Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Pudding (Racing vs Training)

Last Race of the Year and another result!

Yesterday was the Bike Bug 500 - another handicap criterium at Sydney's Heffron Park circuit. With $500 for 1st place, there was a pretty good turn up with all the usual suspects. This one was a little different to the others I've ridden in that it was an open A, B, C grade group handicap run over 15 laps (30.6km) - but in the reverse direction. Now I've raced at this circuit for a decade but never the other way round! It was a pretty interesting experience. I don't plan on riding the velodrome the other way round though!

We were lucky as a big thunderstorm blew through not long before the start dumping a lot of water on the circuit but a wet track and a few puddles wasn't going to stop the race going ahead.


This wasn't an important race for me, just a bit of fun and a good workout. Since I had done 30 minutes of time trial effort at 99% of FTP the day before and earlier in the week some heavy tempo work, I wasn't expecting the freshest legs on the planet. Certainly the routine on day before a race is typically not TT efforts!

That's because I am now in race prep stage for March and race results now are inconsequential and subordinate to training. Coach is helping me to avoid the mistakes I made last season, where I was constantly staying fresh for racing and intense efforts and that left me with little in the tank by the time the Championships rolled around. Don't get me wrong, I had a great season but there sure was room for improvement. The Performance Manager Charts really made that stick out for me. Here's what I mean (click/right click to see larger image):

Last Season's PMC
Basically I ended up never really having a proper CTL build phase to start with. There was a short one around this time last year but I tried to ramp up too quickly and got sick. After that, regular racing and a change of focus to efforts of increasing intensity meant CTL was flatlining or heading south.

Back to the Bug

OK, so how did the race go? Well I got onto the podium, so that's not bad! Here's the WKO annotated to show the various phases of the race. I applied 30 second rolling averages to smooth out the data as the power line was highly variable - the smoothing makes the phases of race a little easier to pick out. Again click/right click to see a larger, clearer image.

The Bike Bug 500 "Pudding Race"

The chart pretty much tells the story. I started with the B-grade bunch and they really weren't going fast enough to hold out a determined A-grade. And as usual only 6-8 guys were doing the work while the other 20 or so would sit on. Not the way to win a handicap but I expect no less from these guys.

So about 6 laps in I was sick of just hanging around and decided to see how my legs really were and put in an attack. That lasted a couple of laps but at least it got B-grade to pick up the pace a bit and made A-grade work a bit longer before the catch. Seeing that effort was futile, I went back to hide in the bunch for a while and recover in time for the A-grade train, making sure I had good position when it came steaming through. Shortly after we picked up and passed the C-grade bunch.

Scratch the Handicap
Then it was a matter of managing position and marking the attacks which were inevitable as the race was now reverting to a scratch format given all bunches had been caught. The pace was certainly higher now and I had to dig in a little here and there but I was sufficiently in control to maintain it with the leading riders.

As it turns out I was the last remaining B-grader in the lead group and that earned me a place on the podium, a large Christmas Pudding, a bottle of wine, 2 Veloflex Black tyres (one of my favourite road race tyres) and $50. So an early Chrissy present! Always good to get the new club kit up there for the photos (which I don't have yet BTW).

These coming weeks I have some
really solid training in front of me.
Coach reckons I'm a chance of abusing him at some stage for what he's dishing out but I got through week 1 of this phase with only minor expletives emerging as I struggled towards the end of my sets.

All's looking good for 2007!


Anonymous said...

your max HR is intersting ! ;-)

Alex Simmons said...

Yeah a max of 246 bpm is interesting!! Also an average of 119 - Ha!

That's because I don't bother to wear a HR strap, so it would be erroneous data from other signals, perhaps other rider's straps.

Even when you do wear the PT's HR strap, you still get unusual HR spikes appearing in the data. Cycling Peaks does have a built in feature to fix these HR spikes but it doesn't quite capture them all.

Only time I bother with the HR strap now is when doing formal testing (if I remember to bring it).