Monday, July 20, 2009

The RAIN Report

A small introduction before I include the RAIN ride report as written by Neal Bowers. While I have had a tough time this season and some discouraging moments in my own training that has not been the case of the brew crew team (as this is the best nickname for the group at the moment) in the 2009 season. I have watched, heard and lightly participated in some of the training events leading up the 160 mile RAIN (Ride Across Indiana) one day event. Most of the group in the latter weeks were training well over 100 miles on a number of their training rides and it was always exciting to hear how, for the most part, many of them were to able to train together. Then to go up together for the event, stay together and finish with such an incredible performance it is just exciting to think how epic this event was. Who knew when Neal brought up the idea months ago that these 12 cyclists and would have pulled together in solidarity and finished so well.

Here is Neal's ride report.

"To All:

Another epic bike adventure is in the books!! There will very little embellishment in this report but will just let the stats speak for themselves.

12 bikers, but 9 (Diane, Jamie, Nancy, Alan, Glenn, Keith, Peter, Rod & Ron) in the lead group completed the 160 miles in just over 9.30 hrs (total clock time). This time included recovery from a spill Glenn made doing nearly 24 mph. Luckily the ditch was soft. The team's average speed was over 21 mph. Please compare that average with most of the 45-60 mile rides from the Brewery. It was beneficial to have a high of 71 deg with 8-10 NW winds and moderately flat roads, although there were over 5,100 ft of climbing. This puts Team NARC somewhere between the top 20 and 25% of riders.

Two riders (Bill and Neal) came in at 9.8 hrs (Neal had a rear flat) with an average just under 20 mph. Based on last year's stats, this should put them in the top 33%.

Gayle came in at 10.7 hrs. She completed the ride nursing a quad muscle that kept wanting to cramp up. She did make some new friends from Indianapolis and may get a jersey out of the adventure.

The two Superhero nominees of this ride are Bill Adkins and Gayle Kruger. It was just three weeks ago Bill was overcome with dehydration and heat issues after the C'ville century. He was not able to train as hard to prepare for Indiana. Gayle decided to do RAIN knowing she might not be able to keep up with the group and may have to ride solo for much of the 160 miles.

Hats off the both for overcoming difficulties that would stop a lesser person.

I do not know who should get the "Iron Man" award for pulling as it was shared by all the riders. It was a genuine team effort; however, I do know that Keith and Rod put on one "hell of a show" while on the front.

Not sure of the category but it may be "Adventure Cyclist of 2009" and the nominee is Nancy Alexander. She has been biking less than 3 years and in 2008 has completed "Up the Creek", 1 Mtn, 1 State, "Cherohala Challenge", the backside of Hopgen and RAIN. Not sure what is left for 2009.

Lastly, a round of applause for our intrepid PSV drivers (Anne, Ellis, Terry,Courtney & Chuck). These folks braved the crowded roads to make sure the riders had what they needed to continue on whether it was food, water or just general encouragement.

It was a great day on the bike and a great day to be shared with friends.

Your obediant servent and "directeur sportif",

Neal Bowers"

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Performance Manager

(click image to enlarge)
What is nice about training with the power meter is the ability to track your training efforts over a long period of time. You can see that the dark blue CTL line correlates to my training efforts indicated by the light blue TSS bars, which also correlated to actual on the road performances. From January to the first weeks of March of this year I was able to get in consistent training efforts and the reality of performance in my group rides on the road were also noticed. I was not struggling in the group rides and often I would be at the front doing longer pulls with little effort.

But from the middle of March to present day life events (work, family, traveling and vacation) had to take precedence over the training. As Alan Ezzell would say, "I don't get paid to ride a bike" and these things had to be put at the top of priorities and the training dropped as indicated in the chart. The reality also played out on the road and I was unable to hang with the group as their saddle time increased and mine decreased. The big holes in the chart gives me a nice perspective of my frustrations for not being able to hang on the group rides, but it will give me a historical view for 2009.

At present day you can see that I am now starting to get in a little more short duration interval work and my CTL line has increased a little more. I can also feel this out on the road as I have finished the road rides feeling a little less exhausted. I also want to start back in the group rides with a little different perspective and to be more consistent and more intentional with how I ride even if I get dropped from the group or move ahead of the group. Yesterday was a good example of this style of riding as I had an opportunity to ride with Paul Deshane and Alan Ezzell, both who have been training with power meters for a few years. They had a goal for a pre-selected intensity factor and they hit it right on the nail for their goal.

I suppose in a simplistic view group rides can often become a sprint and coast effort or at least it seems to become that. For instance if you are sitting in the middle of the pack a lot of a 60 mile ride could be more like a 40 mile ride with the loss of effort from drafting or from the riding style of the group, whereas, they may put a hard effort for a mile or two and then ride easy for a few miles. I would kind of like to have a nice consistent torque put on the pedals through out the ride, but it is nice once in a while to just get out and hammer with the group with the impromptu racing.

