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Over the Hump #12: 5th (Intermediate, 40-49)

Over the Hump #12: 5th (Intermediate, 40-49)

My final race of the Over the Hump season went really well. I managed to hit my personal goal of a top-5 finish, and racked up enough points to place 7th overall. I'm really happy with that.

The race this week got off to a much cleaner start than last week, though I had to make my way around a guy who lined up on the front row, but didn't seem to have the gas to stay near the front at the start.

In the meantime, half a dozen riders had come around me, so I set about not burning all my matches on the first punchy rise, and making the most of the flat along the lake. I found a train & jumped on, and was content to get pulled along, and could see that we were passing others in my division. When I did pull through, I just kept the same pace & tried to bring the rest of the train with me, but it broke apart and I found myself alone again on the CX section, which was fine with me.

I grabbed another wheel through the second lap's flat section, and actually felt like I'd recovered a bit going into the back half of the race. I just concentrated on cornering well and carrying as much speed as I could.

I came through the last lap feeling like I had a bit of a gap, but knowing that I'd had just a few seconds at best in every race so far. I wasn't about to let off the gas.

The course doubled back on itself several times near the end of the lap, so I could see that I had a little bit of a gap going into the final 500m or so of the race. But I wasn't about to take anything for granted. Nobody behind me for 30m or so was good, but no guarantee of anything.

I pushed over the top of the last rise and tried to carry as much speed as I could over the pump section. Coming out of the final, loose, uphill right-hander before the finish I hit the gas hard, and just tried to make sure I didn't give away any opportunities at the last moment. If anyone was going to get around me, I wanted to at least make them earn it. The only thought in my head was, Looking back just makes you slower! GO!

The way things shook out, I earned an overall score I'm fine with, hit my goal of a top-5 finish (which I thought wasn't going to happen), and have a nice pint glass as a souvenir. That's a pretty great way to finish out the season.

Next year, I'll aim to improve on that. But for now, I'm going to rest up for a week or two, then hit the weights & start laying the groundwork for next year.

Over the Hump #11: 9th (Intermediate, 40-49)

Over the Hump #11: 9th (Intermediate, 40-49)

Life got in the way for a couple of weeks, and I missed races #9 and #10. So it was really fun to be back at the start line this week for #11.

Another flat course, another super-fast start. The start was hectic, and by the time the field settled I knew the leaders had gapped everyone else, and I wasn't sure where I was sitting. So I just tried to push and get clear. I've learned to just get away as fast as I can without burning out the legs immediately, and that worked out okay this week.

The flat along the lake was early in the lap, and a few riders came around me soon after that. (Either on the short, sharp climb that ends the flat, or on the CX-style section that followed.) But I was able to grab a wheel here and there and hold my pace, and managed to pull back a few places on the second lap.

By the time I hit the flat on the third lap, there was just one competitor near me. He tried to pass on the sharp climb after the flat, but I got ahead & built a lead on the CX section, and by the time I was headed for the finish, I could see I had a comfortable gap.

Just the same, I pushed hard through the last climbing S-turn to the finish, not wanting a replay of race #7.

There were lots of trains forming during this race for some reason. (I think the course brought the Sport/Elite classes together with the Beginner/Intermeditates more than usual.) I ended up pulling a few for a while before realizing they were behind me.

So, if I have a note from this week, it's to look for trains to jump onto on the flat. The two that I did manage to fall in wich picked up my speed by ~2mph, which is a huge energy advantage.

So, ultimately, I had an okay start, held my pace, managed to pick up a couple of spots on lap 2, and finished strong. Pretty good!

Over the Hump #8: 7th (Intermediate, 40-49)

Over the Hump #8: 7th (Intermediate, 40-49)

Up 5 places! Quite an improvement over last week!

Before the race, I scoped out the finish and made a mental note of the beats: climb, coast, flat, hard left, sprint. This really helped at the end of the race when I was just about cooked, but knew I had to make the most of that coasting section so I'd have something left to push across the flat & sprint for the finish.

The start was the usual drag race off the line, followed by a steep, narrow ramp about 200m from the start that created enough of a bottleneck that the first guys through basically got the hole shot. I didn't get held up too bad, but I didn't exactly roll through with any momentum.

On the fire road climb I just tried to hold an aggressive pace and stay with whomever I could, and I especially tried not to let myself get stuck behind slower riders. If I could pass without redlining, I did.

