Tuesday, June 29, 2010

2010 Road Nationals

In the last 48hours I raced 180km, then drove 13hours through the night to port moody.  Despite my best efforts I could not fall asleep all day.  Instead I resembled the waking dead, and I think I did some laundry.  Then I got a good night sleep.  Woke up stiff as a board and went to work, which effectively canceled my good night sleep.  Now it is two days since road Nationals and I think I will tell you all how it went.

This was my first time racing Road Nationals.  It was the longest, fastest and most aggressive race I have ever done.  As such I managed to make as many rookie mistakes as possible. 

Actions such as starting at the back, panicking when in poor position, racing too conservatively all contributed to wasted energy.  Which cam first the chicken or the egg.  Did I make these mistakes because I am a rookie, or am I a rookie because I made these mistakes.

Nevertheless. I raced and I finished.  After about 6 laps when I stopped stressing I felt that I belong.  What a race.  It was exciting and fast and aggressive.  I learned allot from this race, all of which I intend to retain and apply to future racing.

In the end I finished in the remnants of the main group.  I was the 19th placed Espoir (under 23).  A top twenty, even in the espoir category, is something that I am pleased with.  For my first year at nationals to place 9th in the Time Trial and 19th in the road race is an accomplishment that I can build on.

A note on team Saskatchewan.  All Saskatchewan entrants finished the Road Race, and one alumnus placed 5th.  I may be mistaken, but I was informed that this is a Saskatchewan Cycling first.  I would like to congratulate the Saskatchewan Cycling Association for continuing to develop excellent young talent.

I would also like to thank The Saskatchewan Cycling association for funding a provincial Team to race at Nationals.  Special Thanks to Denise Eberle for all her hard work and behind the scene dedication.  And Thanks to Brad Kerr, an amazing project manager and cycling mentor.

 Training shall be based solely on feel,
while racing shall be guided by sensations and instinct.

Cuylar Conly

Saturday, June 26, 2010

National Champs Individual Time Trial

After visiting Saskatoon for a couple Days I am back on the road.  I drove with Team Saskatchewan to Edmonton for the Elite Canadian Cycling Championships.  Brad Kerr and Brad Clifford picked me up in Saskatoon, Andrea Bunnin met us in Edmonton and Chris McGarity is arriving later today.  Team Saskatchewan has set us up with the rock-star accommodations with 6 double beds booked for 5 people.  Being able to roll over is awesome.

As a Team we have decided that Edmonton is the most confusing city ever.  When we arrived, we got lost, found the hotel, got lost on the way to Devon, pre-rode the TT course, got lost on the way to registration, got lost going to the hotel, got lost going out for dinner.  Everything we did we got lost.  Edmonton is very confusing.  Then we hit the sac.

Due to the nature of our travel constraints all of Team Sask had to mobilize in the morning.  Although the men did not race until one, we all had to go for the morning when Andrea was racing.  This was for the best, I prefer to be very early.  It was good to be very relaxed and have lots of time to sort everything out.  I got the chance to ride along in the Sask Van and follow Andrea during her Time Trial.  Following her individual effort was very exciting, and an excellent mental distraction.

T-minus 1hour 30min.  Time to get my act together.  Gather equipment.  Set the bike up.  Get changed. Warm-up.  Focus.
Ten Minutes.  Bike Check.  Sit in the pen.
1 minute. On the start line.  Breath.  Set stop watch.

The Elite pro Men Individual Time Trial, a 42km solo effort.  Aerodynamics.  Cadence.  power.  The concept is simple, ride at your physical limit until you cross the finish line.  The execution is what determines your time.

I had a solid ride.  I kept my legs turning for 54min30seconds.  I was immediately pleased with how I rode.  for Time trials greater than 30km this was a knew personal best speed.  It is good to confirm that I am incrementally becoming faster.  I felt I was near my limit the entire race.  No mater how I placed I knew I gave my best TT of the year.

