Coundown (Not the final one though)






It's that time of the year again.

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Daylight Savings Time has ended so it’s time for my annual 2×20′ on the trainer countdown. Every year I figure out how many weekday’s between the end of DST in the fall and it’s return in the spring, then subtract the number of holiday’s and planned vacation days and that’s my number. This year it works out to 72 and today I completed my first one. So, 1 down, 71 to go…

As you might imagine, this song is of course on my trainer hair metal playlist. I just try not to think about the singers lipstick…

As always there are “rules”. Because without rules we’d be living like savages! If it rains on the weekend or a holiday and I ride on the trainer, the count gets incremented, but the “to go” stays the same. It is possible (likely) that I’ll end up doing more than 72. Conversely, if I skip a day because I’m sick or take an unplanned day off to ride outside, the “to go” will still decrement.

Why do I do this? Here’s the answer:

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World Track Championships – Pursuit, Points and Team Pursuit






Next up for me was the 2km Individual Pursuit. I had high hopes for this event given my world record and having beaten last year’s 2nd place finisher Larry Nolan twice this summer (though by the smallest of margins). Due to my time I was put into the final heat on the home straight against Mark Wiffen of the UK. I thought I had a chance to win. At that time the fastest rider so far was Larry in 2:22.596. I gave Rob Van Houweling my schedule that called for an opening lap of 24 seconds, than then 7 laps at 16.9. That would be fast enough put me into the gold medal round in the evening. But my opening lap was slow and the rest weren’t any better. I finished 4th in 2:24.07 putting me into the bronze medal ride against Stephane Le Beau from Canada. I was about .7 seconds slower than Stephane, but felt that I had executed my start lap poorly in the qualifier and could get most of it back there. But when it came down to the final I just didn’t have what it took and rode even slower. Almost as slow as I did outdoors at Hellyer and San Diego!

The video for the two medal rides is below. The gold medal ride was a great match and well worth the watch! Larry and Mark Wiffen traded the lead several times.

Two days after the IP was the points race. This one, like the scratch race was a race that I felt I could possibly win or possibly finish in last place. In the morning qualifier all you really needed to do was score in one of the three points sprints and you would surely make the final. 4 places times 3 sprints means a maximum of 12 riders would have points at the end and 12 qualify. If less than 12 score points, then the final qualifying spots are based on finish order of the final sprint. My tactic was to score in a sprint, then move to the back and stay out of trouble. I did just that, nabbing 2nd place points on the 2nd sprint and getting out of the way. Much more confidence inspiring than my Scratch race qualifying heat.

The final though was a different story. I am not a sprinter so my tactic was to try and find a way to lap the field and/or score some points from a break. It just didn’t work out. I got into one short lived break that was brought back after a couple of laps and all of my other attempts were even less successful. Long story short, nothing I did worked and the more I tried, the more tired I got and the less authority my attacks had. I finished with a big fat goose egg in the points total, but didn’t quite finish last. 18th out of 23 starters. Larry rode another great race, taking 2nd in the final sprint to ensure his victory.

Points Race:

My last event was the Team Pursuit on Saturday the 14th. My team was Larry Nolan, Don Langley, Shaun Wallace and myself. We called our team “Shiver me Timbers”. Don’s idea since three of us were riding on Specialized Shiv road TT frames and the track is wood. BTW, the Specialized Langster track bike is named after Don who works at Specialized and has probably been racing on the track longer than I’ve been racing at all. Don, Larry and I had a reasonable amount of practice together, but Shaun lives in San Diego and the four of us had only rode one team pursuit in San Diego, plus a short workout the night before. On the other hand, the defending champion team from LA has done this event together for close to three years, live in the same area and train together frequently on this very velodrome. To say that they were a well drilled team was an understatement.

Race day morning we woke to an email thread between Shaun and the chief UCI official regarding his eligibility to race for a US team. Shaun is from Great Britian and raced at an elite level back in the day, including the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He has been an US citizen for about 9 years but for some reason the UCI still has him listed as GB in their database. A copy of his passport and USA Cycling license was enough to prove his citizenship and we were allowed to race.

We started second to last in the qualifiers. Our plan was to ride a schedule just fast enough to beat the previous best time and get into the gold medal ride. We went with a 23 second start lap, followed by 11 laps at 17 seconds for a 3:30. We had some issues and when I got to the front for my last pull we were .5 seconds behind the current best time. I was able to get on the gas enough to get that time back and we finished with the best time so far of 3:31.053.

