Archive for August, 2010
I got the opportunity unexpectedly this past Sunday to race the Chattanooga criterium, part of the River Gorge omnium, when my plans for NY fell through. I had debated about what to do for training since I had been preparing all week for a very hard Sunday, so when we woke up in Birmingham to a steady downpour I decided sunny Chattanooga was looking like a really good option — especially since I could get a little bit of climbing in either before or after the race … I arrived really early to register and opted to do my climbing ahead of time. After a short warm-up, I climbed up the Rock City climb (a Cat 2 climb) at zone 5 to try to really test myself on a longer climb than we have available in Birmingham. Then I enjoyed the beautiful view from the top of Lookout Mountain and flew back down the mountain just in time to pin my numbers on and make the start of our P/1/2 race.
The crit course was new this year, and I really liked it. This course was much tougher than the flat course that has been used in previous years. The headwind on the course’s downhill made it even tougher as recovery was challenging as you were fighting the wind on the downhill. No crashes in our race – although some of the earlier races had riders go down. I think by the time we raced, we knew to take it easy on the second to last corner. The course had five corners and a couple gradual bends. Some of the corners were pretty tight so I decided ahead of time to try to get in an early break.
I did make it into a break on the second lap, but we were only able to stay away for a lap or two. I went way too hard and spent the middle part of the race recovering. Right about the midway point, Spencer Gaddy (Ion) attacked solo at the perfect time and quickly got a gap he would hold to the finish. A couple laps later, I attacked to try to bridge solo and made it about 5-10 seconds in front of the field but still 30 seconds behind Spencer before dying a couple laps later. From this point on, the field was split up into a couple different groups and I managed to hang onto the front group of 8 riders.
With about 4 laps to go, 4 riders slipped off the front of our group and I just couldn’t go. I was with Pat Allison (Ion) and Boyd Johnson (Globalbike) and with one to go we were closing in on the riders ahead of us, but didn’t quite make it. Boyd led out the sprint, and neither Pat nor I could come around him. I couldn’t come around Pat either – so I finished at the very back of the front group for 9th in the race.
Check out my heartrate data and topocreator map …
- Rock City climb (Lookout Mountain)
- Criterium (60 minutes)
UPDATE – Nevermind, I made the mistake of taking the last flight out of Birmingham. The flight has a flat tire, which they are replacing in about an hour, which means I miss my connection to NY. There is no way I can make it to the race in time!
I’m privileged to be racing tomorrow in the last race of this year’s NRC series – the Chris Thater Memorial criterium up in Binghamton, NY. This race is also part of the USA Crits series where I am currently still holding my position in the Top 10. Here’s my topocreator map of the course … at 1.3miles long, this is a bit longer than a typical crit course. We’re supposed to be racing 50 miles, so I guess that means about 38, 39, or 40 laps.
Wow – I just had my first omnium win thanks to amazing teamwork by Tria Cycling this weekend at the Cuba Meridian Challenge Omnium.
Saturday criterium – 3rd place, I initiated 4-man break that lapped field, went too early in the finishing sprint to finish 3rd.
Sunday road race – 1st place, I won by a couple minutes after an 11 mile solo break.
Omnium - I ended up tied with Woody Boudreaux with 41 pts. The tiebreaker was the placing in the road race … so, I won!
This is going to be a super busy week for me with the Fall semester starting back up and flying to New York at the end of the week for the Chris Thater memorial race – so I’m trying to hammer out this race report as fast possible … excuse the typos, incomplete thoughts, etc…
- Some attacks went early, but they came back due to pretty fast initial pace.
- Saw my opportunity to attack on the 6th lap and attacked going into turns 2, 3 and then carried my momentum up the hill before turn 4.
- I wasn’t expecting to get away solo, but I had a good gap right away so I decided to push it.
- I lasted out front by myself for about a lap and a half before Travis Sherman (Marx/Bensdorf) and Ryan (Woody) Boudreaux (Herring Gas) bridged up to me. Then Pat Allison (Ion Nutrition) bridged to the 3 of us.
- We rotated well and quickly got out of sight of the field.
- Eventually, we started closing in on lapping the field.
- I wanted to attack early to see if any of the riders in our break were struggling and might get dropped and not finish making the bridge.
- Unfortunately, all I ended up doing was overshooting turn 3 and swinging wide into the small parking lot area on the outside before coming back into the course.
