Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Whole Athlete/Specialized Spectacular in Colorado Springs

Fresh off a sensational race at the Missoula XC, the Whole Athlete/Specialized Team continued its successful summer build toward the National and World Championships with multiple victories and podium finishes at the Colorado Springs Junior UCI race.

For the second consecutive weekend, Christopher Blevins and Haley Batten took wins in the highly competitive Junior UCI 17/18 races. Teammates Anders Johnson and Carson Beckett rounded out the Junior Men's podium in 2nd and 4th, with Beckett overcoming an untimely flat on the final lap. Kelsey Urban also hit the podium with a solid 4th place in the Junior Women's UCI race, while Aidan Bond took 2nd in 12 and under and Mike Mace 7th in the Junior 15/16 event.

Christopher Blevins
After finishing 5th in the Junior 17/18 Junior Road Nationals TT in California on Friday,
Blevins flew to Colorado Springs and took the XC win on Saturday.

Haley Batten
Batten handled the technical course with poise and skill.

Anders Johnson
Johnson had his best race yet, with a solid 2nd place finish.

Carson Beckett
Beckett rode the entire race with Blevins, trading off the lead until a last lap flat tire dropped him to 4th place.

Aidan Bond
Bond rode to a strong 2nd place finish in the 12 and Under race.

Kelsey Urban
Urban on her way to a podium finish.

Mike Mace
A top-10 ride for Mike Mace.

Podium Finishers
UCI Junior podium finishers.

Junior 17/18 podium
Whole Athlete/Specialized well-represented on the international Junior Men's podium.

Next up for the Whole Athlete / Specialized Team:
July 4th: The Rage at Snowbird - Snowbird, UT
July 16th: XC National Championships - Mammoth, CA

Stay tuned for more exciting news!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sensational Missoula for Whole Athlete/Specialized

Building on its Spring success, Whole Athlete/Specialized kicked off the Summer with impressive performances at the Missoula ProXCT. Christopher Blevins and Haley Batten each took victories in the hotly contested Junior UCI 17/18 races, as teammates Anders Johnson and Carson Beckett rounded out the Junior Men's podium in 4th and 5th. Meanwhile, U23 Cypress Gorry continued his upward trajectory with an excellent 8th place in the Pro Men's UCI C1 event. Four Junior podium places and a top-10 Pro finish capped off a great weekend for the team.

Christopher Blevins
Blevins set a blistering pace, leading from start to finish.

Haley Batten
Batten flies over the Buffalo Jump having led solo from start to finish.

Cypress Gorry
Gorry rode to an 8th place Pro finish and 3rd U23.

Junior Men 17/18
Blevins, Johnson, and Beckett celebrate their successful race.

Junior Women 17/18
Batten maintains her #1 World UCI ranking.

Haley Batten
Happy Junior podium finishers.

Next up for the Whole Athlete / Specialized Team:
June 27th: ProXCT #6 / US Cup - Junior UCI Event - Colorado Springs, CO
July 16th: XC National Championships - Mammoth, CA

Stay tuned for more exciting news!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Quarq Factor Phase Two - The Euro Effect

In the last Quarq Factor Installment, we introduced the project and analyzed power for the first two rounds of the ProXCT / US Cup Series. Now that the dust has settled on the team's US Spring race campaign, we can examine more closely what it takes to compete in International events in Europe.

The Quarq Factor Criteria

At Whole Athlete, we use a standard called Maximal Steady State (MSS), a real-world performance threshold of 20-30 minute peak power and heart rate which reflect readily measurable and repeatable criteria confirmed with either a simple field test or through the validated MSS testing protocol used at the Whole Athlete Performance Center.

During a mountain bike race, a true representation of workload over time is normalized power since it averages only time recorded while pedaling, factoring out zeros when descending or coasting. For each rider, normalized power as a percentage of their individual MSS gives the value relative meaning since each person's specific power levels can be quite different. We will keep each rider's actual power data confidential, yet still provide a representation that is meaningful and informative.

