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What Would Kent Bostick Do (WWKBD)?

In 2007 I was riding on the AMD masters team. Among my teammates was Kent Bostick (who should need no introduction), Larry Nolan (now up to 23 master’s world track championships) and Mick Hellman (who later won the Master’s Individual Pursuit world championship) before starting a new company and then starting a side career in music as the drummer for the Well Known Strangers.

We were in Seven Springs, PA for the USA Cycling Master’s Road Championships. The criteriums were spread over two days to cover all the different groups. Kent raced on the first day in the 50-54 group while Larry, Mick and myself raced the next day in the 45-49 group. It should be noted that Mick and I had similar strengths in that we were better at climbing, time trialing and pursuiting and not all that great at sprinting. Larry on the other hand would be our guy if it came down to a sprint.

Kent’s race was amazing. A group of two riders got away and opened up a large gap of maybe around 40-45 seconds before Kent was able to escape alone. He slowly made progress against the two lead riders, but he was chasing alone for many laps. Finally with about two laps to go it looks like he would catch on the next lap, then as we watched the final corner to see who would show up first we saw Kent with a large gap on the other two riders. Somehow he chased them down alone and then caught and rode away from them on the final lap. It really was something to see.

That night back at the condo the whole team got together to cook diner and eat. At one point Mick and I were talking to Kent about the next day’s race. Kent had some advice for us. “You guys need to attack and get off the front to either make the guys chase and set up Larry or to get away alone. Just attack and ride at 30 mph and see if anybody can come up to you. You guys are time trialists, you can ride 30 mph right?” Mick and I shared a glance. Kent continued on. “Just ride at 30 mph and see who can bridge up. Either ride away alone or set up Larry for the sprint.” Later Mick and I had a private conversation and agreed that sure, we could ride at 30 mph for a while. But one. They weren’t going to let us use our TT bikes in the crit and “a while” most surely did not mean “for the rest of the race without getting caught”.

On the day, Mick and I made several attacks, got into a few short-lived breakaways, but we obviously didn’t ride at 30 mph for long enough and got caught each time. In the end it came down to a sprint where Larry was able to finish 4th.

Ever since then though if Mick and I get to talking we can’t help but remember that day and eventually somebody will say, “What Would Kent Bostick Do (WWKBD)?” The other will then answer, “Ride at 30 mph of course.”

This year at the UCI World Track Championships Kent was there racing in the 65-69 group now. He’s not at fit or dedicated to cycling as he was back then, but I watched his points race. He may not be quite able to ride at 30 mph anymore, but damned if he wasn’t going to try. He only lost that points race on the last sprint.

I couldn’t help but to text Mick and our other team-mate Rob (now playing guitar in the Well Known Strangers when not riding his bike).


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San Bruno World Championships (San Bruno Hill Climb)

Promoter: Peninsula Velo

Course Description: A point to point mass start hill climb road race from Brisbane to the top of San Bruno Mountain.

Road Surface: Mostly good pavement.

Gearing: I like to run a 36×26 low gear for this race. A slightly bigger gear might be fine, but I like to stay in the saddle and keep my cadence up. The last mile or so has a lot of 9-10% grade.

Facilities: Porta Cans at registration.

Weather: New Years day is going to be cold. It’s just a question of how cold and possibly how wet…

Feeding: N/A

Rules Specific to this race: N/A

Race Advice: Get there early enough to ride to the top before the race if you haven’t done it before. It’s a nice way to warm up and get familiar with the climb. Also, the view up top is really nice on a clear day.

Bring some kind of bag to pack all of your warm clothes into and put it in the truck that goes to the top before the race. I bring enough warm clothes so that I can pack my back of warm stuff for the top and still have enough warm clothes to wear while warming up and waiting for the start.

Your best bet is to bring a trainer to get a good warm up before the start.

The race generally starts off hard and then gets harder. It can be a bit of a rude awakening after your winter slumber. Do not expect to ride into it. Be ready to go from the gun because surely somebody in the group will do just that.