The Pinnacle team started last. They are two time defending TP champions and hold the world best time for our age group of 3:28. They started out faster than us and built up to a 2 second lead with 1km to go. From that point they slowed and finished in 3:30.528, a comfortable .5 seconds ahead of us. It looked like they went out as normal and then just floated the last km to do just enough to qualify and conserve energy. They looked good.

We discussed our strategy for the final and went with a 3:27.5 schedule as we felt that it would take a record time to beat them. 23 second start followed by 16.8 second laps. We also had a serious discussion about pull lengths. Larry and I felt really good and would take 2 lap pulls. Don and Shaun would take pulls of whatever length they felt they could keep on the desired pace. Better to do .5 laps at the right speed than do a full lap and start slowing down and not be able to recover afterwards.

And we just nailed it. We expected to be behind for the first km or so, but we were ahead from the start and almost all of our splits were ahead of schedule. Our slowest lap was a 16.8 and we closed with a 16.1 to take the win in a new worlds best time of 3:25.286, almost 4 seconds ahead of Pinnacle. Almost the best part of the team pursuit was Don getting his first world championship. He has tried on a few occasions and been close, but never quite got it. Larry of course has won about a million, Shaun had won before and I lucked into one in my first race so it was great to finish it off with Don opening up his account also.

It was a great way to end the week! I was selected for drug testing and set another “world record” by getting my business done (including paperwork) in about 10 minutes. 🙂 Much better than the several hours of rehydrating after the hour record.

At the start of the week I was VERY nervous about this. At that time I wasn’t sure if I would want to come back in 2018. Maybe I’d just do one track worlds and be done with it. By the end of the week though we were already planning for next year. The organizers did a great job and the track is a great track. We will be back for sure.

TP Medal rides. Bronze, then Gold.

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World Champion!






Today was the first day of racing at the UCI Master’s World Track Championships. My first race, the Scratch Race is today. In the morning I took a short ride along the coast, then showered packed up and headed to the velodrome. Only one session today, starting at 2pm. I put on my usual mass start racing gear of 52×15, warmed up on my rollers, got my bike inspected and was ready to go. In the mass start races they choose half of the field to start on the rail and half on the blue band. If you start on the blue band you need to provide a holder. One of the many things I didn’t know before hand. Dan Smith helped me out and we started our 20 lap (5km) qualifier. We had 20 starters and 12 of us would go on to the final later in the afternoon/evening. I was VERY nervous. Not so much about the racing part, but of riding a bike that has no brakes while surrounded by 23 other riders on 45 degree banking. I’m kind of rusty on that part of things.

We started off and I was able to slot myself into 3rd wheel and was able to chill and stay out of trouble while one of the Argentinian’s rode tempo on the front. My biggest concern was getting swarmed and having the legs to do well, but being boxed in. As the laps counted down I was weighing on whether or not to make a move yet. I waited one lap too long and at about 6 to go got swarmed pretty badly. There were times when I was surrounded by guys who were closer to me than I like and had to tell myself to relax. Frankly, it was scary for me at times. Not because of poor riding around me, but because my comfort level is not what it could be in close quarters on the track. The last few laps were very fast and I moved up when I could, but at the finish I wasn’t sure if I had made it or not. In the end I finished 11th and made it into the final.

For the final, I geared up. I was going to switch to a 53×15, but realized that my 53 tooth cog is on my pursuit bike which was back at the VRBO house. So I looked at a gear chart and went with a 50×14. That’s about 1 inch more gear than the 53×15. I got my bike checked again and this time I was on the rail so I didn’t need a holder. My lack of aggression in the qualifier almost made me miss the final. For this one I knew that I needed to “got big or go home”. I was only going to do well in the race from a break away. I wasn’t going to win, or even get on the podium in a bunch sprint. My best bet was to attack and if I got caught, attack again.

A few laps in I attacked and was in a short lived break. We stayed out about 2-3 laps and were brought back. I recovered for a few laps in the pack and went again. I was joined by fellow Hellyerite Bill Brissman and two Canadian’s, Krzysztof Kurzawinski and Stephane Le Beau. We made good progress. Krzysztof in particular was really strong. Unfortunately Bill came off and as the three of us started closing on the back of the field, Krzysztof gapped Stephane and I and caught the field on his own. Stephane and I made contact about a lap later, but the field was in pieces and it was hard to keep track of where Krzysztof was. BTW, did I mention that this was really hurting? I made my way from group to group and was able to tag onto Larry Nolan as he closed one of the gaps to the front group. From there we only had 4-5 laps to go and I just kept moving up as much as I could. As the wind up for the sprint started I was giving all I had to stay on the wheels up around 6th spot. I didn’t think that the two Canadian’s were ahead of me, but frankly I wasn’t sure. In the end I held them off, but it wasn’t for another 10-15 minutes that I knew i had won.

