Posts tagged ‘podium’
Alabama State Criterium
You can summarize pretty much the entire race in these two videos. In the first one, Mike Olheiser (Cashcall Mortgage) breaks away on the second lap after I let a tiny gap open coming out of the slippery turn 2. Mike takes one look back, sees the gap, and is gone. I chased flat out like it was the end of the race for the next lap and a half. Then Paul Tower (Tria Cycling) pulled super hard for a lap and yet Mike continued to slowly increase his gap. Eventually, I started to attack the group to try to get away to reduce the odds in my favor, but I couldn’t take the corners fast enough to make anything stick. In the end game, Mike had lapped us and was riding the front for several laps with me in second wheel when Will Fyfe (Brick Alley) attacked with three to go. I covered that and rode second wheel all the way until the start of the last lap when I attacked to make sure I made it through the slippery corners first. I kept on the gas, but it wasn’t enough to keep Paul Tower (Tria Cycling) from powering past me at the very end. Congrats to Mike on the win and to Paul and all of team tria for a smart tactical race!
Also, here is a video of when Mike laps the field and attacks – I was hoping this would blow up the field but we all stayed together this time all the way up until Will Fyfe’s attack. I think the reason it played out this way is because Mike had essentially already won the race so he didn’t want to take any more risks in the corners and took them slow enough for us to recover and hold his wheel on the straightaways.
After the race, a whole bunch of us got together and had an awesome birthday / state crit celebration dinner at Rosie’s Mexican Cantina near the race course. Fun times rehashing the race and catching up with everybody. Awesome birthday – bike racing, podium, and friends!
2013 Alabama State Criterium Pro/1/2 Huntsville, AL 3rd place Lap Time AvgPow MaxPow HR RPM MPH 1 1:28 307 866 150 78 25.2 2 1:17 360 911 164 79 27.4 3 1:17 340 737 175 75 27.3 4 1:20 297 745 172 79 26.7 5 1:20 288 812 174 77 26.4 6 1:25 260 663 171 80 25.4 7 1:26 260 558 167 80 24.6 8 1:29 218 716 166 75 24.2 9 1:24 212 850 160 77 25.2 10 1:21 232 744 160 77 26.2 11 1:24 280 669 166 79 25.6 12 1:24 307 887 169 80 25.6 13 1:24 252 509 173 84 25.6 14 1:27 251 582 163 83 24.8 15 1:20 308 911 160 78 27.2 16 1:27 226 532 172 83 25 17 1:28 255 581 156 83 24.4 18 1:35 199 341 157 83 23.6 19 1:36 210 374 149 81 22.8 20 1:24 331 883 153 83 25.8 21 1:26 243 467 171 83 25.6 22 1:24 311 876 162 82 25.9 23 1:34 194 410 162 81 23.1 24 1:29 240 881 147 83 24.5 25 1:22 238 771 160 77 26.2 26 1:28 229 546 157 82 24.8 27 1:33 187 955 149 80 23.6 28 1:18 363 858 168 80 27.6 29 1:40 182 451 160 79 22 30 1:41 172 384 143 81 21.3 31 1:41 166 998 138 79 21.6 32 1:22 307 916 161 78 26.5 33 1:23 261 838 161 73 25.9 34 1:24 206 644 159 73 25.3 35 1:25 240 605 154 76 25.3 36 1:25 211 712 155 74 25.1 37 1:24 214 627 155 76 25.3 38 1:21 231 1036 165 79 26.6 39 1:28 196 611 152 81 24.1 40 1:24 235 809 153 83 24.9 41 1:13 485 958 177 78 29.7
Heartrate zone summary – lots of time in zones 3 and 4 b/c of the rain.
LP Field Criterium Series Finale
This was a really fun race put on by Tim Hall to close out the 2013 LP Field crit series. I wasn’t in the overall hunt for the points so me, Tim Henry (Litespeed BMW), Travis Werts (Sonic) and a few other riders managed to escape after lots of attacks early in the race. Travis Werts was closest to the overall for the series so he was motivated to do well. But it ended up being me leading out the sprint with three turns to go and only Tim able to come around at the end. Travis took 3rd. It was a hard, strategic, fun race! Perhaps the best part of the day was the mix of racing and celebration as people were cooking out and having fun. Two podium pics because I was wanting to get the MongoHQ logo in one of them.
