Archive for April, 2010

Mountain Bike Racing: SERC 4, Winder, Georgia (Fort Yargo)

Friday, April 30th, 2010

RIders 200 and 327 at the SERC race, Winder, Georgia, 2010

RIders 200 and 327 at the SERC race, Winder, Georgia, 2010

This was the first time we’d been to Winder, Georgia, or Fort Yargo State Park. Heavy rains the day before made the course mucho muddy, but at least it was the fun type of mud where there’s a lot of drift but not a lot of wheel slip or grinding through a boggy mess.

The course was super fun
, lots of ups and downs with medium length intermediate climbs, short steep climbs and short steep, winding drops. You had to pedal virtually the entire lap because there was little in the way of any extended downhill sections.

The course was very non-technical, except in the sense there were some “horseshoe” sections where you needed to be nimble on the pedals…steep short drops that rolled right up into a short steep climb.

Our day got cut short due to some issues with the gearing getting fouled on the big ring. It forced us into gearing with a much higher RPM and we blew out 2/3rds through the first lap and DNFd. Still, we beat 5 or 6 riders on the first lap while basically nursing the bike along at recovery speed. Not bad. We also ran the course blind having never truly seen the course before.

And since we were running a little slower at the end we were able to rescue a box turtle from the singletrack. No telling who a rider-turtle collision would have hurt worse, but were betting it wouldn’t be good for the turtle, so we got him to the other side of the track.

Can’t wait to get back. This course should rip in dry conditions. Fast, flowy and non-technical…there are some climbs that will bust your lungs in a race just due to the intensity, but not on a fun run.

Eating on the Road to Singletrack.

The first place we stopped was the Highlander at 931 Monroe Circle NE just east of Midtown Atlanta on the way up.

The service was awful at first…completely ignored for the first 10 minutes. Stoned B*tch, our waitress, could only seem to focus on one customer at a time. So other folks were getting served quickly while we waited without drinks and other tables waited to pay their bills.

That being said, once Stoned B*tch noticed us the service was fast and friendly. And the food was really, really good. I had the chili burger, super crisp on the outside and yummy on the inside. The fries were pretty pedestrian but they hit the spot. It was right around $12 for the burger, fries and soft drink.

Even though we hated Stoned B*tch we’ll be coming back. This place just has the mountain bike vibe, plus on a hot summer night it was good place to people watch. And the food was soooo much better than one of the last places we stopped, Pawley’s Front Porch in Columbia, South Carolina (and Pawley’s service was worse, if that is possible).

Our second stop was on the rainy Saturday before the race. With no way to ride we wandered over to Kennesaw National Battlefield Park and stopped at Marrieta Pizza Company at 3 Whitlock on the Square in downtown Marietta, Georgia.

The slices were HUGE, the taste above average, and the service was super fast. What more could you ask for on the afternoon before a race? Something like $10 for two slices and a soft drink, but two slices were about the size of a Domino’s medium pizza.

Mountain Bike Racing: SERC 3, The Tsali Knobscorcher 2010

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

For the first time since I’ve been racing we had a completely dry weekend at Tsali! Daytime temperatures in the 70′s and a fast dry track made for a fun weekend of racing. In addtion to this being SERC #3 it was also a U.S. Cup/ Kenda Cup qualifier.

Beginner single speeds at SERC 3, Tsali 2010

Beginner single speeds at SERC 3, Tsali 2010

The course changed as well, with the traditional last 5 miles put squarely on the front, and County Line Road being added into the 2nd lap for the Expert and Pro riders, as well as the finishing leg for the Beginners. Windy Hill Overlook was out for the 2nd straight year with complaints from no one.

Strackacobra powered by St. Augustine Team Realty/Sean Hess finished 13th of 27 in our respective class. Not bad for a Florida rider in the real mountains, early season.

You can see some of the photos we took of the white wave on our Tsali 2010 Race Page.

Eating on the Road

This year’s gastronomical adventures on the way up from the Sunshine State had us visit the Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company at 675 Merrimon just north of downtown Asheville. APBC is a converted twin-plex movie theater that also has a large selection of their own brews. The pizza was only average, but it hit the spot.

Our second stop on the way back was at Pawley’s Front Porch in Columbia’s Five Points near the USC campus. Pawley’s had some really good food…the buttermilk chicken wrap was outstanding…but the service was so disinterested I doubt we’ll head back. Stop if you have lottttttttts of tiiiiiiiiiime! Next time it will be the Mellow Mushroom on Gervais downtown or the Taqueria Jalisco at 612 St. Andrews (just west of I-26). Can you tell we pass through Columbia a lot?

Mountain Biking in Florida: Heartrate versus Power Training

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

After four seasons of heart rate, I finally bit the bullet and bought a PowerTap after hitting a plateau last season.

It will take your training to the next level but it’s a bit like starting over as a beginner.

The PowerTap measures the work you do as watts. And work you will with this thing strapped to your bike.

The big difference is not so much in aerobic intensity…that pretty much stays the same…it is the intensity that your muscles have to work with. It’s a bit hard to explain.

With heart rate it might take me 2 minutes to get into the right zone during an interval, and then I hold it there for the entire time. With power you are doing the wattage almost immediately and for the entire interval…and where you can let heart rate drift for a few seconds if you so much as even take off a pedal stroke with power you know it immediately.

Right away I discovered that one leg was weaker than the other and I could actually see it as the power fluctuated, so I had to smooth out the pedal stroke so that a single leg didn’t have to carry the load for an entire interval. Secondly, you can turn the pedals really fast and create the power you want for short bursts, but to to maintain it for a set period you have to apply “force” with each pedal stroke…it almost feels like constant acceleration…there’s always pressure on the pedals and there is no rest.

Looking at my heart rate compared to power, most of the time my heart would start low into the interval as I came out of rest/recovery and continued upward until the end. Sometimes it would stay in tandem with power…in other words my prescribed heart rate zone for an interval would be in the correct range, as would the power range. But more often than not my heart rate would just continue to climb through the interval, approaching threshold on the days I was tired or more intense or at the end of a training block, while power stayed where it was supposed to be.

So the reason I hit the glass ceiling last year was that, while the aerobic intensity of my intervals was fine, I wasn’t working the pedals any harder, possibly even less harder.

This season when I’m doing a steady state interval with power, for example, and I catch a draft from a passing car my power goes down below my tempo range but my RPMs and speed go up. Looking back to last year, to get into the correct heart rate range I would just spin the pedals faster to get the heart going faster, but I didn’t apply the force I needed to create strength in my legs. So what I was doing last year was essentially a very, very intense tempo or endurance/maintenance ride that was ostensibly a steady state.

Not sure if this makes sense so I’ll sum it up like this: Power = More Pain = More Results.

It feels like that point when you’re in a race and you questioned why you ever got into the sport. It forces the body to work again. Which is the point of training, I guess.