Duathlon Nationals

June 25, 2016 4:59 pm
Duathlon Nationals

I finished competing in the USA Triathlon Duathlon Nationals in Bend Oregon.  I raced the standard distance course, which was 10K run, followed by a 40K bike and finishing with a 5K run.  It was a cold start, near 40 degrees so I wore some light arm warmers for the first run and bike.  I was nervous at the start because I didn’t want to over do the pace.  The first wave was all women over 55 and all men over 60 so it included a rather big group.

FullSizeRender (2)

Shortly after going through the start gate, the course had us make a right turn onto a running path on the side of the road.  It was too congested and the guy right in front of me went down, nearly taking me down also.  I was lucky that I was able to jump over and to the side and keep on running.  I had decided to keep my first run to a 9 min/mile pace.  Not very fast but about what I figured I could do and still perform well on the rest of the event.  I kept track on my Garmin 920XT GPS device and resisted the temptation to go faster, even though I felt I was falling a bit behind.  When I finished the run and got on the bike, I was then in more familiar territory.  It was a 20K out and back bike look which we repeated twice.  Each lap included 900 feet of climbing, with the grades up to about 6%.  I found myself passing many riders on the second lap where we were now mixed with younger age groups doing their first lap up the hill.

My second transition time was too long.  I had put an endurolyte tablet in my tri box on the top tube and I was worried about cramping on the last run so I wasted too much time trying to retrieve it.  I finally gave up and started the run.  It turned out I did not cramp, although I was probably running the first mile a bit slower that I might have.  It had warmed up quite a bit so I shed the light arm warmers before the final run.


There were a total of 20 in my age group, males 65-69 but one had a DNF as I mentioned when he took a fall shortly after the start of the first run.  Several of the 65 year olds did very well the prior year in the 60-64 age group so I knew there was no chance to get a top finish.  My running was just not like it use to be with spending only a couple of months of training, with the groin sprain to deal with, make it difficult.  I was thrilled when I found out I came in 10th place.  Looking at the times, I can see that my strong suite was biking, which is quite the reversal of several yeas ago when I was running more strongly.  I could have done even better on the bike, but had cut way back doing speed work on the bike so I could focus on running, which turned out to be the right choice since I still placed 6th overall on the bike leg, partially due to it involved 1,800 feet of climbing which was better for me.

Duathlon Results

As in most all races, I was very glad when I finally came across the finish line.


My time was good enough to qualify for Worlds in 2017.  I have already registered to hold a spot on Team USA.  It is being held August, 2017 in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada.  I am excited to go because I have never been at a Worlds Championship.  Picking a sport like the duathlon, that does not have as many participants, coupled with being in an older age group, allowed me to get a slot.

Finished Training for Duathlon Nationals

June 22, 2016 10:53 am
Finished Training for Duathlon Nationals

Three days from today is the USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championship in Bend Oregon.  When I saw this web posting I started to wonder why am I racing.  I am hardly one of the nations fastest duathletes.  When I decided in March to enter, I realized there was no chance to get on the podium.  The fastest times last year for my age group were running faster than I could run in my 30’s.  But I was pretty good at running when I ran the Boston Marathon in 2007.  So I looked at the last place times and figure I could probably beat that, but based on my current speed, I am not so sure.  Still, I am excited to be participating.  It is going to be a cold start, maybe in the high 40’s.

Nartionals Article

Putting in the training for this event has been more difficult than I expected.  It has been awhile since I did serious training for running and the speed didn’t come back quite like I expected.  Even worse is I was pushing the speed work too much and ended up getting a groin sprain, just before the Sand Hollow Duathlon.  I was able to compete in that event but it might have made the injury worse.  So I had to back off the running speed work and also back off cycling even more than I had.  This chart shows the interval training running 10 x 1/3 mile intervals.  I was making some good progress until I got injured late May.  By the time I was able to do speed work again, I had slowed to where I was when I started.  It has only been the last couple of weeks where I was able to get back on track.  I lost 2 or 3 weeks of training.  Although I am happy getting down to about a 7:30 pace for the intervals, I use to be able to run a half marathon at close to that pace.

