Colorado – Day 5

We’ve now been living in Colorado for almost a week… So far, so good, although we’re still living out of a hotel and not fully moved into out new apartment thanks to our belongings still somewhere between Hawaii and Colorado. My track bike made it here thanks to FedEx along with my race wheel which I took on the plane, so I’ve lined up a few races between now and nationals in August. My first race will be the Colorado State Track Championships on August 6-7, then I’m throwing myself into the fire racing the US Grand Prix of Sprinting which is a UCI event which should have a solid international field. I’m racing the Omnium there which will be the perfect dry run for US Elite Track Nationals at sea level in LA in early August. Now all I need to do is fine tune my training and find suitable places to ride.

Pacific hopping

Well that was a crazy week! It all started last Sunday with an early morning flight from Honolulu to Kauai to race Pedal to the Meadow for the first time – A mass-start hillclimb with 3835ft of elevation gain in 15.75 miles. A couple weeks before race day there was news that a pro from the Philippines would be doing the race. Sure enough, on race morning, said rider was there along with his entourage. I felt pretty good and was hoping to put in a good ride. It’s not like I island-hop purely for fun… I’m in it to win it.

I lined up on the front beside the pro (Mark Galedo) and the a handful of the best cyclists on the island (Ray Brust, Penn Henderson, Rick Beach, Joe Funk, etc). As soon as the race started Galedo took off pretty damn fast. Not one to sit back and watch 1st place ride off into the horizon I got down to business and chase on. I caught onto the back wheel of Galedo and was briefly joined by a rider who I later found out was Carl Brooks, but not much later it was just me and Galedo. His reportedly 116lb carcass was out of the saddle setting a pretty blistering tempo up the climb. I felt good so decided to follow and see how long that pace was going to last for… About 10mins into the race Galedo had a glance between his legs, probably to see if he had ridden me off his wheel, then he accelerated away as if he was on a moped. I’ve done my fair share of pro races including some UCI events and I’ve NEVER seen climbing like that. Quite baffling and it was apparent that I wasn’t going to see Galedo again until the race finish. I plugged away at 400w for a few more mins before easing up and just cruising the rest of the race. I rode with Penn Henderson for a bit before peeling off, and a few others, eventually crossing the finish line in 8th place. That 1100w effort off the line and subsequent 6+ mins riding at 400+ watts pretty much finished my race. I could have just sat back and cruised up with the rest of the guys and tried for second but that just isn’t my style. Go hard, or what’s the point. In hindsight, it was nice to ride the climb and enjoy the view… I just wish I had time to ride back down.

After inhaling some post race food, I got my flight back to Honolulu, packed my things, then flew to Denver, Colorado with my family at 6am the following morning. We stayed in Denver for five days to find a place to rent when we move there in mid June. Going from highly humid Hawaii to bone dry Denver, plus throwing in the 5400+ elevation was quite the contract. Working and living within a few miles of where the Batman shooting happened in Aurora feels a bit surreal.

38th State

Last week I threw out a pile of boxes that we used to move into our current apartment about 1.5yrs ago. Merely days later my employer asks me “How do you feel about working in Denver, Colorado for 2 years? Maybe I jinxed myself by throwing out those boxes!

Getting word that I need to move to Colorado and start work there in mid June results in quite an increase in cortisol levels and creates a tornado of thoughts to whirl around my cranium:

– Oh, there will be lots of cycling opportunities!
– TWO velodromes (well, 1 right now, but 2 once Boulder Valley Velodrome is completed).
– How bad does the snow get?
– Where is my work location relative to various shootings that have happened.
– Am I really ready to leave Hawaii?
– Can I survive in the mountains, away from the ocean, and with no source of fresh ahi poke?

I’ve already been using Strava to figure out where I can train, climbs I want to do, races that I want to race, where the new Trader Joes (opening in Q4 2013) is located, etc. I know it will all work out, but in the meantime I’ll be busy driving myself a little crazy.

Racing in Hawaii has been a fun journey from 175lbs and slow to 138lbs and fast at my lightest racing weight. Being a bigger fish in a small racing community where everyone knows everyone is fun but it’s going to be nice to have a fresh batch of competitors to kick my ass. Having a ton of cool racing such as Mt Evans and Pikes Peak hillclimbs (in the same weekend) should be enough to get the racing juices flowing and my motivation back to where it used to be.