LP Field Criterium Lap Data 2nd place Lap Time AvgPow MaxPow HR RPM MPH 1 1:38 223 574 146 79 21.7 2 1:20 234 600 154 86 25.5 3 1:16 233 475 154 90 27.1 4 1:14 347 927 160 82 27.8 5 1:13 380 990 178 85 28.1 6 1:16 296 870 177 86 27 7 1:18 275 715 169 84 26.5 8 1:18 313 979 165 86 26.4 9 1:15 274 818 176 84 27.3 10 1:19 336 929 171 83 26.5 11 1:19 269 1049 170 83 26 12 1:23 233 644 173 81 24.9 13 1:35 186 501 158 82 22 14 1:35 207 746 155 83 21.8 15 1:24 228 646 159 85 24.7 16 1:16 287 733 171 82 26.9 17 1:17 345 1003 171 87 26.6 18 1:16 328 541 179 86 26.5 19 1:20 316 566 177 86 25.3 20 1:16 262 536 172 88 26.8 21 1:18 248 544 168 85 26.2 22 1:18 231 707 165 84 25.8 23 1:21 245 433 160 86 25.5 24 1:18 217 457 162 86 26 25 1:18 322 968 172 84 26.1 26 1:21 220 473 164 87 25 27 2:43 108 667 154 76 20.2 28 1:27 211 760 158 84 23.7 29 1:09 520 996 174 84 29.8 30 1:19 251 515 182 81 25.6 31 1:26 206 721 169 82 23.9 32 1:22 158 548 152 82 25.1 33 1:19 219 657 150 81 26.3 34 1:15 213 691 157 82 27.3 35 1:14 313 865 163 81 27.7 36 1:21 221 660 172 80 25.4 37 1:19 226 854 167 80 26.2 38 1:08 527 982 180 86 29.7
Heartrate zone summary
3rd place behind Mike Olheiser (Cashcall Mortgage) and Payne Griffin (Marx and Bensdorf). I read recently that you weren’t supposed to start your posts with podium pictures, but I’m really, really proud of this one so please excuse the blogging faux pas.
I finished up my ride for Team Red, White, and Blue on Tuesday and didn’t touch my bike until Friday with Craig from Brick Alley giving it a thorough overhaul after 862 miles of pavement, dirt, and gravel and my legs getting a much, much needed rest. Josiah and I biked over to the bikeshop (on my old Scott), Josiah’s first “commute” on somewhat busier roads. I came home with the Litespeed, and Kristine stopped by on her way home from work to pick up the Scott.
I wasn’t sure how such an intense effort as a not-quite 40K time trial would be on my legs, and as it turns out it really hurt. I ended up doing the time trial mostly in Zone 4 heartrate because the pain in my quads was really bad. I focused on trying to keep good aerodynamic form on the downhills and across the top of the uphills but stood up on most of the smaller hills to give my legs a bit of a break as I torqued hard on the bars. Initially I was targetting a 315 watt average, but that became unreasonable after a few minutes so I basically continued to target that as a maximum for the flat sections and then running 250-275 watts on the downhills and 350 watts on the steeper uphills.
All of this meant that I was slow on the way out. Mike started 30 seconds behind me and passed me within the first 2 or 3 minutes of the race. Payne started right in front of me and was long out of sight. Travis Sherman had started one minute in front of me and was also long out of sight. At the turnaround, it looked like Travis was still about a minute ahead of me but my legs started to feel better (i.e., less pain) the farther I got into the ride so I cranked it up a bit on the way back and ended up catching Travis across the top of the Firetower climb. I’m thinking that with the freshest possible legs I could have cut maybe another minute from my time but that still wouldn’t have put me anywhere in the ballpark of the TT crushers Mike and Payne.
Afterwards, it was fun to chat with all the riders from across the state and several from out of state including Greg Miller from Knoxville came down to partner with Larry Gunter to win the BVI tandem state crown. Also, Ryan Boyle came over from Georgia and raced strong in the T2 Para category (see photos below).
Finally, here’s all my heartrate data from the race -
Heartrate zone summary (click to enlarge)
Critical power curve – note that I had my all-time best for this time duration last year when I went back out to the course and re-rode the time trial after being sick the week before during the actual time trial. (click to enlarge)
1 minute power data for time trial Interval Miles AvgPow MaxPow HR RPM MPH 0-1min 0.39 353 751 141 91 23.9 1-2min 0.36 389 531 164 79 21.4 2-3min 0.44 280 389 165 82 26.4 3-4min 0.52 275 344 169 84 31.4 4-5min 0.4 302 404 166 84 24 5-6min 0.33 290 485 166 78 19.9 6-7min 0.54 284 404 161 88 32.4 7-8min 0.43 272 426 164 83 25.9 8-9min 0.31 316 510 166 79 18.8 9-10min 0.43 286 385 168 85 25.5 10-11min 0.41 272 358 163 88 24.8 11-12min 0.29 318 498 165 83 17.4 12-13min 0.42 281 432 169 81 25 13-14min 0.41 322 477 164 78 24.9 14-15min 0.37 284 375 166 81 22.3 15-16min 0.29 306 403 166 75 17.6 16-17min 0.49 251 389 163 84 29.2 17-18min 0.29 307 543 164 82 17.1 18-19min 0.22 345 538 169 80 13.1 19-20min 0.32 271 411 171 82 19 20-21min 0.32 289 410 166 77 19.4 21-22min 0.41 267 386 166 75 24.5 22-23min 0.37 295 425 163 78 22.2 23-24min 0.39 284 388 165 76 23.2 24-25min 0.51 219 393 162 82 30.5 25-26min 0.58 203 416 153 92 35.1 26-27min 0.45 302 554 164 83 27 27-28min 0.5 243 369 164 86 30.3 28-29min 0.39 328 411 164 85 23.7 29-30min 0.41 266 486 171 77 24.8 30-31min 0.4 330 494 168 83 24.2 31-32min 0.33 303 469 175 80 20 32-33min 0.34 335 567 173 84 20.4 33-34min 0.38 315 507 174 82 22.9 34-35min 0.18 365 550 180 76 11.1 35-36min 0.31 306 472 180 80 18.7 36-37min 0.3 326 472 181 78 18.1 37-38min 0.4 267 388 176 77 24.1 38-39min 0.46 280 436 170 83 27.6 39-40min 0.38 284 497 174 79 22.7 40-41min 0.48 232 354 167 77 28.6 41-42min 0.5 144 452 162 72 30.3 42-43min 0.5 313 438 163 85 30 43-44min 0.35 323 573 174 79 20.8 44-45min 0.51 255 354 171 86 30.9 45-46min 0.43 295 408 168 85 25.8 46-47min 0.36 302 512 175 82 21.7 47-48min 0.54 264 341 172 86 32.5 48-49min 0.44 302 437 172 80 26.6 49-50min 0.48 271 412 173 83 28.8 50-51min 0.44 286 378 172 83 26.7 51-52min 0.36 316 484 174 86 21.3 52-53min 0.3 331 486 178 77 18 53-54min 0.5 265 394 175 85 29.7 54-55min 0.4 316 406 173 82 24.1 55-56min 0.33 340 430 177 81 19.6 56-57min 0.45 296 416 180 81 27.1