The Euro Effect

Four of our Junior 17/18 riders had the opportunity to race in Austria and Germany this past month, competing in the highest level Junior Series UCI races. By gathering power data throughout, we found that the depth of the fields, high level of competition, and nature of the courses all combined to determine power demands.

The most common factor in contrast to XC races in the US is that high level European XC races require a higher initial output (1 to 2 min peak power) to be competitive with the fastest riders, specifically on the start loop (Table 1). But much like the various US courses, the relative punchiness or steadiness of the climbs dictates much of the distribution of power.

The most effective strategy was being able to achieve a good position on the start loop without going out too hard, then maintain consistent and strong laps throughout, especially the final lap.

At the Haiming, Austria event, the course featured many steep, punchy climbs with little place to recover, whereas in Heubach, Germany the course was basically a single stair-step climb and descent each lap. The climbing profile differences were apparent in time in ranges around and above Maximal Steady State (MSS) power. A significantly larger amount of time spent at a higher supra-threshold (>140% MSS power) range on the punchy Haiming course, while in Heubach the time between 100-140% of MSS was greater given the more sustained climb (Table 2).

Tables 3-6 compare the time spent at MSS and above for each rider among all four US and European Spring Junior UCI events.

Table 1: Haiming, Austria & Heubach, Germany Junior UCI Series - Men and Women
Normalized Power as Percentage of Maximal Steady State
Haiming, Austria
Start Lap Lap 1 Lap 2 Lap 3 Lap 4 Lap 5 Race Avg
Athlete 1 114% 99% 91% 90% 88% 90% 94%
Athlete 2 122% 109% 90% 88% 85% 96% 94%
Athlete 3 105% 91% 76% 76% 76% N/A 83%
Athlete 4 129% 94% 85% 75% 78% N/A 86%
Heubach, Germany
Athlete 1 122% 95% 95% 94% 97% N/A 103%
Athlete 2 113% 109% 94% 93% 100% N/A 99%
Athlete 3 N/A 83% 78% 80% N/A N/A 80%
Athlete 4 N/A 106% 93% 98% N/A N/A 99%

Table 2: Haiming, Austria & Heubach, Germany Junior UCI Series - Men and Women
Time at Maximal Steady State (MSS) and Supra-Threshold Power
MSS: 100 - 120% 120-140% >140%
Haiming Heubach Haiming Heubach Haiming Heubach
Athlete 1 7:00 12:30 10:40 14:00 9:30 3:30
Athlete 2 8:30 13:00 12:00 11:00 10:30 3:30
Athlete 3 6:25 12:00 5:15 7:00 8:00 5:00
Athlete 4 8:55 13:40 5:40 5:25 6:30 4:30

Table 3: Comparison of US and European Spring Junior UCI Series - Athlete 1
Time at Maximal Steady State (MSS) and Supra-Threshold Power
MSS: 100 - 120% 120-140% >140% Climbing
Fontana 7:14 11:35 9:30 Mixed
Bonelli #2 6:42 10:00 10:30 Short/ Punchy
Haiming 7:00 10:40 9:30 Short/ Punchy
Heubach 12:30 14:00 3:30 Sustained

Table 4: Comparison of US and European Spring Junior UCI Series - Athlete 2
Time at Maximal Steady State (MSS) and Supra-Threshold Power
MSS: 100 - 120% 120-140% >140% Climbing
Fontana 8:00 11:30 9:15 Mixed
Bonelli #2 5:15 10:15 13:30 Short/ Punchy
Haiming 8:30 12:00 10:30 Short/ Punchy
Heubach 13:00 11:00 3:30 Sustained

Table 5: Comparison of US and European Spring Junior UCI Series - Athlete 3
Time at Maximal Steady State (MSS) and Supra-Threshold Power
MSS: 100 - 120% 120-140% >140% Climbing
Fontana 9:00 7:25 9:15 Mixed
Bonelli #2 9:50 7:50 12:00 Short/ Punchy
Haiming 6:25 5:15 8:00 Short/ Punchy
Heubach 12:00 7:00 5:00 Sustained

