Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Bike Course

I  thought i would do a bit of a detailed section on the bike course and some tips and key points i feel that you need to go quick. The bike course here often get over looked by athletes wanting to go fast mainly due to the difficulty of the final run. Whats interesting is at an elite level the race is often won on the bike here. Firstly I will say you need to be “bike race fit” and not “tri bike fit”. By that I mean this course has lots of pace and power changes, even the long climbs are not very constant with there gradients. there is a whole lot of little, steep rollers that force you punch over them. Even if you don't really punch over the rollers by just having the ability to your legs will be fresher for that final run.

The course itself is made up of a 50km lap with between 500 and 600m of climbing that you do 3 times. Roads are generally smooth and they are pretty fast. There is 3 main climbs that are fairly steep which are followed by generally shallow descents which you will have to pedal down to keep any speed up. It for that reason why a TT/Tri bike is a key here. I will say this is the first course I’ve rode where i have felt electronic shifting would be extremely beneficial to going quick. Climbs are always changing gradient and being to shift on the base bars as well as under load will mean its easy to be in the right gear at the right time, not only saving a little time on the bike but possibly also on the second run as you shouldn't get caught pushing to big a gear. I personally break the lap into 7 sections based on key geographical markers

Section 1 is the first 8km of the loop to the base of the first climb. Once out of town your on a false flat climb with a few rollers thrown in. Theres a nice long straight section where you can do the Tony Martin head bob. Its fairly easy to keep the pace high without wasting to much juice depending on wind.

Section 2 is the first main climb 4.7km with a 3% ave gradient. This climb is pretty quick for the first half then kick up through the trees the last 1.5km. Once over the top you hit the next section which is a descent to the base of the next climb, Starts of steep and quick the flattens out with a few little rises along the way to slow things down.

Climb 1
Section 4 is the Bodenberg. This climb is a leg killer, 4.5km 5.2% ave max of 15%. Don't be fooled by the 5.2% average, this climb you are ether at less 2% or above 8%. This climb is where your bike fitness comes into play. the last part of the climb is pretty fast and can make up some time if you can push it over the top. 
The Bodenberg
 Next up is section 5 which is also the longest section, a 13.5km descent. At the very top of the climb there a section just over a km long at -7% although you cant hit it to hard as its twists left and right the whole way with a tight right hander to finish it off meaning a lot of you speed gained is washed straight off. The next 12km to finish the section off is at a -1.7% average. This is one of the key sections where riding a TT bike and Disk has a large advantage. This section also has a lot of little steep rollers that act like speed bumps, killing any speed you have.

Now its time for the final main climb, about 2km long. Its a fast climb through as you twist through a forest. This is the only climb with a consistent gradient which is at about 4%. Once over the top of that its around 11km back to the start of the loop. Its pretty much downhill for the first 6km then there is a larger roller then a couple of small rollers in the last 2km.

The Final Climb

So there you have it a lap of the Powerman Zofingen bike course.


4 Days To Go!

Hay Hay,

As I'm sitting here writing this are first thunderstorm has just rolled in. Today was my last key training session before the race. Only ended up being a 50km ride but there was a bit of race pace thrown in there. Legs were all but over the plane trip and its still 4 days out from race day so timing was perfect for me to open up the legs a bit. I know this may seem close to the race for some people but for me personally I do best with a short solid hit out around 4-5 days out on the bike. The whole idea was to do all 3 climbs at race power output as well parts of the other section of the course. Legs felt good, power was there on the climbs and more importantly legs recovered quickly between efforts which will become very important and key to going quick on race day. Tomorrow I have a easy ride and a short run planned. Parts of Team USA have showed up at are hotel and by the looks of things are using it as there base. They have a 50km group ride planned tomorrow so might try to tag along with them so i can sit in for a bit.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hello From Zofingen

Hey all, I’ve been in Zofingen for just over a day now. All my gear made it here nice and safe which is great. Weathers been ideal since getting here 24 degrees the first day and 30 today. The hotel we are staying in is really nice with supper friendly staff that were very apologetic that are room was not ready when we showed up 3hrs before cheek in opened. We were pretty quick to explain that we didn't care about that all we wanted to do was dump all are stuff there. The town itself is a mix of old and new. Right in the center of town it is all old euro style building with cobbled streets. The Hotel is only a few hundred meters from the race venue which will make staggering back to my room after the race that little bit easier. 

