Archive for March, 2012
Well, this makes two weeks in a row of two flats on Sunday. Last week, two flats might have cost me a podium at Rouge Roubaix. This week, I had two flats on the way to church, but just like last week where thanks to a quick change from the motorcycle wheel support, it all worked out just fine. Today’s ride started out really great with the typical Skyland – Dolly Ridge – Caldwell Mill climbing. I was looking for a hillier way to get over to Hugh Daniel and ended up discovering a really cool climb up onto (literally) the Healthsouth Corporate Headquarters helicopter landing pad. Very cool! Then on the fun, fast, twisty descent out the backside of Healthsouth, I pinch flatted on a drainage cover at the back gate. I thought I would practice a quick change, and I thought everything went well, but I flatted again about 5 miles later just before the top of the Hugh Daniel – Greystone Crest climb. The flat was on both sides of the valve stem so it looks like I might not have had the tube in straight after the first flat. I didn’t have any more tubes, but I did have a patch kit. It turns out that my original flat was a snake bite in one location and a small gash in another location. Two patches later I was able to pump up the original tube that had flatted first and continue on to church. Thankfully, I made it because after church the tire was completely flat again. So I just caught a ride over to grandma’s house with Kristine, and we had a nice afternoon together as a family. I’ll definitely take that any day of the week – flat or no flat!
When we got home, I tried to get a picture of the whole near the valve stem when a chipmunk wandered into the view finder literally a foot or so away from me. Then as I was trying to take a picture of the chipmunk eating some nuts, a beautiful female cardinal landed right behind the chipmunk. A little while later another bird landed but I couldn’t get a good picture of it. Here are the pics:
Annotated view of the Big Momma (West Oxmoor Rd) climb
Fun, hard ride today. I didn’t have any particular goal in mind other than steady tempo climbing for most of the ride and a KOM attempt on the West Oxmoor Rd climb (Big Momma). Big Momma is a moderately steep climb that starts out really steep and then gradually gets shallower and shallower as you get closer to the top. I’ve tried at least once to take back this KOM and fell far short. Today, I wanted to give it another go. Along the way I did a lot of steady climbing over in Mountain Brook and Irondale.
Then, as I headed over to Red Mountain I started to get antsy (sp?) to go hard. I hit Woodcrest kinda hard and then as I got closer to the top I felt really good so I drilled it. Crossing over the Red Mountain ridge at the top, I took the Warwick Dr neighborhood cut-through to descend back down towards Five Points South, but I missed a light and turned early onto 12th (I think) and climbed back up the ridge again before heading all the way back down the ridge again into UAB campus. This felt a bit like what I would imagine most of the Tour of Flanders would feel like – climbing up cobbled steep roads and turning around at the top to descend down before turning around at the bottom to climb back up the same ridge line on a different cobbled road. Check out the topocreator map and elevation profile below.
The main difference being that instead of cobblestones in downtown Birmingham, you just get sections of really crappy pavement with potholes, bumps, and rough pavement mixed in with whatever random section of road has been repaved recently and is perfectly smooth. I went hard from UAB all the way up the Red Mountain Water Tower climb – around one of the closed gates (hello cyclocross) and ended up setting the KOM on that climb as well. I’ve updated the annotations on the panoramic picture of Red Mountain that I have posted on a previous ride.
Finally, it was time to head down Valley Avenue over to West Oxmoor and do the climb. By the bottom of the climb I had already climbed almost 8500 ft and set two KOMs, but I was still feeling good when I hit the climb. I started out way too hard and struggled at the top but it was enough to take the KOM. Afterwards I stopped by a Starbucks to get some water after it turns out that the Hoover Burger King has replaced its nice soda fountain with easy access cold water with one of those silly fancy “Mix your own drink” coke machine. I had run out of water just before the Big Momma KOM so I had been out for a little while. The iced cold water from Starbucks though was perfect. I headed back up Shades Mountain through Bluff Park at a much easier pace and ended up running out of water 20 miles later close to home. Hot, hard, fun ride!
Here’s a link to all the interactive data on Strava: http://app.strava.com/rides/5334767
Two more things to add to this year’s Rouge Roubaix race report: annotated heartrate data and topocreator maps (2D and 3D). Check them out below!
Heart rate zone summary
Race summary via a video (watch the whole thing (it’s worth it) or scroll to 2’20” to watch George Hincapie’s first puncture, scroll to 4’40” to watch a glimpse of what my race was like yesterday – Hincapie alone with two Domo-Frites riders who have a teammate alone in the lead up the road. Then scroll to exactly 5 minutes to watch Hincapie’s second puncture and watch from there until the end and you have a good summary of my race at Rouge Roubaix yesterday. Even the finish placing at the end was the same — we both got a disappointing 4th place.) Disappointed? Yes. Happy? Yes. I have always said that just finishing Rouge Roubaix is a victory.
