Saturday, April 28, 2012

Morton Community Bank Cycling Classic

Permit Granted! $5k+ purse plus primes!.

Saturday July 7th, Morton, Illinois.

Morton Cycling Classic Flyer

Start/Finish (Adams and Main) in Front of Dairy Queen! Running Clockwise.
Category   Start   Duration Purse Entry Fee

Jrs 15-18  8:00am  30 min 3$50     $10
Jrs 10-14  8:00am  30 min 3Medals  $10
W 4        8:40am  30 min 5$300    $20
M 50/60+   9:30am  40 min 5/5$300/$300 $20
W Open     10:20am 45 min 5$350    $25
Cat 5      11:15am 30 min 3Medals  $20
Celebrity Race 12:00pm
Kids Race  12:10 pm Free (Kids 3 and under)
Kids Race  12:15 pm Free
Event I (Ages 4-6) 
Event II (Ages 7-9) (staging at s/f line)
Cat 1/2    12:40pm 75 min 15$1500  $35
M30+       2:05pm  40 min 5$400    $25
M40+       2:55pm  40 min 5$400    $25
Cat 3      3:45pm  50 min 10$700   $30
Cat 4      4:45pm  45 min 10$600   $25

Purse breakdown

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Road Races 2012

Road races seem to be a dirty word around the Midwest, where anything that requires a hard effort for more than the last 200 yards is seen as a fool's game. But there are still a few fools out there who know that within road racing the essence of cycling may be found.

Here's the list of upcoming road races for the first half of the season. Slim pickings for the second half, so plan your RR fixes now.
Sat 10-Mar Spring Classic #1 (training) Iowa City IA Windy, Rolling & Gravel
Sun 25-Mar Kent Park Classic (training) Oxford IA Hilly & Windy
Sat 14-Apr Hillsboro Roubaix Hillsboro IL Rolling & Windy
Sat 21-Apr Leland Kermesse Leland  IL Windy, Flat & Gravel
Sun 22-Apr Tour of Hermann Hermann MO Hilly & Windy
Sat 5-May Iowa City RR Iowa City IA Rolling & Windy
Sat 19-May Leland Grand Prix Leland  WI Hilly & Windy
Sat 2-Jun Lake Geneva Road Race Lake Geneva WI 
Sun 3-Jun HHS Debate RR Sherrill IA Hilly & Hot
Sun 3-Jun Hellbender Newburg MO Hilly & Hot
Sat 9-Jun Galena Road Race Galena IL Hilly & Windy
Sun 10-Jun Spring Prairie (State) Burlington WI Hilly & Windy
Sun 10-Jun Ste Genevieve (State) Ste Genevieve MO Hilly & Windy
Sat 16-Jun O'Fallon GP (State) O'Fallon IL Slightly Rolling & Windy
You can take your choice between windy and rolling, windy and flat and windy and hilly.

More info can be found on the IL, WI, MO and IA cycling websites, as well as google and USA Cycling. Good calendars at and
Illinois Racing
Wisconsin Racing
Missouri Racing
Iowa Racing
USA Cycling - Find a Race

In my completely biased ranking opinion:
(1) Ste Genevieve is the hardest RR in the midwest, course has been emasculated somewhat this year. Missourians don't like climbing.
(2) Leland Grand Prix is another tough, hilly course. Rated as one of the best in the nation, poorly supported by overweight cheeseheads.
(3) The Hermann RR is a challenging but doable course and is very well-organised. Probably the only RR where attacking on the last hill is worth it.

Several training races in Iowa in March. Spring Classic #1 is the first of a trio, the other two to take place in Central Iowa. Kent Park is a closed hilly circuit near Iowa City.

Hillsboro will be fun, as it always is

O'Fallon is very well organised, lots of corners but requires the racers to actually race for it to be any good.

If 60 second hill sprints followed by 15 minutes recovery, repeated ad nauseam, is your thing then Spring Prairie is for you.

Proctorites got a lesson in echelon riding from the Iowa City boys last year. Much tougher race than it appears.

Leland Kermesse is flat, WINDY and gravelly. No bunch sprints in this one. Closest RR to Peoria. Best race in Illinois. Pure Midwest sufferfest.

Galena has great terrain, well worth marking on your calendar. Like almost every other hilly race it has a several mile downhill to the finish - making it a bunch sprint out of those who survived the climbs.

No info on Lake Geneva - it's new.

Sherrill, IA race is the site of the former Iowa State RR. Dan Hill took 2nd here before - you know that means a tough race with an uphill sprint.

Also note that one of our favorite races, the Mississippi Bluffs RR, will be making a comeback for July 14th. Promoted by Velosport Iowa but taking place on the IA side, just North of the Quad Cities.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Proctor In The Peloton



Monday, December 19, 2011

More Data, More Doubt

"The beauty of SpinScan is seeing the effect of any changes instantly."

