Sunday, November 17, 2013

Race Report: Fred Ogle Classic 2013

I had a great race this morning at the Fred Ogle Classic near Whangarei, finishing 12th overall. The course was 110km just west of Whangarei and covered some of the Tour of Northland stage-1 course. The race doubled as the Northland Club Champs and it drew a serious field, including semi-pros just back from the Tour of Southland.

After last week's implosion at MS Bike the Bridge, I wasn't sure how I would feel today. I did 4 rides this week - all pretty easy, just to make sure I was recovered. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Race Report: MS Bike The Bridge 2013

I finished 15th today (of 648) in the MS Bike the Bridge, and 3rd in my age category. The course is 103km starting in Auckland city. The race begins by crossing the Auckland Harbor Bridge to the North Shore. The bridge closes for 3-4 events each year, such as the half-Ironman and Auckland Marathon. 

Anyway, today's race was probably the hardest race I've done. The course has about a dozen climbs of around 100m, plus several smaller climbs. I was cramping badly by the 40th km. Usually that doesn't happen until 90-100km. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Race Report: K1 2013

I finished 2nd in my 35-44yrs age group yesterday, and 27th overall in the K1 90km race from Thames to Whitianga.

Until two months ago, I was training for the K2 200km race. My training was going well through August, and I was riding 4.5 hr rides by the end of the month. However, we had 5-6 weeks of terrible weather which put an end to my K2 goal.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Power Profile Test

I did the Power Profile test today with my new power meter. The goal of the test is to determine your strengths and weaknesses. The test is conducted by doing intervals over 15 seconds, 1 minute, and 5 minute intervals, as well as my functional threshold results.

The results of the power profile test shed insight on whether you're an: a) all rounder, b) sprinter, c) time-trialist, climber or steady-state rider, or d) pursuiter. I was under no illusion; I am definitely not a, b, or d.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

FTP Test

I rode a functional threshold power test last week. I was quite surprised with my result: I averaged 261 watts over the 20 minute test. Not bad given where I am at - 6 months without any speed-work and just several weeks into base training. 

The FTP sets my benchmark for training over the next few months. I'll be trying to improve my baseline with interval training, fast group rides, and hill work. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Training with Power

I bought a Power2Max power meter last week. After training hard for the last couple of race seasons, I figured the next logical step was to use objective performance data to improve my training and racing. 

Earlier this winter, I spent several weeks researching a range of brands. In the end I chose Power2Max because: 1) it has great user reviews, 2) is reasonably priced, and 3) can be used with training and racing wheels since it is a crank-based power meter.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

K2 Training Plan

I have wanted to race in K2 for the past two years. In 2011, I missed the race because I ended up in Colombia. And last year, a combination of flu and bad weather left me with only a few weeks to train. This year, I am training specifically for K2. 

K2 is a 200km road-race in an anti-clockwise direction around the Coromandel peninsula. The race features 7 major climbs with a total of 2,300 meters of elevation gain. The smallest climb is 145m and the biggest is 425m. But what makes K2 so grueling is the fact that its held so early in the race season - the first week of November.  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Auckland's Best Chinese Bakeries

I have been surveying local Chinese Bakeries recently. Typically, we'll stop-in at the end of a training ride. The sugars go down easy. 

Auckland's North Shore has several Chinese Bakeries. (For some reason, I couldn't find any when we lived in the city). I have visited these establishments enough times to know which bakery consistently has the best cream donuts and chocolate roughs. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

My 2013 Off-Season

I've decided to take a couple of weeks off the bike. We all learn sooner or later that you have to take a break between seasons. If not, then burn-out is a certainty, and you don't want that to happen in the middle of your race schedule.

Looking at my weekly Strava volumes, the last time I took a week off was eleven months ago, in late August 2012. I've had several low-volume weeks, but I was always getting at least one ride in.

I would like to compete in K2 in early November. Its a 200km race held very early in the race season. I plan to start my base period in early August, which will give me ~3 months of training. I think a break now is the wise decision, despite the perfect weather we've had in Auckland for the past week. And anyway, most of my friends are currently on their off-season rest too.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Auckland's Best Group Rides

Sunday Albany Bunch: The best group ride, by a country mile, is the Sunday 7am Albany bunch. Its an 80km ride that draws the strongest cyclists from all over greater Auckland, including pro-conti and conti riders. Typically, about 50 people show up. After a warm-up on the old highway that runs north to Silverdale, the hammer goes down on the flat country roads that travel west. Flats turn to undulating rollers on the run into Helensville, before a really tough 5km step-climb that blows the group apart every time.

We then have a 20 minute ride to Kumeu. Its a long slow descent, broken up by more undulations, and some of NZ's roughest chip roads (highway 16). Usually, we stop at a Chinese Bakery in Kumeu for a few minutes. Then comes the ride back to Albany on Ridge Road. Its a quiet country road featuring 15km of undulation, false flats, and several short, steep power-climbs. The Sunday 7am Albany bunch is guaranteed to give you the best training conditions, regardless of whether you are in base, strength, or peak phases. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 is a cool new website that analyses Strava KOM segments to produce a chart of rolling time gaps. The time gap shows where you gained and lost time relative to the KOM holder. The chart below is the Sunnyside Road KOM segment just outside Albany. 