The road race was cancelled for tornado warnings halfway through the race. My teammate John Hart and I had both made it into the break of the day – the only team with two riders in the break. For the time trial, I was desperately trying not to get passed by Paul Tower (Donohoo-Infinity Racing), my 30 second man and I ended up just missing a power record for 11 minutes by 4 watts – although the previous record was on a long KOM climb where you can use much more of your upper body. For the criterium, I ended up winning the field sprint to take 3rd in the race with Nate Brown (Bontrager) and Bryant Funston (Marx and Bensdorf) already having lapped the field. This was enough points, however, to move me up to 3rd in the omnium behind Nate and his brother Johnny.
A very strong field lined up in the rain at the start of the road race. I drove up from Birmingham before the start and had just enough time to pin my numbers on in heavy rain and roll to the staging area. It was a very nice drive through rural northwest Alabama, northeast Mississippi, and southwest Tennessee.
The race started out neutral down the longest downhill of the day in a cold steady rain. The attacks started immediately after the neutral. I was towards the front and covered the first one or two. My teammates took turns covering the next set of attacks. Several moves got quite the gap on the field, but each one had one or more teams missing (but never ours!) – and it was amazing how fast the breaks got brought back in response to counter attacks from the field. After the first lap of constant attacks, a group got established when I covered a move by Johnny Brown (Hot Tubes) and Andrew Hammond (Herring Gas). I think there was one other rider with us initially bc I remember there being four of us in the initial rotation.
Then a few more riders bridged up to us – including my teammate John who got the free ride across covering an attack by Anders Swanson. We settled into a very good rotation immediately, but our gap to the field stayed not more than 20 seconds or so. You can see in the heartrate data how hard we were pushing it throughout the entire lap. Several times I thought we were going to get brought back, but then whoever was chasing must have given up bc our gap ballooned up pretty quickly to maybe a minute by the start of the third lap.
The rain had stopped by the start of the third lap, but you could see a wall of clouds approaching. Even before it hit, the wind had picked up substantially and our group was able to echelon and extend our lead as the weather really started to go downhill. Still, it caught me by surprise when they stopped our race – not much anyone could do about it bc the police wanted us off the course with the approaching storm having the potential to drop a tornado. We huddled under a covered entrance to the school at the staging area – probably 30 or more of us crammed in there to keep warm. Crazy for the first day of June! Disappointing to miss out on some good omnium points, but sometimes that’s just the luck of the draw with bike racing.
The sun came out in the afternoon for the TT. I’m always looking to explore new roads (one of the reasons I ride) so I decided to ride over to the start. Fun ride through some neighborhoods, followed by warmup on the tarmac track around the football field. I had 15 minutes until my start when I decided there was enough time to ride to the bottom of the downhill on the road race and turn around come back up it to match a strava segment. About halfway down the hill, I felt the rear wheel was squishy and sure enough I had a flat. I thought there was enough air to make it back, so I turned around and booked it back up the hill with it eventually going completely flat about a tenth of a mile before the parking lot.
I borrowed a teammates wheel and headed to the start where I only had to wait a coupled minutes before it was my time to go. I kept a close eye on my power meter trying to keep the average power around 365 – a bit unrealistic for that distance, but still I ended up with 352 watts for 11 minutes, 6 seconds – 4 watts shy of an all-time power record for that length of time.
Critical power curve with TT overlay
I think it’s somewhat comical that a power record for me doesn’t even get me a top 10 in the time trial – testament to how strong the field is and also how amazingly un-aerodynamic I am on the bike. So no points for me in the TT, but my teammates John Hart, Kurt Page, and Jeff McGrane all rocked it with John taking a close 2nd behind Nate Brown (Bontrager), Kurt in 4th (first cat 2), and Jeff in 9th.
