Saturday, June 28, 2008

Racing and training...2 updates for the price of one

Friday night Superdrome Points Series - 35+/Cat 4

On the schedule: Miss-n-out, 4 lap scratch, Points race (30 laps)

Miss-N-Out: I've not had any level of success in this event, other than a few "not last" placings. Got in front on the rollout and waited for Tom E. to come around. Sat on his wheel the entire race. He never pulled up, and I never pulled. Nor did I get pulled. 3rd place in the final sprint. Cool.

4 lap scratch: This was nothing more than a "Mass start flying kilo"...if you start at the back, you're toast. on Tom's wheel again and sat there, spinning like a gerbil...3rd place in the race, 2nd in my category, since uber-stud 12 year old Noah Williams was in the mix as well.

Between races: Tom works for Richardson Bike Mart, and brought out some demo ZIPP wheels. He "forced" me to put a ZIPP Disc on my bike for the points race. I didn't think about, and he didn't mention that I probably ought to switch out the front chainring to compensate for the extra weight of the disc. Oops.

Points race: Just for kicks, and to see if it sticks...I jumped on lap one and very quickly had a 1/3 to 1/2 lap lead on the "main group". I dangle out there for awhile and then David came after me by himself. He catches up and asks if we should work together. "Um...yes please?" By the time he got to me and settled in front, the pack was only 3 lengths back, and I was feeling the disc/wrong gear already. Ugh. I dropped out quickly, knowing I was toast and would be scoring no points.

Overall: 2nd, 3rd, DNF...still good enough for 2nd in the category, due to a bizarre tie-breaker rule. Another guy got 2nd, 4th and 5th in his events, but because I had a 3rd, I won the tie-breaker. Weird.

Overall...happy with the results.

Saturday training ride: only 12 hours from race to RBM training ride.

36 miler with good friend Todd K. He is still getting his form back, so we hammered with the group at 20+ half the ride and then chit-chatted the back half. Exactly what I needed to shake off the "Track legs" from last night.

Lessons from the aging cyclist:

1. Track races are mental and physical...bring your legs and your brain, know the strategy of the race, and go fast, turn left.

2. Sometimes, you back off the intensity and just ride with a buddy :)

Cyclist(s) to pray for:
Sean and Cheryl. Not really cyclists, but I'm sure they have ridden before. This is a pivotal weekend for them in many ways.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Truncated training ride

Corinth Cycling Club training ride last night...

This is a very fast training ride done every Tuesday and Thursday through the summer. 4 miles warm up, hammerfest in the middle, 4 miles cooldown (all numbers approximate). Sprint points at the end and all.

I came out last night energized and ready to roll...race wheels and all. I powered up a hill, chased a mini-break, flew a corner picking a perfect line...right through the glass. Including me there were 4 flats.

The only good things about mine are that nobody crashed, and this tire needed replacing as its the same one I cut on Sunday and was riding with a dollar bill inside it as a boot. This flat was just trach coming through. With less than 200 miles on the tire, I'm going to give it a thumbs up for "suppleness" and two thumbs down for durability. Vittoria Diamante for those that want to avoid it.

Still got in 18 miles and feel good about how I was riding until the flat. Thanks to Dan and Tim for hanging out while I fixed it up.

Track racing tonight: Miss-n-out, 4 lap scratch, points. Twice. Doing two categories to get in the miles.

Cyclist to pray for: Key.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Go faster by slowing down

Smell the roses ride last night...

Just took the bike (complete with training hoops) out for a quick hour spin last night, practiced form over speed, powered up a hill or two and finished with 17.7 mph avg. On solo rides its common for me to work really hard to get getting close without trying all that much tells me one of a few options:

1. I'm getting stronger
2. There was much less wind than normal

I'm hoping for both :)

Tip to glean: Don't go all out on every ride. This was a recovery ride from Tuesday's all out crit effort.

Cyclist to pray for: You. Or that guy you drive past on your commute in the mornings.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Race report 20080624

Tuesday night crits, Plano, TX

B race (Cat 4 men, masters Cat 3s)

I actually got in a decent warmup, with a few power intervals into the East wind on the backside to wake up the legs. 8-10 miles or so, mostly in the 15-17mph range with 22+ intervals.

I have not been training well lately, and I typically drop off the back of this race within 10-15 minutes. 10 minutes seems to be a make or break point for me. I have never been a "ramp it up to 100% NOW" sort of rider.

