Archive for the 'Cycling Racing' category

Mt. Hamilton Race on Thanksgiving

November 29, 2009 7:46 am

One of the traditional rides on Thanksgiving morning is to make the 19 mile climb up Mt. Hamilton. There were two separate club rides up the hill that day, but I wanted an extra challenge so I joined in the race sponsored by the Low Key Hill Climb series.  Not exactly “low key”, but neither a sanctioned race.

Starting near sea level, the finish is at over 4,000 feet, the highest elevation for any local climb.  At the top there is the famous Mt. Hamilton Observatory.  With a maximum grade of about 6%, the road leading up is never real steep.  To allow the movement of the heavy equipment to build the observatory many years ago, they had to keep the grade from being too excessive.  Still, with over 18 miles of racing, mostly all up hill, it is a challenge indeed.

There was a very large turnout for the race, the most I have seen at any Low Key Hill Climb race.  I arrived around 8:30 when registration was open and we all started soon after 9:30 am.  The temperature had warmed up by then so I took off my jacket before the start and carried it for the later descent.  I started a ways back in the pack of about 200 cyclists, not wanting to get in the way of the real fast riders.  That was a bit of a mistake because I had to go around a lot of riders in the first half mile.  But soon I settled down to a fast, but constant rhythm.  I noted that my heart rate was hovering around 170 and I started to worry that maybe I was burning myself up.  This is above my Lactate Threshold so I would not be able to hold this for the 90 plus minutes of the race.  But I felt fine so I kept holding the pace and  continued to pass a few more riders.

There are two short down hill sections on the course, which allowed for some recovery.

photo by Adam Tow

photo by Adam Tow

When I was within 3 miles of the finish, I was surprised I had been able to not only keep my heart rate up, but was feeling strong enough to pickup the pace further and start to pace some additional riders who seemed to be suffering from the effect of the long climb.

IMG_2933

I crossed the finish line at the parking lot of the Observatory with a total time of 96:46.  This is a bit less than my official time of 97:03 because I did not start my watch until I reached the intersection while the front of the pact was actually positioned beyond that point when the official clock started.  Although this was not my very best time, it was a minute faster than the same race last year, so I was happy with that.

2009-11-26_at_12-11-55

When I returned home and downloaded the data from my heart rate monitor I was surprised that for the entire climb I averaged a heart rate of 168, including the downhill sections.  That means my Lactate Threshold is something above that, which is remarkable for someone nearly 62 years old.  My maximum heart rate during the climb was 176, close to my max heart rate. You can see this on this graph (click to enlarge).

LKHC-MtHam1109

Splits-LKHC-MtHam1109

When they posted the results I was 86th place out of 152 men and  it appears I had the fastest time for anyone over 60 years of age.  It is a bit difficult to be sure because this is a low key event and some people make up their own categories, but most use something related to their age.  They have a scoring system where you get some percentage of the median time.  For this race I got a score of 97.80 since I was slightly slower than the median male rider.  When I did the Montebello hill climb race last month, and set a new PR, I scored a 102.15.

My biking is not quite up to last year’s level in either total miles or feet of climbing.  Last year in the fall I did both the Everest Challenge and the Furnace Creek 508 races so I didn’t think I would do as well this year on the Mt. Hamilton race.  Even being a year older and with fewer feet of climbing, I still shaved over a minute off my time from last year.

bike_feetclimb_accum

It was a fun event.  I was surprised I was able to hold my heart rate at such a high level for so long.  I think I might have been able to push even harder but it was Thanksgiving and I wanted to have energy left to eat that big meal.  Since I burned over 1,600 calories on the race, I had no guilt eating that afternoon.

New PR up Montebello

October 3, 2009 12:46 pm

I joined the Low Key Hill Climb race today up Montebello.  This hill is about 5.3 miles in length and a climb of 1,980 feet with an average grade of about 7%.    I was able to take nearly 5 minutes off my best previous time set last year.  My final time was about 34:25.

Franz At Finish - photo by Calvin Do

I kept my heart rate high the entire climb with an average of 168 and a maximum of 174.  After the initial ramp-up, I keep it in the red zone for the whole climb, as you can see below (click graph to view enlarged).

