Monday, September 24, 2007

Ridin' with Z-man

Had a great dinner last night and breakfast this morning with Dave Zabriskie, Kristin Armstrong, Christine Thorburn, Amber Neben, and Alison Powers. The hotel is great, and all of the staff know us! It was a blast getting to know some of the best female cyclists in the nation, and talking to Dave is hilarious--he is a character.

My roommate and teammate Tejay Van Garderen just got in last night after getting stuck in traffic (yes, on a Sunday!) on the way from Izegem, Belgium to Stuttgart. Tejay is a really cool guy, and he will be doing the TT with me as well as the road race on Saturday.

The breakfast was EXCELLENT--the food was good, but that is not the reason. The reason is my dad surprised me in the restaurant! I had completely forgotten that he was getting in today, and it was great to see him here! I introduced him to everyone and talked to him about his couple days of vacation in London before getting down here, his cool rented cell phone (smaller and thinner than a razor, all matte black, with a 2.0 megapixel camera and worldwide capability--sorry, not in the States!).

After soaking up the coffee and biscuits, I threw on my skinsuit and headed to the basement to grab my TT bike. Tejay, Dave and I went riding at 10:30, and I had planned on going for a 1.5hr easy spin . . . nope! We ended up riding around 3 hours with some hills, so I am definitely opened up! The first part of the ride was pretty treacherous because we were trying to figure out how to get out of town, and we even found ourselves on a pretty dicey gravel trail for a couple kilometers. After a while we found an excellent highway without much traffic that was heading off into the countryside, and Dave and I were sitting up at the front cruising when all of a sudden we heard some other voices from behind: Lars Boom and Jos Van Emden from Rabobank! They were joined by the only woman representing Greece.

We all rode together for a couple hours, basically just getting lost in the countryside, and Dave kept promising he would get us home, but I thought he was just BS-ing us. Turns out he remembered every turn we had made, save for a couple little detours. We were all impressed. The ride was awesome, and it was really good talking to Jos, a 4th year (22-year-old) rider who had spent the last two seasons racing for Rabobank's infamous development squad. He spoke perfect English, and we talked about how long we had been racing, what our plans were for next season, where we lived, what races we had done, etc. I found out that he lives in Holland (Rabobank's squad is mostly Dutch riders) less than 100k from Axel where I had raced with Hottubes as a 17- and 18-year-old!

After a good ride on the TT bike, with warm weather and great sun, we got showered and had some good little sandwiches before being joined by Max Jenkins (this year's Espoir Road Race winner, from Berkeley, California), Craig Lewis, and Peter Stetina (both Slipstream boys), all of whom are here for the road race on Saturday. I think we are going to have a really good RR team, as well as a TT pair.

Then Dave, Tejay and I hoped in the car with Noel and drove out to the TT/RR course for some reconnaissance. When we got onto the course, I knew every bump in the road and it fell really familiar (hours of watching those videos on YouTube and scouring GoogleMaps always helps!). The course is AWESOME! The main climb is not nearly as hard as I had thought, and the entire course is very steady and flowing, with a lot of shallow downhill that should make for some very fast sections. The two main climbs are midway through the course and then up to the finish, with the later being extremely important. After 36 kilometers of threshold time-trialing, those last couple kilometers are going to HURT!

I feel very good about the race, though: my legs felt great today, even the day after flying 8 hours and getting used to a 6-hour time change, and I know the course inside and out. It was pretty funny in the car, because I was telling Dave and Noel exactly where all the turns are before it even showed up on the GPS! At one point Dave, who had joked at lunch that he didn't "want any hangers on" riding with him and Noel in the car, said he was happy they brought me along!

Now we are just killing time before dinner . . . I might grab my dad and convince him to take me around Stuttgart so we can see the town. I feel bad because we had all of these plans for the two days before the race and I am pretty much just with the team doing team stuff, but it is a great time nonetheless!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 23, 2007


So I just rolled into Stuttgart a few hours ago and am already having a blast! My flight was booked through London on British Airways, and let me tell you something: the Brits know how to treat you! Everyone I encountered was quick, proficient, and helpful, and they even had good food on the plane!

My whole sleeping cycle shift didn't seem to work that well, though. I had been dialing back my clock in order to get ready for European time, but the assumption was I would be able to sleep the entire plane ride and then I wouldn't have any jet lag. Have you tried to sleep on a trans-Atlantic flight lately? Let me tell you, I felt more like a sardine than a human! Also they never really turned the lights out, and no one seemed to be too concerned with getting any shuteye. I managed a few hours, but far from a solid 8 like I had thought.

