SBT GRVL Power Analysis and Recap, Off Season & the Future of USA Cycling

It's a busy time of year for cycling, so we're back at it with a 3-part podcast covering 3 very different but interestingly related topics: Steamboat Gravel [SBTG], cyclocross prep and the importance of taking an offseason as a road cyclist or gravel racer, and the role of USA Cycling in these changing times in cycling.

SBT gravel power file analysis

In this podcast we cover our experience at the insanely awesome and inaugural SBT GRVL event this past weekend, breaking down Frank's power data and what it's like to race the 140 mile course.

We then shift into the importance of shifting into an offseason this fall if you've been racing and training all year versus just getting started as a 'cross racer. We then get philosophical and discuss how USA Cycling's role has changed in this new chapter of cycling, and what we'd like to see from the organization in the future.

Check out our post-season break podcast here and then get started with your off season training as we describe in the Podcast:

Show Notes:

Let's tell you a little bit about the actual race. And again, this is, you know, go to the to take the poll, but for everyone that's watching the video, this is the training peaks. They were a sponsor. They were in the expo. Yeah. This is my power data from the race. What you see here is power and pink heart rate and red, this gray is the , GPS elevation profile. And then I wanted to leave this blue line in here, the temperature , so it was called a in the morning, but we knew that because we did that Shammy butter ride the morning before, and it was called a half there. Actually got down to 32 degrees after we started, you know, good windshield going.

Yup. Here I am. Short sleeves, no base started with it. How do you take it off? I just took it off. What am I friends started with like vest and legwarmers. And then like later on in the race, I saw him without it on and I was like, how'd you do that? I had, I also had a frame pack, so I could just stuff it in.

So with all my snacks and your cargo and my cargo pants, I was, I was grown into the max. Well, you're strong. I didn't like, I didn't even have time to like eat a bar. I was like jealous. I probably ate eight to 10 gels during that race. I didn't have time to chew. No, I didn't. My bars just sat in my pocket.

Yeah. But anyway, so temperature 32 at a 7:00 AM. And I wanted to show you that. 100 at mile 1 28, top of the I think that was the smart wool corkscrew. Yeah, the course room was hot. Thanks a lot. There was popsicles at the top, by the way, little kids were handing them out. That was great. Yeah. I didn't take one.

I couldn't I was in the hurt box. Yeah. There were people taking like whiskey shots and like drinking beer and stuff. I was like, I could not imagine that. And they were on a different agenda. Yeah. Had a very different goal. And maybe I need to adopt that or try that one time. Yeah. But in any way what you see here power data graph of the training peaks.

My, my power and G her GPS data. This is the map. I'm gonna close this out. You know, this is not too telling we went around Steamboat lake. Yeah, we went all over the place. Ranch horses. Incredible. I mean, yeah. It's so dynamic and undulating. There's a bit of everything, a really nice mix of, of dirt and pavement.

Great climbs. Really fun to sense. Yeah. I think just to, I will go back next year and do a Saturday Sunday ride split up like the beginning and the end. It would be. Two day thing, two day riding weekend. But I'm guaranteed. I'll never do this whole ride all in one setting outside of this event. Yeah. I don't think that this was a long time on the bike.

It's the longest I've ever spent there. Yeah. Yeah. Well, it's funny. I was talking to some friends after the ride and it's like, when, when did it, when did doing a hundred miles become the like secondary option, like who decided, who made that choice to be like, okay, yeah. You know, riding a hundred miles.

It's it's kinda cool. It's it's, you know, but now one 40. You know, it's like the, the 100 used to be like the big, the big ride. Right. I guess that maybe came because they wanted this event to be on par with like BWR and okay. Perhaps. I mean, also they had a lot of great roads to work with, so why not go for it?

I mean, me during the event, I was like, I should do the 100 next year. But I did not even. Cross my mind to, you know, there was the bailout at mile 85. I want to show you all this. The bailout was like at mile right around in here. And there was this hard climb here and then a cramped up catastrophic right here.

So you should have just turned around and go to the bail out. It did not occur to me, but I kept going. But yeah, but that's, again, that's legit, especially on this course. I mean, you're up at altitude. There's a plenty of class. You can see there's two massive climbs, basically total, you know, no one really.

He thought it was that much common. Cause it doesn't come all at once. Like a crusher and cumulatively we are talking about where's the climbing? 9800 9800. Yes, 10,000 feet. Almost 10,000 feet of climbing. I mean it's but it's pretty up. It's up and down. A lot of punchy climbs. There's a couple of long climbs.

