Friday, December 23, 2011

Determining FTP - Test # 2

Leo's trail.

The trail where I walk Leo is pretty easy to spot in daylight. Surprisingly, the trail is also not all that hard to spot in the dead of night. What helps to differentiate the trail at night are the different shades of grey that mark the trail from the rest of the ground. A similar analogy can be drawn in determining Functional Threshold Power (FTP).

A problem with using test results to determine FTP are the many variables that can affect the outcome. How "fresh" one is on the day of the test, how motivated, the test environment itself, whether it was done outside or on the trainer, whether there was adequate cooling, all affect the results of the test. Comparing test results is even more difficult when different test protocols are used across tests. So, even though two FTP tests may provide two distinct FTP estimations, sometimes recognition of different shades of grey is required to hone in on a realistic FTP value.

Case in point, here are the results from 2 tests of FTP:

Date5 min20 minFTP*
Nov 7, 2011309W269W255W
Dec 14-16, 2011320W287W276W
* estimated

The test results shown above suggest an increase in FTP of 21 Watts in six weeks. While good for the ego, common sense suggests such an increase seems somewhat optimistic. A more likely explanation is that the first and second tests under-estimated and over-estimated FTP, respectively.

There is good reason to think that Test #1 underestimated FTP. The test followed a protocol prescribed in Training and Racing With a Power Meter, shown in the table below:

warm up
5 min all-out
10 min RI
2x1 min all-out (5 min RI)
3x20 sec all-out (3 min RI)
10 min RI
20 min FTP test
cool down

As you can see from the workout above, by the time the 20 min test is done,  the legs have been considerably "softened". In addition, that test was my first effort on the Trainer since last spring; typically indoor power tends to be lower than outdoor power at least initially (see Alex Simmon's blog on this). In this light, common sense suggests this estimate of FTP (95% of 20 min power) was probably low. I'm guessing about 5 Watts low.

Conversely, there is good reason to think that Test #2 over-estimated FTP. This test used a different protocol from Test #1 requiring a 5 min and 20 min test done on separate days and using a Monod Critical Power calculator to estimate FTP. The Monod Critical Power uses two interval readings to extrapolate one's power curve and, according to Alex Simmons, is <snip> "essentially equivalent to FTP (or at least a very good estimate of FTP)" <snip>. A pre-condition for using the Monod Critical Power estimate is that the tested intervals measure one's "best effort" at that interval. For this reason, it is important to test them on separate days so that the first effort doesn't interfere with the second effort.

According to the Monod Critical Power formula, my 5 min and 20 min test results of 320 Watts and 287 Watts, respectively, yield a critical power of 276 Watts. However, the Monod Critical Power formula falls down if either of the tests fails to measure one's true potential at that interval. For example, plugging a lower 5 minute value into the formula actually increases critical power while using a higher 5 minute value lowers it. In my case, I suspect that my 5 minute test was on the low side. Most of my training sessions have been 25 minute intervals; my 5 minute power has been comparatively untrained. Also, my legs felt still somewhat fatigued from my Egg Nog Jog effort. In this light, I'm not convinced that the Monod Critical Power calculation is a good estimate of FTP in my case at this time. A more reasonable estimation of 270 Watts makes more sense.

Date5 min20 minFTP*
Nov 7, 2011309W269W260W
Dec 14-16, 2011320W287W270W
* revised estimate

Taken together, the revised estimates of FTP suggest an increase of 10 Watts over the six weeks; a much more reasonable increase. Both tests above provide ballpark estimates of FTP. But accounting for shades of grey such as discussed above provide more common-sense estimates.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2012 Racing Schedule

The OCA has published the tentative 2012 schedule which has allowed me to map out my tentative 2012 schedule. A lot of races to choose from so it won't be an easy decision.

Good = quite likely
Maybe = interested but depends on what Kurzawinski crew are doing
Undecided = schedule conflict; i want to do one or the other.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

2011 Egg Nog Jog - Race Report

It's generally not a good idea to binge on 5 slices of pizza and 3 glasses of wine the day before a race. The Tums didn't do much, it was a rough night. Thankfully, this indiscretion didn't become a factor during the race. Nevertheless, it was cause for concern on race morning.

Upon arrival at Terra Cotta Conservation Area, I was directed to a parking spot right near the registration tent. Sweet! Especially on a cold and windy day like today. The registration tent at the Egg Nog Jog was one of the large canvas tents that you see at outdoor parties. Inside, it was heated! I registered, picked up my race kit, and attached race number to race belt (I have to say that having the timing chip in the race number bib makes registration a lot easier). I met up with fellow Falcons: Peter Halferty, Herb Lockhart, Colin Chung and a few others and chatted for a bit before heading out with Peter for a warmup.

My first steps felt a bit creaky. The quads were still feeling the effects of yesterday's vigorous mountain bike ride with the Kurzawinski crew so it took awhile to warm up. It wasn't so much of a cardio warmup as a loosening up of the legs. With my winter bike-focus, I was running considerably less this year and was under no illusions of being quick on this day. Peter and I got back to the start line just as the MC announced 2 minutes until race start. Good timing! We positioned ourselves in the second row near the front, with 500 or so runners behind us, and waited for the race start.

It always amazes me how fast the front runners get off the line at this race. The entire front row launched down the park entrance way  Runners sprinted by me to the first corner onto Winston Churchill. I actually got clipped by one over-exuberant runner who fully sprinted by like he was running the 100 yard dash. I was doing my best to keep up but my best wasn't very good on this day. Maybe I should have warmed up a little more aggressively because my lungs were struggling to keep up. John Grace (eventual winner of the 60-64 AG) and Brad Mailloux passed me, chatting with each other while I was gasping for breath. But after about half a mile I'd found a pretty good rhythm and began to reel in half a dozen or so runners who had earlier passed me. I passed the mile marker, near the bottom of the long downhill, at 5:48 which was not particularly speedy for this fast part of the race but not too shabby either.

Turning the corner onto King Road, I felt the headwind. I needed a draft. There was a runner not too far ahead so I bridged up and stayed in his draft for a short while. Too slow as this runner was fading fast. I went around and tried to bridge up to a group of 6 or 7 runners ahead but that gap wasn't closing.

Turning North onto Sideroad 27, I was met with the day's first climb. Ugh! My 55 year old engine struggled. The gap to the group ahead widened. I tried not to lose too much distance and by the time we turned West into the headwind again, I was within striking distance of stragglers. Passing the first of the stragglers, I heard footsteps behind me. A draft! I let him pass (yeah, right) and tucked in behind. We made good time along the rolling hills of this section and by the time we turned the corner onto 10th Line North, we had passed several more stragglers. Heading North along 10th Line, my pace bunny began to pull away. I was now out of the head wind so let him go; trying to match his pace would have been too costly.