Unfortunately our plane was delayed for a while, so I had assumed I would miss my connection. I followed British Airways' [meticulous] directions and was in the line for a new ticket when my voice was called over the intercom: "Passenger Frey, traveling to Stuttgart: please come to the gait IMMEDIATELY, your flight is departing!" HOLY SHIT! I sprinted from the ticketing counter as people snickered at me and found my gate in record time, just as they were about to shut the door. Apparently the flight to Stuttgart had been delayed, and they decided to wait for me!

I made it, and my suitcase made it . . . my bike did not. British Airways is going to deliver it to the hotel when they have it, and I am a little nervous. However, they are very proficient and I understand why the bag did not make it--I can also do nothing about it at this point.

After meeting Ken Whelpdale (Toronto native, director of logistics for USA Cycling) and his girlfriend Magda (from Mallorca, Spain), we boarded our sweet black VW van (called Vito in Europe) and made the 7 minute trip to Hotel Gloria. Ken is hilarious, very sarcastic but not in a cynical way, and he and I were cracking each other up on the way here. When he met me outside the baggage claim, he said, "Nick? I was worried you had decided not to come!"

"Yeah, I was going to scalp my plane ticket, but I couldn't find any buyers."

"Well I am glad--but if you're planning on riding, you'll probably need a bike . . . "

"Well, I actually have it right here in my duffel: it is a folding one!"

"Hey, that's a great idea! Dave Zabriskie actually just pours water on his and it sprouts into a full-size bike."

It was a great way to take the pressure off of lost luggage, and I know it will be an excellent trip if it is being run by Ken! Hilarious.

After shacking up in the new digs, I went down to the restaurant for some lunch. AMAZING! First of all, everything I do in the hotel is on Ken's tab, and the entire hotel staff knows the team and is basically catering to every whim. Second, the food was TO DIE FOR! Two pasta shells stuffed with traditional schnitzel and smothered in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, with cucumber-potato salad on the side. And of course, sparkling water.

Then, while sitting outside on the beautiful patio admiring the other diners and soaking in the sun, I see Kristin Armstrong and Alison Powers walking buy. They immediately recognize me as an American, and we introduce ourselves. I asked them what there was to do in this place, and they reminded me: nothing, it is Sunday! Then I find out we are all eating dinner together tonight--Dave Zabriskie (World TT runner-up in 2006), Jason McCartney (recent Vuelta stage winner), Kristin Armstrong (defending world TT champion), Alison Powers, Amber Neben, Christine Thorburn, and my teammate Tejay Van Garderen. SWEET!!!

Pictures will not be on until I get home--I forgot my camera dock! However, I have already taken many, so it should be a good show!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Final numbers!

OUCH. That is my main memory from yesterday's test! Doing a VO2 test is about as pleasurable as taking the final for a class you have not attended all semester!

However, it is done, and my final hard effort before Worlds is complete. Now I am just trying to relax and have as stress-free a trip to Stuttgart as possible.

I did some analysis on my numbers from the test. First, I looked at the variables that had changed since the previous test:

1) temperature - Monday's test was done at 62 degrees, and Friday it was 74 degrees--that is a big difference! My legs definitely felt hotter (especially inside on the trainer) during Friday's test.

2) classes - having to scramble around all week to get to classes, learn things, get forms signed and faxed to the UCI, spend hours on my feet in lab, etc. is not an optimal recovery strategy in-between tests!

3) new shoes - my old shoes had been held together with duct tape since Downer's Grove, and these new ones were a bit loose, but they feel great.

After I took into account these variables, a couple watts lower average seemed entirely plausible and within the error limits of the SRM. However, I do know one thing: the test on Friday was MUCH harder mentally than on Monday. Why? Pacing! When I began Friday's test, I knew I could do 377 for 15 minutes. That is a big number, and I was pretty nervous before the test yesterday--I had to beat my best?!

Thus I started out too hard, then between minutes 8 and 12 I was suffering like a dog. The end result was that I could barely bring my power up for the last two minutes. This is in sharp contrast to Monday's test, where the first 2/3 of the test were done below my average, and then I really hit it hard the final few minutes. The problem with Friday's pacing strategy is this: my heart rate jumped right up to 174, and then much of the test I was sitting at 177 or 178 because my legs were almost about to drown in lactic acid. On Monday, my legs were allowed to simmer for most of the test before reaching a rapid boil.