There will be some separation on Guadalupe Canyon, but the real damage happens after looping into the park on Radio Road. After the right turn loop into the park you go under Guadalupe Canyon and past a parking area. That is about where it starts getting steep. From there you have about 1.5 miles to go.

It can be breezy up top. It’s worth noting where the wind is blowing from and trying to see if you can take advantage of that.

Here is a video preview from the 2015 45+ race.

Corrections and additions, please email me!

Kevin Metcalfe

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Hour Record Attempt – We have a date!

It’s official. We have a date. I will be making an attempt on 55-59 World Hour Record (okay, “Best Hour  Performance”) at the Bicentennial Velodrome in Aguascalientes, Mexico on either July 15th or 16th. We have a group of four athlete’s, Andi Smith (Women’s 50-54), Molly Van Houweling (Women’s 40-44), Dan Bryant (Men’s 45-49) and myself. We will schedule the attempts over two days as the velodrome is not air conditioned and it gets quite hot inside during the day. To maximize distance you want it as warm as you can stand without affecting your performance. Warmer air is less dense. Going when it’s still cool inside could cost you as much as a lap or two. In general there is usually a window each morning and afternoon when the temperature is in the optimal range.

The record I’ll be attempting to break is 47.773 km and was set by Jim McMurray of New Zealand in March, 2016. To do that I’ll need to ride a minimum of 191.25 laps on the 250 meter track, averaging 18.8 seconds per lap. Based on what I’ve done at sea level at Hellyer Velodrome I believe I can ride 200 laps, at 18 seconds per lap for 50 km. The schedule will need to be fine tuned as I test more and won’t really be final until doing a short test effort once we’re in Mexico. Probably a 10-15 minute race pace effort about two days before the big day.

I know what you’re saying. “Dude, you only rode 46.2km at Hellyer, how the heck to you expect to ride 50kph in Mexico?!?!” Good question. There are four parts to the answer.

  1. Altitude. Aguascalientes is 6,200′ above sea level. The lower air density makes a big difference. Yes, you lose about 8-10% of your sea level power, but air resistance increases by a cube factor as you go faster. The lower air density more than makes up for the power drop.
  2. Aguascalientes is an indoor velodrome. No wind. It was quite windy during my recent Hellyer ride, probably costing me at least 500 meters.
  3. Front disk wheel. Since there is no wind you can safely ride a front disk wheel. The front disk makes a tremendous difference, more than a rear disk.
  4. Aguascalientes is a smooth wooden track and the rolling resistance is significantly lower.

This can all be quantified and calculated reasonably well. Knowing the weather (temperature, air density, wind, etc.) and power from a ride atHellyer, you can calculate your CdA (aerodynamic drag). Knowing that and expected temperature and air density at Aguascalientes you can plug that data into a spreadsheet and get an pretty good estimate of how fast/far you’ll ride at altitude. That data points towards 50kph in Mexico for me.

As kind of sanity check I know that my 40km PR at sea level is about 3 minutes slower than my PR at 5,000′ which fits with the calculations.

My team mate Dan and I have been really lucky to have help from Gu, BMC and Inside Tracker. Gu has assigned us a nutritionist to go over our diet and recommend changes. I’ve made some changes based on her recommendations and I feel like I’ve been riding well so I think it’s helping. BMC set us up with new Time Machine TT bikes to use for the effort. Finally GU set us up with Inside Tracker to get periodic blood tests to monitor our health and nutrient levels. Many of the diet changes I’ve made have been based on those results.

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Hour Record training – 1 hour test at Hellyer Velodrome

Hour Record Test Run. Hellyer Velodrome. April 29, 2017 Photo: Craig Huffman / Craig Huffman Photography

Dan and I planned to both do 1 hour tests at Hellyer Velodrome on Saturday, April 29th.  We just got our new BMC TM01 Time Machines the week before.  I got my bike build finished on Thursday and spent a few minutes on the trainer to make sure it felt about right, but didn’t have a chance to actually ride it until Sunday at the track.

