Cross season is here. We’ve compiled this statewide race list for your hand reference. There is some serious racing on tap.
Cyclocross is a super inclusive sport, all you really need are a bike with knobby tires and a helmet. If you’re new to the sport – or if you want a good workout – hit up the Wednesday night sessions at Marymoor Park starting on Sept 25.
With the death of Paul Sherwin, Bob Roll has stepped up as commentator for NBC’s Tour de France coverage. Watching this interview is an hour well spent. Learn about him growing up, discovering that he could ride bikes faster than just about anyone around him, his move to Europe where he raced with 7/11, and a bunch of other stuff. A very enjoyable listen. We recommend it, no matter what your impression of him.
I raced the 40+ 4/5 category. Liquid Velo had a very strong team with at least 3 contenders and a team of 6 or so. That made it difficult to keep tabs on them. Ultimately, they got someone away on the last lap of the road race (at one point his gap was 1:30). Jeremy, the race leader and I talked about him as we watched him establish a gap in the next-to-last-lap. We were riding slow. “A snowball’s chance in hell,” Jeremy said. We couldn’t see him on the final climb, and didn’t know how much time he had on us. He ended up beating me by 5 seconds for the GC (General Classification).
I was racing with just a heart rate sensor (not power). I used my Wahoo heart rate strap paired to my Garmin watch and it worked well. I set a target of 40KM/h. Previously, I’d done the 10k TT in around 16:10, so my goal was to get into the 15 minute range. I took it slightly easy out of the gate (the opening stretch is conveniently downhill). I was able to hold the aero position (elbows on the top bar) for nearly the whole time. I concentrated on pushing a slightly-bigger gear at a slightly slower cadence (70-80 RPM). A tailwind on the long straight turned into a headwind on the homestretch. It was a painful last few minutes, but I eeked out 15:21 for 4th overall.
Breakfast at Charlies with teammates was a highlight of the weekend. Their waffles taste like doughnuts!
Before the race, we each took turns giving Morgan (Cat-5) conflicting advice on what to do in the crit while taking practice laps. Finally Justin L zeroed in on a key issue: tire pressure. Morgan reduced his tire pressure, and tried racing from the front (rather than the back), and did well.
I wanted to be opportunistic, but not over-expend myself trying to win time primes. I was in 4th but 25s out of first, and there was a max of 22s on offer for time primes. I got the 1st time bonus by following a wheel and sprinting around. I passed on a couple of cash primes and then got 3rd for the last prime. The last lap, a Liquid Velo Rider took off on the back straight. I thought for sure he had left too early. Two years ago, we picked up a rider like that in the sprint. But this time he stayed away. I worked through traffic to find Chris Joosse’s trusty wheel, then sprinted around for 2nd.
Four full times up Mud Mountain road. The first one with no time bonuses, the rest with KOM time bonuses up for grabs. Race leader (Tacoma Cyclist Jeremy Cucco) and two strong, but lesser-known riders (one that beat me at IVRR, and one that led me out in Poulsbo) made a break the first time up the hill. We had to work to catch them, but we caught them just before the second time up.
After being dropped on the third time up last year, I was thrilled to be capable of capturing time bonuses and 2nd for the race on the final lap. The mistake I made was not checking the results after the crit. Unbeknownst to me (the results must’ve come in later in the evening) I had actually earned my way to 3rd place after the crit, and the results had shuffled. In the road race, I was watching the wrong two Liquid Velo riders (the ones that beat me in the TT). Their team was strong and I needed more teammates.
This was a huge improvement for me over previous years — the field was a touch slower this year, but I was also quantifiably faster. I’m writing another post on some training tweaks I’ve done in the last couple months in the lead up to the penultimate Volunteer Park Criterium.
Five Tacos (David, Garth, Brian, Bryce, and Adam) and 3 friends (Karen, Jack, and Darrel) made a trip to Borrego Springs, CA last week for a spring training camp. I was the youngest and racked up the fewest total miles – 175 (and 12K feet of climbing) in 4 days. Others had way over 300 miles (and some stayed longer). There wasn’t a single flat tire in the 12 hours of group riding that I joined.
Anza Borrego state park is the largest state park in California. It is a desert canyon about 1.5 hours south of Palm Springs (and 2 hrs from San Diego).
Other than bike touring, this was the first time I’ve taken a trip just to ride. It was nice to be with a group that just wanted to log as many miles as possible, then eat, sleep and do it again.
