Saturday, April 28, 2012

Series points prime taken! Race lost...

Another spectacularly not-sunny day of bicycle racing here in Pittsburgh!

Windy, drizzly, dark, cold. This is actually my favorite race weather, except for the headwinds.

I raced well in the Cat 4 field, driving the pace and taking the first prime (the race within the race) for the first half. Then, I went for the second prime and my ankle started twinging... and I sat up, and let the field pass me with only 5 laps to go.

So, I placed terribly (11th? 13th?) in the finish. But, I did win some series points anyway! And, there were enough flashing cameras that I know I'll have some great photos of me off the front of the pack! People joke about the facebook photos being the only reason to go off the front... but, there is something wonderfully narcisistic and gratifying about having photo evidence. Sometimes when I get home from a race, it's hard to believe that I actually accomplished what I did, racing against guys who are generally taller (longer legs = better levers) and in perfect health.

Now, for some serious rest and then the Steel City Showdown tomorrow!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Top ten finish, and the Steel City Showdown

The semester is over! Thank goodness!

And, my ankle is behaving itself... somewhat, for now!

I've been able to push a slightly more difficult gear effectively again, which means I've been able to start doing more intense training workouts and catch back up to where I would have been.

I will definately say that one of the places where I seriously feel the nutritional deficiencies from Crohn's disease and not having a large intestine is in recovery from racing and high intensity interval work. I notice that I have a seriously impaired recovery time compared to other racers and teammates. I need more cooldown time, more sleep (naps are great! naps in the parking lot or on the lawn at races are the best ever.), and more in the way of nutrients than other guys my age. This means that I bring my gummy vitamins with me to races, so I have no days of missed nutrients. And, I do allow mysellf to go find a quiet place and take a nap. Self care is sometimes hard to prioritize over cheering on teammates in following races, but I've learned what I cannot budge on. Luckily, I have a few teammates who know the issues and have been great allies. My coach is also very aware that I have specialized needs.

But anyway, yes, I've gotten a self care routine down (most of the time) and my ankle is now behaving (some of the time)!

And... on Tuesday I took 8th in a criterium race (short, very fast circuit race with sharp corners)! I'm back in the game! For a minute it looked like I was going to take 3rd, but I got beat out in the final sprint. That's ok though, I'm still not overdoing it with high torque gears. I'll take an 8th if it means preserving my ankle for the rest of the season. It's still a top ten place.

I'm looking forward to a full race weekend, tomorrow and Sunday. Sunday in particular should be exciting! It's the steel city showdown, and I'll be racing in it and trying for another top ten finish. Here's hoping for some sunshine this weekend!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

photo post

Racing after the crash... Where did my sunglasses go?

Closeup through a corner...

Catching back on after a sketchy corner... RPI in tow, guys way off the back nowhere in sight.

Warning up on the course, fishbowl lense angles are fun. And, check out that new kit!

Carbs and cadence

Race Recap:
The beginning of the non-collegiate season is here!

This week was the second of the local criterium series. And, oh boy is it a lot less aggressive of a race.

Collegiate cyclists are out for blood and want upgrade points. Local people tend to be more interested in just hanging in the race. This is great news for me, as I'm still struggling to rehab my ankle. I raced this past weekend and this Tuesday in a laughably easy gearing, spinning at over 100rpm for the entirety of the race (except for the many times in the local race where I didn't need to fast pedal or pedal at all).

If there is one great thing that this ankle injury has done for me it is jacking up my cadence! My coach said that this is a great thing, as it will set me up for sprinting when my ankle can tolerate high torque again. Horray for that. Also, I'm planning on competing in the collegiate track cycling season to show off my new ability to hit 140rpm.

Speaking of which, this past weekend I was mistaken for a past national track champion. More than once. My response was at first to laugh, and then reply, "I'm not that fast". It was strange. But, apparently we look semi-alike in that we are both short and have a muscular build (read: not a climber).

