Posts tagged ‘race’
I have been wanting to write this race report from the moment the race was over, but it has been a crazy busy week at work. I am finally caught up enough that I can sit down to reflect on what for sure was the most epic Rouge Roubaix ever.
Rouge Roubaix is epic every year, but this year’s edition was off-the-charts epic. Let me set the scene. Tucked in the elbow of Louisiana wedged between the Mississippi River and the Mississippi state line is West Feliciana parish — with St Francisville nestled on the edge of the Tunica Hills on the eastern bank of the Mississippi.
The area is so rural that many of the roads, especially the ones through the hills, are unpaved. With this race taking place during the spring classics season on a number of dirt/gravel sectors and a start location only 30 minutes away from Baton Rouge, the name of the race “Rouge Roubaix” is perfect.
This year’s race featured four sectors. The first section was a new addition this year because one of the paved roads normally on the course was closed with a washed out bridge from the heavy rains that have been plaguing the south for most of January and February. So add an extra rugged dirt gravel road, combined with three other dirt/gravel sections that were in rougher than normal shape, along with a really stacked field with four previous winners, the Kona mountain bike / cyclocross team, and you have the makings of an epic race. How epic? By the end of the race, the wheel trucks were patching and replacing tubes on already flatted wheels so they would be ready to hand out to the next rider who flatted.
I also got a chance to race with my FGS Cycling teammate Kurt Page for the first time. He got caught up in a nasty early crash, but still managed to finish the 105 mile race — with blood streaming down from his leg and hip — in 17th place! He Jens Voigted the heck out of that race!!!
With the new dirt road coming early in the race, and a narrow rough road leading up to it, we flew through the neutral section at close to 25mph average. Once we made the left turn signaling the end of the neutral section, our speed skyrocketed to close to 40mph with a number of attacks. Shortly after making the next left, two guys rolled off the front and had a very small lead. But they didn’t get very far b/c our field was riding hard jockeying for position leading into the first gravel section. At the beginning of this video, I move up following a Giant rider on the outside but I was still a good 10-15 riders back by the time we hit the climb and sharp turn onto gravel. Things started out ok, but then I got stuck in some deep gravel going off to the side. This happened a couple more times, and I was really starting to lose positions when my friend Jesse Gaudet passed me. I hopped on his wheel, knowing that he knows these roads better than anyone else and just simply followed him whichever lines he took.
By the end of the gravel section we had picked up one more rider from ahead of us, and Christian Parrett (5 Hour Energy) had caught up to us. Almost immediately, Christian flatted so it was back down to three of us chasing the leaders. Just before entering the second gravel section, a small group of three or four guys caught up to us. Then our group kept swelling because we kept on picking up guys who had flatted out of the lead group. All of this is in the second video. The lead group had shrunk to just 4 by the end of the second gravel section. Meanwhile, our group kept swelling with people catching up from flatting. Just Mike Olheiser (Cashcall), Oscar Clark (Hincapie Devo), Ty Magner (Hincapie Devo), and one other rider were all that was left in the lead group. Our chase group worked really well together with me, three riders from the Kona team, Jason Sager (Jamis), Johnny Brizzard, and a few other riders working together. We were flying and caught up to the lead four about 10-15 miles later. This is the third video.
Almost immediately, I got into a break with one of the Kona riders and Corey Ray from Herring Gas. Then after a few minutes, Oscar Clark, and a Giant rider (Russ Walker?) bridged up to us. This got our group really moving and we extended our lead to maybe 45 seconds. Somebody was chasing behind us, though, because we got caught with about six miles to go until the third dirt section, Blockhouse Hill. This is the fourth video.
Oscar Clark attacked a few miles later (about a mile or so before the hill) and easily rode away to take the KOM. I was near the front, but unfortunately started drifting back through the mixed gravel, paved section. This was a big mistake b/c I needed to be much farther up at the base of Blockhouse. The riders in front of me were not going nearly as fast as the leaders, and it was difficult to pass. I passed a few people, but the leaders were gone. To make matters worse, I really goofed up the sand pit at the bottom of the first hill after the summit. Not only was I not able to ride it, I didn’t remount cleanly and had to stop one more time. By this point, the race for first was over for me. This is all on the fifth video.
Still, I knew we were doing well, and you never know how many people ahead might flat. A few of us merged together and chased all the way through the next long paved section, but it was kind of half-hearted. When we made the left onto the final dirt section (Tunica Hills), last year’s winner Adam Koble rode away from us. Jonathan Brown (Hot tubes) and I hit the next climb together – that lasted for about 30 seconds before the gradient was too steep and the gravel too loose to ride. We weren’t alone pushing our bikes – up ahead I could see Adam pushing his, Jason Waddell (Tulsa Tough) remarked on the irony of us being in the middle of a road race, walking our bikes up a hill. Jason Sager caught back up to us and made it the farthest of any of us, but eventually he too hit a loose spot of gravel and had to start walking. Across the top, we coalesced into one group again, but only for a couple minutes when Jason Waddell flatted. A few minutes later, I flatted.
