Archive for April, 2008

Devil Mountain Double Results

April 30, 2008 11:30 am

They posted the results for last Saturdays Devil Mountain Double. I ended up coming in 31st place out of the 112 that were able to finish. Over 150 riders entered but many can not finish this most grueling event with 206 miles and 18,600 feet of climbing. I was very happy with my time considering only extremely fit riders enter this event. I may have been the only one my age to finish.

I posted a detailed analysis in a prior blog entry.

The times for the people I know and ride with:

  • Gary F. 14:03
  • Me 15:32
  • Brian C. 16:21
  • Lyresa P. 16:36
  • Russ and Sheila S. 17:01 (on a tandem!)
  • Kley C. 17:20
  • Paul D. 18:30
  • Uji Y. 18:30
  • Art C. 19:33

Devil Mtn Double – No Trouble with a Double

April 28, 2008 3:55 pm

I finished the very difficult Devil Mountain Double on Saturday. It is 206 miles with 18,600 feet of climbing. It is probably the most difficult double century in California. My final time was 15 hours, 32 minutes, a big improvement over last year

I was happy with my time since it was hot again. I got worried coming up Mines Road because of the heat and started to get a bad case of hot foot. There was a breeze this year that helped. I really focused on drinking all day, and took a lot of Endurolyte tablets. I was so worried about cramping again on the backside of Mt. Hamilton that I went up slower than I probably needed to, but I never did cramp anywhere on the ride.

I was also happy to make it to Norris Canyon, the last section, before dark. I don’t like biking on Crow Creek Canyon road in the dark due to all the traffic. I had carried my one pound light the entire day and could have got by with a small Cateye light.

I left the aero bars on the bike which was a good thing. It gave me an alternate position not only for my hands but when I am in the aero bars I get a different position on the saddle, which greatly helped to take some pressure off a tired butt. It was either that part of the body or my right foot that hurt the most.

This year I used my newer bike with only a double crank, but I had no big issue with the higher gearing. I would have preferred to climb up Sierra Road with a triple but the better handling of the newer bike was a benefit on the rest of the ride.

Summary

Here is a detailed comparison with doing the same event last year.

2007 2008
Body Weight 135 139
Bike Gearing Triple (30/25) Double (39/27)
Total Time (hr: min) 18:12 15:32
Riding Time (hr:min) 14:51 14:31
Avg. Speed (mph moving) 14.1 14.3
Stopping Time (hr:min) 3:21 1:01
Average Heart Rate (bpm) 136 136
Maximum Heart Rate (bpm) 167 169
Average HR Climbing Sierra (bpm) 142 146
Issues to Deal With Significant Cramping Significant Hot Foot
Weather Hot No Wind Hot With Breeze

Time Comparison

This chart shows my arrival times into the various rest stops. You can see that for the first 115 miles, up to the junction cafe, I did almost the same between both years. Last year my times slowed down considerably due to cramping on the backside of Mt. Hamilton. Click the chart below to view enlarge.

Stopping Time Comparison

This shows a comparision between my stopping time between years. Times shown are in minutes. Most of the improvement in the total time was due to a signficant reduction in the amount of stopping time at the rest stops.

Stop 2007 2008
Diablo Summit
6
1
Morgan Territory RS
5
4
Mines Rd RS
7
4
Junction Cafe
40
18
Cramping on Mt. Hamilton
25
0
Crother’s RS
47
9
Pet the Goat RS
35
2
Sunol RS
16
4
Other, stop lights, mini rest stops
20
19
Total Stopping
201
61

Last Time

I don’t plan on doing this event again. It is very difficult and takes out of you far too much. Since I had a difficult time last year, I wanted to do it again to see if I could do it right with better training and more of a focus on hydration during the event. Having accomplished that, I don’t feel a need to repeat it.

Devil Mountain Double Trouble with a Double

April 25, 2008 12:45 pm

Okay, I have finished my training program and I can’t avoid it any longer.. The extremely difficult Devil Mountain Double will start soon. At 5 am tomorrow we will start to ride in the dark towards Mt. Diablo for our first of many major climbs. I hope to finish the 206 miles in 15 hours, of which 7 hours will be climbing the 19,000 feet. It is not a question of what will hurt, but what will hurt the most.

The forecast for the inland area is a high of 89 degrees. Last year we had a similar heat wave and it caused most everyone to have serious cramping issues. We should also have some stiff winds, especially going over Patterson Pass. They put windmills there for a reason.