I picked off a couple more runners before reaching "the hill". If you've done the Egg Nog Jog before then you know which hill I mean. It's the one that goes straight up and never ends. My creaky old engine sputtered and coughed as I struggled up "the hill" and one of the youths I'd passed earlier passed me back. I heard the bagpipe guy who seems to show up for every race and that spurred me on and, as we crested the top of "the hill", the youth was not all that far ahead and I was able to bridge back up to him. I passed the youth him on the subsequent downhill section with Brad Mailloux now on my heels.

"The Hill" - a category 5 climb, midway through the race.

Brad is the co-owner of Feet in Motion, the Georgetown running store that sponsors the race and awards gift certificates to the top 3 men and women in each age group; great guy! In 2006, Brad finished 27th overall and I finished 29th. In 2007, I was 23rd and Brad 24th. In 2008, I came 25th and Brad 26th. In 2009, I didn't "race" so that year doesn't count but last year, I came 13th and Brad 16th. So it wasn't really all that surprising when I glanced back to see Brad there on my heels at this midway point in the race.

Brad stayed with me the rest of the way up 10th Line as we picked off at least one other runner. We picked off another runner as we turned East onto the pavement along Sideroad 32. After that, I could see there were no more runners to pick off and the thing to focus on now was on not getting picked off myself. I kept up a pretty good pace along Sideroad 32 with a bit of a tail wind and one downhill section, pushing my engine about as hard as I could while keeping my diaphragm relaxed so as to avoid any side stitches.

Brad passed me as we made the turn South onto Winston Churchill. He had more than I on this day and I couldn't match his pace. With only 2 km to go, I maintained focus, concentrating on good form; what I lacked in aerobic fitness, I tried to make up for with mechanical advantage (have you ever thought about how the arch of the foot is shaped like an inverted leaf spring. I could actually feel the spring effect with each step as I ran along this section).

The youth who had passed me on "the hill" again passed me with about 1 km to go. By now we were close to the steep downhill section. The end of the race was very close now. I could hear footsteps behind me and did not want to get picked off by any more runners so gave it everything I had. Two hundred yards to the park entrance way. I glanced behind, turning into the park too see I had a gap. I sprinted the final 200 meters. Well, maybe "sprint" is a bit of a stretch but I let it all out and crossed the line in a time of 45:04, three seconds slower than last year and 2 places behind Brad, eighteenth overall and first in my age group. YAY!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Bikes in my garage

I had some time to kill this morning while waiting for the weather to warm up before my ride and decided to catalog the bikes that are currently in my garage.

Steve Bauer Chinook. 
My first racing after getting hooked on triathlon. I paid $150 for it. I've since upgraded most of the parts, including STI shifters. It's now my winter bike. Notice the headlight and taillight for night riding. It still rides great. It's also wired for the Powertap

Cervelo P2 SL - my TT bike. I rode this to a 2:37 bike split at the 2009 Muskoka 70.3. It's been neglected lately. I intend  to rectify that next year. It's wired for the Powertap.

Guru Racelite - my first really decent bike. It has carbon forks, chain-stay, and seat post which gives a really nice ride. I transferred most of the components to my Masi and re-built this using hand-me-down components. This bike did the Ironman France course. It's now Alysha's bike.

Opus Allegro and Masi 3VC - the Opus is Jon's bike. The Masi is my current ride and I love it. It's unbelievably light. Powertaps on both.

Ridley Crossbow - my new cyclocross bike. Haven't ridden it much but intend to race it next year. It will get wired for the Powertap.

Specialized Hardrock - this was Jon's bike when he was 10. It was in a state of disrepair for quite a few years but I recently restored it to do some trail riding this fall.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Underway - Test # 1

So, my winter training program is officially underway. It sort of got underway last week as I had a pretty full training week but officially this week is the start of the program. Today I did some tests on the trainer to determine my power profile. Here is the result:

Weight (kg)
Power Profile

5 sec
1 min
5 min
moderate (Cat 4)

FTP (.95*20')
moderate (Cat 4)

The important numbers from the above table are my Functional Threshold (based on a 20' test) and my current weight in kg. My estimated FTP is 255 watts which is a little bit discouraging as my best 20' interval from just over a month ago yielded an estimated FTP of 276 watts. On the other hand, today's test was done on the trainer and it's not atypical to under-perform on the trainer as compared to outdoors. The important thing is that I now have a benchmark from which to determine my training zones for the next 6 weeks.

My current weight of 75.5 kg tells me I have 5.5 kg to lose in 18 weeks and that's certainly doable. My FTP goal is to reach 300 watts in 18 weeks which, at a current FTP of 255, would suggest I'd need to raise my FTP by 45 watts, a tall order at best. I'd be happy with a 30 watt increase on the trainer which I think would translate to pretty close to 300 watts on an outside test.

Something I've been paying a lot of attention to lately is my position on the bike, for two reasons. One reason is that I've been experiencing chronic pain along my left ITB following long and/or hard rides and I think that a lot of that has to do with my position on the bike. The second reason is similar; during a long and/or hard ride, I experience lower back soreness. Again, I think that this has something to do with bike fit. 

What I discovered today is that the trainer is perfect for making adjustments to bike fit. During my 15 minute warmup, I took the time to focus on areas of tightness or discomfort as I was pedaling. I found that lowering the seat about 10 mm and moving it forward about 20 mm all but eliminated the discomfort and made pedaling seem more natural. Consequently, I was able to complete the 2 hour ride, with some very hard intervals, without any lower back pain. Even better, I experienced no pain along my ITB whatsoever from the session. This is very encouraging. In future, I'll be tweaking the fit on all my bikes using the trainer.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lining up the ducks

It's one week before the start date to my ambitious winter project and there a few things I need to do in order to be able to "hit the ground running" so to speak.

I've fleshed out a schedule for week 1 to get a handle on what kind of training volume I'm looking at. My weekly template starts off looking something like this:

  • Mon: core, 60' AR (active recovery)
  • Tue: core, 6k run, 90' SS (sweet spot) training
  • Wed: core, 6k run, 120' TE (tempo) or HOP (hour of power -see 'Recovery on the Edge' article)
  • Thu: core, 6k run, 60' E (endurance)
  • Fri: core, 60' AR
  • Sat: core, 120' E or outdoor ride
  • Sun: core, 60' TH (threshold) or HOP, long run (11k to start)

From here, the progressive overload will come from increasing the tempo workouts up to sweet spot and the endurance workouts up to tempo. As well, I'll be extending the long run distance. In the second and third 6-week block, I'll throw in some 2-5 min intervals as well as more frequent surges in some of the workouts in order to raise my top end.

