Monday, September 13, 2010

LOTOJA Classic Race Report

Always looking for another challenge, I signed up for a slot in the LOTOJA race earlier this spring. The event sells out quickly so they have a lottery-type system for entry. Not sure if I got in due to past results or if they felt some sympathy for a guy from Indiana. Either way, after a great race in Calvin's Challenge 12hr in May, LOTOJA was my other big focus of the year.
Race week meant a lot of travel to get to Logan, UT. Leaving family in OKC 2 lugnuts snapped off the car leaving us stuck in Amarillo, TX for a night where the stomach flu from the niece and nephew finally hit me. Good thing I could stretch out and sleep some in the back of the wagon on the drive to Durango. Two days behind schedule and 3 days til the race I'm eating Jello and saltines hoping for some good luck to hit.

We do some easy 3-4 hour hikes to get in some activity and acclimatize before the drive to Logan. A warmup spin in Logan the night before felt good but was the first time on the bike in 6 days. At least my legs were rested but I was just starting back on solid food. The forecast was for sun and a bit of tailwind but a chilly start time of 6:46AM for the Cat 4's. Not sure of the actual temp but it couldn't have been above 40. 
Like a well-oiled chain, we went off in waves every 3 mins to a nice cheer from the crowds in the dark. The race was neutral for the first few miles just like the pros. I was up in the front 15 racers or so knowing the slinky effect would be brutal on such a long day for anyone at the back. 66 in our group got stretched out early as the Spiderbait team went to the front and set a strong tempo. Oh, I almost forgot, my powertap died during the warmup and my Garmin watch would die in another hour or two leaving me to ride without any idea of speed, distance, HR, power, etc.
The first feed zone was at 34 miles and our brisk pace had us catch two of the groups that started before us. Knowing the next rest stop ways at the top of the Strawberry climb, I grabbed a quick bottle from Jenn and tried to cram some solid food in while riding. The lower slopes are easy, 1-3% grades for a long time. I had ridden these climbs on the Computrainer and felt confident I could hang until the steeper grades near the top. On a normal day this might have been the case. Saturday was not a normal day. The legs immediately had nothing to give and I found myself hitting the 34x23 and 34x26 waaay too early. My race just became a ride.
Watching group after group of racers ride by, I just tried to keep a steady effort, eat and drink as much as possible to fuel for the 150+ miles to go and enjoy the stunning views. I was nowhere near my limit physically but the legs could only do so much. FZ2 was neutral support only and they had a great spread. I choked down a Red Bull and 2 Gu's while zipping everything up for the descent, always the best part. I was able to work with a solid group on the flats before the next climb, not letting anyone past without jumping on the faster train. 
Climb #2 was shorter, 3-4 miles of good grades but it made me feel like someone had attached a trailer full of lead to the bike. It was all starting to get a bit blurry at this point since my stomach was fully locked up and resisting attempts to force more calories in. Watered down Gatorade with extra salt and honey/gel packs were all I could manage. I knew dehydration was in effect as well since I had not even had the urge to take a nature break yet. One more climb and then 90 miles of tailwind to the finish. #3 was the KOM climb, about 20 mins of pain for me before the sweet, sweet downhill. I gutted it out and actually passed a few people who were struggling more than me to hit the top and a great mountain view. Not waiting for anyone I did my best no brakes descent and passed some shocked riders at a scary rate of speed on the 7% grade.
FZ5 was time to strip down and spray on the sunscreen. I was working with a good group, letting my stomach empty a bit when I felt the rear go flat after crossing the rumble strips. Jenn happened to be on the side of the road and got some pics of the change. Off again, trying to drive a group to some higher speeds on the flats, my only thought was to finish the day. Another flat at FZ6 saw an even longer stop since Jenn was stuck in traffic and I finally borrowed a tube from a Biker's Edge racer to get underway again. Jenn made it as I was leaving with about 40 miles to the finish. Plenty of time to make the cutoff but my stomach was full of undigested liquid and lots of anger. Thankfully this was one of the most beautiful stretches of road I had ever been on. We rode alongside the snake river in Bridger National forest with a bit of wind at the back, eating up miles, using everything I had left in the tank to keep up the speed and make sure I at least came in under 12 hrs. No more food or fluid going in the stomach, I just needed to get to the line. 
10 miles to go and I flat for the third time! Watching all those people go past as I changed the tube again built up an anger that I've never quite felt on the bike before. I put it in full TT mode and ripped past people I really had no business riding with. Joining with the Biker's Edge team we rode to the line and I decided trying to sprint might be a bad way to finish the day so I coasted across in 11:55. A disappointing 50th place in my race and 779 overall. Still pretty amazed that I was able to keep going on no food and little fluid. I had nothing else to do on the day so stopping was never really an option although I heard the siren call of the comfy Saab wagon seats for many hours. 
No excuses, just not a good day for the legs. I feel really bad for the people who were still coming in behind me since I can't imagine feeling or riding slower than I did. I knew winning was out of the question since I'd only had 10 weeks of training from the quad tear but I figured 10hrs was realistic with the good conditions. The climbs were tough but not impossible and the rest of the race was much easier than the 20mph wind and rain of Calvin's Challenge. Not sure if I'll be back but if I am it will be with good legs and stomach, ready to be competitive, not just a finisher.  
Big thanks to Jenn for the incredible support and to all of the volunteers who made the event one of the smoothest run I've ever done. Sorry I couldn't do more on the day but the finisher medal is pretty sweet! 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Time to get fast!