Yesterday I was trying to decide which bike to take. I have now decided to take the newer bike with only a double crankshaft. Unlike the recent Solvang Double, this is going to be a slog it out type of ride where just getting through will be the main focus. Although there may be times that I wish I had my triple, the new bike handles better and fits me better, and is lighter even with my aero bars attached. If I can finish in 15 hours, that will be more than 3 hours faster than how I did last year.

Trying the DMD with just a double crank may be a big mistake. Ask me tomorrow what What Hurts the Most!

Which Bike for the DMD?

April 24, 2008 9:34 am

I rode my older bike, with the triple crank, on the ride up Henry Coe last night. I was thinking to use it on the upcoming Devil Mountain Double this Saturday because it has the lower gearing. It was making some rattling sound, the speed pickup came loose, and it just doesn’t fit me like my new bike, even though both are a 52 cm Trek frame. I was thinking last night to go ahead and use my new bike for the tough double this Saturday, even though it only has a double crank. I can climb all those hills with the double, but I am not sure about doing all of them the same day with a double. I had to use the triple last year for this event due to cramping in my legs.

I spent this morning putting a new tire on the front and moving the front tire to the rear to replace that worn tire. I reattached the speed pickup for my Polar heart rate monitor and I tightened the cassette, which I think was the source of the noise. I had used a torque wrench before but I guess I had the wrong setting.

I weighed both bikes, loaded as I would ride them, sans water bottles. The new Trek Madone is a lighter bike but I have aero bars on it. On my old bike I have put on new wheels and a new Durace crankset so it is lighter than it use to be. I was surprised that both bike weighed nearly the same, within half a pound.

  • Trek Madone 5.2 18.65 lbs (with pack with 2 tubes, CO2, mini pump, aero bars
  • Trek 5200 19.35 lbs (with pack with 2 tubes, Co2, mini pump)

Part of the difference is the weight of the Syntace C2 aero bars at 358 grams, close to one pound. I could remove those since there is not that much drafting on this event. That would bring the wieght of the new bike down to 17.8 lbs, or 1.5 lbs lighter, both on an equivalent basis.

I set up both bikes next to each other to see if I should make any adjustments to the old bike to match the ride I like on the new one. I ended up moving the saddle forward slightly. I notice the handlebars one the new bike are a bit higher and the 10 speed shifters really do have a better angle, but without getting a new stem for the old bike there is little I can do there.

I just finished 24 mile last ride using the old bike. I fixed the rattle and it seems to be working fine. I calculated that the difference of 1.5 lbs will only mean 4 mintues total time difference for the entire DMD. I recall when I did the Furnace Creek 508 going up Townes Pass with my double and having a difficult time. Later I thought I should have used the older bike with the triple (which was on the support car). I expect the climb up Sierra Road after already doing 140 miles and 15,000 feet of climbing will be similar. But I did the entire Furnace Creek 508 with only a double, even Townes Pass. I used the double on the Death Ride and the Cimb to Kaiser. So I have decided to tough it out and go with the faster and lighter bike.

Furnace Creek 508 or Bust (or Melt Down)

April 21, 2008 6:16 pm

Against my better judgment, Paul and I have submitted our application to do the Furnace Creek 508 again October 4-6, 2008.  This year, instead of taking applications on a first come basis, they had us prepare a resume of ultra distance cycling and running accomplishments.  They are going to accept people in on that basis.  They sent an email and said they had a record number of applications.  I expect that we will be accepted since we are 508 veterans (Paul also finished solo) and we both have a lot of ultra distance events accomplished the last couple of years, especially Paul.

See this link to our website for last year’s event.

Whipping the Devil

8:24 am

It is the final countdown to the Devil Mountain Double, which I will ride on Saturday. At this point all my training needs to be finished and what I do this week is more about tapering and trying to keep the edge. Yesterday I decided to not do the long distance training ride with the club because it would have been back to back 100 mile days and I felt it might do more harm than good. So instead I did the normal ride out of Sunshine Bicycle store with my friends who live in the area.

Because of the visit from John and family, I was not able to get in as much biking for a week. I mentioned in my last entry about doing a hot ride the day after they left that had a lot of climbing and miles. I continued to ride a lot during last week, including doing the Tierra Bella Century on the tandem on Saturday. It was not quite the most miles I have ridden in a week, but close. With the week being bookended with long rides, I ended up with 483 miles and 30,000 feet of climbing. This keeps me on plan for both miles and feet of climbing for my training program. The total miles I have put in is slightly above my training plan but well above what I did last year.

