Friday, May 31, 2019


     For those not familiar, The Driveway is a race course and premier criterium racing is here every Thursday evening for eight months of the year.  This is for young folks (under 60) for the most part, but I need some criterium race practice to be ready for nationals in August.  And, last year and so far this year there has been an older gentleman who races and I figured he would be my carrot.  Unfortunately, he didn't race last night.
     The plan was simple, the peloton usually averages eight laps, or roughly four minutes per lap (on the Grand Prix circuit, the longest one) and I would come in around four minutes, forty-five seconds and try to hold on for three-quarters of the first lap.  That would get me lapped around the twenty minute mark.
     That didn't happen, and as I warmed-up, I knew it.  The legs had no real life.  But on to the race.  As the countdown started, my computer turned off.  Pook, ding-fu!  I was resigned to racing without data, and found a large body to hide behind as we got up to speed.  So far, so good.  We hit the small downhill and the leaders exceeded 30 mph and I couldn't, and lost contact with the big guy, who also lost contact.  Actually, I knew this acceleration would happen and had prepared to go all out to keep up.  Unfortunately, my HR was maxed out and further acceleration impossible.
     For the rest of the race it was me and my mentor.  The Driveway has mentors who shepherd new or slow guys around the course so they don't get into trouble and give tips as they go.  Halfway around my computer came back to life and started giving data, so I will also.
     My max HR as best I can tell, is 159 although I haven't hit that this year.  From when the computer came on, my average in this race was 152 with a max of 157, so I was at 95% or more the whole race.  My laps were very consistent,  4:49, 5:05, 5:04, 5:03, 5:13 plus the unknown start plus 2:12 seconds.  And my cadence was good, averaging 90 rpm.  It was my power, at 179, and speed, at 18.6 that was lacking.  This was rather disheartening in that I should have been around 200 power and over 20 mph.  BTW, the peloton was energized and was doing about 3:30 per lap rather than 4:00.  All that being said, Training Peaks gave me six Peak Performances, the twenty-minutes average power and five HR performances: 5 second at 157, 1 minute at 156, 5 minute at 154, 10 minute at 153, and 20 minute at 152.
     I have nine weeks to bring things up to snuff.  Maybe next week I can do better.  Stay tuned.

Friday, May 24, 2019


     In terms of cycling fitness, this is a disappointment.  You can go in the archives for the back-story of riding the six gaps of North Georgia.  These are great roads to cycle on and of all the places I've ridden, they are my favorite.  We had driven to Maryland for grandson's college graduation and a short visit with family.  On our way home, we stopped off in Suches, Georgia for a week of R&R.  Last year we stopped off on our way back from Augusta for Nationals and I had my criterium bike and not enough gears.  This year I was back on my Roark with a triple chainring.
     Every year I start my mountain adventures with the same three gaps: Woody, Neel's, Wolfpen.  Every year my time is between 2:47-2:55.  I had an inkling of trouble right from the start.  Maybe it was the cold (I had tights and wind jacket), but my chest felt tight and the legs sluggish.  Going up the north side of Woody should have been a breeze.  I've seen a cyclist go up without his hands on the bars.  The five-mile descent was fun on the smooth asphalt, then on to Turner's Corner where I'd start up Neel's Gap, almost nine miles.
     My time to Turner's Corner over the years is very consistent.  This year I was five minutes in arrears.  But I wasn't concerned because I was pretty sure I'd have a tailwind going up.  Lord knows what my time would have been without the tailwind.  My heart rate was about ten beats higher than it should have been, and cadence five-ten rotations slower.  Bummer!  More time lost (it's not like I had to be somewhere, just referencing time as a measure of fitness).  New asphalt on the downhill, only one vehicle caught me.  Then it was the turn to Wolfpen.
     This is a three-mile climb and I suffered the whole way, even having to stop a couple of times to let the heart rate drop a bit.  I might add that I love this climb, hardly ever stop, and usually have a gear left over.  The bottom line: by the end of the 34.7 mile ride I managed to lose 20-25 minutes.
     The next few days the heart rate dropped back to normal.  One day I just did Woody Gap over and back.  Three miles to the top, five miles down, turn around and climb five miles, then the three miles back to the cabin.   Cadence was good and I felt strong the whole climb.  This was a good ride!  Then I checked Strava.  I was five minutes slower than last year for this climb. 
     For my last cycling day, I had two options, depending on the weather and how I felt: start at the top of Brasstown Bald and do Unicoi, Hogpen, and Wolfpen Gaps or just Wolfpen.  I screwed it up from the start.  Specifically, I started too early.  Generally I wait until 9 am to let school and work traffic clear.  On this day Marilane would go with me to Brasstown and drive back to the cabin after making sure I didn't splat myself on the way down Brasstown.  But we had a little rain overnight and the clouds were still hanging around.  I should have waited until noon.  Driving over I decided on the shorter route.
     When we drove up Brasstown we noted new asphalt patches across the road, and they weren't smooth.  Maybe a half-dozen of them.  The rest of the road was old, with poured cracks.  It was wet, with some spots having leaves.  Most of the three miles to the top is double-digit grades, with a couple of 16% and the wall of 24% (I've seen 26 on my old computer).  Generally it takes me 25 minutes to climb and just under 5 to descend.  Anyhow, I did a couple of loops of the parking lot at the top and started down.
     I had hoped to do a record descent, but with the road conditions and wet wheels, I was pleased to get down in one piece and only twenty seconds off my best time (but according to Strava, I'm fastest in my age group and faster than the 65-69 and 70-74).  The rest of the descent down Jack's Gap was with a wind in my face and wet wheels.  It wasn't fun.  When Marilane caught up to me a few miles further (having been stopped by a road crew), I gave her the signal and packed it in.  All in all, a good set of rides, but below expectations.
     The video has two minutes of parking lot ride, five minutes twenty seconds of Brasstown, and the rest is going down Jack's.