Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Here we talk about all things cycling - training, wattage, group rides, bike rallies, triathlons, weather, coaching, coaches, nutrition, ponderings, musings, and equipment! If you have a topic or a question, send us a note and we'll try to answer for you!
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Coach Wharton
09:34
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2015 Aledo Ride for Heroes 70 Miler

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Special Thanks to Texas Aerial Solutions for the image and the drone this past weekend! That was awesome!

The 2015 Aledo ride for heroes was held this past weekend, and I was excited to attend and participate in the 70 miler. I'm always in favor of a good cross country route with rolling terrain, and once again Alito did not disappoint. The majority of the course is now south of the interstate and it goes through some beautiful, rolling terrain.

I ended up getting to register early for this event, so I was not up for arriving too early. I thought I might be able to sleep in. Unfortunately, some rain came through on Friday night that kept us awake, and it did not get as much sleep as I may have wanted. Furthermore, as I rolled out from Dallas to Fort Worth, it was kind of interesting in that there was a lot of fog. There was so much fog, that when I arrived at the venue, I was surprised to see so few cars and cyclists present. In the past, this event has filled both parking lots, and there usually lines to get a proper spot, but that was not the case this year, and I just have to believe that it was the rain and later the fog that may have kept people away. While disappointing, I believe that the cyclists who stayed home or may have done an MS ride over the weekend down from Austin to Houston, missed out on a really good experience.

I rolled out to the starting line with about five minutes to spare, and made my way to the front with the lead riders. Interestingly, this was probably the first time that I ever got photographed by a drone. This drone was hovering probably 30 or 40 feet off the ground about 100 feet from the starting line, and it was an eight rotor heard device that held a Nikon digital camera beneath it. The drone stayed afloat throughout the Star-Spangled Banner, and then it filmed us as we all rolled out. The fog stayed with us through the first hour of the day at least, and it made for some interesting corners and help keep us cool, all while continuing to limit our overall visibility. I have no idea that if those images from the drone really came out or not but it was still interesting to see how things are going in terms of these events and how they are promoted.

I made several mistakes at the beginning of this rally that did not serve me well. The first of course is that I did not arrive early enough to get a proper warm-up. The older I get, the more important that warm-up is and it should be a requirement that there is a Mac or fluid trainer in my car on weekends. Even for a bike rally, warming up should just be part of the program. It truly did take me about 30 minutes, but by that point I was already suffering as if I had been punched in the gut and I ended up losing the lead 12 riders until I was maybe 45 for 48 minutes in. At that time, it felt like a weight had finally been lifted off of me, and I was able to ride a solid tempo or sub critical power intensity and caught several of the riders who had been dropped from the lead. Within the hour, we were still maybe three minutes off the lead, but we had a group of between five and seven that worked together to pace ourselves more appropriately. There were still several marked climbs(by the way, I am not the biggest Strabo fan, and I tend to prefer ridewithgps.com, so if you want to see my results, you may friend me up over there.)

We ended up with about five good cyclists from our one through about our two. I was able to organize them into a good, strong, rotating paceline, and was quick to try and acquire names for my ersatz friends. One of them was a cycling Pastore and after about 30 or 40 minutes, he proclaimed that this had arguably been his fastest average speed and ride ever. Unfortunately, it eventually got to him and at one of the eight stations he backed off.

I do have one other interesting comment about this initial group. There was a sixth cyclist who rode with us, but he wore earbuds and refused to participate in the paceline, taking it upon himself to get the free ride and anchor us as we rotated through. We tried to speak with him and encourage him to join, but he would have none of it. I find this whole debacle with earbuds and group rides, urban rides, even rallies, to be really vexing. Even Tracy still does it when she rides solo. I'm to say right now, I know it is controversial, but folks one of the reasons that cycling is so safe is that we have an inherent advantage by using all of our senses. We can hear things that are occurring around us that give us an advantage for situational awareness. It really irritates me when a cyclist rides in a group, and either rides with earbuds in, or rides with one ear but in, which they may think is safer, but in my opinion is actually more distracting to the brain. Cycling should be about the wind in your face, the sweat dripping off of your nose and eyebrows, and listening to the velocity of the air as it enters and exits your lungs. We eventually dropped this individual, and we did not look for him after the ride ended.

Anyway, the five of us eventually were reduced to four, and the fourth cyclist was dropped around the midpoint, where there are several two-minute hills. We did slow down and wait for dropped riders to regroup, but with their permission to let us go, we would then roll on. We ended up with a strong group of three that was really good, and we rolled through at about 22 or 23 mph for a good 10 miles. We did catch more stragglers, and a fourth rider in a time trial bike ended up riding with us, but he was not terribly keen at pulling through. By this point, however, the three of us had lost just enough of our edge that we were not able to shake him, and we just welcomed him for his company.

