Author Archives: Kevin Metcalfe

Hour update – 3 weeks to go

I am tentatively scheduled to go at about 7:30pm Central Time on Saturday, July 15th. Three weeks from today. But who’s counting…

The District/State NCNCA TT Championship is always a goal of mine and this year it served double duty as a good opportunity to put down a Marker for the hour. Loyalton is 5,000′ above sea level which is fairly close to Aguascalientes (6,200′) and the elapsed time (50′ vs. 60′) make it a fairly decent comparison for my power output. Conditions were not that great, it was 45 degrees when I started and windy, but I had a phenomenal day a set a new national 55-59 record in 50:16.

Normally I use Q-Rings on my road and TT bikes, but for this TT I used a round 53 tooth big ring. The reason being that I will of course use a round ring on my track bike and that oval rings report a higher power number than round due to the way crank based power meters measure power. For more information on that check Tom Anhalt’s blog here.

My average power at Loyalton was 315 watts. Molly Van Houweling’s data suggests about a 3% drop between Loyalton power and Aguascalientes power. Making that calculation and plugging it into the “magic spreadsheet” suggests that I might go 50.8km for the hour. Rob tells me that I actually have to ride the hour while they watch and that submitting a power file and spreadsheet isn’t sufficient for the record so take that number with a grain of salt. 🙂

BTW, it’s a new USA Cycling requirement that you need to be drug tested for national records. On my way home I met the USADA drug tester in Rocklin, CA at the Bass Pro shop for a urine test. The Reno Wheelmen had set up a tent for USADA at the event, but the DCO didn’t arrive and we arranged the Rocklin meet up. Wonder what the other customers thought as the chaperone and I walked into the handicapped stall together for me to give my sample…

Meanwhile, I’m taking care of some of the logistical issues. Again on the drug testing front, there is a known issue with Clenbuterol being used in livestock in Mexico. A number of people in big events have tested positive due to this. In those cases the root cause was understood, but I do not want to be “that guy”. You know, the one who says “I ate xx and it was contaminated”. Even when it’s true nobody believes “that guy”. To avoid that I am bringing my own protein source with me.

Clenbuterol free chicken

Also on the food front, I’m pretty happy with the new overnight oat and yogurt breakfast that @guenergy has turned me on to, so I’ll be bringing all of the dry ingredients for that in baggies, so that I’ll only need to get yogurt and skim milk once I get there. OCD much?

For the next few weeks I’ll probably do one more track workout, a hard road race and then the district elite pursuit and team pursuit championships the Sunday before I leave. It’s getting close and I’m starting to get excited and nervous.

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Another day on the track

I went to another Sunday session at the track. I did a 2km Individual Pursuit test (needs work!) and since it was calm, rode a few laps with the front disk.

Next Hour Record Article

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Berkeley Hills / Crockett Road Race

web tracking software

Promoter: Berkeley Bike Club

Course: A Hilly 10 mile loop through Crockett.


Course Description: There is one main thing to consider on this course. McEwen Road. It’s steep and you’re going to have to go up it a number of times.

Road Surface: The roads are all in decent shape.

Gearing: Bring the smallest gear you have. Don’t think about it, just bring it. McEwen is steep, up to 14% in places and climbs over 500 feet in just over a mile. You’ll do it a minimum of 4 times and as many as 8 if you’re a Pro/1/2 male.

Facilities: There is no water at the start/finish area. Nearby Crockett will have anything you might need.

Weather: Expect cool temperatures due to the early start and also the proximity to the Carquinez Straight. It could get warm on the Franklin Canyon portion of the course, but you’ll soon be back near the water where it’s cooler..

Feeding: The feed zone will be on Franklin Canyon Road leading up to the finish line..

Rules Specific to this race: No Crybabies!

Race Advice: McEwen Road will define how this race goes. The race will shatter on this climb, it’s just a question of which lap. You can either make it up this climb with the best in your group or you can’t. Assuming you make that split it might be possible to make something happen after you crest the climb. The group might not be in the mood to go hard after you. The catch is that you (or your small group) will need a pretty reasonable gap to hold off the fresher legs in the group behind the next time up McEwen.

If you’ve got the legs, waiting until maybe mid race when the pack has dwindled and riders are tired might be a good time for that move as there will be fewer and more tired legs trying to chase.

Another option would be to try and get away through Crockett. This is kind of a classic move as you have a bunch of riders behind not wanting to work hard leading up to the climb you’re heading towards. A concerted effort up front combined with an unwillingness to go hard behind can give you a nice gap. The question is whether or not it will be enough to hold off the group up McEwen.

And finally, if you’re feeling great you can force a selection on McEwen and go to the line with a small group.

The finish hill is a nice grind. You might be able to take it in the big ring, but I doubt that there would be any advantage to it. Probably much safer to settle into the small ring. The finish is likely to be into a headwind though so be patient and don’t go too early.

Here’s an ancedote from when I did this race in 1986. It was part of “The Lemond Series” which was a series of road races each Saturday and Sunday over the course of 5 weeks starting in early February. This race was about mid way through the series and lucky us, the 7-11 team was in town and showed up. The team that won two stages of the Giro d’Italia the previous summer… Men among boys… Ron Keifel, Bob Roll, Alex Stedia, Davis Phinney, etc.

