Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bike Pack Riding Rules - Read on Sara McLarty's blog, courtesy of Hal

Here is Hal's outlook...

You can't have been at Lakemont last Saturday and not have known of the horrific crash that occurred in the first group as they sped along SR 434 west of the Greeneway. An experienced and strong ASV team rider who was directly behind the leader went into a tuck position on a bike with aero bars. His front wheel touched the back wheel of the lead rider at 33+ mph sending him into the pavement face-first. Ten to twelve more riders went down; most were able to get up, dust themselves off and continue (some only discovered injuries after getting home). Unfortunately, the rider directly behind the guy who caused the accident did not fare as well. He broke four (4) ribs, chipped his scapula, has horrible road rash and, worst of all, sustained a collapsed lung. He was air-lifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center after the Winter Springs Police shut down the highway.

When something like his happens, it requires us to assess how we got here. Speed is a drug -- it's no surprise that people show up for their weekly fix and Lakemont has become the most popular ride in central Florida. Unfortunately, along with the popularity has come a large degree of danger which, when exacerbated by bad choices, results in very bad consequences. Anarchy reigns if the groups fail to police themselves. Seasoned cyclists have traditionally admonished newbies for dangerous or just plain stupid practices. That guidance has been lacking for awhile at Lakemont and cannot continue.

So that there's no question, here are the three (3) rules that have to be enforced by everyone or my association with this circus is over:

1. You must wear a helmet; this rule is violated rarely but, when it happens, it always seems to be by an "experienced" rider that I'm supposed to look up to or is regarded as "too cool" to confront;

2. You cannot wear earplugs and listen to your iPod or put one of those stupid phone thingies in your ear; we need your full attention to the task at hand; if you need more stimulation than Lakemont dishes out, you are not someone I want to ride with; and,

3. You cannot go into a tuck position on any handlebar/aero bar arrangement that limits your ability to control your bike and access your brakes; a standard road bike arrangement is the ideal; you may use a time trial/triathlon bike only so long as your hands remain spaced evenly with your shoulders and are immediately ready to access your brakes; to do less is to endanger yourself and everyone that rides behind you. Exceptions: you can go into a tuck only if (1) you find yourself at the front and must impress us; or (2) you are at the back and can only hurt yourself if you lose control.

I don't care how "good" or "safe" or "strong" you think you are. If you do not believe, in good faith, that you can adhere to these rules, you have no regard for the people that you ride with. This is not about you, it's about the group. I have no doubt that the rider who caused the crash last week was completely convinced (ignorantly so) of his superiority. I have great sympathy for him, for his injuries and for the fact that he's got to live with the terrible consequences to his teammate.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Things I learned - Leave your shoes on your bike

* Leave your bike shoes on the bike

All last season I thought that there were advantages to putting your bike shoes on while you were not moving. I didn't think that you lost that much time and that running with shoes on through rough dirt would make up for it. It also gave me a chance to clean any sand off my feet before I put my shoes on.

I've learned now that every second you are moving forward, even if it's not very fast because you are putting shoes on, you are still moving in a forward direction. This also applies to when you are getting off the bike. If you have to spend time messing with your shoes while you are not moving, you are wasting precious seconds.

Also I haven't had that many problems with dirt in my shoes. I think the worst was during a beach race and it wasn't that bad.

The biggest reason that I waited so long in my season to do this is that I had to get new shoes, ones that would not interfere with the operation of my bike. In time gained this one has been huge. There were more than a few races that I was behind someone coming out of the water and then never saw them again after I got on the bike.

The differences between triathlon bike shoes and regular bike shoes is that the velcro opens in the opposite direction and most tri shoes only have one strap.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Should drafting be legal

Like many I have developed an opinion on this. If you bike at all with a group, then you've practiced drafting. Once you get to a triathlon, it's illegal, unless you are a pro and racing an ITU race (Which only seem to happen internationally)

So the question came up to the message boards. If there was a draft legal race, would you race in it? I let my thoughts be heard. The thread can be found at

Yes I would race in a draft legal race, but a couple points to note.

Rookies should not be allowed in draft races, there is a lot to think about in your first couple races and drafting should not be one of them. I think there should be an advanced amateur division where you have to have say a minimum of 9 races or 3 top AG finishes under you belt. In bike racing they have 5 levels, although all of them are able to draft, the lower levels go significantly slower. The stronger bikers tend to break away quickly though in the more rookie divisions (I should also note that you can win your race entry fee back plus some in bike racing) At St. Anthony's they have Pro and Elite Amateur divisions. How about Advanced Amateur as another division.

Every race doesn't have to be a draft legal race. If you don't want to draft, then don't show up to a drafting race, but I think there should be draft legal races for amateurs. Right now you don't have an option in the U.S. Some weekends there are three sprint distance races within driving distance here in Florida. It would add to the variety. I also think it would help develop our pro athletes.