I ordered a couple of new books to help give me some ideas for mixing up the workouts somewhat:

  • Training and Racing With a Power Meter by Allen and Coggan
  • The Time Crunched Cyclist by Chris Carmichael
On first perusal, these both look like good books. They have influenced my training schedule already, before I've even begun. Both books have provided a basic starting point for the kind of hours and intensity a pure cyclist would be expected to put into training. Training and Racing With a Power Meter also discuses the concepts of power profiling and fatigue profiling and from this I established my power and fatigue profiles from the 2011 season.

Basically, my power profile looks something like this:

  • neuromuscular (5 sec) power: untrained
  • anaerobic capacity (1 min): untrained
  • VO2 max (5 min) power: moderate/good
  • FTP (20 min) power: moderate

This makes sense because I didn't train any of these systems; I just rode. Many of the rides were hard group rides and this explains the moderately good 5 min power and reasonable FTP but I had difficulty in race situations that depended on short, hard efforts and this is explained by my poor power at short durations. So the power profile is informative; it tells me what I need to work on this winter.

My fatigue profile looks something like this:

  1. neuromuscular (5, 10, 20 sec) power: above average
  2. anaerobic capacity (30 sec, 1 min, 2 min): average
  3. VO2 max (3, 5, 8 min) power: average
  4. FTP (20 min) power: below average-average

The fatigue profile measure the dropoff or fatigue within a training zone. An above average fatigue profile means that power doesn't drop off much across the different intervals within a zone. A below average profile reflects a significant drop in power within a particular zone. The fact that I have a pretty much average fatigue profile probably reflects the fact, again, that I haven't trained to my zones. But I also haven't properly tested my zones. A proper test might give a more informative profile so a test is in order this week before I begin the training program. So, that's 2 tests I will need to do this week: one test to determine my NP and AC profiles and a second to determine my VO2 profile and FTP.

Thoughts about nutrition, in conjunction with my weight goal (<70 kg), have prompted me to consider some dietary changes for the duration of my 18-week training program. Kane's blog about the dietary changes imposed on him has also inspired me in this regard. So, these are my dietary commitments for program. Some of them are a bit fuzzy so I'll need to try and make these more measurable.

  • no refined sugars except during training
  • no coffee except before a hard or long training session
  • reduced wheat intake except in the training window (3 hours before and 3 hours after a hard session)
  • 1 beer per week
  • no "instant" food - if I haven't prepared it then I can't eat it
  • more fruits and vegetables
So, apart from the tests this coming week, I'm about ready. And it's about time; I've been getting really antsy lately after several weeks of unstructured workouts.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

A New Season, A New Quest

There was a time where I dreaded Fall. Triathlon is a Summer sport. As a triathlete, I love summer. Fall, on the other hand, has only served to remind me of the impending onslaught of Winter. However, since last year, the arrival of Fall has come more to represent the start of a new season than the end of an old. The new season I'm referring to here being my training season.

My training season runs from Oct-Sep. Previously, it has been triathlon-focused. The advent of a new season has typically had me looking forward to the following summer. The winter running-season has typically been merely a vehicle to get me through the rigours of Winter. Last winter was made more interesting by a sub-three hour Boston marathon goal. I didn't achieve my goal but I gave it a pretty good shot and I did a lot of things right in my Winter training for that race. This year I have a new goal that has me excited about the upcoming Winter season.

Next year will have me venturing into cycle racing. To prepare for that, I need to get stronger on the bike. So, as my "off-season" quest, I challenge myself to raise my  Functional Threshold Power (FTP). Functional Threshold Power (FTP) is defined as "the highest mean average power or pace one can maintain for one hour" (see Joel Friel's blog for a more detailed discussion of FTP - By all accounts, it's regarded as the benchmark of one's cycling fitness; the higher the FTP, the stronger the cyclist (see Hunter Allen's blog for a discussion on why raising one's FTP makes one a faster cyclist - The prescription for raising one's FTP is a steady diet of 20, 30, and 60 minute intervals at close to one's current FTP. This is, no two ways about it, extremely hard work.

The first thing I have to do is measure my current Functional Threshold Power. There are several methods of estimating one's Functional Threshold Power (see Alex Simmons' cycle blod - But the best way to measure the highest mean average power I can maintain for one hour is to ride as hard as I can for one hour and see what my average watts is from that session. I can tell you right now, it's gonna hurt. I can derive a pretty good estimate of my FTP from my Tour De Hans file. My mean maximal 1 hour power from that ride was 262 watts which, given that this was measured somewhere within a 3 hour ride, is probably low. My mean maximal 20 min power was 291. Taking 95% of that value yields 276 watts which seems a bit high. So I'm going with 270 watts as my current FTP which seems about right. But my first real test in November should tell the real story.

So how much do I want to raise my Functional Threshold by? I'd like to reach for a 30 watt improvement which would have my FTP up in the 300 watt range. But increasing my FTP doesn't tell the whole story. Another important measure of bike power is one's watts per kilogram. At my current weight of 75 kg and current estimated FTP of 270, my watts per kilogram is 3.6 which is moderately good (somewhere in the mid cat 4 range by cycle racing standards). A 300 watt FTP at 70 kg would put me at about 4.3 watts per kilogram which is about on the border between cat 3 and cat 2. And that would be enough to make me competitive in the Masters 3 category. So a secondary goal is to knock 5 kg off my weight; this is at least as aggressive as a 30 watt increase in FTP.

My trainer-bound quest will begin about November 7 which is the day after the end of Daylight Savings Time and the clocks are adjusted back one hour. After this date, it becomes too cold and dark to ride outside during the week and the risk of snow makes scheduling unpredictable. Hopefully, I'll be back to riding outside by March 12, 2012 which is when Daylight Savings Time resumes for 2012. That leaves me with 18 weeks or three 6-week blocks to achieve my goal. Also, that's 4 tests of FTP, one the week before Nov 7 and one at the end of each 6-week block and three milestone dates on which to measure my progress. Until Nov 7, I'll ride outside as much as I can to give me a good base from which to begin my quest.

There is no room for swimming in my quest and, if I were completely focused, there should be no room for running either. But the Sunday long run with my friends is something I'm not prepared to give up. Also, my running partner, Leo, would not take too kindly to a cessation in running activity. So my running will continue, albeit at a maintenance level of three 30 minute runs and one long run per week. Four races will help get me through the winter:

  • Dec 11 - Egg Nog Jog
  • Dec 26 - Boxing Day 10 Miler
  • Jan 29 - Robbie Burns 8k
  • Mar 4 - Chilly Half Marathon
Bring on the new season and let the quest begin!

