2015 Race Schedule

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

These are the races that I have registered for at this point, with everything being to get ready for Maryland.

  1. March 15, Courthouse O'Putnam 5K
  2. April 19, 19th Annual "Wrentham Duathlon"
  3. May 2, Willi Whammer Half Marathon
  4. June 21, “Oh My Goddard!” Olympic Triathlons
  5. June 28, XTERRA French River XPS
  6. August 2, Blackstone Valley Tri
  7. August 16, IRONMAN 70.3 Timberman
  8. August 22, Rhode Warrior Half Iron
  9. October 3, IRONMAN Maryland

The plan is to also get back to cyclocross this year. I'm not planning a full 'cross season, but I am going to hit a few of my favorite race venues.

There are a couple more races that I am looking at and may do depending on how I feel at the time.

  1. September 19, Jamestown Half Marathon
  2. October 10, NU Hartford Marathon - Not a real good chance of this one this year, but it is a bucket list item.
  3. October 18, The Rhode Island Duathlon Festival


IRONMAN Maryland 2015

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Tomorrow begins my training for IRONMAN Maryland. Competing in an IRONMAN has always been a bucket list item for me. I'm pretty sure that this goes back to watching some of the early races on the old Wide World of Sports on ABC. A friend of mine did Louisville two years ago and it made me start thinking that maybe it was time to get this off the bucket list. Last year I took my first step toward making this a reality by competing in IRONMAN Timberman 70.3. It was a great learning experience and I had a lot of fun, so I took the plunge and signed up for Maryland this year.

The last four months I have spent working on building a good base to work with for my actual IRONMAN training plan. I feel like I am in better shape right now than I was at any point last year, which is good, but I still have a long way to go. I'll be testing my winter work next weekend at the Wrentham Duathlon followed by the Willi Whammer Half Marathon two weeks later.

The other thing that I have been working on is figuring out the nutritional part of this training volume. Unfortunately it does not matter how much information you have, if you do not follow it then things go sideways pretty fast.

Well I guess this is all for now. I will be posting updates along the way on my training.

2014 Race Season Review ...

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Overall I would have to say that this past season was a success. I reached two of my goals, and they were the two that were the most important to me. Stay health and have FUN! It was a different year and I really enjoyed the new challenges that it brought. The only goal that I was a little disappointed with missing trying to finish a Cat.3 'cross race in the top 50%. I figured out rather quickly that what I was working on for time trialing didn't carry over to 'cross. That is something that can be fixed for next season.

My training goals all worked out pretty good. Based on the Performance Manager in TrainingPeaks, my fitness was the best it has been while reducing the time I spend training by about 20%. I mostly kept my weight under control, even if I still look like a beached whale in all my race photos.

Basically I build my season around two peaks this year. In late April I peaked for the Willi Whammer 1/2 Marathon followed two weeks later by the Race of Rams Duathlon. After that I took some time off before building to my main races of the season. Although I was trained, I botched the recovery going into Timberman and had a little bit of and off day. Learning how to properly time a recover before a big race is something that I need to work on.

IRONMAN 70.3 Timberman

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Exiting the water.

SWIM: TrainingPeaks Data
Target Time: 0:45:00
Race Time: 0:42:54

I was so nerves before this swim that I tore my wetsuit twice trying to put it on.  This was going to be my first group start in a triathlon so I really had no idea what to expect.  Once the race started I started to relax and try getting into a rhythm.  Unfortunately that was not going to happen.  Instead I struggled with the swim the entire time I was in the water.  Overall I felt the swim went terrible, but when I saw my time I was pretty happy.  B+

T1: 0:04:55
Just tried to be steady.  Overall very happy with my time.

Finishing the bike

BIKE: TrainingPeaks Data
Target Time: 3:00:00
Race Time: 2:48:13

I had pre-rode the first and last 8 miles of the course on Saturday, so I knew the first 6.5 miles were mostly uphill.  It was never a big climb, just a long rolling climb.  The plan was to just keep it nice and steady for this part and then put in a good effort until the big climb that started around mile 12.  After that climb it was 35-38 miles of just getting into a nice steady grove and try to maintain around 220 watts.  This worked out better than I could have ever hoped for.  I had great legs for the two big climbs on the way back in and just buried myself for the last 6.5 downhill miles into the finish.  A+

T2: 0:05:23
It was looking like rain before the start, so I left my T2 stuff in my transition bag to keep it dry.  This cost me a little time, but at least I didn’t have to worry about having wet stuff to start the run.

