Monday, September 12, 2011

Gran Fondo Whistler 2011 - by the numbers

On September 10, 2011, Stuart Lynne and seven thousand other people rode to Whistler.........

The official results are available here as a PDF..

I munged those back into a Google Docs spreadsheet here for those interested in doing some numerical analysis.

Rider Summary
The riders where neutralized until the top of Taylor Way. To some extent prevented the selection of stronger riders that occurred last year where the "front" sprinted through the park, over the bridge and up Taylor Way. Resulting in a much smaller lead group.

Roughly (my guesstimate) about 400 plus riders ended up as a very large group on the Upper Levels. This resulted in, by Horseshoe Bay in the riders mostly taking over both lanes of the West Bound highway. We where supposed to only use the inside (far left) lane, but there was the lane, there was no (as in Zero cars) and the group was averaging about 35 kph. It just sort of ended up looking like it was safer to ride over there than fight for space with two hundred plus riders (with more than a few sketchy ones in there!)

There was some selection all along the Sea to Sky Highway.. Possibly down to 350 by about Furry Creek. There was some serious damage done there and again coming out of Britannia Beach. My guesstimate is maybe 250 at Squamish. Average speed to there > 36 kph.

I was in a group of about 20 at that point and we couldn't see the front group. But there where some motivated people at the front pushing the speed up > 40 kph... and we managed to catch what looked like the main group at about Alice Lake.

Unfortunately I got "self selected" out at that point... Preferring (bad mistake) to ride my own pace. I managed to do it faster than last year... but not fast enough. I knew that to finish in 3:45 I needed be averaging 33 kph at the end and that I wouldn't be able to pull it up by much in the last 30km...

And about then we noticed that not only where we climbing a long hot hill, but against a head wind. That coupled with the small groups following at this point was the reason falling off the main group was a big mistake. They had the fire power and numbers to maintain their speed. The smaller groups had neither.

This is shown in the histograms. No one off the front this year... It stayed more or less together until the finish.

Overall my time for the last half was just about exactly the same as last year. Although the climbing to Daisy Lake was faster, the final 30km was actually slower. I wasn't passed (that I can remember or noticed) riders once once on the Cheakamus climb until Whistler. I did catch up with a few riders in this segment.... but not that many.. More than 10-20? Certainly not by much!

Overall my placing fell from fell from 289 overall to 260th (roughly 5000 finishers). And since there where 75% more riders this year, that is of course better. I was 49th out of 1221 finishers in the 50-59 group compared to 48th out of 770 last year.

  • Official Time 3:50:03
  • Overall 260th - 5000 vs 289th 
  • 50-59 - 49th - 1221 vs 48th - 770
The initial group (~70 riders) had (with the benefit of hindsight and armchair quarterbacking) a huge benefit from keeping all the strong riders and working together to keep the pace very high in the head wind. And they missed last years best times by about 5 minutes.

Outside of the initial group, on average for most riders the ride was substantially slower.  Possibly by as much as 10-15 minutes.

Personally, I was hoping for under 3:45 and missed that by 5 minutes. But looking the overall picture, I can adjust that down by probably about 5 minutes to equate to last year. So I think I achieved my goal (with reservations). I'll look at power numbers and do some analysis of that later in the week.

Histograms Showing Finish Distributions

This Histogram chart shows all finishers in ten minute intervals. Roughly speaking the peak is between 270-300 minutes... 4:30-5:00.

This Histogram chart shows the first half hour finishers, about 460 riders in one minute intervals. Note the peak at the beginning. Roughly 70 riders finished as a group within the first three minutes. Unlike last year there where no riders off the front.

Contrast this with 2010. Some people off the front, then much smaller groups that dribble in.

Strava Segments

The organizers didn't do split timing this year... which was a shame, the numbers from that where interesting... But with the ever increasing numbers of people riding around with Garmin computers on their bars its Strava to the rescue. It collects uploaded GPS files and then allows you to create ride segments for smaller sections of your ride. And then it will find all available rides that "match" that segment.

So here are some segments of the Fondo. I've tried to eliminate "overlapping" results... i.e. where people did the same route and managed to match into the Gran Fondo route. This is done by matching the exact start (half block West of Burrard on Georgia) for on segment and the exact finish sequence for the rest.

There still are some rides listed there where not the Fondo. And some that where on Saturday but part of the Giro. So don't assume that all the results are for the ride.. You can see the dates for the matching rides if you have a Strava account (free signup.)

To Brennan Sports Center, 50% distance. Ignoring Marty Lazarski (Giro rider) we can see that there was a tight grouping, large number of riders arriving within a few minutes of 1:48.

From Brennan Sports Center. Smaller group at 1:45 (last half time only!) and then more riders coming in over larger intervals.

The last 30km segment. Same comments as above.. gaps increasing and lengthening.