Sunday, May 18, 2008

Tour of the Gila wrap up.

Been getting more couch time than normal lately...
On may 4th the last day of the Tour of the Gila was complete. My final results were 13th over all. I was a “factor” in ever stage, being active but never got into the top 10.
After a tactically bad first stage and very hard stage 2 I was feeling good and ready for the TT. With the work I had done on the discipline this year I was feeling confident on moving into the top 10 over all. The TT, as you know, was dismal. The last day was my cold was in full affect and I had to change hats from, “I am tearing the leg off everyone and moving way up” to, trying to convince everyone that the easier the pace the better! I have done enough big races to have learned how to do damage control pretty well.
I held on to 13th over all and really can’t complain to much with my performance.
So lets take a look at the preparation. What worked what didn’t…

Max Power: This has been an issue lately. This winter I addressed this in my training.
Weights. I hit the weights over the early winter, trying to build some strength for the hard work to come on the bike.

Sprints/ stomps: Something I never do. I incorporated these into my winter riding as well. Not for speed really but as more of a strength workout, enabling me to handle the repeated accelerations we must do riding in an aggressive pack.

Going faster/ more top end: over all this was my main focus. In every power zone I am strong up to my Critical power. I can ride at or just below it very well for many repeated efforts. After 2 years I was sick of telling stories like “I was only 15 feet from the wining break and just couldn’t finish it off!” After much data and analysis I realized that my endurance and ability to go “fast” after lots of miles and Kilojoules was extremely high it is my “fast” that just is not fast enough. To address this I spent more time working the upper end on my zones. Threshold work was focused on shorter intervals pushing that limit up. 340 watts, to 345, to 350 etc… More 10’ intervals after a warm up instead of 20-40’ intervals after 2-3000 kj’s.
Group rides were added. The sat., winter group ride in Boulder was in full affect this year. 2.5 hours of fast paced action. This was normally finished off with a 30’ climb. not all out but pretty hard. This simulated day 1 of the Gila well. Fast and flat, with a steep killer climb at the end.

More Time trialing: with a TT bike I could now spend more time in that position, at that cadence at that power. This meant a little less climbing but there are only so many hours in the day.

These were the main focal points this year. Does that mean I abandon my strengths? No way. There were still a few super secret training rides in there.
Did it work? I would say yes…
Over all, the race was extremely competitive and hard. The cat 2 only status makes it the hardest race you’ll ever do. I would say all but 5 guys in the field were thinking “this is it. This is my day, my race” it is insanely fast. The attacking was non stop. Stop go stop GO!! Hard, hard attacks all day every day, sands the last. We dropped 20-30 people in the first 20 miles on day 2. Guys who rode well on day 1! The 2 riders right behind me on day 1 were out of any GC hunt. While the extremely unsteady riding may not have suited my strengths and surly softened me up for the final I can only imagine what it would have been like without the strength work outs and group rides I did this year compared to last? Maybe like last year?

Day 1: I did miss the “move” that tock off with 20 miles to go, but I did ride away from the rest of the pack…
Day 2: Despite the relentless pace and non stop attacking I was attacking on the last climb. However I still could not drop my rivals and missed Summerhill when he bridged to the early brake.
Day 3: Everything failed here. Getting sick? Still not enough top end, or was I not “fit” enough to survive the 2 pervious days well enough? I estimated I was 1’ off of what I should have been able to do. No clue on my wattage.
Day 4 Crit: pretty easy for a crit. As can be the case for a stage race crit that is not on the last day.
Day 5: despite being sick I hung tough. I wasn’t “sick” sick, just congested. With a hand full of decongestants, and other miscellaneous pills I was breathing well but a bit foggy in my head and my top end was totally gone. I think I was very lucky that one, we rode pretty easy 90% of the time until the last 15 miles and two our race leader was riding conservatively and slowed after the last big climb allowing my small chase to catch back on preserving my GC position.

Over all, I feel like my prep and training was better. I did better on each stage and in GC in a collectively harder race. While I came up short of what I am capable of and my weakness are still my weakness they are not as big. This is a good example of how training ones weak areas, even if they are not race specific, will result in improvement.
Any ideas or constructive thoughts are welcome.
Happy training every one!

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