I created a topics page within Forums / Racing for this weekends road race here. Please use it to post our latest communications.May 17, 2013
By Paul Skorupskas
Another Cone-Azalia race has come and gone and now the road racing season is officially underway in Michigan. For those who are not familiar with the race course, it takes place in Milan, MI, is a pancake flat 10 mile circuit race course, typically very windy and 40% dirt roads whose conditions vary from year-to-year. Aside from being a very difficult race, the pre-race decisions that go into what kind of bike to use (road or CX) whether or not to use race wheels, what kind of tires to run, etc. add another interesting wrinkle to race that reminds of last fall during CX season. My setup this year was the same as last year, road bike, clincher training wheels with 24mm Vittoria Pave tires with reinforced sidewalls. This is the same setup that I used last year when I won the Cat 4 race so why mess with something works. The rest of the team was on a mix of CX bike with road tires and varying widths. Seems everyone has their favorite setup.
This year is the inaugural year for O2 elite race team and Cone-Azalia brought out most of the racers so that we had good representation in the Cat 3, 35+ and 45+ fields as well as some racers spread out throughout the other categories.
Jerry Gase, Doug Burcicki and myself showed up to the line to race the cat 3 race. With 3 similarly strong racers our plan was simple. Attack! Attack early, counterattack and continue attacking the field. The race really starts strong every year once the field hits the first dirt section about .5 mile into the course. This year was no different. We had a few marked riders on other teams and they did not disappoint driving the pace as soon as we crossed the train tracks and hit the dirt section. The pace was fast, but Jerry and Doug took turns covering the mini-breaks and bringing them back while I waited. This continued for most of the first lap until the pace really slowed on the drag to the start/finish into the headwind when no one wanted to pull the field.
Eventually a rider had a enough and put in a little attack. Our team was content to let him hang out front for a while where we could see him. He looked to be getting a good enough lead that we needed to start thinking about bringing him back even though it was early in the race. However right as we all made the first turn of the second lap, the entire field including the mini break was stopped by a train. A new experience for me in this race. In any case, we now had gruppo compacto right at the beginning of the second time through the first dirt section. Immediately after the gates went up, some teams put in a big attack and got off the front, but Jerry or Doug were able to make their way into this break as well. Within a mile that break was brought back which meant that it was my turn to put in a big attack. I gave it a good jump and quickly found myself off the front with a substantial lead. Getting some rest in the tailwind section and finding that my lead had grown after exiting the second dirt section, I started to think about pacing and staying away for the rest of the race. Little did I know what I was in for.
For the next 6 miles I got my pacing down but also realized in the carnage that is the chattering roads of Cone-Azalia I lost my second water bottle. With little water remaining on a hot day and no reserve I thought better of trying to ride the next 30+ miles solo and decided and slow down and go back to the group, re-group and we’d try again later.
Fast forward to the fourth lap, the eventual winner put in a huge attack that really blew up the field. We had Doug and Jerry following so I stayed back wondering if they were gone for good. However, I could see that he was getting away and so I decided that I should try to bridge up. Coming through the second dirt road section I started picking people off, and found out that the leader was up the road along with a group of two chasing him down. Coming out of the final dirt section on the 4th lap, I found myself solo in 4th and decided I need to work as hard as I can to bridge up to the chase group. After a very difficult 10min effort I was able to bridge up to Clay Monahan (one of the strongest breakaway riders in the field) and Brian Wachlarz. We worked well together sharing the workload to try to catch the leader on the 5th and final lap, but when it became apparent that we wouldn’t be able to catch him, it was time to try to conserve energy for the sprint. Clay put in a really good contest for the sprint and took the 2nd place finish while I had to settle for 3rd thanks to some tired legs.
We certainly achieved our goal or racing well as a team, making our presence well known in the field that day, and putting a racer on the podium. Some big highlights of the day were having racing together for the first time this year with some great teammates, getting a podium, 3 racers in the top 10 of the cat 3 field, no flats by anyone on the team in the most treacherous road race on the calendar, and of course seeing Jim Ignash in the 45+ field soloing by our field at top speed for the win in the 45+ division.
Great day of racing for the team and many thanks to everyone who helped put on the Cone-Azalia road race. Another year of another fantastic event.
I’m posting a new dirt road ride of approximately 60 miles starting in Rochester Hills. I’ll classify the ride as a B+, since the pace will be moderate (15 – 20mph ave), however the route will contain a number of climbs that will challenge our best riders. I don’t want to call this a drop ride, but I’m sure a few of us will get left behind on an off day. I will schedule the ride for Saturday mornings beginning at 8:00am sharp. We will meet at the intersection Dutton Road and the Paint Creek Trail bike path.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact Chris Mathews 248 5153292 or myself 313-283-3584.
If anyone is interested in providing me with a race recap, I’ll post it to the club’s website. Paul Skorupskas submitted me with a great piece highlighting his race at Cone Azalia (CAT3). I’m going to post the recaps under the Race heading, within a new page I created titled The 2013 Red Tail Recap.
