Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Elite Arion B+ Digital Rollers

I bought them from Performance Bikes because Hub does not carry them.  They were $600 http://www.elite-it.com/en/products/us/trainers/interactive/arion-digital-smart-b.


I have only used them to do Trainer Road workouts.  I don't know how well they work with Zwift, but my buddy Paolo uses them there and he says its great.  When I use them for Trainer Road I have to shift gears sometimes to match the Erg mode because the rollers only do up to 5% resistance.... this is not a bad thing.  Sometimes if I have to get off the rollers in the middle of a workout, when I start back up I need to go to the TR settings and switch the rollers from Erg->Resistance->Erg so that they remember to go back into Erg mode, there must be a small bug in their software or something, its not a big deal.  I notice that if I use Ant+ instead of Bluetooth that I don't have this problem.

I can't stand up and put in maximum watts on these rollers.  If I do then I end up jumping forward off of them.  If you want to be able to do something like that then you will want to get the super fancy E-Motion Digital Rollers from Inside Ride http://www.insideride.com/buy/emotion-h (select the Digital option $1200).  Local rider / friend Sean has them.  He told me that the software is not perfect but that he can totally stand up and do a full out sprint without any problems.. thats kinda cool!  I am able to do 600 watts while seated on the Elite rollers, but I can't stand up while doing that many watts.  I have not tried to go higher than 600watts but that is not something I ever need to do in my Trainer Road workouts.

I recently purchased trainer/roller specific tires from Continental http://www.continental-tires.com/bicycle/tyres/race-tyres/hometrainer.  They are much smoother and I can stand up much easier.


The one advantage to not having the e-motion is that you need to use more of your core/stability/balance to stay on the rollers at all times.  I can stand up on the Elite rollers but I am just not very stable, it forces me to be stable using my own strength.  

I have seen an increase in my performances ever since I started riding these things.  At first I could not do the same workouts at same intensities that I could do on the Kickr... but after just a few weeks I could do it!  Then I started getting faster at WsW and other rides.  It was great.  I love it that they work my core.  The kickr never did that nearly as well.

I will never go back to direct drive... unless maybe I get into the indoor racing on Zwift.  Rollers are farrrrr superior if your goal is training and not racing.  And they are way more fun and engaging.  I just love them.  I have so much fun every time I ride them :)  

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

2015 Ed Sander - 1st





photo credit: Bruce Buckley http://www.brucebuckleyphotography.com/

photo credit: Bruce Buckley http://www.brucebuckleyphotography.com/

photo credit: Kevin Dillard http://www.demoncats.com/

Sunday, June 28, 2015

2015 Hilly Billy Race Report - 2nd Place

This report is long, but this race was just so epic it needs a long report.

Hilly Billy Roubaix, put on by JR Petsko of ABRA Cycling, is one of the hardest races there is.  It is a 70 mile race over gravel, rivers, streams, mud, roads.  The elevation profile looks similar to a race consisting of 12 Ilchesters.  What I mean to say is that it is Perfect :)

Pre Race Analysis...

The competition in order of who I thought was going to win:
  1. Cole Oberman - Represents USA at the highest level of mountain biking.  Races World Cup races in Europe and ProXCT races all over the states.  He is a pro, 24? yrs old, paid to ride his bike fast.  He is fast.  He has more watts than me and we weigh the same.  I was sure Cole would win the race.
  2. Nick Waite - Former pro, about my age, who raced Tour of California.  Also an excellent climber and great at tactics/strategy.  I figured Nick is faster than me but that I had a chance of taking him.
  3. Mike Danish - 2nd at Sugar Hill, NUE Fools Gold 2013 winner.  Winner at age group marathon mountain bike nationals this year.  I think Mike and I are about the same speed.
  4. Mike Mihalik - Currently tied for the Hilly Billy course record.  
  5. This race had over 300 people.. there were guys from TN, OH, IL, etc.  I thought there was a good chance that someone would show up who I didn't know that would be big problem, not faster than Cole, but probably faster than me.
The Race...

The forecast for the day was 100% chance of 'severe thunderstorms' from 9am-2pm.  The race started at 10am and it took 4 hours :)  

Drove to the race with Tres Riley (fellow Adventures For the Cure team member) and Andrew Dunlap (check out his race report).  It was a great drive!  Thanks for driving Tres!!

