Race Maebashi Akakagi Yama Hill Climb (まえばし赤城山ヒルクライム)

theBlob

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Thanks, that is good to know. So there are corrals? Do they assign you to a corral at random? Now I understand the line-up as well. And how long does it take to get up there? I reckon 1:20–1:30 is a realistic time for a cat 3 racer?

That sounds awesome, makes me so looking forward to this.
As an aside, racing made me appreciate all the volunteers that make such an event possible.
I did it in 1.12 I think. I was around 50th in my age group of 1000. But that time would have been around the same position in all age groups, as there wasn’t much drop off.

The only drag is when it’s over, they expect you to wait around and get led down the mountain in big groups behind pace cars (which was acceptable) but then walk the back streets for about 4km as they have opened the road by then. I just ignored that BS and rode to the start finished and watched the local junior high idol group on the stage with 100+ 50 year old men in Lycra standing in front dancing/ogling.... the weirdness never ends....
 

OreoCookie

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I did it in 1.12 I think. I was around 50th in my age group of 1000. But that time would have been around the same position in all age groups, as there wasn’t much drop off.
That's quite impressive.

With over 1,000 entrants, how does the start work?
I just ignored that BS and rode to the start finished and watched the local junior high idol group on the stage with 100+ 50 year old men in Lycra standing in front dancing/ogling.... the weirdness never ends....
I have lived in Japan for over six years in total, and I think I have a reasonable grasp on Japanese culture. But this is something that I still don't get and still find quite repulsive.
 
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theBlob

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They divide you into starting groups by age. Probably around 100 in each group so there were like 10 groups in my age bracket or something silly, they stagger the start by 5 minutes each. Thus the overtaking people 3 wide all the way up the climb!
Anyway good fun! And good luck in the race!
 

OreoCookie

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Today I finished my hardest workout of the week, a 2 x 20 minutes at FTP. Went very smoothly. At minute 7 during the second interval, I thought about quitting for a moment, but then I thought, nah, I got that. And indeed, I did. That should help build confidence on race day. Tomorrow I have an easy recovery ride scheduled, then the day after tomorrow a brief workout with brief efforts between FTP and VO2max. I feel ready. :)
 

baribari

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Today I finished my hardest workout of the week, a 2 x 20 minutes at FTP. Went very smoothly. At minute 7 during the second interval, I thought about quitting for a moment, but then I thought, nah, I got that. And indeed, I did. That should help build confidence on race day. Tomorrow I have an easy recovery ride scheduled, then the day after tomorrow a brief workout with brief efforts between FTP and VO2max. I feel ready. :)
yeah, that is probably why 2x20s are such a classic workout. I wish I had the mental fortitude to actually do them. hehe.
 
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OreoCookie

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yeah, that is probably why 2x20s are such a classic workout. I wish I had the mental fortitude to actually do them. hehe.
Work your way towards it. Start with 5 or 8 minutes and then progress bit-by-bit. And accept that sometimes it doesn't work. A few weeks ago, I was in a bit of a slump, and my head wasn't in the game. I bailed out of two workouts early, not because my body couldn't cope, but I wasn't in the right mental space. I pre-poned the rest week I had scheduled a week later, and that worked for me.

In the races, this helped in huge ways: even when it was hard, I knew that I could last another 20 minutes or so at FTP with short bursts above that. Ditto for the surge at the end.
 
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baribari

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Work your way towards it. Start with 5 or 8 minutes and then progress bit-by-bit. And accept that sometimes it doesn't work. A few weeks ago, I was in a bit of a slump, and my head wasn't in the game. I bailed out of two workouts early, not because my body couldn't cope, but I wasn't in the right mental space. I pre-poned the rest week I had scheduled a week later, and that worked for me.

In the races, this helped in huge ways: even when it was hard, I knew that I could last another 20 minutes or so at FTP with short bursts above that. Ditto for the surge at the end.
Honestly, I think half the battle is making sure you are sufficiently carb-loaded to even attempt those efforts. It might even be smart to have some carbs during.
Also, making sure you concentrate on your breathing and maintaining a rhythm seems to be quite important.
And a bit of caffeine certainly doesn't hurt...
 
