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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

P3 Ride course breakdown

If you are planning to ride the P3 Ride on September 2nd, you might want to read this. If you aren’t, go on to something else. This is my blow by blow account of each segment I rode on the USA Cycling Pro Championship Road Race course.

What I am hoping to do is average just under one hour and fifteen minutes for the first two laps and then ease off and complete a third lap in one hour and thirty minutes. You have to do the first laps that fast because the organizers will cut off any riders who approach the start/finish after 9:30 AM (the ride starts at 7 AM). So, you have to get those first two laps done in two hours and thirty minutes. Then you have until 11 AM to get that last lap.

I went out alone at around 6 PM. It was 98 degrees as I left and upon my return an hour and eighteen minutes later, the temperature had only dropped to 93. I’m certain that played a role in some of the struggles I had. That is a positive looking toward a 7 AM start time.

Segment 1: I left the intersection of Broad and Main and headed to the base of Paris Mountain. I ended up with an average a tick below 19 mph. This was a stretch of nearly 8 miles. I was really pushing it knowing that this was rolling roads and I hoped to build up some time to “give” when I started to climb. Frankly, I think I overdid it and it hurt me later in the ride. Best scenario for the ride is that I get in a group and we work together. I was banging at about 185 bpm on my HR. Don’t need to do that.

Segment 2: This segment starts at the base of Altamont Road and covers 2.25 miles up to the KOM marker. In that distance, you climb nearly 1000 feet. I have pulled out a 9+ mph average on this climb, but if I try that I don't think I'll get the time I need on the second lap. This ride I actually had to use the climb to recover from segment 1! My average was just over 7 mph. 18:06 m:s is nothing to write home about, but considering I was trying to pace myself and keep my HR low (kept it below or around 180 bpm for the climb) I feel pretty good about it.

Segment 3: Starts at the KOM marker and heads down Altamont to the light at State Park Road. It is a distance of 3.80 miles and if you don't kill yourself climbing in segment 2, you can really get some time coming down. Unfortunately, I had gear problems and had to fight that as I descended. I averaged 24.6 mph with a max speed of 44.1 mph. My HR dropped from an average of 180 bpm in segment 2 to 159 bpm during that time. It took me 9:16 m:s to get off the mountain.

Segment 4: It is a minor climb from the light at State Park Road to the top of Piney Mountain Road. It is less than a mile (.66) and even on the climb I was able to hit 21.5 mph. My average speed in this segment was 15.5 mph. After Paris the heart was happy with a max of 172 bpm and a climbing average of 164 bpm. I was at the top in 2:33 m:s.

Segment 5: This is a moderate downhill that goes from the top of Piney Mountain Road to the light at the intersection of Piney and Pleasantburg. It is roughly the same distance as the climb (.64). You are down before you know it - 1:18 m:s. I hit a top speed of 38.9 - basically without pedaling, but just tucking and coasting down. My heart rate dropped again to a 159 bpm average.

Segment 6: Pleasantburg, right on Rutherford, left of Main Street. This is a segment where I think you can pick up some time. The downhills are good for time, but there is only so much speed you can get. On this section, you can earn some time pedaling and if you still have a group together at this point, I bet you could pick up half a minute or more. Unassisted I averaged 20.3 mph in this rolling segment. On the last downhill portion, I maxed at 32.6 mph. In the 5:55 m:s it took me to complete this section, I had an average HR of 164 bpm with a top bpm of 177.

Segment 7: This is a short segment that includes the last "big" climb on Main Street - it seems big because of what you have gone through to get there! It starts right after the top of the first minor climb and continues to the intersection of Stone Ave. and Main Street. It probably shouldn't be its own segment, but that climb kind of sets it apart and you need to be prepared for it. It will only take you about 2 minutes to cover the .61 miles.

Segment 8: I call this the downtown segment. This is where if you are riding for training you can see your time go down due to the lights. In this case, it wasn't so bad. There wasn't that much stopping. This segment starts at the Stone Ave. and Main Street intersection and follows the "urban" portion of the course to the entry of Cleveland Park. It took me just under 7 minutes to complete this section. I bet you could take 30 seconds to a minute off if the roads were cleared for you. I averaged 17.6 mph and got up to 37.6 mph as I approached the park. My heart was recovering and my average was back to 160 bpm.

Segment 9: This is the Cleveland Park segment. It starts at the entrance of the park off of East Washington. This is a time when you feel good -- the riding is easy enough and you know the end is right around the corner. There are the slight climbs on Woodland Way Circle and East Broad, but I was still able to average 18 mph in this segment. I was pushing it a little to cover the 2.35 miles in 7:51 m:s. I moved my heart up to a max of 181 bpm and averaged 171 bpm.

So, overall, I finished in 1 hour and 18 minutes. In order to get a chance to do three laps on the day of the P3 ride, I will need to average under 1 hour and 15 minutes the first two laps. Then I will have 1 hour and 30 minutes to do that last one. My average of 16.8 over 22.03 miles, is just a little short. I've got to pick up a mile per hour more on my average.

Can I do it in 1:15? I really think I can. There are a number of places where I could pick up time if I pushed just a little. Plus, the roads should be clearer and if I can just connect with some riders who have the same goal I do, we should be able to work together to get more speed with less output. At least, that is my plan!

I'm starting to believe!

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