Another bonus to living in CO is that I’ll be there in time to see the USA Pro Cycling Challenge!

I lived in Colorado for 9months as that was my first stop when I arrived in the US. The move from CO to HI was never really planned and happened within 2 weeks. Once I had left Colorado I had some regrets about things I should have done or seen. It will be nice to be back there and fill in the blanks! I’ll definitely be making a Colorado bucketlist so that I accomplish all the things that are not possible in Hawaii.

Team Time Trial

Post race chat with Kevin Kawainui (BME Racing) and Mark McClay (Hickam Area Cycling Club).
Photo by: Sau Hsu.

This morning I raced a 40k Team Time Trial with one team made and a couple friends. I haven’t had luck sourcing a 1″ fork for my TT bike so I ended up using my TK2 track bike with 53 x 14 (Fixed).

We hadn’t practiced together as a team, but three of us have raced a few TTT’s before so we just picked a rider order, agreed on rotation direction, and went for it.  We were the first team off… Dry roads and minimal wind (rare!). We were working together really well then at about half way to the turnaround it started raining. I survived the turnaround and it looked like we had a good gap over the team that started behind us. As we were going through Punalu’u, I was riding on the front and a silver truck pulled out right in front of us then proceeded to cruise along well below the speed limit and about 10mph slower than we were travelling. We slowed down, then the driver slowed down some more, so we went to go around the guy. Next thing, the driver speeds up a little, and I tried to gesture him to accelerate and get out of our way. He then decided to hit the brakes right in front of us almost causing a crash. Eventually he drove off, but the damage had been done… We must have lost at least 10sec, but probably more. We got back down to business and did what we could to the finish and crossed the line in 53:43 based on the officials watch. We were beaten by BOCA by 2 seconds.

Prior to starting the TTT my aerobars felt solid, but a mixture of road vibrations, wet weather, and my death grip resulted in the left extension rotating 45deg and the right one creeping forward almost coming out of the clamp holding it in place. Trying to wiggle / slide it back in while riding a track bike in the rain with 3 guys makes for some exciting and nerve-racking times. Fortunately I kept the extension in there until the finish.

Moral of the story? If you see a silver truck on O’ahu with the license place RGD 814, please feel free to do whatever you see fit. The driver really doesn’t give a shit about cyclists. I brought up the incident to a cop at the race but he didn’t seem to care either… Probably too much to expect him to write a report and follow up with the driver.

Hawaii vs Mainland

Sure living in Hawaii is pretty damn good, and a lot of people are probably envious that some of us are fortunate enough to be able to call Hawaii home. However, having just come back from a trip to the “Mainland”, aka “Lower 48 States”, aka “Continental US”, it served as a reminder of a few differences between Hawaii and California.

– The speed limits here are SLOW. It was so nice to be able to drive north of 60mph without fear of being pulled over.
– The condition of roads here is not good. I didn’t hit a single pothole on a freeway while in California. Hawaii has a small temp swing and moderate weather yet we don’t seem to be able to have quality roads.
– Hawaii NEEDS Trader Joes.
– Hawaii NEEDS a velodrome! A couple of people I met at the track in Carson all said “If there was a track in Hawaii I would be there!” etc. Build it and they will come!

Road trip!

Well, it was more of sky trip than road trip, but I put in too many miles last week. On Monday evening I caught a red-eye from Honolulu to Salt Lake City, hopped on a plane from there to Minneapolis St Paul, then one more flight to Omaha, NE. All in the name of work. Nothing quite like going from 85F to 30F overnight. Fortunately I spent most of my time indoors in meetings at the HQ of the company I work for. Going to Omaha, I was quite excited at the prospect of consuming a big juicy steak which I’ve heard and damn good. Unfortunately the dinner was a set menu and we got served chicken and broccoli on day 1, and pizza on day 2. In hindsight I should have not eaten anything and headed out for a steak after. Next time!

After the work portion of my trip was done I hopped on a place to LAX via MSP arriving at midnight, then drove south to my hotel in Wilmington. I should have gone to sleep immediately but Hangover 2 was on TV and I got sucked into that for 30mins. I eventually hit the hay at 1:30am, got a few hours sleep then headed out to the Velo Sports Center in Carson to ride the 250m indoor velodrome.