The start of the run

RUN: TrainingPeaks Data
Target Time: 2:15:00
Race Time: 2:32:28

Before I was even out of transition I knew that I had no legs for the run.  Instead of killing myself and trying to find something that was not there, I just immediately fell into a run/walk routine that I was sure would get me to the finish.  I really liked the course and wish I could have found some way to run a little more but it was not to be.  D-

Overall: 6:13:53

I was using a training plan to get ready for Timberman and was questioning the running volume for the last month before the race.  Unfortunately I decided to trust in the training plan instead of what my body was telling me. I just do not think that I was doing even close to enough miles, so coming off the bike and being a little tired I was doomed.  Going into the half marathon that I ran in April I was doing 25-30 miles a week, but the training plan that I was working with only had me doing 10-15 miles a week.  Oh well, live and learn.

On the bike I wanted to average 220 watts.  When I pulled my data off the Garmin, I found out that I only averaged 190 watts while going under my target time.  I’m not sure if means that I had great legs that day, or that the course really suited me.  I will say that I really liked the course.  I did have on problem on the bike.  I missed my pocked when putting my gel flask away around mile 20 and didn’t find out until the next time I went looking for it.

Based on my result and how I felt after this I have decided that I will go ahead and do a IRONMAN next year.  Not sure if it will be IRONMAN Maryland or Louisville.

IRONMAN 70.3 Training ...

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

My transition area.

I started the year laying down a good base to build on for my first IRONMAN 70.3, well actually it will be my first triathlon period at this rate.  I was flying a little too early in the year and decided to back off a little bit so that I wouldn't get burned out before the actual race got here.  Somehow I lost track of time and fitness before noticing that Timberman was only 8 weeks away.  Not sure how I missed that one, but now I am under the gun and working my ass off to get back to where I was two months ago.  I just finished week two of a four week block and I am starting to feel the legs coming back around.  

Yesterday i did my first dress rehearsal to see where I am and was mostly happy with the results.  It was a test for the bike and run using the nutrition plan that I have for the actual race.  The bike was better than I would have expected.  I was trying to stay around 85% of my FTP for an average.  To my surprise I managed to average 19.7 mph of my 28 miles test loop without exceeding my target effort level.  I never expected to manage that.  I will admit that I really should have drank about a half a water bottle more than I did on the bike.

My transition was 2:15 and I was out for my run.  I ran 7 miles at around a 5.7 mph pace.  I would have liked to be around a 6.3 mph pace, but that was the first time that I have tried running after a ride of that effort.  Although I was not as fast as I would have liked to be, I never felt the desire to slow down any or walk.

Post workout recovery!

I really need to start looking around for a couple of smaller local triathlons to do to get my feet wet soon.  I really would rather not do Timberman as my first triathlon.  Well that's all for now, off to get a massage.

Things I Like ... TrainerRoad

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

I’m not really even sure where to begin with TrainerRoad, but I can say it may have had the biggest effect on my training ever.  For a couple of years all I read about was training with power and how if you were not doing that then you were not training effectively.  I really could not justify the cost of a power meter without knowing if it really would be effective, or just generate more data to look at.  A friend at work sent me a text message about this next web site that offered virtual power based on your trainer, so I decided to take a look at it.  I took a look at their web site and found that I already had everything that was needed except the Ant Stick for my computer.  I ordered the Ant Stick and signed up that same day.

It has been really neat to see that changes that have taken place in TrainerRoad since I started using it in December of 2011.  Some of the changes have been:

  • Adding training plans into the UI
  • Adding teams
  • Adding the ability to create custom workouts
  • Adding a workout filter for finding workouts

2014 8DC Stage 8 - This hurt a lot after 7 days of racing.