Greg Lemond, Taylor Phinney and I have the same problem - long femurs. Very few slack seat tube bikes out there, so we end up running wild setback plus long-railed saddles.

I've always been curious about my pedalling dynamics. By nature a masher, but force myself to practice high cadence frequently. Right leg definitely a bit gimpy, left leg always feels perfect. One of the freaks with valgus (bow-legged) pigeon-toed feet. I've never felt fully comfortable. Always too far back, but with a couple of foot wedges, no-float cleats and a well designed insole I've been able to eliminate knee problems successfully.

I work hard on spinning, but when it's time to make a bridge or drop someone, nothing for it but to press on the pedals as hard as possible on the downstroke. That's what works for me.

Finally got around to getting the Computrainer SpinScan program going at the club training centre. Excited to find out what I could.

Some interesting data, most of it subject to wild misinterpretation.

Spinscan measures the torque on the wheel as you pedal. Cool thing is that it does it at a high enough rate that you can see how the torque changes with crank angle, and you can relate it to left and right cranks.

Right - Left power balance:

At low - medium power output (up to 50% of threshold), the right foot was putting out 60-65% of the power.

At higher output, 70-80% of threshold, the balance was better - 55%-45% being typical.

At higher outputs, threshold, VO2max and above, it hit 52-48.

Standing, the balance was 50-50. When standing, one's body tends to find the optimum position. Surprised that it was so even.

Dunno why the difference was so large at lower power. One should always expect a difference, legs are never the same size, but this was worrying.

Just as surprising that the balance was so even at higher output. That's reassuring.

Higher outputs are where it matters, so it looks like both legs are in good shape for that. Unlikely that I'm throwing away much energy.

I experimented with moving fore and aft on the saddle. Didn't make much difference. Higher cadence equalized things a bit. Moving a little bit to the left or right on the saddle could change the balance as well, but not in a consistent repeatable way. Plenty of room to experiment with shims and cleat position.

You spend a lot of time in road races just spinning lower power. With this imbalance, it begs the question: am I going to over-fatigue my right leg? Not going to worry much about it. I think that the motion of the bike on the road will smear out the differences, and fatigue is mostly induce by the hard efforts. No idea how accurate the spinscan is at lower power either.

Pedalling efficiency - Spinscan number:

The software also supplies a Spinscan number related to pedalling efficiency. It measure the circularity of your pedal stroke; that is, how smoothly you apply force over the cranks rotation - 100% is a perfect circle.

There is zero evidence to show that a circular stroke is any better for cycling. While it's important to utilise all your leg muscles, a glance at the figure at the top of this post shows that it's the quads and glutes that supply the big power and they contribute most near the middle of the downstroke.

The CT manual states that road riders tend to have most circular strokes, with scores in the 70-85 range, and MTBers are much more jerky, but the best known studies of Coyle and Broker (summarised in High-Tech Cycling, Ed. E. Burke) show the opposite. The best cyclists tend to mash hard around the 9 O'clock angle and apply barely any force on the upstroke, while the best MTBers have the smoothest stroke - to retain traction on climbs. The CT manual recommends to use spinscan to help fill in the dead spots at top and bottom of the pedal stroke. Sounds plausible, but it might be better to work on just mashing in-between.

Results for me were all in the low 70s. Typically 72% at 80 rpm and rising to about 75% at high cadence. Not much dependence on power or fore-aft position. Surprisingly, even out of the saddle, the 'efficiency' didn't change.

So this identifies me as a masher, whether that's good or bad I don't know. I suspect it's strongly dependent on femur length, foot length and cleat placement as well. Not much to read into that. There's zero published work out there on spinscan studies and any google search will only lead you to someone trying to sell you something.

I strongly suspect that training to improve pedalling by raising the spinscan number, unless one has a really low score or is new to cycling, is a waste of time and could be harmful.

An interesting thing that I also noticed is that my left leg was consistently a couple % more 'efficient' than my right. My left has always felt much smoother, the mechanics of my right has always felt a bit off - twenty years of soccer and other right-foot dominant sports tend to mess things up. It might also be because my left foot is bigger and fits the shoe better.

Average Torque Angle (ATA):

ATA is difficult to explain, the manual does a lousy job of explaining it. But it's something to do with where on the pedalling circle you're producing best torque. It's stated that 90 degrees is optimum. No justification is given.

My ATA values were close to 100, hitting 95 at highest cadence, little dependence on standing or fore-aft.

I suspect that ATA is again strongly dependent on femur length and leg size. Again, probably harmful to try to train to get it close to 90 degrees.

If ATA is way off, then it's a sign that you fit is way off or you have a serious leg length or muscle discrepancy - see a physical therapist if this is so.