I pulled out my tube and got the wheel off my bike and started to change the tire when Jason came by saying that the wheel truck was just behind. So I started stuffing everything back into my jersey just as the wheel truck caught up to me. About a minute after flatting, I was up and rolling again with a new wheel. Our exact same group merged together again. This section of the race goes from good pavement to mixed gravel, rough road several times so it was hard to get in a really good rotation rhythm. It seemed like people were really tired, and eventually a couple more riders joined our group. A few miles later, Jason Waddell and the Elbowz rider attacked our group. I was just coming off my pull at the front, but still I chased hard and almost caught up to them before blowing up. The rest of the group caught back up to me and I was pretty miserable that two more places just went up the road. By the end, four of us were sprinting for 10th place. The Kona rider led out the sprint with me on his wheel. I feel like I was boxed in a bit and could only come around the Kona rider after the other two riders had come around me. So I got third in that sprint to take 12th. But then there was a strange protest about motorpacing from early on in the race that led to two riders ahead of me being relegated to the back of our group. This bumped me up a couple spots to 10th.
This final video below shows us entering the final dirt section, all the way through my flat, subsequent chase, regrouping and working together on the pavement for a bit. But my battery died before the end.
Overall, it was an epic day, I had a blast, great training, fun times suffering with fellow bike racers, already looking forward to next year. Disappointed a bit at where I finished especially since I feel like if I had been a little bit farther up going into Blockhouse, I could have made it through that section with the leaders. Won’t make the same mistake again next year, and I’m already looking forward to it!
Here is all the data from my race.
Annotated heartrate zone summary
And lastly, here are some photos I took during the weekend.
My first experience in timed endurance mountain bike racing went really well – I came away with a win in the solo expert class. But more importantly I think the switch flipped on during the first lap of the race, and I discovered how to ride a mountain bike over technical terrain. I still have a long ways to go with a mental battle to trust the tires on tight turns, but I have much more confidence rolling the 29er over rocky and rooty terrain. I got the hole shot into Mr Toad’s after nearly running into the back of the lead vehicle. I got passed by one rider (a 6 hour solo rider) in the tight switchback turns at the end of Mr Toad’s, but I had no problem catching back up on Johnson’s Mountain. I decided not to pass, though, because I knew he would be fast down the descent, and I wanted a firsthand view of how to ride the Johnson Mountain descents fast. It was awesome. I kept up through most of the descent, but lost him in the tight turns just before crossing Peavine. Also, Eddie O’Dea and one other rider had caught up to us at the road so I slowed for a second to let them by on the road rather than entering the next twisty section and having to let them by there.
I lost some ground on the initial technical part of the Bump climb, but then caught up to Eddie and the other rider by the big berm before the bumpy steep part of the climb. They let me by and I flew up the climb. I wanted to try to have a big enough gap so as not to get in the way on Jekyll. I ran up Blood Rock and continued running through the switchbacks where I had fallen and hurt myself last Wednesday. Plus, for me it’s actually faster to run that section than ride it … especially if you don’t clear the switchbacks. I entered Jekyll nervous but fast which turned out to be key to riding that section (thanks John Karrasch). I rolled over stuff that I had to walk previously. And other stuff that I wanted to walk I came onto too quickly to stop so I had to ride it. And after not falling through each tricky drop or rock section, I got more and more confidence. Then shortly after the switchback that separates the two technical sections of Jekyll, I bobbled and unclipped right as Eddie was catching up to me. So I let him by and then tried to follow his line. I had to unclip two more times, but I was close enough to see some of the lines he took and also see that he was riding everything which gave me the confidence to try everything. This was hugely important for me eventually winning the race. If I had done all of Jekyll on my own then I may have not even attempted some of the trickier sections, let alone seen the lines to take. Huge thanks to Eddie!
Also, while I’m thinking about it – huge shout-out to Jacob who convinced me on Thursday night during our practice run on the course to run much lower tire pressure than I have been running. I ended up with 25PSI front and back for the race instead of my normal 30PSI. Also, thanks to Boris Simmonds for showing me the fast lines at night down the Hyde portion of Jekyll and Hyde and also for teaming up to share resources in the pit. I loved the sign he made “Borat & Toone” and wish I had gotten a picture of it. And thanks to Lennie Moon for coming out and cheering with his family. Also, a big thanks to John for the advice about just tackling Jekyll one section at a time and not looking too far ahead, this was hugely important later after I got more comfortable so that I stayed focus on the immediate section. I basically learned that the bottom portion of Jekyll only has three sections which are tricky and knowing that meant I could roll the stuff in between faster and use each of the tricky sections as benchmarks for the descent. Also, thanks to Roger Byrd from Bob’s Bikes for loaning me his awesome headlight.