Anyway, it was of course brutally hard, partially due to the course and largely due to the 7-11 team. I slogged my way through somewhere in the top 10 and was happy enough with that. I remember hearing Ron Keifel (one of those Giro stage winners from 1985) talking after the race. He said, “Yeah, I used the 39×23 when we were cruising and my 21 when it was time to go hard”. I used by 39×24 every single lap. There really was no other option. So, if you’re up for maybe winning a stage in the Giro your 39×23 will be fine.

Corrections and additions, please email me!

Kevin Metcalfe

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Ironman Lake Tahoe Bike Calculator

I’m not a triathlete, but offer this bit of advise as somebody who has lived and cycled extensively in the Lake Tahoe area. I think that a lot of people underestimate the difficulty of the climbs in this race within the context of an Ironman event. It’s one thing to do the loop in training or blast up Brockway Summit for fun, but it needs to be treated with a lot more respect if you’re going to run a marathon afterwards. I saw a lot of talk on the Slowtwitch forums before the 2013 race and got to thinking. Here is what I came up with.

To start with, you’ll need to know your FTP. Then, take 10% off the top due to the altitude. Then take 75% of that to get the average power that you’re shooting for in an Ironman event. Some examples.  For a FTP = 350W your IMLT power would be (350*.9)*.75 = 236W.  For FTP = 300W, IMLT power = (300*.9)*.75 = 202W.  For FTP = 250, IMLT power = 169W.

So now we need to consider what kind of gearing you’ll need to ride up Brockway at your IMLT power at a reasonable cadence.  To help with that I found an excellent calculator.  Punch in your IMLT power, your weight, the elevation, % grade, distance, and temperature.  Let’s start with our 350W FTP (sea level) rider.  We’re going to use a weight of 75kg (I’m a metric guy, but you can use english units if you like).  The segment data can be found on Strava here. So, 350W FTP => 236W for the climb.  Elevation at the start is 1890m.  Grade = 7.1%.  Distance = 4km.  For temp, we’ll go with 15 degrees C.  That gives me a speed of 12.74kph and a time of 18:50.  FYI, the Strava KOM is 11:59.

Okay, what kind of gear do I need to go 12.74kph at a reasonable cadence.  For me, I want to be able to spin at least 80rpm.  Find your favorite gear calculator.  Sheldon Brown’s is always a good bet.  I use a compact crank so I’m going to cut to the chase and use 50 and 36 for my chainrings.  I picked the Campy 11 speed 12×27 freewheel and found that at 80rpm in a 36×27 I would go 13.8kph.  For me, that’s slightly too large of a gear!  A 36×29 worked out to be just about right at 12.8kph.  Think about that for a second.  A guy with a sea level FTP of 350 watts who weighs 75 kg, that’s 4.67 W/kg at threshold needs a 36×29 for this course!  Sure, a person with that kind of power output could easily get around that course in a 39×25 or even a 39×23.  IF they wanted to walk most of the marathon… How about our 300W and 250W sea level FTP riders?  11kph and 9.25 kph.  At 80 rpm that works out to needing about a 34×32 and 34×36 low gear respectively.

The important thing to think about here is what you CAN do versus what you SHOULD do. My opinion is that pretty much everybody but the pro’s should be on a compact.  I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth now.  “But what about the flats and downhill sections?  I need my 55×11!”  You know what?  No.  You don’t.  Seriously.  a 50×11 at 80rpm gives you 47kph.  Just a smidge under 30mph.  Please tell me where you’ll be going that fast except on the two big descents each lap at 236W.  The answer is nowhere.  “But what about the stretch from Squaw to Truckee?”  Again, NOT at IMLT power.  If you do, it will be on some short section of about 30 seconds or less and if you are smart you will either suck it up or learn to spin a bit in those short fast sections.  If there is time to be lost due to “only” having a 50×11 it will be more than countered by the time you would lose trying to get over those big hills in a 39.  If you really need/want something bigger, then a mid compact with a 36×52 might be the ticket.  But frankly, in my opinion only the strongest riders will be okay even with the 36.  I suspect the charts will tell most people to use a 34.  The 34×52 combo will likely lead to dropped chains.  Trust me, you lose more time stopping to put your chain back on than you will if you are “limited” to a 50×11 top gear.

Now comes the ugly part.  How are you going to get that gearing on your bitchin Shiv or P5 considering that right now you’ve got a 42×55 crank set with an 11×23 cassette.  Answer?  Get out the credit card.  If you’ve got a standard crank you’re going to need to pony up for a whole new crank set unless you’ve got a new Shimano 9000 11 speed crank (110 bcd rings) or one of the SRM models (like my Dura Ace 7800) that has a 110 bcd inner ring and 130 bcd outer ring.  Then, if you decide you need something bigger than a 28 or 29 cog, you’ll need a new long cage rear derailleur.  It used to be that you needed to buy a MTB derailleur and it was a lot trickier picking the right one.  Now it seems most brands have a long cage version that will fit the bill.  I believe that all levels of the current SRAM rear derailleurs com in long cage versions and I know Shimano makes them too.

FYI, here’s 2013 IMLT segment:

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