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The Paul Mach Blog - August 2009

Living life on the edge... of the road
Photo by Pat Malach

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August 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009 - Race Reports
Yesterday's US Pro Road Race was my biggest race to date. Cars and motorcycles were everywhere and the crowds were huge. The plan was to do 110 miles around Greenville, 3 loops around downtown, followed by 4 big loops over Paris Mountain and then 3 more loops downtown.

This was also my first national level one day race and it was very chaotic and very fast, people were attacking all over the place. Going into it I was worried about positioning, but it wasn't that big of an issue. It was more that after covering a few moves I was in the box and it was still going super fast.

The downtown circuits resulted in only David Zabriskie getting off the front. We were expecting people to attack on the climb but it was pretty mellow.

Going back into town I rolled off the front in a large group of about 13. Sheldon and Tom were in there too. We had almost 3 minutes going into the climb for the 2nd time but the pack must have gone really hard because we were at about a minute over the top. We got caught on the decent and there were only about 50 riders left at that point.

It went fast again on the flats with all the counter attacks. I was cooked and barely holding on and came off pretty quickly the third time up Paris Mountain. I ended up riding it with Fred Rodriguez. We were talking Rock Jeans when Zabriskie came zooming past us hanging on to a scooter. I was a little jealous, we had to pedal ourselves back into town.

Overall, the race was an awesome experience and I'm glad to have been a part of it. However, when you're excited to be doing US Pro, it's always implied you finish. Next time.

Anyway, it's good to finally be home after 3 weeks on the road. Now it's time for some rest and/or research.

Saturday, August 29, 2009 - Race Reports
Today's time trial marked the start of my 6th different national championship event (3 running and 3 cycling). This one however is the biggest since all the other ones were, let's just say, semi-pro.

23 starters were in search of the glory. Needless to say, I didn't find it, but I did have a decent ride. I finished 12th in 43:43, 4:06 down from the winner Dave Zabriskie. I felt okay but didn't quite have that "killer form" from earlier in the year.

Tom Zirbel had a tough day, finishing second for the second year in a row, 44 seconds behind Zabriskie. BJM was 9th. You can see the top 14 here.

My wife arrives in Greenville in a few hours, I haven't seen her in almost 3 weeks. Her dad lives in town and we're going to have a little barbecue tonight.

Friday, August 28, 2009 - Tech
I had a few low key days this week and used the time to finish up a little project. I've always wanted to see how the time between the break and field changes throughout a race. Now with all the GPS data out there, all I needed was a little program.

Garmin has posted some of their data from the Tour, but only a few stages have two files to compare. Stage 6 was pretty dramatic for Garmin and it has two files, David Millar and Julian Dean.

You can read the full report, but here's a summary. 113 miles from Girona to Barcelona. Garmin's Millar got in the break but then attacked it when the gap went down from over 4 minutes to less than 1. There were still 18 miles left and he tried to do it solo. Unfortunately he got caught with just a kilometer to go.

Stage 6, analysis Here's the graph, click to see in more details. The green is the course profile and the blue is the time from Dean to Millar. This is basically the time from the field to the break.

The first red vertical line marks when the break was formed. You can tell the field must have sat up as the gap went up pretty fast.

After that biggest climb of the day the gap starts to go down. It also starts to correlate well with the profile. The break lost time up the climbs but got it back on the descents.

The second red vertical line marks where Millar attacked the break. He got a few seconds but then lost almost 20 up the last cat. 4 climb. The gap went up a bit on the descent, but his lead was doomed.

It's also funny to see how once he got caught (last vertical line), he just pulls the plug and finishes 1:21 down. A brilliant ride by Millar, but it appears he lost it up that last climb.

It's cool to see how the gap changes on the climbs and descents but there is more you could do. With the right data, you could compare time trials and overlay the course curvature to see who takes corners better. That would be cool.

I tired to find a similar tool online but Google didn't turn up anything. I wasn't sure what to search for. Does anyone know of one?

