Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Little Number Crunching

The cover of a homemade birthday / Father's Day card from my mother-in-law.
After back-to-back race weekends, this was an “off” weekend … which means that I merely trained instead of pinning on a number. I did solo road rides: 36 miles on Saturday and 40 miles today. They were solid efforts, but it was Friday’s mountain bike practice that really got me thinking in greater detail about some recent performances.

I did two full laps at New Fane on Friday, completing them in 27:27 and 26:42, respectively. Those training laps compare very favorably to my race laps from last September’s Northern Kettles Fall Epic on the same course: 27:30, 27:45, 26:55, 26:25 and 26:43. And they were an improvement over the 28:35 and 28:39 that I recorded on Tuesday. With three more months to improve both fitness and skills, I could have a pretty nice race on Sep. 14. Shaving 2-3 more minutes from my lap times would greatly improve my place in the final standings. I don’t have series ambitions in WEMS, but I want to perform well on the “home turf” of New Fane.

So, what about my performance at the WORS race in Wausau on June 2? Finishing my first Cat 2 (Sport) race in 119th out of 180 overall and 14th out of 18 in my age group didn’t impress anyone. Given my high finish at Wausau in Cat 3 (Citizens) last year, did this year’s race demonstrate a decline in my fitness? I don’t think so. My time for three laps was about 1 hour and 26 minutes. This year’s Cat 3 race ran on the same course but did only two laps. To keep the math easy, just assume that I completed each lap at the same speed and multiply my time by two-thirds to get the time in which I might have finished if I had raced as a Cat 3: about 57 minutes. That would have given me 4th place in my age group and about 30th of 144 overall. I think I would have been even quicker knowing there were just two laps to complete. My actual lap times, if I had them, probably would reflect accumulating fatigue in Laps 2 and 3, and also some conservation of effort in Laps 1 and 2 to ensure completion of Lap 3. And unlike last year, I didn’t pre-ride the Wausau course. The race on June 2 was my first time on mountain bike trails since April 30, when I damaged my 29er in practice. (Pre-riding at Suamico before the WEMS race on June 8 probably would have kept me from over-shooting a few turns, but in such a long race those little detours didn’t amount to much.)

In the week to come my normal schedule will be disrupted by social commitments, so I’m hoping to string together some shorter, harder training efforts. I should be on the mountain bike both Tuesday and Friday, on the road bike with the Ozaukee Bicycle Club on Wednesday, and on the road bike for brief solo efforts early on Thursday and Saturday. Tomorrow looks like a good day to rest, whether or not the rain comes. Next Sunday might be a good day for a long road ride. So far in 2013, my only ride over 45 miles is the 63-mile Cheesehead Roubaix, way back on April 28! The Washington County Bicycle Club Century is just five weeks from today and a few long rides between now and then would be good preparation.

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