by Michael Hast
Praise the LORD and congratulations to Gary and Michael for placing on the podium at the 2017 Arizona State Time Trail (TT) Championship. Congratulations also to our competitors Kevin, Greg and Scott.
We got up early Sunday morning driving to Arizona City. I decided to ride in the 40+ Merckx category because I don't have a TT bike. I also thought to myself, it would be good training for the upcoming Bike the Bluff Cat 3 Road Race Championship, staying in the aero position as long as I could. Gary started in the Cat 4 category.
My goal was to keep my threshold power as steady as I could. I have never raced with a power meter before and knew that it would be challenging to keep that power up. Right before the race I remember that I hadn't calibrated my power meter and in the rush of heading to the start line, the calibration failed. Well, I should have done this at warmup. Once I started, my Garmin showed nothing for power. I thought to myself, well, the power meter battery must have died, even though I just replaced it 2 weeks ago. Ok, heart rate it is. I started out hard, my heart rate went into race zone and I started to wonder if I am pushing it too hard. I caught the rider who started 30 seconds ahead of me in my category fairly soon. That gave me even more reason to speculate if I am hitting it too hard. After passing the rider, boom, power data was showing again.
Calibrated or not, I was glad it was back and now I focused on my threshold power. It was very hard to stay at that number, the bumpy road, the perceived head wind, the fatigue. I was very glad to see the turn around point. I passed a few riders on the way to the turn around, but after that no more passing. That made it much harder going back, even though there was no head nor tail wind. I saw Brandon and Jesse who raced in the Merckx Under 40 category in the far distance, but never made any gain on them. It is alway nice to have a target ahead of you. I tried to stay as aero as possible on my road bike, continuing to focus on my power data. After 1:02:26 I crossed the finish line, winning the Merckx 40+ category.
#togodbetheglory #howihammer #christiancyclingtucson #christiancycling #timetrails #arizonastatechampionship
by Buzz Wright
The TBC time trial is my favorite kind of time trial. A short one. There are some things that I hope they will change about this TT for next year though -- removing the climb, making the course a loop instead of a point-to-point, changing it from a distance-based event to time-based and having multiple laps of the loop done, switching it to a mass-start style and allow drafting, and for fun including a few special laps in there to sprint for prizes.
Ah yes, now that would actually be fun. The opposite of riding as hard as you can, puking nonstop for a couple hours, and then learning that you placed 40th, almost 2 minutes slower than the leader. Yuck.
My legs hurt and I was tired, but at least the road race allowed drafting. The plan was to stay near the front, conserve energy for the first two laps, and then work hard on the final lap to help Gary and Jimmy finish well. Gary dropped a bottle on the first lap so I told him to let me know if he needed fluids and I would share. The first lap was pretty tame until we got to the climb, where the pace pushed me into the red. I was able to fall back through the group though during the climb to minimize the pain.
We were going through the rollers section prior to turning back down Helmet Peak when I realized that Gary was off the back of the group. I looked at him and then looked at the front of the group, then back at him and tried to quickly decide what to do. I opted to fall off the group a bit to give Gary a sort of bridge to get back on. He wasn't too far and I felt a short strong effort would be all that was needed for him to make it back. I sat up and motioned for him to jump up to me. After about 30 seconds I looked back at the group and realized that there was a bit of a surge and the gap between the group and me was growing. I got nervous and looked back at Gary, then back at the group. I realized that my better option would be to get back in the group and try to help Jimmy, but after about a minute of chasing them I decided to sit up and wait for Gary so we could work together to try to catch them on Helmet Peak.
My indecision during that period essentially ended my race. Once we turned on HP I got to work trying super hard to regain contact with the group. We could see them up the road about 20 seconds ahead of us. My hope was they would take the descent somewhat easy (like we did on the first lap) -- but even though we were 30 seconds faster than the first time with the group on that segment, Gary and I were unable to catch them. The gap before we turned on La Canada was probably around 10 seconds. Once on flat land I was pretty gassed and told Gary we wouldn't be able to catch them. We continued to work hard together for the remainder of the race, making sure we stayed away from anyone who was behind us and hoping to be able to pick up a few guys as we went along.
It was pretty hot and with Gary missing a bottle we were in need of more fluids. When we passed through the feed zone on the final lap I yelled out for neutral bottles and was able to get three (thanks Jelly Belly). Turned out that Gary wasn't able to get any bottles so it was a good thing I grabbed three. We hydrated and pushed on, finishing in the same time as the race last year (but doing so without the assistance of the main group) -- the competition this year is definitely stronger.
