Sunday, March 30, 2008
Big thanks again to the Team Oakland crew and Pilarcitos for putting it on, Day 2 was a class act as usual and anyone that comes out to race this tough, tough, tough Highlands course gets a good race in.
I will take a moment to mention that I am continually amazed at the stupidity of the average driver. Or maybe I should say the average driver isn't so bad, but boy oh boy do the driving skills fall off quickly as we roll down the bell curve. I marshaled the intersection at the bottom of the course and the typical conversation with a driver would go like this:
Driver: I need to get in that driveway for Pitco [ed: Pitco is a cut-rate grocery store]
Me: It's one-way only today, and you can't go that way. You need to go this way, 1 mile all the way up the hill, around the top, then back down, and you can get in. But when you leave, you can just come right out. Is that ok?
Driver: sure, ok
... pause ...
Marshall #2: he's slowing down up there...what's he doing?
Marshall #3: oh no...he's not...not again...oh he is
Me (on walkie-talkie): Guys we've got a car that u-turned onto the course and is coming down the hill warn the riders, over
Driver (parked now, right before the apex, while about 5 people yell at them to exit the course where we're pointing): how do I get to Pitco?
Repeat, at least 5 times in 2 hours. Stunning.
Ok, enough venting. We all know drivers are bad, but it makes me feel better to mock the worst sometimes. Thanks for listening.
Back to the racing...what's to say? Started out calm, then got windier and windier as the day went on until it was blasting for the E3 and blowing the tents over for the P12. Anyone that had a calmer race, be thankful :-). The Men's E3 was apparently doing the same laptimes as the Women's E4. So, good on you Alice, you should upgrade (and you too Carol, with your cat4 power) :-) !
We had a big presence but results were hard to come by - I honestly don't think that's a bad thing, we have a lot of guys that are brand new to racing and you've got to start somewhere. I'll give you a cheer for coming out and giving it a shot. Most races aren't this hard, so keep comin'
I believe I did see Brian Johnston working out well in a sprint, but I'll apologize and say I didn't see much else, but it was mostly because I wasn't paying attention as I was having mechanical difficulties or marshaling, or ogling my gorgeous wife who showed up and dedicated her Sunday to the team by marshaling in the gale, and provided everyone else with homemade Power Muffins (strawberry version) that she made last night. (doesn't that rock? That rocks)
Right before my race (during the E4 finish) my rear dérailleur cable snapped, and the SRAM support guys were able to fit new housing and cable with near perfect shifting (!!) right before my race staged. I'd say I'm lucky but those guys are skilled, so it's not luck, just very professional stuff under pressure. Many thanks.
Our race was windy enough that it was a game of who can shirk the most by riding the gutter in the draft up the hill and not working. When go-time came, I had followed accelerations and spurts and such up the hill and I was sixth wheel going into the finale, then apparently I fell asleep. The first three guys jumped for the finish while wheel 4 and 5 (who I was anaerobically fixated on) sat there. By the time I realized the podium was headed up the road and jumped to get them there was a huge gap with a wall of wind in it. I never made it up and instead led out the second sprinting bunch. I held off as many as I could but only came away with 8th, which pushed me down to 4th in the omnium. What's the lesson? In the finale (as in most other times in bike races) don't just watch the wheels in front of you, watch the lead riders and if they're going, START GOING. Even if the guys right in front of you aren't. I'll do that next time.
No podium is not a huge deal except for one thing, no thin mints. This, dear people, is dire. I'll have to find some neighborhood girls now and actually buy some if it's not too late.
After that I sat on the trainer and finished my leg's destruction with some intervals because I'm all diligent and stuff. I was watching John Wilk be all studly in the P12 though and it was motivating, nice work man...I'm glad I wasn't up there in that race today.
Ed Lai asked for the power file today so I'll hook up all you power junkies. You can download it here, fire up your cyclingpeaks and have at it.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
So today was Day 1 of the official Team Oakland bike race weekend - the Ronde van Brisbeen.
Day 1 this year was the "Lowlands" (Sierra Point Criterium), a reversal of venue order from previous years in order to have less truck traffic on the Highlands course since it'll be on a Sunday instead of a Saturday.