The plan was to do a full 1 hour TT to set a marker and to gather weather data to use with the models to estimate how it would convert to our chosen venue at Aguascalientes, Mexico.  We are shooting for a record attempt in the July8-16 range and are working on the logistics now.

The weather on our chosen test date was warm, but windy.  My initial plan was to aim for 46.5km, but with the wind I set my schedule to 46km.  On Hellyer’s 335.75 meter track that worked out to 26.2 second laps.  Once up to speed though I found myself consistently hitting lap splits in the high 25 second range.  It felt very comfortable so I went with it.  What could go wrong, right?  I think if it was calm that would have worked out and I might have gone close to 47km.  (BTW, the US record for 55-59 is currently 45.019 km and the World Record is 47.773km.  Both were set indoors.)  As it was though I went through 30 minutes at 46.5km, but slowly started feeling the effects of my effort and slowed over the last 20 minutes or so, finishing with 46.2km.  Still, it was 700 meters further than my initial test in December on a pretty calm day.  And I again unofficially broke the US National Record, so I was happy with the outcome.

My fitness seems good, the bike was perfect from the get go.  The wind blew my all over the track at times and I have bruises on my left knee from the wind hitting me from the right and having to use body english to stay on the track, whacking my knee in the process.

The wind was what really made me pay for my early efforts.  Early on, I’d get blasted coming out of turn 2, but was able to power through it and get back up to speed.  As the ride wore on I more and more lost the ability to recover my speed after the wind blast.  We haven’t had time to review the weather data, but it looks like the wind averaged between 5 and 8 mph.  The temperature was close to 80 and that felt fine.  That is a good thing to know as the velodrome in Aguascalientes gets quite hot during the day in the summer.  The warmer air is less dense, but that doesn’t help if you melt.  Ideally you want to go at the warmest temperature that you can handle and it sounds like about 80 degrees will work for me.

The one bummer of the day was that though I thought I pushed the start button on my Garmin (mounted behind my saddle) I guess I didn’t and I have no power data to put in the model.  I was VERY unhappy when I finished and realized that I had made that stupid mistake! Dumb ass!

BTW, this attempt was fully UCI legal from an equipment stand point.  Garmin mounted on the seat post out of sight an on a UCI legal bike, as opposed to the Specialized Transition I used in December. Also, FYI, I rode a 52×15 gear (same as December) with 175mm cranks. I am guessing that I’ll go with a 52×14 for my official attempt, but still need to do some testing first.

Based on my December ride and this one I believe that I can conservatively ride 49km at Aquascalientes and possibly as much as 50km on a good day.  We’ll know for sure in about two and a half months…



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Polarized vs. Time Crunched

Disclaimer:  I am most certainly NOT a coach.  What I know about training I learned by picking things up here and there.  From friends and competitors, internet discussion lists, and trial and error.  All that, plus more than 30 years of experience has helped me figure out a training regime that works pretty well for me.

If you frequent internet discussion lists relating to training for cycling you will see two common trains of thought.  Polarized Training, and “Time Crunched” training.  Recently Velonews produced a podcast comparing the two methods.  It’s worth a listen.

My tendency is more towards polarized training.  If I had the time that I did when I was in college I would ride more hours year round than I do now.  Frankly, I just like riding my bike and within reason I’ve always enjoyed the more is better line of thinking.

But then real life kicked in.  Working 8 hours a day during the winter when some days have barely more than 8 hours of daylight put a cramp in my riding.  I did a lot of bike commuting over the years until my office moved further away and bike commuting in the dark was no longer a smart option.  I tried to adjust.  I tried lunch rides.  Not too appealing on the frontage road.  I tried working 6-2:30, but that didn’t work out either.

Finally I settled into riding the trainer during the week when the days were short.  I tried doing “normal” types of rides and found them incredibly boring.  Riding 90 minutes at an endurance pace was pretty horrible from my point of view.  Then I started reading about 2×20′ workouts.  The context was 2×20′ @ FTP (Functional Threshold Power) which I think is pretty horrible on a trainer.  While it may be a great workout, you have to actually want to do it and then get out on the bike.

