Lezyne athlete Andrew Juiliano (Grit World Racing) has relocated from California, USA, to Oudenaarde, Belgium, this winter to take on the 2017/18 European cyclocross season. Racing with his Lezyne GPS watch, Mr. Juiliano will periodically allow us to look at the data he records during a race using our GPS Root website. Then we get to ask him a bunch of questions about his numbers in hope of uncovering the secrets behind racing at the highest level of world-class cyclocross. Sometimes irreverent, but always entertaining, Andrew’s insights are a must-read for this special series of Behind the Grit (Numbers). Read his full recap here. And follow along with Andrew here.
Lezyne: What was the course like?
Andrew: If it rains, Kermiscross turns into a proper Belgian tractor pull through the mud, featuring running sections in knee-deep slop. This year, Belgium has been “unusually dry,” according to the locals, and thus the course was a full gas, high-speed drag race. Part of it swooped through the cow pastures and over the knolls, while the other portion sped down the main streets and through the chunky alleyways of the town of Ardooie.
Lezyne: There was only a 10 bpm difference between your average (194) and max (204) heart rate during the race. Basically, you were going all-out for 1 hour. Is that difference normal for a ‘cross race?
Andrew: I’m glad I have my heart rate monitor on, because I then have an objective measurement of how absolutely shitty I feel during the races. Pretty much my heart rate tends to max out during the first couple of laps, and then I basically “settle in” at really a high threshold. There isn’t much time for recovery, especially here in Belgium. If you aren’t going full gas and feeling like you are getting kicked in the teeth, you’re just going backward.
Lezyne: Your power peaked at THE VERY START of your race at 1,233 watts. You still topped 1,000 watts a few times during the race, but do you usually see your max. power in a race at the very beginning?
Andrew: During each race, my max power typically occurs in the first couple pedal strokes. Once the lights go green, you have to explode off the line; otherwise you lose places at an astonishing rate. The start is the opportunity to make the most passes in the most efficient way possible during a race. You either pass a bunch of people in the first 30 seconds, or you spend the next 30 minutes trying to chase them back down. It’s the most important match to burn during a race and you just have to go apeshit off the line.
As far as those other sprints, those were some steep knolls that had sharp turns at the bottom. Organizers like to put those in because they are sadistic people and they like it when you make pain faces for the crowd to holler at.
Lezyne: Your data shows your L/R balance, effectiveness and smoothness. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE? J/k. But how are you using this data to improve your smooth-ness. Your legs aren’t very smooth.
Andrew: Every cross race is different. Honestly, such specific metrics like that are really meaningless during a ‘cross race. Sometimes you’re pedaling on an off camber and twerking around all crazy just to stay on your bike. I’m sure that does wonders for my power (im)balance numbers. In ‘cross, you’re not just putting down power on flat pavement–you’re smashing watts while trying not to fall off your bike. Smooth handling is more important than a smooth pedal stroke.
Lezyne: Your average cadence was 90 RPM. Is that what you’re comfortable with? Is that ideal? Do you think you would go faster with a higher avg?
Andrew: I’m generally pretty comfortable pushing a little slower than average cadence. This course was so fast that 90 RPM is actually pretty high for a cross race. Usually, in mud or sand, cadence is a lot slower as the courses as there is more mashing and grinding. This course was probably about as close to a road race as you can get in a Flemish field.
Lezyne: At 75 degrees average, seems like a pretty nice day. Did you see any euro bros is tight euro shorts?
Andrew: Yes, there were lots of Euro boys in tight shorts. There was even an American boy in tight shorts. He changed into those tight little shorts using a towel in the parking lot because he took the train to the race and didn’t have a nice big camper to errantly wave his junk around in while getting dressed.
Read Andrew’s article about the race on Peloton Magazine.
Photos by Annick Lamb.