Table 6: Comparison of US and European Spring Junior UCI Series - Athlete 4
Time at Maximal Steady State (MSS) and Supra-Threshold Power
MSS: 100 - 120% 120-140% >140% Climbing
Fontana 9:20 6:10 8:15 Mixed
Bonelli #2 10:05 6:25 7:00 Short/ Punchy
Haiming 8:55 5:40 6:30 Short/ Punchy
Heubach 13:40 5:25 4:30 Sustained


The Quarq Factor Phase 3 - Preview

On tap for the Quarq Factor Project are three more UCI Junior events in the US, including the Missoula ProXCT, Colorado Springs ProXCT, and the National Championships at Mammoth Mountain, CA. Both Colorado Springs and Mammoth are at high elevation and will reveal how the thin air affects power for both sea level dwellers relative to those from elevation towns. Stay tuned!

Women's poduim
The Haiming course was dry, but with steep and punchy climbs.

Kelsey Urban
The main climb in Heubach required a high, steady output.

Epic mud
Mud played a role in the challenging race in Germany.


About the Quarq Factor Project

A longtime tool for road racers worldwide, the powermeter has become a valuable asset for the mountain bike as well with the release of the Quarq XX1. For the 2015 season, the Whole Athlete/Specialized Team has partnered with Quarq Powermeters to employ this powerful tool in an innovative project called The Quarq Factor

Quarq

By analyzing race data throughout the year, the team will determine optimal pacing strategies, measure power requirements of each course, and explore what it takes for each rider to continue on an optimal development path with greater training specificity.

Whole Athlete/Specialized will publish an analysis of the data periodically to demonstrate the power of the Quarq for competitive cyclists looking to take their racing to the next level.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Whole Athlete / Specialized Juniors Shine at Home and Abroad

Whether facing regional talent or the best in the world, Whole Athlete/Specialized Juniors showed their class in both the US and in Europe with impressive performances this past weekend.

At the UCI Junior Series races in Haiming, Austria and Heubach, Germany, Haley Batten and Christopher Blevins posted top results with 11th and 12th place finishes in huge world-class fields of as many as 120 racers. On the most challenging of courses, Carson Beckett and Kelsey Urban also had strong showings, earning 20th and 23rd placings. 

After their Spring European race campain, all four riders are currently among the top ranked Junior riders in the world with Batten in 1st, Blevins 4th, Urban 6th and Beckett 17th. 

Haley Batten
Urban climbs the muddy trails of Heubach.

Christopher Blevins
Blevins gives his all in the Haiming XC.

Carson Beckett
Beckett at full effort on the Haiming climb.

Haley Batten
A focused and muddy Batten at Heubach.

Epic mud
Epic mud in Heubach.

Carson Beckett
Training among the Austrian Alps.

Meanwhile back in the US, our youngest team Junior Aidan Bond posted a win in his first race of the season at the Tierra Torture in Santa Fe, NM. At only 12-years-old, Bond bested his competitors in the 9-15 age group. Not to be outdone, Junior rider Anders Johnson raced the Pros at the Intermountain Cup in Midway, UT and landed squarely on the podium in 2nd place among a field of seasoned racers. 

Anders Johnson
Johnson charging on home turf. (photo: Angie Harker)

Stay tuned for more exciting news!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Batten and Urban go 1-2 at the Sea Otter Classic

The dynamic duo of Haley Batten and Kelsey Urban showed they're ready for their Spring European race campaign this month after a fourth consecutive 1-2 race performance of 2015 - this time at the Sea Otter Classic.

Haley Batten
A focused Batten leads through the singletrack in cool, foggy conditions.
 