All in all, it was uneventful and not terrible. I was last in none of the races, and apparently was towing people that I didn't even know were on my wheel during the last collegiate criterium race. And, I didn't get caught up in any crashes (1/4 of my field crashed in the road race). Also, we took 6th out of 16 in the team time trial.

Interesting interview on metabolism and carbs:

Today while working on a biostatistics class final project, I've been listening to this incredibly smart and relavent interview. I can honestly say that I've never trusted any of the low carb diet hype before, but now I can see how it would be applicable for some types of athletes (marathoners, triathletes... not road cyclists). I not a low carb person. I love carbs. But, I am also fascinated with metabolism and sports performance.

Not having a lot of guts left has forced me to tease out some of the same issues that this guy touches on regarding dumping salt and the resulting potassium abnormalities. Additionally, I think this discussion is very relavant because there are so few complex carbohydrates that I can tolerate while on the bike. This means that I am limited to fast-burning Gu shots, instead of the sandwiches and bananas that other cyclists carry in jersey pockets during long road races. An ultra slow burning carbohydrate sounds awesome! However, cycling requires short bursts of energy in addition to long endurance efforts and brings me back to the Gu.

Monday, April 9, 2012

power up, weight down

My goal for the future is this simple:

Power up. Weight down.

This means two things: 1. more training, more suffering.
2. Cutting out everything unnecessary from my diet.

I am shooting for an functional threshold power of 240 watts. Currently I'm just above 220.

And, I'm aiming for a >= 1 pound weight loss per week, with the hopes of approaching 120 lbs (54.5 kg) by the end of April. Currently I'm hovering between 125 and 126 lbs.

More power, less weight = faster.

Goals! Ready, set, go!



This collegiate season has not been terribly kind to me so far, unless you think of it as some sort of serious tough love!

What it has been is a learning experience.

So far I've overcome an ankle injury, started collegiate competition in a higher category than the normal pathway (category C as opposed to D), sorted out some major electrolyte issues, and survived a few close calls with crashes/nasty pack dynamics.

This weekend I crashed out on the final switchback of a moderately long descent at the Lux et Velocitas circuit race. I was able to pedal through all of the previous switchbacks, and was trying to close a small gap in the pack. When I approached the final switchback (which was a tighter near 180, off-cant turn than the previous few) the marshal started yelling "inside! too fast!". Once in that kind of turn it is too late to brake. I apexed it, had my line, thought I was going to make it through... and then I felt my rear wheel lose traction just as I was coming out of the apex. Then I was down and sliding through the turn and across the road.

At some point I tried to get my bike off of me, only to have it come back to me and catch my right leg through the left side of my frame triangle. The bike and I ended up tangled in a bush, on the guard rail off the side of the road. The next thing I knew I was being disentangled from my bike and stood up by about 6 people. And, my problem right ankle didn't want to bear weight.

For what it was, I have amazingly few injuries. Just some road rash and a newly achey right ankle.

I rode the criterium the next day, finishing with a group but second to last. I started at the front of the pack (second wheel) for the first half of the race, until stomping on my pedals to stick with a surge and feeling my ankle twinge in a bad way. After that, I reduced my gearing so as not to increase any injuries by over torquing my ankle. But, I'd be damned if I was going to DNF (did not finish) two races in one weekend, so I continued on - hoping for a mercy pull from the race by the officials (it counts as finishing if you are pulled by officials). I was practically - no, litterally- begging to be pulled every time I came around the lap line: pointing to my ankle, making various mercy and please kill me now signs, and finally shaking my ankle at them. This got a lot of laughs from the crowd, and gained me a cheering section because it was clear what was going on - that I was refusing to DNF the race despite serious pain- but did not get me pulled. The race officials even said "Travis, we are not going to pull you!".

But, all in all, it was still a fun weekend despite the crash and the miserable criterium finish.

I am sore today. But looking forward to the beginning of the local crit series starting tomorrow evening!