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OreoCookie

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Honestly, I think half the battle is making sure you are sufficiently carb-loaded to even attempt those efforts. It might even be smart to have some carbs during.
Fuel your workouts, that's crucial. Even if you want to lose weight, if you end up doing more work on the bike this way, you'll burn more calories, which means you will lose more weight overall.

I noticed that with longer, sustained efforts very close to my FTP, I need to eat something before training, a gel or a fig bar. I don't know whether that is physiological or psychological, but who cares if it works. Curiously enough, I do just fine on an empty stomach if I have shorter VO2max efforts coming up, though.

Also, making sure you concentrate on your breathing and maintaining a rhythm seems to be quite important.
I play cadence games to kill time: I spend 2 minutes at ~100 rpm and 2 minutes at ~90 rpm, it gets boring quickly otherwise. Oh, and I listen to music. I have my playlists, and I got lucky this morning, the most energetic song started 3 or 4 minutes before the end of the second interval.

And a bit of caffeine certainly doesn't hurt...
Are you kidding? I am not turning any pedals before I got my fix of caffeine.
 
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OreoCookie

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Oh boy, are hill climbs fun! My team mates apparently hate hill climbs, but I. Freaking. Loved. It.I have to say, I love hill climbs. I knew I liked climbing hills, but now I know I really, really like hill climbs. Unlike all the other races I have been to (not many, I know), they had tons of regular people of all abilities, shapes, sizes and ages try their luck. For some of them it was just about getting up the hill. Sort of like at many marathons where it is ok if you finish in 5 hours — just still finished an effing marathon and you should be proud of that. But there were also really fast ones. In fact, the fastest member of our team is a high schooler, I think (he raced as a junior), who smoked all of us at 1:03:12. He would have placed 15th in E1 and missed 5th place in E3 by one second! This is really what I love about sports, when everybody gets to participate.

I did it in 1:09:59 and placed 21st out of 59 in E3. Interestingly, I would have placed 22nd out of 53 had I started in E2 and 33rd out of 64 if I was racing in E1. (In this race, all amateur racers start in the same corral, so this comparison is actually fair).

Spurred by the excitement of being surrounded by the fastest guys around, I decided to give it the beans right from the start. As in I was in the lead group ahead of the field with all the peons, pulling in front. Yes, I know, this wasn't very smart in terms of pacing, but I just wanted to try what it felt like. It is not as if I was in contention for a win, and experience is worth something, too. And it just feels good if you can keep up with the best, even if just for a little while. I have to say, I love hill climbs. I knew I liked climbing hills, but now I know I really like hill climbs. Unlike all the other races I have been to (not many, I know), they had tons of regular people of all abilities, shapes, sizes and ages try their luck. For some of them it was just about getting up the hill. Sort of like at many marathons where it is ok if you finish in 5 hours — just still finished an effing marathon and you can be proud of that. But there were also really fast ones. In fact, the fastest member of our team is a high schooler, I think (he raced as a junior), who smoked all of us at 1:03:12. He would have placed 15th in E1 and missed 5th place in E3 by one second! This is really what I love about sports, when everybody gets to participate.

So yeah, in the beginning I went too hard perhaps, I would have fared better sitting in the wind shelter aka the field and take it from there. But I didn't cook my legs either. The first half was very strong, I was close to or at FTP. I indirectly checked my power on one occasion by asking a rider I know, and he said about 300 W. So I was fine for a while. Then I let off, and it seemed everyone was overtaking me. At one point a motorcycle was overtaking me and I was concerned I'd DNF. But 4 km before the end I had regenerated and power returned. I was cautious at first but 2 km before the end, I went what felt like over FTP. And when I saw the 1 km sign, I surged. At about 500 m before the finish I picked up the pace again and when I saw 350 m I gave it my all. Everything. There was a group of five riders about 20 m from me who also didn't just wait for inertia to carry them across the finish line. But they ran out of steam about 150 m, and I went for it. I overtook them about 100 m before the finish line … when two hotheads crashed at the 50 m sign when everything had narrowed, one to the left and one to the right, like in a cartoon. The JCBF officials reacted without hesitation (and completely appropriately) and instructed us to slow down immediately. Sticking to main objective 1 below I gave way. It felt good that I would have won the sprint for the first time against a mix of E1 and E2 riders, though, and that's what I decide to take away here. My TrainerRoad sessions really paid off, I knew I could last as long as I did and endure the discomfort I felt.

