We all know Shannon as one of the fastest climbers in our group, we'll he's also a pretty talented bike racer! Last weekend, Shannon competed in the Nationals and we thought everyone would like to hear about his experience in the race. It should come as no surprise that riding with the MGCC has prepared him well!!!!
A number of MGCC members have quizzed me on the preparations I made for the 2011 National Masters Championships last weekend in Burlington. The answer can be summed up easily - MGCC. Tempo on the Bridle Path, hills on Brimley and the longer Saturday morning Bagel prepared me well for the 113km race last weekend in Burlington.
This is an opportunity to share with the group how some members with a racing mind-set can use the weekly MGCC rides to prepare for a race or an entire race season. The goal is not always as simple as getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible.
My experience with Nationals has been a race that starts relatively smoothly and evolves into battle of attrition. The quality of the field is high and filled with riders whose skills and fitness are unfamiliar. If you can???t confidently gauge the strength of the riders around you it is best to leave a little extra in the tank. When racing with a group staying in contact is the most important thing. Gaps will open up and it is in your best interest to close them as quickly as possible. Riding with a group that is setting a hot pace is difficult. Riding on your own is much harder.
The Bridle Path is where I train myself to hang in with a group. Some people may notice I vary the timing and level of my effort. Sometimes I accelerate on the Crestwood hill to try and open up a gap on the group. I might rest at the top and try to jump on the group as it passes by. That simulates a race situation where a rival attacks and I have to chase hard to close a gap. The rival might look behind, see that he is not alone and decide to take his foot off the gas and return to the shelter of the group only to try again later. The key is to recover quickly enough to have the strength to latch on to the speeding group that will soon overtake us. I put more effort in accelerating up the climb at Nationals than any other single effort I made in the race with the exception of the finish. The training on the Bridle Path loops gave me the speed and recovery to remain safely in the confines of the group. Stamina is important but if you don't have the speed to remain in the safety of the group, you better have a lot of it! I will try the same thing at various points on the Bridle Path Loop but the goal is always the same. Attack and train myself to recover fast enough to grab that wheel as the chase group catches me and goes by.
The training done on the Col de Brimley gave me the strength to remain comfortably in the saddle as the Nationals race climbed up. My general goal is to ride a steady pace on Brimley. I keep a careful eye on my speedometer and try to hold my speed steady as the hill pitches up. That gives me something to focus on rather than the burning in my legs. It may appear I am accelerating but the fact is that I am holding steady. Drafting on a hill is minimal due to the relatively low speed. That means I can ride my own pace without concern for paying a steep price for taking the lead. Brimley is long and steep enough that there are few hills in Ontario that you would find yourself unprepared for. Stay in the saddle, work on developing power, stand with conviction when you are ready to push over the top. 5 times up Brimley gets my heart rate higher than any climbing I did at the Nationals.
The distance we cover on the Saturday Bagel is less important to me than the time spent in the saddle. The Bridal Path prepares me to the surge-recover-surge-recover cycle of racing. Brimley gives me the power and confidence to climb hills efficiently. The Bagel prepares me to do it all for 3+ hours. I make sure I am comfortable refueling while on the bike to keep the tank topped up as the race wears on. You don't need a huge tank if you can effectively fuel up while you are underway. The longer rides helps me to develop muscle memory and comfort on the bike while keeping my heart rate in an effective fat burning range.
Our very own Derrek Ivey had a huge result last weekend at the Nationals so we asked him to provide us with a little insight into what its like to Race at an elite level while still maintaining all sort of other commitments!!! Here's what he had to say - Enjoy,
National Canadian Cycling Road Championships
Preparing for the race
In normal circumstances I would have trained in Tuscon during the months of February and March spending 4 to 6 hours a day of riding, participating in at least 20 races.
Due to work commitments, I was unable to train in Tuscon and was limited to 6 races. My employer allowed me to work a reduced work week of three-and-a half days in the three weeks prior to the Nationals in order to train. My training program included 6 – 7 hour ride on Tuesday; a hard interval day on Wednesday; followed by another 6 – 7 hour ride on Thursday; rest Friday and Saturday and then a race on Sunday. I had to extend my rest to two days because I hadn’t built the usual base from winter training in Tucson.