I did have one other incident occur that was unique on this rally and that is that I suffered a bee sting on my right temple maybe two or 2 1/2 hours in. It was just a minor inconvenience, but of course it always hurts the moment that the sting occurs. Later, Tracy said she's found the stinger in my four head and plucked it out that afternoon.

We rolled along as a group of 3+1, and I learned that the other two cyclists were friends. One of the two cyclists also had a Cervelo and was riding with a stages power meter, and was well-versed in his own ability as well as how to interpret the information on his garment. It's always great when you've got a smart recreational cyclists next to you, and we were able to talk shop quite a bit. His name is Wayne and he is a regular at the Wednesday night criterium races in Fort Worth, and I have no doubt that he will continue to improve.

I think our final 70 mile average was around three hours 15 minutes, which, while certainly not my fastest 70, was an incredibly effective training workout and it left me adequately sore for at least 24 hours. I did ride again on Sunday, but it was at a very low intensity and was focused exclusively on recreation. More about that in another blog. I'm going to provide a link to the ride via ridewithgps.com, and I will certainly be purchasing pictures that I will add to this blog post once they become available.

Suffice it to say, that I am really enjoying these rallies, and I'm looking at them as a way to continue improving my fitness, and ride with Tracy when she is available. We will both be attending the monster rally next weekend, which is one of our favorites excavation Mark special shout out to David Simcoe, a client and friend whom I met at the starting line. He and I both remarked that it was a great day of cycling.

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Coach Wharton
14:25

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Last Saturday, we attended the 2015 Lancaster bicycle rally, hosted by the greater Dallas bicyclists. Tracy and I met up with our neighbor Brian Bacon and rolled down through town for the 17 to 18 miles that it took to get to the gazebo that started the event. The rally is now 17 years old, and it is usually held on one of the best weekends of the year to ride a bike in Texas. The bluebonnets are looming, the Indian paints are out, there are some yellow buttercups, and recent rains always make the rest of the fields lush and green.

We were met at the start by several of our past and present clients. It is always heartening to see your work in progress. However, as these rallies have come to replace road racing, due to the lack of usable venues, and in general unwillingness to pay for other things,The events have become a venue for all of the faster cyclists to get in a vigorous workout on varied terrain. In years past, I have attempted to host "Ride with Richard" events, but this year, because of the extended spring, Tracy and I decided to instead just make it our ride.

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We actually turned this into a century by departing at 7 AM from our house in East Dallas. We were joined by our neighbor, Brian Bacon, who is a retired cat one. The trip down took just about an hour, and we rode past the Audubon Park, and the new horse Park that the city is promoting. Once we got to Lancaster, it was interesting to see how that area is developing with all of the warehouses being built in preparation for the large rail terminal that has been proposed and built finally for about 15 years. The roads down there to look to Lancaster were pretty smooth, but we knew that as we rolled into Ellis County, they would get more rural, and rough.

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When we got to registration, the place was busy and filled with cyclists, all of them clickety clacking in their bike cleats and talking general bike jargon. We met up with two more of our coaches, Wendy Hazelwood, and David Lopez, posed for some photographs with clients, and then made our way to the staging area.

One of the great things about the Lancaster rally, is the drum line. These talented musicians actually receive some of the funds raised by this rally, and they never disappoint. Our Star-Spangled Banner was played by another musician using a saxophone, and when the classic aircraft performed their flyover at the top of the hour, we all rolled out.

Early on, it was obvious that the pace was going to be high, with little room for mistakes. A lot of risky behavior was evident, as athletes tested their legs. I was near the front, with several of my friends, when maybe five minutes in, right before the turn past the airport, we were shocked to hear a lot of banging and clanging and scraping behind us. That almost always signifies a bike wreck. Turning the corner, we all sat up and looked over our right shoulders and saw that yes, there were a number of cyclists down. I also saw several of my cycling center jerseys among them. We neutralized, and I rolled back 100 yards until we reached the scene. Unfortunately, Tracy, David Lopez, and a client, Travis Pope, were all off their bikes and were either on the ground, or were trying to straighten out wheels and handlebars. David's front wheel was trashed, and after a brief analysis and test of range of motion, it became very obvious that Travis had suffered a broken right collarbone. Those of you that follow my Whareagle word press blog, know that in 2005 I broke my collarbone in late July at the goat neck rally, and it was unfortunate to see the same thing happen to a client and friend. All of us waited until we were certain that Travis and David had an easy way to get home and get back to their families, and for Travis, to get in touch with his parents, and then we continued our ride.