Leo, my running partner

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tour de Hans Report, 2011

In August, when we (FMCT club members) first discussed doing this race, every day was sunny and hot. And, though we were aware the race date was in October, there were no thoughts about it being a cold, windy, wet race. So at 5:15 am when the weather forecast for the morning predicted 25 kph N winds with a high of 7 degrees and occasional showers, the race lost a little of its lustre. Despite the sudden change in weather conditions, I was still excited about doing the race. My recent decision to focus on bike racing for next season had me eager to get my feet wet (no pun intended).

My Centurion 100 race, two weeks ago, was successful beyond  expectations. But, apart from the climbs, my race plan had me sitting back in the peleton conserving energy for the most part. My goal for this race was akin to throwing myself into the deep end of the pool. I intended to race aggressively. Larry and I had discussed the upcoming race and he was of the same mind. Let's go "balls to the wall," he agreed.

After shivering through the announcements for 20 minutes, the front corral was given the go ahead to roll out to the start line with the other three corrals lining up behind us. A few more minutes of shivering by the start line and we were off.

The course had us heading in the opposite direction, away from the start-finish line, for a 5 km out and back before the start-finish line was actually crossed. I liked this part because it served as a decent neutral roll-out and warmup. The pace picked up noticeably once we crossed the start-finish line.

Crossing the start line, on the left that's Larry in the red helmet and blue Falcons jersey, Simon Whitfield up front in black, and Luke Ehgoetz on the right in blue-white helmet.

For the first couple of kilometres, I lost Larry's wheel as other riders aggressively jostled for position. But I was  riding close to Bruce Bird, winner of the Centurion 100, and it felt pretty cool to be riding beside the Bird-man so I stayed put. But before too long I lost his wheel as well. "Not being aggressive enough," I thought. So I started poking my nose into any gap in the peleton I could find and made my way back up to Larry. Shortly after, we made the right hand turn onto Foundry Street. Well some of us did. Seems the lead police car was unsure of the route and led the immediate leaders straight instead of making the turn. There was some creative riding over ditches and lawns as riders scrambled to catch back on.

The next turn, onto Synders Road, had a railroad crossing and, I should have seen it coming, the lead riders hammered as soon as they'd made the turn. I pedaled hard, to bridge the gap, but in the back of my mind I was expecting the pace to slow again after the initial surge. This did not happen and riders flew by me on both sides before I realized that this was IT. I dug deep and buried myself for a hundred metres or so. Still not closing the gap. A rider went by on my left with Simon Whitfield on his wheel and I tried to grab onto the back of Whitfield's wheel. No dice! Another 3 riders went by and this time I was able to catch a wheel. The peleton was just ahead but we weren't getting any closer. We bridged up to Whitfield and the other guy and picked up a couple of others as we tried to rejoin the peleton but no good. It was as good as gone! And we weren't even 20 km into the race yet! Normalized power up to this point was 281 watts which meant I was working my ass off. To top if off, we were riding into a headwind.

After a few more kilometres, my breathing returned to somewhat normal and I was able to wipe the white froth that had been foaming at the mouth and actually take some pulls. I tried to limit my pulls to about 2 minutes as the pace was taxing and the wind was punishing. Ar one point, as Simon went by (we were on a first name basis by now), he told me "strong pull" which made me feel good. It may not actually have been Simon who said it but by the time I tell the story to my grandkids, it will definitely have been him that said that so I might as well start somewhere with the story.

There were maybe three or four riders in our group of about 10 who weren't pulling at all but, thankfully, there were two or three strong riders in the group including Larry's friend, Luke Ehgoetz who was as strong as a horse. I was wishing the group would get better organized and implement a rotating echelon but that did not happen and I was too busy trying to hang on to try and organize something myself. (Whitefield had peeled off to finish the 50k route by this point). We picked up 2 or 3 cast offs from the first peleton, one of which tried to get something organized but it seemed that some riders in the group just didn't "get it". And for it to work, everyone needed to "get it".

We turned SE onto Ament line and for the first time enjoyed a tail wind. The pace picked up. Ehgoetz went to the front again and took such a strong pull that he gapped the group. Nobody seemed to be doing anything about it so I went to the front and slowly bridged back up to Ehgoetz. At this point, I should have gone to the back again after the exertion of bridging the gap but I stayed on Ehgoetz's wheel. And when signalled me through I had to pull again. I did my two minutes and peeled off to let the next guy through. The pace picked up. I scrambled to get on the back. I was barely there but there was a cross-wind and I was having to dig deep just to keep pace. There was a hill looming (the KOM hill) and I could feel I had nothing left for the hill. I was right. And that was that. For the next 25 km, I rode alone, watching as the small group I had been a part of slowly pulled away.

After letting go of the group I was able to rest and felt much better after even a short rest. My legs felt strong and I got into time trial mode and started to grind out the k's. It was my lower back that was the weak link which made me wish I'd been more vigilant of late in completing my core exersizes. It's only 12 minutes of core I do each day (or at least intend to do) but I find it makes a difference both in terms of core strength and flexibility. Nevertheless, I was still making decent time and I was happy with that. One of my other goals for this race, in addition to wanting to be aggressive, was to not give up. I had given up at Tour de Terra Cotta and it left a bad taste in my mouth. So it was comforting, in a masochistic kind of way, that I was able to still push despite being dropped. Every once in awhile, during my solo stint, I would take a look back. If there was a group catching me, it didn't make sense to continue to time trial if the inevitable catch was going to be made. Better to sit up and wait for the group.

At around the 75km mark, I saw the next group. And it was a large enough group that it had its own police escort so I sat up and waited. But as soon as the lead riders reached me, I went to the front as part of my continuing aggressive strategy. It's a funny thing riding in a group. It's only a theory of mine but I suspect that, left to its own devices, a bigger group will push only as hard as it has to. Today, I found this to be frustrating and any chance there was to work with someone off the front, I took it. Usually it was the same guy. We would inevitably get reeled back in but I feel that it tended to keep the peleton honest as well as satisfying my aggressive urges of the day. It was following one of these mini break-aways that I noticed Jon come race up with the chasing peleton. He had been in the group from the start of the race and for the last 10 km I was completely unaware. Kinda cool to meet him in a race. For the next 10+ kilometres I continued to push the pace until we turned North on Queen street for the final 2.5 km. Here we had a headwind once again so I sat back and let some of the others work while I saved myself for the final sprint.

