Thursday, 29 December 2011

Holiday Rides & Oukaapse Weg

My rides over the last week has been absolutely great. I am on leave so I was able to ride with my brother, Munier, most days. Unfortunately he is still working so most rides start between 5.30 & 6.00 in the morning. Only cyclists will still get out of bed at first light when on holiday. Most of our rides were Level 1 & 2, but as typical guys we were always competitive on the climbs and there were the odd moments where we let loose and took it to the max.

The first climb on next week’s Olympic Cycle Race is up Oukaapse Weg. We rode this climb on 6 of our last 7 rides. Overkill? It is a 5.5km climb from Tokai side. Gradient 6.5%. elev gain 270m. The climb starts 2.5km from start of race – max hr from cold start is my challenge to manage

Oukaapse Weg nestled between Atlantic and Indian Oceans

Oukaapse Weg from the bottom

All the way to the top
 The next challenge on the Olympic Route will be the windy 11.5km stretch from Misty Cliffs to Cape Point, elevation gain of 150m, at points a 2.5% gradient. Saturdays recon of the race route was a good reminder of what to expect on this stretch.

Munier at Cape Point
Stretch from Cape Point all the way to Boyes Drive will be fast.
Last climb on the Olympic race is Boyes Drive, 11km Climb, steepest 9% for 300m.
The best part on Saturday's ride was holding the wheel of 2 guys that were probably 20 years my junior. That diid my ego the world of good.

This morning though, as we were going up Chapmans Peak , just as the climb was kicking in, I could hear a bike picking up pace behind. This guy from Cycle lab racing club came cruising by. I picked up speed to sit on his wheel. He looked good, very lean with defined muscular legs. The numbered plate on his KTM was a clear indicator of his racing pedigree. He had a high cadence and I was matching his cadence and gear choice for a good 5 min. Then he got out of the seat and started some powering pedal strokes that left me for dead.
One day I will meet him at some or other race and thne I will hold and if it is a good day.... I will better his pace.

Munier top of Chapmans Peak

Let's Ride

Sunday, 25 December 2011

2011 - 2012 Goals

On Tuesday morning as I was driving to work, the radio presenter had listeners call in to share their reviews of 2011. Radio and television programmes are all reviewing 2011’s happening, international events, Iraq + Euro crisis + Middle East crisis etc. People of all walks of life (in their personal and professional lives) are taking stock of what has been achieved this past year, and setting new year resolutions and goals for 2012.

Why should we be any different when it comes to our Cycling Goals ?

I enjoy spending time developing and analysing my cycling goals and the associated process of developing and managing my plans to achieve those goals. I cannot imagine anything of significance being achieved by chance or without a goal.

My life as a cyclist started two years ago. At the time I was unfit, and a bit overweight, as I had stopped smoking 8 months earlier and the much publicised weight again had taken hold. My best friend, Sharief, had for months been inviting me to dust off my bike and join him on his Sunday morning club ride. So one weekend in October 2009 I rolled out my bike, lubed the chain, inflated the wheels and met his group for a ride. The ride started out pleasantly, the morning was fresh, the welcome was awesome, and the rolling of wheels as part of the peloton was soon to become my passion.
The first climb of the morning was Boyes Drive. After 200m up the base the reality of my unfit state hit home. My legs were burning and had seized to the extent that they would not work anymore. My chest was on fire and I was gasping for air. I had to turn around to take a detour route around the climb. By the end of the 2hr ride I was totally knackered. A day or 2 later, when I could walk again the seed to go out on the bike again the next week had been sown. When I called Sharief to plan the next group ride he told me that I needed to spend some time cycling on my own, to lose some weight, and to train to cycle faster so as not to hold up the group. And there was my first cycling challenge, and it gave rise to my first cycling goal, “To get cycling fit so as to be able to cycle with Sharief and his club mates by the end of 2009.”

I have learnt that goals must be SMART,





Time orientated

My Major Goal is to achieve a Top 20 position for my Age Group for Road Cycle Racing in South Africa by 2014. My seeding position as at Dec 2011 is  469/26742. Still some way to go :-)

It is good to have a 3-5 year goal as it provides a long term focus. Shorter term goals are however essential to ensure progress along the route and to keep motivated.

 2011 Goal Review,

1. To race a Sub 3h30 Argus Cycle Race in Mach 2011
• Achieved a 3h24 race time, Age group position 670 / 3381

2. To race a Sub 2h45 Burger Cycle Race in December 2011
• Missed this goal by 7 minutes. See report

3. To qualify for 2012 Vet Age Group Summer League
• Missed this one due to Burger race above. I may still Qualify to race Vet Summer League with the Olympic Race on 08 January 2012. My Pedal Power seeding has improved from Group K to Group F this year, Group E is required to qualify for Vet Age Group Summer League . If I don't qualify for Vet League I will race in the Rising Stars League for Summer 2012.