No rain on the radar, but the day started out with a light rain mist from low hanging clouds. I started my warmup with 80 PSI rear tire and 70 PSI front tire in anticipation of the streets staying slick until our race. About an hour before our race, though, the sun was out and not hiding again before the start of our race so shortly before the start of our race I pumped up the tires to 95 psi back and 90 psi front – still a little low just in case it did start to rain. I enjoyed my warm-up through the hilly neighborhood on the north side of the course – seeing an albino squirrel running across a yard chasing another squirrel and I also stumbled across storm damage from Saturday’s storm and saw the Hillbilly outdoor stage and mural (see pic gallery at the bottom)
By the start of our race, it was hot, and there was attacks from the beginning. The speed stayed so high with some tricky corners that gaps started to open up. I chased around a few gaps and eventually found myself on Nate Brown’s wheel going into the backside hill. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize he was about to attack b/c as the group bunched up I went to the left whereas he shot off to the right. I was blocked in and missed the perfect opportunity to get away. I tried to bridge anyway attacking a few seconds later, but the closest I could pull the gap back to was about 4 seconds. With no one to help in the chase, I sat up after three laps off the front and waited for the field to catch me hoping that somebody else would be able to drill back the break. The video below shows Nate’s attack to bridge up to Bryant – and then me attacking to try to bridge up to them for several laps.
It didn’t happen so I spent the rest of the race trying to help my teammates cover moves to get a chase group started. Jeff, John, and Kurt all got away at some point – but there was always one or two strong riders left in the field who would bring back the move. I tried to get away twice – once to get a prime and another time with Anders Swanson (Litespeed BMW) late in the race. Again, though, somebody was always able to bring it back. Fortunately, I had plenty of time to recover and position for the final sprint with Nate Brown having lapped the field and drilling it at the front leading out his brother Johnny.
Having attacked on the backside hill to get the prime, I knew that was where I wanted to attack for the final sprint. I pulled out of line towards the bottom of the downhill and attacked hard up the left to make sure I had a lot of speed heading into the corners — almost too much speed — I was on the brakes hard through half the final turn but still carried 30mph out of the turn and then ramped it up again trying to hold on, but half expecting a surge to come around before the line. Apparently, I had enough of a gap though to hold on to take the field sprint for 3rd place in the race. That was good enough to bump me up to 3rd in the omnium since the crit was weighted more than the time trial.
Huge shout-out to Adam Morris, Cat 3 rider for Absolute Racing, who took 2nd in the road race and then won the time trial and looked to be heading for a win in the criterium when a rider went down in front of him in the last corner. In addition to his great results, Adam gets the good samaritan award for the weekend as he helped me jump my car after I left my windshield wipers on with the keys in the ignition during the race. 100% absent-minded professor.
Here’s the rest of my data from the weekend – starting with the criterium:
Rockabilly criterium heartrate zone summary
Rockabilly time trial heartrate zone summary
Rockabilly road race heartrate zone summary
Finally, here’s a gallery of all the pictures I took over the weekend – in reverse chronological order.
Epic. This year’s race was highlighted by the most epic course of the season and an epic battle for the win between me and Kyle Taylor. I ended up on the losing end of that battle, but I’m still really happy with the race. I gave it everything I had attacking Kyle eight times on the forest road and double-track knowing that he was going to ride the singletrack much faster than me. You can see the entire race (including the epic climbing) in the annotated heartrate plot below.
How awesome is the course? Let’s start with the starting area — a giant boat launch area with room for maybe 25 or more riders on the front row! After a short mad dash up the hill, you enter the sylaward trail system which is very fast singletrack with hardly any roots (woo-hoo!) I entered the singletrack fifth. Kyle got the hole shot and was gone. Behind him two other riders quickly separated themselves from the next group — which consisted of Jayfer Bezier, me, Jamie, and Will Fyfe in that order. Jayfer was riding the singletrack at just the right speed – so I was content to follow him … until Mike Lackey tacked onto our group. I knew he was fast in the single track, so I was nervous that people were going to start trying to pass so at the next opportunity I went ahead and passed Jayfer so I could attack the uphills faster even if I wasn’t taking the corners or downhills quite as fast as him.
I led through the singletrack for the next few miles and we eventually caught one of the riders who had been ahead. When we finally made it through all the singletrack, we started to paceline it and got distracted missing the turn onto the new double-track that Brent had cut this week. Kyle had also missed the turn. We had ridden the singletrack much faster than expected so we made it to the tricky turn before the volunteers.
This cost Kyle more than the rest of us because the lead he had built in the singletrack was gone. Brent got us straightened out though and our group of about eight riders entered the double-track together with me in second position behind Jamie. I was nervous about the new doubletrack, but in the end was able to ride everything including the epic eight foot high entrance ramp which descended down into a huge mud puddle (hidden from view on the other side). In fact this double track was one of my favorite parts of the course because it was completely rideable and yet super challenging with some muddy steep gradients.