Tonight I was able to stick in there for 27 minutes at 25.2 mph before I just had nothing left. I got in two laps past the point my lungs and legs started barking at me, and then one more at the "encouragement" of my friend Scott Winn (thanks have more faith in my skills than I do...). After that I was toast, but happy with my performance, considering the training and heat (mid to high 90s).

Not a bad performance. Active Recovery ride tonight, who knows for tomorrow and then track racing Friday night.

Cyclist to pray for: Bill issue and closer relationship to God.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Outrunning a chew-toy

Training ride last night...I call it the "Power Hour" which is misleading, since its not a "power" session as most advanced cyclists think of it. Especially since I don't have or want a Power Meter.

This just a workout of higher intensity that takes no more than an hour from start to finish. For last night's version, I did 6 laps around my development (also known as the "Kruger Krit"). On the second lap, my neighbor's Chihuahua decided to chase me up the street at 20mph. Amazingly, this tiny little dog held pace for over 100m. I kept the pace up, as I did not want him getting caught in my spokes and suffering "Death by Neuvation", with me flipping over the bars.

I call this dog Chew Toy, because the other dog in the house is a huge beast of a mutt, with absolutely NO desire to chase cars, kids or cyclists. If he comes to see you and opens his mouth...fear not. He's about to drop a tennis ball on your shoe...nothing more.

51 minutes, 20mph avg, winds SE 12-15. Not bad for an old guy.

Races this week:

Tuesday night crits - Plano
Wednesday night crit - Ft. Worth (maybe)
Superdrome Points Series - Friday

Cyclist to pray for: Karen.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Be consistent!!

One of the best things an aging cyclist can do is to be consistent. Back in my 20s, I could change up the schedule, go harder, skip days, etc. and not suffer. Now...not so much.

Rode hard Thursday night, but took off Saturday when out of town for two reasons:
1. Needed sleep before the family reunion
2. Too hot afterwards to ride unfamiliar routes

So, 2 days off and it showed yesterday. Weak little 43 mile effort at modest intensity left me completly drained. Of course, 95 degree heat and a flat 5 miles from home didn't help any...

At least I got in a longer than normal ride. Lately, the training has been suffering, and most rides in the <30 mile range.

I'll probably go out for an hour tonight after work to get in a light speed workout before the crits tomorrow night.

Oh...and reunions make you fat. I'm up 5 pounds so far this month.

Cyclist to pray for: Rachel - crashed in Austin over the weekend from what I read on TXBRA


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Busy week...

Been a few days and a few rides since I last posted, sorry about that!

Monday - 90 minute "hard" solo ride here near home

Tuesday Crits - canceled due to off and on rain

Wednesday - TBi Crits in Ft. Worth. 1.7 mile loop, B race. Hung on for 2 or 3 laps, got dropped and then lapped with 2 to go I begged for a mercy pull from my friends in blue at the finish line. Very hot, more than mild wind. Close to 100 degrees during warmup.

Thursday - intended to get to the morning track session (off work), but decided to sleep in when I heard thunder and rain at 7:30am. Went and did the CCC Big Steamer ride. Got dropped on "the" hill the second time around. This thing gets faster every time I do it.

Tomorrow - no and travel to a family reunion.

Saturday - might get to ride out in Longview if I can find an early enough group and manage to get my lazy rear out of bed on time. Reunion starts at 10, back to the Sammons compound around 2, probably drive home that evening.

Next race: Tuesday night crits, SPS on 6/27 (no TX Cup points though)

Cyclist to pray for: Elderly dude that crashed at White Rock and is in intensive care. Name and condition unknown.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, June 15, 2008

How to get better as a cyclist...

I am frequently asked by newer, or returning riders how to get "better."

The first step is ALWAYS...define "better."

Do you want to ride faster? Farther? Climb a hill you've never made it over? If you don't pick a goal, how can you hope to achieve it?

I'll take the above three as a start:

"I want to have a faster average speed"

A tried and true method that I have used successfully many times requires a sophisticated piece of equipment known in layman's terms as a watch. If you want to splurge about $20-$30 dollars, get a bike computer with avg speed as one of the readouts. If you are buying a computer, go ahead and get a model with a cadence function as well since you will want it later on.

Using the computer method, while riding set the display to average speed. If you currently average 13 mph, anytime you see the average dip below that, pick up the pace a little until your current speed is higher than 13. It really is that simple, but it does require focus.

Using the watch method works best when you run the same course on different days. You'll have to set a baseline by making a mental note of how long it took to get to a certain point, or complete one loop, etc. Make it a conscious effort to get to that point faster by putting in just a tad more effort.