Arrived at 9 am.  It was poring buckets and I was shivering on the start line.  I HATE being cold, I hate shivering.  95 degrees and humid are my ideal racing conditions... this was no good.  

I was wearing my plastic rain jacket shell at the start.  That helped to keep me warm.  When the gun went off and we blasted down the road I realized immediately that the jacket that had kept me warm was a HUGE mistake.  Now it was flapping in the wind acting as a parachute, catching every ounce of wind and holding me back.  I was not cold anymore.  I didn't want to take my hands off the bars because 300+ people were jockeying for position around me.  Eventually I managed to take it off without issue and toss off the side of the road.  I kept thinking "Lance would be so mad at me if I crashed out in the first 2 miles because I was taking my jacket off" haha!

There were a few attacks off the front of the group in the first few miles.. I ignored all of them.  As long as I was with Cole (primarily) and Nick (secondarily) I didn't have anything to worry about... One of them was going to win this race.

Cole attacked on a hill in the beginning.  I went with him.  It hurt because I was not warmed up yet.  We got a little gap but he let up and the group reformed.  I think our lead group was about 20? big at this point.

After we created the lead group it was pretty chill.  Cole and Nick were marking each other and I was marking them.  None of us wanted to burn any matches.  Some others, who were pretty strong, attacked off the front in those first 20-30 miles.  I just thought to myself "haha silly fools!  haha  Don't they know that they can't survive this race off the front when Oberman and Waite are back here just chilling, waiting to strike?"  In reality those guys didn't know who they were, they made some courageous attacks but they were always caught and then shot out the back of our group as we barreled down the road.



I was very careful to never take a longer pull at the front than Nick and Cole.  Some guys started to dangle from our group and stopped taking pulls.  I was fine with that.  That meant they were probably not going to be around much longer and were not a threat.  But if Cole or Nick tried to skip a pull I would just stop pedaling until they took their turn.  I would rather get off my bike and wait for the next group on the side of the road than to have them use me to do their work.  No way that was happening.

There was a significant climb sometime before Aid Station 2.  It is called HBR #4 on Strava.  I didn't attack on this climb but I did want to make sure the pace was honest and to test out my competition.  I went to the front and stuck it in a medium zone 5 heart rate.  Something I knew I could keep for a VERY long time and that would slowly wear people down.  When I got to the top I looked back to see the damage.  Cole was on my wheel, but he didn't look like he was having an easy time (so happy about that), everyone else was gapped... even Nick Waite, Mike Danish, and all of the others!  YES!

Cole (on a full sus) was not trying to escaped yet and neither was I so we worked together but not at escape velocity.  Soon we were caught by: Nick Waite (on a full sus), Mike Danish (on a MTB with a fork), Dan Wolf (on a full sus), Mike Mihalik (on a cross bike), Tim Proctor (racing 40+, on a cross bike).  There might have been someone else with us.. not sure... but that was about it. 

Next climb was HBR #5.  Our group was pretty small now.  We went pretty easy up this hill.  At this point Tim Proctor was curious about his competition and he asked "do you guys all train on road together".  At first I was confused why he asked that since we were all on MTBs but then I thought that he asked it because we had been forcing the group to do a strict paceline, we kinda had to tell him to get in line and do it right.  That must have been why he thought we were roadies.  I told him "haha no we don't but you see that guy there (pointing to Cole).. well he is a pro and just came back from racing in Germany and Czech Republic against the best in the world.  And you see that guy over there (Nick) he is a former pro who raced Tour of California... haha so year we are in trouble"

HBR #6!!  This is where 'S' got real.  It was a real long climb!  Oh yea!  I went to the front again and stuck it in mid zone 5.  I kept that going.  Towards the top I don't remember much... not enough oxygen in the system for good memory.  I am not sure if I pulled the whole thing or if Cole helped but the end result was that we had a pretty nice gap on everyone at the top.  

This time Cole wanted to stay away.  He didn't want to see Nick again.  (sounds good to me!!).  He got on the front on the downhill after HBR #6 and went full into full TT mode.  Oh man... I was in low/mid zone 5 HR in his draft.  After a few minutes of that I realized that there was no way I would be taking a pull anymore.  This was the Cole show now.