DMD Training - Accumulated Miles as of 4/19/08

When looking at the feet of climbing, something more important than just miles when training for the DMD, I am well ahead of both last year and my training plan I established.

DMD Training - Accumulated Feet of Climbing as of 4/19/08

One aspect I hope will pay off is the training I did last week. In 2008 that week was spent in Atlanta to watch the Tour de Georgia. We went there after running the Boston Marathon. When I returned to California I tried to jam in some ridding, and maybe did too much the week of the DMD. This time I have a full week to recover. In 2007 you can see I biked over 400 miles the week of the DMD, which means 200 miles the days before the DMD. That was too much. This time I have moved the extra miles a week earlier.

DMD Training - Weekly Miles as of 4/19/08

It is a similar story with the feet of climbing.

DMD Training - Weekly Climbing as of 4/19/08

All of this is mainly to give myself some confidence. I know that doing the DMD is going to be most difficult, no matter how much training I have done. It is a long ride with a lot of climbing. Last year I measured 206 miles with over 18,600 feet of climbing. I think it is the most difficult double century in California.

Last year I did the 206 miles in a total time of about 18 hours and 15 minutes. I looked at last year’s heart rate chart to see how I did at the midway point. At 103 miles, I had biked half the distance and more than half the climbing and had reached that at 12:10 pm, about 7.2 hours from the start (we started around 5:00 am). So if I was able to keep that pace for the second half I should have finished in 14.5 hours. Since I took nearly 4 additional hours, it is clear why I felt I did so poorly. Click on the graph to enlarge.

2007 DMD HR Chart

During the first half my average heart rate was 145, but you can see from the above chart I let it go into the red zone too often on some of the clmbs and even some of the flatter sections where I was trying to keep up with a paceline. I need to be smarter this time about monitoring my heart rate and drop off the pace line if necessary. I feel that if I keep hydrated, watch my heart rate and eating, I should be able to finish within 15 hours. That might not be a fantastic time, but more than 3 hours faster than I did it last year.

Tierra Bella Century Ride

April 19, 2008 5:58 pm

Today we did the Tierra Bella Century ride on our tandem. This was a unique experience because both of us took pictures of the event while riding.

See my photography blog for more information about what we learned from a photographic aspect.

See my family blog for more information about the century ride.

The family that cycles together stays together …. especially if they are on a tandem.

HOT HOT HOT

April 13, 2008 8:29 pm

Because of our trip to San Diego last week, I needed to get in a good long training ride today, especially considering the Devil Mountain Double is coming up in 2 weeks. There was no scheduled ride that had both the miles and the feet of climbing that I wanted so I ended up combing parts of one ride with another. At 5:30 am, I started biking in the dark (and a bit cold) to meet up with the Tierra Bella worker’s ride. They were doing the 200K route. Initially I was just going to do that ride but it was too short on miles (only 122) and the climbs were not tough enough for what I wanted. But I rode with them up Uvas, then down Bailey and back to Morgan Hill. The timing worked out great because I arrived in Morgan Hill just on time for a Nightriders ride that started at 8:00 from there. We planned to do a triple crown ride and four other riders joined me for that.

We biked up the bike path, then climbed Metcalf. After going down the backside and then San Felipe, we made our way over to Quimby for our second major climb. It was now getting much warmer and I could feel the heat as we were nearing the top of Quimby. Quimby is a very steep hill and with only a double crankshaft, I was really torquing my leg muscles. Doug and I got to the top quick enough to have time to go down the East side and climb back up to the summit. Two of the guys had done a mega mountain bike ride the day before and it was too much for one of them, who headed back after reaching the summit. The four of us then descended down the East side and then up Mt. Hamilton Road to the summit. It was getting very hot now.

Only two days earlier I had climbed Mt. Hamilton with John, but today it seemed much more difficult. I was glad to reach the summit where we had a break for awhile. Since the summit is over 4,000 feet, the temperature there was pleasant, but still warm.

As we descended back down, we could feel the heat and as we climbed back up the East side of Quimby it was getting into the 90’s. We were lucky to have a tail wind on the way back, but I couldn’t seem to keep hydrated enough. Drinking hot water is not something I am anxious to do. By the time we got back to Morgan Hill I was very tired. Chuck gave us something to eat at his house and then I jumped back on the bike to return home. I ended up with 138 miles total and over 10,000 feet of climbing. In many ways I felt worse than after the recent Solvang Double Century. I guess it was the heat, which hit the mid 90’s during the later part of the ride.

