BY THE NUMBERS WITH MICHAEL VAN DEN HAM ~ CROSS VEGAS 2017
Las Vegas, Nevada
Michael van den Ham is leading the charge as a member of the Lezyne GPS supported Garneau – Easton Cycling and Renewed Cyclocross team, one of the top ‘cross teams in North America. He’s Canadian, living in Edmonton, Alberta, and was the 2013 Canadian U23 National Champion. He also placed 3rd at the 2014 Canadian National Championships, made a few UCI ‘cross podiums but most impressive is he represented Canada at the World Championships four times! (Louisville 2013, Hoogerheide 2014, Heusdon-Zolder 2016 and Bieles (2017).
Just over a week ago he claimed his best finish ever under the glowing soccer field lights that is CrossVegas held during the annual Interbike tradeshow. Here’s a look into his race, and day in general, based on his Lezyne GPS Root data uploaded to our site.
– Distance: 14.54 miles
– Total Ascent: 606 feet
– Avg. Speed: 12.46 mph
– Max Speed: 24.13 mph
– Avg. Heart Rate: 172 bpm
– Time: 01:09:59
– Fastest Lap: 00:07:27 (Lap 2)
- Lezyne: A 5th place at this year’s CrossVegas is by far your best result on the grassy Las Vegas course. How did this year compare to previous attempts?
- Michael: This year was a little different because the field, while still incredibly high caliber, wasn’t quite as deep as it was during the two previous World Cup editions of CrossVegas. With that in mind, it’s really difficult to compare, say, this year’s 5th place with last year’s 17th place. The biggest difference this year is that I was going into the race knowing that I had a legitimate shot at the podium, unlike previous years where I was racing for a top-30 or a top-20 and just riding as hard as I could for the duration. Racing for the podium means that I had to completely change my strategy going in. This year was a far more tactical battle and while I ultimately ended up missing out on that podium spot, it was very different racing in the way that I still conserved enough energy to make massive efforts on the last couple laps when the podium battle started to heat up.
- Lezyne: What’s the key to a top finish? With an average speed of 12.5 mph and an average heart rate of 172 bpm for an hour it seems all about power over finesse.
- Michael: It seems obvious, but the biggest keys to a top finish in Vegas is keeping the rubber side down and not blowing up. The grass is so heavy that it can be easy to go out way too hard only to find yourself empty part way through the race. Likewise, because the Vegas course is so fast, small mistakes can prove to be very costly. While there’s no doubt that Vegas is a huge power course, I think people often overlook that there are actually some tricky technical aspects to it. Some of the grass corners are deceptively slick as the course cools throughout the evening and the sand pit often is, and in this race was, the deciding factor for both Lauren Sweeck and later his brother, Dieter who were first and second.Oddly enough, an average of 172bpm is actually fairly low for me for a cross race. Usually I’m somewhere in the 182-184bpm range for the hour. Don’t get me wrong, CrossVegas was still a max effort, but I think you can attribute that lower average heart rate to all the travel, the late night and the fatigue of racing the Iowa City, Iowa, World Cup just a few days prior.
- Lezyne: Where did you hit that max speed of 24 mph?
- Michael: I had to go look at my Lezyne GPS Root upload for that one! It looks like the peak speed is from the very start of the race (no surprises there!). As I’m sure you know, starts are one of the most critical parts of cyclocross and in addition to hitting my max speed off the start, I’ll often record my highest power numbers (when I’m racing with my Cinch power meter) at the same time.
- Lezyne: What’s your usual Lezyne GPS? The Micro C Watch or do you rotate depending on if it’s a training ride or a race?
- Michael: I always race with the Mirco C Watch. In ‘cross we are often switching back and forth between bikes so it’s important to have your computer attached to you rather than your bike. For training, I alternate a little bit between the watch and the Super GPS. I prefer the Super GPS for structured intervals, if I’m using the route mapping function, or anything that requires me to look down at the computer a lot. I usually stick with the Micro C watch for technique practice, runs or my daily commute.
- Lezyne: Besides all your race data, according to the map chart available on our Lezyne GPS Root there’s no lack of fast food joints next to the course (Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, Arby’s, Taco Bell…). Was the scent of any one of these delicious post-race delights driving you towards the finish with a hungry belly?
- Michael: Only salads here. NOT! We went straight to In-N-Out Burger after the race. As a Canadian, I had never been, so we had to check out one of America’s favorite burger joints. If you are wondering, I got a chocolate shake, fries and the biggest burger possible.
- Lezyne: What’s next on your schedule?
- Michael: I’m off to Baltimore for the second round of the U..S. Cup at Charm City, Baltimore, Maryland, this weekend (October 7-8) followed by the U.S. Open of Cyclocross in Boulder, Colorado, the week after that.