Over time I kind of fell into a routine that I think is worth your consideration if like me your winter riding time is limited.

From the end of Daylight Savings Time until it comes back in the spring, I’m on the trainer Monday through Friday. What I’ve settle on is a one hour trainer ride where I do 2×20′ in the Tempo to Sweet Spot power zone.  Tempo is defined as between 76 and 90 % of your FTP according to Training Peaks.  I call 80% of FTP my minimum power level for these intervals, well, just because.  Sweet Spot, explained here is about 88-92% of FTP.

I do about a 10-12 minute warm up, hit the lap timer on my Garmin and settle in for 20′.  To make this a bit more bite sized I break it up into 5′ blocks.  Every 5 minutes I shift up two cogs and stand up for about 20 seconds to give my butt a break, then sit down and get back at it.  Between the two intervals I ease back into a low endurance, recovery level for about 5′, then back at it for another 20′ of Tempo/Sweet Spot, then a 5′ cool down.

All in, it takes about an hour and for me burns about 1,000 KiloJoules.

Each fall when I start this regimen, it’s kind of hard.  Not death defying by any means, but it takes a couple of weeks to adapt again.  Over the winter the power level that I find comfortable increases slightly as I get more fit.  I’ll start the winter doing more Tempo than Sweet Spot, but as time goes on I’ll find myself more and more in the Sweet Spot zone.  BTW, I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT pick a power number that I’m shooting for that day and do what it takes to hit it.  If I’m tired and feel crappy, it’s closer to 80%.  If I’m feeling really good it’s closer to 90%.

On the weekends, weather permitting I go on long rides in the hills (4-6 hours each day) and will generally get in about 15 hours per week.  I don’t have any particular training goal on those long weekend rides other than to have fun, ride lots and maybe hit it hard here and there if I’m in the mood.

Some people are appalled by the idea of riding the trainer 5 days a week.  Sure, it’s not as fun as riding outside everyday, but you do what you gotta do.

This started out as something to get me through the winter in decent shape, but frankly it has turned into my secret weapon.

This is the shit that kills.  Seriously!

When I start racing in the spring I’m not “race fit”.  I haven’t done any of the really hard types of effort that are important to win races.  But I feel like I’ve got an incredible depth when I’m out there.  I just feel like I can always dig in for more and will always be in on the kill.  I may not have what it takes to “eat first”, but I will be there.  Then, when DST comes back I transition into a more polarized type of training.  Hard and easy days during the week with some higher level VO2 Max and above efforts.  That helps get me to the level where I sometimes get to “eat first”. 🙂

The last few years I’ve done a count down of trainer rides on Strava.  I just count up the number of non-holiday week days until DST comes back.  Subtract planned vacation day’s and there is my number.  This last winter (2016-2017) my number was 74.  Of course here and there you get a rainy weekend day so I generally do a few more than the count down number, but it’s fun and it helps get me through the winter.

So, back to the “Time Crunched” vs. Polarized.  I don’t look at it as an “either/or” situation.  I use both at various times of the year.  I would suggest that riders look at all of the training methodologies, workouts, etc. that they can find, try things out and find what works for them.

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Super Epic


2016 Hill Climb Nationals race report.  If it’s boring, at least skip down and check out Sunday’s ride.  It was a great weekend.

This is the first time they have held a hill climb championship and when it was announced I knew that I had to do it. The full Pikes Peak highway is a bit over 19 miles and starts at around 7,000 feet. This race does the same course as the car races do, starting at 9,000′ at Crystal Reservoir and climbing approximately 12 miles to the top at 14,115 feet.

I have a friend (Nathan Parks) who moved to Denver from the Bay Area. He rode up Pikes Peak a few years ago and gave me the heads up that a mid-compact (52×36) with an 11×28 cassette was NOT going to be enough. 10% at 13-14 thousand feet is pretty steep, even for the guys who live at altitude. I did my research on Strava and decided that I’d run a 34×32 low gear.

