Archive for October, 2008

Henry Coe Hillclimb Race … Bit Older … Bit Slower

October 26, 2008 2:45 pm
Henry Coe Hillclimb Race ... Bit Older ... Bit Slower

Today was the San Jose Bicycle Club annual Henry Coe Hillclimb race. I did well on this same race last year and wanted to see if I could come close to that time. From the beginning of the day I just didn’t have the confidence but felt I could still do well. My time was 38:33, which was 59 seconds slower than last year. When I got home I downloaded the data from my heart rate monitor and could see that I did almost the same in terms of average heart rate. I think my weight is up about 2 lbs, so that would make some difference in time but not all of it. I calculated that I was putting out about 2 more watts last year. If my weight was down 2 lbs, it would have meant 20 seconds faster, assuming I still put out the same watts. Still it was overall a good time  I won’t do that well on the overall standings hoever.  First they moved me from CAT 4 to CAT 3 from last year so I had only a 5 minutes hanicap vs. 6 last year.  Second they gave a ridiculous handicap to CAT 4 racers of 10 minutes, compared with 6 minutes last year.  With that handicap a lot of the CAT 4 racers should place in the top 20.

Henry Coe Climb

Distance: 6.75 miles, Climb: 2,120 feet, Avg Grade: 5.5%
Time SJ Bicycle Club Race – Woodchopper to Lower Parking Lot
Date
Time
Weight
Max HR
Avg HR
Watts
Single
Tandem
10/26/08
38:33
138
176
167
225
10/15/08
52:58
164
152
9/10/08
41:19
138
162
156
9/7/08
46:51
138
153
143
4/19/08
56:15
140
165
148
10/28/07
37:34
136
176
169
227

These are the heart rate curves for the last two years. From these you can I was pushing my heart almost as much this year as last. Click the graph to view enlarged.

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Slowest Stromboli Mauler Ever

October 22, 2008 5:54 am

On Monday I had to be on a clear liquid only diet and then Tuesday morning I had to have my colonoscopy, a privledge of turning 60 years old.  They tell you not to drive for 24 hours since they give you something for the procedure.  But they didn’t say anything about not biking for 24 hours.  I felt fine to do the Stromboli Mauler.  This is the last Metcalf Mauler ride of the season with a shorted ride and a party afterwards (eating stromboli).  We took the tandem and did the ride.  We were not the last ones up the hill, but it was on the slow side.

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Quimby Hill Climb Race

October 18, 2008 4:53 pm
Quimby Hill Climb Race

I started out this morning with the plan to drive to Hollister and meet Russ and Sheila for a ride. We were going to bike over to Panoche Inn and meet up with a club ride. As I was leaving Gilroy it started to rain and half way to Hollister it was raining a lot more. The clouds down there looked dark. I called them and let them know I was changing plans and would go north (where the sky looked clear) and do the Low Key Hill Climb race up Quimby. I have not had a chance to climb this hill at a fast pace for many years, but only part of a long ride, so I was anxious to see how I could do compare with many years ago on the Quimby Mauler.

Quimby is a very steep hill, with grades on the switchbacks of around 20%.  Even after the switchbacks the grade to the summit averages 13% with some as much as 15%.  I had taken my old bike with a triple crank because this the steep grades. I usually climb this hill with my double crank, but wanted the lower gearing for racing.  I ended up using the lowest gear for the entire top portion.

After 10 am, the racers all started from the high school on Ruby up to the race start location at Murillo. On the honk of horn, we all took off, maybe about 100 racers. The lower portion is not that steep so the speeds got going fast, but as soon as the grade increased, we started to thin out.

photos by Adam Tow

My final time was 27:20 (see results). That put me a bit faster than the median time of the 58 male racers and faster than anyone over 60.  I wanted to see how that compares with my times in prior years. On those years I measured from Ruby so after the race I timed myself from Ruby to Murillo and that took me 4:18. Adding 4:18 to my race time I get 31:38, which is more than 3 minutes faster than my best time from Ruby before set back in 2003.  So I was happy with my time.  I was climbing at an overall rate of 62 feet / minute.

Wondering about the jersey I am wearing. It for the Everest Challenge. Here is a photo taken today before the race.

photo by J. Hadley

Quimby Climb

Distance: 3.8 miles (from Murillo), Climb: 1,975 feet, Avg Grade: 9.3%
Date
Time
Weight
Max HR
Avg HR
Ft/Min
Single
Tandem
10/18/08
27:20
136
177
172
62
Distance: 4.2 miles (from Ruby), Climb: 1,975 feet, Avg Grade: 8.8%
Date
Time
Weight
Max HR
Avg HR
Ft/Min
Single
Tandem
9/6/08
35:42
139
167
156
51
5/20/04
36:40
6/12/03
34:47
172
165
57

You can see from this heart rate curve that I was really pushing the pace, taking my heart rate into the “red zone” most all of the climb. I averaged 172 bpm for the race (click to enlarge).