When I first started using it I was mostly using it with Sufferfest videos, which changed the whole suffer factor for those workouts.  Gradually I started to try some of their workout and was really impressed with them.  This year I used their “Half-Distance Triathlon Mid Volume” plan and have seen a big improvement in my time trial performance as well as FTP.

The last couple of years TrainerRoad and The Sufferfest have worked together to put on the Tour of Sufferlandria, which is a 9 day stage race from the comfort of your trainer.  They have also done a 8 Days of California stage race that goes on during the Tour of California.  These are great events to help kick your training to the next level.

You can look at your history on their web site and see all your workouts as well as your TSS for the last 10 weeks.  If you are anything like me, by this time of year your TSS for the last 10 weeks starts looking pretty bad, because I am outside more than on the trainer.  If you are part of a team, you can see what the other member of the team are up to.  

There are two plans for TrainerRoad.  There is a $10/month plan or $99/year plan, both of which come with a 30-day refund period.  

Race of Rams Duathlon and The Battle at Burlingame MTB Race

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Somehow I let the stupid part of my brain make decisions for the rest of me the weekend before last.  I had planned on doing the Battle of Burlingame 6 Hour MTB race, but I knew I also needed to work on dealing with transitions for the upcoming Half Ironman.  It just happens that there was a duathlon just down the road from me than is known as being good for first timers.  Well the duathlon had a start time of 8:30 am, and the Battle of Burlingame XC race, not the 6 hour event, had a start time of 2:30 pm, so why not do both!

Race of Rams Duathlon (First race of the day)
The race was a 1.5 mile run, 14 mile bike and then a 2 mile.  This was the first duathlon I had ever done, so I was not really sure how to approach it.  

Entering 1st Transition

I decided to go out easy on the first running leg and was a little surprised at the end when I found out I had run a 10:46.  That was a 7:11 pace and 19th fastest run, which is not something I would have ever expected.

Looking strong coming of the bike

I felt really good on the bike right from the start. so I decided I would push a little on the first lap and see how I felt at the start of the second lap.  I was picking off other riders here and there so I was pretty sure that I had a good ride going.  At the end of the first lap I was still feeling pretty good so I decided to go all in on the second lap and just buried myself.  I was pretty sure that it had been a good ride when I hit the transition and there were only 6 bikes hanging there.  The result was a 43:46.5 bike leg that was good for the 5th fastest bike leg of the day.

Got her back at the line.

I didn't want to ruin what was turning into a good race on the last run so I went for it.  The second run was an out and back that was all uphill for the out part.  Almost immediately I had three runners go by me, and at the turn around there were two people right behind me.  I managed to sort of hold them both off to the finish.  Okay one passed me and then I managed to stay with her until the last 100 meters where I passed her back.  Net result for the second run was a 14:41.3 which worked out to a 7:21 pace.

Race of Rams bike leg data

Race of Rams bike leg data

My overall time was a 1:11:37.5.  That was good for 11th overall and 1st in my age group.

Hopefully this was the finish, because I look awful.

The Battle of Burlingame (Second race of the day)
I went out to warm up before the race and was not real impressed with the hill at the start, until I found out that the course was pancake flat.  That pretty much told me that there was nothing left in the legs and it was going to be a real long race.  I put in a good hard effort for about the first 1/2 a lap and then decided that I needed to just back off and try to finish.  On the 3rd lap someone passed me and said he was surprised I was still even out there after racing in the morning.  My only comment to that was that I didn't really think the pace I was riding at really counted as racing.  That was maybe not the most polite thing to say being that he was just catching me at that point.  After a quick laugh he more or less paced me to the finish.  My finishing time was 1:38:53 which was good for 14th.  I was a little surprised by my lap times.  I figured they would drop off really bad after the first lap.  The second lap was only 2 minutes slower than the first, and the third lap was actually 20 seconds faster than the second lap.

Battle of Burlingame data

Battle of Burlingame data

This may have been a really good race course and I would love to try it again without the dead legs.  Maybe next year if these two events do not fall on the same day.

Willi Whammer 1/2 Marathon

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

For some reason I decided to register for the IRONMAN Timberman 70.3 later this year.  I’ve never done a triathlon of any length before, so I decided to jump right in and see how things go.  At some point my brain must have switch gears and figured out that I should really put some effort into this, or I was going to be in for a long and most likely not enjoyable day.