By this point, 10 or 15 minutes had passed, and it was up to us to properly announce ourselves and safely pass as a group of four. I believe over the course of the entire 63 miles, we probably passed almost 1400 riders. There is something to be said about proper passing etiquette, announcing yourself and your intentions, and just basically being a good diplomat or ambassador. We knew we were successful in this endeavor when we received a complement about this from a client and her husband on the following Monday.

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As the miles rolled by, Wendy, Brian, Tracy and I all shared the lead and rotated through very easily. We got to ride some incredible terrain, and because of the previous wet weather, the bluebonnets, Indian paints, and yellow buttercups that are so connected with this rally, were out in force. Around 40+ miles in, we passed another coach, Steve Nelson, and he had a helmet cam that captured our group for a few special moments. Tracy was feeling really strong, and she performed several surges throughout the ride that left us all suffering. Wendy, fresh off of a successful Ironman New Zealand, road exceptionally well in an even pace, and Brian showed his experience with smooth poles, and solid positioning when he was not in the lead. I'm not sure what the ridewithGPS.com link will say, but I believe we averaged about 23 mph as a foursome.

We got to the finish line just as we were about to sort of run out of energy. Once again, we were met with several friends and acquaintances who had either missed the rack or written past it, and we spent a lot of time thanking the organizers, almost all of whom are members of the greater Dallas bicyclists. Tracy and Brian both decided that they wanted to hitch a ride back to the neighborhood, but I decided to make it an epic day, and I rode home.

Steve Nelson Handlebar cam

The science behind the ride is a little bit interesting. I need to preface this by saying that I honestly have never been this heavy, nor was I ever this unfed, through the winter. I am now weighing in at about 166 pounds, and in mid-March my threshold was below 230 W. I vowed that I would never let the wattage number drop that low again, and I am working very diligently on trying to get my weight back down to about 158. The weekend in Fort Davis was a kick starter, and it does help now that we have regular weekend events planned throughout the rest of the spring and the summer. I believe the ride was well over 3000 kJ, the intensity factor was around 78%, and my turning stress score was well above 300. If you're using Skiba scores it was just under 300. I believe I drank a 70 ounce camelback +2 24 ounce water bottles of Osmo, and I did also eat two separate 380 cal bars during the ride. I probably could've used a third bar, but I believe I gave it to someone. And I mistakenly thought at the finish line that I had adequately refueled with the cookies and fruit that they were offering. I kind of bonked at around 96 miles, but was still able to control my effort enough to make it home without a pitstop. Finally, when I weighed myself at the end of the ride, I was at or near my exact weight that morning, which was about a 163.

I guess this just reiterates the theme about Which Cycling Ctr., Dallas and online bike coach are centered… When you train for your quality intervals indoors, using perfpro, and then focus on solid aerobic cycling during the week outdoors, it really does make a difference on the weekends! When you combine that with a solid hydration plan and nutrition schedule, your stamina, speed, and strength all improve. I am happy to say that I'm now at about 257 W for threshold, and I'm actually looking forward to testing again soon, maybe even today.

That's really about it, we will have a bigger report on the next rally, and some of Tracy's racing next week. Until then, a member to take the lane, remember to stay on top of your hydration and nutrition, and always be visible, and think positive thoughts for Travis' speedy recovery!


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Coach Wharton
12:12
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Ft. Davis HammerFest, March 2015

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The 2015 HammerFest was an excellent example of Texas Bike Racing, complete with fantastic stage challenges, a healthy mix of athletes and categories.  And, of course, epic views and terrain.

 

I need to provide a few caveats before beginning the breakdown of the weekend the biggest being my fitness.  Bike racing in Texas is pretty small, and we all know each other to some degree or another.  


However, this is my first race in-state since February of 2012, and my first since relocating my cycling studios to new locations.  I was completely void of any real degree of fitness and entered the weekend with a wattage threshold about 60 watts below my prime.  Additionally, my body weight is about 3 to 4 kilos heavy.

 

For me, doing this race was strictly for the benefit of the camaraderie found in racing. The challenge of the venue, and as a service to the new promoter, who, like many, continues to pour her heart and soul and resources into this sport we all know and love.

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The weekend turned out to be perfect, weather-wise, as about 100 of us made the trek to the Big Bend area.  Racers were spread out among hotels, and B&B’s in the triad of Ft. Davis, Alpine, and Marfa.  Registration, rollout, and even the finish line were all within 100 feet of the ubiquitous Limpia Hotel on the main strip. Categories were combined for racing; although they were scored separately, in a Points Race format.

 

There were three stages - the first, on Saturday morning, to the summit of Mt. Locke, the second, a point-to-point out on the Scenic Loop to the park of Crow’s Nest, and the final stage on Sunday morning.  which either performed the infamous complete Scenic Loop, or did an out-and-back along the Stage 1 route and beyond.