The weather is finally starting to cooperate a bit here in Indy and more and more cyclists are hitting the road. The clock is ticking for the real racing season so now is the time to get some speed in the legs - before you get dropped.

Here are a few quick tips to help build some speed on the quick:

Ride with people faster than you - An oldie but goodie. Move your butt near the front of your next group ride and push to stay there. Hang on as long as you can and get a great workout from it. You can add in some intervals off the front or drift back and chase to increase the pain if the group is not hitting the speeds you need. Remember - you have to ride faster than what is comfortable to get faster.

Do a max effort at least once on most of your rides. I mean MAXIMUM effort, not that sorta fast stuff. Efforts that make you want to curl up in the fetal position for a few minutes. I like to hit the Nebo Ridge group ride on Tuesday to get in a good, fast group ride. Even if you can't win the sprint, contest it to the best of your ability and push your body into a real max situation. If you have a power meter, these are the times to try for a new 5, 10, 20 sec max power. If you have any juice left in the legs, do a few more sprints on the way home to really drain the legs.

If you have races planned, try to ride the course and push the parts you know will be fast during the race. If there is a hill, do repeats until you know every nook and crannie. Practice sprinting for the line (see above) and make the workout harder than the real race. Having this confidence will make you faster on race day.

Get out and ride! - Coach Kevin

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ramblings in the off season

The holidays are always a challenging time for me. Over eating and cold weather tend to ruin my form on the bike. This year (like most cyclists) I vowed not to let it happen!

On Christmas Day I was happy to find some new cycling DVD's under the tree with my name on them. The DVD set boasts of a 12% increase in power. Who doesn't want 12% more power??

So, with my trainer set up, and a little motivation I began my new indoor training program. While I found the actual video and music content of the series quite lame, the workouts were challenging and I enjoyed them. On off days I've been riding the rollers for 1-2 hours and really working on improving my spin to eleminate dead spots.

So what were the results? I saw my 8 minute power test go from 251NP to 289NP. That's a 13% increase. 13 is 1 better than 12 (insert SpinalTap theme). During this time I've also dropped about 10lbs of holiday goodness from my gut. Another 10 and I'll be at my race weight.

I took 1 week off the bike after completing the series. I plan to run through it again with my new power zones configured. We'll see if another 12-13% is obtainable.

