Saturday, May 16, 2009

Race Report: Crank the Kanc...or..."In Search of the Red Line"

Crank the Kanc is a 22 mi time trial on the Kangamangus Highway from Conway NH to the top, in the Presidential Mountain range. The first 16.5 miles are rolling with a total elevation gain of about 500 ft. In other words, all big ring. The next 4.5 mi gain about 1500 ft. In other words, all small ring. Imagine a hockey stick where the shaft is at a slight incline, then you go up the blade. Riders go off every 15 seconds. 90% are on road bikes. Now that you have the facts, let's go to the color commentary....

My goal for the race had everything to do with my power output, as measured by my Powertap. It had nothing to do with my place or time. I'm a triathlete, not a biker. After Polarbear, where I was a bit disappointed not to see more improvement in my power, I really felt I needed to show myself that my bike was stronger. Given that I had last year's power file from the Kanc, this would be a good test and comparison. I wanted to get after it.

Before the race started, I saw some friends of my parents who live in the area and were volunteer traffic controllers. They bike a fair amount, and I actually saw them later going up the highway as I was returning. So before the race, she said very appropriately, "Have fun!" Externally, I did my best to thank her, but inside, I thought...this is going to SUCK. Even if it's successful, it will SUCK. Especially if it's successful, it will SUCK. It won't be successful if it doesn't SUCK. In different ways, we each look for that fine line between leaving something on the table, and going too hard and blowing up. To make matters more difficult, the friggin' red line can move year to year. It seems to me that to find the line, by definition, you need to go past it. You need to really suffer and possibly fail. That kind of failure is a success.

Last year, I averaged 261w for the first part (16.5 mi), and 271w for the final 4.5 mi climb. I thought I could probably go about 10w higher. So off we go....I felt really good to start, and had to keep backing off because I was 300-320w far too often. After 10 mi of the aero position with no breaks, I started feeling it in my legs and back. My wattage dropped a bit, so it took quite a bit of focus to keep it up. Maybe my mind was telling my body to save it up for the big climb. As I hit the inflection point between the two parts, I looked at my average power and saw 277, 16w higher than last year. Cool. The second part was a battle. It was really hard to keep my power up. It kept falling back to 250w. So I got into a pattern of standing up whenever the power dropped, raised my output for 30 seconds or so, then sat back down. I found the power stayed up at 280ish for a while, then dropped down, so I repeated the process. After analysis, I averaged 279w for the second part, 8w higher. For the ride as a whole, I was at 278w vs. 265w last year. I think I know just about where that red line is now. I feel great about these results, and more confident about triathlon racing. Total time about 1:14. After I see the results, I'll do some comparisons vs. others around me who raced both years.

A few other tid bits...

On the final part, a pace line of about 20 Corvettes came down.....Like last year, I could hardly get off of my bike due to soreness or cramping below my butt. When I got back on, I fell over sideways. Pretty pathetic looking. Nearly the same thing happened this year.....The ride back down should be beautiful, descening along a river in the White Mountains, but as they say, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. After the TT torture, I just want to get back to the car. The ride seems to take forever...I have a rule that on race day, there are no rules about what or how much I eat. Today for the drive home it was Pepsi, a big Gatorade, big bag of Nacho Doritos, Nutterbutters, and a big Slim Jim. Yum....Gorgeous weather for the race, about 55 with occasional sun. The view from the top is amazing. The only difference was a slight tail wind vs. a head wind last year....In a nod to DC Rainmaker (, I want to be NOAD. That's the goal for the year.


  1. wow STeve!! I didn't realize that was today! GREAT JOB! congrats!! and I do love your analysis about it sucking...especially if you're has to suck to get there. I get that.
    hope you're feelign good now...after that awesome post-race indulgence. (I feel the same way after races..anything goes.)

  2. Excellent ride. Wow, TTs are supposed to be flat. I can see why people were on their road bikes.

  3. Congrats on the increased power averages! That's awesome.
    I'm not sure I want to do that one, though... You make it sound SO fun! :)
    Love your list of treat foods! but a Slim Jim! Gross! I do love NutterButters, though. I forgot about those.

  4. Woohoo -- nice improvement!! I don't do bike time trials halfway as seriously as you do but think they are quite painful. I'm envious that yours have traffic control. Ours are only 7.1 miles long and have a big U-turn across 4 lanes of traffic in the middle :-(

  5. Very solid power numbers. Oh, and trust's all about becoming NOAD - one way or another...I'm with ya.