The circuit race is a lot of fun and I was looking forward to it. Plan was the same but my legs were pretty much dead so I focused on conserving as much energy as I could with the hope that I wouldn't lose contact with the group. I moved up when the pace was easy and slid back with things got hard. This worked pretty well but on lap three I had trouble holding wheels and ended up about 3 bike lengths back during the rollers leading up to the finishing climb. I knew the pace would be hard up the climb and I was going to blow myself up trying to jump back up to the group so I looked back to see if there was anyone else I could work with. Turned out Stephen with Carlos O'Brien's was there with another rider. I sat up and waited for them and then the three of us traded pulls for a lap to attempt to get back in the group. Stephen and I ended up dropping the other rider and continued working together but without much hope of reaching the group.
Despite being dropped again it was a fun day of racing. Stephen and I worked hard and finished strong, though our placings weren't that great. Michael held onto his 3rd place spot on the GC so that was very cool. I look forward to this race next year and hopefully will have enough fitness next time to be more of a help for my teammates.
Buzz in the circuit race (photo by Damion Alexander)
by Coul Hill
The 2016 Valley of the Sun stage race is in the books. I started the weekend very well, as the race leader, by winning the time trial!
Then came Saturday, which brought me a whole new world of experience: a defense only style of road racing. With the leader’s jersey on my shoulders, and no team either, I found that I not only had no friends in the peloton, but that no offensive maneuver on my part would be allowed. There were a few guys, like 2 or 3, that tried to work with me, but anything with me in it was quickly wrapped up by a plethora of blockers whose seemingly only mission on the day was to hold me back. So, a break away did get up the road. It was not a group all at once, but an eclectic set of one and two guys at a time…the only ones I didn’t chase. I chased most of everything, but it wasn’t enough. In the future, in the same situation, I’d need to chase everything without exception.
Anyway, I stayed with the group until the last climb (about mile 90 or so), when as we started to ascend, another rider took out my front wheel in an aggressive maneuver, seemingly intentional, that slowed my momentum and cost me about 15 bike lengths. I dug in to catch the momentum of the group and then about 30 seconds later there was a big crash right in front of me which forced me to brake and go around it (still on the climb) and thus had me finish about 39 seconds behind pack. My 9/10 of a second lead turned to a 1:51 deficit that had me in 14th place overall headed into the final race, the criterium.
I had a good strategy lined up for the crit, and as we were in the opening turns I was making good progress up the pack (having started in the very back), when on our third lap I was on an inside corner and I needed only an inch to get past a curb, but the other rider (who had many inches to give) would not budge, thus causing a large crash with me, him, and about a half dozen other guys.
We jumped back to the pit, checked in with the ref, and got reinserted on the following lap. From that point on I really struggled, I mean HARD, to stay with the pack. My wattage was really high, but I couldn’t get past the back of the pack. So, I finished with the pack (back of the pack pack-fodder) and thus received a pack time, but it wasn’t until after the race that I discovered that both my wheels had been knocked out of true in the crash. My front wheel was hard on the brake pad for about 90% of each rotation and my rear was also having some rub action as well. I effectively rode to a pack finish while essentially riding my brakes the whole time. That’s a good workout. At any rate, despite sub-par finishes on Saturday and Sunday, I managed to hold on to 14th overall for the weekend which sends me home with 2 upgrade points as a consolation prize. That, and of course, Friday’s victory—my first win of 2016, AND a leader’s jersey. I didn’t get the big win, but huge off season gains are evident and I’m excited to be looking down the barrel of a strong 2016 campaign.
It was a great weekend. I’m thankful for the victory, the experience in the leader’s jersey, the upgrade points, protection amidst the crash, minimal bike damage, my Christian Cycling comrades from Tucson, my wife, my mother-and-father-in-law and my dad who came to see us here in Phoenix. I’m thankful for solid coaching that has already paid huge dividends. I’m thankful that I’m not satisfied—I am hungry for victory and I will prepare accordingly to achieve it. I’m thankful for the salvation that Christ gave me freely, how that so radically changed my life, and that God has blessed me with drive, determination, discipline, and ability to do this and excel; I pray that I use those gifts to bring honor and glory to Him. Also, I’m thankful, blessed, and honored to have the incredible support of my loving wife and best friend, Collene Hill.
by Ken Huizenga
This race was a must do for me as I really enjoyed it in 2015 and wanted another chance to mark some improvement in my Cycling. I had my Training Peaks Calendar fully filled out for January to be in the best form ever for this race. VOS was to put this to the test.
The best laid plans do not always work out. I fought a month long cold for much of January and my lungs took a while to heal from it. I did try to force the body to train, but all I did forcing the issue was set myself back. Not being one to quit, I still did sign up the race and gave it a shot.