One of my goals for 2009 is to raise my TSS/d score to 60+. As of today, I'm sitting at 36.3. A 60 would be higher than I've ever achieved in the 4 years I've been training with a power meter. Can I raise it that high? We'll find out. Keep an eye on my progress with a shared spreadsheet at:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

First race of the season - Indoor Time Trial

High blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, dry mouth, constant checking of your gear... these are just a few of the wonderful sensations of RACE DAY! On Saturday the 21st of February we held an indoor Time Trial using Computrainers for Two Wheels Cycling clients at Anytime Fitness in Zionsville, IN. 13 brave souls came in for 10K of pain. The 6.2 mile course is rolling and never gives you the chance to settle and find a steady rhythm. A real test of cycling fitness.

Bill Olds set the early time to beat in the first wave with a 17:05, just a tick under 22mph! James Clary and John Hixon were hot on his heels starting the day off on a high note and putting the pressure on the rest of the field.
The second wave saw Paul Harrington turn himself inside out to better his 08 spring time by a second. His time of 16:44 was the first sub 17 min time of the day and it was going to take a superb effort to best the time.
More times in the 17 min range were the order of the day and Paulie was looking good in his Heineken jersey.
Chris Janak, a regular to the advanced cycling indoor classes for the last year had no idea what to expect since he has only been riding for the last 15 months or so and just got a road bike last summer. After warmup up with some weight work in the gym he got on his Specialized and shot off the start line incredibly fast. Everyone was watching and waiting for him to crack and slow down. The crack never came and he posted a blistering time of 16:26, just shy of 23mph!

The final heat saw Rob Meinzer jump in for another race againt Jay Dunbar and myself. Jay set a new PR for the course registering another sub 17 effort, good for third on the day. Rob stayed within 30 seconds of his earlier time - well done. What about your fearless coach? I snuck in under Chris's time with a 16:05. All in all a great day for everyone and some strong motivation for the spring.

On a side note, Wendell Hyink ( the 63 year old Two Wheels super client and poster child for masters athletes everywhere ran a 16:57 on this course a week before winning his age group at the early season 24 hours of Sebring bike race. Wendell posted 344 miles (a new PR) on a windy day that saw low numbers from the entire field. Wendell also exhibited some incredible sportsmanship by helping fellow racer Larry Ide after a crash at 2AM. Look for lots more from Wendell this year as he chases the UMCA Ultracup series title!
Good Riding - Coach Kevin

Zionsville Indoor Time Trial #1
Chris Janak
Paul Harrington
Jay Dunbar
Bill Olds
Rob Meinzer
Brian Robinson
James Clary
Rusty Denton
Paul Schenkel
John Hixon
David Norris
Tim Wiley
Kevin Koval

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Long time - no blog posts. I could talk about all of the things that happened since the Spring but I want to get right into TESTING. Not the MCAT's or SAT's but performance testing of yourself.

I'm sure you have heard the definition of insanity - repeating the same actions but expecting different results... This still seems to be the most common mistake I see people making everyday with their physical endeavors. Our bodies simply adapt too quickly to the level of stress we apply, causing our fitness to plateau. You've heard it all before right? What ever can you do??

You MUST have an idea of what your body can do. On the first day of wrestling practice in H.S., the coach lined everybody up to see how many pushups and pull-ups you could manage, noting the results for everyone. We also ran a 1/2 mile for time. Looking back I realize he wasn't so concerned with what type of number you put up that day, he wanted to see improvement over time. A month later at a retest, the 25 pushup guys from day one were in the 40-50 range, or they were running stairs. The slow runners had to run more (which they did at an even slower pace, guaranteeing they would not get faster - more in the next post). Simple concept that most of us do not do enough.

Let's focus on cyclists - If you have a power meter, you can test all sorts of performances very easily. From max power on down, the Mean Maximal numbers for specific times are great ways to measure your fitness and improvement against others. If you don't have a power meter, time over a set course/distance (e.g. Time Trial) works best. You add the factors of wind, weather, etc. but it will be a good comparison of your fitness improvement.