If you look at the percent grade, like you could, this is the, the climb up Steamboat lake around. I mean, we're talking 3.6% here, so. Not, not soul crushing like an eight or a 7%. It's no coal to crush, but thank gosh. Yes. It's difficult in a different way. I did hear people say this was more difficult than the crusher.

Yes. See, for me, I disagree. It just depends on you, their strengths and weaknesses. You being a good climber, you know the crusher is gonna fit into your strengths. However, you know, a lot of the, this athlete that's. You know, is a bigger athlete in, does well on a, more of a course like that, where he can roll it.

You know, I thought the, I think the crusher is just more intense. Like it's a little bit more, it's like a shorter, it's a more concentrated form of pain. Like I never cramped. And like the only time I've ever cramped in a race was during the crusher. And so like, I just, I just think. The intensity of the, like how much climbing there is in such a short time.

And the crusher is, is, is different, but it's, you know, it's different, it's a whole different flavor. It's, you know, it's, it's a great, great to have both of these things. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I cramped up driving home, my hands cramped up around the steering wheel. Oh yeah. Like this finger was going over here.

Yeah. It was, it was a hard effort. But let's get into how this course raced a little bit. Cause I think. Because this was a first year event. And because there was a lot of drafting possible, you know, a lot of groups, no one really knew how this race was going to unfold because of the first year.

Like I was singing about this. Like, you know, you do the tour of Flanders. They've raised that for years and years in a row. Everyone knows how this race unfolds, what, what the tactics are. And you know, you do a lot of climbing and Flanders, but really. You don't start hitting it until the the mirror and then the bosberg at the end and everyone needs to just survive the climbs until then.

And then the last 50 K it's game on. And that's kinda how Ted won. You know, he, he punched it on the, you know, with about 15 miles to go. I read the group was already down to three or four and for the rest of us mere mortals you know, it, it it's different, but I want to show everyone. This was fly Gulch.

This is when you start with, I guess we started with six or 700 people. I took it as easy as I could without being embarrassingly slow. And I was still getting jobs and I was still suffering. And then I got in, by the time we came down off Gulch and headed out around Steamboat lake, I was in a good group.

And so we actually hit the highway here and then that's where. These two groups came together and I knew I was, that was the group I was going to spend the rest of the day with. I don't know how it went for you kind of through all of this fly gold stuff. Like pretty early on, I was up in the front, it's split pretty quickly through fly Gulch.

And there was probably a group of maybe 30 of us. I'm the lead group, 30 of us. And we kind of like chilled a little bit on the highway, eight, took off jackets, that kind of thing. And then, yeah. Steamboat lake. It was pretty, it was pretty spirited. And so, but it kind of all stayed together.

There was a lot of splits, a lot of like ramp ups and slow downs and ramp ups and slow downs. And then basically I was with the front group until about halfway through yeah, the first KLM up Steamboat lake. And then. This section was for me the most technical part of the, of the race. And I'm not, I don't consider myself to be a very good technical writer.

I don't really have a background in mountain biking or cross or anything. And so I'm still kind of new to gravel in terms of like the tech, like, you know, pinning it around corners and stuff. And so I kinda got dropped during there because I had to keep like, trying to jump back onto the group after the like, cause it was like, Kind of deep sand, lots of sketchy, chunky like rocks and stuff like that.

I mean, it wasn't bad if you were taking it easy, but those guys were not taking it easy. And so I had to, like, I just basically kind of got popped off of there and rode with a couple of smaller groups through these punchier climbs going into Trout Creek the big K O M where I was riding with Simon, from GCN.

Many of you guys probably known him know him, and he's pretty funny and subsequently dropped him which I'm proud of. It's actually really strong. He surprises me former professional. Yeah. And so but it was, yeah, I think it was It started out a lot faster than expected. And I sort of didn't do accomplish my goal of what I set out to do, which was to try and not go out with those guys, but I just can't help myself.

I'm glad. Yeah. I'm glad that I did, because it was like really fast through this whole section, especially on the highway part. And so I made up a lot of time because I ended up writing most of the second half of the race by myself, which we can talk about, but basically, yeah. It was a weird group dynamics of people not riding smoothly in a group.

And so I just ended up feeling at least personally that I could be a lot more efficient and steady just riding by myself, especially up that climb and in some of that sense. And I actually, I felt really good and positive and was eating well. So I just, I actually had a really good day because I was just riding kind of solo stuff.

Which is interesting because that hasn't really happened to me. Usually when I get dropped, my head goes pretty negative. And so it's like that you just have to keep chugging. Yeah. My, my mantra the whole day was just keep on trucking. I just kept saying that in my mind, I was like, Jackson, keep on trucking.

