Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Year in Review

2011 was the biggest year for me in terms of cycling.  I ramped up my training volume to levels I didn't think I was capable of.  It did happen organically, actually.  I didn't wake up and say, "I'm going to double my mileage this year."  I just started riding more and more, mainly because it is super fun, but also because I was getting fitness results pretty much immediately.

The season started in February with the Swamp Classic in Gainesville, FL.  I raced in the time trial on Saturday, which was a very short 3.1 miles, basically a really hard effort.  I came in 2nd place in my category, somewhat happy with my effort.  The course was a commercial park loop without many long straights so it didn't play to my strengths.  Not taking anything away from Shay who won, but I feel like on an out and back straight course I could have beaten him.  I just felt like I lost a lot of speed cornering and having to accelerate out of corners.  Either way, a podium finish is a podium finish and I can't complain about a podium.  I was supposed to do the criterium the next afternoon, but it was cold, rainy, and miserable so I skipped that.

Swamp Classic Time Trial

In March I raced in the Space Coast Metric Century Road Race.  It was my first race in Indian River County and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The peloton kept a rather quick pace and didn't really allow any breakaways.  By the 60 mile mark it was clear people weren't doing work at the front and just sitting in.  Once I realized that only 10 of us were doing all the work at the front for a field of over 100, I stopped pulling through, too.  Once we got to the last few miles, the speed ramped up a lot despite a nasty headwind.  I marked the few guys who I felt were rather fit and did my best to stay right at the front.  A bunch of guys got squirrelly due to not holding their line while jockeying for position.  Going into the final corner some guys from the SCVS team gunned it and caused a separation.  I realized that no one else reacted so they must be cooked from the high tempo in the headwind.  At that point I launched myself and created a gap.  I wasn't able to bridge to the SCVS guys who finished 1-2-3 but I left everyone else behind me and I finished a very respectable 4th out of a very large field.
Tradition Circuit Race
My next race was a circuit race in Port St. Lucie at Tradition.  That was pretty fun 2 mile circuit with only one sharp corner.  This was a really, really hard race.  Basically, there was a split in the peloton on the first lap, and I picked the wrong wheel and didn't make the break.  From then on I worked my ass off going anaerobic and riding at my lactate threshold for a while trying to bridge the gap.  I was gaining time on the break, but no one else was doing strong pulls at the front.  I was pulling for a minute or two at threshold and everyone else was pulling for 15 seconds rather casually.  I guess they figured it was a lost cause.  Eventually I gave up trying to close the gap and settled in.  In the final sprint I found out what it is like to ask your legs for more and them to say no.  I knew who in my group was the strongest and marked him.  When he launched I jumped on his wheel along with one other guy.  I drafted off the two of them, and was in perfect position to jump around them for the sprint, but after having done so much work at the front earlier my legs just didn't have any more juice.  It was all I could do to stay on their wheel at 35mph.  I finished 16th out of a field of 75.  Not a podium by any means, but a respectable finish.

My next planned even was the Tour of Vero.  This was going to be a century road race in Indian River and Brevard County.  Unfortunately that weekend was nothing but torrential rain and wind.  I love cycling, but I don't love it so much I'm going to race for 5 hours in torrential rain and wind and cold.  So I rode on the indoor trainer for a few hours and took a nap instead.

2011 Horrible Hundred
Next up was the Horrible Hundred.  I already did a recap which I'll write again, "So I won the 70 mile race.  I can't really believe it, either.  The short of it is that I was with the leaders of the race for the first 40 miles or so, and the peloton kept a very fast pace.  At about mile 40 the people doing the 100 mile race split off from the people doing the 70 mile race.  When the split occurred, there was nobody else among the leaders of the race doing the 70 besides me.  So all of the sudden instead of being in a group of about 75-100 leaders, I found myself on a long solo break.  I realized that there was a good chance that I could win at that point since there was likely a large gap between myself and the next rider in my group, so I gunned it hard.

I was still unsure if I was in the lead until I hit Buckhill and from the top of Buckhill you can see behind you and in front of you for a loooong way and that's when I realized that there was nobody else but me.  I pushed it really hard, attacked hard on Sugarloaf mountain (I take a lot of pride in the fact that I was the first person to summit Sugarloaf out of all 2,300+ racers) and from that moment on I knew that nobody could catch me.  