The weather could not be more perfect. No wind, sunny and 65 degrees. I started off shooting for FTP and focused on steady power. I wanted to be careful to not blow up on the uphill first section. I was 1:10 ahead of last year at the half way point. I made the turn and mentally was ready to empty the tank. My speed increased and I felt ready to push hard to the line. I miscalculated my effort and when I hit the 3km to go sign I had about emptied the tank. I struggle a few more remaining minutes and crossed the line empty.
I was :22 faster than last year and sat 22nd out of 27. Not great and definitely not as well as I had hoped. All I could take from this effort is that I had improved over last year, but again proved that a few weeks missing from my planned training had hurt this effort a ton.
The starting line was the first time I saw the group of guys in the Cat 5 group. My first impression was that there was a lot of youth this year. My racing age is 50 this year and the one thing I lack is twenty year old energy. I sensed that I was in trouble.
After a longer than normal neutral start, we were off. I was happy to have stayed attached to the group at the end of the first climb. Upon the start of lap two, they turned it up a notch. I stayed within eyesight of the peloton but slowly started to fall back. I was hoping to have a few guys to work with but seemed I was in the middle of two groups, kind of flying solo. I knew at some point this was going to be a mental game so I settled into a manageable power range and just keep a strong tempo. I finished strong with a guy from the 50+ masters and was happy with my effort. All in all I had some personal bests and enjoyed the race.
I was in the first group and racing was to begin at 7:15 am. Many of us were out warming up on the course even before the sun came up. Today I felt strong and confident. The race started and I saw 230 Watts pretty constantly for the first few laps. I faded to the back third of the pack. It was comfortable there. The GC Leader was back there beside me most of the race as he had an 8 minute lead and wanted to stay out of trouble. I encouraged him to get in front of me as I did not want to in anyway interfere with in carrying out his plan. He said he was comfortable with me and to carry on, so with this off my mind I continued to work. About 20 minutes in, the group was pushing 240 watts and things were picking up. I began to think for the first time about what I was going to to on the last lap. This was a different mental place to be for me because i’m usually a little off pace by now. Was I actual going to contend for the final sprint?
The last lap bell rang and I was hanging on the main pack. We were down to the last 4 turns. I felt the pack begin to slip as they put on a surge and off they went. They put about 20 yards on me with a 325 watt burst. I did not have that in my tank at this point. I fell back about 30 seconds and finished strong as I could. This day I was close but the kids did me in. Oh to be young again. I felt good about my effort and the progress I had made. Overall it was a great trip and three awesome days of racing. Thanks to my teammates for their continuing encouragement and congratulations to Coul for grabbing a leaders jersey. Thank You Collene for all the great photos including the one below!
by Buzz Wright
Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love TTs. This one in particular was incredibly exciting due to its complex course design, technically challenging terrain, and the unlimited number of available team tactics that would no doubt be a huge factor.
First, we lined up in numerical order and waited for our turn to climb up some stairs onto the platform. It was really, really, really cool to figure out where my place would be in the line. Once it was my turn, one of the officials held my bike steady while I clipped into my pedals, which was awesome. I clipped into the left pedal first and then the right one, which is exactly how I had planned on doing it while rehearsing it waiting in line. Another official gave me the 10-second warning and them counted me down from five. It. Was. Such. An. Epic. Count. Down.
Buzz about to do what he truly loves
Coming down the ramp from the platform is extraordinarily dangerous but I'm happy to report that I did not crash. Once I was safely on flat road I consulted the TT plan I had taped to my top tube. It read, "Start, ride, turn, ride, stop." I did some quick math in my head and determined that I should be in "ride" mode. So that's what I did.
After [who cares] minutes I arrived at quite possibly the most exhilarating, thought-intensive, tactically challenging portion of this particular TT. The turn. Luckily I had poured over the TT section of the Technical Guide and knew, without a doubt, that I would be making a right turn. This is where things got really dicey for me and I almost made a huge, enormous, gigantic error.
Apparently, in my excitement for the TT I had misread the Technical Guide and did not realize that the turn would be to the left. Fortunately though, there were around a dozen course officials with red flags yelling and pointing for me to turn left. My mind raced as I immediately assessed the situation, made a swift course correction on the fly, quickly re-positioned my body in order to take the turn on the most optimal line, and just completely railed that corner. It. Was. Oh. So. Thrilling.
I checked my top tube notes once again to see if I was at the "stop" part yet or not. I was supremely delighted to find that I still had another "ride" portion to thoroughly enjoy. So again, I rode.