Goals for 2012,

1. To race a Sub 3h00 Argus Cycle Race in March 2012 and or a Top 160 Age Group 40-44 position

2. To race a Sub 3h10 Knysna Cycle Race

3. To race in the 2012 Spring League Vet Age Group

4. To race a Sub 2h35 Burger Cycle Race in December 2012 and or a Top 50 Age Group 40-44 position

Setting of my goals on its own won’t get me there. A goal without a plan to achieve it is nothing more than a wish. And a plan without action is pointless.

Let's Ride

Sunday, 18 December 2011

New Season Starts

10 Days of rest off of the bike has gone by and it is into the base phase for my next period that will culminate with the Argus cycle race in the first week of March 2012.

My steed patiently waiting to be let out the door.

Knowing what awaits out there.

Below my Performance Management Chart showing the effect of the 10 days rest. Note dropping fitness (blue), decreased fatigue (pink), and improved form (yellow). As can also be seen from the chart is my following of Joe Friel’s principles of periodization.

I have learnt that consistency is key in any endurance sport, and Rest is one of the 3 fundamentals for successful cycling performance. The rest blocks allow my body to recover and strengthen in its adaptation to the training. Even more noticeable to me over and above the physical advantages are the psychological benefits of the rest block. I most enjoy
• cleansing of the mental fatigue emanating from continuous workouts and races which recreates the motivation and desire to train and race,
• evaluating what is working and what needs to be learned / developed
• redefining of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats
• redefining of goals and objectives

When it comes to rest, I have noticed so many of my fellow cyclists neglect this important aspect either because they don't want to lose fitness, or they perceive it as a sign of weakness. Many of them believe that you only rest when you are injured. Needles to say that you will pick up an injury when rest is neglected.

Then there are those that train continuously for a year or 2 without significant rest periods and eventually lose their desire or motivation to train and the bike gets left in the outroom or garage sometimes for months or even years before the flame is reignited, or worse it is sold in the classifieds or given away.

What works for you? How often do you plan in rest periods?

The starting workouts this week were 1hr easy sessions, just to get the legs going again and enjoy being out there on the bike. This morning however, I succumbed to the temptation to go longer and slightly harder on some climbs, and have some fun with the guys of Oasis Cycling Club.

Let's Ride

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Anaerobic Racing Pace

This was Michael (of Bikemax) response to my Burger Race Feedback, “Regarding the race.. There is only 2 words that can describe it “oxygen debt”. I think we spoke about this before? It mainly goes like this: If you don’t warm up enough and you start riding hard from the start then you go into oxygen debt because your muscles are not warmed up, don’t have enough oxygen in them and your heart/body cant supply them enough oxygen when you start so fast. I always hated Die burger because of that, but once I started warming up well. Doing my 1x2min etc intervals before the race I was fine. Another thing, once you go into oxygen debt, there is no way out of it- so it really can end your race from the 1st kilometer.”

This graph clearly shows me hitting 97%mhr for 16min after a 7 min warm up, my lactate threshold is 91% mhr. Note my steep increase to +90% mhr in the first few minutes of the race. Now look at my power (blue line) dropping off in the second half of the race while heart rate remains 85-90% mhr. So the fast ramp up from cold to a HR way over my threshold, + burning way too many matches in the first 30 min killed my legs after the first hour.

My challenge is to identify what is ‘too hard in the beginning’, and the second challenge is, to ‘allow’ my starting bunch to race away from me if the pace goes beyond my limits, before I burn to many matches, while I still have enough energy to hang on.

My pondering on this has lead me to do some googling on the topic.

This extract from Joe Friel on the subject of race pacing (highlights contain his posts), “Here I go again .. ….. It seems I need to repeat this topic several times a year. I suppose that’s because it’s so hard to learn this lesson. It’s really difficult to keep our emotions in check, I guess. Or perhaps it’s because we believe that some sort of miracle has occurred and we are suddenly capable of doing things we have never done before.”

This provides me with some comfort that there are many cyclists faced with the race pace challenge, and in my case…. Improved performance in races = improved seeding = stronger starting group, which is going to require me to have patience to race at the level of my new start group as I move up the seeding ladder.

This pic is from one of Joe Friels post’s and shows the ideal pacing that needs to be achieved. Note the increase in hr and power when comparing 1st, 2nd, 3rd and final quarter of the time trial.

Another tidbit I picked up on is, train for what is going to happen in the race (referring to 20 min threshold intervals and 10 – 30 – 60 sec sprints at max), which inversely means that I should ride my race as I have trained / prepared my body. When I do interval sessions 3x20min @ 88-92%mhr (LT) interlaced with 15-20min rest, roughly a 1.5hr session, I am totally knackered afterwards, so these training sessions should be used as indicators for setting limits when I race. And I should not be under the disillusion that I can race at 97% mhr 20 min intervals.