Then I looked at the data to see if this conclusion was actually what had happened. Sure enough, when I broke it down into three 5-minute segments, the data did not lie:

Monday Friday
Part 1 373 377
Part 2 373 373
Part 3 384 375

One could make the argument that I was more consistent on Friday than on Monday, but screw consistency! I think it is better to feel really good for the last few k's of a TT than to want to end one's life from halfway out. This also makes good tactical sense for Worlds because the final 2k are all uphill, climbing a total of 250 feet--no mean task after the previous 36k at threshold! I think many guys are going to be losing time hand-over-fist right here, and that is where I want to really keep up the speed and roll in strong. The top time-trialists in the world are almost never the fastest through the first or second time checks, and there is a reason.

Now I am just getting my stuff ready, my bike packed, and my loose ends tied before jumping onto the "dirty" New Jersey Transit train to Newark International and flying over the pond to the mecca of cycling that is Europe. SWEET!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A great quote from Will Frischkorn

From his most recent Velonews diary entry: "First, however, it's time to relax a bit, enjoy the downtime and let loose a bit. You know the season is coming to a close when the bars of Boulder are filled with emaciated and easily inebriated guys with funny tan lines..."

Monday, September 17, 2007


Just did my second of three 15 minute tests today--377 watts, baby! That is 13 more than last Tuesday! SWEET. I am definitely feeling much better, legs feel like they are really coming around, and I have not even gotten my two deep massages yet (those are about as fun as a root canal). Can't wait to get in the air, just 5 days from now!

P.S. if you are bored, here is something to make you laugh:

Worlds online

Check it out starting on Wednesday at 3PM Eastern Time:

You have to register to watch, but it is quick and painless!

My new room!

Check out my new single on campus--especially the sick view from the 4th floor!

I have a big test today--on the bike, not in the classroom! I am doing a 15 minute TT test on the trainer, the second of three tests leading up to Worlds. My idea is I need rest, I need some intensity to keep my levels up, and I need to know where I am in my preparation for Worlds. This kills three birds with one stone!

My first test was last Tuesday, after taking Monday off after Univest and the Gateway Cup. Now I will just play another video game with the SRM for 15 minutes and try to beat my old number! I would not recommend playing this video game very often, though--Grand Theft Auto is much more enjoyable and less taxing.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

New numbers

So I said that Univest was frustrating--small composite team at the mercy of larger, experienced pro teams who all had a guy in the early [first 10k] break--but I found out it was not as easy as I had thought. Although the group went very slowly for the first 30 minutes or so, I actually smashed every previous mean-max power number between 1::30 and 6::00 minutes::seconds! This was due in part to a hairy, insanely steep KOM where the field shattered--check it out:

Notice my speed (blue line) at its minimum, and then check out my power at that speed! That would be 546 watts at 6.5 miles per hour! And my cadence--in a 27, mind you--had dropped to just 56 rpm. OUCH! I kept my output pretty consistent for the two-minute climb, though, and recorded a new 2-minute-mean-max of 504 watts or 6.75 watts/kilo. Not too bad with 1.5hrs of racing already in the legs and a tough 10-day-block of training/motorpacing/racing leading into it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Long time, no talk!

Not that I believe anyone reads this, but I feel bad for those who have checked and realized I have not updated my blog for two weeks! Here goes:

So since Downer's Grove I have done two race weekends and traveled back to the Dirty Jerz for school. The first weekend was the Gateway Cup in St. Louis . . .

Friday night was a flat, open, FAST twilight crit that felt like motorpacing--BUT AT NIGHT. And this was my first race since my crashes at Downers. Great idea, eh? I was playing mind games the entire race, and when I got to the front to start the HART leadout with just over two laps left, I detected a lull and an ABD guy shot off solo. I went with him, and we had a good gap with 2 to go, then 1 to go, then o.5 to go! Unfortunately we were caught literally in the final corner, and I completely stopped pedaling after maxing my heart rate out at 182 (I haven't been over 180 the entire season!). Brent Hanlin, our resident fast man sprinter, got 4th behind Josh Carter, Dan Schmatz, and another dude--not bad!