Did I accomplish my main objectives? Two out of three.
(1) Do not crash. Check.
(2) An average power of >90 % of my FTP. Here, I failed big: my average power was one single Watt. Yeah, a few seconds or minutes into the race my power meter decided to just not show up for work today. It worked just fine during my TrainerRoad warmup, but come race time it went AWOL. But given the result, I am satisfied with my performance. Hard data would have been nice, though.
(3) Improve group riding skills. Check.

How did my strategy work out? Well, my idea was to utilize my larger absolute power when it mattered the most and my higher gross weight mattered the least, i. e. in the flatter parts, and then surge at the end. Of course, I had to do this by feel, so I knew this wasn't ideal from the beginning. (But I'll be asking Santa Claus for a Wahoo Elemnt Bolt (or, if I was especially good this year, a Roam).) Also, watching the race on youtube at least once made things so much easier. I had memorized a few landmarks, e. g. I knew they had aid stations spaced roughly 10 km apart, which helped me estimate the remaining distance. So room for improvement, but a good start. I'm happy.

PS Predictably, getting up at 3 to compete at 7 was not fun. Shikata gai nai.
 
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andywood

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Oh boy, are hill climb fun! My team mates apparently hate hill climbs, but I. Freaking. Loved. It.I have to say, I love hill climbs. I knew I liked climbing hills, but now I know I really, really like hill climbs. Unlike all the other races I have been to (not many, I know), they had tons of regular people of all abilities, shapes, sizes and ages try their luck. For some of them it was just about getting up the hill. Sort of like at many marathons where it is ok if you finish in 5 hours — just still finished an effing marathon and you should be proud of that. But there were also really fast ones. In fact, the fastest member of our team is a high schooler, I think (he raced as a junior), who smoked all of us at 1:03:12. He would have placed 15th in E1 and missed 5th place in E3 by one second! This is really what I love about sports, when everybody gets to participate.

I did it in 1:09:59 and placed 21st out of 59 in E3. Interestingly, I would have placed 22nd out of 53 had I started in E2 and 33rd out of 64 if I was racing in E1. (In this race, all amateur racers start in the same corral, so this comparison is actually fair).

Spurred by the excitement of being surrounded by the fastest guys around, I decided to give it the beans right from the start. As in I was in the lead group ahead of the field with all the peons, pulling in front. Yes, I know, this wasn't very smart in terms of pacing, but I just wanted to try what it felt like. It is not as if I was in contention for a win, and experience is worth something, too. And it just feels good if you can keep up with the best, even if just for a little while. I have to say, I love hill climbs. I knew I liked climbing hills, but now I know I really like hill climbs. Unlike all the other races I have been to (not many, I know), they had tons of regular people of all abilities, shapes, sizes and ages try their luck. For some of them it was just about getting up the hill. Sort of like at many marathons where it is ok if you finish in 5 hours — just still finished an effing marathon and you can be proud of that. But there were also really fast ones. In fact, the fastest member of our team is a high schooler, I think (he raced as a junior), who smoked all of us at 1:03:12. He would have placed 15th in E1 and missed 5th place in E3 by one second! This is really what I love about sports, when everybody gets to participate.

