Cycling in a Toque

Cycling in a Toque: July 2011

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Tuning In

The last 2.5 weeks of my season are here. How can I tell?

I am having strange thoughts about running, hiking and even walking! Hopefully summer is still around in Whistler in mid August.

I have also been spending some time at altitude which means a lot of recovery. As a result I've had some time to stay tuned into the things I'm passionate about: coaching, training, music and big world.

Recent reads:

1) Coaching: "They don't really care how much football you know until they know how much you care."

2) Limits: So if I can climb for 10 minutes at 5.8 w/kg that is still good?

3) Positive Change: It's a beautiful sport, and that is the way it should be!

4) Debt "The sooner the adjustments begin, the more gradual they can be. It’s easier to slow down from 70 mph by stepping on the brakes than by slamming into a wall."

5) 1hr Session w/ Grum@WetBandits: "Australia’s Triple J Radio mixups are known to host some of the finest in the funky/disco scene, and Grum was just featured. The perfect compliment to keep your Breakbot/Chromeo mood going when you finally take that track off repeat".

6) WetBandits Newest Release: "Here is a collection of rumpshakers that I have been getting real physical with lately. Perfect for fist pumping as we enter summer’s peak."

Plus session 2 of Elk Grove Prologue Training went even better than Saturday's run. Still at elevation, cranked out a 12 watt improvement in average and better pacing. Booya!

Time: 9.26 / 1.06 / 2.03 / 1.42 / 2.06 / 0.55 / 0.42
Effort 1 @ July 23rd (Watts) : 335 / 367 / 349 / 350 / 327 / 366 / 523
Effort 2 @ July 26th (Watts): 347 / 426 / 374 / 359 / 334 / 372 / 463


Saturday, 23 July 2011

Altitude Adjustment

Since Tuesday, Conor, Kevin and I have been enjoying our training days up at elevation in McCall, Idaho. Although it took a few days to get used to the air here at 5,000ft, we are starting to come around. We are off to Reno next week for a 1 day criterium (which is at altitude) and then to our final team race of the year at the Tour of Elk Grove in Chicago so some good training at altitude should make us a little faster.

It has been nice to get back to training. I haven't really had a chance to do a block of training since mid May. It's a nice change, not having to worry about racing well every weekend. Instead focusing on good recovery between sessions and making those short intervals (when they're needed) really good ones.

That said, adjusting to altitude is difficult. If you are moving to a higher elevation and cycling, give your body time to adjust. Remember, enjoy the days you feel great on the bike, and especially enjoy those that you don't, cause it is all part of the plan!

Amazing Videography. Period.

Classic Chilean Urban Downhill

Tomorrow's training ride will feature a portion of the 4 Summit Challenge

Prologue Training in McCall, Idaho for Tour of Elk Grove (Aug.5th)
With a little results recon, figured out the time to each of the course's five corners....and thus we have a nice little interval workout.


Monday, 18 July 2011

Boise Twilight: Gallery

Check out these sweet photos from an old friend from Contech Construction (my office job last winter).


More Photos from local professional: Here


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

UBC Grand Prix: Alzate #1

Tonight was Team Exergy's last chance for a stage win here at BC Superweek with the inaugural UBC Grand Prix. Wow! What an event! A great show! Photo credits go to Greg Descantes.

Mahony & Sons put up a huge spread next to the very fast final corner 4 and the longer course allowed the riders enough time to move around and make the racing hard.

Mahony & Son's VIP Tent at Corner 4

From the gun, we rode aggressively. Mostly covering moves and waiting for the right time to launch the big break. Carlos finally achieved separation thirty minutes into the 75 minute event with breakaway companion Marsh Cooper (Kelly Benefit Strategies). The two worked well together and achieved a maximum lead of 35 seconds despite the course's long straightaways.

Marsh Cooper & Carlos Alzate crushing tarmac off the front

The unrepresented teams (Jelly Belly, HR Block, Garneau Evolutions Trek Red Truck) attacked very hard to bridge but Quinn, Remi, Conner, Kevin, Andres and I covered everything. There were some very frustrated bike racers out there.

Once it became apparent that bridging was not going to work, the local amateur team Red Truck Racing sent 5 riders to the front to pull back the breakaway and worked very well together, hats off to them! They brought the break back to only 20 seconds.