I later found out that I placed 28th in the pro Men.  This was a good sign,  looking through the results I could see that I placed higher than many very fast cyclists.  I also beat out many riders who have beaten me earlier in the year.
 When I found the separated Under 23 results I was elated to see that I had placed 9th.  I did not know what to expect from my first time racing the National Championships.  Finishing as the 9th place Under 23 rider exceeded my expectations, and raised my aspirations.  I can and I will compete at this level.

 Sven Tuft won the pro mens Championship in a mind bending time of 48min setting a blistering pace of 52km/hr.  This was 2 minutes faster than second place.  Respect!

Tomorrow I will race the pro mens Road Race Championships.  Our 180km race starts at 1pm and will finish at about 5pm.  The race course is up and down the river valley around Hawrelak park.  This will be another entirely knew challenge.  Once again I look to exceed what is expected of me.

 Training shall be based solely on feel,
while racing shall be guided by sensations and instinct.

Cuylar Conly

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Banff Bike Fest

I spent the last four days racing my Bike in Banff.  Five Stages over Four days.  This was my third time racing this event and the competition increases every year.  I raced with Team Saskatchewan which included Chris McGarity, Brad Clifford, James Winter, and Guy Biggar (we borrowed him from the Delta Fire Department).  Andrew Thomas was along as project manager, and he was fantastic in this role.  Thanks for taking care of us Andy.

Here is the stage by stage.

Stage 1, 1.5km Prologue (hill climb)
This was an individual timed effort up a 1.5km climb.  The climb starts out gradual and gets consistently steeper all the way to the top.  For me the effort was about 3 minutes, for the winner about 2.5 minutes.  Although I felt solid during the race I guess I was not going all that fast.  I slotted into about 60th place.  I seemed to be lacking some top end speed.  This became somewhat of a theme for my race.

Stage 2, 81km Road Race
This race was short and Fast, on road whose elevation profile resembled a saw blade.  In this race you are either going uphill or downhill, there was very little flat space.   Never the less we screamed along the course finishing the 81km in 1hr 45min with an average speed over 45km/hr.  Despite the best efforts of team Sask, the race was too fast to form a breakaway.  90 racers came into the finish line all together.  I could not get myself into sprinting position and so I finished safely in the pack and was therefore credited with the same finish time as the winner.

Stage 3, 21km Individual Time Trial
This is the most beautiful Time Trial ever.  From Banff we ride an individual effort up to Lake Minewanka across the damn and back into Banff.  The course favors a very strong climber with the ability to snap back to max speed after every steep section.  I rode a solid performance that got me a personal best time for this course.  However, as is very common with Time Trials I cannot help but feel there must have been some way i could have gone faster.  I finished about 3 minutes behind the winner.  This was good for 29th place in the stage, more importantly this moved me up on the General Classification. I jumped from about 60th place into 30th place.

Stage 4, 50km Criterium Downtown Banff
This Criterium was the same day as the Time Trial.  I rested all afternoon, and then raced the criterium at 8pm.  Each year The Banff Criterium seems to be the most dangerous race of the year. With a pack of more than 80 racers it is a race course that is notorious for crashes.  There is on average at least one crash per lap.  This year I can be included in the statistic.  Recently I have been racing well in criteriums, but this weekend I seemed to be lacking in snap as well as top end speed.  I was comfortable to sit in but was having trouble mixing it up and I was certainly positioned to far back in the bunch.  As we turned through the 180 degree turn my back wheel disappeared from under me, I fell down and skitter-bumped to a halt.  I didn't panic, in the next 5 seconds I assessed myself and my bike.  In a criterium if you crash and feel you can continue you are allowed to do so without penalty, if you can get to the wheel pit before the next lap is finished.  I got to the wheel pit with plenty of time, and jumped back into the pack as they whizzed by.  I finished in the bunch and was therefore allowed to continue racing the next day.
Andy and I made a stop at Safeway for some medical supplies.  The shelves were looking barren by the time we got there, and I was hearing the next day that all of Banff was sold out of gauze-bandages.