Yesterday I went out and did a bit of a recon run over both the 1st and 2nd run courses. These runs are going to be interesting. The legs felt pretty ordinary but was expected as it was my first session off the plane. Pacing is going to be hard to get right and going to be totally off feel. going up hill you can be running as slow as 7min/k pace while still working fairly hard then your running 3:30 pace with HR in zone one. Straight out of the start of the first run there is a 1.5km climb that progressively gets steeper as it goes until you head off the road and onto a forest path then its undulating for the next km then its downhill back to the transition area. The 1.5-2km back to transition is also the first bit of the second run whic is an out and back course. I played it smart and just picked up the second run course from there, after all it is taper week and the less uphill running I do the better. From there you continue uphill for another 1km then its undulating through the forest all the way out to the turn around still mainly of these forest tracks with a little on roads and paths. The course at the far end lops back on it self a fair bit so was able to cut a few km off coming back into town. The surface of these forest tracks are nice. It seems to be a clayey soil as a base with small stone pressed into it which makes for a fast yet forgiving surface. 

Today I headed out for my first look at the bike course. The course is tough hard climbs with long shallow descents that mean you are going to be working the whole time. The road surface is fast and smooth, worth around 1-3kph compared to most of the roads I train on back home which is a nice little bonus. the course like the run pretty much contains no flat sections, even when you think it is flat its really a false flat climbing or descending. Legs were still not the best from the trip so kept the body in first gear on the ride except on the Bodenberg where I opened the legs up to a race pace effort. Legs felt pretty good climbing which is a plus. The Bodenberg itself is a beast 4.5km long 5.2% ave gradient max of 15%. The gradient is always changing, one min your at 11kph and the next your at 30kph. the first 1-2km off the Bodenberg is the one of the few places you get to rest as you go through a few left right combos.

Thats all for now, will do another update in the next day or 2


Friday, August 24, 2012

Its Finally Time

Wow its here, tomorrow night I fly out to Switzerland to undertake what is the first real race as a multisport athlete, Powerman Zofingen. Its been a long, challenging road that I’ve been down these last 10 months since deciding that I was going to undertake this massive change and do this race. The biggest thing going through my head right now is am I ready, which to be perfectly honest with myself I’m as ready as I can be for this years race. The pieces are starting to come together. Legs have felt good these past few sessions and all meaningful training is all finished. Now its all up to what I can put down on race day.

The last 10 months has been a massive change for for me personally. I made the decision to move away from cycling and into multisport. Sure having 3 solid seasons behind me as a cyclist has helped but its really chalk and cheese. Biggest thing has been teaching my body how to run again, big cyclist legs and running fast over a long distance are 2 things that don’t work that well together. Its not just the running but that I’ve had to change but also my cycling abilities changing my body from from being able to jump out of corners every 15 sec at max effort to being able to put out a smoother, less erratic power distribution.

Now you might ask what the hell is Powerman Zofingen? Well pretty much is the biggest longest duathlon. 10km run, 150km bike and a 30km run to finish off with plenty of elevation change over all 3 segments. I’ll go more into the race and its details over the next few posts. People ask why this race and I usually say because I can. To me personally this race will always be bigger than what Kona is. I first saw this race as a 10 year old on TV and even since has been the top of races I’ve wanted to do. It was the first race that I ever saw that i could be good at in multi sport, no swim, long distance, and just plan hard. So hard in fact that the great Mark Allan is on the record as saying this was the hardest race he’s done. This race is hard for the exact opposite reasons as Kona. Kona is known for the heat and the wind, Zofingen is know for the cold, rain and hills.

Thats all for now, time to finish packing everything up then to spend 24hrs or so in transit

Until then