Trek Red Truck works on the front

At this time Andres launched off in a solo bridge attempt and effectively nailed the coffin in the rest of the peloton. After bringing back his attack, the moves off the front decreased and the break's advantage ballooned to +40 seconds. A very well timed move by Andres! At this point the remaining Exergy riders rode near the front and counted down the laps.

As the event neared its conclusion, I started to realize just how many people had come out to watch the race. Each lap the peloton stormed into the final corner, the crowd seemed closer and louder, inflating the tension among the riders as the race closed.

With 6 laps to go and Carlos safely out in front with Marsh, my Exergy teammates and I found one another. Moving up in full train formation, we took the front with 5 laps to go. One lap later the crowd prime bell rang: $800 for the breakaway and $450 for the peloton. Thank you to everyone in the crowd who helped out the riders tonight with your generous contribution to the excitement of the event. Fortunately I was able to sneak away from the peloton on the back straightaway and limit my energy use in claiming the peloton crowd prime. Carlos made sure he took the bigger one!

At this point only three laps remained. I jumped back into the front of the peloton, Quinn driving the pace. Before the end of the lap, my Exergy teammates had formed a perfect five man leadout train in front. But with two to go I was swarmed from both sides along the back straightaway and dropped to 9th wheel.

Coming out of the 3rd corner on the final lap, the last Exergy leadout man drove it hard. Andres pushed out to the right and I followed and went full gas as the train of riders hugged the left hand inside gutter. I moved over the 7 riders and took the front position as we approached the 150 metres leading into the final corner. There was to be no passing after the final corner. I had to get there first. But it was so far away. So far in fact that both Hollaway (who lead the left hand train) and I had to side down after the lengthy sprint (or drag from 3 to 4). We were track racing...sprinting in the saddle. But I had him. Then Ryan Anderson (Spidertech) slipped between the tiny space to my right; where did he come from? He came out of the gutter! In the process I lost sight of Hollaway and in the final 100 metres before the corner I dropped from 3rd on the road to 5th. Damn!

Through the final corner at +55kph...keep it smooth...survive....damn it 5th!

Looking back on it now...of course I think I could have mounted one final sprint into the corner. But I guess that's all part of the learning process that is my first year pro.

Nevertheless, Team Exergy completed its goals:
1) Win the race
2) Win the big prime sprints

Travel day tomorrow! Back to Boise, Idaho for final preparations before Saturday.

Thanks for reading! Vancouver Sun Article, The Province Article, Canadian Cyclist Article

3 Laps to Go (Ben off the front after crowd prime about to slot in behind Quinn)

Breakaway finale...that is the way to win a race!

Carlos Alzate Wins!

Original 16 UBC Grand Prix put on a grand show in 2011

The good video!


Sunday, 10 July 2011

Tour de Delta: St.3

It was going to be a hard day. With Carlos in the lead by three points, we needed to get him safely to the line right behind Pinfold. Since it was an omnium, those out of the points could effectively win the race by as much time as they wanted and it wouldn't have affected the overall.

During the short opening circuits in North Delta, various breakaways tried to form and although two did escape, it wasn't until Huff (Jelly Belly) and Holloway (Kelly Benefit Strategies) went away on the flat transfer to Tsawwassen that the break become fully established.

Remi, Quinn, Connor, Kevin and I rotated on the front with Carlos and Andres just behind. The winds were not bad today so the transfer out to the finishing circuits was quite pleasant...just a bunch of smooth pedal strokes.

Once there, we found that the break had a 4.5 minute lead with 70km (10 laps) remaining. We continued to rotate on the front. I knew I was on a good day so as the legs starting tiring in the Exergy camp, I found myself on the front more and more. I enjoyed this. I think I enjoyed this a little too much. Especially slicing and dicing the fast downhill third corner!

With 6 laps to go H&R Block's breakaway representation came back to the peloton so they came up to the front to help with the rotation. This was much appreciated. Although shortly thereafter, with 5 laps to go, they started launching solo riders off the front in an effort to bridge the 3+ minute gap to the break or just try to stir the pot. Either way we continued to ride consistently on the front and slowly wait for them to fry.