Around the block. This was a 3,500ft climb to a yeti statue, and a tiny store that is only open sporadically. Luckily it was open that day, because it was freezing at the top.
Other rides incorporated Yaqui Pass and the “Texas Triangle.” a vicious headwind (gusting to 50mph earlier in the trip) meant for fun tailwind sections which felt more like motorcycle touring than bike riding.
Other highlights included trying just about every local restaurant to find the best burgers and blueberry pancakes in town.
David Friedt – flight instructor, Masters National Championships podium finisher, and Volunteer Park Criterium organizer – is still racing hard in his 70s. Here is what he’s up to this winter in preparation for next season.
This is described as a Sub-Threshold workout. In training with a power meter, it is possible to target specific power ranges. Sweet Spot is taken from the Functional Threshold of Power number and occurs at 88% to 94% of FTP (functional threshold power). In building or raising the FTP it is important to start from below that number. For my Sweet Spot I use an FTP of 230 watts to calculate a Sweet Spot from 202-216 watts. On a recent ride I did two Sweet Spot workouts. One 12 minutes and the second one at 24 minutes at an average of 205 watts. It is hard to find a place to grind for 20 minutes without interruption.
Two of the best places to do these workouts are on Mercer Island, Jones Road and the Cedar River Trail just past Ron Regis Park. There is one light on the Cedar River Trail at Cedar Grove road, but it is a brief stop.
The advantages of this workout are two. Working just below the FTP and putting the heart rate in zone 3/4. When I did these two intervals my heart rate average was 122 bpm and 128 bpm respectively. Since my maximum heart rate is 168 bpm that puts my effort in zone 3. I am building power just below my Lactate Threshold of 141 bpm. Building power at Lactate Threshold is the goal of training for bike racing.
Here are two workouts I use:
Mercer Island: I ride to the Shore Club on East Mercer Way just south to I-90. I get three one-minute intervals in zone 4 power with high cadence. Then I ride south on East Mercer Way for 15 minutes in Sweet Spot power with a cadence of 90rpm. Back track for recovery for 4 minutes, start another 15 minutes Sweet Spot continuing around the south end of Mercer Island and onto West Mercer Way. For the third interval ride south on West Mercer Way for 15 minutes at Sweet Spot power. Add in 60 minutes of power in zone 2/3 making a complete loop of the island and ending at the Shore Club on East Mercer way.
Since I live on Mercer Island, I ride from my home to the Shore Club to begin this workout to get my warmup and be ready to start the workout.
Jones Road/Cedar River Trail: Do one Sweet Spot interval on Jones Road at 10-12 minutes. It takes 8-10 minutes to ride back to the start for the recovery. Then ride to the trail and do one 20-24 minutes interval between the traffic light on Highway 169 at 154th Place SE and the parking area on the trail in Maple Valley. With a 1-2% grade this is a perfect spot to do a longer Sweet Spot interval. After this longer interval, I will ride Maxwell Road to Cedar Grove Road to Issaquah/Hobart road and return via May Valley to Mercer Island. I try to ride May Valley as an opportunity to work on speed training. With the intervals this ride is about 45 miles and 3:30:00 to complete.
Sweet Spot was introduced to me my Earl Zimmerman, a Cycling Peaks Coach in Redmond. The Allen/Coggan “Training and Racing with a Power Meter” is the best reference for this workout.
Aside from racing cyclocross and logging long miles amongst the fall colors, here are a few things we’ve been taco-ing about this fall.
Jim Wright: I’m looking forward to another season of Zwift and the WSBA Sweatfest virtual race series. Not only is it a high-intensity workout but it blends together some of my favorite things: video games, bicycles, and racing to name a few. Not to mention the post-race comments on Facebook—hilarious!
Mykenna Ikehara: My new favorite account to follow on Instagram: @feedzonenews. Very “The Onion”-esque.
Sage Vann: The Whoop band is amazing. It uses HRV to rate your recovery. When I was using it diligently my workout duration quantity and exertion increased noticeably. It’s the best band out there right now, bicycling magazine has an article saying the same.
Adam Loving: I’ve added the “Bone-up” calcium supplement to my morning vitamins. I’m lactose intolerant so I need calcium, and this claims to help with bone density (a big problem for cyclists) and cardio-vascular health. I’ve also noticed it helps with recovery – makes my legs feel better.