Currently ranked the 1st and 4th Junior Women in the world, Batten and Urban will face top international talent in Europe over the next two weekends, including the current Junior World Champion. Also joining the duo in Haiming, Austria and Heubach, Germany are teammates Christopher Blevins and Carson Beckett, who are also highly ranked at 4th and 11th among Junior Men worldwide. Thanks to their international ranking, all four riders will have the advantage of high starting call-ups at these key UCI events. 

Kelsey Urban
Urban heads to Europe with good form.
 
Next up for the Whole Athlete / Specialized Team:
  • 04/25/15 Junior UCI XCO Haiming, Austria
  • 05/02/15 Junior UCI XCO Heubach, Germany
Stay tuned for more exciting news!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Bountiful Bonelli for Whole Athlete/Specialized Juniors with Two Wins, Six Podium Places

It was back to Bonelli Park for round three of the ProXCT/US Cup Series as Whole Athlete/Specialized Juniors faced talented fields at the second US Junior UCI race of the season.

Veda Gerasimek
Gerasimek was focused and flawless in her race.
 
Race day started out with 16-year-old Veda Gerasimek earning her first win of 2015 in the Junior Women's 15-18 race, while young Michael Mace continued his upward trajectory with a solid 3rd place in the Junior men's 15/16 event. 

In the UCI Junior races, Haley Batten and Kelsey Urban once again scored a 1-2 performance among the 17/18 Women, as Christopher Blevins and Carson Beckett earned hard fought 2nd and 4th places, battling it out with current World Champion Simon Andreassen and Pan American Champion Egan Bernal in the Men's 17/18 event.

Christopher Blevins
Blevins held on to a strong 2nd place, closing in on eventual winner Bernal in the final laps.
 
Haley Batten
Batten goes three for three with her win at Bonelli #2.

Carson Beckett
Beckett shows his consistency with yet another podium performance.
 
Kelsey Urban
Urban on form as she prepares for Spring racing in Europe.

Junior 17/18 Podium
Junior Men's 17/18 UCI Podium:
Egan Bernal 1st, Christopher Blevins 2nd, Simon Andreassen 3rd, Carson Beckett 4th, and Jerry Dufour 5th.
 
Veda Gerasimek, Mike Mace
Gerasimek and Mace were all smiles after their performances in the 15/16 Junior events.

Continuing its Spring Campaign the team heads to the Sea Otter Classic this week, then four 17/18 Juniors will head to Europe - Christopher Blevins, Carson Beckett, Haley Batten, and Kelsey Urban - to tackle prestigious UCI events in Austria and Germany against the best in the World.

Next up for the Whole Athlete / Specialized Team:
  • 04/18/15 Sea Otter Classic ProXCT
  • 04/25/15 Junior UCI XCO Haiming, Austria
  • 05/02/15 Junior UCI XCO Heubach, Germany
Stay tuned for more exciting news!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Introducing, The Quarq Factor Project

Whole Athlete/Specialized Team Partners
with Quarq Powermeters for 2015
 
Quarq Factor    


Introducing, The Quarq Factor Project
 
A longtime tool for road racers worldwide, the powermeter has now become a valuable asset for the mountain bike as well with the release of the Quarq XX1. For the 2015 season, the Whole Athlete/Specialized Team has partnered with Quarq Powermeters to employ this powerful tool in an innovative project called The Quarq Factor

Quarq

By analyzing race data throughout the year, the team will determine optimal pacing strategies, measure power requirements of each course, and explore what it takes for each rider to continue on an optimal development path with greater training specificity.

Whole Athlete/Specialized will publish an analysis of the data periodically to demonstrate the power of the Quarq for competitive cyclists looking to take their racing to the next level.

The Quarq Factor Criteria

At Whole Athlete, we use a standard called Maximal Steady State (MSS), a real-world performance threshold of 20-30 minutes MSS power and heart rate reflect a readily measurable and repeatable criterion confirmed with either a simple field test or through the valid MSS testing protocol used at the Whole Athlete Performance Center.