MontebelloLKHC

1000 Warriors Time Estimates

August 17, 2009 10:00 pm

This year’s Tour of Utah should be the best yet, with 6 stages and contenders including David Zabriskie, Floyd Landis and Tour veterans Oscar Sevilla and Francisco Mancebo.  As part of the pro racing, there are some events that are open to amateur racers.  One is the 1000 Warriors, a USA Cycling certified race, where over 600 racers will compete in stage 4, which starts in Park City Utah and has a hill top finish at Snowbird ski resort.   Riding in the event will be guest wounded warriors, purple heart recipients from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

I did a similar event last year with nearly the same course.  This year John will be flying in from Atlanta to join.  Here is the best current estimate for both myself and John to reach each point.  My estimate is based on doing the same as last year and as confirmed by recent training rides where I completed the entire course on two different days.  Since John will be starting 35 minutes before I do and will be riding faster, the gap between when we arrive at the SAG stops will increase.  Anne may not have time between after I arrive at the last hand off to drive to Snowbird and park before John finishes.  For this day, civil twilight is 6:15 am and sunrise at 6:44 am.  Last year I started at 5:53 am and it was dark.  That made it a bit spooky on the first descent where I reached speeds of 41 mph.

1000 Warriors Time Estimate

95 Miles, 9,600 Feet of Climbing
Clock Distance (miles) Avg. MPH
Franz John Segment Total Franz John
Start 6:45 am 6:10 am 0 0
Midway Hand Off 8:17 am 7:34 am 30.4 30.4 19.7 21.5
Start Alpine Loop 9:03 am 8:15 am 14.9 45.2 19.2 21.5
Sundance Hand Off 9:21 am 8:32 am 2.3 47.5 7.8 8.5
Summit Alpine Loop 10:09 am 9:17 am 6.6 54.1 8.2 8.8
Westfield Hand Off 10:48 am 9:53 am 15.8 69.8 24 26
Start of Suncrest 10:50am 9:54 am 0.5 70.3 20 20
Summit Suncrest 11:17 am 10:20 am 3.9 74.2 8.7 9
Hidden Valley Hand Off 12:01 pm 11:05 am 12.7 86.8 17 17
Junction Hwy 209&210 12:09 pm 11:12 am 1.7 88.5 13 13
Finish 1:14 pm 12:17 pm 6.1 94.6 5.7 5.7
Total Time 6:29 6:07     14.6 15.4

This shows the elevation profile. The steepest grade is 9% but you can see that the Snowbird climb is at around 9% for several miles (click graph to enlarge).

TourOfUtahProfile

Here is the race route. The pros start at 11 am will finish around 3 pm.

1000 Warriors Race Preview

August 11, 2009 7:43 pm
1000 Warriors Race Preview

On August 22nd, John and I will be competed in the 1000 Warriors race, an amateur race that covers the same course as Stage 4 of the Tour of Utah. Last year I competed in the same race, then called the 300 Warriors. See my blog entry on my results. Last year it took me 6.5 hours and we started at 6 am. This year the 1000 Warriors race a USA cycling certified race so they are doing staggered starts according to category. I will be in the Masters 55+ category and will be starting around 6:30. The pros start at 11 am and will finish around 3 pm. Even though I am not in the same condition as last year, I hope to finish within 7 hours, at least 1.5 hours before the first pro to arrive. But they say we need to clear the course by 2 pm, so I want to finish at least before then.

Here is a description of the course from the official website:

The stage kicks off with a few parade laps up historic Main Street in Park City, then heads east across the farmlands of Summit County. Turning back west, riders enter what seems like another country, the Swiss-inspired town of Midway. After briefly skirting Deer Creek Reservoir, the race plunges down Provo Canyon, then turns sharply uphill as it passes Robert Redford’s Sundance resort, where it begins to climb the difficult Alpine Loop. This legendary Utah route ascends through narrow stands of aspen and fir trees, crests a saddle just under the summit of Mt. Timponogas, and plunges down a twisty, narrow highway that rivals the Alps for sheer beauty and danger. Descending back into and through suburbia, riders suffer up a “small” bump over Traverse Ridge before they have to tackle the deciding 8-12 percent climb up Little Cottonwood Canyon to the Creekside Center at the Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort.