Seeing as how this race was the first on my schedule this week I spent a lot of time imagining how I’d win this race. I’m big on that sort of thing. In fact I think my Tour de France of my imagination palmares rivals Eddy Merckx. 🙂 I came here thinking that I could win this race, but also knowing that I could end up last, or possibly not even making the final. There are so many other elements that go into a mass start track race than a TT or hill climb. In fact, doing so poorly in the qualifier probably helped me in the final.

I have to admit that I got a little misty when they played the national anthem.

Next up is the 2km Pursuit on Tuesday, Points Race on Thursday and Team Pursuit on Saturday. From here on out, qualifiers will be in the morning 9am session and finals will be in the afternoon session.

Edited to add the updated YouTube feed (music and commentary muted due to music licensing issues)

Qualifier:

Final:

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Next up: Track Worlds





On to phase three of my season now that Pikes Peak is done.

Masters Track World Championships in Los Angeles, CA from October 8th-14th.

My events will be the Scratch Race on Sunday the 8th, 2,000m Individual Pursuit on the 10th, Points race on the 12th and 3,000 meter Team Pursuit on the 14th. All four events will have a qualifier in the morning session and final in the evening session except the scratch race where both races will be in the same session. Here is a quick explanation of the events at Master’s Track Worlds.

I have a lot of experience on the track, just not recently. From about 1995 up through 2002 I spend a lot of time racing on the track and going to master’s track nationals and even the 1996 Olympic Track Trials. Then I started racing less and scuba diving more. I sold my track bike to buy a dry suit! In 2008 they held master’s track nationals at Hellyer Velodrome in San Jose so I stripped down my TT bike (Specialized Transition) spent some time on the track and had a good nationals, winning the Individual Pursuit, Points Race and Team Pursuit along with 4th in the kilometer and 2nd in the Best All Around.

And then promptly didn’t get on the track again until last fall. In my lead up to the hour record I of course spent a lot of time on the track, but all of it doing steady state efforts. And pretty much all if it alone.

After Pikes Peak I finally got down and raced in the last two Wednesday Night races at the velodrome. Again, back on my Transition. The results were spectacularly mediocre. I had forgotten just how hard a 10 lap race could be! I was able to get into some late race moves in the longer races, but my ability to follow sharp attacks, much less sprint around somebody needs a LOT of work. I was initially pretty uncomfortable riding in close quarters on a bike with no brakes, but got fairly used to it pretty quickly.

From now until Worlds my focus will be on sprinting and short, HARD efforts. When I say I’ll be focusing on sprinting I don’t mean that I’m looking to come out of the bunch and win the Scratch Race in a group sprint. That just isn’t going to happen. But I do need the snap to follow and make hard attacks. In my first two outings if somebody hit it hard I would generally get gapped by a couple of bike lengths and then have to claw back as I got up to speed. Coming around somebody in a sprint wasn’t really in the cards. Granted, it was mostly young guys I was going against, but some of the guys in my age group (Larry Nolan for instance) are pretty damn fast. With that in mind I’ve started doing standing start sprints in my 52×15 once a week. Starting from a track stand I do a full sprint up to 25-28 mph. This will not only help my explosiveness, but as a side benefit it will improve my pursuit and team pursuit starts.

The other thing I’m doing is short VO2 max efforts. Say 4×3′ @ VO2 max. My opportunity to do well in the mass start races will probably come from covering moves and then counter attacking and then either staying away alone (hopefully) or in a small group, or taking a lap on the field. As a bonus, those 3 minute intervals are of a similar duration to my individual and team pursuits.

Another change is that I acquired a set of 167.5mm track cranks. That’s a pretty big change from the 175mm road cranks I’ve been using on the track. Besides protecting me from tagging a pedal on the 45 degree banking and going down in a heap I think they will help my speed and acceleration. I’ve taken to riding the rollers on my track bike a few mornings a week, working on steady cadences of around 120rpm. Along with that I’ll also do a few “spin ups” where I am able to get my cadence into the 180 rpm range briefly. The 167.5’s make that MUCH easier than my 175’s. I feel much smoother at super high (for me) rpm’s and don’t feel like I’m milliseconds away from flying off the rollers. I hope that over the next few weeks both my stead state and peak rpm’s will increase. BTW, I will still use the 175’s for the individual and team pursuit events.

Another important thing will be to get together with my team pursuit team mates as often as possible to train together.