- Once we caught the group, I went straight through the group and tried to attack again, but couldn’t get away.
- My teammate, Paul Tower, made it into a break off the front of the field and ended up winning that sprint for 5th place in the race
- I moved into position behind Pat on the last lap with my teammate Stuart Lamp setting a high pace to keep people from shuffling around
- Got separated from Pat when he went right and I went left around a slower rider about halfway through the lap.
- Then in the finish, Pat was to my right and it looked like he was blocked in so I nailed it coming around left barely squeezing through the riders who were pulling off the front.
- Unfortunately for me, it was pretty big headwind sprint and I went from 300 meters out – so I couldn’t hold it. Got passed by three people including Woody and Pat – so that meant I got third in the race.
A couple moves went early in the race, but with the fast pace nothing was getting away. Well, that is until Wes launched a strong counter attack, taking Gavin (BBC) and two or three other riders with him – I’m still confused about how many people were in that original break. Wes pushed the pace hard, and their break pushed out its lead to nearly three minutes after the first of three laps.
I was very happy with Wes in the break, but about halfway through the second lap I was concerned that there might be too many people in the break which would increase the number of places ahead of Pat and Woody that I would need to finish in order to win the omnium. I was 9 points behind Woody and 5 points behind Pat, so if the break stayed away that would mean I would need to finish 4 or 5 spots ahead of them in the sprint … and I wasn’t sure I could do that given the fact that they had both beaten me in the sprint the day before. So I worked my way up to Stuart, and we had a discussion about what to do. We resolved that Paul could be the surprise winner if he got away solo and finished enough spots ahead. So Stuart asked Paul to attack and try to get away. This was advantageous to me because it meant that Herring Gas and possibly Pat would have to expend energy chasing Paul down – or Paul would get away and possibly sneak away with the omnium for our team!
Paul put in a hard acceleration on one of the first big rollers. He strung out the field until the elastic snapped with only Travis able to hold on. This wasn’t ideal because Travis who had gotten 4th yesterday was high in the overall. I knew that Herring would have to chase though b/c they couldn’t let Paul get away. Jake Brewer (Herring) put in a hard attack, and I was right there so I just went with him and was able to take the free ride up to Paul. The field was also right behind us, but Jake launched straight through the break and attacked again. I was still right there with him so I just followed his wheel.
We still didn’t get much separation, so it all came back together. A little earlier in the lap, James Hall had put in a good acceleration and gotten away solo and was pulling away from the pack. On the next hill right as we were catching James, I attacked again, this time taking Pat, Woody, and Travis. My thinking in initiating this break is that if we didn’t get a good gap, then that could be a good launch pad for Paul who could counter attack. We got a great gap, though, and I really pushed the pace hard at the beginning to extend our lead. With all the major teams represented, nobody was going to chase so our gap quickly grew and we settled into a good rhythm to make the bridge up to the leading break of 4. At the start of the last lap, we were given a couple time splits from spectators in the feedzone saying the gap was about 2 minutes. Within a couple miles we could see the break, and a couple miles later we had caught the lead group right at the bottom of the first big roller.
Pat put in the first attack – a very strong one on the first hill that whittled our group down to six riders with Travis suffering a bit in the heat with dehydration. I was planning on attacking on the last, largest hill but my teammate Wes Douglas ended up attacking before I could. This turned out to be perfect because it allowed me to slip to the back of our group and then catch everyone by surprise a minute or two later. Our pace had slowed down to 11mph, even with Wes rolling off the front so I decided that everybody must be struggling with the heat. It just felt like the perfect time to attack. I ramped it up and attacked very hard to make sure that I got a clean break so that Pat and Woody would have to chase hard to catch me. I hit a top speed of 26.5 mph going up the hill cresting the top (steepest part) at 22.5mph.
Even with a big initial gap, I wasn’t sure I could hold it to the finish with all the downhill rolling sections still left to come. First time split from the moto officila was: “looks like about a minute”. The next time split was: “still looks like a minute”. Then the one after that was: “I’d guess a minute and a half”. Then no more time splits. Turns out I ended up winning by about 3 minutes! Exhausted, I rode straight to the registration area where the organizers (Magnolia Cycling) always have lots of cold drinks waiting for us. Awesome!
Everyone from the team finished well with Wes finishing in the break after setting me up for my solo attack and win – and Paul cleaning up by winning the field sprint.