Green is the elevation profile. The horizontal pink line is me, and the blue line is the KOM holder. The difference between the blue and pink lines represents the time difference (measured in seconds on the 2nd y-axis) between us over the distance. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

2013 Race Season: Looking Back; Looking Ahead

The 2013 racing season is now over for me. I planned to continue racing through April and May (mostly in local club races) but my last race was the Tour of Northland in March. Since then, moving into the city, a little burn-out, and other priorities kept me off the saddle most days of the week. 

So, lets look back at my 2013 season. My best result and most exciting race was finishing 12th at Taranaki Cycle Challenge. I managed to make the break at kilometer 90 and hold on for the last 58km. The Tour of Northland was my first stage race and first time racing in the same field as pros. I learned a lot, and really enjoyed stage-racing. I'll definitely be back in 2014. The Tour de Ranges and The Rev were decent races. I finished in the first group on both undulating courses.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Foto Del Dia: Tour de France, 1975

Eddy Merckx attacks on Stage 15 (Nice to Pra Loup) of the 1975 Tour de France. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

White Mountains, New Hampshire Cycling Weekend (August 2010)

This is another video I made in late-2010. I spent a weekend with Peter Montero (a colleague at Fidelity Investments) in New Hampshire's White Mountains. On Day-1, we covered 180km over four notches, including Kinsman, Franconia, Crawford, and Bear, and then the Kancamagus Pass. On Day-2, we cycled the roads around Waterville Valley, many of which were unpaved. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Riccione, Italy Cycling Trip (October 2010)

This is an old video I made 2 years ago. I spent a week at Hotel Dory in Riccione on Italy's Adriatic Coast in October 2010. The hotel is essentially "cyclists-only" in the spring and fall. The area is great for cycling as the further inland you ride, the bigger the climbs.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Race Report: Stage 4 Tour of Northland

I opted not to race the final stage of the Tour. Rain poured down all night and all morning. With 8 stitches taken out of my arm 5 days ago, I could not afford to risk crashing again.

Given that this was the first rain that Northland has seen in about 2 months, it was an unfortunate and slightly disappointing end to the Tour. But best to play it safe and live to ride another day. (Plus, the road will have plenty of oil and grease patches).

I'll be back next year. Racing with pros and elites requires different tactics. You have to be riding in the first 20-30 wheels. Otherwise, you'll miss the breaks. I wasn't ready for it this year. But I gained good experience and I'll be wiser in 2014.

Camila and I had a great time up north. I was lucky to have her along with me, particularly as she was willing to tolerate me each day after racing.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Race Report: Stage 3 Tour of Northland

Stage 3's 88km route ran from Opononi to Paihia on the east coast. We faced fresh head and sidewinds on a mainly flat and undulating course.

As usual, an attack was launched within 30 seconds of the gun. Four guys stayed away for approx 40km before they were reeled back in. The lack of big climbs and the winds meant that most of the group stayed together.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Race Report: Stage 2 Tour of Northland

Today was a 82km stage from Dargaville to Opononi. My goal was to make up some of the time I lost yesterday by hanging on to a strong group. 

Within a few minutes of the stage start, a small group of 3-4 attacked. And, over the next 20km a couple of other small groups managed to break-off. Unlike my typical “open” and “age-group” races, we would never see these elite riders again. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Race Report: Stage 1 Tour of Northland

Stage 1 of the Tour of Northland travelled 92km from Whangarei, on the east coast, to Dargaville, on the west coast. There were about 70 entrants in my group, Group 1, comprising of pros and wanna-be's. (In total, the Tour has approx 400 entrants in self-selected groups). 

About 10km into the race, our group split into three groups. I was surprised the attack happened so early and I expected us to re-group. We didn't. Ten or fifteen in my group tried to close a 20 second gap, but after about 10km it seemed we gave up. And then 20km later, we were caught by a group of another 15 or so. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Race Preview: Tour of Northland 2013

The Tour of Northland starts on Thursday morning. At this point, I'm assuming I can race, but I won't know for certain until I see the doctor again on Tuesday (my 6th visit)

TON is a four-day stage race starting in Whangarei, about 150km north of Auckland. Many friends have recommended TON as a fun, well-organized event. 

Stage-1: 92km from Whangarei to Dargaville. Most notable is a 200 meter climb just out of Whangarei. The remainder of the stage undulates, with the exception of a 75 meter climb at km-60. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Health Update

I've been off the bike since Sunday (today is Wednesday) with 8 stitches just below my right elbow. The doctor has said I can't ride until we see progress with the healing. Unfortunately, the area around my elbow was red and swollen yesterday, suggesting it may be infected, so the doctor took several stitches out to relieve the pressure. 

I am still hopeful for the Tour of Northland, which starts in a week from tomorrow. But I probably won't know for certain until 2-3 days before the race starts. 

Now, I am on complete rest. I rode for an hour yesterday on a stationary bike at the gym, but I won't repeat it as I think the sweating may risk infection. At best, I'll do a couple of very easy rides in the days just before Northland.