One of the first things I wanted to get out of the way was working on the run.  I ran track in high school, but I was a sprinter.  After high school I ran a little and have even done a few 5K races.  Not sure that is the makings of a good half marathon race.  In mid-February I started to train for the Willi Whammer 1/2 Marathon on April 26th.  I started easy and just kept slowly adding distance and managed to get to the point where I was up to 11 miles comfortable.

My Happy face?

Well race day came around and I was greeted to pouring rain and low 40’s for a temperature.  Basically I could not have asked for better weather, yeah right.  Well I decided to make the best of it and just go out and run.  I had originally been targeting a 2 hour time, but with the weather I figured I was going to slip a little on my target time.  Most of the hills were located in the first 6 miles of the race.  I’m not sure if it was due to the temperature or what, but I really struggled with the down hills.  My shins were killing my ever time the road went down and I was just about walking.  Fortunately I felt strong on the up hills and flats or that first half would have taken forever.  The second half of the run was just a case of keeping a steady pace and try having a little fun, which I’m not really sure that I pulled off that last part.

All in all I was happy with my time even though I missed my target of 2 hours.  I’m not sure when the next half marathon is going to be, but I am going to be lining up at a duathlon the following weekend.


  • Mile 4.2: 0:39:24
  • Mile 6.6: 1:02:07
  • Mile 9.7: 1:32:32
  • Finish: 2:04:48
  • Pace: 9:32/Mile

Things I Like ... TrainingPeaks

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

I started using several years ago, but I didn't really start using it to its full potential until this year.  For the last couple of years I kind of put a training plan together from bits and pieces of things that I had read without always understanding the big picture.  It worked okay, but I never peaked properly for races.  I would frequently put in the work, not always the right kind of work, but didn't get the recover part right going into my big races.  

Two years ago I purchased a training plan for an event and then put in a lot of time and effort for the race.  I ended up having one of those dream days and started to look at my training a little different.  After that race I started to really dig into the data that the reports in TrainingPeaks was showing.  The Performance Manager became my fitness bible after I spent some time getting comfortable with what it was telling me.  The nutshell version is the blue line is your Chronic Train Load (CTL) or basically your fitness level.  The pink line is your Acute Training Load (ATL) or how much work you have been doing.  The yellow line is your Training Stress Balance (TSB) or how fatigued you are.  Basically as you train your ATL increases which increases your CTL meaning that you are getting fitter.  The side effect of this is that your TSB decreases, which means that your tank is starting to run empty.  You can only push so long before you need to take some time and recover.  What the image above is showing is the steady series of build and recover periods that I have done since I started this years training in December.

There is both a Basic Edition that is free and a Premium Edition that is paid for.  I would highly recommend taking a look at the basic edition and if you like it, then spring for the premium edition.  Both USA Cycling and USA Triathlon memberships offer discounts for TrainingPeaks.

2014 Races, Goals and Objectives …

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

This is going to be a little bit of a different year for me.  Historically I have just raced bikes with the odd running race thrown in.  This year I am going to be doing a few more running races as well as a couple of triathlons.  The triathlons are something new that I have never done before, and will be the biggest challenge training wise.  I also do not swim, so that is something I will have to learn this year.

The other change is that I am trying to get the family more involved in athletics in general.  If any of the kids get into any of the sports that I am into even better.

Planned Races:

  1. Courthouse O'Putnam 5K - Ran a 25:15
  2. Willi-Whammer Half Marathon - Ran a 2:04:48.21
  3. The Battle at Burlingame 6 Hour MTB Race - Changed Plans
  4. Race of Rams Duathlon - Overall Time 1:11:37.5
  5. The Battle at Burlingame Sport Race - Finishing Time 1:38:53
  6. Whiteface 100k MTB Race
  7. 28th Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon
  8. Carrabassett Backcountry Cycle Challenge
  9. Niantic Bay Triathlon
  10. Timberman IRONMAN 70.3
  11. Full Cyclocross Season

Season Goals:

  1. Stay healthy for the whole race season!
  2. Finish in the top 10 of a 100k MTB race.
  3. Top 50% in a Cat 3 ‘cross race.
  4. Have FUN!