Just prior to making the right turn onto Bleam for the final 500 metres of the race, I manouvred over to the right to be sheltered from the cross wind. One of the stronger guys led out and I got onto his wheel. But after about a third of the way to the finish, I noticed another guy making a break and was able to grab his wheel. I stuck to his wheel and watched the finish line approach, getting ready to time my final kick and first ever sprint finish in a race. But a quick glance behind me told me that the two of us were alone out front. I eased up and let the other guy take the position ahead of me. He was the guy who I had worked with to try and break away and had done a lot of the work to motivate the peleton so I wasn't interested in taking a spot from him.

Overall, this was another fantastic race experience for me. I left this race feeling more motivated than ever to work hard this winter and make myself more race competitive. My power numbers demonstrated that I had indeed achieved my goal of being aggressive as my 20 min and 60 min watts were the higher than they've been all season as was the total average watts for the race (238 watts, normalized power 268 watts). We lucked out with the weather as the rain held off until we were finished the race. The post race food and beer was well received and it was great to socialize with the gang after the race. Congratulations to Larry Bradley and Rolie Springall who finished 21st and 13th, respectively, out of a field that included some tough competitors (the race winner, Ryan Roth, is a pro with the Spidertech team. Second place, Bruce Bird, was winner at the Centurion 100). Good job guys!

Bring on Tour de Pelham!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Toronto Donut Ride

I got an email from Larry on Friday night: "Hey, have you ever heard of the Toronto Donut Ride? We should try that one Sunday."

"Never heard of it but i'm up for it," I reply.

"They even have a wikipedia entry if you google it," Larry types back.

So I google it and sure enough they have a wikipedia entry. They even have a website.

I was signed up to do the Toronto 10k Zoo Run the next morning but I haven't been running much and, well, my heart just wasn't in it. So, instead, I packed up my bike and drove down to do the Toronto Donut Ride.
The ride starts promptly at 9:00 am and draws upwards of 130 riders on a good day. As luck would have it, three lanes of the 401 were closed at Dixon which had me arriving for the ride at 8:55. As I drove by the tiny parking lot, I saw maybe half a dozen riders milling about, certainly not the advertised 130+. But, what the heck, I wanted a group ride and I was here. I parked in the Canadian Tire parking lot across the street,  quickly got ready, and was in front of the Great Canadian Bakery (used to be a Dunkin donuts) for 9:00.
The ride rolled out about 9:01. Miraculously, more people had arrived in the 5 minutes it took to park my car and get my shit together and just as we were leaving another group rode up along Eglington to join us. Three riders shot up the street ahead and I followed, pushing upwards of 300 watts as I chased the leaders as they chatted about something or other. Pretty brisk start for what was purportedly an easy roll out but after glancing behind I saw that the rest of the peleton were a ways back and proceeding at a much more leisurely pace.

We cut through a couple of side streets to get to Bayview, passed a church and picked up another group of riders and as we proceeded North on Bayview picked up riders here and there and before long we must have been close to 100 riders. It was pretty awesome riding in such a big pack of cyclists. Many of them were chatting about the Centurion from the weekend before. I rode up beside some guy in a Les Domestiques jersey and asked if he had been at the Centurion. He replied that, unfortunately, he had not but his club mates had filled him in on the good time he missed. We made a few more turns through side streets and were soon heading West along Hwy 7. 

The group composition was interesting. A good proportion of the cyclists wore just cycling caps, skull caps, or nothing at all on their heads. Although the group was predominantly male, there were a number of pretty strong female cyclists in the group. The jerseys were of all types, from club jerseys to pro-team jerseys like Garmin-Cervelo and Phonak to just plain jerseys. As we headed West along Hwy 7, a small group broke off the front and, as I'd read that the group splits up at some point as the faster riders forge ahead, I thought I'd missed the break. But the peleton re-formed at the next light. After that though, I moved closer to the front.

Eventually, the peleton headed North along Keele, picking up even more riders along the way. There was a long stretch of traffic light after traffic light but eventually we arrived at the open road and the pace picked up immediately. I had been moved back to about the midpack of the peleton at this point so as a rider pulled out to move quickly up the left side of the peleton, I jumped on his wheel. Before long, we were at the front of the peleton. Heck, I was at the front of the peleton. And we were moving!

They let me pull for awhile at a very strong pace before someone came around on my right and pulled in front of me. I drifted backwards as a few more riders came through but only about 5 or 6 had passed before the rider next in line told me to go ahead. "Go ahead?" I thought. "I'm not ready to go ahead yet." But I grabbed a wheel and dug deep. I was starting to think that maybe I had gotten in over my head as the front of the peleton surged ahead and riders came by me on both sides. "What the heck?" As it turned out, there is a sprint somewhere along that stretch and they were setting up for the sprint. After the sprint, the pace returned to a more reasonable, albeit still quick, pace.

The stop is always at the same place: Grandma's Bakery. The lineup went pretty quickly as Grandma seemed to know what she was doing and pretty soon I was giving my order. I handed over two $5 dollar bills to pay for my 2 cinnamon raisin buns and a coffee. Grandma took one of the bills as she told me $2.35. Thanks Grandma! I took my buns and coffee outside, sat down on the curb with a few of the others and listened to the banter. Before I had even finished my coffee, people started getting on their bikes and leaving. There wasn't any signal that "ok, time to get going". People just started trickling out. So I ditched my half-drunk coffee and followed. 

The group got all spread out as we started the return trip with little pockets of riders all along the road. I went around a group who seemed to be taking it a bit too easy and bridged up to another small group and together that group bridged up to another group and before long we were starting to form up again. Once we got on the main road back, I looked behind to see the main peleton advancing towards our position and before too long the entire peleton had re-formed.

The ride away back into the city was a reverse of the ride out of the city. The pace was high at first with surges and sprints at various points. I moved up closer to the front for the trip back and even took some pulls at the front. The pace was high but there were always other cyclists willing to come around to take a pull. Once we got closer into the city proper, the pace became more broken as we kept having to stop for lights. Riders peeled off at various points on the trip back until eventually a reduced peleton arrived at Eglington once again and I was back at my car.

My impressions of the ride? It affords the cyclist an opportunity to ride in a really big group. Want to improve your group riding skills, do the donut ride a few times. It's also a good way to get familiar with riding really fast in a peleton. For me, this is invaluable because I intend to do some bike racing next season but have not had much experience riding fast in a big group. The informal sprints are a good way to get in some experience of being in a sprint, at least get a sense of the speeds the peleton gets up to in a sprint. And finally, it's fun! Would I do the ride again? Definitely! Maybe not every week but maybe once or twice a month. The ride runs every Saturday and Sunday throughout the year as well as holidays which is nice to know if you're feeling like a group ride but there isn't one local going on that day. 