Race summary in words It was a smaller than normal field with maybe 40 riders and several teams represented, but the strongest and deepest team was clearly Plano Cycling from Texas. With a strong tailwind and constant attacks, none of the early suicide breaks would stick so it was pretty much all together with a small break about 30 seconds ahead going into the first dirt section. I entered the dirt in second or third position and came out of it first after we caught and passed the small lead group somewhere in the middle of the dirt section. I attacked the last hill to get a good 5-10 second gap on the field for the Strava segment challenge. 40 miles and LOTS of attacking later, I was sprinting (and grabbing) the $100 bill at the top of Blockhouse Hill so I think I was fastest on the Blockhouse Hill challenge segment. I was with another rider (Eric in green jersey) and we worked well together for the next 20 miles all the way through the third dirt/gravel section. At the end of the third dirt section, eventual winner Adam Koble (Plano) caught us and just as we were getting into a rotation I pinch flatted my front wheel. The motorcycle neutral support was right behind me, and I was riding again 34 seconds after stopping. I started riding just as a chase group containing two Plano riders and Jason Snow passed. I quickly caught back up to them, but Jason was cooked and the two Plano riders couldn’t work because they had a teammate up the road. I was starting to bonk pretty bad and Jason gave me a Clif bar (thanks!!) which I ate as I sat the front driving the pace hard to try to catch the two leaders. Then the Plano riders started to attack to try to get away so that they would have another rider up the road instead of just Adam. I believe Jason came off of our group during one of these attacks. We were closing in on them when I see Eric pull off to the side of the road just ahead of us with a flat. This motivated me to push the pace even harder because now Adam was having to work by himself as the lone leader up the road. So here I was pulling the two Plano riders back up to their leader when “psssssssttttttt” I get a puncture on the replacement front wheel. The motorcycle wheels were behind us again so I was up and rolling 24 seconds after stopping. Eric caught me right after I got started again so the two of us worked together to catch the Plano riders. This was less than 3 miles from the finish with one more hill left (Mahoney Hill) – I hit the hill hard to try and pop one or both of the Plano riders but only ended up with Eric coming off the pace. I was first wheel going into the sprint when Plano #1 (Ryan Dromgoole) attacked out of the corner with 500 meters to go. He got just enough of a gap that I couldn’t grab his wheel and even as I closed in on him 25 meters from the line, Plano #2 (Corey Ray) who had been on my wheel came around me to take the last step of the podium. Kudos to Team Plano for riding an awesome, aggressive, strategic race. Kudos to the whole team! I wonder if two records were set yesterday? 1) fastest rouge roubaix ever 2) podium sweep by a single team
The detailed report with pictures, short video, maps, and power data
The first 25 miles
Normally in this race, there is a 3 or 4 mile neutral section, followed by a number of attacks that fairly quickly establish the early suicide break. This year we had a strong tailwind and a smaller field so even though there was lots and lots of attacking, nothing would stick. I rode aggressively and tried to get in a move but couldn’t do it – and my legs felt awful – I thought for sure I had a flat or that something was binding in the drivetrain. A few miles before the first dirt section, a break of 3 finally established itself with Stephen Mire (S3), Scott Kuppersmith (Indian Cycle Racing), and one of the Plano riders taking a 45 second gap into the first dirt section.
The first dirt section
The first dirt section was really rough – especially at the beginning with some nasty washboard. I lost a full bottle of gatorade (175 very important calories) here. And even though it was really rough, we were still going fast. Plus, unlike previous years where you had one or two strongmen laying down a killer pace that keeps the group strung out, this year the pace was more manageable opening up the opportunity for attacks – of which there were plenty even on the dirt! I covered some of these moves. Each one would shed more riders from the lead group. Towards the later part on one of the downhills, my speed sensor fell down the fork and was bouncing into the spokes. I thought for sure it was going to get lodged between the spokes and the fork causing the front wheel to stop or breaking some spokes, but within a half mile or so the speed sensor settled down so that is was hanging down sideways outside the hub but no longer hitting the spokes. Towards the end of the first dirt section, I had moved to the front and attacked hard on the last hill to try to get some time for the Strava challenge segment and ended up finishing a few seconds in front of the group.