I see the course has be modified slightly from last year and follows the route I usually take after coming down American Fork Canyon, up to Alpine before making your way over to Suncrest.

Riding with Floyd?

July 15, 2009 9:46 am

I see that Floyd Landis is riding on the Ouch Pro team on the Tour of Utah.  John and I are doing the Park City to Snowbird stage as part of the 1000 Warriors ride.  We get a 5 hour head start so I hope I don’t get caught by the pros.  It will be a tough stage with 96 miles and 10,880 feet of climbing.  Here is the route profile.

TourOfUtahProfile

I did the same stage last year and the final climb up to Snowbird was a killer.  Since John will be ahead of me and Anne will be providing SAG support for both of us, I need to figure out the timing when we will get to each meeting spot to get watter and food.

Here are my splits from last year.

Tour of Utah Stage 4 – Actual Splits

Distance: 98 mile, Climb: 10,880 feet
Section
Distance
Avg. Spd
Climbs
Clock
Start in Park City
0 5:54 am
Main Str. in Midway
33 21.5 7:25 am
Start of Alpine Loop
47 21.0 8:09 am
Alpine Loop Summit
56 8.1 1:05 9:14 am
Start of Suncrest
70 26.7 9:48 am
Suncrest Summit
75 9.4 0:31 10:19 am
Start of Snowbird Climb
90 17.0 11:08 am
Finish Snowbird
98 6.3 1:15 12:23 pm

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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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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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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One of 300 Warriors – Tour of Utah

August 16, 2008 8:00 pm

I finished, along with a limited group of 300 cyclists, stage 4 of the Tour of Utah, called the 300 Warriors. It was a great experience to ride a stage of a pro race on the same day when all the route signs were up (such as “KOM 5K”), and some of the people who had assembled early for the race cheering you on.  Although the roads were not closed for us, we had a police escort for the first 15 miles.

We were the citizen riders so we started at 6 am on Saturday, 4 hours ahead of the professional riders. The 99 mile course started the 14,788 feet of climbing in Park City, Utah, traveled over to Midway, down Provo Canyon, then up over the Alpine Loop. We went down American Fork Canyon, over Suncrest to the Salt Lake Valley, took local roads over to Little Cottonwood Canyon, then the last big climb, up to Snowbird Ski Resort.

The 300 riders started in the dark. Even though it was August, it was cold, around 42 degrees. The route took us from Park City over a hilly course to Kamas then to Midway. After making one climb we had a very fast descent. It was too dark to see my speed, but when I checked my HRM later, it was 41 mph in the dark! I was hanging with the lead riders then, but the group was growing smaller with each climb. I stayed with them for about 25 miles.   I was too far back in the peleton on a climb when I noticed a gap was opening up ahead of the riders in front of me.  I made my way around the riders who were dropping off but I could not quite catch the leaders before they went over the crest. From that point I rode the course mostly sole, occasionally getting with one or two other riders for a few miles. After 33 miles I made it into Midway, averaging 21.5 mph, which was fast considering we had climbed over 1500 feet.

Ann drove SAG but I didn’t feel she needed to follow the course. After taking us to the ride start, she headed over to Midway where she was was waiting when I arrived. I made a very quick stop, just long enough to fill my water bottle and remove some of the clothes I had been wearing due to the cold temperatures at the start. Since we had been advise to not have the SAG’s try to go over the Alpine Loop, she then was able to head home for a short period then head over for the second meeting place at mile 70 on the route.

I was able to catch two other riders leaving Midway. Since we had 11 miles on highway 189, with a lot of traffic, I was hoping to ride with others to be more visible, but I eventually went ahead of the others. The ride from Midway to the start of the Alpine loop was more rollers. I reached the turn up the canyon faster than I expected, averaging 21 mph. The climb up the Alpine loop took me 1:05. I was keeping my heart rate down to the mid 150’s, knowing we had a lot of climbing ahead. After reaching the summit, at over 8,000 feet, we had a fast descent down American Fork Canyon. We were being held up by some cars driving down and had to make our way around some of them when we had a clear view. A few miles after reaching the valley, I arrived at the second meeting place where Ann was waiting.