Here's a UTube video of the ride:


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Centurion Canada 2011 C100 Race Report

The alarm was set for 5:30, I woke at 5:28, picked up the Blackberry and checked the forecast. Current temperature 6 degrees. Bib-shorts, socks, tri-top, cycling jersey, arm warmers, gloves, skull cap. It was going to be a cold start to the race. Most the other Falcons were in the parking lot of the Mountain Springs resort and by 6:40 we rode briskly through the cool air to the race site to watch the start of the early race.

Last year there were 1,041 participants in the C50 and C100 events combined. This year there were 2,159 in the combined events. The C50 race started at 7:00 am. It took over 8 minutes for 1216 cyclists to cross the timing mat, including Andrea Christie, Nicholas Marshall, his daughter Lindsey, Doug Foster, and Tony Lee. After a quick group photo, the rest of the Falcons took up positions in one of the C100 corrals.

“Racers Race and Riders Ride” is the Centurion Cycling slogan. There were a large number of cyclists in the “Racer” corral but most were there to ride the event a la Gran Fondo. The “dine in” feed zones had everything from cookies and pop to bananas and powerbars. The stops themselves became just as much a part of the event as the riding. This year we had two groups of Falcons “riding” the event with Peter Mueller, Peter Halferty, Colin Chung, Jim Dalzell, Brian Hastings, , Klaus Fritzsche, Ian Jay, Alex Botelho, Chad Hunt, and Jon Westwood in one group and Colin Moore, Judy Kuban, Mark Botelho, Brent Passmore, and Chris Day in the other. Ironman-Bill Vieira elected to ride most of the race by himself as did Ironwoman-Shanta Oudit. Larry Bradley and myself (Richard Westwood) elected to “race” the event this year. We had gotten our butts spanked at the Tour de Terra Cotta and were looking for some redemption of sorts at this race. My public goal was 5:15. My private goal was closer to 5 hours. But in reality, the time goal wasn’t as important as executing a sound race plan. I had the plan; I just had to execute it.

In running races, I would typically assert my “right” to be near the front end of the starting field by squeezing in ahead of others already lined up, even where there appeared to be no room. I earned my “right” to be there through placing well in races. Being new to cycling races, I was was one of the early ones to line up and it was other racers who squeezed in ahead of me, effectively pushing me back in the line up. I hadn’t yet earned my “right” to a front spot. I was soon joined by Larry and Sean Delanghe who was a friend of Larry’s.

The C100 event was delayed by 8 minutes to offset the 8 minutes it had taken for the C50 field to cross the timing mat, and so the race started at 7:38 am. There was a neutral roll out in effect for the first 4 km which meant no racing, but there was much jockeying for position among the Racer group. Sean weaved his way expertly through the peleton and was soon up the road and of sight. That was the last Larry and I saw of him. We made the right turn onto Grey Road 19 south. For about half a kilometre, there was nothing but cyclists across the entire width of the road. Ahead of the peleton, the flashing orange light of the motorcycle motorcade indicated the neutral roll out was still in effect. The continual surge and slow accordion effect was a direct result of the orange light that was keeping the lead riders in check. I was shivering, my lower back was aching, and I was anxious to get started. I think everyone was. Eventually, the wide throng of cyclists made the right turn that signalled the first climb of the day and I prepared myself for my first test.

Up until now, we’d had the luxury of full road closure but once we made the turn, we were restricted to the right side of the road. Though the slope at the bottom of the climb was gentle, the pace at first was fairly slow. The orange flashing light of the lead out vehicle was still visible which surprised and annoyed me somewhat because we were now over 6 km into the 3 km neutral roll out and I was still shivering. But as the climb steepened, the orange light disappeared from view as did the front of the peleton and the pace quickened. Ahead of me, Larry tapped out a hard but steady threshold tempo and I stuck to his wheel. We made good progress for about the first 3 km, passing many weaker climbers who courteously kept to the right. I was happy with Larry’s hard but sustainable effort until we hit a wall of “stuck” cyclists riding abreast across the width of the lane. Larry slowed up as we reached them. But I noticed a gap had opened to the group ahead which made me a bit panicky and I quickly swung by Larry onto the opposite side of the road and surged by the wall of “stuck” riders. Larry followed and we bridged up to the group ahead. My Powertap showed numbers in the high 300’s which was above threshold but I figured the effort spent now to maintain contact with the group ahead would translate to riding with a faster group once we reached the top so I dug deep. We finally crested the top of the climb and had to maintain a tempo effort just to stay with the back of the group ahead as they surged downhill. We powered over another “roller” before descending again towards the turn south onto Grey Road 2. Looking back, I saw we were among the last to make it into this group.

I breathed a sigh of relief for making it into what appeared to be a pretty good sized group of 30-40 cyclists. Looking up the road I saw two separate groups of what looked to be around 15-20 cyclists in each group but from this distance it was hard to tell for sure. With the sun still below the horizon, it was a pretty awesome sight. My adrenalin surged. It felt good to be alive and racing. For the next 10-15 kilometres, I stayed near the back of the peleton, allowing myself to recover from the climb. I tried to calm myself to let my heart rate come down but with the adrenalin surging through my veins it took a surprisingly long while. As Larry chatted up some of the riders in the peleton, I hovered near the back and started to think about nutrition. I consumed one of the half Powerbars I had in my back pocket and sipped some Eload (for great prices on Eload, visit - coupon code fmct_20). It was along this stretch that I realized that the diminutive but strong looking Jet-Fuel rider with the long, wavy black hair was a woman, Merrill Collins, who it turns out, ended up coming in first overall amongst the women.

The descent into Pretty River Valley was just plain fun. The road twisted and turned, flattened out and then steepened. I had to pedal where the road became less steep but for the most part I just let gravity do the work. I followed Larry who was descending very well. In fact, the whole group seemed to descend well and we made good time on the 8 km descent. The first feed zone was just passed the bottom of the descent and I kept to the left to avoid the riders who were slowing down to take on nutrition.

Section: 0km-40km
Distance 40 km:
Time: 1:08:20
Avg speed: 35.7
Avg watts: 223
Normalized watts: 258

Following the first feed zone, I settled in midway up the peleton and took stock of my situation. My goal was to conserve until the King of the Mountain hill as I knew from past experience that’s where things got tough. Riding east along Sideroad 33, there was a cross wind from the south-east so I manoeuvred myself into the left side of the peleton to shelter from the cross wind. I took in more Powerbar. The 10 km stretch along Sideroad 33 was uneventful, The sun was up by now, my heart rate settled, and I was beginning to enjoy this more as a ride than as a race. We began to pickup stragglers from the main peleton along this stretch of road.