First, a huge shout to all Team Oakland folks that set up the course, it was beautiful, Tom Simpson of Pilarcitos who always runs a good race, Geoff Gunderson for knocking this whole thing together, everyone that marshalled and of course the tear down crew. It takes a lot of folks to run a race. And most of them actually got to race too - here's the team tent with the crew powering a few lightbulbs in various stages of warmup and warmdown.
Great work everyone, it's a lot of fun hanging around everyone and that's why I'm on this team.
Sean Smith brought his "bike" - a mind-boggling collection of busted tubes at this point. If you were ever wondering what it would take to knock Sean over, here's a little example of the force necessary. Sean queued up for his first race back just to see what it was like and hung in quite a while given both his knees are gimped.
(Sean mentions that yes, the crankarm was bent, and no, he didn't bend any of these, he just took the cables out, and it fell apart like this - you gotta admit, that's nuts)
Finally, I didn't feel like I had the confidence to go with a breakaway today though looking at the numbers later maybe I should have. Solo and pair groups were winning all day so the odds were good but I just watched a Greg Gomez from Webcor roll away on a counter and didn't lift a finger. He stuck it for 20 minutes (or more?) so good for him - he earned the victory for sure.
I had a plan though, which was to come out of the hairpin second or third wheel and jump around the last corner first and sprint to hold it. I waited a bit too long on that last corner bit, and only got up to second wheel (just past Daniel Lam - upgrading after this weekend, congrats) but just couldn't quite make it to the front.
I did hold on against someone charging up from behind though and managed 3rd. My best finish since Suisun way back last August. Very encouraging after 8 weeks of total inconsistency this winter and only 4 weeks of solid training again. The "gulp" part comes in though as I realize that rather than get 3 cat 2 upgrade points, it looks like you get 4 for 3rd place. Which means (now that I fixed my cat 2 tally, thanks Russ and Greg for razzing me) I officially have enough points to upgrade.
Ummm, oh crap. Aren't those P/1 guys, really really fast?
So right about now I can almost *hear* Joel Robertson typing up a comment telling me to upgrade already (go ahead man, let me have it). I'll say I'm pre-registered for the cat 3 field in Madera, and I intend to race that. I may race Martinez as a 3 next weekend. After that, it's up in the air. I don't intend to sandbag - I've met almost all my goals in the 3s and could go. But I do want to make sure I won't just blow out of every race. Now that the legs are coming back from the travel and illness this winter, I'm more excited about moving up. I do hope I get to race with Toby or Maury once or twice though if they can get the points together. Anyway, soon enough.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Starting to think about the races this weekend - it's Ronde time!
This race is always interesting because every USA Cycling club is required to work one race a year, and the Ronde is the race my club puts on. That means that instead of just showing up and racing you usually have to show up super-early and either help set up the course or do marshaling duty, *then* get ready to race and try to get some results.
In previous years I've been okay the first day but not so good the second day after being on my feet so much marshaling. But there wouldn't be races if people didn't work them, so it's got to be done.
The only things that make me nervous is that these races typically come down to a sprint, and if it rains the courses could be a little hairy since they're both technical.
With regard to sprints, I haven't worked on the sprinting much this year (though I did last night at the POO ride and managed a few 1100W 10s efforts after 3 hours of riding, woohoo)
With regard to rainy courses...not much you can do there except stay near the front...
Bonus for me though, Teresa's working the start/finish line on the second day to fulfill her spousal obligation of going to one of my races a year ;-). That should be motivating and it isn't supposed to rain there so hopefully she won't worry too much as we whiz by
Not much else going on this week except hard training for the Madera TT but hopefully not so hard I suck this weekend.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
wonderful evening in San Francisco at Brent and Larry's with the Franks,
Teresa and I felt good enough to drive out to Walnut Creek and do
something Teresa has never done before: conquer Diablo.
Couldn't have picked a more perfect day either, look at the greenery and
the clear skies. Perfect temps too (although you can't see that in a
All in all, a very happy day
Unless you're a peep
It is hard to explain to people why I would want to wake up at 5am every
day to train on my bicycle, and then on a Saturday - which would
otherwise be a day off - get up at 5am again to head off to
nowhere-ville (Milton, California) in order to ride my bike some more.
On a daily basis, riding a bicycle for me is a sort of renewal. Despite
the ever-present danger of unwanted automobile interaction, through
careful route selection I'm basically on car-free roads most of the
time, just cruising along out in the smell and rush of the world,
limited by my own power to linger just long enough in any given spot to
soak up the texture of a place. Faster than walking, so you can really
get somewhere, but a completely different speed than powered transport.