.  Running Intervals

While my running has not improved as I had hoped, my cycling has declined since March because I had to focus on running, which had become my weakness rather than my strength.  I finally went out and did a set of 3 minute intervals on the bike.  The results were not very encouraging, but I may have just had an off day.

Cycling Intervals

I saw this article by a coach who is racing himself, along with two of his athletes, one a national champion.


He had 5 points for preparation.

1. Focus on making your weakness your strength. I did that by focus on running although it did cost me on cycling.

2. Add brick workouts to your training.  I have done brick load of brick workouts and have a good feel of how I will feel when I start biking after running and start running after biking.

3. Practice transition. I did one duathlon for training and have done several transitions as part of my brick workouts to practice the transition.  Today I did a dry run of the duathlon, using all the gear, except my runs were just about 50 yards and my bike was easy since I am tapering.

4. Don’t wait until race day to figure out the best hydration and nutrition strategy. I think I have a plan and tested it today on a long ride.

5. Come up with your own mantra. Not sure what my mantra should be.  “Don’t Finish Last” doesn’t seem very inspiring.  Anne suggested “I Can Do Hard Things”.  I think I will use that but change it to “I Can Do Hard Things Fast” and I also plan to have a lot of fun.





Ready to Race – Trek Speed Concept

May 13, 2016 2:52 pm

I signed up for a couple Duathlons this summer.  The first one, a local event, is in a week so I moved my Enve carbon tubular wheels over to my Trek Speed Concept bike.  Moving the wheels was easy enough but changing the brake pads to carbon specific pads was much harder than on a regular road bike.  I guess that is the price you pay to have an aero bike that takes great efforts to make things as aero as possible.


Things were also made more difficult by the difference in clearance between the Bontrager brake shoes and typical Shimano brake pads.  Things were such a tight fit I had to remove the entire brake shoe from the bike to do the swap.  That meant removing the covers for both the front on rear brakes to get easy access to do the swap and to make sure I had the brake shoes aligned up correctly.

So how fast is the Speed Concept?  I think it is fast but even though I have taken it on several rides, totaling over 300 miles, I was not sure I am much faster than on my Trek Domane.  The race in one week is mostly part of my training program and even though it has steep one mile climb I plan to use my Speed Concept to get the full experience.  My real target is the Nationals Duathlon Championship in Bend Oregon, the last Saturday in June.  They finally posted the course description. It looks like about 2.2% average grade for 6.5 miles where you turn around and go down to the start.  You repeat this lap again for about 1500 feet of climbing over 40K.  I started to wonder if using my lighter road bike would be better than the Speed Concept so I did some estimates.  Using my weight and the 19 lb Speed Concept, assuming I stay in the aerobars, putting out 160 watts on the uphill and 130 watts on the downhill, I used a very useful Bicycle Calculator to get these values for the outbound and return.


Using my road bike which is 3.5 lbs lighter, same wattage but on the bar tops for climbing and hoods descending I get this result


If you add the outbound and return together and double for the two laps, you get this comparison for the Speed Concept time trial bike vs. my lighter Trek Domane road bike.


This means for 40K the Speed Concept could be upwards of 12 minutes faster than my lighter road bike, which of course assumes I am in the aero position for the entire time.  Not only is it faster, I use less energy so have more left for the final 5K run.  This also doesn’t consider all the aerodynamic advantages of the Speed Concept over the Domane.  So the money I spent on this new bike should bring some significant speed improvement assume ideal conditions.  I only wish I could spend money to improve my running speed by the same amount of time.

Cycling Intervals Using a Power Meter

March 27, 2016 4:58 pm

Why is it those things that are the least fun, often the most beneficial?  So it is doing intervals, both running and cycling.  For the past couple of years I have avoid them and although I have been able to keep things reasonably fast, I  know that as I get ready to race, I need to go back to speed work.  Running intervals is a much easier thing in terms of measuring your improvement because you are basically looking at pace.  When you bike, speed is no longer a reliable indicator because the terrain and the wind have such a big effect.  This is where a power meter comes in, where you can measure your average power for each interval.