With 3 laps remaining, Andres attacked very hard. It split the field. Once Kevin, Quinn, Connor and I recovered, we returned to the front to maintain a high pace....mitigating the threat of attacks anywhere except the 2 minute wall.

With 1 lap remaining we caught the breakaway except Huff and Holloway. They remained 50 seconds up on the field at this point. Connor and I took it into the final climb and said goodbye to the peloton. Although Andres took control for the final 1km of the race, dictating a brutal pace (even gapping off those behind), the field sprint did not go the way we had hoped and Carlos came over 4th wheel, 3 wheels behind Pinfold.

So we moved to 2nd in GC. Andres finished 7th on GC as well.

Since it was an omnium, there was no reason for us to ride as hard as we did throughout the day. In hindsight it would have been much more productive to limit our efforts to guarantee we could come the line with a good leadout train. But we raced hard, made some cash, represented our sponsors and hopefully made a whole bunch of new fans in the process so all in all, not a total loss.

In other cool news, the jersey raffle in support of the Principal Fund raised over $600 dollars. Check back on Tuesday for more details....including the entire list of winners (approximately 14 prizes were available ranging from a Team Exergy jersey, glasses, hats, discount cards at the Running Room and much more.

Thanks to all the volunteers at the Tour de Delta 2011 and a big shout out to our amazing Team Exergy homestays, the Hall family and the Gillespie family. This year was my second year with them and all I can stay is....RAD!

Stay thirsty my friends. Updated criterium entry with photos!


Saturday, 9 July 2011

Tour de Delta: St.2

Tonight was the main event of the weekend in terms of crowds down in Ladner. The guys did a great job of staging so we had a strong force at the front of the race right from the beginning.

The Plan: Try to get Carlos away early. If not, get a break with two Exergy. If not, Attack attack attack. Focus on a stage win or at least move Carlos up in the overall classification, trying to get as a many guys in between Carlos and Ryan Anderson (Spidertech & a current leader) in the finale. This left me fresh for crowd prime duties which would come at about 3 laps to go.

The 60 lap event was very fast tonight. Remi and I blasted from the gun, stringing the field out in a long line only just through the first half lap.

Quinn, Kevin and Connor were all over the front all race. Remi blacked himself out going so hard leading it out going into the crowd prime that he was forced to turn the awesome up to a 1000% after some dodging swarming from our competitors.

At one point, Carlos sent me up to bridge to a promising move with Andres but the field was having none of it and worked very hard to eliminate the possibility of a 5 man break with 2 Exergy. But the team kept riding strong and together, going for the many prime sprints and ensuing breakaway attempts.

With three laps to go they rang the $1000 crowd prime bell. I was fortunately riding behind Kevin and Andres who kept the pace very high throughout that lap. Hollaway came from the outside into corner 3 and another rider from the inside. I let them in knowing the tight line out of corner 4 was the straightest and the smoothest. Out of the corner 5th wheel, I jumped and knew that it was time for everything. Having already sprinted with Hollaway for a lesser prime earlier in the race I knew he would swing left and try to pin me on the barriers but in doing so he'd travel a greater distance. Out of corner he had to go outside of both Kevin and Andres on the right during which time I made up most of his two bike length headstart. Again he swung all the way left to try to pin me. At the line however he pushed too early and I was able to get one more half pedal stroke in, leaving the bike throw very late and in the end, perfection! He put in his fist and the announcer claimed that he had won it. I stayed on the front to keep the pace high and when the field came over with 1.5 laps to go, I hit the brakes and bugged out to remove myself from the dangerous middle section (outside the top ten and inside the top thirty). I tried to keep the pace high as long as I could to help the Exergy boys behind but after I blew...well....I blew!

It wasn't until I finished my cool down lap that I found out from Tad that I had in fact pipped Hollaway on the line, proven by the highspeed digital finish camera. It made the evening! Carlos managed a strong 4th in the kick after starting from the final corner 5th wheel. Although we missed a stage podium, he did jump to the top step in the overall and dawned the coveted neon green leaders jersey ahead of tomorrow's final stage.

A great day for the Team. Our supporters at the Muscle Memory tent in front of Sharkies on corner 3 were loud and awesome. It was great to have many of my close family friends in attendance as well. Thank you so much to everyone who was able to share this evening with Team Exergy.