We approached Aid #3 at mile 56 and Cole was kind enough to tell me that he didn't want to stop.  I told him "that sounds like a great plan!"  I just wanted to stay on this train for as long as possible.

I told him "hey Cole!  you know there is NO WAY anyone is catching us now.. None of those guys are going this fast..." as I can hardly see due to the watts he was putting down.  I was hoping he might slow up a bit so that I could survive with him longer... my time was running out... he responded "Nick is coming.. we have to go now!"... "OKAY!!  In that case go faster :)"

As the lactic acid started building up in my legs after Aid 3 I (almost pleading with him) I said: "Cole I am sorry I can't take a pull... we are going too fast"... I don't remember what he said but it was something like "aw.. that is okay lil weakling Pat.. I will be breaking your soul very soon by just riding away from you off the front.. no hard feelings... you are doing your best" (he said something much nicer but that is how it sounded in my head)

HBR #12 at mile 60 is where Cole ended me.  It was a road climb for the first half and now I was deep in the red zone... then there was a 180 degree turn onto a slick dirt ATV trail.  My back tire slipped and I was too tired/weak to handle the bike.  I had to run and Cole motored away.  Now I needed to regroup, and TT it for the last 10 miles.  Nick is coming... I know he is... I can't let him beat me!!!

Don't look back, that won't do any good, you are going as fast as you can and if you look back you will only be freaked out if you see Nick.  Just go as fast as you can for 10 miles... its only 10 miles... that is like nothing.  The pain will all be over soon.  What is my HR?  Zone 4 high.. Zone 5 low... good... can't go faster than that.  If Nick catches you now he is just faster than you are.. this is all you can do.  Keep going.

Cole put a full 4 minutes into me in those 10 miles!  Wow!  I held Nick off and beat him by 3 minutes.  Taking 2nd in what is definitely the fastest field that Hilly Billy has ever seen was a HUGE accomplishment for me.  



Post Race Analysis...

Here are the full results: http://www.iplayoutside.com/donparks/2015/06/hbr.html

Power meter training, a great coach, and power meter post-ride analysis of my fitness/form have surprisingly gotten me just 1 level higher this season.  I am so happy about that!  I am telling you... training on the Kickr has been a game changer.

Other Stuff...

A great recap video including interviews with the race promoter, volunteers, top finishers, etc from In The Cross Hairs


Check out this great race video from Gravel Cyclist


Check out this video from cxhairs for Jeremy Burkhardt tearing it up!!

A video posted by In The Crosshairs (@cxhairs) on


2015 Sugar Hill Race Report - 1st Place

Pre Race
I knew I was very fresh and pretty fit based on my power meter analysis charts... thats just where you want to be for a big race and this was a huge goal for me.  After a nice 1hr warmup I was ready to rock.

The Competition (in order of who I thought would win)
1 - Keith Odmonson - This spot was originally reserved for Chris Beck but after seeing Keith destroy everyone else's lap times at Bakers I gave it to him.
2 - Chris Beck - I have never ever beaten him, but I have always finished SO close... ah Beck.... He has won Sugar Hill a few times.
3 - Jon Gdowik - No one is smoother on the bike.  He has won SugarHill in the past.  He is also my coach.
4 - Ethan Frey - Last year's winner.  Extremely strong and technical.
5 - Connor Bell - Young guy with lots of tenacity / speed.

I thought I would end up 3rd-5th.

Laps 1 and 2...
Lined up on the left side of the starting like since that seemed to be the best path at the beginning of waterbars.  Goal on waterbars was to feel comfortable and still be in the top 5.  I made it to the top in 3rd and I felt comfortable!  SUCCESS!  Connor and Keith both attacked off the front and I let them go.  I figured that Connor would implode and that Keith might just stay away to win.  Since I didn't follow them I created a front group of Beck, Ethan, Mike (mystery man), and myself.

Valley View chewed Keith up and spit him out.. turns out his technical skills are not very good.  He crashed a couple times and was right back with our group.  Connor is NO JOKE.  He is faster than I thought.  He was crushing it about 10-15 seconds off the front of our group the entire 1st lap.