The long, hard 40 mile road section between the first and second dirt sections
Back out on the road it was constant attacks from many different riders including me, but mainly from Plano riders. I would chase some attacks and try to counterattack, but I think I was being watched too closely. All of the attacks, though, did create a split in the group with about 8 of us in the front split and 10 in the chase group. I was in the front split which worked well together but we were eventually chased down by the chase group. Once the two groups merged again it was attack/attack/attack. This time I instigated a lot of the attacks as I was really tired of trying to respond to the Plano attacks. Nothing was getting away, though. Then as I was sitting on the front pushing an easy 175 watts and admiring the big flood plain off the to right, I turned around saw that I had a 50 meter gap! Once I realized I had a gap, I immediately attacked knowing that the turn was coming up in less than half a mile.
The second dirt section – Blockhouse Hill
I had a small lead and was pushing a steady tempo when Eric Stubbs (GearLink Racing) caught me. He rode my wheel for a second and then attacked hard. I couldn’t imagine what he was doing, but then I remembered about the $100 sprint at the top of the hill. So I pulled it together to try and chase back onto him. I caught him about 2/3rds of the way up the hill. He was still pushing hard though and he came over to my side of the hard-packed mud double track. He was still with me as I approached the man holding the $100 bill, so I had a brief thought wondering if we were going to physically battle for the $100 but I put in a little surge and got there first to grab the money and stuff it as far as I could inside my jersey pocket to make sure it didn’t fall out. My coffee shop cleat covers which I had brought in case I needed to run up any of the hills acted as a nice paperweight. We worked really well together through the remainder of the short dirt section and out onto the paved roads again. I was hoping we had insurmountable lead by this point, but every time I looked back you could see a lead vehicle for a chase group. We got one time split shortly before the start of the third dirt section, which indicated we had a 50 second gap.
The third dirt section – Tunica Hills
I struggled in the 3rd dirt section not from lack of energy but from lack of technical skills. The gravel was kinda rough this year with a bit of mud, too, and I found myself taking the worst possible lines. Even on the opening steep climb, I was on the wrong side of the double track and my rear wheel slid sideways in some gravel about halfway up the climb. Fortunately I was able to push through to the harder packed side, make the nearly 90 degree turn back up the hill and resume pedaling in my 39×28 all on a 12-15% incline at 4-6mph. Across the top it didn’t get much better as I ended up off the road at least twice coming to a near stop before having to sprint back up the next hill to catch back up to Eric who was descending awesomely showing me the perfect lines which I would proceed to not take b/c of some sort of technical brain malfunction.
Flat #1 – front wheel pinch flat
Towards the end of the third dirt section, the lead vehicle that had been behind us was nearly up to us. There was only one rider, though, eventual winner Adam Koble from Team Plano. Just as we were getting into a rotation, I pinch flatted my front wheel on one of the washed out gravel sections that we hit at close to 30mph. The motorcycle neutral support was right behind me, and I was riding again 34 seconds after stopping. I started riding and latched onto a chase group containing two Plano riders (Ryan Dromgoole and Corey Ray) and a third rider – Jason Snow. Jason was cooked and the two Plano riders couldn’t work because they had a teammate up the road. Jason offered me a Clif bar as I was starting to bonk so I was able to drive the pace and begin to close the gap to the leading duo of Adam and Eric. As we got to another hilly section, the Plano riders tried a few attacks, but I was able to chase down each one and even put in a counter attack or two. Jason came off during this section.
Flat #2 – front wheel puncture
So it was me leading the two Plano riders back up to their leader when we went through just a tiny bit of gravel when I hear the dreaded “psssssssssstttt” of a front wheel puncture with less than 10 miles to go. This was an even quicker change than last time (24 seconds from flat to riding again). Eric caught me right as I was pulling out, and the two of us worked together catching the Plano riders again with about 3 miles to go. I pushed the pace super hard on the last hill (Mahoney Hill) hoping to drop one of the Plano riders, but only Eric came off leaving me again with the two Plano riders. I led them into the sprint hoping that they would make some mistake that would enable me to get onto the podium – but when Ryan attacked with 500 meters to go, he gapped me and I spent nearly the entire sprint trying to catch his draft. When I caught his draft maybe 25 meters from the line, he gave it one more burst that not only prevented me from coming around but also allowed his teammate Corey who had been on my wheel to pass me for third.
Kudos and records
Kudos to Team Plano for riding an awesome, aggressive, strategic race. Kudos to the whole team! I wonder if two records were set yesterday? 1) fastest rouge roubaix ever 2) podium sweep by a single team
Pedal force – velocity graph – all over the place even more so than normal
I don’t know why I never thought of making one of these before for the Southern Cross race course, but the topography is really cool and it certainly shows in the maps below … enjoy! Also, I noticed while doing the maps that the course enters 4 different counties. With a slight route change, it could be a five county race!