Archive for May, 2010
Three races down, three more to go! This has been a great weekend of racing already, and it is only half over. Here’s a quick recap of the three stages we’ve completed here at the Tour of Atlanta.
Stage 1 – 6.5mi Time Trial – Friday 8PM
The plan was for Kristine to take the kids to dinner and play at Chick-Fil-A while I biked to the time trial start, raced the time trial, and biked home. Everything was going great with this plan until the skies opened up to a torrential downpour right before I left the hotel. Even with the rain, I enjoyed my ride over from our hotel to Dawsonville where the rain had already stopped. I intentionally didn’t bring any TT equipment to make sure that I got a good “Mercx” TT in before Nature Valley where if I get an invite to race I’ll have to do the TT without any aero equipment. My plan was to take the first half easy and then try to push it hard on the way back in on the out/back course. The plan worked great, and I didn’t finish last! Unfortunately, though, my Garmin got a bit too wet on the ride over and started to switch back and forth uncontrollably between screens. I eventually was able to turn it off so that hopefully nothing would short out.
Stage 2 – 77mi Road Race – Saturday 8:30AM
This opening road stage was the longest for the entire weekend. It was the same course as the final stage of the Tour of Atlanta last year, but the attacks this year started as soon as we made it out of the neutral zone. Attack, counter-attack, attack. Eventually, a break got up the road with good team representation. A few guys bridged up to it, and then I’m guessing the break was a little too big because the field started closing in. At that point, Jan Kolar (BBC) attacked from the field and I went with him to bridge up to the break. We made it most of the way there before the field caught back up to us and eventually remerged with the break right before we went up the finishing climb. On that climb, the field shattered and a new break established itself — this time with just 8 riders. It turned out to be the perfect number, and we worked well together until the last lap. I gambled and stopped pulling with about 5 miles to go, hoping to get a free ride and save up for the final climb. Cesar Grejales, Mike Creed, Sebastian Flaskamp, and Brendan Sullivan were having none of it and they attacked hard on the next big hill. I tried to go with them but just couldn’t quite do it. I ended up in a three man chase group with Ty Magner (Locos) and Spencer (Ion/United Healthcare). We made some progress for a bit, but then the four guys in front of us started to pull away. At the bottom of the final climb, Spencer put in a huge attack. I chased and was closing in by the top of the climb, but once it flattened out he pulled away to take 5th and I came in a few seconds later for 6th.
Stage 3 – 32mi Road Race – Saturday 5:30PM
I was thinking I would race this one pretty conservatively, so when a break of three got up the road I thought no big deal, things would settle down and I would try to do something in the end for a top 10 finish. A few guys attacked and got away from the field bringing the number of guys up the road to 9 guys. At this point I was thinking I needed to do anything to try to get away. I attacked before a hill and Jan Kolar went with me. We got a gap and Jan said “shake and bake, let’s roll!” or something like that. We pushed it hard for the entire second lap. By the end of the lap we had caught an Ion rider dropped from the break. By midway through the last lap, we had caught one more rider meaning our small group of 4 would be sprinting for 8th. It didn’t end up coming down to a sprint though because with a mile and a half to go, I ended up gapping off everyone on a hill and then just drilling it all the way to the finish. Jan came in a few seconds later for 9th.
Now it’s time to rest and recover before doing it all again tomorrow!
The folks down at the Mobile Infirmary Medical Center put on a great race yesterday — the Alabama State Criterium Championship. Good crowds too — even with the temps in the 90s. There was a bit of relief from the heat as part of the course went through a parking deck. Rare to find a course like that and still have it be safe, fast. Pretty big finishing hill, too, this course had everything!
I went for a $50 prime on the first lap, but got nipped at the line. My teammate, Darryl Seelhorst, attacked on the next lap and got a good gap with Miro Novak (Alabama Masters) bridging up to him. The two started working together and pulling away when Jan Kolar (Birmingham Bicycle Company) attacked to close the gap. I hopped on his wheel to cover the move and in just a matter of seconds we had caught Darryl and Miro and kept on going. Ryan Boudreaux (Herring Gas) and Jim Brock came across with us, and our break of 4 quickly had a good gap on the field. A few laps into the break, Jim came off the pace on the hill. We worked together well until two laps to go when we decided we would duke it out for the finish. Jan put in the first attack when he saw me and Ryan eyeing each other. Jan got a good jump and I spent about 1/2 a lap chasing him down. Once I caught him, I wasn’t sure what to do, but at that moment Ryan attacked with about 1/2 of a lap left. I was in second going into the final corner and jumped hard coming out of the corner up the hill. I got the gap and held it to the line for my first criterium win and also bringing home the Alabama State Criterium Championship to Tria Cycling!