Since our group was comprised of 3 guys from Joe's team they dictated everything.  I just stayed in the back of the group with Mike while they worked out their strategy to win.

During these first 2 laps.. it felt comfortable the whole time.  I was just waiting... just waiting.. and thinking...  "Is Beck just toying with me?  When will his epic attack happen?  If I attack will I be the sucker that does all the work and then he sprints around me like I am nothing (I can't let that happen!!  That cannot happen!!).  Ethan looked like he was working too hard so I figured he was done.  Mike was a mystery.  Connor was always 10 seconds ahead but i knew I could close that gap in 1 second ;)  But I am very scared of Beck.. he is cunning and crazy fast.

Lap 3!
Right before the start of the 3rd lap, on the uphill finish of Rockburn Branch Loop, Beck issued a barking order to Ethan "Ethan!  Start putting pressure on that young guy (referring to Connor who was still 10seconds ahead)"  Ethan tried, and failed.  That was my moment.  I knew I had to do something.  Ethan was obviously gassed and if I could get to Valley View first at least when Beck tried to pass me he would have a very hard time doing it.

I attacked and was quickly in 1st before the 4way and start of 3rd lap.  I don't remember any of Valley View... well somehow Connor got back in front of me after the steps... That kid is no joke.  
Right before we turned onto Cascade Connor flatted right in front of me!  I was happy and sad for him... 1 less thing to worry about.  He was done and I was back in the lead.

Time to REALLY let loose.  Go Go Go!  Pedal.  I could not look back.  I had no idea how close they were.

We hit the crazy uphill Cascade bypass and although I rode it the first 2 laps my heart rate was way to high to ride it.  I dismounted and ran.  Run Run Run.  

Remounted at the top.  Tried to look over my shoulder... I could not see anyone but maybe they are there and I just can't see them?  I can't trust myself at this point.  Brain not working.

Back onto Cascade... it is flat and slight uphill.  Pedal hard but not too hard.. in case Beck catches you you need to be able to attack him.  Save just a tiny tiny bit but pedal hard.

When I hit the uphill on Lewis And Clark I knew I was really getting close to the finish.  Time to start letting it all out.  Don't save any.  Just GO GO GO.  Looked back, no one was there, does not matter.. you want this win.. you must GO faster.

Back to the 4 way.  Someone says something to me about the field is broken and way behind.  That is nice but I have to GO  Don't crash.. GO  Don't crash... Ride hard but don't crash!

Back the the 4 way to go down water bars... This is it.. They are not behind me.. I can't see them!  

Cross the finish line, raise my hands, scream.  Super happy!

Mike came in second (turns out he was very fast), Beck, Ethan, Gdowik, then Keith.


Post Analysis:
- My last lap was faster by about 20 seconds from laps 1 and 2.
- Training with power and using detailed power analysis I was able to know without any doubt that I was super fresh for this race and I was very fit (I was more fresh than fit).  That is exactly where I want to be for all my races but it almost never works out perfectly... with my charts I can now set myself up perfectly for a big race.. it works.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

2014 Patapsco 100!!

2014 Patapsco 100

1st in the Open Men's / 2nd overall

Everything about this race was fantastic.  My training this year has not been suited to endurance racing.  But about 2months before the race I decided I am going back to endurance and I need to really prepare for this race.  I wanted to try to win it again.

Since I didn't have a ton of miles under my belt (but I did have a lot of high intensity workouts).  I knew I needed to start doing long rides.  I modified my schedule so that I did 1 long and decently fast ride on Saturdays (5-8hrs long) and then Westside Worlds (my team's Wednesday killer fast ride) (2.5hrs long).  After those two workouts if I had energy I would do another workout on Tuesday (threshold) but mostly I just went easy and took days off.  Huge thanks to the guys on team AFC who went on those long training rides with me.. man that was fun!

This worked as well as anything and I boosted my ability to race endurance to the point that I figure I could probably race 'hard' for 7-10hrs... just barely enough to race Patapsco100 at my best.