Training Goals:

  1. Get my weight under control.  Ideally it would be between 185 and 190.
  2. Make better use of my training time to free up time to spend with the family.
  3. Improve my bike handling skills in all cycling disciplines.

2013 Racing Year Reviewed …

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

My 2013 racing year can be summed up in one sentence.  It was over before it ever started.  

I had a good plan going into last year and I thought some achievable goals, but the week before my first bike race I broke a couple of ribs.  This wasn’t the first time, but it was the first time that it hurt enough to stop me from riding, training and sleeping.  While I was waiting for the ribs to heal, I decided to go see a doctor about a problem with my foot that had been bothering me off and on for about a year.  It ended up being a severe case of athlete’s foot.  He put me on oral Lamisil for 90 days.  One of the side effects, other than destroying your liver, can be fatigue.  For every hour I spent on the bike I would spend four crashed on the couch after.  It was the end of July by time I was off this stuff and another two weeks before it cleared out of my system and I could start training again. 

So what’s the first thing I did once I was training again?  Over train and end of with a pinched nerve in my neck/shoulder area that made it pretty much impossible to ride.  That took another six weeks to get straightened out.  At this point it was mid-October and the ‘cross season was in full swing and I was not even close to being in race shape.  At this point I called it a season without ever lining up for a bike race, and only one running race.

So long 2013, and I am not sad to see you go!

First Race of 2014

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Over the weekend I ran in the Courthouse O' Putnam 5k.  It was the second time I have run this and was hoping to lower my time a little.  Well I ended up 3 seconds slower than last year.  Overall I was still happy with my run.  My first and last miles were close time wise, while my second mile was almost 50 seconds slower.  The second mile is also where all the climbing is during this race.  At the end I felt that I may have held a little too much back and could have easily held the pace I was running for a second 5K.  My time was 25:15, which worked out to 8:08 minute miles.  This is well under what I need to reach my first big goal of the year, a sub two hour half marathon.

2013 Goals and Objectives …

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Season goals:

  1. Podium in a 12 hour race.
  2. Top 10 in a 100k MTB race.
  3. Finish the Hampshire 100k in under 6 hours.  This will be kind of at the mercy of the weather.
  4. Get under 39:30 in the Scituate TT.  Current best is 40:40.
  5. Finish in the top 50% in a Cat 3 ‘cross race.

Training Objectives:

  1. Better use of time on the bike.
  2. Increase FTP/kg to 3+.  Currently 2.47.
  3. Improve bike handling for ‘cross.
  4. Get my race weight to under 185.

2012 Cycling Recap …

Added on by Ray Insalaco.
2012 BEvaER Cross

2012 BEvaER Cross

2012 was a good year on the bike.  I hit most of my goals for the year.  The goals that I accomplished were finishing the in top 50% in the Cat 4’s, upgrading to Cat 3 in Cyclocross and finish a Cat 3 race on the lead lap.  I also wanted to do and finish a 12 hour solo MTB race.

The two big goals that I missed were picking up an upgrade point as a Cat 4 in Cyclocross and finishing the Hampshire 100 in under 6:30.  I was on pace to easily finish the Hampshire 100 in under 6 hours until I folded the front wheel.

I ended up putting just over 5100 miles on the bike for the years, and a lot of those miles were with some really good friends.  Here is looking for many more miles in the years to come.

Cycle-Smart International Cyclocross Weekend …

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Gary Gluck, in green, and Me at the start.

Going into this weekend I had a good recovery after three solid weeks of training.  It was probably the best I have felt going into a race weekend since I returned to racing last year.  Instead of the usual worries about what I hadn't done I spent the week working out some of the bugs in my bike position and getting my tires dialed in a little better.

Banging though the sand!