After crossing the creek, we climbed a steep hill and this is where Jamie, Kyle, and I separated ourselves from the rest of the group. The top of this hill dumped us out onto the forest road where the three of us pace-lined it and were gone. I was a bit uncertain at this point about strategy because I had been planning for a long chase thinking that at least one or two people would have a huge lead coming out of the singletrack and doubletrack. Jamie came off our group towards the bottom of the Cat 2 climb up to the Skyway. Kyle and I settled into a hard steady tempo, and I debated about attacking once or twice but I remembered how absolutely spent I was last year after attacking at the bottom of the climb to get the KOM. Kyle, too, was wanting to pace for the long race so we decided to split the KOM money but sprint for it anyway — the best of both worlds, neither of us has to blow up going for the KOM from the bottom of the climb — and yet we still had the competitive aspect of sprinting for it to see who could be the KOM. It was really foggy by this point as we had basically climbed from the valley right up into the cloud layer. It turns out that we started sprinting at about 500 meters (1/2 K) from the line which is a long way on a rocky climb, and then we both thought when the 200 meter marker appeared out of the mist that we were at the finish. Quickly realizing our mistake, Kyle attacked again and I couldn’t quite catch him before he reached Anna with the $100 bill at the top.
Making it to the top of the Cat 2 climb, you might think the next part would be easy – but I’d say the most epic part of the course is the skyway itself … epic ruts, epic puddles, and epic views (not today, though) with epic rollers some of which make it all the way into the Cat 4 climb category on Strava. Bike racing is such an interesting combination of camraderie, strategy, passion, endurance, skill, and strength – and that really played out in this race. Kyle and I worked together throughout the skyway with Kyle pushing the pace on the descents (faster than I would normally take them) and me pushing the pace on the rollers.
Both of us wanted to win the race, though, so Kyle tried to dislodge me on the long descent, and then I ended up attacking him eight times on the forest service road and double-track – but I couldn’t shake him. He probably would have distanced himself from me earlier in the double-track except for an epic crash. He had pulled ahead of me and was heading fast down the double track when he came to one of the large puddles — catching his wheel on a rut he wiped out landing in the puddle sending water/mud high into the air. I had a front row seat to watch it – epic. I made it through the puddle opting to ride through on the left since he had wiped out in the middle.
Across the first dam, I attacked again and tried to shake him on the next steep hill, but it just wasn’t happening. I let him by right at the entrance to the singletrack knowing that the game was over, and all I could do was ride fast hoping to hold on for second. I’m glad I did because Jamie was approaching fast and ended up finishing less than a minute after me.
Heartrate zone summary.
Epic race. Epic course
The photo below is taken from just south of Birmingham on one of my training rides last Sunday. Click to enlarge – you can see the annotated ridges with Skyway rising high above the surrounding valley. There is over 6000 feet of climbing in the race with over 1200 of that coming on the main climb from the valley to the top of the Skyway – one of about a dozen Cat 2 climbs in the entire state of Alabama. The Skyway ridge line is a single ridge line rising high and then dropping down into valleys on either side of it. And it is very long – snaking its way from just southeast of Sylacauga all the way up to Mt Cheaha – the highest point in Alabama. You can see how prominence of the ridge line in both the photo and the topocreator map below it.
The course traverses about 12.5 miles (25 miles roundtrip) of this long ridge line. The jeep road is rocky and rutted in spots (particuarly the descents and climbs) so you have to pick your line carefully – even at high speeds on the descent. It was great following Kyle on the descents because I could follow his line and watch how he handled tricky sections. Even with the rocks and the ruts, the skyway is fast and relentless – constantly rolling so that it is hard to settle into a good rhythm. At the bottom of each roller is a large mud puddle (width of the road) so that you have to snake around on the outside. There is just enough room to make it around if you brush into the bushes right next to the puddle … unless you end up trying to go on the wrong side. On one of the puddles on the way back, it looked like the line was on the left so I headed left and then realized that the puddle extended all the way out to the edge of the road so I had to ride through it — and it was DEEP! I had enough momentum to clear it, though, and catch back up to Kyle who had seen my mistake and taken the correct side.
With good tires and good brakes you can hit nearly 40 mph on the long descent back down from the skyway. The rollers across the valley are also steep so you can pick up some good speed to carry you into the next hill as long as you pick the right line heading around the corners. We only had one oncoming car the entire race and it was easily passed.
Finally, there is the Sylaward singletrack itself. I think Brent has described it as some of the most “grin-inducing” singletrack in the south … and even as someone who is not a big fan of singletrack, I would totally agree. I could go much faster on the singletrack then I normally would risk because the turns are banked and the penalty for failure is not severe (i.e., no huge drop-offs along the side). Part of the reason is that there is a good bit of climbing on the singletrack … there is some contour following (which usually means there is a drop-off to your left or right depending on the direction of the trail), but a contour bend around a ridge is usually followed by a drop-off from the ridge or climb back up the other side of the ridge – meaning that there is a place for me to make up time that I lose when delicately handling the bend around the ridge.