At Two Wheels, we require an initial test with clients on the computrainer before we can create a training plan. Depending upon your goals, the numbers you want to focus on will vary. Racers should know max power, 20 sec, 1 min, 20 min and FTP. If you fancy yourself a sprinter, the big max # will help but the 20sec power will win you the race or sprint for the town sign. Breakaway riders will have a big 1min to make the move and strong 20min and FTP to make it stick. TT'ers will be focused on the 20min and FTP (think 40-60min power) to get up to speed and stay there.

Most important - if you are training x number of hours each week and you retest yourself only to find that you have not budged your numbers (remember the insanity reference) YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR TRAINING ROUTINE! The P90X program calls this muscle confusion. Unfortunately in cycling, the muscles have to work the same way. Becoming a good kickboxer will make you feel better but probably not help you ride faster. The easiest way to shock your body is to get out of your comfort zone. In the gym this is easy - just pick up a heavier weight or do some extra reps. On the bike there are numerous ways to achieve this effect. I'll go over some in detail later this week.

Good Riding - Coach Kevin

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Fastest way to Increase your Speed.

I rank cyclists right up there with golfers when it comes to thinking that it is the bike or clubs that are slowing you down. If I only had a new carbon fiber handlebar, I would have won the sprint… Not the case at all. A good set of aerodynamic wheels (aero is better than lightweight in all cases except uphill time trials) will bump up your speed a bit with the only strain being on your wallet. I’m going to talk about a few other ways to get faster and save a few dollars along the way.

Positioning – Remember the aero trumps lightweight comment, even when you are not in the aerobars on a time trial, the vast majority of your cycling effort is overcoming the wind. Developing an aerodynamic position that allows you to remain comfortable and put down some power will add lots of speed. Narrow and low is the direction you want to head, making sure you are still comfortable to maintain your power output. If you only ride on the tops and then switch to the drops during a fast ride or race, you are headed for trouble. Practice your aero position often and get some easy speed.

Body weight – Nobody ever takes into account the complete bike, rider and gear weight. How many times have you seen someone with the new super XLSSL featherweight bike loaded down with 3-4 waterbottles, laptop computer, seat bag with the entire Park tool catalog and 6-7 spare tubes, etc. roll up on a ride? I’m not even mentioning the fact that most of us can stand to lose a few pounds on our bodies. Saving 30 grams on your new seat is about one swallow of water. Think about this the next time you blame your lack of speed on the bike. If you are getting dropped on hills, your power/weight ratio is the key factor. This is the power/weight of the entire package, not your watts/naked bodyweight and advertised bike weight with no pedals. Load up for a ride and before you get on the bike, grab it and get your entire getup on the scale. Now chuck everything you don’t really need and see the difference. Free speed!

Power – The first two were easy, now we have to work a bit. This too is free unless you hire a coach who will help you get the maximum return for your training time investment. We have seen clients add 2-3 mph in less than a year to the average speed they are able to maintain by focusing their training time. The majority of our clients are regular people who have families and jobs and work hard to carve out 8-10 hours a week to train. This is plenty to get some good speed in and be faster than your friends, which is really all that matters.
In summary, if you have to buy something, get some aero wheels. I am a huge fan of the Zipp 404 with Powertap and use these as training and racing wheels. Drop weight from your gear and your body to help with your climbing. Focus your training and get a coach to help you if you are unsure, the investment will pay handsomely in a short period of time.

Good riding – Coach Kevin

Monday, March 17, 2008

Trek 2300 FOR SALE!

TREK 2300 Full Ultegra - $1100.00

The perfect bike for somebody looking to get started cycling or even racing. This Trek 2300 is a few years old and hasn't been ridden in over a year (since I got my new bike). I've kept it around thinking I'd race it, or ride it in the rain, or set it up for my wife or... well, you know how it goes!
Anyway, it's just been hanging in my garage, so now I need some cash and it's for sale.
~2000 miles
Full ultegra
Upgraded carbon bars and stem (ITM with internal cable housings)
New drive train at 1500 miles

Paid $2000 new. Added $500 in upgrades. Asking $1100.
Email me for more photos or questions.

Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bicycle Awareness

As spring rolls in, watch out for the cyclists on the road!