But races...they are different altogether. Crits are just a stark
physical challenge - a line in the sand and how much can you bare your
teeth for an hour. Road races though, they combine all the personal
mental challenge you need to be competitive with that natural renewal I
get on the bike, and mix it in with surroundings you honestly just
wouldn't ever get to see otherwise.
I mean, why would you ever go to Milton, California? But if you didn't,
the beauty of the reservoir unfolding at the top of the climb would be
unknown to you. The horses, quizzically watching you as you blur past
their pasture wouldn't miss one cyclist. And I'm certain the hill up to
the reservoir doesn't know I exist, but oh how intimately I know all of
them after spending 4 quality hours pushing myself around them. This is
the type of course you never forget after challenging yourself on it,
mostly for the better.
The Men's E3 race started out with the rash of usual suspects I know,
guys I've been racing with for a couple years now - Brandon Hill from
Team City, David Levine riding strongly on Synergy, Ryan Prsha working
his way back into form on Webcor and Nathaniel English on ZTeaM. Okay,
Nathaniel wouldn't know me from a turnip (and why would he?) but I have
to give him a callout because have you SEEN how he rides? He's fast
enough that I actually don't even want to make it in a break with him
because I would simply shell out of it, like his unfortunate teammate
The first lap was brisk up the hill but otherwise a tea-and-cookies
affair. We were all marking Nathan, and he was just riding up front
looking back at us like he's bored (or am I projecting?). I was over
threshold on the climb, but not horribly and while we dumped some of the
pack, we still had 50 or so I'd say.
The second lap was tougher but not faster, just fatigue from the first
lap still in the legs. More people popped off but I made it over near
the front of the lead group, and Nathan hadn't really jumped yet. Maybe
30 people left at this point. People started to attack this time but
nothing came of it.
Ah, the third lap though. Here's where Nathan finally decided he'd take
his pro-level power and find the pain-setting on the E3 pack's dial
where he could shake free. We strung out up the hill and somewhere about
halfway up the elastic finally snapped. He made it away with a teammate,
and everyone else more or less blew up. I had it bad enough that at the
very top of the climb, when I was threatening to come completely apart
right as it levels off and the speed picks up, David Levine gave me a
friendly shove and a word of encouragement. My hand had been resting on
the mental "power off" switch, and the timing was perfect. I hardened
the ____ up, closed the gap and we were up the hill. Thanks David!
We never saw Nathan again, but now the 20-or-so strong pack was
basically a punching bag. People could roll away at will, and a few
people did. A second group of 3 organized off the front and rolled away
while everyone (including myself) in the pack ducked the wind and
We rolled around for one more climb up the hill and it seemed to me that
it was just straight threshold this time. 10 minute of pain, but not
quite searing - everyone just wanted to get through the lap. The lead
group was down to maybe 20 people, with 4 off the front. Nathan's
teammate cracked out of the break with Nathan and we fetched him.
Another person from the chase group cracked and fell through the pack,
leaving just 3 off the front as near as I can tell.
David finally couldn't take the waiting anymore and rolled off the
front, maintaining a power that kept him away to the finish (nice work,
man). My perspective on this was that I was right behind him, and he
honestly wasn't going that much faster but *I* certainly didn't have
anything. I mentally just wished him luck and cowardly hid from the wind
again. My left leg is twitching - threatening to cramp, and I'm
wondering if I'll make it up the last hill. I figure it's better to lead
than follow so stand up to set some tempo and am thrilled to notice that
the cramping parts of the muscle aren't used while standing, so the
pack's not dropping me this race! I made it through another one in the
lead group - good for the confidence.
We careen and chatter through the choppy downhill and with 1k to go a
Webcor guy went for the kilo sprint. Not sure if he held it or not, but
the rest of us waited until 200m to go before we launched our group
hairball of a sprint. I think I waited too long to start myself because
I had good position but let a couple folks come around before I wound it
up, which meant (duh) that now I was stuck behind them. Not thinking too
clearly is all I can say. Being able to sprint at all after nearly 90
miles of Copperopolis was a personal victory for me though, as was being
in the lead group. For that, I get one more cat 2 upgrade point for the
9th spot in a 50+ person field. Yay, me.
