Friday, March 26, 2010

Going Nowhere Really Fast

A few of you have asked how Max Watzz has been doing getting ready for the race season. Basically, he's going nowhere ... but he's going there really fast.

I guess this is one of the things that confuses me about racing. I've got racer friends that I'll invite on 200Ks, and they'll tell me that they can't until the season is over. I'll ask if they're coming to the Tuesday night club ride, and they'll tell me that they can't because they're "in a rest week." We talk about biking to work, and they say that their coach won't let them since it would "mess them up for the Wednesday night crits."

But, if you want to get better at riding a bike, shouldn't you, maybe, just ... ride your bike?

RandoGirl gave Max Watzz a Garmin Edge cycling computer for Christmas. (I'm thinking that I should be worried about this -- if my wife has a crush on my alter-ego, is that cheating?) It's got a GPS, although he doesn't really use it to plot brevet routes and go exploring. He's more interested in the fact that it works with his PowerTap wheel and heart rate monitor to give him virtually every statistic that a racing cyclist needs. (As opposed to the statistic that other cyclists need, which is "Are we there yet?")

Here's some of Max's most recent rides, logged using the GPS:

This is from Tuesday night at the Nashville Fairgrounds race track. Note the legend in the lower right corner, showing that Max never moved more than 1,000 feet from where he started.

This is from a couple of weeks ago in my neighborhood. Most of this was just round and round and round the top loop. He was doing something called "jumps." Oddly enough, this isn't like the jumps they do in X-Games or anything, since there's no ramp and you're not supposed to airborne.

This is my personal favorite, and Max has a bunch that look just like this. Again, the legend gives it away: He was travelling less than 80 feet in any direction. Apparently, this is what you get when you put a bike with a GPS on a trainer.

Let's contrast this with the ride that I am going to do Saturday:

This is a 300-kilometer (188 miles) brevet that starts in Cerulean, KY. We'll go out to Morgantown, KY, and then ride back. With any luck, it should only take 12-14 hours.


Now, Max is really pissed off that I am doing this. He was angry to begin with that I went off sailing for a week -- during which I did absolutely no training -- and then he was ticked that I ate like a pig all that week. Key lime pie is apparently not good for the power-to-weight ratio.

But Saturday I'm going to Cerulean, KY, and riding way too long for him, on the same day that there's a time trial in Rutledge, TN.

At this rate, Max will not get to actually race until May. By then I will have finished the 300K and 400K that I need to do so I can have a good shot at getting in to Paris-Brest-Paris (probably the most famous of all 1200Ks) in 2011. Once that's done, I just have the 600K in late May, so Max can race in May if he wants. After the 600K I'll ease back and he can tune his training.

Meanwhile, he keeps whining that I'm not doing enough for his five-second power numbers. Now, what freakin' good is five seconds of power? Why does he want 1400 watts for five seconds, anyway? Is he going to turn on a light bulb for just long enough to memorize the furniture in the room so he won't crash into it -- not that he would crash into it anyway because his bike is on a trainer and won't even go over near that lamp!

I just don't understand racing.


  1. I guess you've answered that famous question: "Will it go 'round in circles?" The answer is clearly yes.

  2. But, if you want to get better at riding a bike, shouldn't you, maybe, just ... ride your bike?

    I've noticed the same thing Randoboy. I understand a training routine, but from what I observe, several of us are riding far more miles and it seems that we are having far more fun (lower stress for one). We are also saving lots of money in travel costs for gas, hotel, and race fees. In the end, we seem to still be extremely competitive in abilities with many of the religious regimen crew that pay out lots of money for that coaching. There's no law that states you need a USCF license to train hard or go fast.

    I don't quite get it either???