Thursday, August 27, 2009 - General
Arrived in Greenville yesterday for the the U.S. Pro Championships. I'll be doing the time trial on Saturday and the road race on Sunday.

Due to a missed communication, I spent the last few days killing time in Salt Lake after the Tour of Utah. I checked out downtown and sat around in a coffee shop all day, good times. But it gets better, I accidentally switched bags with our soigneur Jono so I couldn't change my clothes or brush my teeth for 3 days. Not a big deal, that's pretty much par for the course anyway.

We checked out the road race course today. It has that climb in that starts right after a sharp right turn. Should be a good fight for position.

Other then that, my life has included a lot of sleeping. And that's about it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009 - Race Reports
It rained last night up at Park City so we were a little worried about the crit today. Fortunately it cleared up by the afternoon and it was a pretty safe 90 minute race downtown. I wasn't looking to do anything spectacular, just get some experience.

That's just what I did. I tried to move up and hold my position. When a break went off the front, about 20 minutes in, I moved to about 20th wheel. It was cool to watch the teams with sprinters worked hard to keep it under control.

With 10 laps to go I started bonking and faded back. I didn't take any food with me and I was feeling it. I finished off the race somewhere in the pack. I rolled back to the car and just wanted to go to sleep. This crit was pretty hard, 29.5 mph average, but I'm usually not sleepy at the end.

Overall, the tour was hard. I ended up 79th and very tired for my efforts. I obviously didn't have a good week, but I'm okay with it and ready to move on.

Saturday, August 22, 2009 - Race Reports
Today was another good day for Bissell. We stacked the break with our two GC guys, Ben and Burke, plus Jeremy for good measure.

It was a crazy start to this 100 mile Queen Stage of the Tour of Utah. All the action was on a big "roller" out of town.

I followed a few moves launched by Troy, the guy I stayed with when I was in Fort Collins. Then I followed a move to bridge up to Morgan half way up. That came back and the big break with our 3 guys went over the top.

Rock Racing must have let it go due to the biggest Burke-Paul mix up ever. The officials got the numbers confused and thought I was up there.

While the break was working on its maximum 8 minute lead, I was working on positioning. I followed Frank around at the front and learned a lot.

There was the usual fight for position going into the climb. BMC was getting frustrated as they couldn't assume their usually spot at the front. At one point Jeff Louder said, "Cool down guys, plenty of time to get dropped." That's not very nice and I'm unfollowing him on twitter in protest. How do you like that Jeff?

The first major climb came and I felt relatively good. I ended up in a big group of people who have been dropping me all week. But this group was pretty big and was basically the gruppetto anyway.

As we were descending the second climb I had a bit of a shifter issue and was stuck in the 19. I was spun out on the flats but the real trouble started on the climb.

At first I tried to turn it over but then it got steeper and I got tired. As the group rode away from me the fans kept me going. They gave me water and kept me updated on Burke's progress. He ended up getting second out of the break, which is pretty awesome.

I finished the climb cracked and over 20 minutes back from the leaders. But overall this is the best I've felt all week.

Tomorrow is just a 90 minute crit, and then it will be over.

Friday, August 21, 2009 - Race Reports
A little Karma can go a long way. Yesterday Morgan saved a hummingbird and then Ben helped a stranded cyclist on our morning ride today. This evening Tom Zirbel surprised even himself with a win in the Tour of Utah stage 3 time trial.

It was a 9.1 mile course on and around the Miller Motor Speedway. The weather called for extreme heat but luckily they were wrong, it was very manageable.

I rolled it pretty conservatively in 18:10 and I got a little love from the announcer as I crossed the line. He said something about having a good early season and then getting Mono. Yeah, I didn't know I had Mono either, but it's a good excuse.

Overall, Bissell finally had a good day. Tom 1st, Jeremey 4th and Ben 6th. Tomorrow is the queen stage, we'll see if the legs come around for it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 - Race Reports
Seriously, 100th place again. Tomorrow in the TT I'll be looking to get into the double digits.

Anyway, rough day for stage 2 of the Tour of Utah. Basically 60 miles flat with about a 20 miles climb at the end. I was told to sit in and see how it goes. I followed one move just because and that was about it.