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The Big Let Down

October 13, 2008 11:21 am

It happens every year when you finally complete all the sporting events you had challenged yourself to complete. I started out 2008 with an aggressive schedule of events. It was many of the events that I did last year, but wanted to do better, as well as some new challenges. After updating my website with a check mark by the last major event, I am starting to feel the Big Let Down. It is too early to get into training for next year. In fact I am not sure what I even want to do next year. I have already finished all those big events I wanted to tackle. I guess I just need to accept there is such a thing as down time. I hate it as much as I hate the “tapering” phase before competing in a big event. I guess I will do more bike racing this winter to keep my mind in gear.

Here are all the events I finished this year.  I really enjoyed that many of these were with Ann.  All those check marks showing completion are on the one hand satisfying and on the other hand depressing that I still don’t have them to look forward to.

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Old But New – Racing up Alpine

October 11, 2008 8:30 pm

So much for getting my exercise program back into balance with more running and less cycling.  It was a cool, but sunny this morning when I got up.  I figure I just had to do something on the bike.  I was not up to doing a long ride, with only 6 days since the Furnace Creek 508.  If not a long ride, how about a fast ride?  I knew that the Low Key Hill Climb series was having a race up Alpine West today, so decided to do it.  It was a long drive up from home to Palo Alto. Then I had to drive up Page Mill road, maybe a first for me.  I have biked it many times but never in a car.

I parked up near the top with the rest of the racers and biked down Alpine West to the start location to register for the race.  It was cold at the top, maybe less than 50 degrees.  But I felt fresh enough to race.

The first part of the climb is a low grade so a bunch of the young bucks darted out ahead of me and were able to get some lead.  When the real climb at 8% grade started I was able to slowly pass some of them.  You can tell the ones who are not the real good climbers because their cycling style starts to waiver as the hill continues on.  They are those you know you can pass with no attempt on their part to hang on your wheel.

My final time was 37:47.  That put me right in the middle of the male racers.  From what I can tell I was faster than anyone over 60 years old (see results).   These racers are those who like to climb hills so being in the middle of the pack is okay with me although I could probably do a bit better if I were fully recovered.

On the way home, I heard a song on the radio, “Now I am a Believer”.  That brought memories.  But wait, this was not the Monkeys singing it.  It was Smash Mouth.  It was kind of like me, something old, but still feeling new.  If you want to hear this “new” version, click the play button at the bottom of this post.

When I got home I noticed the Furnace Creek 508 medal on the table where I had left it. I picked it up and was amazed I had won a medal that had some real meaning.  When I was a kid, I never did get a medal for anything because I was never really allowed to participate in sports. It is rather ironic that when I am older, then I get the medals that many received when their were teenagers.  Kind of like something Old But New.

Franz near summit of Alpine
Photo by Brenda Brunner


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Back into Balance

October 9, 2008 12:20 pm

This has been an unusual year in terms of biking. Never before have I biked so far, climbed so much, or went so fast. The intense training paid off with better times this year for almost every event I tackled and also completing some very difficult events for the first time. But to achieve this I have had to let running slip as can be seen on this chart.  This is also due to that this is the first year in several that I have not ran a marathon.

So this morning Ann and I ran 6 miles.  That was difficult.  Some of difficulty might be due to my legs still recovering from the Furnace Creek 508 last weekend, but it is also true that I have done little jogging in the last several weeks. I does seem odd that I might be in the best physical shape of my life but find it hard to run only 6 miles at a 10 minute pace.  I now feel I need to get back more into running and bring some balance back, although I will likely still focus on cycling for most of my physical activity.

I am now thinking to look for a marathon or half marathon in the Spring as a way to get me to start to run more.

Just to show that the lack of running was not from doing less. Here are the same charts for my biking this year, both miles and feet of climbing.  If you click on the graphs you can see that in both areas I did more than any time in my life.

I have one method of trying to equate running and biking.  It is just an approximation by using estimated calories for each sport and then converting everything back into equivalent of miles of running.  Using this approach I get this chart.

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Recent FC508 Analysis

October 8, 2008 2:01 pm

This past weekend, Paul V. and I competed as a two man relay team in the 25th Furnace Creek 508 bicycle race.  We started on Saturday morning at 9:00 am and finished on Sunday afternoon at 5:17 pm, for a total time of 32 hours, 17 minutes.  I wrote a race recap here.

One stage that I didn’t feel I did well on last year was this stage 3, from Trona to Furnace Creek. This year my time was 6:03 compared with 7:17 last year, so nearly a 45 minute improvement. Part of this was due to less stopping time overall but most of the improvement had to be while on the bike.

Still I wanted to see where that improvement came from because I did not feel I was climbing any faster due to a strong headwind while climbing Townes Pass this year. Looking at my Polar HRM data, I can see that this year I actually took 5 minutes longer for the climb.

Breaking Stage 3 into three sections, 1) from Trona to the turn up Townes Pass, 2) to the Summit, and 3) from the Summit down into Death Valley to Furnace Creek, I get these results for this year and last year. You can see all of the time savings happened before I even got to Townes Pass. Since I had a stronger tail wind on section 1 and a stronger headwind on section 2, it is hard to know if I really did the main climb any better.