The average speed on any given ride can vary wildly due to outside factors such as lights, stop signs, traffic, head/tailwind, etc. My personal avg speed can vary within a 2mph range depending on external factors. So when you are trying to work on average speed, try to find a route with the least obstacles to overcome.

"I want to go farther"

This one is easy, but if you do it wrong you can get in trouble.

Pick a loop. Maybe in your neighborhood, maybe the local lake or park. Somewhere that you can do 5-10 mile loops and be back to your house or car quickly if you tire out. Do not pick an "out and back" route when you are testing your distance abilities. The worst thing you can do is get too far from home and bonk. Especially if you don't have someone you can call. Getting dehydrated or heat stroke on the side of the road sucks.

If you consistently can already do 20 miles, find a 5 mile loop and do 5 instead of 4. Worst case scenario, you will not be anymore than 2.5 miles from your safety net. You may do that extra loop slower than the first, but you did them. Get to the point that all 5 are comfortable, and then move up to 6 loops. This may take a week, or several months. It varies for everyone. Conventional wisdom says to not increase distance more than 10% per week, and this assumes you ride 3-4 times per week. If you are a weekend warrior, increasing the distance can be a little harder.

"How do I become a better climber?"


It will never get easy. Some hills will, others will always be a challenge. But if you never do them, you will never be able to do them.

When you are climbing, shift to an easier gear and spin the pedals faster. Mashing a big gear uphill is just asking for high heart rates and sore knees. This is where the computer with the cadence funtion comes in. When you hit that local killer hill, switch to the cadence display and downshift. Opinions vary on whether to sit or stand while climbing. On a short hill, I say either. Medium, mostly sitting. Long hill, mostly sitting with a few 10 seconds to standing mixed in at regular intervals to relive pressure on your rear end and stretch out the muscles.

If you wind up walking a particular hill every time you try it, try to get further up the hill before you get off. Downshift as much as necessary to keep going. Don't forget to breathe :)

Getting up a hill is also largely a function of strength-to-weight ratio. If you can get stronger, it helps. If you have extra pounds, they are not helping you go up. If you can get stronger and shave unwanted pounds you WILL notice an improvement on the hills much more than on the flats.

That's all the coaching 101 for new riders I have for today.

Kevin "I don't do nutrition" Hill
USAC Level 3 certified coach

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Track: Master's Regionals 2008

I decided to do the 1st day of Master's regionals/Texas state championships for one simple reason:

Nothing better to do on a Friday night.

That may offend a few (and I'm sorry about that...), but the underlying reason is that I can't race or ride on day 2, so the sprint and TT events were out. My only choice was to jump into the Points Race (40-49) and the Team Pursuit. Or sit at home and watch TV.

How it went down:

Points race. The 30-39 and 40-49 categories were combined into one race, 12.5K (50 laps). This being age based meant all skills raced together, from Cat 1 - 4. I'm a 4, so I figured the pace to be pretty quick.

We came off the rail and the first jump was within 2 laps. It didn't take. I sat on some faster wheels to judge my own abilities for a few laps. Specifically I sat on the wheel of Mike Gacki* as long as I could given the speed and crowd. At one point everyone went high except Drew Tucker who made a jump. I went with him and we started trading pulls to see if the group would let us stay away...they did for a few laps. Effectively, we gave them rabbits to chase and they blew by right before the first points sprint bell.

I stayed in it despite being blown out the back for 23 laps. Having been lapped twice (and down 40 points as a result), I pulled out to rest up for the Team Pursuit, which was coming up next.

Team Pursuit:

4 man team trial for those that don't know the track events. 4000meters (16 laps at the Superdrome), fast as you can. 3rd front wheel across the line stops the clock. Team Matrix/RBM went first, with Mike G, Dan T, Yo and a 4th (Scott?). Full on aero gear, disc wheels, experienced legs and riders. Dan my have been riding the drops. They were smooth and polished. Dan fell off the back at some point, but since you only need to finish with three, that didn't hurt them other than not having him to share the load once every 4 laps. They wound up doing 17 laps somehow and after re-calculating, they got a corrected time of 5:14:05.