I'm quite disappointed as my training was focused on Northland. And there is still a chance I won't be in Northland at all. However, its a 4-day race, so hopefully I'll find my legs on day-1 and be competitive in the remaining stages. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Vo2 Max, Lactate Threshold, and Power Testing

I did a lab test at the Millennium Institute of Sport and Health last week. We are well into the 2013 race season so I thought it would be an opportune time to undergo testing and get real data on my Vo2 maximum, lactate threshold, and power output.

After a 10-minute warm-up on a stationary bicycle, the test starts with a 3-minute interval at 150 watts. The resistance is increased every 3 minutes by 30 watts until the point of failure. The stronger you are, the longer the test. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Race Report: Pokeno 70km 2013

My luck ran out today. I crashed out of a 70km race while negotiating a tight right hand corner in pouring rain. Now I am at home nursing 8 stitches in my right elbow, road rash on both hips, and grazing on my chest and left elbow, as well as my right knee and shin.

The race was going quite well for me. I was in the leading group of 40 or so until km-10. Several pros opened up a 10 second gap leading into a 3km 7% climb. The field splintered but I was able to hang on to a 12-man group that trailed the pro group by ~20 seconds. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Race Report: The Rev 100 2013

I finished in 33rd place and in the leading bunch at today's race, The Rev 100, held in Cambridge, Waikato. We completed the 100.4km course in 2 hours and 37 minutes (38.3kph average).

The course has a steep 2.5km climb beginning at the 6km mark named French Pass. The double-digit gradient combined with the length splintered the field. I was in the first group of ~15 to crest and we were trailed by another group of 15-20. The two groups came together a couple of kilometers later and that is how we remained until the finish (luckily we left several hundred other cyclists behind us). 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cycling in Colombia: My 5-Month Adventure & Alto de Letras

In October 2011, I flew to Medellin to spend two months cycling in Colombia. My primary goal was to climb Alto de Letras, Colombia's biggest mountain pass. But I found much more in Colombia and ended up staying for five months. This post is a short story about my adventure.

Date: 7.30am, February 16, 2012
Location: Mariquita, Colombia
Altitude: 492 meters

I was standing at the outskirts of a small town named Mariquita, located at the eastern foot of Colombia’s Andes Mountains. A 10% wall loomed in front of me, and that was just the beginning of an 80km climb that rises 3,800 vertical meters to a mountain pass named Alto de Letras.

I felt both excited and nervous about what lay ahead. All cyclists know the feeling – we all get it in the hours before an epic ride. Its part of the experience. Today would be the biggest climb of my life and it would complete my 8-month quest to cross the world’s greatest mountain passes.

But lets back up. How did I get to Colombia?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Best Food for Carbo Loading

Every endurance athlete has their favorite foods for pre-race carbo loading. A big plate of spaghetti bolognese was the tradition, and still is for many. But its not the only source of high-carbohydrate foods. So, which other foods will get you through a long race or a hard weekend of training? 

Above is a chart ranking the carbohydrate content of various cooked foods, assuming a 100 gram portion. The data shows that white rice, pasta, and corn provide the most carbs. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Race Report: Mt Taranaki Cycle Challenge 2013

I finished 12th today out of 1,100 starters at the Mt Taranaki Cycle Challenge. I'm very happy with this result, particularly because I was a little disappointed with my race last weekend at Tour de Ranges. I finished with the leading group of 13 cyclists in 3hrs, 40mins and 59 seconds. We covered 147km at an average speed of 39.8kph.

I had not competed in this event before, so I wasn't sure what to expect this morning. From the course profile, the 148km route looked mostly flat to undulating. And, I didn't know who was going to show up: pros, former pros, almost pros, and pros-in-the-making.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Who Produces the Most PROs?

As you might expect, Italy supplies the most professional cyclists to the UCI's WorldTour this year; 66 to be exact. France, Belgium, and The Netherlands follow closely with 54, 53, and 51, WorldTour cyclists, respectively. But Italy and France also have relatively large populations. And Belgium and The Netherlands aren't too small either. So, which country produces the most PROs on a per capita basis?

Above is a chart based on UCI and Wikipedia data showing that Luxembourg produces the most PROs by quite a stretch once we look at the data on a per capita basis. Luxembourg's tiny population of just 500,000 sent 5 PROs to the WorldTour this year (10 PROs per million).  

Friday, January 18, 2013

Race Report: SRAM Tour de Ranges 2013

Today was my first race since riding three cyclosportifs in France and Italy in 2011. I've been looking forward to this event for a while as the SRAM TdR is really the first race of the season. 

I recon'd the ride with Camila 10 days ago, and after speaking with several friends who have raced this event previously, I was pretty sure I knew how the race would unfold. I was completely wrong.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Recon Ride: SRAM Tour de Ranges

Today, I reconnoitered the SRAM Tour de Ranges route. The race is next Saturday, January 19th in the Hunua Ranges just south of Auckland. Camila and I drove to the start in Clevedon this morning and then I rode the 110km course.