Please contact me with questions, concerns or new ideas.May 9, 2013
I am forwarding an article that I read in RBR ( Road Bike Rider ) . This is an excellent article about setting a Goal , following a training plan , and then having both an “A Plan ” and a “ B Plan “ for the event . I am posting this in the training category so all of us can refer back to this as a basic plan to successfully get ready for any Event.
Coach’s Corner: Elizabeth Wicks Breaks Calvin’s Record
Editor’s Note: Coach John Hughes (click to see his 15 RBR ePubs) helped Elizabeth Wicks prepare for the 2013 Calvin’s Challenge 12-hour race on May 4. Last year Elizabeth set the women’s age 65-69 record of 169 miles – and she just broke it! Coach Hughes documented her training program for RBR in the weeks leading up to the event to provide insight into what such a program entails. Whether you ride competitively or for fun, we hope you’ve learned a lot. Today, Coach Hughes, and Elizabeth herself, provide recaps. First, Coach Hughes:
“I can’t remember ever being that tired at the end of a ride!” Elizabeth told me in a post-ride debrief. “At the end I plopped in my car and then couldn’t get up, my legs hurt so bad!”
They should hurt! She had just raced 172.5 miles in 11 hours, 45 minutes. Despite a wind so strong that the flags were standing straight out. Without drafting.
Elizabeth’s goal was to race at least 170 miles to break her age 65-69 record. With 15 minutes left in the 12-hour race she couldn’t pedal another stroke. She’d given it her all. Afterwards she said, “It was great, so much better than last year. I feel wonderful, although I’m real tired now.”
Calvin’s Challenge started at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 4, in Springfield Ohio. After only a couple of miles she turned east into the wind, which punched her in the face. At first she couldn’t accept it and what it might do to her record attempt. She screamed and cried in frustration, but the wind wasn’t going anywhere. So she raced.
Racers begin with a 50.5-mile course over farm roads around fields, which changed direction over 25 times, so it was hard to find a rhythm against the wind. In good conditions the course is fast, with only 400 feet of climbing. As one friend commented, “This would be fun if it weren’t windy.”
Elizabeth and I had worked out two detailed race plans: #1 optimistic and #2 pessimistic. “Having two plans, both successful, made a big difference,” she said. “I’d never done that before. I knew exactly what I had to do, not just go fast. Given the wind, I could fall back on the second plan to go after the record.”
Both plans had her racing no harder than Zone 3 or 137 to 147 bpm (5% under her lactate threshold) the whole time. Plan #2 had her racing the large loop three times at 15.5 mph, with a 15-minute stop after each large loop, and then racing the small seven-mile loop three times at 14 mph without stopping.
Racing predominantly into the wind and staying in Zone 3, she reached the 25-mile mark in 1:40, averaging only 15 miles an hour. Although she started to worry, she stuck with our plan rather than trying to push the pace. She finished the first lap in 3:12, averaging 15.8 mph and 144 bpm.
She stopped just long enough to switch her two bottles, drink some chocolate milk, eat a mini-bagel and grab another one for the road.
Psychology of the Race
Psychologically, “the second lap was easier. The first lap I was anxious, thinking, ‘I’m racing, I can’t slow down.’ The second lap I had some miles in my legs. Also, the hills that I remember hurting my legs so badly last year were only minor rises.”
After the second loop she was back at her car to resupply with an average of 15.7 mph and average HR of 144 bpm. She was doing an excellent job of pacing herself. Her aerobars were getting loose so she tightened them while eating a turkey and cheese sandwich, to which she’d added extra salt to ward off cramps.
The third loop was lonely — many riders had finished the six-hour race and others were discouraged by the wind and stopped. “The 2-1/2 miles into the wind to the half-way point seemed to take forever. What could I do but ‘just do it’?” Elizabeth kept pushing — she got back to her car with an average of 15.1 mph. She was worried that she was slowing down so she didn’t stop for supplies before starting the short loop.
The hills she remembered from last year on the short loop weren’t so bad, “seven or eight pedal strokes to the top” but the last mile was bad, due east into the wind, which “was blowing like a gale. I was only doing 4-5 mph.”
“The second lap was kind of fun. I kept thinking ‘I only have to do this one more time.’ Then the third lap I just put my head down and gave it everything.”
She didn’t slow down on the short loops, finishing the race with an average of 15.1 mph and an average HR of 139 bpm. Her max HR was only 156 bpm, her lactate threshold, so she did a good job of measuring out her effort.
Elizabeth also did a terrific job of time management: she was only off the bike 23 minutes.
Nutrition Plan Worked Well
“Although the wind made it harder than last year, my attitude was so much better. I think that’s due to the nutrition.”