Stage 5 Tunnel Mountain Road Race 145km (Queen Stage)
This race was a long one, 11 laps up and down Tunnel Mountain.  This race always has a very high rate of attrition.  Out of about 80 starters only about half finished and the front group was less than 30.  It was an active race.  Many attacks, there was always a couple racers off the front of the group.  It was very likely that this race could end with the right breakaway and everyone knew it.  Ironically this ensured that no breakaway would from.  Everyone wanted to be in a group off the front and so any large break was aggressively squashed.  Team Saskatchewan raced well, and raced aggressive.  We were all over the attacks forming and diving into breakaways.  We communicated well and kept each other hydrated.  The race ended in a sprint with a group of about 30 shattered riders.  I finished in 20th place on the stage with the same time as the winner.
For this my General Classification once again jumped from 30th to 15th.   I was pleasantly surprised to have finished in 15th.  Upon examination of the results I finished 3min 37sec behind the race winner.  which is the sum of my deficits in the individual events.  If I can improve on my time trial then I can be a GC contender, If i improve on my snap and top end speed I can contend the stage victories.  I intend to do both.

?? Stage Six??? Epic Drive Home

After the race we took a quick shower and piled everything and everyone into the SCA Van.  The intention all along had been to drive home that night.  Mother nature had other plans.  Torrential rains in the prairies had flooded the arterial highways.  Detours were available but because we had a large trailer we were not allowed to  take the back roads at night.  We found a super 8 in Calgary, caught a couple hours of zzz's, woke up at 5 am rolled into the van and headed for home.  Big props to Andy for Driving.  I think he had about 8 cups of coffee that day. Epic.

Hooking up with Sask boys again on Thursday to travel to Nationals for more good times and good racing.

Training shall be based solely on feel,
while racing shall be guided by sensations and instinct.

Cuylar Conly

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Epic Drive number one.

Yesterday, I drove from Vancouver to Banff.  It was less painful than I anticipated, but 10 hours in the car is still 10 hours in the car.  We made the Drive euro style, which means we stopped for food or bathroom almost every hour.  I think that helped to save the legs and sanity from being curled up in a car seat all day.  It is strange how you can go a whole day of barely moving and still feel strangely taxed when you arrive.

I am in Banff for the Banff Bike fest International Stage race.  Racing starts tonight with a 1500m uphill prologue.  It should be a good measure.

Training shall be based solely on feel,
while racing shall be guided by sensations and instinct.

Cuylar Conly

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tacoma Twilight Criterium

Took of to the State of Washington for another pro Critt.  Tacoma Twilight Criterium was the Final race in the Cascade Criterium Series, aka Seattle Speed Week.  Although I was the only Westwood/Cannondale racer in the pro1/2 field, I did have the travel and racing company of none other than  Saskatchewan homeboy Chris McGarity.  Chris has been racing for Garneau Evolution. Chris was stoked on the Criterium, and is coming on some excellent form.

We arrived early enough to do a proper euro pre-warm up.  This consisted of puttering around downtown in team gear.  Having coffee and pastries on a patio, and getting a lecture from some Vietnam veteran about the flaws of American politics.  As race time drew near we warmed up and dialed in the focus.

The Criterium course was 1 mile square.  The back stretch was about 500m at 5% up, the Finnish stretch about 500m at 5% down. The race was 75minutes, and  was either >55km/hr down hill or >40km/hr uphill.   My form is on an upswing.  Midway through the race I could sense that this race would be a breakaway.  So, I started throwing down some spice.

Over the next 30minutes gaps were forming, the pack was coming undone.  I was all over the frontal action, mixing it up in the bicycle roulette.  Nothing stuck, but it was only a matter of time.  Then a group of 9 was pulling away, I was not in it.  What do you do in the wild west when you loose at roulette?  You throw the Table across the room.

In one lap I bridged out to the breakaway.  There was 10min left, we had 30 seconds on the bunch.  Mostly guys worked together.  We held 25 seconds.  Then 5laps to go, this was it.  This break is going to the line.  In the last 5 laps there was a prime every lap.  This meant sprinting for the finish line every lap for 5 laps.  I held back at first, thinking only of the finale.  The finishing sprint was downhill with a tail wind, and I knew It would take everything.  Then with 2 laps to go they announced a 200$ prime.  I could really use $200 so I went for it.  I needed a gap before the sprint, so I attacked from the bottom of the hill to the top. It didn't workout.