As I was rolling around after the race though, I was struck by how
genuinely great a vibe it was at this race. It is such a hard course
that most of the me-vs-them element is gone and it's just a collective
us-vs-nature thing. Everyone's hoping everyone else will finish and
we're just curious how other folks did. Teammates in other categories
are yelling encouragement at each other whenever they flash by. It's all
Best example of this attitude I can think of is at the start of the
climb on lap 4, someone dropped their chain going into the little ring,
and as soon as that dropped-chain sound went out, someone yelled out
nicely "come on, give him a push". I'm willing to bet someone did, too.
Make no mistake, the strong men sorted themselves out but there's no
need for pushing and shoving. That's the spirit. That's racing at its
best and you find it in places like Milton. That's why I go.
Here's the chart for the power junkies. The lines are my various thresholds.
Friday, March 21, 2008
My Mom just sent these to me in one of her many rounds of purging (everyone in my family *loves* to get rid of stuff or send it to someone we think will like it more. I just got some flambe dishes out of that too, look out)
These pictures are great though - huh?
The first one has my big sis in it too, whom I should mention is pretty quick in a crit! We're both in Wichita, Kansas I think - probably for both shots. Sometime in the very early 80's.
And apparently I have always had a slightly...uh...crazy love for pedaling around. I'm sure you're all shocked.
Maybe if we're all lucky I'll dig up some of the late 80s pictures of me in parachute pants, a Michael Jackson Thriller-type jacket, and my sister's borrowed banana-seat bike. I could ride a wheelie a mile on that thing ;-)
Happy Friday everyone
Monday, March 17, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
during a 50 mile road race?
Well, among other things, you get 40mph on the tailwind parts :-)
On the headwind we were giving it most of what we had and doing around 16mph. Humbling.
But the crosswinds, now there's the trick. If everyone is fighting the
same crosswind, like if the whole pack decided to look for draft at the
same time and we all ended up on one side of the road right on the edge,
we'd all be going pretty slow.
This is what most people do, though I have no idea why. It causes
massive amounts of aerobic (anaerobic?) pain in the legs as you try to
stay with the group, your wheels are in the gutter and gravel, one gust of wind can
blow you off the road... it just sucks.
But you know what you can do instead? Echelon!
All you've got to do is go the same speed, but slowly move into the wind
to the other side of the road. If you're vocal about it, maybe slap your
hip and point out in a diagonal line where people should line up, then
you get a nice line of guys working together and after you rotate
around, you can actually get some draft. Oh, sweet draft.
Given how much I suck at punching through the wind (confirmed with the
time trial yesterday) the echelon was key for me today in the Bariani
My only goal was to finish with the lead group. I didn't know what place
that was going to be, but I did not want to crack out of the lead group.
With crosswinds, that means *before* the crosswind section, you need to
be in the top-10 or so, because when that first echelon forms, you HAVE
to be in it, or you're going to be in idiot-land, riding the gutter and
suffering like a dog. OK, I actually ended up there twice, and it was
awful. I wanted nothing more to quit both those times and very nearly
Well, I made it in the front group at the end. We started with 100 (or
nearly 100), and by the end of the race, there were two people off the
front in a breakaway, and then a little group of 7. I got 9th, and
sometimes even when you're not at full strength, just knowing where to
put your bike is enough to get 91 other folks out your way...
One more cat 2 upgrade point, brings the total to 20. If I could get some
strength to match the results, I'd be in good shape!
There was one hill in this race, and it was short, but I felt good enough
on it that I should be okay at Copperopolis next weekend. Last year in
the 4s (one category down) I got 3rd. Will I have any luck in the 3s?
crazy person (Joel Robertson) antsy to get this time trial action started.
I haven't done a time trial in...forever. OK, I did the Treasure Island
Triathlon once by myself, and once as part of a relay where I just did
the bike leg. But since then I've been riding a lot more, and I've set
my bike up with a radically different position. So it doesn't count.
That makes it somewhere around 1995 when I last did a time trial. No
And boy did it show. All I can say is that I'm pretty good for 1 minute,
I'm really good for 4 minutes, but over 60 minutes? I suck. I mean, it
was pretty sad. But the scenery was good, and what the hell. I went out
and did it.
I wouldn't even care except I miss doing stage races, and if you want to
be good at stage races you need to take your existing skills at
criteriums and road races (which I have) and also do time trials. So
here I am with the dork-pod helmet, giving it what I've got.