Week leading up to the race
I took the week off of the bike.
The night before
I worked during the day and early evening on the day prior to the race and returned home around 7:00 p.m., where I watched TV while eating copious amounts of Pad Thai, then went to sleep.
The morning of
I awoke at 11:30 a.m. after 12 hours of sleep, ate a steak and cheese sub, packed the car and headed off to the race at 1:30 p.m.
Details of the actual race
The road race was 180.25 kilometres with 14 laps and a category 4 hill climb up Rattle Snake point on the Niagara escarpment. The average speed was 39.5 kilometeres per hour. 178 riders began the race and only 42 finish. I finished in 24th place.
Here is my Garmin Connect file.
The first two laps of the race was the most selective part of the race with Team SpiderTech at the front pulling hard enough to drop 20% of the riders. Each time, I approached the hill, I’d make my way to the front of the pack in order to ensure I would be able to remain with the pack up the hill. At 6’5” and weighing 185 pounds, I pushed an average of 500 watts for 4 minutes while a 140 pound rider pushed 320 watts to achieve the same speed.
Around lap 7 with more than half the field having dropped out of the race already, there was a split at the top of the Rattle Snake climb with an attack through the feed zone. Being that my positioning was not at the front on this lap, I was stuck at the top with poor positioning and ended up in the second part of the split which turned out to be the main field. The winning break was now well up the road and gaining a time advantage over the main field. The pace was still high but the main field would not work together to chase down the winning break as Spyder Tech had 3 riders up the road with a # of their riders still in the main field. It only takes 2 or 3 riders to stop a group from riding efficiently and chasing down a break. It was in Team Spyder Tech’s best interest to allow their 3 riders along with a Bissell Pro Cycling rider to stay away.
During the last lap, I saw an opportunity to break away and came solo into the finish with another rider, Derrick St. John ( who has raced for Canada at the World Championships many times).
The best part of the race was just finishing as I knew that 75% of the field did not make it to the finish. As I had had no spring training or racing in my legs this year compared to years past (except of course for racing my fellow MGCC riders up Brimley or around the Bridle Path J J) it was a food feeling of accomplishment.
After the Race
As I ride back to where the car is parked I don’t feel tired, because I am ecstatic with my result. I quickly get undressed, throwing on the most important recovery tool, my compression tights and down a water bottle filled with Ultragen (first endurance product, amazing!!!) as I pack the car to head home.
Getting home around 11pm I quickly shower and pass out, as I have to be at work in 12hrs. I awake in the morning with a bit of pain seeing how my body is in the wtf stage and wants me to get back to sleep. I quickly eat and pack copious amounts of food for work. The good thing is my Granite Club student is buying a bike so I can get in a bit of a recovery ride with her as she test rides the bike. Usually I would spend 2 hours of the following day spinning my legs out and then resting at home with my legs in the air to further my recovery.
It took me three days to recover from this race instead of just one. In the past I would be riding full time, giving my body the proper time of rest so I may perform at my best and recovery would be faster.
My Future as a Cyclist
Next year I would love to get back to racing full time. I am going to use this result and other results from past races to demonstrate my ability when contacting teams for 2012. July is the time when teams are looking for riders for the following season. So that is what I must do; contact teams and show my interest in hopes of receiving a call back from a professional cycling team which leads to a meeting which leads to a potential contract.
I am working full time this year just to recover my costs from the previous years’ of racing. I am hoping to earn enough money this year to finance Tucson training and racing in 2012. The average annual costs for training and racing for a semi-pro team break out as follows (bikes and clothing are provided by team – all other costs have been shouldered by my #1 fan – my Mom – and myself):
Tucson winter training (airfare, accommodation, meals, parts) $6000
North America Race season travel, accommodation and food $9000
Race entry fees $3000 – $6000
Replacement parts and equipment (tires, tubes, chains) $1500
Total $19,500 – $22,500
I would like to thank the Morning Glory Crew who came out to cheer me on at the Nationals this year. It made a world of difference and gave me that extra bit of drive to make it up the Rattle Snake climb on the 14th and final lap.