Since we moved the last time I subjected myself to this torture, I have to use a different route than in the past, and nothing here is very flat.  But with a power meter I can still make a comparison.  I also changed my approach.  Instead of doing 4 intervals of 7 minutes, with a 3.5 minute recovery, I changed to do 3 minute intervals, 9 times.  I did a 2 minute recovery between intervals, except to break things up into 3 sets of 3 intervals, I had double recovery between sets.  This is how I did.

Power Intervals

So not up to the peak I reached 3 years ago, I am not in too bad of shape.  As I am now training for a big race, I will plot things to see how they improve.

If I didn’t have a power meter, and plotted speed. the chart would have looked like this.  It would appear that I had lost a lot of conditioning, but the power meter tells me that is not the case.



New Wheels – Dura Ace 9000 C35

September 16, 2015 12:11 pm
New Wheels - Dura Ace 9000 C35

Just arrived today are the new DuraAce C35 wheelset.  I ordered these from ProBikeKit in England less than 2 weeks ago and today the US Postal Service delivered them to my front door.

When I lived in California I used their little brother, the DuraAce C24 wheels.  They were a great lightweight wheel that well meet my needs with the extensive climbing there.  In Utah there is more flat riding and more pace line efforts and it should not be surprising that many riders here use deep dish carbon wheels.  I was not ready to go that far so decided on a middle ground and bought the DuraAce C35 wheels.  At a depth of 35 mm, vs 45 to 55 mm on many deeper wheels, they may not have the full aero benefits, but they are shown to be very aero and don’t have the same issue of dealing with cross winds that a lightweight person like me wants to avoid.  At the same time they only weigh 100 grams more than the C24 wheels. They are billed as a all around wheel that you can use for training and racing.  A friend was using these wheels on our Italy cycling trip and really liked them more than the C24 wheels he used previously.

I weighed them right out of the box without skewers.  They measured:

Front: 685 grams
Rear:  845 grams

Features from the spec sheet

• D2 Rim design optimizes aerodynamics and stability
• New hubs for 2013, optimized for 11-speed system, utilizing OptBal Spoke System to provide balanced tension = more rigid & durable rear wheel overall
• Extra wide hub flange maximizes lateral rigidity.
• High strength, lightweight titanium freehub body
• Shimano angular contact bearings and oversize A7075 Alloy Axles
• 16 spokes front, 21 spokes rear
• 10/11-speed compatible
• Weight (without QR & rim tape) F: 662g / R: 826g

As an engineer I like the approach of the OptBal spoke system where it has 14 spokes on the drive side (where the stress is much greater) and 7 on the non-drive side.  Most wheels use the same number of spokes on both sides even though when someone breaks a spoke, it is almost always on the drive side.

I also like that they have an aluminum braking surface.  I don’t trust braking on a full carbon clincher rim and I don’t want to switch brake pad every time I switch wheels (such as putting on tubeless wheels).

I have them all ready to roll now and will test them out tomorrow.  I wonder how much they might have helped me on my race last Saturday, Lotoja.  I setup the C24 wheels with a wider range cassette so Anne can use them when she needs lighter wheels than what came with her new bike or we are riding where we want tubed tires instead of the tubeless tires I currently installed for her.


Finished LoToJa Race

September 14, 2015 1:05 pm
Finished LoToJa Race

I finished my first Lotoja 204 mile race (Logan UT to Jackson WY) as a 2 man relay team with my brother. He assigned me the two back to back sections where there was all the climbing. This event is very different than the many double centuries I rode in California or the 500 mile relays I rode for Furnace Creek 508 or Hoodoo 500. Unlike all those, this had the feel of a real race and by far the most professionally put on event I have ever ridden in. You can ride it solo, which I think most do, or as a relay team. My brother and I entered in the USA Cycling sanctioned race category but they do have a citizen class category also. I saw neutral support vehicles often, following the fast packs and several officials on motorcycles monitoring you. They had well marked feed zones and relay transition zones. There were also neutral feed zones where you would take on a new water bottle or some gel on the fly from volunteers so need to stop. Also no need for any route sheet since every turn had volunteers flagging you where to go. The finish line was like being at a pro cycling event with barricades and a big screen leader-board. Riders names were called out as they came across the finish line. Overall it was quite an amazing experience. I understand now why this event is hard to go into. We were lucky to have Anne and Deanna crew for us and they did a great job.