Furnace Creek 508 Results for Stage 3

Section
Miles
Climb
Time
Stops

(minutes)

Avg/Max HR
MPH
3 Sections: Trona to Townes Pass, Townes Pass Climb, to Furnace Creek
2008
1
46.9
2,300
2:08
137/156
22.3
2
11.4
3,900
1:50
2
139/145
6.3
Summit
2
3
41.3
1,000
2:06
3
122/141
20.9
Total
99.6
7,200
6:03
7
15.2
2007
1
46.9
2,300
3:11
141/164
15.0
2
11.4
3,900
1:45
6
140/149
6.9
3
41.3
1,000
2:21
13
131
19.9
Total
99.6
7,200
7:17
19
13.6

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Team Prairie Dog – Furnace Creek 508

October 7, 2008 4:07 pm
Team Prairie Dog - Furnace Creek 508

This past weekend, Paul and I competed as a two man relay team in the 25th Furnace Creek 508 bicycle race. We were lucky to have Russ and Sheila crew again for us. We started on Saturday morning at 9:00 am and finished on Sunday afternoon at 5:17 pm, for a total time of 32 hours, 17 minutes.

Watch Our Video

Preparation

We started the trek on Friday. After loading up the van with bikes and supplies we headed down to Santa Clarita.

We had a few mishaps on the way down. The first one was Paul seeing in his rear view mirror that one of his spare wheels had bounced off the top of the van. We were on a freeway so we had to go to the next exit several miles down and back track. It was hard to figure out where the wheel was, so we stopped at a rest stop and searched. Sheila finally found it, still in good condition.

The other mishap was some exploding coke cans. We had put them near the dry ice to cool them fast, but they froze and exploded.

After arriving, Russ and Paul worked on getting the signs on the van and then we had the inspection.

Saturday morning it was up early and get ready. Since the start hotel was not that far from where we were staying, I decided to just bike over there instead of try to put his bike up on the top of the van.

Start Line

It was a lot of fun to have so many friends at the start doing the race on other teams. Franz, Gary F. and Joe F. were at the starting line.

Eight Stages

I did the “A” rider stages again this year so he started out with the first stage from the start to California City.

We had a police escort for the first 5 miles. The support vehicles have to drive out to the 24 mile mark and wait for the rides.

The 84 mile ride over to California City was fast with both a tailwind and a cross wind at times. I arrived at 1:25 pm and made the hand off to Paul. He then headed to Trona.

Paul made very good time on this state, averaging 20.3 mph.

This year we were doing much better which allowed us to drive the support vehicle on to Trona and wait. Last year we had to go into the follow the rider mode at 6 pm. Since we could get to the time station before 6 pm, we could drive ahead and be ready before Paul finished the stage. Franz decided to switch to his bike with the triple since he would be climbing Townes Pass.

Paul arrived at 5:27 PM, and I made my way towards Townes Pass as the sun was setting.

One stage that I didn’t feel like he did well on last year was this stage 3, from Trona to Furnace Creek. This year my time was 6:03 compared with 7:17 last year, so nearly a 45 minute improvement.

It was now dark as I started to climb up Townes Pass. Unlike last year, it was much warmer, but there was a strong headwind. Once he reached the summit, I switched to his other bike, which had the bright light on it. It was then a 5,000 foot drop down into Death Valley, then the long ride over to Furnace Creek.

At 10:56 pm, Paul took over and started the stage to Shoshone. That involves considerable climbing, up out of the Death Valley.

He arrived at 5:27 am, so we needed to do a night time switch, which meant I could not get out of the car and get the bike ready until after Paul reached the time station. It was still dark as I left for Baker. After 7:00 am, the support van could go ahead and get to Baker in time for Paul to enjoy a milkshake before I arrived.

I came flying into Baker at 8:53 am.

The stage to Baker was slower than last year but there was a headwind instead of the tailwind Franz had enjoyed previously. He was glad to get off the bike, if he could only get his leg over it! But when he did he found they had bought him a cheeseburger and fries. Wow that was great.

Powered by the milkshake, Paul made his way towards Kelso.

At 11:30 AM, Paul arrived at Kelso and I took the hand off and headed to Almost Amboy.

Being his last stage, I took off fast with the plan to ride this 33 miles as fast as he could, despite the climbing. Besides I had that power from the cheeseburger that he had eaten in the van on the way over.

After the 2,200 foot climb, it was a very long descent down to Almost Amboy. It was not as fast as last year when we had the tail wind but Franz still was able to average 18.9 mph. Paul then started the last stage to the finish.

The Finish

Just before the finish, as is customary, I got back on the bike so we could cross the finish line together.

It was really the effort of the entire team, both riders and crew, that made this such a rewarding experience.

We were happy we finished 69 minutes faster than last year and within 7 minutes of our target (See Results).

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