Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Centurion Cycling Courses - Some Thoughts
The good news is that they have released the courses and the profiles of the first two Centurion Cycling events. If you have a look at the profiles - that's also the bad news. Both the Colorado and the Wisconsin 100 mile routes put a huge premium on being able to climb well, but two different kinds of climbing. The Colorado route if you have a closer look at the profile, is pretty straight-forward: 25 miles up/25miles down/25miles up/25 miles down! There are only two climbs on the course, but they are both massively long at about 25 miles each topping out at over 9,000 ft. The second issue here in the Rocky Mountains is going to be the altitude. The Madison profile, is the polar opposite in the world of climbing - there is lots of going up, but the climbs are all short and steep and they just keep coming at you over and over and over, for the full 100 miles. The profile looks like a cross-cut saw blade!
Centurion Colorado - Route and Profile
Centurion Wisconsin - Route and Profile
If you live in an area with big climbs, and you are considering either of these events. Consider yourself lucky. Unfortunately I don't, so I am going to have to be a bit creative with the training to get the climbing legs in shape. Fortunate for me, historically, I have fared not too bad on big long climbs like the Centurion Colorado course. I am fairly light. Have a good pedaling rhythm. And know how to dose my effort well, to keep me in there for the long haul. I fare less well with the type of profile in Madison which is more of a power climbers course for those who can just muscle over the darn thing, recover quick, and then get ready for the next one.
It should be interesting to see how the Colorado Centurion unfolds at or near the front. The climbing starts almost right away. They'll be little opportunity to just sit-in the group. I suspect that it will string out, and thin out, in short order, based on who the best pure climbers are. I have been advised, that if you know you will be overwhelmed by the "normal" small gearing of 39-25, you had best opt for a compact crank and chain-ring set-up, that will give you more options at the low end of the gear range for climbing. Having never yet met a climb that I could not handle with a 39-25, I am considering taking the advice to heart for the Colorado Centurion - not so much for the first 25 mile climb, but the second one. By that point, those extra gear options, will be welcome!
Madison, will be a bit different as the brevity of the pure power climbing will allow more people to hang in there for longer in the early going, but I am sure that more than a few will grossly under-estimate the toll, that this will take on them and by 60 miles, they may be completely toasted. Patience will be key in Madison and knowing your limits. Again, the compact crank may come in handy later on, as the legs start to go and you need some lower gears to get you up and over those short steep climbs in the last 25 miles
Training: If you don't live in a mountainous area, or where there are lots of hills, you'll need to work with what you have. Where I live and ride in southern Ontario, we have a reasonable number of hills, but there is nothing like what we'll encounter at Colorado Centurion. It is a bit like what we may find at Centurion Wisconsin. What, I'll be doing is seeking out the hilliest routes that I can when going out for longer rides, and always seeking out hills on every ride for that matter, and every time I am going up a hill I am going to be focused on working as hard as I can to get up it. Once a get a bit fitter, I will start to do some big-gear work - doing climbs in a gear or two bigger than I really should be - this will build extra strength to keep the gear turning over no matter what. For Wisconsin the key will be hard 5 - 10 minute efforts, with a shorter recovery, and then repeat. The indoor trainer, is not a bad option for this sort of thing.
The Centurion Canada route in Collingwood, Ontario is set to be released shortly. This course I will have more confidence in as I live in the area and train on very similar terrain, all the time. Once it is released I will chime in again with some further thoughts.
Picture at the top is me climbing Mt Lemmon in Tucson, AZ - it's about a 25 mile climb, so similar to what we'll see at Centurion Colorado.