So yeah, in the beginning I went too hard perhaps, I would have fared better sitting in the wind shelter aka the field and take it from there. But I didn't cook my legs either. The first half was very strong, I was close to or at FTP. I indirectly checked my power on one occasion by asking a rider I know, and he said about 300 W. So I was fine for a while. Then I let off, and it seemed everyone was overtaking me. At one point a motorcycle was overtaking me and I was concerned I'd DNF. But 4 km before the end I had regenerated and power returned. I was cautious at first but 2 km before the end, I went what felt like over FTP. And when I saw the 1 km sign, I surged. At about 500 m before the finish I picked up the pace again and when I saw 350 m I gave it my all. Everything. There was a group of five riders about 20 m from me who also didn't just wait for inertia to carry them across the finish line. But they ran out of steam about 150 m, and I went for it. I overtook them about 100 m before the finish line … when two hotheads crashed at the 50 m sign when everything had narrowed, one to the left and one to the right, like in a cartoon. The JCBF officials reacted without hesitation (and completely appropriately) and instructed us to slow down immediately. Sticking to main objective 1 below I gave way. It felt good that I would have won the sprint for the first time against a mix of E1 and E2 riders, though, and that's what I decide to take away here. My TrainerRoad sessions really paid off, I knew I could last as long as I did and endure the discomfort I felt.

Did I accomplish my main objectives? Two out of three.
(1) Do not crash. Check.
(2) An average power of >90 % of my FTP. Here, I failed big: my average power was one single Watt. Yeah, a few seconds or minutes into the race my power meter decided to just not show up for work today. It worked just fine during my TrainerRoad warmup, but come race time it went AWOL. But given the result, I am satisfied with my performance. Hard data would have been nice, though.
(3) Improve group riding skills. Check.

How did my strategy work out? Well, my idea was to utilize my larger absolute power when it mattered the most and my higher gross weight mattered the least, i. e. in the flatter parts, and then surge at the end. Of course, I had to do this by feel, so I knew this wasn't ideal from the beginning. (But I'll be asking Santa Claus for a Wahoo Elemnt Bolt (or, if I was especially good this year, a Roam).) Also, watching the race on youtube at least once made things so much easier. I had memorized a few landmarks, e. g. I knew they had aid stations spaced roughly 10 km apart, which helped me estimate the remaining distance. So room for improvement, but a good start. I'm happy.

PS Predictably, getting up at 3 to compete at 7 was not fun. Shikata gai nai.
Good stuff! Sounds like you've got the bug!

Here's another 1h plus one, close to you, and good motivation for winter on the trainer.

Andy

 

OreoCookie

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Thanks, Andy.
Yeah, the Zao hill climb, that's a good one. In the beginning of the year I was thinking to make this my first ever race, but I wasn't in shape due to a series of illnesses. But I know the route already (I have climbed Zao all the way two or three times) and love the last bit that has tons of switch backs in it.

PPS This bastard at the Wahoo stand: he showed me how easy it is to upload a route to any of their Elemnts and have the Kickr simulate the race for you. Ugh, don't do that, don't temp me like that … :D
 

baribari

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The ability to enjoy hill climbs if very important if you want to have a full racing season in Japan. Proper races are too few and far between.

Just buy a used Wahoo off Yahoo! Auctions, man!
 
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OreoCookie

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Just buy a used Wahoo off Yahoo! Auctions, man!
I got my Elite Volano off of Yahoo Auctions for 21,000 ¥, Yahoo Auctions seems to be at the state of ebay at the late 1990s and early 2000s — you can still get bargains there.

When I checked a few months ago the prices for Wahoo trainers were still quite high (I am only interested in direct drive trainers at this point). But I am definitely planning to get a smart trainer in the next few years. I have already made a list of kit I want to buy and/or have to replace next year, starting with new shoes, a bike computer and eventually a new bike (which then means I need to buy a new power meter, too). After my new bike, I'll look into getting a new trainer. Erg mode in particular seems to be very beneficial (and cruel) when doing structured workouts.
 

baribari

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I got my Elite Volano off of Yahoo Auctions for 21,000 ¥, Yahoo Auctions seems to be at the state of ebay at the late 1990s and early 2000s — you can still get bargains there.