Going into the finale I could not escape my breakaway company.  Nor could I match the speed in the down hill sprint.  So I cam across in 9th place.  I am pleased with how I raced.  The form is coming up.  I just need a little finishing school.  I collected my prize money then we hit the road.  Got home at 230am, long day.

Next up for me, I will go to Banff for International Stage Race.  Then on to Edmonton for Canadian National Championships.

 Training shall be based solely on feel,
while racing shall be guided by sensations and instinct.

Cuylar Conly

Monday, June 7, 2010

Love, Hate, and Calculated Risk

I have a fantastic love and hate relationship with Criterium racing.  Critt racing is an incredibly exciting form of bicycle race. Critt`s are short and intense from start to finish.  This is in sharp contrast to a 4 hr road race, or the steady effort of a time trial.  Contested on a short course (0.8-3.0km in length) around city streets.  A criterium will have >50 racers swarming and sprinting around corners for more than 60min, averaging 45-50 km/hr.

Criteriums are full of energy and full of action.  They are a blast to race.  Diving into corners, fighting for position, sprinting off the front and it all depends on you as the engine.  I love Critts they are exciting and fun.

The Engine for a Crit is different than for a road race or Time Trial.  A Criterium Requires rapid-fire High intensity bursts.  Criteriums are also Risky.  In the tight swarming bunch, every one is cross-eyed with the effort and crashes are common place.

 This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure, Fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name

By far the hardest part of a criterium is the first 10-15min.  The first 10min are much like plunging yourself into an ice cold lake.   Every part of your body screams with the effort as you literally go from 0-60km/hr in about 10seconds.  After about ten minutes the shock state subsides, and you are simply uncomfortable as the pace of the race slowly wears on you.  Much like plunging into that cold Lake.

For the rest of the race the pace is set by the attacks from the front 10 racers.   There is a region in the bunch just behind the front 10 where you can ride at reasonable effort, behind this is a nervous area where guys are constantly fighting to move up to the front of the race.  Then at the back is the danger zone,  the tail of the race where every acceleration is magnified like cracking a whip.  Spending ten minutes or more at the back will likely result in getting dropped. 

So for anyone who is interested these are my criterium rules.

1. WARM Up!  start the energy systems before the race starts.
2. It always slows down.  The first 10 min are fast but it hurts everyone so the pace will slow slightly.
3. Move up.  No matter where you are in the bunch, if you are not moving up you are moving back.
4. When you get to the front, Attack!  The front of the race can be referred to as bicycle roulette.  A constant cycle of attacks almost anyone of which could be the big deal.
5. No fear, ask forgiveness not permission.  Aggression does not always mean riding off the front.  Relax, your 20 and invincible.
6. Go for glory!  Make them remember your name.

 Training shall be based solely on feel,
while racing shall be guided by sensations and instinct.

Cuylar Conly

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cosmic Thunder

Yesterday, I raced the Ballard Twilight Criterium.  The pro/1 race started at 730 pm.  We raced for 70min, at an average speed of 46km/hr.  The race was going well, until some doad caught his front skewer into my rear wheel.  At 50km/hr this resulted in nearly half the spokes exploding.

I am now one carbone short of a cosmos.

When my wheel exploded I was able to stay upright.  I got to the wheel pit just before the cut off time, got a wheel change and jumped in for the last 8 laps.  I couldn`t quite get in there for the finale, but today is another day of racing.

Training shall be based solely on feel,
while racing shall be guided by sensations and instinct.

Cuylar Conly

Friday, June 4, 2010

I am an albatros

I am in Seattle, Washington.  I am getting my Critt on for the next few days.  It is going well. 

Training shall be based solely on feel,
while racing shall be guided by sensations and instinct.

Cuylar Conly

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Due to living in Vancouver, I missed out on racing Bikes on Broadway this year.  This is the premier Stage race in the prairie provinces.

But check out this unreal video of the 2010 BoB Criterium.


 Training shall be based solely on feel,
while racing shall be guided by sensations and instinct.

Cuylar Conly