Another post shared the following "Some numbers... for a local course with a 1.3km 4% climb, doing the climb starting at the front with the goal of being the last person not dropped... changes it from a 2:30 minute L5/L6 interval to a 2:50 L4/L5 interval. Much easier to do eight reps of that and still be fresh for the finish"

So I should be using my Edge 500 to monitor my hr and power so as to race not more than 90-92%mhr for 15-20min intervals during a race.
In my first 10 min, where I can handle a 20-30 sec sprint at max, don’t do longer periods at +87%mhr.
Max efforts should be limited to no longer than 1 min duration followed by some easing off during the race.

The other thing that I should be doing is improving my Threshhold Power, a topic for another day.

Let's Ride

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Spring 2011 Race Seeding

The last PPA seeding for 2011 has been released and it is time to do some review.
Do you ever feel when reviewing a race or season that it is difficult to not get all consumed with the negatives? It normally takes a considerable amount of my effort and self discipline to remind myself to take the learnings from the not so good and to focus more on the positives.  

I started the race season, September 2011 in Group H, and 13 weeks later (D in figure) I have progressed to Group F. That is very good. One of my goals is to achieve an E seeding before Sept 2012 so that I qualify to race in Vet Category of the League. By the looks of things I will achieve that early in 2012.
When comparing highlight A with highlight B there is significant improvement in the Ride index column. To me this signifies the benefits of  consistent logged cycling (2 years now), a strong base period through winter (10-12hrs riding per week), and a well structured programme (thanks to Mike at Bikemaxpower ).

I am  was however dissapointed by the Big Red C, the worst ride index in the grouping, for the race that was to be the climax of the season. What went wrong?
  • Not a good regular sleep pattern in the week before
  • Work stress (could perhaps have smoothed work load better by completing ealrier committed deadlines)
  • Going out to hard at the start of the race (not the first time to learn this lesson)
At least I got a Cool race pic :-)

Next race, The Olympic (no not that one), in 4 weeks time in Cape Town, also has a steep climp at the start, so I need to apply this learning big time.

Monday, 5 December 2011

My Burger Race

I was all packed and ready to go, had just tucked into my peanut butter sandwich, sipping on my hot black coffee, when Munier arrived at 04h20 to pick me up. Wind had dropped down, and weather was looking good for Die Burger race.

We arrived in Stellenbosch at 05h20 and the vibe was AWESOME. All over people were unpacking their bikes, taking in their pre race drinks and snacks, applying sun block, and heading off for last minute pee breaks before making their way to their respective start chutes.
Being part of the cyclists in the starting chutes is an experience to be cherished. The nervous banter, perving over the latest frames, wheels and other bits. Checking out the form of those around you, trying to pick out who you need to hang with and whose wheels you want to sit on.

06h04 A Group start gun is fired and we are off.

Pace was hard off the start. Within 3 minutes we hit the 3.8% climb up Helshoogte. The 20 min climb was at 96%HRM @ 280W. I rode well with the bunch and was happy with my performance up the climb and with my bunch riding in the first hour. Thereafter my legs just no longer had the same amount of power. I got dropped off the bunch, to be picked up by the next, I hung with them for some minutes only to be spat out again, and so it went bunch after bunch. I became rather demoralised when the B start group passed me and I could not hold onto them either.
First 20min power 280W, next 20min 215W, next 20min 205W, remainder of race 185W (avg) So these tell the story of starting way to hard, feeling great in the first hour, then ever fading legs thereafter.
The question is however, do I situp and ease off and lose the group leaders in the first 20min, so that I have stronger legs in the latter part of the race? The fact of the matter that I need to accept is that at my current level of fitness and power, I am not going to beat the group leaders, so trying to hang with them when the effort hots up is only going to prevent me from finishing stronger in the middle of the group.
My race was nevertheless a good one. Last year's finish time was 3h09, this year was 2h52, a substantial improvement. Last year I started in F group, this year I made it to A Group, based on season race perfomances.

Now it is 10 days complete rest off the bike, then Summer race season starts. Yeehaa !!!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Eve of Burger 2011

So the last 13 weeks of training has delivered me to the eve of my next big race, Die Burger 98km.

This mornings 1 hr pre race ride was good even though the strong 30km/hr wind was less than ideal.
The route was flat, out towards Tokai forest past Pollsmoor prison. Put in 3 x 30sec intervals at 90% max HR just to pump it up a bit. Out of saddle sprints felt good. The lighter Michellin Kryllion tyres felt smoother than the Gatorskins. Will keep the Powertap, Mavic Open Pro, Michellin combo for now. Seems to be working.
Not sure what I am gonna do with the Easton's .....

After the ride did some bonsai work, helped me set a calming, stress free mindset for the day.

Nutrition today has been good, healthy eating. Future Health cereal with banana for breakfast, yoghurt and grapes for brunch, rye bread and cheese for lunch, protein shake and then chicken and veg for supper.

Kit is packed for tomorrow, race chip is in bag , race number is pinned, drinks are made

Yeah, I am ready ... even got a haircut :-))