During a mountain bike race, a true representation of workload over time is normalized power since it averages only time recorded while pedaling, factoring out "zeros" when descending or coasting. For each rider, normalized power as a percentage of their individual MSS gives the value relative meaning since each person's power levels can be quite different. We will keep each rider's actual power data confidential, yet still provide a representation that is meaningful and informative.



The Quarq Factor - Round One:
Bonelli Park ProXCT-US Cup #1


The opening round of the ProXCT-US Cup Series, Bonelli Park served as the first opportunity to gather and analyze race data. Under hot conditions and on a very punchy course with no sustained climbs or extended sections of recovery, proper pacing was the name of the game as was underscored by a strong correlation between first vs. last lap power and race outcome.

In the three-lap race, our Junior riders who were most successful employed a strategy of keeping their first lap normalized power close to 100% of their MSS. After a slightly lower paced second lap, they either matched their opening lap power in the final lap or increased it. The riders who started out too hard on their first lap at 115-118% of their MSS, were not able to maintain a similar level thereafter, showing a decrease of 10-12% in average power on their last lap (Table 1).


Table 1: Quarq Factor Power Analysis -
Bonelli Park ProXCT-US Cup #1
Junior Men and Women

Normalized Power as Percentage of MSS
Lap 1 Lap 2 Lap 3 Lap 3 vs. Lap 1
Athlete 1 102% 93% 104% +2%
Athlete 2 118% 101% 109% -10%
Athlete 3 100% 91% 101% +1%
Athlete 4 100% 92% 101% +1%
Athlete 5 115% 102% 103% -12%

In the Elite Men's seven-lap UCI race, pacing became even more critical given the heat and length of the event. After a fast first lap that included an all out start loop, our U23 rider paced his efforts between 83-87% of MSS power for five laps, allowing him to raise his effort to 90% of MSS for the last lap, earning him additional places (Table 2). He started from a 50th place call up and finished 21st. After the first lap, his last lap was fastest.

Table 2: Quarq Factor Power Analysis -
Bonelli Park ProXCT-US Cup #1
Elite/ U23

Normalized Power as Percentage of MSS
Entire Race Lap 1* Lap 2 Lap 3 Lap 4 Lap 5 Lap 6 Lap 7
89% 100% 89% 88% 87% 83% 86% 90%
*Lap 1 includes start loop.



The Quarq Factor - Round Two:
Fontana ProXCT-US Cup #2 / Junior UCI


Round two of the ProXCT-US Cup and the first Junior UCI event at Fontana provided another opportunity to examine race data, this time on a course that featured significantly more sustained climbing (Diagram 1). Each lap was defined by a total of 650 feet of vertical gain over a distance of 3.5 miles, with nearly all the climbing coming in the first two miles. After a demanding, technical descent, the riders then faced approximately a mile of flat terrain before the road tilted back up again for the following lap. Junior men completed three laps, while the Junior Women did two. The Pro/ U23 field faced a slightly shorter version of the same course with close to 500 feet of vertical each time for a total of six laps (Diagram 2). 

Diagram 1: Fontana ProXCT-US Cup #2
Junior Cat 1 Course Profile

Fontana profile
Diagram 2: Fontana ProXCT-US Cup #2
Elite/ U23 Course Profile
(UCI HC) 

Fontana ProXCT

Once again, pacing was the name of the game as the best performances from our Juniors came as a result of keeping a well regulated effort on lap 1, allowing a high output on the final lap. The exception was Athlete 1 who followed an early attack by the Junior World Champion and rode with him up the first climb, requiring a significant Lap 1 output (Table 3). After a small technical mishap and losing contact with him at the top, Athlete 1 then settled into his own pace for the final two laps and paced it well, raising his output on Lap 3 to hold onto 2nd place. Meanwhile, Athlete 2 paced himself perfectly to produce the same output on Laps 1 and 3, actually riding the same Lap 3 time as Athlete 1. Athlete 3 started relatively hard and then had an unfortunate crash, which affected his pacing thereafter. Meanwhile, all three of the Junior Women paced their races well despite the shorter distance of their event (Table 4).