Turning south onto Fairgrounds road we were hit with a headwind that crossed in from the south east and immediately, the group organized itself into a continuous rotation. I moved up the inside then moved over to the left as I reached the front of the peleton. The rider behind took his place in front of me and I began to move back through the peleton through the rotation. Unfortunately, after about 5 -10 riders deep, the rotation fell apart as the rest of the peleton were strung out single file along the right shoulder not taking their turn in the rotation. Disorganization ensued as the workers became confused about where to rejoin the rotation and the organization fell apart leaving a handful of riders to do the work with out any real coordination.

The road was very flat along this portion of the course and we could soon see the main peleton about a kilometre ahead spanning the entire width of the road. That group now looked to be even bigger than ours which seemed to spur some motivation amongst the leaders of our group to try and close the gap. Larry became a worker for awhile, taking a couple of strong pulls at the front and I thought about it but stuck to my game plan of conserving energy. By the time we reached the climb before Creemore, the gap to the main peleton ahead was reduced to about 500 metres but this was somewhat of a false impression as the lead group was at the top of the climb about to descend while our group had still to make the climb. That was the last we saw of the front peleton.

At the feed zone in Creemore, I tossed my empty water bottle and took a bottle of water from one of the volunteers. The road west out of Creemore, Grey Road 9, starts out straight and flat. We rode easy along here as riders took care of their nutritional needs but as we neared the windy section, one the bigger guys went to the front of the single-file peleton and began to push the pace. The pace remained quite high for awhile before going back to easy again. This was repeated a minute or two later as we weaved our way through some of the most the picturesque scenery on the course. Eventually, the bigger rider and one other broke off from the front and started to gap the peleton. It dawned on me that this was the Mark Botelho strategy. The heavier rider was trying to get a head start on the peleton, knowing he would eventually be caught partway up the hill but better than getting dropped at the bottom of the hill. He was a strong rider but his weight was a liability on the climbs. The peleton let the two guys go.

A few more turns and ups and downs along this section and then we were at the start of the climb proper. I moved my way towards the front of the peleton for the start of the climb. If there was a break going to be made, I wanted to ensure I was in it. But as we started the climb, the pace wasn’t as hard as I expected. I maintained tempo effort and was soon at the front of the group. We caught and passed the two break-aways and I was permitted to drive the pace up the hill for awhile but before long I found myself alone ahead of the group. I didn’t see any sense in wasting more effort than necessary and so I eased up and waited for the group to catch back up. I crested the top of the climb near the front.

Section: 40km-80km
Distance 40 km:
Time: 1:09:40
Avg speed: 34.5
Avg watts: 223
Normalized watts: 255

By the top of the climb out of Creemore, I was in second or third postion but after making the jog-left across Hwy 124, I found myself at the front which was not according to plan. I resigned myself to taking a turn at the front and settled into the drops for a strong pull. About 500 metres along the gentle incline, I glanced back to see that I had gapped the group. This surprised me as I was not pushing overly hard, just a steady tempo effort. Did they not want me taking a turn at the front? I “sat up” in order to allow the group to catch up and pass but in the process of passing me the tempo seemed to lift quite suddenly and I had to dig deep just to catch back on. I took a quick peek from the back and saw that we must have dropped some riders on the climb because there was a small group working to try and bridge the gap to our larger group. I don’t think that they ever did catch back on because from here to the turn at Eugenia, we seemed to have reduced out number to around 20 or so riders.

Making the right hand turn north onto Grey Road 63, I expected a tail wind but it turned out to be more of a cross wind which had most of the group strung out along the centre line of the road and even infringing into the oncoming lane. The leaders attempted to organize a rotation again, rotating counter-clockwise from the windward side out. I felt that the rotation was backwards. Riders would be reluctant to leave the relative shelter of the draft to work their way up to the front while fighting a cross wind. To me it made more sense to organize the rotation clockwise so that one would work one’s way towards the front in the shelter of the peleton and then drop back on the windward side. This meant not having to work as hard against the cross wind. I pointed this out but my suggestion was dismissed and ultimately the rotation dissolved and the pace, predictably, dropped. I suppose that had I been a worker from the start, I might have been taken more seriously.

As we rode this section, I took stock of my condition. I felt a bit of burning in my quads and my left knee and IT band had some soreness, probably from the effort of the climb at Creemore, but otherwise I felt pretty good. I knew that from here until the bottom of the King of the Mountain climb was flat to downhill so this was a good time to conserve and recover as much as possible.

We made the left turn onto 10 Line, and the cross wind was behind us. The woman in the group, Merrill Collins, pushed the pace. There were a number of times where she ended up alone out the front before someone in the group took it upon themselves to bridge the gap. It seemed that the group leaders were only willing to put in so much effort. I had participated in a “recon” ride of the course a couple of weeks earlier and the pace along this section for that ride was much quicker due to a much better organized rotation. I could have tried to organize the group myself but this would have required me to become a worker and this was not part of my game plan. If it wasn’t for the woman in the group pushing the pace, we would have been even slower along this otherwise fast part of the course.

From the earlier recon ride, I was aware of the 500 metre gravel section along this stretch but thankfully it had been recently paved. Shortly after that, we made the left turn onto River road and into Feversham. The 3rd feed zone was just after Feversham and most took on Gatorade. I grabbed a bottle myself and chucked my mostly empty water bottle. After the feed zone, Merrill Collins continued to drive the pace. I felt somewhat guilty and felt I should be going to the front to do some pulls. Instead, I occupied myself by surveying the jerseys of the riders in our group. We were represented by Flying Dogs, Waterloo Cycling Club, Nacsworld, Jet Fuel, Wheels of Bloor, Active Life Conditioning, and a number of other clubs who’s names I cannot remember. What was interesting is that they were all club jerseys. No Saxobank, Garmin-Cervelo, or Team Leopard-Trek jerseys to be found in this group.

The ride north along Grey Road 13 from Eugenia seemed even easier. We had picked up another group of about 5 or 6 riders just before the turn and there were some workers amongst the new 5 or 6 riders we picked up. I enjoyed the luxury of sitting at the very back of the pack. We had a tail wind and the road was either flat to slightly downhill which made things easier still. By now I was getting excited. The King of the Mountain hill loomed on the opposite side of the valley ahead and my plan to conserve up until now had worked better than I expected. My lower back stiffness was mostly gone, the ache in my knee and IT Band had dissipated and my legs had still lots of pep because I’d only really exerted myself on the climbs. On the long descent into Kimberly, I reviewed in my mind my race strategy from here to the finish.