I flew out Thursday afternoon, rode in Denver with Carl Nielson on Friday and then drove to Colorado Springs. I purposely did not check out the course as I was advised by a friend to minimize the negative effects of going to high altitude. I didn’t like that, but figured that this wasn’t a race that would be won or lost because you didn’t know where to start your sprint.

The weather up high had been sketchy. It snowed a bit at the top the day before the race and on race eve there were thunderstorms in Colorado Springs. Race day though was clear and sunny, if a bit cold. The temperature at the top was expected to be in the high 30’s when we got there. Did I mention the 7AM start time? How to dress was a concern. I went with arm and knee warmers, booties and a skull cap under my helmet. I can undress on the move pretty well so I wasn’t worried about overheating.

Based on the chart on Joe Friel’s web site about power loss at altitude I figured that my 360 watt sea level FTP was down to 300 at the start line and about 260 at the top.

So finally, we started. Kind of slowly. Basically we putzed around for the first two miles. Even at “only” 9,000′ feet though my FTP has taken about a 60 watt hit so I was happy with the pace. The 60-69 group started 1′ behind and actually caught us, but shortly afterwards the first surge was initiated by Gary Sharp who finished 4th in the recent Mt. Evans climb. That surge put me in the position of thinking that I could handle that pace, but not for another hour. Looking at my power file, this was above my adjusted FTP for about a mile. I was a bit worried. Frankly, I came here to win this race and 15 minutes in I was having some doubts.

Sharp’s surge pulled a group of 5 of us away from the rest. When he finally pulled off I was heartened to see him huffing and puffing pretty hard. I think he dug a hole for himself with that surge. That was a mistake that I wanted to avoid. After that I started feeling better and more confident. Another rider Mark Zimbelman from Utah was riding strongly, but I was sticking to my pre-race plan of doing nothing but following and pulling through when it was my turn until at least 12k feet. No heroics down low.

As we headed up towards 12,000′ I still felt good and could hear others who were breathing harder than I was. I took a pretty good pull and got it down to 3 of us. Myself, Zimbelman and Kerry Ferrell. Still though I was careful to not put myself in a position of digging deep and opening myself up to a counter attack. Finally, up around 12,500′ I upped the tempo and dropped Ferrell and after a few more digs, eventually Zimbelman.

From there I rode a hard, steady tempo while always being mindful of avoiding going too hard and blowing up. I was pleasantly surprised that so far I had not needed my 34×32 and thought that maybe the 28 would be enough. Just before mile 9 there is a nice long break of flat and downhill. I liked that part. When it kicked back up again “all that was left” was two miles of 10%. At 13,000’… It was here that my “maybe I won’t need the 32” thought took a hike. I probably would have been okay in the 28 here, but very unhappy about it.

Inside the last km I was catching two juniors who were riding for 2nd in that race. I got to see them attack each other and sprint at the end. That looked VERY unpleasant and I was happy that I didn’t have to do the same.

In the end, it took 1:20:08 at 269 watts average.


There are a couple of pictures on my Strava file.

Back in the club.

A post shared by Kevin Metcalfe (@kevinmetcalfe) on

Afterwards I headed back to Denver. I had planned my trip with the idea of riding up Mount Evans on Sunday. I figured that I hadn’t ridden my bike in Colorado since road nationals in 1987 and who knew when I’d get another chance. I figured we’d drive to Idaho Springs and do the Mt. Evans Hill Climb course. My friend Nate had a better idea.

At 7am on Sunday Nate, his wife Flavia (7th in the Rio Olympic RR last week) and I left his house in Littleton and had an epic adventure. “Super Epic” actually.

A great weekend indeed.

Funny that in 32 years of cycling I had never ridden up higher than 9,000’ (Mammoth Stage Race), and now, in 2016 I’ve been above 11,000’ four times.  Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, Pikes Peak and Mount Evans.  I kind of like it.

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