27 July, 2009

SCCC club rides - a good way to spend a weekend indeed

This past weekend, I went home to Niagara to catch up with family and take in the great riding there. I think this post will clarify why I find it worthwhile to be a part of the St. Catharines Cycling Club despite not living in the area for most of the year. Their training rides, and the depth of riders available to learn from makes them by far one of the best cycling clubs around. Lots of old-school road racing dogma, but also lots of current talent and champions from the past.

Every weekend and holiday rides depart in the morning from a small fish and chip shop in St Catharines. From there, each day has a traditional route:
Saturday passes first through Jordan to pick up riders who may not live in St. Catharines or Niagara Falls, and then weaves itself along the escarpment taking in 1 to 3 climbs for the majority of the day's workout. After a town sign sprint at Smithville, the club takes in coffee at Tim Hortons, and heads home via a few common routes, but usually a fairly straight and flat one.
Sunday's ride has a different character, heading first to Fenwick with just one climb en route usually taken fairly easy. In Fenwick the group grows quite a bit, as many riders live in Welland, Fonthill, Pelham and the surrounding areas. From there the ride is flat, taken moderately in a double paceline to Attercliffe, where the group splits up and echelons into Smithville at a high pace. The same coffee stop as Saturday occurs, and the trip home is much the same with riders peeling off toward their homes along the way.

I often ride in to the start from Niagara Falls, which adds 15-20 km on each end of the ride and provides a nice warmup, but makes for an early start. I generally leave the house around 7.

This Saturday, I was not climbing well so I did not descend all the way down for the second climb, choosing instead to meet the group halfway with a couple other riders who were doing the same.

Sunday I started off feeling very lazy, feeling like I should not go too hard but also noticing a nice low heart rate on the ride in. The ride went as it normally does, but as we were passing south of Wellandport the ride was pretty stale and a couple riders had drifted off the front. Next thing I knew a couple guys in front of me mentioned bridging, and I heard them shift, so off I went on their wheel. Little did I know I was in for a fantastic effort, first bridging up and then working in a break of 5 for about 35 km to beat the group by about 5 minutes to Smithville. Once we got organized, the break was quite efficient, battling quite a nasty wind. After the turn on to Smithville road the wind was coming across our backs at an angle and the pace went up. Overall, we averaged just over 40 km/h for 52 minutes, and my legs were pretty spent. I kept things reasonable though, and didn't let my effort spike up too much. I rolled in just behind my companions who gapped me by a few seconds when they ramped up for the sprint into town, feeling great. This was definitely one of the more memorable rides I've had with the club.

Maps and data below (click for larger)!

Saturday:


Sunday - the break is from "Lap 4" to "Lap 5":


data from the break:

21 July, 2009

Buckwallow O-Cup Race Report

A long overdue blog update! Life has been pretty crazy, and as a result there has been little time for blogging, or training for that matter.

Having done significantly less riding than usual lately, and also given the nature of the course I knew Buckwallow would not be my best race this season but I was nevertheless excited to check it out.

After terrible forecasts which threatened the possibility of pre-riding and could have led to a "rain-course" being used, things cleared up in the end. I arrived Saturday to put in a couple laps, and found myself surprised by just how rough and slow some spots were, while being overall an extremely fast course. I knew my race strategy had to balance hammering on the doubletrack to make up time (my strength) vs. leaving power in the legs when it came to certain obstacles requiring finesse and bursts of anaerobic power. It's definitely not a course for my diesel engine style.

In the race, things went largely as planned, with enough energy to tackle the obstacles I wanted to clear each lap, and a few more dismounts than I may have liked forced by other riders and occasionally myself. The result - mediocre, but acceptable with a large side order of back pain. Good times though. Very good technical practice too. I will look forward to coming back there each season, but it is unlikely to ever be one of my better races.

Jay (mcgyver29er) was there with his cowbell and camera, and captured me in both photo and video form. Check the clip just after 3 minutes to see me go by.

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