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2017 National Hill Climb Championships – Pikes Peak





One of the things that I really wanted to do this year was to break the hour record AND win the national hill climb championship AND then win a world track championship. I think that it’s a fair bet that nobody else attending track worlds will have competed at Pikes Peak.

A couple of things conspired against me. First, for the whole lead up to the hour I focused on the demands of that event and didn’t get too worked up about being a few pounds over my normal race weight. Once I got through the hour I tried to lose some weight in the month leading up to Pikes Peak but wasn’t all that successful. Last year the morning I flew to Colorado I weighed 69.5kg. This year I was 71.3kg. I felt good though and was riding well based on power output and times up climbs compared to last year so I was optimistic. Also, with the hour being my absolute focus for most of the last year I wasn’t going to beat myself up about not being as light as I’d like for this secondary, if important goal. It is what it is…

On the other hand there was one other difference between this year and last. Michael Carter was entered. If you’re not familiar with him it was a pro in the late 80’s, early 90’s for both Motorola and Coors Light. He actually rode in the 1991 Tour de France. He is a pure climber, probably about 5’8″, 130 pounds. On one hand I was optimistic. Looking at how much he won Mt. Evans by (not much) against guys who I beat by a fair amount last year at Pikes Peak told me that I had a shot. Also, what somebody did in the past doesn’t necessarily translate into current performance. Everybody’s lifestyles change so you never know how they will do now. The fact that he was a much better climber than me back then, wouldn’t necessarily mean he was better than me now based on his current lifestyle. On the other hand, he didn’t get called to do the Tour de France because Jim Ochowitz couldn’t get a hold of me in 1991. 🙂

Some friends of mine from Colorado clued me in on how he would ride. In a big gear and then he would attack until he could ride away alone. I was leery of that because coming from sea level I could get into a lot of trouble trying to follow a hard attack. My plan was to follow the attacks but more smoothly. i.e. don’t make the vicious effort to stay right on his wheel, but do an easier acceleration after him and then slowly close the gap without going fully into the red.

This year’s race started out faster than last year, but the group stayed relatively large until about Glen Cove which is in the high 11,000′ range. Carter attacked and I followed him as planned and latched on. He eased so I went though and kept the pressure on as he had split the group and it was just the two of us. Unfortunately for me he pretty quickly attacked again and I couldn’t follow. Maybe I should have just sat on him, but I doubt it would have made much difference. I was okay for steady hard, but if it was going to be moderate punctuated by hard attacks I was going to get dropped anyway. I hoped that if we worked together for a while I’d be better off. Anyway, I held him relatively close at around 20-25 seconds until we got through the flat section at 13,000′ and then from there it opened up to something like 55-57 seconds at the end. And he did ride in a big gear like I was told. Once away from me he seemed to always be standing. From experience that isn’t uncommon for small riders, but still a bit surprising in such thin air. Every time I stood there was a cost to it so I stayed in the saddle about 99.9% of the time. I also used my 34×32 more than last year.

On a comical note, it can be a bit confusing in this race because of all the gran fondo people who start in front of you. When you pass them you can see that they have a yellow frame number, where the USAC people just have white numbers on their backs. But once you pass them it occasionally gets confusing as you’ve got a lot going on and you look back and sometimes can’t tell if it is a competitor chasing you or a gran fondo person you passed. Passing through 13,000′ for the final 2 miles of 10% I kept seeing a person behind me with a kit that looked familiar from my race group. He was pretty close and I thought it might be 3rd place and I was worried. I spent a lot of that section worrying about getting passed, but after I finished I later found out that 3rd place was something like 3 minutes behind me. A lot of stress for nothing!

My self analysis of why I got beat boils down to I think 2 things.
1. Mike Carter is a really, really good climber.
2. It would have been nice to be 4 pounds lighter like last year.

If I was as light as last year, would I have beat him? I don’t know. I think it might have been possible, but as I mentioned above. He’s just a really good climber who lives in Denver. That’s a pretty tough combination to beat. It surely would have been closer.

Also, like last year the weather the day before was iffy with rain, but it cleared overnight and was beautiful (if cool) on race day. Even though it was cold, it was not as cold as last year so all in all about as good as you can expect starting a race before 7am at 9,000′ up in the mountains.

NorCal had a good day as Todd Markelz won the 30-39 race, Jonathan Baker won the 40-40 race, my friend Steve Archer won the 60-69 race, I got 2nd in 50-59, Josh Dapice was 3rd in 40-49 and Liz Beneshin was 2nd in women 60-69.