Saturday's race was slightly disappointing--I was out top finisher in 11th. And I am NOT a sprinter! I hit the final corner behind Brian Jensen and Josh Carter, and then was passed by 9 other guys (that is right, I passed Jensen!) before hitting the finish after hundreds of meters of false-flat uphill. The race was pretty fun--the course is great--but I was mentally just not into going with breaks. Neither was HART. We were not represented in over half of the breaks, but things worked out for us when it all cam together with a few laps to go. Unfortunately, no one was on my wheel during the final lap so I could not lead anyone out. The next day would be payback!

Sunday's race, the Giro della Montogna, went through an amazing Italian neighborhood and included a sizable uphill before funneling into a narrow side-street after turn 3. I was feeling really good, and had been off solo for a couple laps after winning a $100 prime.

Towards the end of the race, with about 15 minutes left, Randy and two others were in a break up the road just a ways. I don't think anyone believed it would stay away, and it didn't. They were swallowed up on the last lap. However, only two were caught--Randy jumped from the break and won SOLO ahead of Dan's rip-roaring sprint! YES!

The final day was arduous--think bad pavement uphill stretch for 50% of the course, including 95 degree weather and bright sun. I felt like I was racing in a sauna. After going for some primes and seeing that Paul, Randy, and Nate were feeling better than I was, I decided to stick it out and just try to be where people needed me. Unfortunately, in the confusion of Randy's crash after turn 1 where he rolled over the top of an ABD guy (!!!), Brian Jensen got off the front with the others and drove it. We chased, Mercy chased, and the gap stuck--those guys were gone. However, after patrolling the front towards the end of the race, Paul got off with one other guy (racing for 5th and 6th) and they held a small gap that continued to increase. Then another guy shot up the right side on the long uphill, and I jumped on his wheel. We still had 8 laps to go, and I though this would just end like Friday's disheartening catch in the final turn, not to mention I didn't want to catch Paul and his compatriot, so I pulled at 85% for the first couple of laps. Then, with two laps left, we still had a 20 second gap, and I knew we were going to do it! On the last lap, he pulled up the hill and I jumped him right at the top, good enough to solo in for 7th after Paul took 6th.

Solid end to a solid weekend--we wanted a stage and we got it!

After Gateway, I had an excellent drive home with my folks (both of whom were in attendance this weekend) and Dave Lippold, one of my good cycling buddies whom I have known since my first days on a bike. Then I packed and tied up loose ends before a nice dinner and Tuesday Night Worlds followed by a flight to Newark Wednesday morning. That brings me to Univest!

What a waste of an amazing course and field!!! I had crashed at Nick Bennette's place for a couple days before heading to Mike Chauner's awesome farm in Pennsylvania to race for his development team, PA Lightning.

Unfortunately I would not call Univest a race--it was more like a fast group ride that was content to have a teammate (even if said teammate was not even a good rider on the team and had no chance at a podium) in the break that would eventually get almost 10 minutes. After the field took a wrong turn (where I took the right turn, doubled back the wrong way, then realized I was right in the first place!), we basically went tempo for the remainder of the European-style circuit through eastern PA. Then we were all time cut at the entrance to the finishing circuits. Sweet.

Sunday's race was definitely NOT a group ride! It was a hot, fast, technical, relentless course through Doylestown, PA with the entire town out in their lawns cheering for us. Peter Horn and I were the only PA Lightning guys left in the race 30 minutes in, so even though my legs felt like rubber after getting in breaks the first few laps, I stuck it out. Peter crashed hard early on, but he managed to get back in and stay in a much better position than I was in--I basically fought the accordion the entire day. My strategy for staying in the race was to pretend that each lap was my last, and before I knew it, I was feeling good and there were only a few laps left! I am not a bunch sprinter, but I can fight for position pretty well when I have the legs. Unfortuantely I did not have the legs, and I managed a mediocre position on the last lap to come in 28th out of just over 100 guys. The field was very high quality, with two full Euro teams, including Sparkasse, and Tecos, a good Mexican team, not to mention Slipstream, Sierra Nevada, Kelly Benefits, Nerac, Colavita, and a host of other top riders--not bad, considering I was going to pull out before the halfway point!

Now I am back at school and I just got completely moved in--I LOVE MY SINGLE! Check out some pics below. Now I am just relaxing and getting ready for classes on Monday before heading to Germany in 8 days! SO PSYCHED!

(The white box with a black electrical tape-Smiley on it is my Rancilio Silvia espresso machine--it is apparently a fire hazard and the University will [and has] confiscated it!)

(There is a coffee table in the mail that should go right in front of the enteratinment center on the right.)

(My bike is just in my room temporarily--we have a bike room in the university gym)