- My initial attack, which started out solo and morphed into 4-man break
- Attacking to try to finish bridging to the back of the field solo
- Positioning, resting, easier pace
- The finishing sprint
- Easy first lap with my teammate Wes up the road
- Paul’s initial acceleration and counter-attack from Jake Brewer
- My attack that established our 4-man chase group
- My attack to launch solo and win! (see zoomed portion below)
- Maxed out at 26.5mph up this climb to launch my attack!
- Hurting really bad here, gap about a minute.
- The downhills hurt worse than the uphills here.
- Sat up at the very end when no one was in sight behind me.
Been traveling a lot this season … just over 12,000 miles to be exact! Check out the map of all the places we have driven with one flight shown as well from Birmingham to Baltimore.
Plus, 305 different commutes/commute routes on my bike totaling 5,000 miles in the Birmingham metropolitan area…
Here’s my heartrate data from the race … survived 58 minutes including the ceremonial half-lap after I was dropped back to the start/finish to be pulled by the officials.
- Manageable first two laps
- At the back, struggling
- Easier, but exhausted
- Pace ramping up again, the death knell…
Whew – what a tough race. 138 starters, 53 finishers and unfortunately I wasn’t one of them. It started out well with my first call-up ever in an NRC race and first time in front of Kristine. I had a great start, and was cruising through the first two laps in very good position. Then coming through the start/finish line on the third lap, I heard the sound of clanking metal and saw out of the corner of my eye riders going down on the far righthand side of the peloton. Since I was all the way on the left, I thought “whew, I’m safe”. Then, catching me totally by surprise, and with an amazing suddenness that is indelibly etched into my mind, the Globalbike rider immediately next to me was dragged straight down to the ground with such forcefulness that I nearly fell off my bike out of shock. Fortunately for me, he was dragged to the right so I did make it safely through. With the speed we were going, riders from behind piled into the wreck and quickly blocked the road behind me. Less than 30 riders out of a pack of 138 had made it through. It took nearly two laps for them to be inserted back into the race at the pit, and unfortunately the officials decided to insert all 100 riders in front of our group. There was yelling and cursing like you wouldn’t believe from our group, but we had to deal with it and I went from being in the very front of the race to the very back of the race. The slingshot effect was terrible, and for the next 50 minutes I was in the single file line at the back of the group going nonstop around the course with no real place to rest. I tried everything I could to move up, but whenever the group bunched up in front of us, it would take too long for us at the back to make it up to the bunch who had already started to accelerate again. The image of it was terrible – you would see the front 50 riders bunched up at the top of the hill with the back 30 or so by this point still strung out single file. Just as we would start to make it to the front group, they would have accelerated again into single file meaning that we were riding the whole course single file with very little draft. I lasted much longer than I thought I would, and pulled out while still barely hanging on at the back just because I literally couldn’t take it any more. Hard to think straight, and I am somewhat regretting the decision now to have willingly pulled out instead of waiting to get dropped at some point later in the race as there were only 18 laps left when I quit. Who knows maybe I could have recovered and hung on to finish? On a positive note, for the few laps I was at the front, it was a very fun course, well-organized, and there were thousands of people lining the course. Also, I only lost two positions in the USA crits overall, and I’m currently still in the top 10 in 9th. Next race – Chris Thater Memorial in New York!
We’re still driving back to Birmingham at the moment, and I’ll post my heartrate data when I get home. Here’s my prediction – low zone 5 at the start, dipping down to zone 4 after the wreck, then shooting up high into zone 5 all the way until I pulled out one hour into the race.
Amazing cleat story here – after two and a half years and at least 25,000 miles I had to replace my speedplay zero cleats this morning. I knew that there was a problem about a week ago when the right cleat was loose even with the tension screws closed all the way down. It turns out that I had sheered off a plastic tab that helps hold the locking mechanism in place. It’s hard to tell in the blurry picture, but you can wiggle the locking mechanism with your hand even though it’s supposed to be secure. So today I installed a replacement cleat, and I thought the warning message was hilarious in light of the miles that I had on the shoe. It says to replace the cleat every 5,000 miles! Mine lasted 5x longer than that! Tonight’s the Charlotte Criterium (Presbyterian Invitational) and I’ll be posting my race report sometime tomorrow – hoping to get more points in the USA crits series to keep my top 10 standing (I’m currently 7th by 1 point).