Also, Phil Gaimon won the elite race. I asked him at awards if he had gotten the KOM (no, missed by about 30 seconds) and if it was his first national championship. It was. That was kind of funny in that he had to retire to win his first national championship. Afterwards, Steve and I packed up our bikes for shipping (Bikeflights.com rocks), had an awesome bacon cheeseburger with fries in Colorado Springs and then drove to Denver to fly home.

I just raced my bike up Pikes Peak. I'm having a cheeseburger! And fries…

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No Super Epic ride this year which I was sad about, but it was good to get home in a more timely fashion.

Next up, a couple of weeks of just riding around for fun (with a few races, but no “specific training”) and then full on preparation for geezer track worlds in LA this October. Scratch race, Points race, pursuit and team pursuit will be my events. Tomorrow night I’ll do my first mass start track race since the 2008 master’s track nationals. Should be interesting! 🙂

My power data compared to last year was interested. Last year I averaged 269 watts start to finish with a time of 1:20:15. This year I averaged 287 watts for a time of 1:21:03. Almost 20 watts more and almost a minute slower. Even the watts per kg didn’t make sense. 3.87 average last year vs. 4.02 this year. The story was the same even when you only compared sections at the end where I was alone and full gas both years. Based on the power you’d think I would have gone as fast or faster. My best guess is the the zero offset or calibration is slightly different between the two years. I did a zero offset this year minutes before the start and am pretty sure I did the same last year. Same power meter, same rings BTW.

This year: https://www.strava.com/activities/1129812638
Last year: https://www.strava.com/activities/674850903

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Aquascalientes Wrap Up





Lots of people (okay, my Mom and Dad) have been asking for a link to the video of my two record attempts. So here you go Mom.

There have also been a couple of article on the GU website and one on Slowtwitch. I’m including the links below.  And please scroll down far enough to see the list of records set by our group.  They were an impressive group.

Breaking the Hour: Setting Goals

Breaking The Hour: Fuel to Shatter Records

Breaking the Hour: A New World Record

Slowtitch Article

 

 

49.121k, M55-59 World and US Record

 

2:18.052, M55-59 World and US Record

Here is a tentative list of US and World records set by our group in Aquascalientes.  The links are to YouTube videos of each persons ride with lap split data.

An impressive group of riders indeed.  Some are old friends and now some are new friends.

 

Andi Smith
Hour – 41.472k, W50-55 US Record
1k – 1:21.710, W50-55 US Record

Mary Ellen Allen
1k, 1:20.811, W60-65 US Record

Lenita Anthony
2k – 2:38.662, W60-64 World and US Record
1k – 1:20.463, W60-64 US Record
500m – 40.818, W60-64 World and US Record

Mary Ellen Allen, Lenita Anthony, Andi Smith
3k Team Pursuit – 3:56.844, W45+ US Record

Kevin Metcalfe
Hour – 49.121k, M55-59 World and US Record
2k – 2:18.052, M55-59 World and US Record
1k – 1:12.165, M55-59 US Record

Dean Phillips
3k – 3:22.764, M40-44 World and US Record
also see Dean’s narration here

Scott Hennessy
Hour – 43.216k, M70-74 World and US Record

Molly Van Houweling
Hour – 47.061k, W40-44 World and US Record
2k – 2:24.753, W40-44 World and US Record
1k – 1:14.772, W40-44 US Record

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Bonus ride: 2km World Record plus “What’s next”





One of the things I had considered doing in Mexico was to take a crack at the World Record for the 2km Individual Pursuit.  The record was set by Gary Mandy in October, 2016 at the Master’s World Championships in Manchester, England.  His record was 2:19.395.  To try and beat that I set a schedule that called for an opening lap in 23 seconds, followed by 11 laps at 16.5 seconds for a total of 1:18.5.  I have very limited experience in the 2km.  This would be my second one ever.  But I do know that it’s a pretty violent effort.  It’s much closer to a sprinter type of an event than the 4km pursuit (elites) or even the 3km pursuit (younger masters groups).  I liken it to the 800 meter running race in the track.  My point being that a schedule and pacing for this event is somewhat notional.  There isn’t much time to settle in.  The schedule is useful in the case where maybe my second lap was a low 15 second lap.  I’d know to ease up just a bit.  Or if it was 17 seconds I’d know I need to dig in harder.  But this is not an event where there is much time to settle into your pace.

For this event you want it as hot as possible to minimize the air density.  I ended up making my attempt at about 4:15pm when it was about 95 degrees in the velodrome.  I warmed up for about 15-20 minutes on the rollers and then went out to do some laps on the track to get a feel for what a 16.5 second lap felt like.  Back on the rollers for another 5-10 minutes and it was time to give it a go.