Team "Pray for Rain" - a composite team of me, Chris Williams, Mark H and Mike Owens. We cobbled this thing together at the last minute...literally. We got Mark from Houston on the team with one minute left in registration. No aero equipment, and no practice. 2 Cat 2 guys and 2 Cat 4s in their first year of racing. We started without falling over, formed our line quickly and ramped it up to 28mph. Exchanges were all smooth and everyone took a solid one lap pull throughout the event. We might have been able to spin it up even faster, if not for the 50 lap Points Race my teammates had just completed. We finished in 5:47:something.

2nd place by 33 seconds means that Matrix and their gear/experience/etc. averaged 2 seconds a lap faster than us, which I am VERY PROUD of. First effort for me in this event and I'm a silver medalist. Of course, only 2 teams entered, lol.

Good times. Learned where I stand against the big boys in the points race, and had a blast in the pursuit.

Cyclist to pray for: Karen and the kids...just cuz she is new to our group.


* Michael Gacki is probably one of the three most experienced track racers I know. He's got skills and speed and will throw down in any race, any time, and ignore the pain until after the race. He's aggressive, but so are most of the elites. Better bike handling skills than 99% of the dudes out there. This is not a man-crush...just an explanation of why he gets mentioned from time-to-time in this blog as someone I watch or compare myself to. I want to get to his speed, my style at some point. We have polar opposite personalities, but are able to respect each other despite that.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Track workout 6/12/08

Got in a nice workout tonight at the Superdrome:

30 lap warmup with Mike and Fred...17-22mph, standard 2 lap, then 1 lap pulls

solo efforts, including some "barely rolling" start kilos...1:27 and 1:26. Not bad for a first time and a 50x16 gear (not sure what that works out to)

A few more "roll around in the aerobars" laps.

We have the Master's Regionals this weekend. I signed up to get clobbered in the 40-49 yr old Points race, and am looking for teammates to do the Team Pursuit.

Why? No TX Cup points in the 35+/Cat 4, no money, no chance of winning the Points race. Why? Cuz I just want to :) I have a goal in my head to do every type of track race the Superdrome offers within 2 years. Year one is just about over...

Cyclist to pray for: Greg "Brass Knuckle" clobbered by a car head-on yesterday. Sore but no major injuries. Bike is a "crumpet" (his term, not mine)


More grown-up stuff blocks training...

Hello to both of my loyal readers! ;)

Among the things that take away (correctly) from the training time of an aging cyclist:

...and now jury duty.

I spent Monday - Wednesday this week in a federal criminal white-collar trial. Hard to ride when you have to drive an hour each way, sit in a jury-box/jury room and then be on-call for work when you get home.

I got in a 20 mile heat-fest on Sunday afternoon, and a 30 minute hard paced crit practice around the neighborhood on Tuesday after both sides rested their case earlier than expected.

I'll head to the track tonight to try out doing some kilo work for the first time. Got the road aero clip-ons mounted last night and ready to roll. Ought to be interesting as I've never done a true standing-start kilo effort before.

No racing this weekend, as its Master's Regionals only, and I'm not fast enough to hang with a Mike Gacki, Frank, Uncle Joe, etc. Michael Owens I can hang with, so maybe... beloved son's birthday party is Saturday at 1:30. WAY more important than a bike race, hands down.

Cyclist to pray for: Tom Boonen...even the elites face troubles and tough decisions.


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Mortiz Spints #3

Hey Carroll! Thanks for coming out boss...what an unexpected and very cool surprise!

A recap of the nights sprints:

I've only done two match sprints...ever. Both in the same night against the same guy, and lost them both.

Tonight was a no points, tiny prizes sprint night. I only came out to get more experience in order to do well in the July TX cup sprints...same sponsor, but there are points on the line next time.

For this one, we listed all racers in order by 200m time trial time...I was second to last among the 12 adults. I went out at an effort of somewhere between sandbag and blow up the legs. Honest effort, but I didn't kill it or drill it.

This put me in the 'C' group...3rd of 4 (each group has 4 riders). We raced in a round robin fashion, so you are guaranteed to race at least 4 times.

Race 1 - me vs. Lindsay...her first track sprint. She had the lead position and took off from the gun, effectively giving me a wheel to sit on for two laps, so I did. Came around her on the last lap and rode to my first sprint victory. I suspected she had no strategy or knowledge of sprinting, so I offered some tips post-race, and she was happy to take them.

Race 2- me vs. David Woolcock. David was fastest TT effort in our group, and I've been racing him in crits and track for two years. We are reasonably well matched. I had the "back" position, and jumped on the last lap, holding him off at the line by "not much". I'm now

Race 3 - me vs. Glen. I was pretty sure David had beaten Glen pretty soundly when they raced so I had a decent shot at it. Again, I had the behind position, and managed to either come around or dive low to get ahead and just drilled it to the line for the win. 3-0.