I think that helped my position going over the top, which ended up being pretty close to my finishing place, I think. I have a pet theory that if there's just one climb on a course, the order at the top is generally the finishing order. That seems to have held last night.

As we started the second lap, I caught up to a competitor in blue, and managed to grab onto his wheel.

We rode like that for a while, then, on the flats headed for the last climb, he let me pass and grabbed a wheel a couple of riders behind me. I tried to lose him in traffic, but he held on, and then made the decisive pass with about 20m left to go on the climb. I had no answer, and had to let him go.

As I was crossing the flat section leading to the finish line, I spotted another competitor trying to sneak past, and gave it a bit more gas. He was strong, but evidently not quite enough to pass, so I was able to hold on for 7th.

So what went well?

I was in the right gear & clipped in clean off the starting line.

I was more aggressive about passing slower riders, which I think both reduced drag and helped me keep a comfortable rhythm.

I managed to mostly avoid getting passed on the last lap. From what I can tell, I held my place from the top of the climb to the end.

I scoped out the finish, and executed my plan for the end of the race.

And what do I want to do better next week?

I don't think getting better results is all that complex. I need to keep training & get stronger, and I need to start quicker off the line. Being near the front after the first few minutes bodes really well for a good finish.

So I'll keep up the interval training, and the strength work I've been doing over the last few weeks.

Over the Hump 07/30/2019

Over the Hump #7: 12th (Intermediate, 40-49)

Over the Hump #7: 12th (Intermediate, 40-49)

My recent training is paying off huge. My average heart rate last night was 171bpm, which is nuts.

Temperatures were high, and with very little sustained climbing, the pace was murderous. My heart rate jumped straight up above 170 and stayed there for at least the first 15 minutes, and rarely dipped below that. (My average for the race was 171.)

I was sitting 10th until the very last half-mile or so, when I was caught by two guys. They both sprinted past me in the final seconds of the race to push me back to 12th. I was so cooked that even when I realized I was in a bunch headed for the finish line, it still didn't register that I should sprint out of the final corner to hold them off, and even when they passed me, my only thought was to check their leg markings to see if they were in my division. Whups...

I'm pleasantly surprised with how I feel today, after turning myself inside-out last night. I'm fatigued, certainly, but I'm not the kind of stiff & sore I expected. One more way my trainaing has paid off, I supposed.

I have thoughts about what went well, and what didn't. But ultimately, it's clear that if I want to move up in the field, I simply have to get stronger & leaner.

I was told recently that I'm too big (frame, not fatness) for cycling, but mountain biking is the realm of speedy gorillas. So many guys in the field are built like power lifters. So my near- to long-term training goals are to drop the rest of this excess fat I'm carrying around, and add some serious muscle.

But for now, the name of the game is to get out and do the rest of my training for this week, and then recover & prep for next week's race.

Over the Hump 07/23/2019

Training Update

I'm done numbering the weeks. Tahoe is off, and The Grizzly 100 is at the end of September. That's close enough that I need to start thinking about it, but today's not about that.

I just wrapped up the second block of Strava TCTP training, and the results have been great.

I used Coachwhip as my fitness test. I've been chasing a new PR there for a long time, and it's a sustained 10-minute dirt climb close to home. My litmus test for the Strava program was: Can this restore forward progress to my Coachwhip PRs?

Answer: Hell yes.

The first training block improved my time from 9:25 to 9:12, good enough for a new PR.

The second block got me down to 8:53, which I'm really pleased with. I've been trying to get under 9:00 for ages.

Two months of training took 32 seconds off a 9-minute climb. That's damn fine progress.

And across the board, I'm improving. My endurance is up, I'm holding my HR at 170BPM on my hill repeats (up from 165 or so) and I'm recovering from workouts really well.

Interesting sidenote: I've noticed in the past that I need to "wake up" my legs before I can perform at my best. I initially attempted a PR after a day of easy riding and a rest day, and was way, way off the pace.

I went back the very next day, and was 40 seconds faster to score that 8:53 PR.

I can't help thinking of the Limestone Canyon race, where I felt sluggish. It was the same pattern: a day of easy riding, a day of rest, then race. For my next race or PR attempt, I'll do some riding the day before and see how that feels.

Coachwhip PR: 8:53

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