Also, check out Jimmy Chin’s climbing documentaries. “Free Solo” (in theaters) and “Meru” (available on Netflix) are gripping stories about relentless pursuit of difficult goals. I loved both of them.
Mark Clausen:The Faster Podcast by Flow Cycling(iTunes)Dr. Seiler is a leading authority on how world-class endurance athletes train. Have a listen to learn how these athletes go slow to get fast. Bottom line: go slow 90% and really hard 10%.
Mike McGuffin: Drinking water. Something that I’ve finally come to accept lately is the reality of dehydration. Lately I’ve observed the negative side effects of chronic dehydration. What I think has been happening to me is I sweat a lot when I’m doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and during indoor training. I also drink a lot of coffee so over time I tend to get really sore – like whole body soreness – which I think is due to significant dehydration. To get over this I need to drink mega amounts of water over several days. In order to avoid this in the future I’ve been concentrating on drinking a lot of water during the day, it’s not to avoid short-term water loss (i.e. big indoor sweat session) but to avoid that long term chronic dehydration.
I’ve always been cautious about Ballard after watching several Cat 4 pileups one year as a spectator. Getting to race yesterday (no conflicting plans and the sun came out) was a bonus. I didn’t expect to have a chance at placing, so the race was incredibly fun because my expectations were low. For once, cornering felt completely safe – my bike took everything I through at it. Maybe because this was an older more experienced group? Anyway, it was adrenaline bliss.
Out of the gate, Erik O pulled everyone around at warp speed for the first two laps. Then Greg took a shot for a lap or two and had a pretty good gap. There was a blur of turn left turn left turn left with several close corners where I could’ve puckered up and kissed a pylon. Then one magical moment cruising along at 25mph – not even breathing hard.
Somehow I ended up on the front – I think it was one NON-prime lap between two prime laps – of course.
As I drifted to the back I saw Justin launch an attack as we crossed the start/finish line. From my vantage point it looked like it took a few more laps for a break of 4 to form. From what Justin said, they were all attacking separately and when they finally got together,not working together smoothly.
I let Z-Dog chase and pull me and the pack around for a lap. Small karmic repayment for me pulling him to Seward Park on Thursday. A few more laps of riding full gas just to suck wheel and not pull through – thereby impeding the chase.
As we ramped up for the final two laps, I clipped a pedal in turn 3. No big deal unless you were the guy behind me – sorry for the scare.
Coming down the final backstretch Erik and Greg were gunning for position. I thought about offering a lead out but had enough to worry about just maintaining position into corner 3 and by corner 4 it was over.
Looked like Greg had the best sprint– 3rd in the pack sprint for 7th overall. Justin got 3rd for his hard work in the breakaway.
Cycle U puts on great road training classes. Here is their Seattle Beginner Race Program. You don’t need to complete the beginner race program to race on the road but it is highly encouraged.
There is a Thursday Night Series at the Seward Park Upper Loop in south Seattle that starts in early April and goes through August. This is not USAC so no upgrade points. It is considered a training series by most riders. It is welcoming to new riders. You won’t get pulled from the race if you get dropped and lapped.
The Jerry Baker Memorial Velodrome @ Marymoor Park in Redmond puts on a track racing series with some races in May but the main season is June-September. This is a USAC series AND it requires attending a “learn to race” class. I highly recommend the learn to race class for anyone who wants to race any kind of bike racing as the skills taught are universal. There are great rental bikes at the velodrome so there is no need to invest in a track bike unless you get hooked!
There are two fall/winter (mostly fall) cyclocross series near Seattle and one smaller series up toward Bellingham. None are USAC though there are some great USAC races too but it is more of an informal series. There are upgrades but no series championship.
Cross Revolution is not USAC. Great series with races all over the Puget Sound region.
MFG Cyclocross is also not USAC. Also a great series with races all over the Puget Sound region though a little more centered on Seattle.
The Cascade Cross Series is based around Bellingham, WA up north. It is a smaller series but just as much fun as the other two series.
Most of the local amateur teams have racers doing various combos of the above races though there are a couple smaller teams that just focus on CX or track.
Meet the team ride info. If you show up at the races as a non-affiliated rider you will meet people on most of the teams. Each team is a little bit different but each team is great in their own way.
Here is the link for the annual meet the team rides. The contact info should still be good for these teams.
If you decide you want to give racing a shot, we encourage you to join a team. There are team training rides, team only discounts from some bike shops, and most importantly great camaraderie and community.