The next thing they do is take the top 2 finishers (me and David) and set us up in a best 2 of 3 for 1st and 2nd place. 3rd and 4th get a one race match for the "bronze" (if there were actual medals).

So...Race 4 - I'm in the back yet again (this is all coin toss luck), and just watching David as we go progressively faster. At some point we started sprinting (I've already forgotten how it played out), full bore, and may have been the closest finish of the night. I got beat by mere inches. 3-1 overall, 0-1 in the gold medal round.

Race 5 - win or go home. I'm leading out. I'm riding the red line, which technically leaves the sprinters lane open, but my bars are hanging into it, making it a less than desirable choice for the back rider. I'm watching...I'm watching....there he goes! He jumps me around the start/finish with 1 to go. I react...we're sprinting through one and two, me in the lane, him on the outside...and passing me. On the back stretch I tried to get my legs to spin faster and hold him on the outside and they responded with something along the lines of "siddown fool!". I sat up and watched him sprint off to the first place overall and the $25 prize that went with it. My prize money went to the Superdrome Youth Devo fund. They still need it more than I do.

Great racing. My biggest mistake of the night was grabbing my 50T chainring instead of the 49T I meant to grab, so I was running a slightly higher gear than necessary for the wind conditions (south wind, 20mph). This was only in the final rounds, not the early ones.

Recovery ride intensity, cuz the legs are toast with jelly :)

Cyclist to pray for: Andrew F.


Friday, June 6, 2008

Texas Cup track standings

The current rankings for the Texas Cup Track points have been updated. For the Master's 35+/Cat 4 category:

1st Jim May GS Tenzing 62
2nd Kurt Bickel Joes Pro Bikes 59
3rd Kevin Hill International Christian Cycling Club 56
4th Carl Hentschel GS Tenzing 48
5th Michael Owens 44
6th Kenneth Maclean GS Tenzing 40
7th Edwin Buck Colavita Racing Inc. 39
7th Steven Bigby Team Spincycle 39
9th Robson Strange GS Tenzing 38

My stated goal at the beginning of the season was to shoot for a top 3 in this category at the end of the year. Being behind Jim and Kurt is nothing to be sad about :)

The next TX Cup events on the track are one of the SPS nights, and July Moritz Sprint.

I'm wondering if its possible to win the category without making a trip to Houston? They have 5 nights of sprinting and TT that award D1 points...4 of the 5 still to come. No other events. Superdrome still has 4 more cup events that I know of, including the two above.

Fun stuff, this "go fast, turn left" thing :)

Cyclist to pray for: Mike...knee issues and a hernia...season over before it really got started :(


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Not trying THAT again...

I knew it wasn't likely to end well, but to help out I accepted an offer to officiate the Tuesday Night Crit. I was allowed to race the B race, with the condition that I pull out with three laps to go and be ready to score the finish.

Given that I'm rarely still in it with three to go...sure, why not?

Warmed up reasonably well and stopped in time to get the C race and Juniors going. Scored them and got a quick change from official's gear to race gear and grabbed the bike.

45 minutes since warmup, hurried stuff from finish and clothing change, plus huge south winds caused me to be more ineffective than usual. 10 minutes and out. Mentally I was never in the race.

So...either race or officiate...not both.

And train better. Nothing new there.

I *might* get to train some tomorrow, but my ladies are out of town so its just me and the boy. I'll see if he wants to come to track practice in the morning, or hang with my mom tomorrow night.

Next race will likely be the Moritz Sprints on Saturday night. I may get some miles in Saturday morning, but have a b-day party to attend for my nephew at noon.

Cyclist to pray for: G.Lake


Monday, June 2, 2008

base miles

Part of what keeps an aging cyclist trained is base miles. Actually true for any cyclist, but moreso for us old guys.

I've been at the track so much, my base has gone the way of the dodo, so I got in 43 miles on Friday and 38 yesterday. Not staggering numbers by anyone's definition and would get me dropped in any road race, but still better than a 30 minute crit effort.

Headed into the heat and wind around noon both days and nearly bonked both days. Drained all my fluids in the 95 degree heat with SSE winds into the low 20s. Had to stop at Sonic for some refills. Hopefully as I get acclimated, this will be less of an issue.

Heavy bike mode, plus a camelback. I ought to be flying this Tuesday night :)

Cyclist to pray for: Todd W.