She filled my water bottles and handed me a PBJ sandwich, which I ate as I took off again.

I felt I had enough to finish from there and so she headed to the finish at Snowbird. I turned right up Suncrest and reached the summit in 31 minutes. It was then a steep downhill to the Salt Lake Valley. Once I reached Wasatch Blvd, it was the start of a lot of climbing as I made my way to Little Cottonwood Canyon.

From there it was a very difficult climb. The grade was a bit steeper than  Metcalf,  and it seemed to go  forever.

Maybe it was the miles at speed on my legs, but I had to grind it out. It took me 1:15 to reach the finish.

I finished in 6:29, which was 30 minutes faster than my goal. The pro winner of the race came in at 4:15. Some other well know pros were Oscar Sevilla at 4:17, Tom Danielson at 4:19 and Tyler Hamilton at 4:27. Danny Pate, Will Frischkorn and Freddy Rodrigues did not make the time cut. I was happy I was able to complete the 98 miles and 14,778 feet of climbing under 6 and half hours.

After eating lunch, we headed back to the finish where Ann and I waited for the Pros to arrive and so we could take their photos.

This chart shows my heart rate and altitude (click to elarge).

Here are my splits.

Tour of Utah Stage 4 – Actual Splits

Distance: 98 mile, Climb: 14,477 feet
Section
Distance
Avg. Spd
Climbs
Clock
Start in Park City
0 5:54 am
Main Str. in Midway
33 21.5 7:25 am
Start of Alpine Loop
47 21.0 8:09 am
Alpine Loop Summit
56 8.1 1:05 9:14 am
Start of Suncrest
70 26.7 9:48 am
Suncrest Summit
75 9.4 0:31 10:19 am
Start of Snowbird Climb
90 17.0 11:08 am
Finish Snowbird
98 6.3 1:15 12:23 pm

300 Warriors – Tour of Utah

August 14, 2008 8:10 am

I was able to get into a limited group of 300 cyclists who will do stage 4 of the Tour of Utah.   Called the 300 Warriors, we start at 6 am on Saturday, 4 hours ahead of the professional riders.    The 99 mile course starts in Park City, Utah, travels over to Midway, down Provo Canyon, then up over the Alpine Loop.  We will then go down American Fork canyon, then over Suncrest to Draper, then take the roads over to Little Cottonwood canyon, then the last big climb, up to Snowbird Ski Resort.

This stage represents over 28% of the horizontal distance and almost half the climbing in the five-day Tour of Utah stage race. Finishing this ride is the equivalent to riding the Tour de France’s Col de la Croix de Fer, Col du Télégraphe, Col du Galibier and Alpe d’Huez.  It is advertised as 99 miles and 14,778 feet of climbing. I am estimating that the the climbing will be a bit less, closer to 11,000 feet.  Here is the profile (click to enlarge).

The steepest section occurs near the end, starting at mile 95, where the grade goes to something like 20% for a quarter of a mile.

Ann will be driving SAG since this event has no support.  I have estimated my arrival time for where we will meet along the course using an estimated average speed of each segment.  Since I have not ridden on some of these roads, these are a rough estimate since I have no log data to use.  In any case, I need to finish before being caught by the pros.  The estimated times really depend on accuracy of the feet of climbing estimate.

Tour of Utah Stage 4 – Estimates

Distance: 98 mile, Climb: 14,477 feet
Section
Distance
Avg. Spd
Time
Clock
Start
0 6:00 am
Main St. in Midway
33
19
1:45
7:45 am
Turn on Alpine Loop
48
19
2:35
8:35 am
Church Hwy 92 near 6000 W
70.7 13.5 4:10 10:10 am
Church on Wasatch
86.5
14.5
5:15
11:15 am
Finish
98.1
7
7:00
1:00 pm

Civil twilight is going to be after we start so the start should be dark, and cold according to the weather forecast. I will be fun once the sun comes up and the temperatures warm. I am glad that the weather forecast for tomorrow is a bit cooler but it will be still warmer than I would like on those big climbs.