Really finally, the topography of the area is epic. I already described it, but here is some maps I made including a zoomed in view of the singletrack and doubletrack, a map of the entire course, and a zoomed out map showing the course and the ridge line extending all the way up to Cheaha. There is lots of good potential to make this a 100 mile race over to Adam’s Gap and back. I’m planning on doing a 120+ mile ride of an out/back to cheaha some time later in the summer. Will report on some course options then! Already looking forward to next year!!!
Hell of the South 2013 Pro/1/2 podium – Me, AJ Meyer, Tommy Schubert. Photo credit – Tim Hall – I love that he got the Berlin Community Fire Department sign in the photo. You can see the registration tables in the background. Bike wheels on the inside … perfect for this race.
An epic race deserves an epic race report … so here is the quick summary for those who don’t have time to read the novella that follows. I managed to snag a podium spot (3rd place) from a rather large 10 man break that formed as the result of three smaller groups merging near the end of the race. At the beginning of the last lap, I rolled off the front with Tommy Schubert (Cumberland Univeristy Cycling Team) and Brian Baker (Texas Roadhouse). We didn’t attack, per se, but when the field didn’t respond and our gap grew to a few seconds, we put the hammer down and got out of sight fairly quickly. We joined a solo rider, David Worth (Cumberland Transit/Swiftwick), who had already rolled off the front a few miles before us. We worked well together, but AJ Meyer (Village Volkswagon) was able to bridge up to us, pulling Tommy’s CU Cycling teammate Ryan Sullivan with him. Ryan put in an immediate attack, which I thought I had bridged up to but in fact had pulled the rest of the break with me. This new larger group of 6 riders rolled OK but with so many people it was hard to get everyone to commit. Eventually, my teammate, Jeff McGrane bridged up with Dirk Polhman (Texas Roadhouse) and two other riders making for a break of 10. This group had no cohesion, but there were several attacks that kept the pace high enough to keep us from getting caught by the field. In the closing miles, Jeff drove the pace so that I could just sit in the group and position myself for the finishing sprint. I positioned myself well, but the sprint opened up at 500 meters to go — much farther out than I had expected so I misjudged when to try to come around the people in front of me. I started my sprint so far out that the people who came around me as I slowed down ALSO went too far out. So I was in good position to recover for a few seconds and come around them again just before the line to take third. That doesn’t happen very often in a sprint … an epic sprint for an epic race. AJ timed his sprint perfectly for the win.
The details – Friday preride
I was excited about this race the moment I saw where it was on the calendar, and that I would be able to race it. I have never ridden that far south in Tennessee before, but I have driven that stretch of I-65 between Nashville and Birmingham probably 50 times and have always been fascinated with the topography and ruralness of the area. A couple years ago, Kristine and I were driving up to Franklin to see a concert with our cousins when the interstate was blocked by a wreck. With traffic at a complete standstill, we made a u-turn and headed back to the previous exit. I dropped a pin onto the next exit north hoping it would be past the accident, set the Garmin on bicycling directions, handed the Garmin to Kristine and we proceeded to rally car drive through the hills south of Lewisburg. The hills were incredible, the roads were tiny, and the views amazing. That experience made me want to ride in that part of TN even more, but the opportunity never came — until I saw that the 3rd annual Hell of the South would be held there.
This past week was spring break for Samford University, so theoretically I should have had a nice restful week with lots of riding. Instead, I spent the week working well over 40 hours on a couple side projects, in addition to several long, fun rides out to Double Oak mountain on some gravel roads to make sure that my wheel/tire setup would be able to survive the Hell of the South. Friday morning arrived with a cold rain here in Birmingham. Analise’s teacher had asked for parent volunteers to help with video book reviews her class was doing, so I hopped on my mountain bike and zipped over there in the rain to surprise Analise and help with the videos. I zipped back home, but then realized my wallet was still in Kristine’s purse so we decided to have an impromptu lunch date at Taziki’s on my way out of town so she could give me back my wallet.
After lunch I headed north up Hwy 31 stopping by Brick Alley to drop off my Reynolds race wheel for Craig to true for my next non-roubaix style race and also stopped by Starbucks to grab a coffee for the road. It rained pretty much all the way up to Huntsville, but then stopped. By the time I made it up to Lewisburg, TN the streets were dry and it was considerably warmer (over 50 degF) than the cold 45 deg rain I left in Birmingham. I drove right to the middle of town, parked in the city hall parking lot next to the square, and then set out to explore the hills where Kristine and I had rally car drove, and also to do a pre-ride of the course which is a little farther north in the Duck River valley.