Table 3: Quarq Factor Power Analysis -
Fontana ProXCT-US Cup #2 / Junior UCI
Junior Men

Normalized Power as Percentage of MSS
Entire Race Lap 1 Lap 2 Lap 3 Lap 3 vs. Lap 1
Athlete 1 92% 102% 95% 97% -5%
Athlete 2 96% 97% 92% 97% 0%
Athlete 3 101% 108% 98% 94% -4%

Table 4: Quarq Factor Power Analysis -
Fontana ProXCT-US Cup #2 / Junior UCI
Junior Women

Normalized Power as Percentage of MSS
Entire Race Lap 1 Lap 2 Lap 2 vs. Lap 1
Athlete 1 94% 95% 93% -2%
Athlete 2 95% 97% 93% -4%
Athlete 3 96% 97% 96% -1%

In the Elite men's race, our U23 rider was hindered at the start by riders crashing in front of him, requiring a bigger effort to regain positioning throughout the first two laps. Thereafter, he paced it well for the remaining four laps with only a slight drop in power midway through Lap 3, yet finishing with a very consistent second half to his race (Table 5). His steady output gained him over 30 places after the start mishap amid a field of 106 riders in the highest level UCI HC event.


Table 5: Quarq Factor Power Analysis -
Fontana ProXCT-US Cup #2
Elite/ U23

Normalized Power as Percentage of MSS
Entire Race Lap 1 Lap 2 Lap 3 Lap 4 Lap 5 Lap 6
92% 99% 93% 87% 89% 91% 89%



The Quarq Factor Rounds 1 and 2 - Conclusions

Our conclusions from these first two races are that few people can sustain much more than a 100% normalized average of their MSS for the first lap and still finish well on the final lap(s). There are always exceptions, and some courses and fields require a harder first lap to establish positioning. Nonetheless, many riders tend to start out much too hard and pay for it in the end.

In comparing our Junior athletes' data between the two races, the fact that Bonelli lacked the sustained climbing and steady flat section of Fontana governed the kind of power that was produced. Since all the climbing at Bonelli was relatively steep and of short duration, normalized power was generally higher across the laps. Bonelli also had more opportunities for recovery since the descending was straightforward and distributed throughout the course, whereas the highly technical, more sustained Fontana descent demanded a high degree of focus and effort. The Fontana course also required longer segments of sustained power, resulting in a greater challenge to match or increase last lap average power. 

It is interesting to note how the weather conditions and race duration affected both pacing and average power for the Elite/ U23 race. The Elite race was held during the hottest part of the day at both events and the duration was 10-20 minutes longer than the Junior Men's 17/18 races. These factors placed an even greater premium on intelligent pacing strategy and avoiding going out too hard on the early laps. Our U23 rider was admittedly more efficient with his output at Bonelli than at Fontana, in part due to the mishap at the start line of the Fontana race. His first two laps there showed the higher effort required to move through traffic, and once he settled in the power was similar between the two races for the remaining laps. As compared with the Juniors, our U23 rider sustained more power on flat sections at Fontana, increasing his lap power averages to be more on par with those of Bonelli.

One other factor to consider is how crashes and technical mishaps affect pacing. At Fontana, many riders were challenged with the highly technical nature of the course and a few of our riders had falls - fortunately with minimal physical effect. Nonetheless, these mishaps certainly affect pacing and momentum in a race. In the Junior Men, Athletes 1 and 3 (Table 3) both experienced this challenge, which affected their power and the outcome of their respective races.

Next on tap for the Quarq Factor Project are the ProXCT-US Cups at Bonelli #2 and Sea Otter Classic in mid-April, when we will once again have the opportunity to compare race data from two very different courses. Stay tuned for more interesting power data and analysis! 


Women's poduim
Bonelli Park ProXCT-US Cup #1 Cat 1 Women's podium.

Kelsey Urban
Team podium finishers at Fontana ProXCT-US Cup #2.