Here’s my heartrate data for the race -
- Going for (and not getting) the first prime
- Covering Jan’s move, which became the winning break
- Committing to the break
- Our pace slowed as we lapped people from the field
- Chasing Jan
- The finishing sprint
After the race, Jan and I went on a recovery ride around Mobile — which was awesome — with very little traffic. We went over the Cochrane Bridge, which is nearly 150ft high with a beautiful view of the bay and downtown area. Then we went through the Montgomery Tunnel, which was even better because it was a steep descent followed by a gradual climb dumping you right out into the middle of downtown. Then we rode through all of downtown with the many old Live Oak trees with hanging moss. Hardly any traffic anywhere on a late Saturday afternoon and we really got enjoy the scenery. Check out the map I made of the ride -
Check out a few of Jan’s great photos from the ride -
I had the opportunity on Saturday to test ride a Global Ride roller workout DVD – “Climbing Suffrage in Italy“. Here’s how that opportunity came about — my wife was working this weekend, and my parents were out of town so I was in charge of our kids all day. When my wife came home in the evening, it was too late to go ride outside so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to try out this new workout. I rarely ride inside, and when I do I am usually doing a recovery ride on the rollers while listening to music or watching an old Tour de France or Paris Roubaix DVD. But this day was different because I knew that I had a hard race coming up on Sunday, and also because the people I would be racing against were all racing in Dilworth, NC at that very moment. So I wanted to get a good hard workout in to get my legs ready for Sunday.
The Global Ride DVD was absolutely PERFECT! Normally I can’t get my heartrate out of Zone 3 on the rollers but with this DVD I made it all the way into Zone 5. The music was great although the first five minutes of introductory warm-up music was a bit too mellow for my taste. I think you were supposed to be stretching during that time, but I just spun easy. Then the last few minutes of easy warm-up was some good upbeat music before hitting the first section of the course — rollers on the scenic 2009 Giro D’Italia Stage 12 TT course. This was still a warm-up section, but at a faster pace as encouraged by the New Zealander coach. I believe the section that was covered was from miles 9 to 12 (see my topocreator map below). The views were stunning!
Then onto the main climb for the day — a 30 minute climb in Italy — the DVD shows you a nice Google Earth animation of the climb right as you hit it. The climb is not simply 30 minutes all out, but rather, the coach and the two accompanying riders do a good job of helping you go faster of slower to recover. The video coverage is smooth and switches between the view of the road ahead (mostly) and then a view of the companion riders who are either behind or ahead of you depending on what effort the coach currently has you doing. There are also occasional views of the spectacular scenery too. Once you push it to the top, you only have a couple minutes rest before you hit a different climb. This climb is full of switchbacks which the coach uses to push you hard on some short intervals. The cooldown begins once you make it to the very top as you see a beautiful ocean view stretched out below you looking back down to the beach where you could imagine you had just climbed up from. Then there are some scenes of Florence as you finish your cool-down.
Wow – loved it – here’s the highlights of what I liked -
- timer – easy to see and always visible
- good music – although warm-up music was a bit too mellow
- creative use of pace riders to encourage pushing it and/or recovery
- absolutely beautiful scenery – giro d’ italia tt course
- “sweet switchbacks” – good hard climbing – beautiful view of ocean from the top
Looking forward to the next one!
Sunday’s finale of the annual USA Crits Speedweek racing series was the traditional Sandy Springs wrap-up race. The six corner course is wide and fast with lots of elevation change throughout the course. The big factor for the race was the wind — very gusty winds — helping to contribute to many crashes. Even with all the crashes and disappointing performances this year, the USA crits series is one of the highlights of my year as it is a chance to race against a lot of the non-regional pros who don’t normally venture into the South. I’ll just look towards this year as a great learning experience, great training, and motivation to train and race harder and smarter next year!
The tricky part of Sandy Springs is finding the right places to pass people using the least amount of energy. The outside line is the place to do this — but crashes all head to the outside. I was lucky to avoid all the crashes throughout the race, but on the last lap going through the start/finish line on a straight section of the course two riders collided with each other and went down hard taking a number of other riders down with them. I was right behind the wreck, skidded to nearly a stop before realizing that I could squeeze through the wreck between a rider on the ground and his bike which had flown off to the right. Unfortunately a large gap had opened up to the field and about 10 of us made it through the wreck into a small chase group with the rest of the field completely out of it because of the wreck. With only one lap to go in the race, the pace in the field of about 30 riders (keep in mind we started with 150 riders) was too fast for us to catch them but we started to pick off riders who had done their leadout and sat up. When we came to the finish, we were sprinting for 27th place and unfortunately I placed 6th in the sprint putting me 3 spots out of the money. Still, it was a great hard workout — see my heartrate data below … no annotations but I will point out the speed and hr high points just before mile 16.5 — a small group of riders had gotten away into a break without one of the major pro teams. The resulting chase was “hard” to say the least!!! We were strung out single file for two complete laps with none of the traditional bunching up in Turns 1, 2, and 5.