There really isn’t a whole lot to say about the attempt itself.  Considering my relative lack of experience with the starting gate I think I actually did a really good job of getting off the blocks and my opening lap was right on schedule.  Rob was calling splits and each lap seemed right on schedule as far as I could tell.  It’s kind of hard to hear splits when an aero helmet on.  With three laps to go it started getting pretty horrible and I think I was feeling the effects of my hour from the previous evening.  But it’s only three laps so you just suck it up and keep going.  The last lap was kind of a blur of suffering and heavy breathing.  And then it was over.  I didn’t think I had done it, but when I came by the start/finish line Chris was cheering and smiling so I figured I had done it.  My final time was 2:18:052 so I took a bit more than a second off of the record.  That made me very happy of course and now I think I have a reasonable shot at winning to 2km at worlds in October.  I don’t necessarily think that this record makes me the favorite by any means.  It’s hard to compare times between Aguascalientes and Manchester.  But I am optimistic.  Also, Rob tells me that my opening kilometer is a new national record for my age group.  My time was 1:12, which I think is pretty soft.  It was only a record because nobody had bothered to set/submit one to USA Cycling before.

Afterwards we packed up our bikes and went out to a celebratory dinner with the whole group.  All told there were 16 records set, most of them world records.  Then to bed for our 2:30 wake up call for the trip home.

Switching gears

Now that I’m home it’s time to change things up and prepare to defend my national hill climb championship up Pikes Peak on August 12th.  Long rides, LOTS of climbing and some dieting are in my future for the next couple of weeks.  I’m looking forward to the change and the challenge.

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World Hour Record. 55-59, 49.121 km






After months and months of preparation yesterday was finally the big day.

I went to the velodrome in the morning to run splits for my team mate Dan Bryant as he attempted to break Kent Bostick’s 45-49 record of 49.361km. Unfortunately he fell short. I think that Dan has the power to break the record as he averaged over 380 watts at 6,200′ above sea level! He just needs I more time on a steep 250 meter track to prepare.

After that I took an Uber back to the hotel and basically spent the next 5-6 hours eating and sitting around resting. The velodrome temperatures indicated that a good start time would probably be between 8 and 8:30 pm. We headed over at about 7, checked the temperature and I started getting ready. I was kind of nervous… I spent about 10 minutes on the rollers we had set up in the tunnel to the velodrome (much cooler down there). After that I got up on the track and did maybe 3-5 km on the track with some race pace laps and pulled off. Time to get on with it!

I needed to beat 47.773km to break the record. I felt like I could do 49.5km and that is what I set my schedule to. That called for about a 24 second opening lap and then 18.1 second laps. BTW, on the live stream, the timing data was based on the old record, not the schedule I was working with.

I had a good first lap and then it took a while to settle into my goal pace. Probably about 2km worth of sub 18 second laps to finally get it right. Then I rode around in circles for a really long time… For the first half I think I did a good job of keeping on schedule. Lots of 18.1’s and a few 18.2’s. I also did a pretty good job of riding the best, shortest line to minimize riding extra distance that I got no credit for. I had a few oopsie moments where I went wide or tagged a sponge, but not too bad.

Through 30 minutes I was pretty much right on schedule at 49.5 kph.

Photo: Craig Huffman / Craig Huffman Photography

After 30 minutes it kind of started getting hard. I was seeing more than the occasional split in the 18.3, 18.4, 18.5 range. At first a few, and then more and more. I also had a few more oopsie moments. Basically no sponge was safe. 🙂 Every 5 minutes Dan would hold up a white board that told me how many minutes I had done and my average speed so far. At I believe 35 minutes my average speed on the board dipped down to 49.4 kph. Besides breaking my age group record I REALLY wanted to also beat Bostick’s mark to have the fastest hour record of any of the master’s age groups. One of my thoughts upon seeing the board at 35 minutes was, “are they rounding”. And if so, did they get to 49.4 by rounding down (okay) or rounding up (not good). I wanted to telepathically tell them to give me at least two decimal places next time so I’d know, but then I probably hit a sponge and figured I needed to concentrate more on the task at hand. I was either going to be able to hold on or not and knowing the exact speed so far wasn’t going to change that.

At about 40 minutes I started counting laps each time they put the board up. I figured it would probably be somewhere around 17 laps or so per 5 minutes. That helped me break what I had left down into bite sized chunks. Kind of like what I do with my 2×20′ workouts on the trainer. In 5 minutes my life would improve, not because I got a break, but because I’d see a board that told me I had 5 minutes less left to go.