This commercial is great...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ultracycling – training for long distance riding

Ultracycling is the extreme end of the distance bicycle racing world with the RAAM (Race Across America) the ultimate challenge. 12 & 24 hour events as well as set distances of 200-500 miles are more common and manageable even for us mere mortals.

With so much information available about training, how to sort the wheat from the chaff to help you ride long distances fast? The Ultracycling world is dominated by riders 40 years of age and up. Go to an event and I guarantee you’ll see some gray hair leaving you in the dust. The speed that these animals can maintain seemingly forever is unbelievable. Just take a look at the results from the recent 24 hours of Sebring:

There is a lot more to training for this type of event than simply piling on the miles. If your goal is to simply stay on the bike for 12 or 24 hours, slap on a gel seat pad and some training wheels and try to stay awake. If you want to ride 200, 300, 400 or more, you need to have some speed along with your endurance. I’m going to share some of my own training for these events over the coming year as well as power data from specific workouts and races.

Winter Training – Averaging 8-9 hours/week does not seem like enough to be able to ride hundreds of miles in February but I managed to get in 309.9 at the Sebring 24 (17:15 in actual ride time, read the race report to hear about my nap) This averaged out to 18MPH in avg. riding speed, better than I had managed at any 12 hr race last year. I was hoping to have an average NP of 140 watts and was just above that.

Duration: 16:07:41 (18:13:02)
Work: 7199 kJ
TSS: 747.5 (intensity factor 0.684)
Norm Power: 144
VI: 1.15
Pw:HR: 6.44%
Pa:HR: -2.77%
Distance: 291.227 mi
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 637 125 watts
Heart Rate: 83 248 133 bpm
Cadence: 29 141 90 rpm
Speed: 0 29.5 18.0 mph
Pace 2:02 0:00 3:20 min/mi
Hub Torque: 0 277 46 lb-in
Crank Torque: 0 951 121 lb-in

You have to ride fast for short distances if you want to ride fast for longer periods of time. Think about that for just a second, If you find it hard to hold 20 mph for a while on a training ride, riding a century in under 5 hours is going to require one heck of a tailwind. Knowing this I spent most of the winter working on quality intervals from 20 sec max sprints to 10 min FTP range work (TT pace). Not making to time to ride lots of “base miles” as everyone would think, the last few years of steady riding were my base. 2-3 interval workouts a week with the vast majority of these teaching indoor cycling classes to my advanced disciples. This was a huge benefit in keeping my intensity higher than I would have with solo training.

In summary, I have been able to increase my FTP over the late summer high even though I am still only hovering around 220 watts. Aero positioning and pedaling efficiency cannot be overlooked at these longer distances as I am sure lots of people reading this are not averaging 18mph with 140 watts. Increasing my Spinscan #’s on the computrainer to around 80 has given me some free speed and allows me to stay fresh when I have to push on a climb.

If you are not doing any interval work, start today and you will get faster. Next post I will share a few of my favorite workouts as I get ready for Calvin’s Challenge 12 hour ride in May.

Good riding – Coach Kevin

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Race Report - Sebring

24 hours is quite a long time to do the same task. 3 normal workdays, 48 episodes of Family Guy, the list can go on. 24 hours on a bicycle is something most sane people cannot even begin to comprehend. As an early season challenge, I went down to sunny Sebring, FL to try my legs at a 24hr road race along with a few of our coached athletes. This is my (short) story…

Saturday, February 16th, 2008, 5:00 AM – Wake up in the RV to get ready for the race. I asked to be woken up at 6 since we were literally on the start line but Mike was simply too anxious. About 200 riders were going through their own race prep rituals to get ready for a long day in the saddle. Bottles being filled, lights being checked (sunrise was around 7:00 AM), tires being pumped, you know the drill.