How We Did

We ended up finishing a bit over our goal of 11 hours, 14th out of 28 in our category of 2 person relay team.  Since this category has no age divisions, we did reasonably well but I think much of that was due to my brother’s speed more than mine.


How I Did

I think I did reasonable well, but was a bit disappointed that I was not able to do my two sections faster.  It was quite different for me to be climbing a hill and being passed by so many.  Nevertheless, I had a goal of finishing in 6 hours and I barely met that goal unless you count the time when I stopped at the transition to change water bottles and take on food.  When I look at my performance after the fact, I was near the limit, with an average heart rate of 150.  I was able to average 15.6 mph over the 93 miles, that included nearly 6,000 feet of climbing.

What hurt my time was that I had to ride most all of the miles solo.  They started the race relay teams first, followed by the CAT 1 racers, then advanced to the slower riders in that order. So when I was riding I was either with Race Relay or Cat 1 or 2 riders.  Most of the race relay riders were doing a 4 or 5 man relay so they could go all out on their own segment.  The fast racers would come from behind me in a big back but their speed was way too fast for me to latch on, even for a short time.  Although you are suppose to only draft behind the group you start with, many took advantage of anyone around, but in my case there was few around me to hang with.  On the occasion when I was able to draft for awhile, it made a big difference, but I think I ended up riding 90% of the distance solo.  Not having a big guy to follow down the hills really hurt my time since I don’t have enough weight and skill to descend fast by myself.

I was trying to make sure I ate sufficiently and was often drinking, but I forgot to put electrolytes in my water bottle and ended up cramping about 20 miles from the end, on the steepest climb where I should have done my best.  I fought with the cramping issues until I finished since I didn’t have the luxury of just stopping for awhile to recover.

Although I did a lot of training for this, too much of the training was at a slower pace and there was not enough speed work, in my opinion.  That speed base can take a few months to build up and I was trying to do it in a few weeks.  Traveling to Italy for a bike tour was a contributor, although I did get a few days there where I was pushing the pace.

Then I might just have to accept that I was slower than many others because I am getting too old.  It is just not something I want to accept right now.

Here are the key stats from my ride.  You can see the Strava Suffer Score was rather high, due to a high average heart rate.  I guess I feel I put in my best effort on that day but I also feel that with that amount of effort in terms of heart rate should have yielded a bit higher power and my lack of fast twitch muscles, and therefore hard for me to jump on a passing pack, meant a slower overall pace that many riders who were doing the entire 204 miles.


When I look at a 70 mile Strava segment that include the 3 climbs I did, it is even more apparent.  Here I was the slowest of four people I follow on Strava and among those 65+ I was only 4th out of 5.  For the 65+ group on Strava I am use to being in the top few spots, not near the bottom.

Next Up

Next up is the Huntsmen World Senior Games.  I hope to do a bit better there since two of the three events I entered don’t allow drafting (hill climb and time trial).  I just wish I had a more optimistic view of how I was doing so I could do a better job of getting ready.  I have limited time to train now so it is more an issue of not losing my fitness than improving it.