During the last 15 minutes or so I had more trouble holding my most aero position. That position involves holding only the tip of my aero bars with just a couple of fingers so that I can stretch out. That was just getting too hard to do well and control so I choked up a bit for more control.

I don’t remember exactly which time check it was, but I finally saw 49.3 kph and figured that unless I could really dig in during the last 5 minutes I was not going to beat Bostick’s mark. I was bummed, but at that point you just do what you can do. One important tip I got from Rob Van Houweling is that it’s a bad idea to fight hard to hold on to a pace that you’re fading from. It’s one thing if you just have a slow lap to speed up and get back on pace. But if you’re slowing fading off of your goal you’re only going to cause more damage by trying to rally.

This looks like what the last 15 minutes felt like.

This is starting to hurt… Photo: Craig Huffman / Craig Huffman Photography

Another thing I did earlier in the hour was to work the corners and float the straights. With the steep 250 meter track your center of gravity takes a significantly shorter line through the corner than your wheels. The wheels want to accelerate. By putting in a bit of effort you can pick up some speed. Then when you hit the straight it’s harder to hold that so you just float it a bit. If you look at the enclosed power file you can see that every single lap has two cadence blips that represent the turns. My cadence generally fluctuated by about 4 or 5 rpm twice each lap. Towards the end of the ride though it was too much work and concentration to focus on doing that. I was just trying to hold on and ride a good line in the corners to minimize the distance over 250 meters that I actually traveled each lap. FYI, I’m told that the difference between riding exactly on the black line vs. riding in the middle of the sprinters lane is about .1 seconds per lap. That really adds up over 196 and change laps.

At 5 minutes to go I went pretty much all in. That doesn’t mean my speed went up, just that it stopped dropping. 🙂 I saw lap 195 and was hoping to see 196 before I got the bell. (They ring the bell when you’ve got less than your average lap time left to go. So if I saw 196 before the bell, that meant I’d get at least 197 and change. Alas, they rang the bell at 196 and then blew the whistle which signified the end of my ride. You need to continue on at full speed to complete the lap as your final distance is calculated as a ratio of the time from the start of that lap to the bell divided by the total lap time. i.e. if you hit the line at 59:51 and rode an 18 second lap you’d get credit for 125 meters. (9/18 * 250). But if you hit the line at 59:51 and they blew the whistle when you were half way around and you sat up and cruised in for a 27 second lap you’d only get credit for (9/27 * 250) meters. Even though you were at 125 meters when it blew.

I was very happy when it ended. Happy because I had broken the record by a lot. But also happy because it stopped hurting! So much at least.

The official distance was calculated as 49.121 km, breaking the old mark by 1.348 kilometers.

After that was the looong wait to pee for the Mexican Anti Doping Agency. After probably about 6 bottles of water and close to two hours I was able to produce my sample and got back to the hotel at close to midnight.

I feel very thankful for the support I’ve received from my team mate Chris Ott and his company Creative Blue for organizing this whole thing and the tremendous support from GU, BMC, Pearl Izumi and Inside Tracker to get us to this point and help me fulfill this long time goal.

Next up, a crack at the 2km IP record for my age group this afternoon. Because… Why not, I’m already here, right?

World Hour Record Power File

Timing data and splits from the electronic timing system.

KevinMetcalfe_55-59_World_Hour_Record_Timing

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The Big Day





Today is the big day. This morning Dan will make his attempt on the 45-49 record at around 10am central time. I will go this evening at around 7:30pm. The timing of the attempts is all based on conditions in the velodrome. It is not air conditioned so it starts out cool in the morning and gets quite hot in the middle of the day before cooling off again. Picking your start time is kind of a Goldilocks thing. The warmer it is, the less dense the air and the faster you’ll go. Until warm is too warm and it affects your performance. The sweet spot is probably around 80 degrees. We have a few people here who are making attempts at shorter records like the flying 200m, 500m, kilometer, 2km pursuit and 3km pursuit. For those attempts they want it as warm as possible for the least air density as the races are too short to worry about overheating. In other words, it’s a long day at the velodrome for the officials!

Thursday was our first day on the track. I’ve haven’t been on a steep 250 meter track since 1999. After a few laps of “don’t die, don’t die, don’t die” I settled in and it was fine. After doing some laps with the 808 front I switched to the front disk wheel. Though I did a few laps with the front disk at Hellyer on a calm morning, I basically have no experience riding a front disk in the aerobars. But again, after a lap or two I didn’t even notice it.

Here is a short GoPro clip from the bike for some 50.5kph laps.