Hopefully by the time I get to Madera, that's a lot more than I had today.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Jimbei had a camera that shot video on his handlebars at the last Port Of Oakland ride
So you can see what I do on Tuesday nights.
I'm the guy with a bag on a rack in the video, if you see that. (Hey! I'm a bike commuter, I'm basically just on my way home from work, give me a break.) I'm reasonably certain that I give a hang-loose sign to the camera at one point ;-)
I've got a helmet-cam myself but haven't messed with it in a while.
Do folks like these videos? Is there any interest in race videos? I could give it a shot myself if so
Happy Pi day
Thursday, March 13, 2008
pretty quickly, and not paying attention (too much) to the beauty around
me. It's kind of a blur.
But recovery days are different. I'm going slow enough on recovery days
that my mind wanders and my eyes wander to all the things on my normal
routes that I would miss otherwise.
Like this statue in a park in Piedmont on my way home. Oakland parks
usually don't have public art in them, but I live right next to Piedmont
so I go through it. I've passed by this park a hundred times but never
paid attention to the statue. So there you go, your art moment.
Elsewhere on the ride, a walker strolled by and when the person passed
some litter on the side of the road, get this, they bent down, picked it
up, carried it to a waste basket and threw it away. Holy cow! I thanked
the person (I always say thanks when I see someone do this) and they
smiled. So there's thing #73 that I'll say thanks for - some random
gratitude for ya. I see this about once a week believe it or not, and do
whatever I can to encourage it (including trying to pick up one piece of
trash per ride - try it, I dare you)
In other news, Morgan Fletcher sent this in - I thought it was apropos
given all the transportation conflict in the area recently:
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Saturday. I'm doing it as a tune-up for Madera since it's been so long
since I've done a race against the clock, and the only way I know of to
really prepare is a full-dress rehearsal.
Here's a time trial pop-quiz though:
Q: Which part of this course will not hurt?
a) The false flat uphill part
b) The hills in the middle
c) The hill after the false flat downhill
d) The flat finishing segment
e) None of the above
No, I don't know why I do it either. Hopefully Exeter's pretty at least?
bike path, I come to the intersection of Fell and Masonic. This is
pretty much a disaster of an intersection and has so many accidents at
it that someone painted this on the path before you get to the intersection
Fair warning indeed.
I don't know about you guys, but between the tragedy on Stevens Creek
Reservoir, the serious wreck of another crew on Skyline on the Peninsula
that day, Sean with a hit-and-run, me getting nailed by a semi and
countless others...I'm just sick of cars and car drivers.
I will grant that cars are convenient and to a not-insignificant degree
represent "freedom" to a lot of people. But did it ever occur to you why
it is convenient? By which I mean, the tremendous auto-based
infrastructure of roads, gas and service stations, traffic devices, laws
and law enforcement, financial instruments (loans and insurance) and on
and on. All those things make it convenient now, but that's a lot of
And for what? Have you ever considered how noisy, dirty, dangerous, and
open-space consuming all these cars and the associated infrastructure
is? Imagine for a moment what city life would be like without honking
horns and flatulent Harley's in the middle of the night. What it would
be like to look towards the Bay and not see 20 roads and 2 freeways. Or
what it would be like to ride a bicycle legally without getting
Might be nice...might be so nice it would make the investment in an
alternative infrastructure for transportation worth it.
Doesn't hurt to dream.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
I'm up here this weekend hanging out with my father-in-law, and I went
for an early ride this morning around the lake.
Check out the sunrise over Mt.Konocti, and the vineyards sloping down
towards the lake. Gorgeous!
64 miles around the lake, and I'd say about 50 of them are postcard
pretty. That's a tough ratio to beat - think about your favorite rides,
and there's always something not to like, and it's usually half the
ride. So I do really love coming up here and pedaling around here.
If you ever have an itch to check Clear Lake out, there's lots of houses
you can rent all over, though we've become partial to the Mallard House
hotel in Lakeport since it's got wi-fi and little kitchenettes for a
reasonable rate. The Konocti Challenge is a yearly century (or metric
century if you want a shorter route) and ends with some of the best BBQ
brisket I've ever had. Teresa did it last year and I can definitely
Friday, March 7, 2008
It must be spring because there's some big Toms strutting around.