Unfortunately though, all good things must come to an end. And for me, this meant only getting to experience [embarrassingly high number] minutes of this amazing TT. I crossed the finish line to thunderous applause and what appeared to be a penguin marching band. I consulted the top tube notes once again, and proceeded to "stop" just as I had planned. I learned many new things during the TT and am very happy with my performance in almost perfectly executing my plan to start, ride, turn, ride, and then stop.
All joking aside, TTs are tough and kudos to the guys that actually do well in them. I am very proud that Coul took 1st in the Cat 2 TT.
Buzz really, really enjoying life (photo by Collene Hill)
My legs were a bit sore from the TT and after my mediocre performance in the Oracle road race I didn't have much hope for this one. Luckily the climb isn't very long and I thought that I would be able to hang with the group until the last lap. Unfortunately, even though I positioned myself at the front when the climbing began and then drifted back during it, I did not have enough strength to maintain contact and ended up in a chase group of around 15 guys. I was happy though that both Jimmy and Gary where in the chase group with me. We tried for a bit to catch back up to the main group but it became apparent that it would not happen.
I was red-lined again up the climb, losing contact with the chase group but able to get back on during the descent. The final time up the climb I did my best to hold a decent position but didn't have the strength to avoid being at the back when we crossed the line. I figured I would be a few spots up from dead last but to my surprise was 37th out of 53. My lap times were 3% faster than last year and my average power was 26% higher which suggests that the competition in the 4's this year is pretty dang strong this season.
Napping after the road race
After a very fun 4th place finish in this crit last year, I had high hopes for a decent race this year. While my fitness/strength is still not back to where it should be, I felt I would be able to hang with the group for the duration. Unfortunately there was some pretty poor decisions made by other racers (one in particular) during the crit, which caused multiple crashes -- one of which took out Gary. I was agitated and frustrated with 3 laps to go but was able to get into a decent position for the final lap. The group slowed and bunched up though and I fell back without much desire to regain my position. I was sitting 15-20 back for the final corner but sprinted anyway, taking 17th out of 47. I was happy that I had done pretty well in the race but was upset with what had happened to Gary.
Overall it was a fun weekend of racing with great friends. It was a blast to see Coul again and I can't wait for this race next year.
Carb-loading at Buca di Beppo
by Ken Huizenga
I enjoy the Time Trial series because it forces me to keep my training up in the hottest summer months. I had done the 30K Three Bears in the past but I felt it was time to try doing both 20K segments this year. With the heat of the summer, I found myself losing weight. Along with the weight coming off my power numbers were slipping as well. This was going to be some interesting data. Was being lighter going to make me faster or were the lower power numbers going to keep everything the same?
I did the first TT back on Aug 2nd. The way out I metered myself as not to blow up too early. My plan was then to pour it on after the half way turn. I had definitely totally emptied my tank and was hoping for at a minimum, for a third place finish. I came in 4th with teammates Jimmy and JJ finishing ahead of me. My power numbers freighted me, only 226 watts. This is down from 245 earlier in the year. UGH!
With some advice from Coach Buzz I set out to change a few bad training habits and worked a bit harder and smarter. I had about three weeks to improve before repeating everything in TT #2. I did harder intervals and more Power focused workouts. After two hard weeks of training as well as the added work stress, I was exhausted. I spent the week before doing a lot of spinning and doing leg openers sessions to keep myself rested and loose.
TT #2 now arrived. I felt strong and ready. This time I was pushing it the whole way. I saw power numbers in the 250-260 range the whole way out. I was stoked! At the turn around I took two deep breaths and settled into my aero position as tight as I could. In the past this meant a tailwind and high speeds. Today there was more of a crosswind, and this proved more difficult than I expected. Still I pedaled with everything I could muster. At the 1K to go make I looked down at my time hoping to see about 31 minutes elapsed. I saw 32:30. I probably should not have looked. I was spent and now was mentally beat. I finished the last 500 meters but I’m sure I had let off a bit. Good news was that I had improved. My wattage increased by 10, I had cut off 30 seconds and finally had an average speed of over 22mph on a flat TT course. All bests for me. The not as good news was that I was still 4th and even after working hard, I now know the discipline this is going to take to win at this level. I sure have a long way to go. This was a great learning experience. Thanks to my IC3 Teammates Jimmy, Gary and JJ. You guy’s rocked it! Also thanks to Coach Buzz for your candor and advice.