6:30 AM – 3, 2, 1. GO! No sprinting from the gun but a strong pace was being set behind the pace car by the supermen of the Ultracycling world. I was in the drafting 24hr category since it was my first attempt at this distance and didn’t think I was ready to join the non-drafting, RAAM (Race Across America) Qualifiers. Three laps of the famous Sebring road course got us all moving and I managed to stay near the front group of riders as we left the track to head out into the countryside for our first 100 miles of the day.

8:41 AM – My little group which grew in size then shrank whenever we hit a hill reaches the turnaround point at 48 miles. Fill bottles and get going easy waiting for some help to catch. Feeling strong and trying to conserve, 22 hours to go.

10:29 AM – My new group of 6 riders hits the next rest stop where Lois from the Rotary club had the best tasting oranges on the planet! Fill bottles again and head into the wind for the last stretch on the big loop. Two of the guys in the group are pushing the pace on all of the climbs and I want to hang on even though it means 600+ watts for short bursts.

11:22 AM – 100 miles in the bank in under 5 hours, not a bad start. The top solo guys were already finishing some 13 mile afternoon loops riding like they were being chased. Another quick stop and ease into the slightly rolling loops, picking up a few riders here and there, trying to keep the speed in the 18+ mph range. Here is where I rode with Frank from Sarasota, a 20 something racing the 12 hour and heading for a new age group record. This was also Frank’s first century and he ended up with 180+ for 12 hrs!

6:04 PM – Finished my 8th loop giving me 205 miles in just over 11 hours. Time to put the lights on and head to the track. Sebring International raceway has a 3.7 mile pancake flat road course which would get us through the next 12 hours of riding. The RAAM guys were whipping around the track at unbelievable speeds, racking up huge miles. We gathered up a few riders and put together a small paceline cranking laps in the 11-12 minute range. Miguel and Maurizio had plenty of strength left and we would grab another rider or two every so often to share the work.

10:30 PM – Reality is starting to set in for lots of riders. People are of the bike in the pit area taking a nap, getting in some real food, contemplating whether they want to get back on the bike. I am still feeling good and have around 270 in. Mike had a spoke break which took some time to find the spare wheel and swap and he decided to grab a nap to come back out later and get the miles he needed to hit 300.

12:15 AM – The dream of 400 miles fading rapidly as fatigue caught up with me in rapid fashion and I started to have a hard time focusing on the turns. 290 in the bank and lying down for a bit is too good to pass up. At the RV, Mike is getting up to head out and I crash within a minute or so, failing to ask to be woken up. Mike has worked out that if he manages a steady pace of 15 min a lap or better he will have enough time to make up for a bad start and hit 300 miles. Miguel and Maurizio keep turning laps and both get 300+.

5:00 AM – The alarm goes off from the morning before and I wake in a panic. I just slept almost 5 hours of the race! I gingerly jump on the bike, take about half a lap to warmup and hit TT pace (about 17-18mph at this point) to get in as many laps as possible before 6:30. My legs still feel good and I am passing riders keeping my lap times in the 12-14 min range. I catch up to Mike with enough time to squeeze in 2 more laps and we ride together jumping on the wheel of a tandem. The sun is starting to break through as we finish up the last official lap at 6:24AM.

The final tally – 309.9 for me, 305.9 for Mike Abney who rode most of the night by himself. The other Two Wheels representative was Wendell Hyink who stopped after 10 hours with severe back and neck pain. Wendell’s legs were strong and he managed 167 in the non-drafting class, winning his age group of 60-64! Look for more huge numbers from Wendell and Mike in the future.

Just in case you want to know what it take to actually win an event like this, the top rider hit 503 miles! There were quite a few riders over 450 and the official results will be posted on We are trying to put together a larger group to head down next year so mark your calendars for Valentines Day 2009!

A special thanks to the Rotary Club for putting on a great event. Miguel nearly ripped my legs off during the wee hours of the morning while Maurizio helped keep him in check and allow us to all get in big miles. Lonnie was our driver, support crew and all around do everything guy. A thankless task that helped us all reach our goals.

Get out there and challenge yourself this year, you just might be surprised by what you can accomplish. I'll have more info on the training and power data from the race later this week.
Good riding - Coach Kevin