Saturday, October 25, 2008

3rd in line

I've been a bit busy of late, so my posting rate has slowed somewhat.

I was supporting some clients and buddies at the World Masters Track Cycling Championships last week as well as doing some other stuff. I'll write a bit more about that another day (it was a very successful championships for my club, my buddies and clients). Despite the "busy-ness", my training continues and so today I took myself down to Heffron Park for a criterium race.

Signed up for D-grade and it seems there were enough for a separate D-grade bunch today. Not sure how many we started with, maybe 12-15 riders. A moderate North Easterly wind kept the pace down on the back half of the circuit. It was a nice afternoon (race starts at 5pm), sunny and ~ 23 C.

Race is 14 laps of Heffron's 2.04km circuit.

Something new today - I bought a new leg liner during the week - that's the compression liner that goes over my stump and has the metal pin at the base that secures my stump into the socket. My existing one is tatty, worn and with holes appearing and getting bigger. So I swapped the pin over to the new liner and wore it in the race today. It would seem that cycling is quite tough on the liners.

One liner @ $1000 thank you very much. Ouch! So my first one only lasted a handful of months. It would seem the strategy is to have multiple liners, so that you can rotate them and allow each one a chance to recover properly before using it again. It looks as though I better save a few more pennies and get some more liners. That also means some getting extra pins sorted as well.

We keep learning....

So with the new leg liner on and a 20-min warm up on the circuit out of the way, I head to the start line and off we go for a 14 lap adventure.

I finished 3rd. Didn't want to leave you in suspense now, did I :)

Not entirely sure what to expect of myself, basically I was just there to see how I would fare. Pace was fairly steady, which was fine by me. A few surges by some enthusiastic souls who seemed to like riding into the wind. That was OK and at one point a lone rider put on an effort down the main straight. Seeing that nobody was going to go pull them back, I decided to try myself and it wasn't that hard to close the gap. They didn't last long anyway and soon we were together again.

So I just kept my nose out of the wind, noggin side up and never really had to work all that hard. Indeed at times I was just seeing how much soft pedalling/coasting I could do at various times, practicing basic race skills.

I unintentionally unclipped my prosthetic leg from the pedal a couple of times and I'm not entirely sure why, so I'll need to look into that. Since the pace wasn't on, it never really was a problem - I was able to calmly clip back in, but in a harder race it sure wouldn't help matters.

There weren't many left by the end, maybe a half dozen.

Duration: 50:19
TSS: 83.7 (intensity factor 0.999)
Average / Norm Power: 220 watts / 240 watts
Distance: 28.566 km
Cadence (max/avg): 109 / 86 rpm
Speed (max/avg): 50.5 / 34.0 kph

So given I didn't rate that as a super hard race and I had an IF of 0.999 for 50 minutes, then it would suggest my fitness is going along OK.

I'll probably have another crack in a couple of weeks.


Jason said...

Hi Alex, thanks for maintaining such a detailed and useful blog. I am doing a bit of online research for designs for a dedicated cycling below knee prosthesis. I have been a BK amputee since 1997 following a cycling vs car accident in 1995. I have been running for a number of years but stump deterioration has seen me return to road cycling for my fitness and competitive outlet. I had one of my prosthetic legs adapted for cycling – basically cutting the prosthesis a little lower at the back to allow for the knee bend required. However, I am training for the Alpine Classic in January and the increased distances I have been riding and hill training wears away at my skin. So my prosthetist is making me a specialised cycling leg. One without a foot so the ‘leg’ clips directly to the pedal. Do you have any advice in the design/manufacture of the leg? Any advice (or encouragement!) would be greatly appreciated. Perhaps you can point me in the direction of other road below knee amputees that you know of...

Anonymous said...

forgive me if I am being too critical but if it wasn't a hard race...why were you third and not first

Alex Simmons said...

Hey Barry

No probs. well it wasn't on the rivet hard, but it wasn't easy for me either.

Wining a local D grade crit wasn't my objective so I wasn't that worried about it. Mainly it was just to test things out a bit.

Sure we take the opportunities as they arise. However, with 1km to go I placed myself at 4th or 5th wheel (ordinarily a pretty good spot on this course) but didn't count on riders placed 2nd and 3rd in line letting the lead rider get away from them.

I hesitated wondering if they were just foxing but it would seem not - they just couldn't hang on! By that stage he got the gap and so I decided to just to wait until we cleared the final bends and use some clear track in the straight for a practice sprint, since I hadn't actually attempted any kind of sprint on my road bike with my prosthetic leg up to that stage.

I wasn't prepared to make such an attempt on the technical part of the course leading into the main straight. Actually where he went is one of my stock moves (in the right race).

I was overahuled by one other rider in the sprint effort.

My sprint was a bit awkward, I couldn't stay out of the saddle for very long, nor could I generate maximal power. After 50-minutes of racing, the stump-socket interface had loosened somewhat (a combination of a leg stump that changes shape during cycling, a build up of sweat inside the liner that has nowhere to go and a leg liner that gradually works loose).

All of these factors don't help maximal power production. Solving them will take time to work out.

Could have I "attacked" a bit more during the race. Perhaps but I chose not to. It was pretty windy and not a good day for solo efforts on that particular course.

Anonymous said...


I have read various bits of your blog and what you have achieved since your accident is nothing short of astounding....keep at it and hopefully you will be able to reach whatever goals you have set yourself.
It is understandable that you are not too confident with the prosthetic especially if it had come loose earlier in the same not to push too hard until you know what went wrong.

enjoying the blog...keep it up...

Barry (aka Fuzzynavel)

Judith said...

HI Alex, I stumbled on your blog when searching masters cycling training as I love reading about others training and racing and your blog was particulalry interesting as my partner and I raced the pursuit in Sydnay at the world masters and we definately suffered a lack of specific preparation and this year the bar was raised from last year. And your ITT links are great, we use Fixed Gear Fever to get schedules and stuff, but your blog is great, thought I would just drop you a quick line.....Good luck on the Alpine Classic, we have done it a few times, but this year we are going to see Lance in Adelaide...