Thursday, December 10, 2009

Low-Key Score History: Tracy Colwell and Tim Clark

Two of the most successful male riders in Low-Key history have been Tracy Colwell and Tim Clark.

Tracy won the series in 1996 through 1997, then again in 2006. Tracy's participation became less regular starting in 1998, and Tim stepped up to take the overall in 2007-2008. This year the overall men's leader was Justin Lucke, in 1998 it was Eric Albrecht, while in 1995 it was me.

Here's Tracy's "scores", calculated as I described using the present convention (the official score in the '90's was % of the fastest rider's speed):

Tracy was strong in 1996, but stepped it up to a different level in 1997, a year when he set several course records which hold to today. Since then, increasing parenting duties have reduced his training a bit, but he's still an impressive climber. He was the first non-motorized rider to the top of Hamilton last Thanksgiving, for example.

Tim wasn't as active in the '90's, but did fairly well in 1997-1998. In Low-Key version 2, however, he was clearly stronger. He won the series in 2007, as I noted, but his scores were even higher in 2008. Tim, like Tracy used to do, would typically move to the front early and set a blistering pace which would drop people one by one. This year he wasn't able to train as much, perhaps because of his time commitment to MetriGear, and dropped off a bit, although was clearly getting stronger as the series progressed:

It's a rare day I can keep up with Tim on a climb, and I've never (to my recollection) kept pace with Tracy on a competitive climb. It's a really great part of Low-Keys to be able to ride with guys like these two, at least for the brief time I can typically stay with them.


Bob H. said...

You mentioned these two impressive climbers, and yes, I am impressed as well. What's anything different in their philosophies, equipment, etc, like as I recall, Tim uses a compact crank (?), and does Tracy use a compact as well, and what gearing does he and Tim use for cassette gearing? Thanks !

djconnel said...

Tracy and Tim are similar in that, at their strongest, they both like going to the front, starting at a very fast pace, and riding people off their wheels. I'm more of an "even pacing" guy, so when there's such a fast start I need to pull the plug and go to my own pace. With neither of them present it's sometimes the case that nobody will want to take control, and I can hang with the lead group far longer.

Both Tracy and Tim ride with a good cadence, I recall. Of course in the 1990's when Low-Key stated compact cranks were not yet popular, used only by randonneurs. Tracy didn't spin the fastest, but wasn't a masher either.

Bob H. said...

Thanks, interesting feedback..that's interesting the similarity in their strategies to jump the gun right off the race start.

Thanks for the inputs, and did you say they both rode compacts in their heyday, and were their cranks matted to a 12-27 cassette?

djconnel said...

Well, Tim definitely uses a compact and has as long as I remember (probably not in the 1990's). I don't recall what Tracy used on the steeper climbs: probably a 27. But on climbs like Montebello, Old La Honda, Hamilton, probably more likely a 23. The key thing is cadence. I like climbing around 75-80 rpm. That for me seems a nice compromise between the aerobic cost of spinning the cranks and the anaerobic cost of the torques associated with lower cadence. Some people like to spin really high cadences, but unless they're producing pro-level power, this can reduce available aerobic power for moving the bike up the hill. On the other hand, pedaling down in the 60-70 range can be more fatiguing.