 

My wife, Tracy, and I, brought along professional videographer and cycling aficionado, Dean Markham, With him, we used about five separate cameras, on handlebars, saddles, helmets, and in follow vehicles, to capture the essence of the races and its’ participants.

 

I know we were not able to get everyone interviewed or get all categories reviewed, and you know how things always end up on a cutting room floor when editing, but I assure you - we tried.  Expect a promotional video in the next few weeks, and longer videos and video segments on our YouTube channel as time allows and Spring progresses.

 

This was Tracy’s first time racing out there, and there was a healthy audience of over a dozen women, from all around the state and beyond.  She is much more competitive these last few years than me, and while I considered it my goal just to finish each stage, she was ready to compete a little.

 

Still, our combined focus on coaching and running a startup these last two years have taken their toll on her as well as me, and she was unused to the altitude and gradients this race provides.  That didn’t stop her from having a blast, and it didn’t stop me from enjoying her races and stories as much as my own.

 

We both finished out of the money but left with enough experience and enthusiasm to ensure that upon our return next year, we’ll both be better prepared.  Sometimes you have to experience a race, just to experience it, rather than attempt to race it.

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The Racing: Stage 1
 

The climb out to Mt. Locke started out a little chilly, as expected, but it quickly warmed up about halfway through the route, and I was dropped early on the first real climb, thus making the effort a quiet, solo affair.

 

The second climb, the longest of the three, was just beautiful, as I rode within my limits and focused on good posture for the sake of the camera on my head.  Unfortunately, right at the transition from climb to flat, where there is a good chicane in the road, I derailed.  An awesome helper in a trailing vehicle was kind enough to help me get the thing back on for the final assault.

 

I was well over 15 minutes behind the leaders but managed the climb, and then waited at the top for Dean and then Tracy.  Client Paul Konrad also made the assault, and it made me proud to see a rider who had put so much time in at the studio, perform so well!  Our descent together was a blast, and ALL of it was videotaped, so expect to see some significant action from that segment soon!

 
The Racing: Stage 2
 

Stage 2, held midafternoon, was another point-to-point, this time held out on the first part of the Scenic Loop.  Traditionally, Ft. Davis suffers from increasing winds as the afternoon wears on, and Saturday was no exception.  The racers formed tight packs, played defense, but the riders with teammates sent rabbits up the road for the rest of us to reel in.

 

I was quickly dropped, along with a rider from El Paso, and together we took turns pulling until we reached the finish, a few minutes back from the leaders.  I then went back down with some of the riders, this time enjoying a great tailwind along with the descent, and pulled over to rejoin Dean, who was filming the women’s race.

 

Now I need to note -- THAT was a great display of racing.  Watching the ATC women dominate by sending a talented cyclist off the front, and then holding back the rest of the pack like a tight champagne cork, while finally sending another rider off, to dominate the podium, was just artful.  The other riders and teams never stood a chance.

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An interview on camera afterward only confirmed my thoughts - these were true amateur professionals.  They thanked each other, congratulated each other, displayed consummate sportsmanship to the other competitors after the event ended and were cheerful and humble throughout.  They credited each other, and I later learned that they disbursed the winnings equally through the club.  THAT was incredible!

 

Dinner at Marfa’s famous Jett’s Grille, at the Paisano Hotel
Dinner that evening was in Marfa’s famous Jett’s Grille, at the Paisano Hotel. We were engaged by Dean’s stories of his cycling adventures in the 80’s and his return to the sport through our studio just a year ago.  He’s since lost over 40 lbs and purchased a new road bike, and he’ll be eagerly anticipating the local rallies and events that we travel to this year.

 
The Racing: Stage 3
 

For me, Sunday’s race, covered the Scenic Loop while Tracy’s event was an out-and-back along the Stage 1 course and beyond.  Once again, I was reminded just how incredibly fun the course is, as I rode with the group the first 20 miles.

 

I rolled off the front a short bit on the back side to get some excellent camera footage, and then rejoined the pack until the base of Bear Canyon, the first steep climb in the race.  After that, I was solo, and I made a point to focus on cadence, staying hydrated, eating on a good schedule, and enjoying the challenge and the beautiful, mostly windless day.

 

On the ride into Ft. Davis, two Cat 4’s passed me, and they both had that eager, assertive look as they chased each other into town.  I was running on fumes by that point, but reminded myself that there WILL be a next year for us, and we WILL be bringing more people with us to this unique event.

 

Ft. Davis’ Hammerfest is back, and everyone including TXBRA racers should embrace this classic stage race.  There’s something for everyone, regardless of ability or experience, and it is worth the trip.  Call it a pilgrimage, but it is just a fantastic way to see Texas, experience three great rides, and make plans to improve your fitness and enjoy the results.

 

Thanks to Peri and her hard work making this possible, and the citizens of Ft. Davis, who volunteered.

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