Speed Workout Intervals Cycling

April 4, 2008 5:31 pm

After yesterday’s long 101 miles, I didn’t want to put in another long ride. Since I can’t ride tomorrow, I thought this was a good time to another speed workout. I did the same 20 mile course and after a warm up I did 7 minutes hard, then 3-4 minutes easy. I made a slight adjustment to the easy segments so the 7 minutes would be all without any need to turn a corner or come to a stop.

I clearly have improved. This is a mostly circular course so the effect of the wind should balance out when looking at all the legs.

Averaging the four legs, today I went 22.4 mph compared with 21.3 mph last month. Both times my average heart rate during the intervals was 153. It may not sound like a lot but 1.1 mph improvement at that speed is a lot considering the increase in average speed was only a 5% improvement. But with cycling the effort, as measured in watts, is not linear. Using a formula to calculate, last month I was averaging 170 watts to get that speed while today I had to put out 193 watts, a 14% increase, while keeping the heart rate the same. In any sport a 14% improvement when you are basically pushing towards your limits, as a big deal.

Here are the splits for today, April 4th, 2008 and from my prior interval workout on March 13th.

Intervals Training on Bike

Lap
Time
Dist
MPH
Max HR
Avg HR
4/4/2008
1
7:01
2.507
21.4
162
155
2
7:00
2.449
21.0
159
153
3
7:00
2.406
20.6
156
151
4
6:44
3.011
26.8
153
150
3/13/08
1
7:01
2.277
19.5
161
155
2
7:02
2.528
21.6
159
154
3
6:46
2.361
20.9
158
152
4
7:02
2.733
23.3
158
151

Solvang Revisited

7:35 am

One of the advantages of keeping lots of data in a training log is that I can look back at similar events and see how much I have improved. Improvement is not something that is normally associated with someone my age but in the cycling world I have been able to get some slight improvements over the past 7 years I have cycling.

I belive this has come about because I lost weight, did a better job of training, and improved my cycling skills. These factors have combined to more than offset the effects of aging.

I took a look at the Solvang Double century, something I have competed in three times. It is the same courses, but there are some variables, such as wind, that I can not fully account for. But comparing the three times, I get this comparision

Year

Age

Bike Time

Total Time

Avg. Speed

Avg. HR

2003
55
9:55
11:18
19.2
2007
59
9:50
10:42
19.6
137
2008
60
9:36
9:59
20.3
145

From 2003 to 2007 I made only a 5 minute improvement in riding time, but took off an additional 20 minutes of stopping time. For the recent event, I took another 14 minutes off my riding time and even more off my stopping time. So from age 55 to age 60, I took off 1 hour and 19 minutes, of which 19 minutes was riding time and 1 hour stopping time.

The non-athelete might think that such an improvement is not signficant. To average that additional 1.1 mph means putting out an additional 14% power when you look at the effects of drag and resistance. Anyone who does any type of sport knows that even a few percent improvement is hard to achieve.

I am therefore pretty happy with the improvement I was able to achieve, while aging 5 years.

For the recent Solvang Double Century we had 47 riders who rode it for time and all started together. This group was made up of mostly the fastest cyclists. Another 400 or so riders did not want to be timed. I ended up coming in 20th place amongst those 47 riders. I believe I was the only one over 60 in the entire group of 47 riders. They do not have age groups so I am not sure. The riders in that group just looked a lot younger than myself.

Another event I looked at was the Davis Double. I have completed it twice with these results. It is a somewhat more difficult ride than Solvang.

Year

Age

Bike Time

Total Time

Avg. Speed

Avg. HR

2004 56 11:19 12:45 17.7
2007 59 10:56 12:15 18.2 144

I plan to ride Davis again this May and hopefully I can show some further improvement from last year. Before that I will be doing the Devil Mountain Double and hope to show a big improvement over last year when I didn’t do well.

I realize that old father time keeps marching and there will soon come the time when I am just happy that I have not decreased my performance as fast as others. We all need to appreciate what we have and know that all we can do is our best. There will always be others around us that are much better and some that are much slower. But if we are doing what we can, within our abilities, we can take pride in that. Today I received an email from a cycling friend who turned 50 in the past year. He said “If I’m able to do the things you do in ten years, I’ll be the happiest man on earth… You keep us young guys on our toes.”