Saturday was going to be a hard race no matter how you looked at it.  It was a monster field, 150 riders, and there where way too many guys racing in this that had not business still being in the Cat. 4’s. I wanted to try something a little different for this race, so at the start I just plain went for it knowing full well that I was going to pay for it later in the race.  I was rewarded with a really good position after the first lap and surprisingly the cost wasn't as high as I thought it would be.  Yes, I did give up some positions later in the race, but my lap times after the first lap were 9:11, 9:13 and a final lap of 9:12.  Never expected my times to stay that consistent after the effort I put in at the start.   The one thing that I did notice that I need to work on was at the start of the second lap a teammate passed me and I was able to hang with him for the second lap.  On the third lap, every time we accelerated out of a corner a little gap would open and it got harder and harder to close it down until I finally snapped.  All of a sudden I was 19 seconds behind him.  Finished 54 out of 133.

Looking through the corner.

Sunday I knew was going to be a totally different day as soon as I started warming up.  My legs had no snap to them.  I could push a big gear, but had no cadence at all.  After the results from the day before, I decided to try the same thing and just go at the start.  They ended up being the best move of the day as there were at least three pileups right off the start.  I managed to stay clear of all the chaos and had a good position when things settled down.  Unfortunately my legs never came around, and although I kept a steady pace for the whole race I did give up positions slowly throughout the race.  I was in a group at the end of lap two and didn't hit the lap counter, but what I did get was my average speed for laps 2 and 3 was 12.9.  My average speed for the last lap was 13.2, so that still tells me that I was going as strong at the end as the beginning.  No complains there!  Finished 55 out of 132.

As for the course, it was great.  Adam Myerson and company put on a first class event and it is one that I am already looking forward to for next year.  The course was fast, dry and still challenging.  Both days had full fields in the Cat. 4’s, but the course was open enough that the racing fun.  Can you use fun to describe a ‘cross race?

Providence Cyclocross Festival ...

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Game Face

I went into this event without any real plan.  I had been sick all week and lost 10 pounds in the 9 days heading into the weekend.  I hopped onto the course to get in a quick pre-ride after the first race ended.  Then I took my pit wheels to the pit area.  At some point during this they called for staging and I never heard it.  By time I arrived at staging it was too late for my call-up, so they stuck me in the back.  If nothing else, it gave me a plan for the race.  Go hard until you can’t go any more, and then go harder.  It may not have been the most elegant plan, but I did learn something from it.  For the 40 minutes of the race I had an average heart rate of 182, which was higher than I thought I could maintain.  I ended up with a solid 60th out of 99 finishers.

Later in the day I found myself sitting with a bunch of great friends watching the pro race.  Holy shit those guys are fast.  In my race I am looking to go about 45 seconds a lap faster to finish near the front.  These guys were going 4 minutes a lap faster than me.  Watching them also showed me that you can really hammer through some of the corners that I was crawling through because I just didn’t feel like there was enough traction.  They seemed to trust that the bike was going to go where they pointed it.  Jeremy Powers held on to win over a determined looking Ryan Trebon.

Fly Over

Making the pass

I had a solid plan for the race today.  Make my call-up, start hard and suffer.  I dropped my wheels off in the pit area at the start of the race before mine and then started working on getting a good warmed up.  I made my call-up in the 5th row.  It was kind of neat being that close to the front without having to kill myself getting there.  Once the whistle sounded, I again tried to get by as many people as possible before the course narrowed.  I really worked on trying to trust my tires and drive through the corners during this race.  I have no idea where I was running position wise, but this was the first time that I could still see the leader at the end of the first lap in a race of this caliber   The next three laps where just a case of holding my position and gaining any that I could.  I had a much better sprint at the end and gained two spots in the final 100 meters to finish 34 out of 77 finishers.  It ended up being a GREAT race, and lets me know that what I worked on all summer should pay off.  This was far and away the best 'cross race that I have had.

It was great seeing the crew Saturday at the pro race and even better getting to line up with a couple of good friends and battling it out on the course.  This might be the best part of racing ‘cross.  I didn't see any pictures of the three of us together, but someone had a good one of John and Gary.

John and Gary

The Bike Rack ...

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

This is my work in progress bike rack for the motorcycle.  It is in its third version at this point.

Version 1 was mounted a little low and about killed me going through a corner.  In testing it worked good, but on the road it seems that the bike squats a little when cornering.  I stuck it going through a corner at about 45 mph.  Not a lot of fun.

Version 2 was mounted higher and seemed to work pretty good for a couple of weeks.  Then I noticed that the bike was leaning away from the motorcycle.

