Archive for March, 2009
The Tour de Tuscaloosa has to be one of my favorite race weekends of the year – plus it’s less than an hour’s drive from home! The Saturday criterium was held later on Saturday evening under the lights. The course was an eight-corner course with a large 35-40mph downhill and a stair-step climb. I made the mistake of going with the Lap 1 breakaway, and then going with the Lap 2 breakaway, and then sliding to the back of the pack for several laps. By the time I worked my way back up to the front, the winning move was gone. Still, my teammates Wes and Stuart rode hard at the front of the race to try to bring it back or get in a counter-move, but everything was getting reeled back in by the strong Jittery Joe’s team. In the field sprint for fourth place, all I could manage was eighth — which meant 11th place in the race with the breakaway already finished.
If the Tour de Tuscaloosa is one of my favorite race weekends, the road race course has to be my favorite course of all the races I do each year. It has a little bit of everything – mostly rolling hills, but one longer climb, a couple flat sections, and even a short downhill switchback section. 7 laps of a 10 mile loop. We started out with the plan (devised on the start line) that Stuart would go with whatever break went off the front early. Sure enough – a break went very early (immediately after the neutral section) and we had it covered. It didn’t last long before another break got away. Attack, chase, rest, was the flavor of the day and eventually a well-represented break got away with Stuart, two jittery joes, two cumberland riders, and a couple other riders. This break looked like it would stick – but there wasn’t a lot of cohesion because the jittery joes riders had a solo rider off the front. I’m not exactly sure when he got away. Eventually, Ty Stanfield (Inferno), me, and two Cumberland riders bridged across to the break but because the pace had slowed down the whole field shortly caught up to us. I think this was towards the middle of lap 3.
At the start of Lap 4, I attacked on the hill to try to get something going and a small break formed, but we were reeled in a mile or two later. On the flats before the feedzone climb, Scott Kuppersmith attacked and got away solo (the Jittery Joe’s rider was still by himself off the front just out of sight). Then on the feedzone climb, Travis Hagner (Warp 9) attacked and got away solo. I had already decided about midway through Lap 4 that I was going to attack hard on the hill right after the start/finish. I moved into position but I was about 3 riders back from the front on the lefthand side of the road just waiting for something to open up. Then the first two riders moved a little left and the riders on the right moved a little right giving me just enough room to squeeze through in the middle. I attacked hard and got away solo with nobody chasing. By the top of the hill I caught Scott and Travis who had joined forces (they slowed down a bit to wait for me). I drove the pace and we quickly got a 30-45 second lead on the pack.
We drove it as hard as we could. Towards the end of the 6th lap, though, we got caught by a group of 4 including Ty, a Jittery Joe’s rider, and two Cumberland University riders. We worked OK together but the Jittery Joe’s rider and one of the Cumberland riders sat on without pulling a few times and this disrupted the pace. Jittery Joe’s did have a rider off the front so I guess it made sense for him not to pull as much, but we were being chased by another group of about 7 riders who had gotten off the front of what was left of the field. This group of 7 caught us at the start of the feedzone climb with about 2 miles left in the race. I attacked on the climb to try to shell as many of the hurting riders as possible. Only Ty, the Jittery Joe’s rider, and one of the Cumberland riders was able to maintain the pace. The Jittery Joe’s rider counter attacked shortly after I got caught towards the top of the climb. I was just barely able to hang on for the descent and then was in second position when Ty launched his first attack. I was just able to hold his wheel, but it was still too far out for me so I was hoping that maybe one of the other riders would counter attack. It didn’t happen and so we slowed down. Ty attacked again on the last hill before the downhill to the finish. I was able to hold his wheel and then when he tired, I launched from about 350 meters to the line thinking that maybe with the downhill I could get a gap and hold it to the finish. It wasn’t even close as the Jittery Joe’s rider and the Cumberland rider both passed me about 100 meters from the line.
So the order of finish then was 1st for the Jittery Joe’s rider who had been off the front solo for a large part of the race, then 2nd went to the other Jittery Joe’s rider in our break, third went to the Cumberland rider, I got 4th, and Ty got 5th.
Here’s my elevation and time data from the crit on Saturday (I forgot my heart rate monitor at home, and I’m not sure why the speed wasn’t recorded). Also, here’s my heart rate data from the race on Sunday.