If I am able to continue putting in consistent weekly indoor training efforts I will be ramping up my intensity factor. Since I just started back I am shooting for .75 for now and in a few weeks I will bump up to .85 for the short duration high intensity efforts. I feel it is still too soon for me to be going into the L4 zone (Coogan's zones) as my body is once again adapting to the increased training load, but as the dark blue CTL line begins to move upward so does the ability to finish well out on the road.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Barnsley to Horn Mountain

Garmin Connect Ride Data
Photos by Quellet Cycling

We had many of our regular group up in Indiana doing the 160 mile RAIN (Ride Across Indiana), but here at home we had a great 80 mile NARC ride starting from the Barnsley Gardens and heading out to Horn Mountain. I only a few guys reported to me in emails that they were attending today's ride and the best news was that Paul Deshane and Alan Ezzell were planning to do a lower intensity ride, which fit in with my plans as well since I did intervals most of last week and I needed to also ride at a lower IF (intensity factor).

The main group of guys broke away early in the ride and I was with them, but it was more effort than what I was supposed to be doing. I rode up to the ride with Gary Quellet, but since he and Edgar were in the other group I only did a few miles with them. I also noticed a couple of guys behind me and I was concerned that they would get lost so I dropped back to see how they were doing. Further back was Alan and Paul staying at their consistent pace. Along the way we picked up Wayne Williams. At this point we had six guys in our group and my goals was to stay somewhere close to 170 watts with occasional peak outputs in climbing or avoiding dogs.

I had never climbed the west side of Horn Mountain, but it wasn't quite as bad. I kept my watts low as did Paul and Alan. The three of us were at the summit at near the same time, but descending all of the guys descended much faster. I had to put on a hard pace to catch up with them, but fortunately they were soft pedaling to allow me to catch up.

From there we stayed together to the end staying in our perspective zones, but the roads were flatter and the speeds picked up. The last couple miles going back to Barnsley Garden were a slight uphill gradient and that was the first time of the day my legs were feeling the effort.

Overall the weather, the route and finally getting to ride with Paul and Alan for the first time this year was a pleasure. Of course it was only because they were riding at a lower intensity factor. Wayne was also there with me for most of those miles and I enjoyed riding with Wayne.

Friday, July 3, 2009

White-Adairsville 65 Miles

(click any image to enlarge)

View Interactive Map on

Garmin Connect Ride Data (the average speed is not correct)

I am so excited after today's ride. I have been in a slump for a few months struggling to hold on to the gang and ride at their level, but the reward is even sweeter coming out of such a long slump that it is hard to put into written words.

After weeks of discouraging performances it is really pleasant to sit here and reflect about the day without seeming to gloat about the experience. I am not sitting here thinking about it in a malicious way as if I were to say, "I put a hurting on some of the group today." No, my day was a day of not getting dropped like I have been dropped for weeks now and being the last to come into the parking lot. Today felt good just to hang in the group and finish well. Only toward the end did my legs feel, on a few occasions, like they wanted to cramp. It was on the last phase of the ride coming back on Busch Drive where Peter and I were pacing. As I looked down at my speed and tucked in Peter's draft at 28 mph for a short bit my legs were finally feeling the effort of the day, but the legs did well all the way through on this training event. It seemed like we spent a good portion of the ride in the 20's, but even on climbs my legs felt like speeding up and I have not felt good on climbs this whole year. On the Boyd Mountain Road climb I did much better.

Early in the ride I thought I messed up, but it was a calculated risk that I thought would be fun. We were on a stretch of straight road and Rick Nielsen was up front with a small gap between him and the group. I was about in the middle of the pack and I just imagined that he was just primed and ready for someone to break loose and make a move so I took the opportunity. I pulled out into the other lane sprinted a few repetitions of the crank, sat down on the saddle and went by him at over 30 mph with just a glance over at Rick and a smirk just to incite his fire. It was a short lived effort on my part, but it did get Rick and others going and the pace from that point forward became intense at times. After the ride Rick told me that he was just thinking before I made the move that he was hoping someone would try to break away. It was really good fun, but I dropped back into the group and recovered for a while. Much to my surprise my legs were eager to just keep turning it up and I kept restraining them thinking how I have been dropped so much in past weeks and that I wanted to complete this ride with the group.

Going toward Kingston we were getting close to 40 miles of this pace on our legs and that is when I struggled a little. The group had broken apart and I found myself catching up to Tim Jones in that middle land between the two groups. I had dropped off the group when I was not paying enough attention and within a few seconds of their sprinting a hill I was off the back. Tim and I put on a good pace and thankfully the group in front of us was slowing down a little. That helped us get back into the draft of the group and recover. From that point forward my goal was just to hang on the best I could and finish with the gang. I could see Rick Nielsen way up in front of us and I thought the guys were going to try to chase him, but fortunately they kept a steady but quick pace.

I don't how many guys there were today, but it was a good sized group with everyone being able to put out a good effort for most of the ride. I would like to think that I had a break through and that I am out of the slump, but I am cautious and will just appreciate finally having one good day in comparison to past weeks. Good consistent training is the remedy and I am starting to log more training hours so maybe I am coming back a little. Either way I am just very grateful for this particular good day. Grateful to have such a great group of guys and girls to ride with. A group of cyclists that are competitive, but do not have egos and are extremely great to share the road and the day.

One note to the readers of this blog. Even though I speak of being in a slump, I still am grateful to the Lord for blessing me with the physical ability to get out and be mobile. I am grateful on any day to be riding on rural country roads whether the sun is out or it is raining. I am a cycling addict and I am just grateful to be riding a bike even if I am slower on some days.