In version 3 we beefed up the mounting points and added a third mounting point on the back bracket.  This seems to have fixed everything.  Used it for a couple of months before removing it and having it painted.  The whole unit can be removed or installed in about 30 minutes.

Pats Peak 12 Hour Solo

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Race Start

I guess I’ll start with the course.  It was a brutal course that could have been SO much fun.  The course was 5.6 miles with 825+ feet of climbing per lap.  The climbs for the most part were technical and steep.  A fair amount of the single track on the climb was new, so it was a little soft.  They did seem to get a little better as the weekend wore on.  Once you got to the top of the climb there was a really fun section that could have been even more fun if you were not completely dead from climb.  The decent back to the start area was just technical enough to prevent you from ever getting a recovery and then right back into the climb.  This course could have been so much more enjoyable if I had only been racing 2-3 laps, not 12 hours.
Lap 1 – The race started with a 100 yard run to the bike.  Looking at the video that a friend recorded, it would seem that I was one of the last 3 or 4 people to get on my bike.  I didn’t want to bust my ass that quick into the race.  That was a big mistake, because the long climb turned into a long hike a bike in the woods.  The lap was fairly uneventful 52 minutes.
Lap 2 – At the start of the second lap I dropped in with a friend and rode with him for most of the lap.  Near the top of the climb I started to get some light cramps.  That was not a good sign, as I would be fighting them for the rest of the race.  On the decent I took a pretty good tumble when a cleat broke and I slid of the pedal.  Had to have the cleat replaced at the end of the lap.  Lap 2 was around 55 minutes.
Laps 3 – 6 – Really started to fight cramps during these laps.  They were just getting a little worst each lap, and I was taking longer and longer breaks between laps trying to get rid of cramps.
Lap 7 – I took a 2 hour break before this lap in an effort to deal with my cramping.  It didn’t work.  At the top of the climb I was hit with cramping so bad that I ended up laying on the ground still clipped into my pedals.  I had to wait for another rider to come by and ask for help getting my feet of the pedals.  After another 15 minutes of sitting there, I finally managed to get back to the start/finish area.
Lap 8 – This ended up being one of my better laps.  I was taking my time on the climb and was feeling pretty good, and wanted to keep it that way.  I was a little over ¾ of the way up the climb when my light started blinking that the battery was almost dead.  If I didn’t finish the lap, then I would be a DNF.  It was surprising how much you can ignore when you are worried about being stuck in the woods without light.

Lap Something

Tour of Battenkill Recap... 25 feet!

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Somehow I let myself get talked into racing in the Tour of Battenkill.  In hindsight it is kind of funny that I would let this be my first road race since the late 80’s.  The night before the race I got pretty much NO sleep.  It was partly nerves and partly one of the worst hotels I have ever stayed at.
The morning of the race I had a early breakfast while hoping that my race day stomach would calm down.  We lined up for our race about 9 minutes before our start time, and it was a good thing that I had a friend lined up next to my.  There were two quick runs to the restroom in that 9 minutes.  

The second the race started I calmed down completely and quickly fell into the flow of the race.  The first 10 miles was covered in a quick 24 minutes with two short punchy climbs.  I have never been a great climber, so my plan was to try and be at the front going into the climbs and give ground slowly to stay with the group.  My biggest concern was a 600 yard climb at 18 percent starting just before mile 12.  I hit the climb sitting 4th or 5th wheel which was perfect.  During the climb I was slowly giving up spots and before I knew it there was a gap between me and the group.  What I didn’t know was that the first two climbs had torn the group to shreds.  At the top of the climb the gap was about 25 feet between me and the last rider.  I spent the next five miles trying to close that slowly growing gap.  On the fourth climb starting at mile 18 someone was dropped from the group and I started working with them.  By the top of the climb at mile 20 we had become a chase group of 4, but were still losing ground.  There was another short steep dirt climb around mile 28 that ended any hope I had of getting back to the lead group.  I was dropped by the chase group and ended up doing a individual time trial for the last 34 miles.  In the end I was just over 30 minutes back from the winner, but only lost 5 minutes to the chase group by the end.