Yes you would have to have different strategies for a drafting race. Wouldn't it be interesting to see teams in triathlon and not ones where a different person swims, bikes and runs? Even on the bike racing circuit, you will get a person that pulls away from the peleton and stays in the lead. You just have to make sure that you can run the fastest in the peleton of bikers you ride with.

Someone made remark that triathlon is an individual sport and if there was drafting it would really be like two events instead of three. Technically you can draft in the swim and the run. Maybe there is not as much of an advantage, but there is still less resistance when you follow someone.

With the pros, many times everyone comes out of the water in a close pack. In the AG the pack tends to be a LOT more spread out, at least in my experiences.

Maybe with draft legal races the swim should be longer (Maybe it shoudl be longer anyway?!). In proportion to the bike and the run, it really is the shortest and it only get's shorter as the races get longer. Look at the proportions of the swim to the run and bike in a sprint versus and Ironman.

Things I've Learned - Use a Wetsuit when allowed

* If the water is within wetsuit legal temperature and you are competing for a place in the race, use a wetsuit.

Wetsuits are great equalizers, it makes the ok swimmers just as buoyant as some of the great swimmers.

In the first race of the season, I was clobbered in the swim by those people wearing wetsuits. The buoyancy of a wetsuit can give you a huge advantage. The minutes you gain in the swim can easily make up for the time it takes to remove the wetsuit. Yes I did say minutes, even in a sprint distance race.

-I borrowed a Quintana Roo sleeveless wetsuit, but I would recommend a full suit for the extra bit of added boyancy (Thanks again Scott!!)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Season Wrap Up - Goals I set and how I did with them

Season Wrap-Up
I think it's an excellent idea to set goals for yourself. No matter what level you are at, they give you something to reach for. Even when the rest of your life falls off track they give you some focus.

When you set goals, you start to learn what is and is not possible for you to achieve. They also set you up to create new goals and accomplish goals that you didn't realize you had until after you complete them.

My goals for the 2008 season -

* Get Sponsored
Thank you Honeystinger and Rudy Project. I hope to add to my sponsors next year.

* 6:30/mile

During the beginning of the season my training was going excellent. My run splits for my sprints were consistently around 6:50/mile and I was consistently setting PRs. I thought for sure I would see as much improvement as I did last season and reach a 6:30/mile. Then the heat came. I didn't know this was the problem though.

I don't remember my run suffering as much last year, but my time dropped. I was still being competitive, but I was having trouble training and I didn't have a clue what it was. I thought it may of had to do with some inconsistency's in my training. Then I started doing research and I read in a couple places where heat can fatigue your run by 10%. This was almost exactly where I was at. I went on a trip to California and I saw my distance and speed increase dramatically without feeling fatigued.

I am planning to do some 5ks in my off season. I hope to peak into January before I take a break. Now that I have figured this whole heat thing (And it's actually starting to get cool around here) I hope to set some huge PRs and raise the bar for myself for next triathlon season.

* Place in the top 5% overall regularly
This may of been a bit of a lofty goal. 5% in many of the races would of meant me finishing 1st or 2nd overall against the men. I consistently placed near the top 10% of men. I was 3rd in my age group in one race and I was never worse than 2nd in my age group over another 6 different sprint races. In every sprint race I was in the top 20 overall, and the races ranged from 60-350 people.

Olympic distance races were a completely different story. I just couldn't break through a barrier. In the two smaller ones I raced in, I was 8th and 5th in my age group and never worse than 60th overall. Small being 325 and 505 people. At St. Anthony's, 3415 people, I was 26th in my age group and 245th overall (This includes about 40 pros). I still have a ways to go here.

* Qualify for nationals

USAT's qualification system is a little bit hard to understand, but apparently by finishing so well in my age group, at USAT certified races, I qualified on multiple occasions. Unfortunately due to losing my job, and some difficult financial situations before that, I wasn't able to go.

I hope to qualify again next year, and I hope my situation will be better. There is a sprint race in California to qualify for worlds. If I can afford it, I may go.

* Help others achieve their triathlon goals
I helped Kathy teach another round of a beginning tri group at the YMCA. Late in the season I worked with Jennifer in the pool. I carried Mike Mott along in my draft during long rides so he could get his mileage in (You know I'm joking, right Mike. I only did this early in the season, haha)
If you have any questions, let me know. I am looking for topics to discuss here or I'd be happy to meet up with you and help you out. I am now heading into my third year and still remember a lot of the speed bumps I had to go over to improve and get to where I am at. I realize I have a lot more speed bumps to go, but I have definitely learned a lot.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

FINALLY! 9/21 Athletes for a Cure Triathlon Race Report

I may of procrastinated about posting this because I just didn't do well in it, although I did much better than I planned to. I know it's just an excuse, but trying to find a job and getting my personal life together sent my training into a tailspin. Triathlon training is about consistency. If you train for three days and then take two days off, train for one day, take two days off, you may maintain your fitness, but you aren't going to improve.