And like, you know, because it was like, that's what it was. It was like, you just have to keep going and keep peddling hard and like keep riding steady. And I wasn't relying on too many group dynamics because people would just kind of search through and it would break up and it forced you to harder than you wanted to do.

And then you were going to not ride with them anyway. So it's like why bother in the first place? Exactly. I know what you mean. Yeah. Yeah. I, so getting back to how this course races, so the first part race is hard. That's where you get into your group and then this middle part off of Steamboat lake, that was where.

The, the people that race too fast in the middle here are the people that died here. And I know that because I was one of them and, but the, the athletes that came off Steamboat lake and rode sensibly for essentially the next 50 miles are the ones that had the oomph in the last, let's say 25, 30 miles.

And you know, this, the, I was talking with mark after the race, he said right around. This turnoff is where the group went from, where you had already come off, where the group went in half from about your big was your group's probably about 20 to 30 people. When I left, I said coming into the stages feeds zone right before trout Creek.

It was down to like 15. Yeah. And then right after trout Creek, you know where you did that long gradual grinder, like I died a thousand deaths here. I was in survival mode. Right. Look at that. I could barely do 200 Watts for about 50 minutes, but after this, this is mark said it was down to probably, I didn't quite get there five or six.

Yeah, probably this is down to Ted Collins. Pacing pacing. J Jacob wrath. He was the dark horse in there. Like that guy was a professional who's on Garmin. Yeah. Like he's like a former world tour a rider anyway. Yeah. And then you needed to like, Kind of after trout Creek, what you need the way this course raced is you needed to like gather your wits before you came up on this.

This was a road climb. And then man, you were like, most people I think were in survival mode. We're on, like, for those of you who have raced the Steamboat spring stage race, this is kind of like the end of that race, where you're going up, the corkscrew and a couple of the road climbs. But again, like, I think what's crazy.

What I learned in this race, especially is that because it's so long, a lot can change in the second half. I mean, the second half could be its own race by itself. And so you have to stay positive and you have to pace yourself and you have to be mentally strong because like, for me, I, I felt progressively better over the course of the day.

Like I, and I never had any really bad moments. I just knew that I couldn't go too deep because I would pay for it. And so. It's I think super important. Just like for any race, words of wisdom here is that no matter what group you're in, no matter where you are you in, unless you're like cramping super hard or mega dehydrated or bonking, you just have to keep moving and keep, keep it steady because that's just like efficient and fast.

And and so yeah, like this whole section through after the, after that KOL. After trout Creek, like I was just rolling solo, Pinterest. I felt good. Yeah. One of my friends came up to me like right before the top and I had just enough energy to get on his way. And I was like, okay, I need to do this because I'm going to be with them for the next 30 minutes, but I couldn't even hold his wheel going down.

Yeah. I was such in the hurt locker. Yeah. But I think speaking to the, the length of the race, it was for me, it was a race, it was two races, you know? Really well up until right here, where I catastrophic cramped off the bike legs, feel like they're aliens in camp pedal. And, but that was because in this day, you know, do do, as I say, not as I do, you know, I re I went too hard and all this, you know, it's net downhill.

It was super, I mean, I was in a good group it up until like for this, for these. Almost two hours. I was like, I'm going to do really well today. Yeah. But again, I think with these gravel events, even when it's downhill, you're still working hard. You're still like, you're still tense because it's technical and you're trying to navigate the course.

Well, in the previous two and a half hours I had done what is it? I had done close to 2000 and kilojoules. That's like a decent training ride. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. You know, overall, I did let's let's 6,000 foot fit, 5,374 kilojoules that's 5.3 Chipotle burritos a lot. So you know, a lot of energy expenditure.

How many jobs did you say you ate? Probably eight to 10 plus multiple packs of bow of blocks. I had I had like half a bar. I mean, yeah. And plenty of drink mix. I mean, it was, but I was on top of my nutrition. That was my main goal of the day was like, yeah, eat constantly, constantly. And yeah. I was slamming it in and I think that's what helped me because it, you know, I, yeah, you just can't get through with an effort like this without, without that.

Yeah. And remember how we were like him and, and Han or whether to do the hydration pack. So I did the hydration pack. I, I sailed through the first feed zone, which was very fast. The group was not even, we didn't even talk about stopping all the other feeds zones. I will say what was super cool before we came into the feed zone, the groups in the guys and gals that I was.

We kind of said, Hey, let's all stop. And everyone would say, yes, I need to stop too. So we were like, all right, let's do it really quick. Some people would keep going, but it was so funny. We just catch them back anyway. So, but my point is I was super glad I had that hydration pack. And then I actually refilled it up on the last, last speed zone with like 25 miles.