Hour testing. @guenergylabs @ride_bmc @peets_coffee_racing

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I did a couple of efforts at race pace. My expectation coming in was to ride something like 17.8 second laps for about 50.5 kph. I had some issues in my efforts going out too hot and not feeling like I could hold my pace for an hour. I started with a 53×14. That seemed kind of big.
To better explain how the gears feel, I need to explain how an effort feels on a steep 250 meter track. Going into the corner at speed you are leaning over and your center of gravity is basically taking a short cut and you speed up a bit to compensate, then when you hit the straight away it feels like more of an effort to stay on top of the gear. For me at least, staying on top of the gear is very important. If I ride 50km, that’s 200 laps. 200 laps is 400 turns, which is 400 times into the straight away and working to get on top of the gear. If I’m slightly over geared those 400 accelerations will take their toll and I won’t be able to hold the pace towards the end.

So, in the 53×14 my cadence tended to vary between 104 and 108 each lap. That felt “heavy” to me. I switched to a 52×14 and that felt a LOT better. The catch though is that to go 50 kph will probably give me a cadence that varies between 108 and 112 between the flats and the straights. A 5 minute test effort felt very comfortable at that cadence, but don’t really know if it will be sustainable for an hour.

Basically, right now I wish I had a 52.5 front chain ring. 🙂 If I was an uber trackie I might have more choices. All I’ve got are 52, 53, and 54 rings and 13, 14, 15, and 16 tooth rear cogs. Maybe something like a 49×13…

Anyway, I think I’m going to stick with the 52×15 and go out at 18 second laps and hope I can hit the gas towards the end to get up towards 50.5 km.

Right now I think that 50 km is possible, but less of a sure thing that I thought it might have been. We will know for sure in about 12 hours.

Another thing we did on Friday was make a few test starts using a starting gate. Another first for me. I did three starts and didn’t fall down so I considered it a huge success! 🙂

Check out our Hour Record Facebook page for more information and a link to the live stream of Dan and my attempts.

Also worth noting is that on Friday, Andi Smith set a US Hour record for 50-54 women at 41.472km. She rode a really good race and I was inspired to work on my line after watching her. She did a really good job hugging the black line in the corners which I’ve been less good at. I took some time in the afternoon to work on that and I feel like I’ll do fairly well in that regard.

Also, Molly VanHouweling broke her own world record for 40-44 women with a 47.061. That’s not terribly far from the 47.773 mark that I’m going after! She rode a pretty huge gear. I don’t know off the top of my head, but I’ll try to update later. Something WAY bigger than what I’m going to ride.

Cool shot from underneath the track.

Under the track. @guenergylabs @ride_bmc @peets_coffee_racing

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Final Lab Testing – 10 days before the hour





Dan and I went in for our final round of performance testing at the UC Davis Sports Performance center in Sacramento. We got DEXA scanned again and tested on the bike.

The one takeaway from the DEXA scan is that my bone density has dropped a bit. That means I’ll be starting some calcium supplements and continue with the weight workouts once we get back from Mexico.

Our on the bike test was different this time. We started out with a metabolic test. This time we kept it short and only went up to our aerobic threshold. Though it never got hard, the data shows that my heart rate and lactate numbers for a given power were lower than last time. So, I’m more fit than I was in March. Yay!

The second part was pretty hard. We did a Maximum Lactate Steady State (MLSS) test. We took my power numbers from the Loyalton TT last month, did a rough conversion for the altitude difference. 315 watts in Loyalton is approximately 340-345 watts at sea level. Judd had me do 3×12 minutes at 330 watts, 340 watts and 350 watts. During those intervals they tested my lactate every 3 minutes. They had me do the 330 and 340 watt steps in one 24 minute block. When that was finished, they had me spin easy until my lactate got down to under 2.0. Then it was back up to 350 watts for 12 minutes. That one kind of hurt. During the 340 step my lactate climbed and then leveled out and even dropped a bit during the last three minutes. For the 350 test my lactate climbed until the end indicating that 350 is not sustainable.

From that data it would appear that my MLSS power is 345 watts. Converting that power output for 6,200’ above sea level tells me that I should be aiming for about 305 watts in Aguascalientes.

My plan is on my first day on the track in Aguascalientes to do some gear testing and do maybe 5’ each at that power in probably a 52×14, 53×14 and 54×14. From that I’ll pick the gear that feels right and do a 20’ effort at race pace. Given the limited time I think that is my best bet for coming up with a solid idea of my best hour pacing. From there I’ll have two days to rest and recover before my schedule hour attempt at approximately 7:30pm central time on Saturday July 15th.

I also had an Inside Tracker blood test on June 30th. I got the results back via email while we were in the lap and was happy to see that all of my markers were in the good zone.

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