The hills outside of Lewisburg are amazing … some super steep climbs on really rural country roads with only a few farm houses scattered across huge areas. I saw two separate wedding parties taking pictures on the front steps of huge farmhouses … on a FRIDAY afternoon! It was quite picturesque. I wanted to ride super easy to rest my legs, but it was hard not to get excited just riding someplace new in such a beautiful area. This was the first climb – 22.4% max gradient up Collins Hollow road -
Then after three good climbs and a very cool switchback descent that I really wanted to turn around at the bottom and climb back the other way (but didn’t), I headed north to join the course a few miles in on New Cut road … along the way I got this gem of a video (caution: profanity) … it is kinda funny b/c when I was planning out my route I saw the massive junkyard in the satellite view and wondered if there would be any junkyard dogs. I didn’t anticipate a teenager hanging halfway out the window of his truck yelling “pedal m/f”
I knew that the course would be rough, but I had been on rough roads for a while by the time I joined up with the course so the only difference I saw is that the course had a lot of potholes that you had to constantly be on the lookout for. Perhaps the most exciting thing about the course for me was the two interstate crossings … I’ll always be able to remember this ride and the race whenever we drive under the two bridges … and the two crossings of the Duck River — one of the most biodiverse rivers in the country (I remember reading this National Geographic article back in 2010. So whenever we cross the Duck River on the interstate, I always remind Kristine and the kids that it is one of the most biodiverse rivers in the country. Now I will also be able to point out the two bridge crossings for the Hell of the South race course on our drives from Birmingham up to Nashville, Indiana, or Wisconsin.
I cannot remember a single car once I hit the course. There were definitely some cars on the surrounding roads near Lewisburg, but once I picked up the course route I kept wondering where all the cars were! I do not think I got passed by ANY cars on the 23 mile course … that’s how rural the area is. I stumbled upon a herd of deer IN the road and managed to get my camera out to take a picture of the last one as it lept off into the woods. We are talking VERY rural … ah, now that I think about it there was one car on the 2nd Duck River crossing – but I spent something like 10 minutes there getting pictures of the bridge and riding down the access ramp to explore under the bridge. I ended up riding about 55 miles in just over 3.5 hours making it back to Lewisburg not too long after sunset, a nice leisurely exploratory recovery adventure ride.
It was nice to take in the scenery and enjoy the area on Friday – because there was no time for any of that on Saturday during the race.
The details – Hell of the South 2013
We stayed with my teammate Kurt up in Murfreesboro the night before, and he had last Sunday’s Milano San Remo on DVR so I fell asleep watching the classics riders slog it out in the miserable weather thinking that it would inspire me to face the weather in the morning for our race. But in the morning, it was chilly and dry with temps in the 40s. The start of the race was at the Berlin Community Fire Department a few miles outside of Lewisburg so we had about a 45 minute drive down to the start.
Having seen all the potholes on my pre-ride of the course the day before, I knew that I wanted to stay towards the front. I got a good start and after a mile or two decided to attack to see if people were cold enough to just let me go. That wasn’t happening, though, as the field strung out. When they caught me, there were counter attacks and the pace didn’t slow down so I quickly drifted way back in the group. By the time it bunched up again I was near the middle back of the group thinking how on earth am I going to move up. That’s when we hit the first bad section of potholes, Paul flatted, and I realized that I was in trouble so far back in the group unable to see the potholes ahead. I decided my best bet was to leave a little bit of a gap in front of me to have as best vision as possible – but then people kept passing me b/c there was a hole in front of me. So pretty soon I found myself towards the back of the group.
After we crossed the interstate and got closer to the downhill before the gravel, I started to panic a bit and moved up on the far righthand side. This worked a little and I had made about mid pack by the start of the downhill. This was still way too far back so after the downhill on the next set of rollers I moved up on the left. People were still leary about using the whole road (too narrow for a yellow line) so there was just enough room for me to squeeze by all the way to the very front. I entered the gravel in second wheel knowing that the best line was to stay completely left through the gravel. I pushed the pace hard to try to be at the front in case there was attacks, but there only ended up being one attack through the gravel and I was able to catch back up on the downhill. The gravel section was much shorter than any of the Rouge Roubaix gravel sections so I didn’t expect much would come out of the gravel (i.e., field split, break, etc…) but I had never done the race before so I wanted to be sure to be there if anything did happen.
After the gravel, you have a rolling downhill and a sharp turn taking you down to the Duck River. Since I did my pre-ride really slow with lots of breaks for pictures, I didn’t realize that once you cross the river you are starting a long climb. This proved NOT to be decisive for this year’s race, but it almost was decisive on all three laps. On this first lap, there were attacks immediately after the bridge. I covered one with Ryan and Tommy (both from CU Cycling) and we had a tiny gap, but everyone was still too fresh in the field so we were reeled in fairly quickly. Coming across the top of the long hill, we had a good break with good representation (2 CU and 2 Texas Roadhouse) but we didn’t have quite enough of a gap over the field so that on the next steep downhill, the field was able to roll back up to us before we could get a break established. [I'm omitting details from the rest of the 1st lap, let's just say there were a ton of attacks, but they all ended up being too big so were always chased down].