Tapering for Lotoja

July 2, 2015 9:15 am

Fitness, Fatigue and Form

Well all the training I can do for the Lotoja race is done.  Is now past time for tapering and managing the balance between fitness and fatigue. You can go by how you feel, or if you are like me and like to use data you can use a program like Training Peaks that will calculate your fitness, fatigue and form based on your past workouts.  Strava also has a similar feature for premium members but I don’t find it quite as polished.  Fitness and Fatigue are terms that most people understand.  It is Form, or the balance of the two, that also needs to be considered.  You might have great fitness but are in bad form due to a high level of fatigue and that would result in poorer performance than if you tapered more.  Training Peaks uses the terms Chronic Training Level (CTL) as a measure of fitness, Acute Training Level (ATL) as a measure of fatigue, and Training Stress Balance (TSB) as a measure of the balance between the two, or sometimes refereed to as Form.

I started my training in June and finally got theCTL (blue graph) up to 143, which put my fitness better than it has been since the beginning of 2014.  During the build up, my fatigue as measured by ATL ( purple Line) got as high as 181, resulting in a  Training Stress Balance (TSB) as low as a negative 53.   With leveling off my training, including two weeks biking in Italy the last half of August, I have been able to keep my fitness nearly as high but have reduced my fatigue down to 131, resulting in a Training Stress balance now being positive.


Peaking for a Race

They recommend you peak your fitness two or three weeks before the race and then you get your TSB to slightly positive on race day.  When you taper, you might lose some fitness but you lose fatigue at a faster rate so overall there is a net positive on your performance on race day.  How you taper depends on what you are racing.  It seems that many people either don’t taper long enough or they taper too much and avoid any type of speed work the last week and that negatively impacts their performance.   I rely on my Training Stress Balance as reported by Training Peaks, although Strava also provides a fitness, fatigue and form chart for premium members.

“Researchers at the University of Montreal compiled the results of 27 scientifically acceptable studies. They concluded that the best duration of tapering is two weeks, the optimum training volume reduction is by 40 to 60 percent, and the intensity of workouts should be maintained (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, August 2007).”  Copyright 2007.   The Sportsmedicine Institute, Inc.  Used by permission.  http://www.DrMirkin.com 

Power Meter

When you are running, Pace is an easy way to judge your fitness but on a bike there are many other factors that influence speed to use that as a measurement.  That is where a power meter really helps.  Using a power meter, I can see that my peak power for different time intervals has improved considerably.  This is the graph as of today.  The grey graph is my best of the last two years and the purple is the last 90 days.  I am not quite up to the level I was in 2013, but I am getting close.  About 1/3 of the difference is that I was using a different power meter then that reads about 10 watts higher.  The other 10 to 20 watts is due less fitness than in 2013 when I was doing hard riding in California before moving to Utah.


Age Factor

Those power measurements from 2013 were when I was two years younger.  There is interesting study by Dr. Fair  on the effective of aging on athletic performance.  It turns out most people think they decline more than they need to and therefore back off and reduce their training.  Still after age 60.5, the slope does increase but from 65 to 67, the reduction is less than 3% for world class athletes, as measured by race time.  Although this study measured running at the 10K and marathon level, it likely applies to cycling also.


Recent Time Trial Tests

So even if my power levels are not up as high as I was hoping, I am encouraged that I was able to set a new PR on a couple of Strava segments this past week, including the climb up Snow Canyon and the 15.4 mile segment from the Utah Hill intersection to Veyo.   For the long segment I finally did it under one hour and reached to 4th overall for  65+ on Strava.  Since this is part of the Huntsmen Senior Games road race, I recognize many of the names on that 65+ leader-board.


Doing well on this long segment gave me a bit more confidence for racing Lotoja where I will be racing continuously for 90 miles with most all of the climbing of the 200 miles course.

I realize I am not in the same condition I was 3 years ago when I raced the Hoodoo 500 on a relay team but I feel good, especially since I was finally able to get my weight down below 140 lbs, even with 2 weeks of heavy Italian eating.  With 4 days to race day, there is little I can do for training other than managing the tapering phase to get the best balance between fitness and fatigue.