When I got to the track I met up with Giddeon Massie (Olympic track cyclist – 2004 and 2008 games) who agreed to give me some advice on my standing start. Instead of dragging my track bike from Hawaii to Nebraska and back to LA I shipped it to the track before I left and had to quickly throw it all together to get the most use out of the 8-10am Elite training time slot. Sharing the track with only 2-3 other riders (1 Olympian, and 2 US national team members) was pretty cool! After riding re-familiarizing myself with riding around a velodrome Giddeon had me do one start to see how bad I was. Sure enough, it wasn’t pretty, but hey, you’ve got to start somewhere! He explained to me what I was doing wrong and what I needed to do right, then did a start which I filmed and watched back in slow motion together. After that I did a few more starts aiming for correct technique. Not perfect, but now I’ve got something to work on before Elite Nats in August!

After my track time was up I drove south to visit the Oakley HQ at Foothills Ranch. I met a couple Chinese guys that work for Trek in Beijing outside the entrance so we took some photos of each other. I was hoping to get on a factory tour but that would have conflicted with my evening track session. I had to suffice with a look around the entrance and lobby, which was still cool as the building it definitely one of a kind. I also managed to do a walk-in warranty of some M-Frame lenses which had cracked so that made up for paying a few tolls on the highway!… Which reminds me, it is nice to drip at 80+mph on smooth highways with NO POTHOLES. We need to get the contractors that do CA roads to come and fix O’ahu’s roads!

In the afternoon I inhaled some lunch before heading back to the track to ride from 5-9pm. They had a “racer” session from 4-7 geared towards riders interested in racing vs. just getting the velodrome experience. From 7-9 is Roger Young’s session. Both are run by Roger who has competed in the Olympics, won Gold at the Pan Am Games, and coached numerous Olympic track teams. The 7-9 session is structured and split into a fast group and slower group with instructions provided by Roger over a mic while he’s riding with the slower group or towing around the fast group on the moto. This all happens with music blasting in the background. It’s a pretty unique experience and I wish we had something like this here in Hawaii! The closer we got to 9pm my legs were increasingly fried due to the amount of time I’d spent at the track. You can ride a bike all you want, but riding on a velodrome requires slightly different muscles, plus throw in the fact that you’re riding at high cadence without a break and you’re body will start to break down!

On Friday morning I really didn’t feel like going back to the track. The prior days travel between 4 states and a few times zones with a screwed up sleep pattern had caught up with me! After lazing around for 30mins contemplating going back to sleep, I dragged my stuff out to the car and back to the track. It’s not every day that I get to ride a velodrome and I needed to make the most of the limited time I had! The last big of riding on Siberian pine wasn’t the best quality, but it was still time on the boards and I was riding up to the top railing on turns before I packed up my bike to FedEx it back to Hawaii.

It was a slightly crazy trip but a lot of fun and I made a few new friends in the cycling world. I can’t wait to go back!

MAP Testing

Yesterday I decided to attempt a MAP (Maximum Aerobic Power) test on my rollers… Unfortunately, as I had expected, a mixture of maxing out resistance and having to concentrate on balance meant that the results weren’t quite as good as they should have been. Today I headed out to Tantalus via Papakolea to attempt the same MAP test; Starting at 200w with a ramp rate of 20w per minute which is typical for Cat 1 / Elite / Pro cyclists. <Cat 1 and the suggested ramp rate is 25w/min. Had I not attempted the same test yesterday I reckon I’d have been able to get up to 440w or the final minute, but I had to settle for 400w this time. It was a bit of trial and error so not a huge deal that I didn’t set the wattage  world of fire, plus it doubled up as a good training ride. 75& of the final 1min of watts prior to failure gives your FTP. Similar to a 20min FTP test where 95% of your 20min power gives your FTP. Just another way to skin the FTP cat and also the same protocol used by British Cycling.

I shipped one of my track bikes over to LA last week and fly out to Omaha for work on Monday evening. On the way back to Hawaii I managed to work in a stopover in LA to train at the Velo Sports Center in Carson, CA (250m indoor velodrome) where Elite track nationals are typically held. I’ve not been on the boards since 2010 so I can’t wait to get in some real track time on a world class facility!