From there it was about 16 more miles to the finish with just enough climbing to make it non-trivial.  I basically rode as hard as I could for that 16 miles to lock it in.  Despite the hard effort, once I realized I was going to win, it felt like I had wings.  3 hours in the saddle at a race pace, with a pretty high heart rate and it felt like a nice Sunday cruise.  Cloud 9.

I crossed the finish line as the first finisher in the 70 mile category with a time of 3:24:11.  I was elated, and still am elated.  I went to Chipotle afterwards and ate a big burrito, which in the absence of any kind of prize will have to serve as my prize.  And it was a good darn prize."

So I competed in 4 races in 2011 and got two podiums.  I have no complaints except for the weather which rained me out of two events that I'm sure I would have done rather well inAll in all, I'm very satisfied with the results I got, I feel like they matched the work I put in pretty analogously. 

Training Ride 12/31/11

Last ride of the year.  What a great year it has been for me and cycling.  More on that later.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Training Ride 12/30/11

Not a bad little ride today.  Planned on doing 40 but I felt good so I went a bit longer.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Training Ride 12/29/11

Did a recovery ride today since I've been going hard the past two weeks.  Put myself over the 1,000 mile mark for the month!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Training Ride 12/28/11

Very windy and very cold metric century.  At times I really had to talk myself into not turning around.  Those were the times when I was going 14mph into a headwind at 150bpm.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Training Ride 12/27/11

A nice half century today.  Have to go into work for a few hours and dreading it, so it was nice to get a quality ride in before that.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Training Ride 12/26/11

Felt absolutely fantastic.  My form was great, one of those rare days when you are already going fast and you ask your legs for more and you get it.  Felt like I had wings at times.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Training Ride 12/25/11

Merry Christmas.  Knowing mom's breakfast, I felt I needed some miles in.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Training Ride 12/24/11

Wintersday festivities last night so I did a rare afternoon ride of short duration just to get something in.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Training Ride 12/23/11

Nice weather today, if a bit on the windy side.  Did the micco metric ride and rather enjoyed myself.  Beats being at work.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Training Ride 12/22/11

Took the TT bike out for another spin, it's starting to grow on me again.  The temps started out cool but it heated up, and I was sweating like a pig towards the end.  All in all a fun ride, but I'm definitely reminded how much more traffic there is on weekdays.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Training Ride 12/21/11

New route.  It was kinda boring to do loops.  It sprinkled a bit, but at least it was warm.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Training Ride 12/20/11

Nice and warm, gotta love a 70 degree ride at 4am in December.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Training Ride 12/18/11

After a century on the road bike I felt like taking the TT bike out for a spin today instead.  Did about 50 miles to the inlet and back, felt strong considering how beat I was yesterday after my ride.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Training Ride 12/17/11

I would feel really bad about a year passing without doing at least one century, so I knocked it out today.  Not only was the weather perfect for a century, it's also probably the last weekend that it makes sense scheduling-wise to go for it.  All in all, I'm beat.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Training Ride 12/15/11

Changed up my route a little to keep me sane.  Plus it was less windy, drier, and warmer than previous days.  So all in all, a good ride.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Training Ride 12/14/11

A bit windier than yesterday but more or less the same.  I didn't sleep well last night so I was a bit tired this morning.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Training Ride 12/13/11

Nice early ride.  Nice because its the first time in a while it wasn't either wet or cold for these morning spins.  A good chance of pace.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Training Ride 12/8/11

Last pre-dawn ride of the week always feels good to get done.  This one was very cold, while it was 54 degrees, it was really windy and the wind chill on a bike is no joke.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Training Ride 12/7/11

Kinda cool this morning, wore my thermal top and sleeveless windbreaker.  All in all a fine ride.  Clear skies, plenty of stars.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Training Ride 12/6/11

So let me remark how much I love Florida.  4am and 60 degrees.  IN DECEMBER!  This is why Florida racers are fast in February and race season doesn't even start until May up north.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Training Ride 12/4/11

Caught up with the Panera group at the Inlet.  I attacked tried to do a lone breakaway.  Stayed away for about 4 miles they caught me at Wabasso and then I rode with the survivors the remainder of the way.  I lead out the final sprint but didn't contest it.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Training Ride 12/3/11

Did a metric century this morning.  It was incredibly windy today and drizzly rain when I left the house, so it wasn't too pleasant.  By the end of the ride it was nice out, but by then my eagerness was shot.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Training Ride 12/1/11

Floridians were not built to ride bikes in the 40's with no sun.