Her nutrition plan was to average 200 calories per hour, almost all from carbohydrates. Although we estimated that she’d be burning about 440 calories per hour, 200 calories / hour from carbs would be sufficient to keep her from depleting her glycogen stores. The rest of the energy would come from fat. During each big loop she would consume a bottle of my homemade sports drink, a bottle of commercial energy drink and a sports bar. She had pre-mixed bottles in her ice chest at her car and she would snack each time she stopped.
Elizabeth had invested in a new Trek Madone women’s-specific bike, which she loves and has named “Maddy.” Maddy has compact cranks, much better gear choices than her old triple set-up. She rides a Selle Anatomica saddle, which — despite one saddle sore — generally is quite comfortable.
A coach’s most satisfying moment is when a client reaches a big goal: You should have heard the cheers at the Hughes’ house when I got Elizabeth’s e-mail Saturday after the race. I’ve really enjoyed working with her, thinking through the complex variables that go into race preparation and execution.
And I hope that you have gotten something out of this series as well. There’s much benefit in thinking about such things as nutrition and meting out your effort – whether you’re a competitive rider or just out to have fun.
Learn more about the techniques that Coach Hughes and Elizabeth have used in her training in his eArticles on Intensity, Recovery, Endurance Training and Riding, Mental Preparation and Event Nutrition.
You can also read about more about Elizabeth’s training, including her weekly workouts, on Coach Hughes’ website.
Now, it’s Elizabeth’s turn:
My 2 Cents – John Hughes Beat the Record Too
Working with John is always a great experience, but sharing it with the “world” this time has been so much fun for me. I heard from friends near and far and they passed on the articles to others as well. I can’t tell you how many times, too, I met people on rides and they’d say, “Oh you are Elizabeth. I’ve been reading about you.”
Over the years I have learned so much reading RBR, and I hope this series was helpful and inspirational for a lot of your readers; it was for me!
My success this year at Calvin’s is both mine and John’s. I had to do the work, but without his help I wouldn’t have done as well, never mind working as hard as I did right up to the very end.
Every time I have worked with John over the past 10 years or so, whether for an event or a season, I have met my goals. This time, though, was very special and unique, because we were sharing it as part of this series of articles.
What really made the difference this year was John’s:
- Analyzing last year’s ride (it’s amazing that I couldn’t figure out why I made it so hard for myself)
- Determining what I needed to do to ride better and smarter this year
- Providing good, progressive weekly and monthly workout plans (my daily prescriptions as I call them)
- Delivering real nutrition advice and planning – there is so much literature out there and we think we know what we are “supposed” to do, but John helps you understand what you specifically need
- Being a coach who works with older athletes (I love to call myself an athlete), but he works with people of all ages
- Offering sound advice on writing a realistic plan for the ride
- Being a friend, avid fan, supporter, good listener and provider of shoulders to whine and cry on (he even tells me when it is time to stop whining!) and a co-celebrant when you succeed
I followed the plan. Ride long and easy. Ride short and hard, and do it again and again. Stretch and do strength exercises. Don’t ride. Take a rest day. He even prescribed walking as active recovery, a great idea. I even track my walks on Strava!
My own plan for the ride was a bit unrealistic and made me anxious. John’s two-tiered solution was great. When I finished the first 50-mile loop and knew the wind would undo my more ambitious idea, I had a great fallback plan that would still meet my goal of setting a new record. That was such a help and a lift for my spirits.
I’ve always envied pros, Olympic athletes, and others who get lots of training, but we amateurs can, too. I, for one, thrive on it. Particularly when it is designed just for me. In a couple of John’s early articles about what I was to do, several friends said it sounded like a huge load. But it came down to about 1.5 hours a day for 4 days during the week, and often just riding one day on weekends. And it worked!
I hope these articles were inspiring and helpful to others – young and “old.” Thank you, John! And thank you to all the RBR readers who came along on the ride with me. Go out and try it yourselves.
Poster’s note :
Great article . Remember Elizabeth is in the 65-69 age group . Very impressive .
I personally use this process to accomplish my goals during the season . First, I pick a reasonable and obtainable goal. Then I come up with a training plan that usually consists of other sub- goals and training marks along the way to measure my progress . That usually includes a certain number of miles and training races / events to truely measure my fitness level. Then as it gets closer to the event I tailor my training to focus just on the event. I also focus on the nutrition ( including race day fueling ) , getting the proper rest , and have tested my equipment that I will be using to make sure it is fine tuned and working perfectly. Then as race day arrives I have all of my equipment packed up ahead of time and ready to go, including water bottles , supplements such as Heed( electrolyte) and Hammer Gel and Energy Bars and whatever else I will need race day including having a recovery drink for right after the ride / race. Of course I only use the supplements that I have already tested in training . Never try something new on race day .
There is nothing better than showing up for an event feeling confident in your training plan , your race day strategy , your equipment , and most importantly confident in yourself.
If you are not doing all of the above to get yourself ready for an important event I can assure you that your competitors are .