And I was like, should I fill this up all the way? I'm like, yeah, no, no, I should. And then I wound, wound up drinking it all in the last 25 miles. Cause I was hurting. It was hot. Yeah. Yeah. Anyway I, I did a ton of gels and blocks at that last feed zone. When I was really hurting, I did two caffeinated gels, one tapped, one cold brew.

Did to sweat, you know, how they have the swigs and the coat and the volunteers. Can we just give that a huge round of applause? What do you want? They take your bottles, put like, fill them up with whatever you want. Put them back on your bike. Like I stopped at one feet zone cause I had to pee really bad.

They like, my bottles were in my bike, like after I got out of the thing and they like opened up my Jersey, put ice in there, like super cool. And like they were just class first class and they had tons of great stuff. I just would like, I mean, I was, I think we were talking about this before we started recording.

Like I think over the course of the whole day, I only stopped for like a total of four minutes maybe. Oh yeah. Yeah. You guys. My Strava times 7 37, my race time was 7 41. So, and I stopped at all the feeds ends except for the, yeah. Yeah. So it was like very efficient. It's how quick you gotta be. They had tons and tons of water jugs so that like, there wasn't like a line at any of, you know, to get water.

It was like super quick. And so, yeah, I think that, that was awesome. So, yeah, another great, great job. Yeah. Yeah. Sorry. The lady was like, you want a Coke? And I was like, yeah, she's like cup her Canada cup. And then I slammed it. She goes, you want another one? Like, yeah, but it was so funny, man, that revived me.

I saw my friend, Tim Faye there, we raced cyclocross together. We had seen each other of course at the expo the day before. And he goes, Hey, Frank. And I'm like, Hey man, let's ride this in together. And so he was the motivation. That I resurrected because before that I was just limping, it was pathetic. And then we were on that roller section back and we were given it.

On the pavement? No, on the dirt. When we came to the pavement, you know, the corkscrew, yeah. The long climb, the KLM that they use in the roadways, I dropped anchor there again. You know, and I said bye to Tim. And, you know, from that point I literally was counting down every single mile and I'm like, I'm like doing math in my head.

Okay. We got 12 miles to go. Can I do that in 45 minutes? Because when I cramped it mile 84, You know, this was, I don't, you know, it was like five and a half hours in the immediate thing I thought I was like, okay, can I go? So go. But I was, you know, as we're coming down towards the end and I'm dropping more anchor and it's weighing heavy, more heavily, I'm like, can I go, you know, can I go three miles?

And I was, you know, can I go three miles and still get in the seven thirties? It was, yeah, it, it, you had to come up with a lot of creative ways. I know. I keep on trucking baby. All right. Work let's, let's try and wrap up the Steamboat gravel section. I think we did want to just give a quick shout out to Mr and Mrs. K dog. We got to meet them in the expo as well, which is great and challenged them. And it's just, it was fun to. Just put faces to the names. And they're just as funny in person as they are in the podcast questions. If you remember, from our Q and a podcast last week, K dog was asking about upper body work for his man boobs.

Yeah. So, so there's that. And they had done the DK and they both did the one 40, so kudos to them. I got to meet Eric Zabul did I say that? I think he did. Yeah. Yeah, I met those. I mean, like there was everyone from like GCN crew to, you know, all these pros and, and it's yeah, there are, everyone's just kind of mingling around it's it?

It was cool. So I guess the final thing I'll say is I really loved my 32 millimeter gravel king SKS handled like a dream. The course was a little cross seat. And there was one section after the second feed zone we're coming down a two truck. Yeah, downhill. There was some erosion, there was some soft parts, you know, I just let it go there and use my second cross skills.

No worries. That was when I turned around, I had a gap inadvertently just cause everyone else is breaking. And these two kids come by me. Put the hammer down. That's where I made my mistake. I got on their wheel. We bridged up, I wrote too hard, so far, so forth, but that's where I sucked handling life. You just need to pull on the brakes less.

Yeah, it was good. That was a fun section. I really enjoyed that element of the, of the Steamboat where you'd be on this buff ranch road one moment. And then you'd be on this double track. You know, the next it was a little D it was, there was some diversity to it.

About Frank Overton

Frank founded FasCat Coaching in 2002 and has been a full time cycling coach since 2004. His educational background includes a Masters degree in Physiology from North Carolina State University, pre-med from Hampden-Sydney College. Frank raced at a professional level on the road and mountain bike and currently competes as a "masters" level gravel and cyclocrosser. Professionally Frank comes from medical school spinal cord research and molecular biotechnology. However, to this day it is a dream come true for Frank to be able to help cyclists as a coach.

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