Saturday, March 29, 2014

SSAP Race Simulation for Early Muni Start

The mountain bike races I've been to space out the different categories of riders by starting them from fastest to slowest.  This avoids a lot of passing.  At last year's Singlespeed-a-Palooza race, the unicycles started after everyone else, which made sense.  Unfortunately because the unicyclists are slower, we (Claude, the only muni to finish) finished after the awards ceremony.  Unlike last year, this year there is an actual unicycle class, and so the top three unicyclists are to receive rewards.  Logically, the race coordinator wants the unicyclists to finish at a reasonable time so awards for all categories can be given together.  So the plan this year is to start the muni riders one hour early.

This makes sense to help us finish on time, but it has a negative side.  Even with a one hour head start, at some point during the race nearly every one of the 250+ mountain bikers will pass us!

To see how this might play out, I created an application to loop the riders through.  I had actually used this app way back before doing my first races.  This time I used the 2013 SSAP results but started Claude an hour early.  I also put a GPS track of the race from RideWithGPS right next to help show where passing will happen.  I find it a bit overwhelming.  I'm not sure it really changes anything for me, but at least I have a guess of when people will start passing, and that it will basically last the whole race.

Here's a video showing my simulation:

I've been to a fair number of races that had laps and although I start behind the mountain bikers, I do end up getting lapped in these races.  It has always worked out and I've been assured I wasn't a bother.  But many times there isn't room for them to pass.  I listen for approaching riders and dismount and step to the side when I'd be in their way.  This takes time.  And very often before I can remount there's another rider approaching, and another, so I wait.  And then I see another a bit further back in the woods so I ride some more before dismounting again.  And it repeats.  Sometimes there's room for passing, and sometimes I can just pull over and hold a tree.  A few times I've idled off to the side.

If on average a passing rider costs me 5 seconds, and there were 250 riders passing, that would slow me down by more than 20 minutes!

Last year Claude finished in 4 hours. I don't think I can ride as fast as Claude.  This year muni riders start at 8am and awards start at 12:30.  So maybe I CAN do it in 4.5 hours?  But what about the delays from passing?  The race coordinator says, "If we have favorable conditions there will be a 12 noon cutoff limit at the 21 mile mark...if you get there after 12 noon you are welcome to finish but will receive a dnf."  That's only a 5.25 mph pace, so it generally seems doable.  But this course isn't so easy.

I'm at least comforted a bit by "if we have favorable conditions".  That's been another worry of mine.  I expect the trails around here will still be a muddy mess in two weeks.  That can slow a unicycle down to walking and the race will absolutely suck.  If there is mud, I think the last half of the race will be much different than the first.  First we'll have nearly untouched trails and then we'll have a trail churned up by 250+ bikers.  I'm not sure which will be better.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Training at the Big Field

An example snowy ice patch
Training for the Singlespeed-a-Palooza has been tough.  I need to ride a lot, but this has been the longest winter since the ice age and spring is only just starting to show itself.  I continue to work out but less regimented than Insanity.  Each day I've just been choosing a workout routine I feel like doing.  I've done some P90X, Insanity, and some good  routines from Fitness Blender.

Today started out way below freezing but this afternoon it rose into the 40's.   I took some time off from work and rode.  The wooded trails are all still very snow covered and icy, and I figured the Gosnell Big Field trail would probably be clear because it gets more sun.  Unfortunately there were long patches of snow and ice that I'd say made up about 25% of the trail.  The Big Field trail is not much fun to begin with, and trying to make it through snow made it worse.  Dustin joined my ride, so at least I had someone to complain to.

Last night I did Fitness Blender's "Brutal HITT Ladder Workout".  This one really burns the quads and takes some serious willpower to get through at full intensity.   My quads were screaming at me for the first few laps of the Big Field, and I assume it's because of this workout.   On the latter half of my ride my lower back was especially screaming.  Dustin mentioned the same.  It might be the bumpy nature of this trail that causes us to make a lot of micro balance adjustments as we ride.  I rode my 29er and left in in low gear, since the wheel I'll use for the race will only have that.  I rode 7 miles with a bunch of dismounts and several breaks to talk with Dustin.  That's not exactly good training, but better than nothing.

There are only about two weeks left before the race.  The race is just south of Poughkeepsie and their weather is likely comparable to ours, but I hope they've gotten less snow this winter.  If the race was around here, the trails would not be in good condition for racing in two weeks.  Muddy at best.
Bad trail conditions will make the race slower and more difficult.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Insanity Completed

I'm sad to say I haven't been out riding for over two weeks now.  I'm gonna have to ride somewhere soon despite the poor conditions.  In less than five weeks I'll be racing 25 miles.  That's kind of a scary thought.

I have been continuing with my Insanity workouts and tonight I finished!  It took me 76 days instead of 63.
Here are my excuses:  5 muni days, 1 snowshoe day, 1 sledding day, 2 days I did the fit test on one day and the workout on the next instead of combined, 2 days of added rest, and 3 sick days.  I'm very much content with these reasons.

I impressed myself with my progress in the fit tests.  I remember in the second week feeling like there wasn't gonna be much room for improvement, but I exceeded those numbers significantly.

If only I could ride my trails to see how I feel.  Am maintaining my endurance or not?  Am I weaker or stronger?

What's next?  I'm not sure.  Maybe start Insanity over?  Mix it up with some other routines?  Hopefully I'll be riding more too.