When the climb started I was out of position and without legs. It was going pretty hard at the base, I tried to hang on, but for whatever reason couldn't. I rolled in with the gruppetto 22:35 down. Good times.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 - Race Reports
Yeah, getting 100th place is probably the only good thing to come of today's race.

Stage 1 of the Tour of Utah was a little 85 mile ride with two major climbs. I felt pretty good on the first one but on the second I just couldn't hold the pace. I finished 7:35 down.

I did spend a lot of energy following moves, but 7:35 was a little disappointing. But tomorrow is another, possibly harder, day.

On a lighter note, did you know that Eric Wohlberg has a wikipedia page? Don't ask me how I found it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009 - Race Reports
Took some First Endurance PreRace a few hours ago so I'm a little jittery. Please excuse the jumpy blog.

The Tour of Utah prologue this evening was a fun one to watch and ride. It was out and back and had a few technical corners that kept you on your toes.

The turn around was crazy, especially at speed. There was also this little chicane at the finish that ate at least one guy. Not as interesting as the cyclist eating bush from a collegiate race a few years back, but pretty interesting none the less.

As for results, I clocked a 6:27 for 20th, 15 seconds off the winner Brent Bookwalter. This puts me in the danger zone for a break, close enough to the lead but too far away for people to care. Of course there are 50 other guys in this position.

Ben JM finished 4th which really isn't that great because we still have hundreds of miles to go. :)

The "Go Burke" count is up to 5 already. They must have been confused to see him ride by twice today. Next time I'm yelling back.

The race was exploding on twitter so check these guys out for updates during the day tomorrow: @thetourofutah, @podiuminsight. The stage starts at 11 Utah time.

Monday, August 17, 2009 - General
It's over, my week at the Park City Professional Cycling Camp is over.

The rest of the team arrived today and final preparation for the tour has begun. The cars got washed, bottles got cleaned and everyone got massages in the afternoon. I did laundry and organized my bag. You don't want to get all stressed out looking for stuff before big races.

The last 7 days here have been great. The hosts are great, the house is awesome. and I'm riding better. Call it mental or whatever but I felt a whole lot better riding today at 9000ft then I did a week ago at 5.

I've also had a chance to see the courses. This will help a lot given how many times I thought the climbs were over and they weren't. On the other hand, knowing what to expect in this race can just freak you out.

The Tour of Utah starts tomorrow with a 4.5km prologue. Let the action begin, finally.

Friday, August 14, 2009 - General
Another couple days into our the Bissell High Altitude Adaptation Training Camp here in Park City.

Not much to report, just a bunch of riding and recovering. Today we rode stage 1 on the Tour of Utah.

Pretty standard; epic climbs, killer head wind and Omer almost crashed into me while doing a double take on some chicks.

After the ride we needed to lay low as our host house was having a little get together. No big deal, we just went out for a second dinner and some ice cream. We checked out the town a bit too and I can tell you, this ain't no Davis.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - General
I'm currently in Utah for some business. A little training camp before the Tour of Utah starts on Tuesday.

As you'd expect we're doing some serious riding. Well, not that serious, just trying to acclimate to the altitude and check out the courses.

We did the queen stage today. A couple beautiful climbs that were quite enjoyable. However, next week they'll be off the charts.

You may think this training camp thing is a dream come true, chillin' in a mansion in Park City just riding bikes. But Morgan walks around in just his skins, so...

Monday, August 10, 2009 - Race Reports
The wife and I headed out to Reno last weekend for the last hill climb TT of the series. This one was up Mt. Rose on Sunday morning.

I had to skip out on Patterson to make it but I wanted to do a hard, high altitude climb in preparation for Utah. Mt. Rose climbs from about 5000ft to 9000ft which is similar to the Mt. Nebo climb on Stage 2.

There wasn't much drama and I finished in 58:00, off the record by over 3 minutes. I'm blaming that on the stiff head wind. On the flatter part, at the bottom, I kept thinking, "This sucks, you need to find a wheel." Of course there were no wheels.