Secetion: 80k-130k
Distance: 50 km:
Time: 1:13:29
Avg speed: 40.8
Avg watts: 175
Normalized watts: 219

At the base of the King of the Mountain hill, I discarded my largely untouched Gatorade bottle; I could retrieve a fresh one at the top of the climb. Larry and I were both at the very back of the group of about 30 riders to start the climb. My plan for this climb was to ride with the group and as before watch for any splits in the group. The pace was predictably fairly strong initially but the group began to stretch out as those without climbing legs dropped back. Larry again tapped out a steady tempo pace and again I followed his wheel as he made his way past slower riders. As we neared the front, a couple of riders began to slowly pull away from the group. I peeled off Larry’s wheel and bridged up to them on the inside. When their pace slowed up I kept going and went by at my own tempo effort. I was feeling good and continued at my sustainable pace to the top of the climb. My KOM time was 10:23, good enough for 46th overall and about 20 seconds ahead of the group. This gave me the luxury of taking my time at the feed zone to grab fresh bottle of Gatorade and a banana as I waited for the group to catch back up..

From the top of the KOM climb to Grey Road 40 we had the luxury of the tail wind but as we turned east onto 40, we were once again hit with a cross wind which felt a good deal stronger than it felt earlier in the day. The first part of the section along 40 includes a long but gentle climb. There were now perhaps 5-7 workers in the group, including Larry and me and we got a rotation of some sorts loosely organized and made the short climb at a good pace considering the cross wind.. We were rewarded for our efforts by a long descent of several kilometres which took us almost all the way to Grey Road 73 before the road flattened out again and our 5-7 person rotation was put back into effect.

Turning south onto Grey Road 2, we were hit with the head wind. This 7 plus km stretch of road consists of a 2 km category 5 climb followed by a false flat of about a kilometer and then a 5 km category 5 climb. It is not so much the steepness of these climbs that hurts, as they are not really overly steep, but rather where they occur in the race. On the first of the climbs, one of the workers broke away and just kind of hung out there until the false flat where he was reeled back in. His break might have gotten away if he’d had some help against the head wind but there was no one willing, or perhaps able, to go. As we traversed the false flat, I rode up beside Larry and let him know I was “going” on the next hill. He was going to just continue to ride tempo up the climb. I rode to the front as the group started the climb and kept on going, hard enough to discourage the entire group from following but with holding back enough to encourage one or two of the others to join me. Surprisingly, nobody did and I was left on my own out in front. I built up and maintained perhaps a 200-300 metre gap and as the group tried to reel me back in a quick look back showed me that riders were falling off the back. Ahead of me was a group of about 6-8 stragglers from the main peleton and I used these as rabbits.

Between Ravenna and the Scenic Caves descent, there are a series of 4 short but steep climbs with the first one being the hardest at about 15% and each successive climb after that progressively easier. I made the turn at Ravenna and the group in front of me were only midway up the the first of the four hills. I passed a couple of stragglers from that group halfway up the climb who were in obvious difficulty and bridged to the rest of the group on the following descent. A quick look back at the top of the climb told me my break seemed to have stuck. Bridging to the new group gave me a chance to rest a little at the back of the group. I noticed a “Hub” rider in this group and wondered if he knew Rolie Springall, another Hub rider who I knew from Chris Day. For some reason it didn’t occur to me that this might be Rolie himself (It was). At the second of the four short climbs I attacked. By the base of the third climb they had reeled me back in. The pace slowed again and this enabled 4 or 5 of my riders from my chasing group to bridge up up to this group so now we were about 10-12 strong.

An attack from one of the new riders was quickly shut down but following the fourth short climb, the same rider attacked again and was allowed to go. A second rider swung by to bridge the gap and was allowed to go. I decided what the heck and jumped out to bridge the gap myself. Though I was feeling extremely strong, It took a lot of effort to bridge the gap and I was pretty well spent by the time I reached the two break away riders. I glanced back and saw that we still had a gap and yelled out “we’ve got a gap”. We got a 3-man rotation going that just about killed me because the effort was about as hard as I could dig but as we reached the first corner leading into the Scenic Caves descent, I glanced back and saw that the chasing group narrowed the slender gap that we had and had just about reeled us in.

The start of the Scenic Caves descent includes a long sweeping right hand band that leads into a flat section of about 600 metres before the descent proper begins. I tucked in for the sweeping right hander but by the time I hit the flat, the chase group had caught me. By now I had nothing left from my break away effort and was unable to catch onto the chase group as they went by. Fortunately, the Scenic Caves descent was just ahead. I tucked in again and screamed down the hill, passing three riders along the way, and was able to catch the back of the group.

I made the catch to the back of the group at the left hand turn onto Winter Park road nearly taking out an orange cone as I took the outside line to catch the tail end of the group. Unfortunately, the guy at the end wasn’t aware I was there and veered from his line, forcing me to navigate between 2 cones into the oncoming lane. This impeded my progress and I had to dig deep to catch back on. I was able to recover slightly as we made the bend onto Mountain Drive but had to dig deep once again to match the acceleration towards the next turn. We slowed again for the left hand turn onto Jozo Weider Boulevard and then another brutal acceleration. Slow again as we took the final turn into Village Crescent and then a sprint to the finish line. I didn’t exactly sprint. I was at the tail end of the group and I had nothing left. I saw the flags and cruised in, coasted over the timing mats, heard my name and I was done. Under 5 hours (4:49:52). What a feeling!

Section: 130km-172km
Distance: 42 km:
Time: 1:19:05
Avg speed: 32.4
Avg watts: 227
Normalized watts: 265

Rolie finished about 6 seconds behind me and spent the next few minutes bent over waiting for the cramps in his legs to subside. Merrill Collins finished just over a minute later and it was then I learned she was the first woman in. What a strong and fearless rider she is, I was impressed by her ride. Larry came in not far behind her and the two of us congratulated her on a great race.

I would like to thank Larry for being a great wing man both during and leading up to the race. It really was an exciting journey and I’m looking forward to doing some more races next year as we venture into Masters racing in Ontario. I would also like to thank my son Jon for being my training partner for many of my rides as well as letting me "race" when it became clear he didn't have enough rides in his legs to "race" himself.


The sportif group riding in together.

The classic group riding in together.

Left to Right: Brian Hastings, Peter Mueller, Richard Westwood, Peter Halferty, Larry Bradley, Klaus Fritzsche, Jim Dalzell, Alex Botelho, Jon Westwood, Ian Jay, Bill Vieira.

Content with my race.