing in quotes because it was hard to tell the difference. The 45+ 4/5 category seems to be content with easy efforts in these flatter races. The idea seems to be, “just get to the finish and do your best in the sprint”. At no time in this race did I feel under the kind of pressure I would expect on the Santa Cruz area group rides. I tried to go off the front on 3 occasions, but on my own, I did not have the power and endurance to stay away. Goes to show that all these other guys are right, but it doesn’t change the fact that it isn’t that much fun.
These flatter races are the ones I was hoping to do better in. Based on things so far, my best expectation may be to be pack filler. I will continue to look for ways to become competitive. 17th.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Retül fitment at Bicycle Trip

Most of us know how important it is to have our bicycles fit our bodies as closely as possible. Poor bike fit is not only slower, but can lead to repetitive stress injuries over time... especially for old guys who are trying to "get back in shape" after years of couch-potato drills. I've been professionally fitted to my bikes three times over the years, and also done it myself using various established methods (Colorado Cyclist has a nice online fitment tool). But when Bicycle Trip bought a full-on Retül Fit Studio I knew it was time to reevaluate my bike's adjustments.

Retül uses sophisticated motion capture to dynamically analyze the motion of your body's joints in 3D, using a special sensor and adhesive markers attached at key body joints (feet, ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows and wrists). You then pedal your own bike at power on a trainer placed in front of the sensor which records the position of each marker in 3D space over time. From this any wobbles and inefficient joint angles can be precisely defined and eliminated through the usual bike adjustments. I'd seen similar technology covered on TV before... but only for pro golfers and baseball players.

After I was all plugged in and on my bike in front of the sensor, Aaron had me pedal at my "7 out of 10" power for 15 seconds. My motion was played back as a moving stick figure on the PC's screen. Everything was defined numerically too. We could instantly see how my position on my bike compared with typical ranges. Awesome!

From the graphical display we could see that my knees wobbled a bit laterally, but not enough to require adjustment.

But my back angle and arm reach were rather aggressive and probably hampered my power a bit. That might suit time-trialing, due to better aerodynamics, but that's not my goal. So we installed a shorter bar stem (80mm vs. 100mm) to reduce my hip angle while raising my back a bit.

I was fairly sure we'd raise my saddle too, for better use of my leg muscles, and we did. But my reach was still far so we shifted the saddle forward some. This effectively lowers the saddle in the process, so Aaron ended up raising the saddle even more, by a full inch from its original height. I couldn't believe it! Moving the saddle forward minimized the effect, but that was still a huge change.

When everything was done Aaron saved the results in PDF files saved out of Retül. He e-mailed them to me and now I have them available for future reference.

So, what's the net effect?

I've been riding on the adjusted bike for several weeks now, and so far it seems good. My bike now feels faster on climbs, thanks to better use of the leg muscles no doubt (I'd always felt it was too low while climbing but just figured it was my imagination). Sometimes I become very aware of the higher saddle, mostly on level roads. My hips stay level while pedaling though, so it's still within traditional parameters. And my power seems higher for the perceived exertion. I'd say thumbs up for sure!

Interesting, and very cool! Let's hope this keeps my aging body healthy... and faster!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cantua Creek Masters 35+ 123 2010