- I did lots of attacking here to try to get away to bridge to a break
- The break wasn’t working well together so everything came back together. Here is the start of lap 5 where I attacked to bridge to a two-man break. Note how my heart rate stays high for the rest of the race as I was trying to drive the break to keep it away from the chasers
Excellent, fun training race on Sunday in beautiful sunny, warm spring conditions. Around 20 of us started the Cat A race, and Darryl and I immediately animated things by taking turns attacking. A few miles into the race, the selection was made — consisting of eight riders. Each lap we lost riders from the break bringing it down to just three of us. My teammate Darryl, me, and Doug Pomerantz. Unfortunately Doug outfoxed me in the sprint after Darryl got dropped. Our other teammate, Sammy, dominated the field sprint to take 3rd in the race. Here’s my HR data:
It’s been over a week since this race finished. I wanted to write up my report sooner, but life outside of cycling was quite hectic immediately after returning from the race — starting with some very nasty stomach/intestinal bug on Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday of last week. Here’s an edited copy of the report I sent out to the team:
Just a quick update from here in Albany, GA. Good strong field in our Pro/1/2 race and in Mike and Sammy’s Cat 3 race. Fast time trial with lots of corners. All the times were separated by just a few seconds. I was sitting in 11th with several riders tied with my same time and several more riders tied ahead of me by 1 second. Darryl was just a few seconds back in 17th with maybe close to 50 riders competing. The course was very technical negotiating all the corners and orange traffic cones — plus a 180 degree u-turn around a roundabout. This really favored my handling skills as opposed to the raw power of bigger riders.
For Darryl and I, the crit went well as we took turns bridging or being in breaks that constantly went off the front. We positioned ourselves with 3 to go, and 2 to go, but then lost some position on the last lap still leading to a top 20 finish for both of us. Good hard racing! I haven’t looked at the impact of time bonuses, etc.. on our GC but I would imagine I lost a few spots. Hopefully, I am still in the top 15 and will be able to move up with a good race tomorrow.
Road Race and Overall
Wow – it’s not often that I get to watch the finish of a road race since the P/1/2 race is usually the last race to finish. Today, we started before the Cat 3 race and so I had already finished when Sammy absolutely crushed the field sprint to win the race!!! Way to go Sammy! This was all setup by Mike drilling it at the front to bring back a break that had been away for much of the race and then the last two riders from that break right with 1k to go. With Sammy’s win and corresponding time bonus, he moved up to 2nd overall for the weekend in the Cat 3 race. Way to go Mike and Sammy! To do that well against other teams that were stacked with riders is pretty darn good.
For the Pro/1/2 race, I had a good starting position so I went with the early race breakaway. It was a good move because we stayed away for the KOM time bonus sprint. Unfortunately, I sprinted for the 1k to go sign instead of the actual KOM. The rest of the pack caught us shortly after the KOM and a counter attack went with six riders that quickly got a good gap on the field. Several of the pro riders missed the move so they went to the front and rode a very fast tempo that brought back the break just before the next KOM. It was a melee after that with attack after attack. Eventually a Myogenesis rider launched a perfectly timed attack with everyone else sitting up. He got enough of a lead to hold off the pack for a solo win. For everyone else, the field sprint was a long one with a strong wind blowing so it was a strategic positioning type sprint for us. I fought hard for position and was on the leeward side of the sprint so I was able to get 7th in the sprint (9th in the race – 1 other guy had attacked with a couple miles to go and managed to stick it to the end for 2nd with all the sprinter’s teams not wanting to work into the headwind). With my result today, it was enough to keep my 10th place in the GC! So I’m definitely happy to have made the top 10 with such a strong field.
My power meter is in the shop for repairs, so I only have my heart rate/speed/elevation data to post:
Wow – you wouldn’t think that a field with 25 riders would generate such a hard race – but it did! Here’s how it went down. 7.7 mile course – 9 laps – On the 1st lap, Wes took a flyer with a pro from Canada and they start to put some good time into the field. Eventually Emile Abraham and two other riders attack from the field and start to bridge across. They make the bridge and it is looking like a very strong move by the start of the fourth lap. They were missing two key players, though, – Frank Travieso and Oscar Henao who want to the front and rode a very fast tempo that eventually brought the move back by the end of lap 6. Before that happened though, there was a wreck a couple riders in front of me that I narrowly avoided — riding between a fallen rider and his bike. Stuart wasn’t quite as lucky as he had to come to a complete stop behind a different rider who had gone down in the break. With Frank and Oscar drilling it at the front, there was no hope for the people caught up by the wreck to catch back on. This left about 15 of us to fight it out for the finish. There was an amazing number of attacks and Tim Henry managed to finally get away to join two riders who had slipped away near the beginning of lap 8. By the end of the last climb that left about 10 of us to sprint for 4th. I managed 6th in that sprint meaning I placed 9th in the race. Excellent training though, and I’m looking forward to the epic in the snow tomorrow!
Update – today’s training race was canceled because of the unexpected snowstorm with a beautiful 2-4 inches of snow blanketing the area!
Here’s my heart rate/power data … my power meter wasn’t working very well because of the rain I guess. The heart rate really tells the story though — look at all the ups and downs — quite an interval workout!!!