This data is for my training bike, with worn pedals and cleats and a less than perfect fit. I'll bring in my road bike (which fits me well) and my cross bike (which does not fit me well) and compare. If there are significant differences then it may be worth making some fit adjustments to the training and cross bikes.

The quote at the top is telling. Spinscan is an amazing program that shows a lot about your pedalling almost instantly.

Given the lack of any published data or studies to support any of the manual's assertions, I think it's dangerous to try to change your pedalling in any way based on the numbers.

If the numbers are well off the normal range, then you're either new to cycling or have some physical problems that should be looked at by a specialist.

Perhaps a better use of spinscan would be to check your pedalling style periodically and track any changes in the numbers. This could indicate changes in fitness or bike fit. It would also be useful to compare styles on your different bikes to identify fit problems compared to your favourite bike.

My thoughts:

1) There is no evidence to show that a more circular pedal stroke is more efficient. If your spinscan score is in the 80s or higher, there is a good chance that you're not working your major muscle groups enough. If you're above 90 or below 70 you're either a World champ or not trying.

2) A suggested protocol for spinscan testing

Warm up for 20 mins

Observe spinscans at 70, 80, 80 and 100 rpm cadences, each for low, medium and high power. Make note of left-right balance, spinscan #, l-r spinscan differences and ATA.

Check for sprints and out of the saddle efforts.

See if there's any change for fore-aft saddle position.

Repeat every 6 months. Make note of any changes. Could be indicative of a change in fit.

3) If you have knee pain, a spin scan may indicate a change in pedalling dynamics. Comparison to previous results might confirm this

4) Pedalling indoors is not the same as outdoors. Imbalances are likely to be smeared out when outside.

5) Training to optimise the power balance, efficiency or ATA is not advisable.

6) There is very little data out there to support any assertions that spinscan can help pedalling. A few hours on the internets will show you that the large majority of sites with spinscan info are trying to sell you a service with no data to back it up.

7) The numbers are dependent on Femur length, Femur/tibia ratio, cleat placement and muscle composition.

8) One leg will be dominant. Expect slight imbalances.

9) The numbers are most to be trusted at higher powers, near threshold and VO2max power.

10) Angle of attack is subject to an offset depending on how you set up the magnet and detector. Don't trust the absolute value. L/R differences may be more significant.

A few hours on the internets revealed a multitude of pages devoted to selling you spinscan fit services; and a multitude of badly-informed fan pages.

CT spinscan manual. See pages 24-26 and p.35
CT Manual

Some well-informed links:

Good comments. Doubt if any performance boost is real though,
Leelikes bikes

TdF winner (Ulrich?) complains of Spring knee. Docs tell him to quit mashing until pain goes away, then they write a paper about it. TDF winner has good l/r balance but lousy spinscna # - should be kicked out of triathlon class. TdF winner's knee

A (surprisingly) informed (and cynical) Slowtwitch discussion

My feeling about spinscan is that it's a fun toy. It's most useful for tracking your numbers over time and comparing fits. Any gross imbalances should be given attention as to whether they reveal muscle or fit problems or not.

That's it.

(major editing and results on other bikes to come)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cyclocross Techniques

I attended US Masters Champion Brandon Dwight's clinics for two years. He taught me a lot of tricks.

These Velonews videos are great. Note that he teaches a sightly different dismount from most others. I recommend clipping out early rather than late unless you're very confident.

He also uses the step-through a lot. Step-behind is much more common and should be learned first.





Monday, October 3, 2011

Cross Race Schedules

All-singing all-dancing integrated schedule, including Bloomington's underground Recyclocross scene and regional events of national interest.



Close races

Not a lot within 'close' driving distance of Peoria. Best choices are

Sun Oct 15th Perkins Park, Burlington IA (2 hrs)
Sun Nov 6th Devils CX, Bettendorf (great course, 100 mins) (update: change of venue from Middle Park)
Sat/Sun Oct 22-23 Bobbers CX N Liberty, IA (2:20)
Fri/Sat/Sun Nov 25-27 Jingle Cross Rock, Iowa City (2:30, best event of the year)

From my lair I can make any of the Madison and most of the Milwaukee races in about 2:50. Cam-Rock is a bit closer.

STL is drivable if you live South of Peoria.

Apart from a couple of races on the Northside, I can make all the ChiCrossCup races in 2:30 - If I leave early on Sunday morning. I can even make the State champs on Lakeshore drive in 2:10.

Moving to 5:30 pm

Weekly CX Practice is moving to 5:30 pm. Wednesdays. Farmdale.

We'll keep going until the time change at the end of October.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Practice on Thursday this week

Heading down to the Gateway Cross Cup on Wednesday to support Jason Rassi and Dan Eiten racing with the big boys

CX practice is on Thursday Sept 22nd, this week only. Back to Wednesday next week