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Use Google Earth and win a cycling gold medal

Womens Time Trial Gold Medalist Kristin Armstrong

Womens Time Trial Olympic Gold Medalist Kristin Armstrong

Google Earth was one of the training tools Kristin Armstrong used to win her Olympic Gold Medal in the time trial. When she did her time trials in December, 2007 in China, she took along her husband’s GPS unit to capture the elevation along the route. Then she used that data to find the best training route back home in Boise (designing a local loop that closely mimicked the Olympic course). In a guest post on the Google Lat-Long blog, Armstrong explains:

After returning home to Boise, Idaho, I exported the GPS data to several different formats, one of which I was able to launch with Google Earth. I was then able to trace the entire course from the comfort of my home half a world away and find a similar route to train on back in Boise. This capability along with having the elevation profile proved invaluable in my preparation for my Gold Medal race.

It’s great to see cyclists using technology to improve their performance. One of the side benefits is that it gives fans an unprecedented level of information and access. A great example is Team Garmin-Chipotle’s Power Blog. They’ll have posts with a rider’s profile from a given race and insight’s into their performance. As a power junkie, it’s great to compare my numbers to the pros; as a result, I have even more respect for how good those guys really are.

Back in the saddle again

toilet bike

So I finally got my bike back on Tuesday. It’s been 2.5 weeks since my crash at Mineral Wells and I’ve been riding my cyclocross bike while waiting for my new frame to come in. Luckily Kuota has a 50% off crash replacement policy and I only had to buy a new frame (amazingly everything else was salvageable except my front wheel).

The good folks at FWCycling got my bike put together ASAP so I could take it for a ride on Tuesday afternoon as part of the first ever ThinkCash Tuesday Night Tour. We now have about 7 guys at work who ride, so we decided it was time to start a weekly ride. We rolled out of the office at 5 and headed out to Lake Benbrook and back. I felt like the “protected” yellow jersey wearer in the Tour de France since I had on my blue Moritz kit and was surrounded by riders in green ThinkCash kits.

It felt good to be on my road bike again and to have my PowerTap back. Riding my cross bike for the last couple weeks made me realize what a valuable training tool my PowerTap can be. Since I haven’t done any intervals or high-intensity work since my crash, I’m no where near race-ready right now, which is disappointing because I had really good form heading into Mineral Wells/Fort Davis. If nothing else, I’ll have the opportunity now to build a big base this summer and peak for cross season 😉


Walburg/Pace Bend Race Report

Pace Bend Cat 4 Race

 So this past weekend Jess and Grant joined me for a trip south to compete in two Texas Cup RacesWalburg and Pace Bend.  Both races are within 45 minutes of Austin, so we decided to make a “family weekend” out of it (probably our last family trip before the new baby arrives).

We headed down early Friday for packet pick-up in Austin. Registration was a breeze and we grabbed dinner at the flagship Whole Foods on Lamar. Then we headed to our hotel in Georgetown, which was only 15 minutes from the start of Saturday’s race in the small, German town of Walburg, TX. The Walburg race is the first “big” race on the Texas cycling calendar and is historically known for really bad weather – rain, freezing temps and strong winds. Last year the winds were 50+ mph and racers were literally “blown off the road”. Luckily the weather was in the 50s and sunny, so it was perfect racing weather.

The race on Saturday went “OK”. It was the first time I had an opportunity to race with some Moritz teammates (Brian and Thomas).  I basically had horrible position all race (narrow roads and 100 riders will do that) so I had no chance to compete in the final uphill sprint, but I finished with the pack. Brian did great and took 8th. It was really great to have Jess and Grant there cheering me on at the finish. I finished 39th, but felt like I came in 1st.

After the race we headed for our new hotel for Saturday night – The Lakeway Resort on Lake Travis. I got a really good deal on the rate and it put us only 30 minutes from Sunday’s race at Pace Bend (which was key since my race started at 8 a.m.). After checking in we headed to an early dinner at The Oasis on Lake Travis.

Mommy and Grant at The Oasis on Lake Travis 

As you can tell from the pic above, Grant had a great time at The Oasis. The area around Lake Travis really is beautiful (with all the elevation change, it really feels more like California) and The Oasis is a must stop for anyone that has never been before. The views at sunset are pretty spectacular.

Sunday’s race went a little better. We had a full field of 100 riders again, but this course suited me better with a few short hills. I felt good the whole race and tried to get a few things going – chased down a break, attacked and got a 3-man break going that didn’t last long and then attacked again solo on the last lap (which didn’t stick). I decided to wait and make one more move on the last hill before the final turn and downhill finish, but got stuck behind several slower riders and wasn’t able to accelerate on the final climb. I ended up finishing 35th. Our average speed for the 44 mile race was 23.7 mph, but it never really felt that fast; the course just had a really good “flow” to it. My normalized power for the race was 250 watts and my peak 60 minutes was 263 watts. 263 is higher than the FTP I’ve had in my training plan, so it looks like my training is working; therefore, I adjusted it up to 260 watts in my Training Peaks software.

Daddy and Grant

Grant had fun, Mommy had fun and Daddy got to test out his early-season-legs. All-in-all a great weekend.