On the second lap at the exact same spot shortly after the gravel and almost immediately after crossing the Duck River bridge, I got into a good move with Tommy again, and a Texas Roadhouse rider, and one other rider. We got into a good rhythm and our gap grew, but it never got far enough to get out of sight. So coming across the top of the long gradual rolling hill (maybe 3 or 4 miles later?) we were reeled in. There were a bunch more attacks that ensued and my teammates Jeff and Kurt were in several moves, but everything was getting brought back. Towards the end of that second lap, David Worth (Columbia Transit / Swiftwick) launched a solo move that nobody responded to. He quickly got a good gap as the field was tired of chasing everything down. As we started the third lap (last lap), I was towards the middle of the group when I saw a Texas Roadhouse rider roll of the front. My teammate Kurt had just been on the front and was coming back from covering a small chase group. So I went across to him just to make sure that we didn’t have to chase it down later. As soon as we started rolling, Tommy from CU cycling came roling up to us. It turns out that we had a good gap by this point as the pace and the group had gone down just as we had picked up our pace. Here’s a video of how our 3-man chase group was formed. David was so far up the road by this point that you can’t even see him in the video. You can hear me say about 1’40” into the video “we’ve got the teams and the gap, let’s go”
It took us about 8 or 9 miles to catch David … on the hill leading up to the switchback downhill before the gravel. I led through the downhill, and that was really fun although it did end up splitting our four man group in half. We made it through the gravel section and then settled into a good rhythm. Unfortunately, by the time we made it to the last part of the climb, we could see some cars and riders behind us. I thought it was the main group, but apparently it was just AJ Meyer (Village Volkswagon) and Tommy’s teammate Ryan bridging across to us. Ryan, knowing how strong AJ is, was getting the free ride across since he had a teammate in our break already. AJ finished the bridge right before the last finishing part of the climb. Ryan launched on an attack, and I killed it to bridge back up to him thinking how this was it … it’s either bridge up to him now or the race is over … so I’m drilling it up the hill closing in on Ryan thinking “sweet, we’re gonna two-man team time trial this thing to the end” when I look back and everybody in the break was still there!!! Here’s a video of Ryan’s attack, my chase, my realization that everybody was still there, and then me asking (begging) Ryan to work with us.
The smooth machine, which was our four-man break, was now a less than smooth six-man break. We still basically worked together for a while, but people would skip pulls every now and then — understandable given the composition of the break. This could have spelled doom for our break, but fortunately a small four-man group had gotten away from the field, including my teammate Jeff McGrane along for the free ride, Dirk Polhman (Texas Roadhouse), Andy Reardon (Cumberland Transit / Swiftwick), and Austin Ulich (Prima Tappa). Still we had enough of a gap as a six-man break that it took a while for the 4-man chase to catch up with us. Once the groups merged, I again thought our break was doomed b/c our pace slowed to a crawl. I attacked once (or twice), my teammate Jeff attacked a couple times and covered a couple other moves, some other people attacked too — and this was enough to keep us rolling along ahead of the field. Eventually we got close enough to the finish that it became apparent we were going to stay away. About 2.5 miles from the end I was marking Ryan when he put in a hard attack, I covered it fine but failed to pull through knowing how far we had left. Looking back, I regret not working with Ryan to try to stay away — my instinct was that there were too many people who would be able to close the gap and then I would be too cooked to try to do anything in the end and Jeff who had been doing a lot of work keeping the break moving and covering moves would also be too tired. So I hedged my bets hoping that Ryan would continue to pull hard for a while longer or if that didn’t happen then regroup to go with the next attack a bit closer to the finish. Ryan wisely sat up instead of pulling me to the finish, and that was pretty much the last attack because Jeff came back to the front of the group and set a high enough pace to discourage any attacks.
This gave me plenty of time to maneuver into position marking Ryan again. Unfortunately, my camera battery died at about this point with maybe 1-1.5 miles left in the race. I was in what turned out to be pretty good position maybe (6th or 7th wheel) going into the sprint b/c people started the sprint from so far out. I think the first person to open up their sprint was maybe 500-600 meters from the line. The entire group strung out, and I ended up on Tommy’s wheel when there was a bit of hesitation after the first guy was caught. I opened up my sprint, but immediately saw that it was way too far out, so I swung back into line behind the people who counterattacked my jump … since we were still 300 meters from the line, there was just enough room for me to come around some people as they started to fade to end up with a third place finish. AJ had taken the win and when I rolled up to him, he stopped and pretty much laid down on the ground – having bridged up to our group and then taken the sprint. Tommy was just in front of me for second.
Here is the last 19 minutes of the race … including Ryan’s attack with 2.5 miles to go at 14’40” seconds into the video … I think the camera battery dies with about 1 mile left in the race.
Finally, here is all my data from the race:
Hell of the South Pro/1/2 - 3rd place Dist: 70.48 mi (2:57:25) Energy: 2729.2 kJ Min Avg Max DFPM Pow 0 256.4 1025 W Speed 8.6 23.8 41.0 mi/h Wind 0.0 20.7 45.9 mi/h Slope -13.2 -0.01 14.7 % Caden 30 81.7 117 rpm HR 123 162.5 188 bpm NP:297W IF:1.01 TSS:299 VI:0.98 3/23/2013 9:32 AM 48 degF; 991 mbar
Heartrate zone summary