I thought this was particularly fitting though, and not because I'm
curious why the turkey is crossing the road (he's trying to get away
from me while I chase him with a camera). I'm curious what would happen
if a poor driver were to be flying along the road, round the bend, and
have too much speed to stop in time?
Bam, turkey everywhere. Just like the ex-deer I saw on Mountain road
this morning actually, or the flat squirrel on Moraga. Or the bird...you
get the idea. And that's just from a ride this morning.
What's the point? This morning it wasn't just critters getting nailed
Sean Smith, a guy I rode with so much this winter my wife started
calling him "the other woman" was broadsided by a truck on his way to
work. They guy drove off - a hit and run, one of the scummiest things a
driver can do. Sean lost a chunk of tooth. He has road rash on his face
along with stitches in his forehead. I'm certain he's banged up all
over. His bike is destroyed. The CAT scan indicated his head's alright
but he's got to wait for an MRI on his right knee which got mangled up.
All because people are in such a hurry, and don't pay attention while
they're driving these multi-ton blocks of metal around.
Cars kill things, people. Keep that in mind when you're driving. It
doesn't matter if you're late or in a hurry or just like going fast.
Roads go everywhere which means they intersect with any creature just
trying to live a life. Slow down. Make some room.
I'm not sure if there's even a lesson to take from this besides all the
usual advice to be careful, etc. The only thing I can think of that
could possible be positive is if each person that reads this mentions
that a friend of theirs (or a friend of a friend) was in a terrible hit
and run accident and could have been killed while laying in the street.
All the guy had to do was stop, protect him from more injury and call
for help, but he lacked the common decency to do that.
It's not just cycling either, a woman in Montclair was killed by a car
while she was at her mailbox getting her mail. The guy left the scene.
Maybe a little peer pressure in the world against hit and runs would
help things. Couldn't hurt to go on the record with your friends and try.
And of course, keep it safe out there.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Friday a twinge, not bad over the weekend, Monday a bit more and before the port ride definitely on Tuesday.
I stayed home most of the week and maybe I'm getting better?
Either way, it passes the "neck check" - it's 100% in the sinuses etc so I can still ride a bit, but what a pain. This is the winter of inconsistent training for me, for sure.
Hope everyone else out there in cycling-blog-land is doing better.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Turns out someone (Maury) actually reads this thing, and he admitted to an unsavory desire for updates, specifically those including Wattage information.
Well, who can blame him? I can't get enough wattage information either.
So here's a chart of last night's POO ride, just for you Maury
I highlighted the things that interested me - specifically the largest steady efforts of the night, usually when I was hitting the wind. Many people don't realize the difference in power required to ride in the group or to pull the group - this shows it pretty clearly.
The two yellow lines are placed at where my threshold is right now (260W or so - it's moving up as I get more fit) and where I can hold power for around 4 minutes (320W or so). The blue line is just at 30mph because it's a big round number. You can see average/min/max stats for the whole night in the bottom left (34.1mph max! and there was no sprint...)
You can see that it takes almost twice the energy to pull at POO speed as it does to sit in the pack. So even if it was really fast, if you weren't pulling, telling the people who were that it was easy and you felt good doesn't mean anything to them. Take a pull then pipe up :-)
You can also see that the an attack (or bridging to one) stings a ton. There was one point where a big split opened up, and I pulled for a straight minute at a 30mph average into the headwind to bridge the gap. I don't recall that ever happening in cat 3 crit, but maybe that's just me. Fantastic interval though!
And for Maury, you can see at the very end when he towed me along as he bridged across a huge gap it took a solid minute and a half at 30mph before we closed it. Since I was drafting it only took 260W on my part to sit on his wheel (instead of 300W to pull), but remember my threshold is only 260W? My legs were on simmer just holding on.
That's why the POO is the great workout it is though. In the pack you can recover, but when you hit the wind you get good Anaerobic Threshold and VO2max intervals.
Now if only we could get folks to pedal through all the corners and ride a good corner line (instead of arbitrarily peeling off...) we'd be all set ;-)
One final tidbit - cyclingpeaks.com occasionally posts Pro power charts. They just posted one and I noticed that the Pro (Bert Roesems) who has a threshold of 350W rides around at 160-170W pretty consistently. This is for a 4 hour ride. When they ride slow, they do ride very slow. When he did intervals on that ride he was doing ~500W though. When it's hard, it's very hard. Something to remember, and I'll probably be going slower on average after thinking about it.