Remi, Mullervy, Diaz and Alzate storming the front of the race
Alzate & Pinfold fight for a late race cash prime
Hollaway & I approach the line for $1000
Ya Buddy!
So recognition on the podium, always appreciated!


Friday, 8 July 2011

Tour de Delta: St.1

Tonight the 2011 Tour de Delta started in Vancouver, BC. Team Exergy has seven riders and we were looking to starting this three day omnium competition off on the right foot.

The four corner course included a long uphill section, offset with a fast downhill corner 1. After many attacks in the first twenty minutes, Andres Diaz pounced away from the field with Marsh Cooper (KBS), Ryan Anderson (Spidertech) and Sebastian Selas (HR Block). The acheived a maximum advantage of 32 seconds.

Although the officials tried to motivate a chase from the peloton with many peloton-only cash primes, the gap stayed strong until the end.

In the final ten laps though Team Exergy became lodged between a rock and a hard place. With the break only 10 seconds up the road, we couldn't set up our leadout train for Carlos and I without compensating Diaz's chance at the win.

In the finale Ryan Anderson pipped Andres into the final corner and secured the stage win. Just behind, Connor, Quinn and I took the front of the peloton with 1 lap remaining. With Carlos just behind we made the race as fast as possible and Carlos took the bunch kick for 4th on the stage. He closed the gap so fast that there wasn't even a time gap between the front break and the peloton. If the finish had only been a little farther out of the final corner!

There were a lot more spectators out on the North Delta course this year as race officials switched out the traditional 3km prologue for the difficult and hopefully more exciting criterium course. Thanks again to everyone who came out to share tonight's race with Team Exergy. One day down, one podium picked up!


Coming Home

I've been home in British Columbia for ten days now and it has been a very relaxing and fun break from racing. Starting with a trip to Vancouver Island to visit Grandma, Granny and Papa Jack (whom I'd hadn't seen in over a year and a half due to school and racing), I took a few days off after nationals to enjoy some cookies and desserts! Of course the old island highway was just too good to pass up so I made sure to toss in two good days of training later in the week. It's a beauty ride, I recommend it to all types of riders! My specific route went from Parksville up to Campbell River and then back the next day, but the riding just south of Parksville in Nanoose Bay is also very nice (sweeping roads, up and down rollers and lots of crows to imitate).

Grandma and I
After my four day trip to the Island I came back home to Whistler. A trip up to a secret lake and rope swing in the forest made for a chilly dunk (I think we were the first brave troopers to try in this year!) but thanks to the weather there were no bugs!

Dad's training for the RBC Grand Fondo this summer...SWEET KIT!
I finished my easy riding days in Whistler with a hard training day on Tuesday, my favourite way to prepare for an upcoming weekend of racing. Dad came out in the morning and honked the car horn during a kadenwood personal best attempt (Kadenwood is a local climb in Whistler, 2.9 kilometres averaging 6.9%). I was able to get it done at an average speed of 21.9km/hr so very stoked to take a good chunk off my previous best. For those who know the climb and are looking to compare, its from the bricks to the manholes on the right hand side of the top roundabout.

That evening I joined up with Team Whistler's weekly group ride up to the Olympic training center. Although we chatted for the easy parts of the ride, there were some times when it was time to go maximum. Of course it took me a while to get used to riding in such beautiful terrain while going so hard. At the top, a small group of us were lining up for a sprint and as we took the final corner, the entire panorama of the mountains came into view and I couldn't help but think how different this is...usually when I am getting ready to sprint I am looking at barriers, manholes and other hard objects close to my path in the midst of a cacophony of noise blanketed in dim early evening light, the overhead lights beaming, casting long deceiving shadows. The backdrop of the mountains at that moment will be something that will stay with me for a long time.

The local press has also been working hard to help Team Exergy get some exposure here in Canada, for which I am extremely grateful.

Eric at the Whistler Question wrote this wonderful piece on Thursday. Article #1
Gary at the Vancouver Sun published this excellent article this morning...digging the photo in the written copy! Article #2
And Terry at the Province included an in-depth article discussing my initiatives as an asthma awareness ambassador. Article #3

Team Exergy has also recently published the Canadian Nationals report after working with one of Canada's best cycling photographers, Jon Safka of Thank you Jon! See you at the races soon!

Keep being rad.