Gordon, myself, and Greg Capelle on the starting prolog
Going into the race and 'stalking' the list of pre-registered riders I knew it would be really hard race to win with both Kevin Carter and Gordon Wadsworth coming.  I knew that Paul Tarter and Jesse Kelly would also be up there in the mix.  Paul being on my team and one of the guys who I did all my long rides with... I hoped that he would just destroy this course (and he did.. finishing 3rd in the Men's Open category and 4th overall!!).

My pre-race prediction was that Kevin would go our harder than me and that Gordon would probably stick at more my pace.  I figured on the 3rd lap that Gordon and I would start to battle each other and attempt to catch Kevin at the same time.  My prediction was close...

The first few miles of the course are the most technical (8miles or so).  Because I practiced that section before the race I had a significant advantage and I got a small gap on the 1st lap over Kevin and Gordon.  They caught me in the Daniels Switchbacks, but that was fine.. I was going at a leasurly pace and I was happy to have the company.  It was super fun riding with them for a bit.  But it was not long before Kevin attacked on the flat sections of Woodstock.  I let him go, knowing that I could not keep the pace he was putting down.  Gordon stayed with me.

I basically rode with Gordon for the entire 1st lap.  Haha he is the most friendly dude ever!  It was super fun and felt more like a training ride than a race.  I watched as he freaking crushed the uphills on his Single Speed and I thought to myself, he can't sustain that, I won't be seeing him on the 3rd lap...

Gordon and I crossing the water
At the end of the 1st lap I left the aid station before Gordon and I caught Kevin almost immediately.  He was hurting and not looking well.  I passed him and put in a good solid effort.  This time when I got to the Daniels Switchback I could not see anyone behind me... I had a significant gap and was riding super strong in 1st place.. YES!!

However, later in the 2nd lap Gordon caught me on the big climbs after Woodstock.  He was just merrily riding along and he easily caught me.  I was still feeling pretty good at this point but I was a bit worried with how quickly he came up on me.  It was great to have someone to ride with again though!


Towards the end of the 2nd lap there is a flat section along the river.  He bobbled on a log and I attacked.  I got a very small gap but he quickly closed it down.  hm.... I can't escape the Single Speed racer on the flats?  I told him "dude if I can't drop you on the flats I am in trouble".  He said something nice like "na man ur super strong" but we both knew who was stronger at that point.  Turns out that when I thought he could not sustain that power/crusher uphill pace that he was throwing down on the 2nd lap, I was wrong.  He easily sustained that.

For the first 1/2 of the last lap he rode with me... meaning that he purposefully went slow in order to stay with me and he could have gone faster at any time.. haha... I knew it and I started to just shift my mental focus on going fast enough to stay away from Kevin, who I knew was rallying and would never give up.

Gordon almost 'accidentally' rode away from me on a climb about 1/2 way through the last lap.  It was like he tried to wait for me but I was just going too slow haha.  Now I really had to focus on going fast enough to stay away from a surging Kevin.  I was hurting but my pace was not too bad.

Coming into the finish.. so tired
At the aid stations I was frantic to get in and out ASAP.  Knowing that Kevin was < 3min behind me.  Somehow I held him off until the finish.  Coming in 2nd overall and 1st in the Men's Open (Gordon was in Single Speed category).
Kevin Carter, myself, and Paul Tarter on the Men's Open podium
I could not have gone any faster given my training and preparation for the year.  I am super happy with the race and my 'defeat Gordon at Patapsco 100 2015 campaign' started yesterday haha!

One of the best parts of the day was having my family at the finish line and my son Grayson to cheer me on :)




Everyone loved the race and the course.  We are reallyyyy hoping to be accepted into the NUE next year.  It would be a HUGE fundraiser for our team with the additional riders that NUE status would bring us.

Thanks to all of the volunteers and especially to Ed Dixon and Adam Driscoll, who are the other two race directors, for letting me race the bike all day.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cyclocross Season Update!!


I have really been enjoying the cyclocross season so far.  Cross is just so intense.  Unlike endurance or even cross country mountain bike races where you must hold back a little bit at all times in order to maximize your speed over the entire race (2.5hr - 10hr), in cross you are basically going nearly as hard as humanly possible the entire time.  It is just SO INTENSE!  It is the essence of racing.  The only reason to hold back a little in cross is so that you have more control and you don't crash out.  Many times I find that I need to slow down just a tiny bit so that I can go faster overall.  However there are always sections of a cross course that are not technical and in those sections I find that I am going as hard as I possibly can.