This was the last race of my season, but I do hope to run some 5ks and maybe some 10ks through December. I will then be looking at resting for a few weeks, mixing up my exercise routine, and working more on the core, before I start to train for my next season. I hope to start up again March (Anyone have a wetsuit I can borrow?).

I have high hopes that by March my work life will have figured itself out and I can stay consistent. Even with the issues I had, I had a great season, and be looking for a highlights post. I also plan on keeping you entertained with a bunch of things that I learned this season.

Now for the results!

1.5K Swim/ 40K Bike/ 10K Run
Lake Buena Vista, FL
Race Director: LZR Sports
Timing and Results: Alta Vista Sports

6th in my age group of 38, 60th overall against 329 men, and 65th overall against 504 people

2:36:20 total, 1:57/100m swim (29:23), 21.83mph on the bike (1:08:26), and 8:45 min/mile in the run (54:18)

Place O'All No. Name Age City St Time Rank Swim Tran 1 Rank Bike Tran 2 Rank Run Penalty
===== ===== ===== ======================= === ==================== == ======= ==== ======= ======= ==== ======= ======= ==== ======= =======

It was one of the foggiest mornings I have ever seen at a race. You could only see the first of three buoys and they delayed the race for a half an hour for safety.

Our age group went almost last, this was a new experience for me. Usually there are not many people ahead of us, but today there were almost 500 people. I started out great. I've really started to get good at duck diving. You dive in the water, stand up, dive in the water and start swimming when you can't touch the ground.

This helped me start out well in the lead, but unfortunately my swim still needs work. My line was all over the place. At one point I started siting the wrong buoy slightly to my left. It was one of the buoys that was supposed to be after the turn and in the fog they all were similar colors. The next thing I knew I had a lifeguard shouting at me and pointing me in the right direction. I don't think I was too far off course, but I'm sure I lost some time.

I also ran across a lot of feet and more slow swimmers than I'm used to. I would come up on some feet and if they were way slower than me I'd blaze by them, if they were close to my pace I would draft them for a little bit before I was ready to move ahead. I came out of the water sixth in my age group.

It was a good quarter-mile-plus run and not very wide to get around the slower people. I did the best I could and was on my bike quickly. I also threw a jersey over my head that had my gels in it. I'm glad I did, because a couple gels that I had put on my bike fell off. Next season I may get a gel dispenser where I can empty all my gels into. This would save me the trouble of carrying multiple packets and be more environmentally friendly.

The bike went smooth, until the end. The course was relatively flat, but there were a few no pass zones, which made things difficult when some people were only riding 16mph. I took my gels at all the right places and was out of water and Gatorade by the end of the 40k. Right before the race started, the race director told us that there would be no water station at the halfway point on the bike.

At the very end of the bike I started to cramp up in the same place that I've had problems in every Olympic distance race I've done this season. In my hamstrings. On top of this, I thought I was close to the finish line, so I slid my feet out of my shoes about 2 miles before the transition. My biggest concern was that the cramps were going to be bad when I jumped off my bike, but I didn't have any problems. Once again I blazed through transition.

My hamstrings were tight, but I did my best to keep moving and they finally loosened up. I went about four miles into the run and I just couldn't keep myself moving. I had to walk. I knew my training had been horrible and now I was paying for it. After a little break I started moving again, until I was about 5.55 miles and then I slowed to a walk again.

I watched the back of legs as they passed me to make sure that no one in my age group was going by. At about 5.75miles I found someone in my age group and I started to pace them hoping that they might not notice that I was in the same group. I tried to be patient and wait for the right moment to make a break for the end.

I looked at my Garmin and saw that I was within only about a 0.10 of a mile and I saw the fences for the finish, so I decided to make my move. Unfortunately I moved to soon. There was someone in front of us, he went right, I was stuck on the left with no room to pass them and no energy to push myself. Maybe if I had waited another couple seconds I could of planned it better. He out sprinted me by 4 seconds! I found out later that I was 6th and missed medaling by one spot.

This gives me a goal for next year, to place in my age group at an Olympic distance tri!

Thanks again to everyone for being such awesome supporters this year. Especially my wife Liz and my sponsors, and Rudy Project , who make it possible for me to race.

Monday, October 13, 2008

092108 Athletes for a Cure Triathlon

Athletes for a cure Triathlon

This is from a few weeks ago. I hope to have a race report up soon.

1.5k Swim, 40k Bike, 10k Run

at Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Last race...

My last race of the season was the weekend before last, and I wanted to post sooner, but things have been crazy. I just finished three grueling days of updating my website at and other stuff I've needed to do to get a business off the ground. I didn't do as well as I wanted to do, but I did better than I was expecting after the preparation I had done. Now that my triathlon season is over I hope to try and focus on some running races and see if I can improve my speed, but more on that in the upcoming post race blog.