by Jimmy Davis
I was really looking forward to this particular race because I had made some changes from the previous race which was on the same course. I wanted to see if I was able to produce a better product this time. When I arrived at the race I was glad to see Ken was already there and Gary arrived just ahead of me. It was not long before a JJ arrived and we started getting our bicycles and gear ready. On this race I wanted to make sure that I got a proper warm up at least 20 minutes on the spinner. As the time got closer I started to warm up and I felt pretty good, raising my heart rate several times on the spinning machine as I got ready to go. Soon Gary, Ken and JJ we're off to the race and when my time came I got ready to go and I had to adjust my helmet because I had tried to find a way to listen to music. While I was adjusting my helmet I heard the race director call my name and I thought "Oh no, did I miss my start time?" Yes I did! As I came up to the line the race directors told me you're going to pull up to the line... as soon as you get to the line then you can then take off; I took off probably 30 seconds late.
My heart rate was beating out of my chest as I had a lot of nervous energy from being late to the start line. Soon I noticed that I was catching the guy in front of me, then I caught another then another and I started thinking to myself that I needed to go ahead and calm down and get into my rhythm. There seemed to be a cross-head wind on the way out, I kept looking down at my power meter, my mph and my heart rate and I could see that I was not at the place that I wanted to be. However, I just tried to maintain my power until I got to the turn around. On the way back it seemed like the headwind wasn't as much of a tail wind as I was expecting after turning around. So, I decided to try to just maintain my power and my rpm as best as I could on the way back. When the race was over me and my teammates sat and talked for quite a while about the race then we went to go see the results if they were posted. When we looked at the posted result it turns out that I had taken first place. I was very happy because now I'm the Arizona time trial points leader in Cat 5 and no one can catch me now as there is only one more race that counts towards the points. I'm very happy! Now I plan on moving up to Cat 4 after the state time trial championships in September. All in all it was a great time trials season.
by JJ Schmidt
After being so close to 2nd on the last one, I was determined to be at least 4 sec. faster. I got my aero helmet on Friday and figured that was good for at least 4 sec. Once again I was looking forward to racing with Gary, Jimmy and Ken. Jimmy sent a link about pacing with power, and since I now have a power meter I thought I would give it a try. I got there on time and was glad to see that the others were already there. I got ready and headed out to warm up. When I went to the starting line Ken must have just left and Gary was about to go. There were two riders between Gary and me. Jimmy was quite a few behind me so I wasn't expecting too see him yet. I started out hard and passed the rider in front of me before the first 1K, I passed a second rider before the 5k mark. I kept an eye on my power and tried to concentrate on keeping my head down and not being all over the road. I was determine to take the turn better this time. I came in faster this time, but clearly I need more practice turning around. After turning the corner I must have been a little off balance because when I stood up my back tire lifted up. Luckily I recovered and tried to keep my pace steady till the last 1K when I gave it all I had. For the first time nobody passed me ( luckily Jimmy started out way behind me and Gary and Ken were in front of me). I managed to shave 45 seconds off my previous time and grabbed second place. It was a good day for IC3 and I'm proud to be part of the team!
by JJ Schmidt
I was looking forward to this time trial, because three of my teammates were
also doing it. We all started within a few minutes of each other. I started out quickly trying to get my speed up, then tried to settle in where my HR was about 175. I was able to pass two people in front of me but got passed myself at the 5K mark. I was able to keep my concentration up and only spaced out for a couple of seconds. I slowed down too soon for the turn, but hit it hard to get my speed back up. Two more riders passed me after the turn, but I didn't mind because it was Gary and then Jimmy. I passed a couple more riders before getting passed once again myself. At the 1K mark I started to give it everything I had left which got me third place, 1 point in the TT series and a new max heart rate of 197. I was only 4 second behind the second place finisher. I analyzed that one all day. I was pretty happy with my finish and proud of my team! Jimmy and Gary both took first and Ken was right behind me in fourth. I would also like to thank Robert for coming out and supporting us.
by JJ Schmidt
I was pretty excited about this time trial when Jimmy described it as a 30 mph downhill TT. I wasn't convinced that I could maintain 30+ mph for 12 miles, But I was excited to try. Ken was nice enough to pick me up that morning and give me a ride in his nice new truck. Ken proceeded to tell me that no one had made the 30 mph mark since 2012 because of the wind. Ugh, I hate the wind. We got there early and Ken drove us a few miles down the course to give me an idea what it was like, and the wind did not seem too bad. But ... as race time got closer the wind picked up and it was a steady head wind the whole race. It was a little frustrating for me due to the wind but I pushed myself pretty hard and both Ken and I did pretty well. I was glad that my family met us at the bottom to give us a ride back up the hill. It wasn't everything I was hoping for, but I had a great time racing with Ken.