Cantua Creek 2-13-2010 Masters 35+ 1, 2, 3
Steve Heaton

This was my season opener race to gauge fitness. I’m about 4lbs lighter, feel overall stronger and riding a 3lb. lighter bike with super fast wheels. The week leading into the race all indicators of my ability to perform are good? I noted 4 teams with 4 or more riders one of which was Helen’s from So. Cal with 6 guys that looked serious. I lined up in the front for the start with 2 of the Helens guys (who by the way were friendly.) The course starts with a ¼ mile neutral to the start/finish line where it then descends. The course is out and back finishing on a 5 min. step up roller climb. Otherwise, the rest of the course was flat. I attacked when we rolled across the start line down the hill just to get it going, not to break away. Like last year it was attack and counter attack from the gun. All were covered by guess who? Helen’s, until just over a ¼ way through the race. Ninety minutes to the finish they got 2 riders off the front. I watched and decided with all the teams and a long way to go we will bring them back. We kept the pace up and Helen’s would send 2-3 guys to the front and create a wall to slow it down. They would also create gaps in the middle of the pack as well. When passing other races they would slow it down to create confusion. Same thing at the turn arounds. All this going on and we still held a strong pace, never letting them get too far up the road. The guys up the road where strong and committed, they knew their team was doing a good job behind. It was a sight to see! Helen’s guys would go to the front to block, then get over taken and then you would see a guy sprint up the side of pack to take up the front and block. They spent a huge amount of energy to hold us back and never showed any signs of weakness. Breaks would jump ahead to overpower the blocking. I would go with breaks that I thought might bridge across, doing my share when it looked possible to get away. No chase group formed, but we kept reeling them in little by little. On the first lap just before the climb to the finish/turnaround one guy attacked to try and bridge. Once we hit the climb I attacked as well and bridged up to him. We closed half the gap but not enough to make the connection. It forced the pack to hammer it out to catch us by the turn. The climb was 5 mins. 2-4% grades in a rolling step up fashion. I felt strong on the climb and it didn’t seem to take much out of me? This is now the end of the first lap. Nothing to report on the out and back flats accept lots of attacks/blocking/counter attacks until the final climb to finish the race. Well…..I would like to say racing with guys who seem to all have 10+ years of experience is AWSOME. You can’t get away with lame riding, you can’t out power move them, they race very safe as no one is interested in crashing and they don’t take stupid risks. Handling skills are good. Riding very close and tight under pressure is comfortable. You can bump someone to keep them in check and it doesn’t faze them. OK – 10 mins. to the final climb and the pace increases and is noticeably faster. I start to make my move from 15 back to 5 back by catching a ride from a passerby (that’s someone moving up the side catching his draft). By the way, so are a lot of other people. You have to be alert and ready to keep moving forward. As we make the right turn into the final climb I take note of the wind (very light wind coming from my right side) I look up the road and those two cats are close. But if I/we let their team move forward and block one more time and they don’t let up, the chance for a win is over. I can’t take it!!! I’m not going to settle for 3rd at best…..I attacked with 90% effort to get it going, pulled up and over the first climb and into the 2nd asking with an elbow for others to come around. No thanks is the response. As I expected... no dice. Then I let up slightly to force them around. My buddy from down south attacks to help me and it works to force them to respond. I drop back to 3rd wheel. We come to a roller (I thought over the roller was about 500 meters up and around to the line) and I attacked. This time with 100% but soon realized it was WAY far from finish (over 1km?) and I quickly backed off to 4th wheel. A moment of doubt came and went (mean while those cats kept getting closer). Once we came to the place where I could see the 200 meter sign (300 meters to go from my position) I decided it was all or nothing~~~~~Now or never if I wanted a chance at the win. I wasn’t interested in 3rd. I jumped. This was my 3rd attack on the final climb. I stayed right so if anyone was going to pass it had to be on my left. I knew I was going to bring riders with me but hoping I would have the juice to keep them at bay. At the 200 meter sign I looked under my left arm and yep, I see a rider tight on my wheel. The road pitches up a bit and I hit it harder and harder. I'm closing the gap on the two cats who are digging deep to make it to the line. I can smell their soggy shorts and see veins bulging from their muscular calves so close. Here comes the guy on my left. I move slightly to his side with an attempt to shake his momentum and another guy shoots past on the right (shizzle). Left guy and I are now head to head 50 meters or less to the line. I start to fade. He too, but we both kick one more time and he gets the edge on me. Then here comes another guy I throw my arms forward to the line and hold him off by an inch or two for a well earned 5th place. First place was 3 bike lengths ahead. What a battle to the line! I rode super aggressive on the climbs with multiple attacks never feeling like I was softening up and in total control of my efforts. I’m very satisfied with the outcome of this race and how I performed.

Mega Monster Enduro 2010

Two years ago, when I did my first Mega Monster Enduro race, I did no special training and my only preparation was to mount a set of aero bars on my bike a week before the event. Everything went perfectly and I was able to finish 5th with a time of 5:26:06 for the 102 mile time trial. This time I spent two months preparing -- getting used to long hours on the bike, learning to apply power while riding low and flat on the aero bars without weaving all over the road, and fine tuning my nutrition – and, predictably, the fates turned against me.
The one thing I can’t complain about is the weather. After weeks of rain the weather turned warm and sunny for the race. The race started in the little town of Paicines, just south of Hollister, headed south on Hwy 25 through gorgeous green valleys for 51 miles to Hwy 198 and then returned to Paicines. The route was mainly rolling hills with four moderate hills for a total of 5220 feet of climbing.
Now to the bad luck: first was that my power meter decided to take the day off which left me without any way of pacing myself or knowing how far it was to the next check point except by dead reckoning. Then there was the flat tire at about an hour into the ride. I changed the tube as quickly as possible and charged out onto the course again only to discover that I had left my glasses behind. That meant retracing a half mile and then trying to find my glasses without my glasses to see with. That escapade cost me about 15 minutes but it left me with a heightened sense of determination. I was so determined, in fact, that I forgot to come to a complete stop at the first checkpoint and was awarded a time penalty (3 minutes I think). So my final time, 5:48:11, was twenty-two minutes longer than my previous race. The one bright spot was that, despite a fairly stiff headwind on the return, I felt strong and comfortable on the aero bars which meant my training counted for something.
Typical of Low Key Hill Climb events, the results were not posted for two days which left me with plenty of time to stew over my poor performance and to rationalize how it was all about having fun and a goal to train for. But when the results did come out, I was pretty surprised to find that I had managed to finish sixth in the individual male category and was third or fourth in every split except the one in which I flatted. That lifted my spirits enough that I marked my calendar for Feb 12, 2011, the next Mega Monster Enduro.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Valentine's day ....lots of fun in the partly sunny, partly cloudy day at Fort Ord East Garrison...It was the first time I had been on my mountain bike in six months and it felt like it. Although I was not lacking fitness I think my gear choices were wrong on all the climbs...I sat and spinned, and intuitively it felt good, it was not good. I should have stood and ground, for the the speed. In the end I was 12th out of 19 in my group...maybe next time...Kem