I saw a Rock Racing party busEscalade on my way up. Looks like they're taking Utah seriously too. A bunch of teams are. I'm actually on my way out there right now, a week early, to acclimate and check out courses. More info on that later.

In other news, this morning I walked out to the car to find the driver's door slightly open and the contents of the glove box all over the passenger seat. Looks like someone had a little extra time last night as there was nothing of value in/taken from the car.

The only thing missing was the key to the bike rack. It wasn't on the car at the time so I hope they're not planning to come back or something.

Saturday, August 8, 2009 - General
A show of golfing power The annual Bud Johnson Family Golf Tournament is a big deal to Sara's relatives. Due to geographic constraints we're supposed to send in our scores this year. Then they're combined in some random way to determine a winning team.

That's the setup, unfortunately neither Sara nor I play golf. But we do hit some balls once a year, for this tournament.

Last night we set out to get our nine holes in. We rented clubs and a cart, bought some balls and tees, and were on our way.

I got done with my ride a little late so we weren't able to warm up at the range before our tee time. Thus, my first swing since last year was teeing off on hole one.

It didn't go so bad. I decided to finesse the ball a little more this time around and it paid off.

However, things went pear shaped on 7. There was a nasty water hazard and since Sara had already lost a few balls we were running short. The pressure was on.

Well, we choked and had to share a ball for the rest of the hole. Then came the embarrassing drive back to the club house to buy more. At least it was scenic.

The tournament rules limit every hole to a maximum of nine stokes. This shortened the game a bit as we both evoked this rule several times with a "Whatever, I'll just take a nine."

Last year I had 7 nines, and Sara had 5. This year it was reversed and I beat her by 8 strokes.

That's good because this tournament is in its 11th year and a win is a big deal, there is a trophy and everything. Sara has been on the winning team twice but I've been skunked the last 4 years. I think this could be my time to shine.

Thursday, August 6, 2009 - Tech
The new mobile site I'm pleased to finally announce, a version of this site specifically designed for mobile phones. The future is mobile and at that future is now.

About 6.22% of visitors here use a mobile phone. That's 6.22% that find it necessary to check while waiting for coffee, commuting or even riding their bikes. These are people who can't wait to get their hands on the new content. So was created to give these enthusiastic people the viewing experience they deserve.

So what's the benefit of the mobile site? Two things, it's designed for a smaller screen and loads faster. You get less squishing and horizontal scrolling in about 35% of the time.

A few people have asked, "How hard is it to make a mobile site?" Well, it can be tricky, especially if you're trying to please everyone with a tiny flip phone. To simplify, I focused on more powerful smart phones with bigger screens like the iPhone, G1, Storm and Pre. But it's basically just a different template keeping in mind the smaller screen.

I hope that at least 6.22% of you will find this new feature useful. If you have any issues, or if things don't work as you'd expect, please let me know.

Saturday, August 1, 2009 - Race Reports
Today at the District Championships we had the same course as Sea Otter but with two bonus out and back sections. I had a simple plan for the 100 mile race, get in the break, ride hard and worry about the finish when it's over. That's pretty much exactly what happened.

On the second lap I got in a move with Evan, Fabrice, Jesse and Will. We rolled the next 80 miles about 2 minutes ahead of the field. It was a good time as Evan struggled without his power meter and Jesse realized this was his third long break in a week.

I attacked on the climb with a lap to go but it still came down to me and Jesse playing games for the last 5k. I lead out the sprint from 175 meters and edged Jesse by inches.

However, there was a bit of controversy at the finish. Some claimed I didn't hold my line and moved across the road. Others thought it was fine since there was plenty of space on both sides. I'm not really sure what happened. A protest was filed to settle the matter but the original result was up held. Overall, it was a sour ending to an otherwise fun race.

But the Wife, she had a great time. She brought her friend Mary and they spent the race in the feed zone whistling at riders. I'm not sure what I think about that but at least there was one spectator who wasn't a racer's significant other.

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