New Richey Break Away Bike for Anne

May 12, 2015 10:05 am

With our upcoming bicycle trip to Italy in August, I decided to get a Richey Break Away bike for Anne.  I ended up ordering the frame/fork from BicycleDoctorUSA.com.  They were very helpful getting me to pick the right size since you can’t really test ride them.  I ended up ordering a size 48 cm frame, which was just right.  I moved the DuraAce 7800 components and my wheels over to it from my Richey Break Away bike since I had DuraAce 7900 components left over from my Trek Madone, which the factory kept the frame and gave me credit on my new Domane.  Here is a photo form Anne’s first test ride, but she complained about that hard saddle I had put on there to test.



Gear Ratios

March 14, 2015 5:11 pm

Gearing on a bike might be a bit confusing to some since there are several things that affect how low the gearing is.  There are effectively four circles or gears involved:

  • The Crank Arm.  This is measured in mm, with a valued like 170 or 172.5
  • The Front Cassette, which is usually either a Triple which as 3 rings that have 53/39/30 teeth each, a Double which two rings with 53/39 teeth each or a Compact with 50/34 teeth each.
  • The Rear Cassette.  This also defines the number of speeds, usually either 10 or 11 speed and the smallest cassette is typically 11 or 12 teeth and the largest anywhere from 23 to 36 teeth.
  • The Tire Size.  For mountain bikes theses are either 26 in, 27.5 in or 29 in.  For road bikes these are typically 700c.  It is the outside circumference of the tire that is the factor so a fatter tire will have a larger circumference.

To get the lowest gear you would go with the largest crank, smallest front chaining, largest rear cassette cog and smallest tire.  A gear ratio is defined by the the ratio of the number of teeth (or circumference) between two gears but we effectively have 4 gears at work so to get a lower gear ration you go from a large gear driving a small gear, driving a large gear, driving a small gear.

On a bicycle it is a bit more complicated than if all these were simple gears, in which case the middle gears would be idler gears and not affect anything.  But the connection between the crank arm and the chain ring is direct coupled.  The crank arm acts as a lever and like any lever, the longer the lever the easier it is because the longer the crank arm, the more distance your foot moves on each rotation and more distance for the same rotation means less force, or effectively a lower gear.  Likewise the cassette is directly coupled to the rear tire.  As the tire size decreases, each rotation of the tire means moving less of a distance, which means less force is needed for each rotation of the tire.

When you move to a larger tire size (such as the 29ner mountain bike) the same crankset and rear cassette will have higher gear ratios (harder to pedal) than on a 26 in bike.

The crank arm length is picked based on the rider and the bike tires are what works on the bike.  So all that most riders can change is the chain rings size and the rear cassette range.

There are some online calculators you can use where you put in the crank size, tire size, front chain rings and rear cassettes and it will give you gear ratios.  A lower number means a lower gear (easier to pedal).  These will help you decide if you can switch to a Compact Crank instead of using a Triple Crank.

I was considering to buy a new bike for my wife but her current bike has a Triple Crankset with a11/34 cassette on the rear, which I am able to have her use by installing a mountain bike rear derailleur.  I was hoping to get a bike for her with electronic shifting but the lowest option would be a Compact crank set and a Ultegra long cage derailleur that will work with a 11/32 cassette.  With her current bike she rarely goes into the very lowest gear, but on some of the hills she goes in one gear down (30 tooth cog), so she is using a 30 tooth chain ring in the front and a 30 tooth cog  in the rear.  Plugging in the crank arm length (170 mm), tire size (700×25) that is a gear ratio of 2.1.  Now switching to a Compact crank and a 11/32 cassette, the lowest gear ratio is also 2.1.  So she is only giving up the last gear only although that last gear is relatively big jump.




A Slow Year

November 7, 2014 7:49 pm

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 8.43.33 PM

We are now down to about 7 weeks left in the year and I am way behind in my cycling miles compared with prior years.  Last year I exceeded 12,000 miles for the first time.  It started in May when we went on a European cruise.  Then we decided to move to Utah and it seemed harder to find time to bike much.  Now that we have settled down, I have been doing a bit better, but I don’t think I can even catch my prior worse year of 2011.  Weigh is up and mileage is down == slow rider.