Going as hard as I can on the road section at DCCX.  Photo by: http://www.nofilmphotography.net
Cross is about power, speed, and cross specific skills.

I have never been a strong of quick rider... my strengths are in my endurance and relatively lighter weight but those don't help me much in cross races.  Therefore recently I have been working hard to get stronger and faster.  I have been focusing my training on strength and speed specific exercises exclusively with no regard for endurance or being light.  I am actually hoping to gain a few lbs of muscle in order to increase my strength (hopefully not any fat though!)

Riding at the mud at Tacchino, the most fun race of the year so far!  Photo by: http://www.nofilmphotography.net
So far my season is going really well.  I have been getting stronger and faster each week.  If I can stave off 'over-training' and 'over-racing' myself by adding in the appropriate rest time I think I will continue to improve until the end of the season.

I was able to stay with the leaders for 3 laps at South Germantown before getting dropped.  Photo by: http://www.nofilmphotography.net
My #1 goal is to be a contender at the local races.  So far MABRA has been dominated by the SEAVS/Haymarket team.  I just want to be able to keep up with those guys.  Even if I can't beat them in the end.. I just want to be able to stay in their group for more than just the first 1-3 laps.  I want to be able to make them work for their wins :)  Hopefully I will get there this season, but if not, I will get there eventually!!

All my results so far can be found at Crossresults.com

Monday, August 12, 2013

Highway To Heaven (Ilchester Time Trial)

Highway To Heaven (Ilchester Time Trial)


Adam Driscoll - 3:30 - 1st Cat 1/2
Patrick Blair - 3:31 - 2nd Cat 1/2

WE DEFENDED THE HILL!!

Adam and I race this race every year.  Adam usually gets 1st or 2nd in the Cat 1/2 and I usually have to race the Cat 3 race.  This year, however, because of new USAC rule changes they allowed me (a Category 3 Road Racer) to race in the Cat 1/2 race!  I got to race with the 'big boys!!'.  

The 1st - 3rd place road racers in the MABRA BAR Standings were at the race to get their BAR points.  These guys are fast!  I was so happy to have the opportunity to go up against the best of the best local road racers on a course that suited my strengths as a climber (not a sprinter or road racer).

Racers start from a stopped position from a racing block at the bottom of the hill.  A race volunteer holds the racers in place on the block 30 seconds before their start.  Racers go off in 1 minute increments.

photo by No.Film Photography
photo by No.Film Photography
I was literally screaming and grunting with pain at the finish, I blacked out a lil, and I lost my peripheral  ision for about 5 mins after the race... love that hill!
Joe Bank, fellow AFC teammate, estimates that at my weight of 140lbs that my average watts on the climb were about 412.... I am hoping to get a power meter for 2014 so that I can start training with power and learning more about my cycling.


Adam was the last to go in our category and I was the second to last.  Right in front of me was Dan Wolf, who joins us for our Westside World ride every week.  We go up Ilchester as part of that ride every Wednesday, so to say we know this hill well is an understatement.  This is our home court!  We can't let these guys beat us here, on our hill :)  

We watched the other guys go up "The Wall" section of Ilchester and they looked really really fast!
I was feeling super fresh.  With the birth of my son, Grayson Patrick Blair, on July 30th I have switched my training from 15+hour weeks to 7+hour weeks of high intensity training.  This type of training fits much better with my family and I think it might have the side affect of increasing my speed / power.  I am hoping that is the case because those are my weaknesses and if I can increase them I will be much better off for the upcoming cyclocross season.

Going up the hill I felt great.  I was able to go extremely hard the entire time.  The first section is 18-20% grade and I flew up it, after that it levels off for a short bit, and then another steep pitch.  I think I slowed a little on the 2nd steep pitch but then I really dug deep for the finish... it is a good thing I did because there was only about .2 seconds difference between me and 3rd place!!

In the end I set a new Personal Record on the hill by 9 seconds!  I think this is due to the super light weight Cannondale Evo that I recently got from The Hub and my new training.

Check out this awesome video by No.Film Photography