At the end I swore I would never do this race again.  By time I got home 4 hours later I decided I could be talked back into it.  The next morning I started looking at my training program to see what I needed to change to improve my performance next year.  Yeah, I’m hooked.

Some of the funny things that happen during the race was the guy that just before I caught him on Wrights Road, he got off his bike and tossed it into the woods and walked off.  There was another person bent over his bike, so cramped up he couldn’t move.  I felt pretty bad for him because I was fighting cramps myself.
Next year ...

2011 Cyclocross Season Review

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

For the most part my plan for this season was just to get back into the swing of racing.  Over the course of the season I just happened to learn quite a bit about myself in the process.  Some of the biggest surprises had to do with training.  Mainly things that I thought would work and things that actually did work.  The following is my race by race breakdown of the season and some quick thoughts on the race.

Providence Cross Fest Day 1 (77/89) 10/8/2011
Time Back: 0:09:20

Wow!  I completely forgot how fast cross races were.  Completely not ready for this.  I was the first or second to last person not lapped.

Providence Cross Fest Day 2 (62/67) 10/9/2011
Time Back: lap

This was very much a continued learning experience.  Was not ready for back to back days racing, and was so happy when the leader caught me.  It felt like the whole race was up hill in a wet spongy field.

Mansfield Hollow Cross (42/56) 10/15/2011
Time Back: lap

I had a pretty good start here, but again found my fitness lacking.  Felt pretty quick on the lower part of the course that was fairly hard, but I had nothing on the upper part of the course that was mostly open field.  Just watched people ride away from me there.  Started to see some of the areas that I needed to work on.

Cycle-Smart International Day 2 (110/135) 11/6/2011
Time Back: 0:07:03

This was the first race where I was happy with how my day went.  Started at the back, and was able to move forward for a change.  Crashed on the last lap and bend the derailleur hanger, but still finished strong.

Baystate Cyclocross Day 1 (38/57) 11/26/2011
Time Back: 0:05:29

Started in the last row and got tangled in a crash at the start.  It was lap two before I was finally able to start moving forward.  Hooked up with John Young on lap three and worked with him for the last couple of laps.  By far the best race of the season.

Baystate Cyclocross Day 2 (30/34) 11/27/2011
Time Back: 0:06:55

I was the last row at the start.  My legs never really came around.  Guess I still was not ready for the back to back race days.  Still a good day for the most part.

NBX GP of Cross Day 1 (82/111) 12/3/2011
Time Back: 0:07:26

Started near the back and moved up really good on the start.  Had a great ride going for the first two and a half laps until a pointless crash the tweaked my front wheel.  Had to ride to the pits with the front breaks released so that the wheel would turn.  During the wheel change we found that my skewers had been stolen from my pit wheels.  Quit counting at 25 places lost during the wheel change.   Had a monster lap after the wheel change.  Adrenalin can be a wonderful thing, but I popped on the last lap.  All in all a good race.

NBX GP of Cross Day 2 (64/106) 12/4/2011
Time Back: 0:05:24

Had a good start and was rode pretty good.  This was a rather uneventful race.  Faded a little at the end.  The only negative was that Bunny Boy got me at the line.  This was probably my best race of the year.

Expo Wheelmen SalvageCross (26/51) 12/10/2011
Time Back:  

FRONT ROW START!  Had a good start, unfortunately I felt awful.  I pretty much just tried to not give up spots two fast for the first couple of laps.  Felt really good for the last lap and a half, where I picked a couple spots back up.

DAS Cross 12/11/2011
Time Back: 

I was still a little tired from the day before, and it was very cold.  More or less had a good day.  I was riding much better at the end that early in the race.

New England Regional Championships Day 2 (37/61) 12/18/2011
Time Back: 0:04:58

This was the first race of the year were I started far enough forward to be called up.  It was the last row to get called up, but it was a call up!  It was VERY cold at the start, and I had not had time to pre ride the whole course, so I started easy for the first lap.  Turned it up on lap two and started moving forward.  Felt GREAT.  Crashed pretty hard on the third lap and that took a lot of the wind out of me.  Didn't start feeling good again until the last lap.  This was the first race that I actually wanted to go another couple of laps.  Great way to end the season.