When I checked a few months ago the prices for Wahoo trainers were still quite high (I am only interested in direct drive trainers at this point). But I am definitely planning to get a smart trainer in the next few years. I have already made a list of kit I want to buy and/or have to replace next year, starting with new shoes, a bike computer and eventually a new bike (which then means I need to buy a new power meter, too). After my new bike, I'll look into getting a new trainer. Erg mode in particular seems to be very beneficial (and cruel) when doing structured workouts.
If you are going to stick with TR, ERG mode is of course useful. But if you want to try Zwift, it's essential.

I'm almost tempted to go back to Zwift, since I am barely able to follow TRs plans (and many of the workouts are waaaay too hard to finish compared to the ones in Zwift)... but I like how TR has a nice minimal mode, which is good for watching videos while training. Only problem is that TR keeps jacking up their prices, so you're kind of stuck if you want to keep the lower price.
 
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andywood

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If you are going to stick with TR, ERG mode is of course useful. But if you want to try Zwift, it's essential.

I'm almost tempted to go back to Zwift, since I am barely able to follow TRs plans (and many of the workouts are waaaay too hard to finish compared to the ones in Zwift)... but I like how TR has a nice minimal mode, which is good for watching videos while training. Only problem is that TR keeps jacking up their prices, so you're kind of stuck if you want to keep the lower price.
You can do Zwift with just a regular trainer and power meter. I use a cyclops fluid trainer which I really like.

Andy
 

OreoCookie

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If you are going to stick with TR, ERG mode is of course useful. But if you want to try Zwift, it's essential.
I have zero interest in Zwift. Perhaps it is not fair since I haven't tried it, but I don't even find the concept appealing. Don't get me wrong, it is great to have different paths to bike nirvana, so I am glad they exist. I have never felt the urge to try it. Honestly, before thinking about race simulations (which, yeah, is a pretty obvious one), I would have seen no point in wanting a trainer with sim mode.

I'm almost tempted to go back to Zwift, since I am barely able to follow TRs plans (and many of the workouts are waaaay too hard to finish compared to the ones in Zwift)...
Whatever keeps you on the bike :)
I love the structure and find enjoyment in sticking to the plans — and adapting them when necessary. For my race prep, TrainerRoad was absolutely essential. I was able to endure higher power at longer stretches and had the confidence I could hold certain powers for a certain duration.

but I like how TR has a nice minimal mode, which is good for watching videos while training. Only problem is that TR keeps jacking up their prices, so you're kind of stuck if you want to keep the lower price.
One of their principles is: you bring your own entertainment.
 

baribari

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You can do Zwift with just a regular trainer and power meter. I use a cyclops fluid trainer which I really like.

Andy
I mean it's essential for getting the most enjoyment out of Zwift in free ride or race mode.

It's less important if all you do is interval workouts, which was all I ever did. I

Actually, I should have done more races, since that's the only way I'd be able to race my way into fitness given the dearth of races non-JBCF races within a reasonable distance (although you could argue that there aren't nearly enough races even for the pros... JPT guys have what, a third the race days per year as Europeans?).
 

OreoCookie

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Actually, I should have done more races, since that's the only way I'd be able to race my way into fitness given the dearth of races non-JBCF races within a reasonable distance (although you could argue that there aren't nearly enough races even for the pros... JPT guys have what, a third the race days per year as Europeans?).
You could have easily participated in that hill climb, @baribari. There were regular people who didn't look very fit slowly making their way up (many of them did not have proper gearing). You just need grit to finish you — which you have when you regularly ride for more than 2 hours. The fact that they allowed regular people to participate was one of the best aspects here: sports should be inclusive. They had categories for the disabled (I saw one tricycle and one hand bicycle) and all age groups. I saw one regular fat bike (as in mountain bike) and one e-fat bike. If you are 50 or so, you don't want to — and can't compete with 20-somethings anymore.