I crossed the line in third after the first lap, but the two riders in front of me were a six hour solo expert rider and Eddie from the Eddie/Namrita six hour team. So that meant that I basically led the 9 hour solo expert race from start to finish! I ate a powerbar each lap and drank a full bottle of gatorade each lap. So I felt like I stayed on top of my nutrition better than I have in previous long mountain bike races (Leadville and Fool’s Gold, particularly). Still, I was really struggling on the 7th lap and by the time it got dark I got nervous that I was going to see Jeff Clayton’s lights approaching me. But when I made it up Blood Rock and could look down the entire bump climb and not see any lights I knew that barring a mechanical or bad fall I was going to win! That last time down Hyde was a bit tricky because I got into the mode of thinking “don’t fall, don’t fall” rather than just flowing with the descent.
Here’s my data from the race.
Annotated heartrate zone summary
Analise and Josiah got to participate in the racing action as well. The day started out with a kids race at 8:30. This was the first time for my kids to ride on real trails apart from the 0.2 mile section of woods on the way to school, which is pretty much a straight shot downhill. So this time they got to ride uphill, around corners, over bridges, around logs, and roll over small roots on a mile long portion of the family trail. They loved it!
Finally a couple frantic (me being the frantic one) videos from the pit and gallery of pics from the day:
The Pro/1/2 podium for the Six Gap criterium. L-R: Scott Kuppersmith, Lucas Wardein, and Brian Toone
Analise wake-boarding with Brad
Josiah and me about to start jet-skiing
Josiah giving us the hang ten sign while wake-boarding with Brad
These photos above are my favorite from a great family weekend of hanging out with friends, racing and riding bikes, and enjoying the beautiful mountains of North Georgia. Analise and Josiah wake-boarded for the first time. I got to ride a jet ski for the first time. And we had a great time hanging out with Brad and Brenna and their kids at their family lake house on Lake Lanier less than 30 minutes from Dahlonega. Here’s how the racing went on Saturday and the epic riding went on Sunday…
Saturday @ 7:30PM, Six Gap Criterium
The course was the same three corner course plus the downtown square which is small enough that I heard at least one person describe it as a roundabout. So the course was either three corners and a 180 or 7 corners depending on how you count the square. Either way you go, the course is really fast with two uphill sections and two downhill sections. I was slow in getting to start line so I started on the back row of a small field of about 25 pro/1/2 riders. The layout of the course meant that there was really only one spot to pass people – just past the start/finish all the way through the top of the hill after turn 1. The rest of the course was so fast and had turns coming at you so quickly that it was difficult to pass anyone.
I had to watch the early breaks on the first couple laps go as I was still working my way to the front. Fortunately, none of those stuck, and I was able to get to the front by the fourth or fifth lap. A few laps later I went with a move that didn’t last long. A few laps after that was another move that I was in – this one lasted a couple laps but never got a good gap. Only a couple laps after that, I bridged up to a move started by Brendan Cornett (TBB Sports), who has been riding super strong this year, and one of the UHC-706 riders (Jonas?). Brendan was clearly the strongest and drilled it hard, but we never got our gap out to more than 5-10 seconds. Even so, we held that gap for quite a few laps (about 1/4 of the race) before getting pulled back in.
Then there was a flurry of attacks that eventually saw Scott Kuppersmith break free. A lap or two later, Lucas Wardein (Florida Velo), attacked and bridged to Scott solo. I think at that point everyone looked to UHC to bring back the move, but the gap had ballooned to nearly 30 seconds so it was too late to bring it back in the last five laps. Johnny Brizzard (Subaru) raced aggressively but couldn’t get a gap to stick. He was at the front drilling it hard at the start of the last lap when I decided to attack as soon as the pace let up. Going into turn 1, we slowed down just a bit and it was now or never so I attacked as hard as I could hoping to hold it through all the corners. I was able to just barely hold it to the finish with Brendan and Oneal Samuels (UHC-706) coming up fast behind me for 4th and 5th. Kristine got a good video of the finish starting with me charging through with about 500 meters to go…
She also got a video of the field rounding the square earlier in the race…
I was really happy to finish my last criterium for the year with one more podium! All my power/heartrate data is below:
Six Gap Criterium Pro/1/2 – heartrate/power data (click to enlarge)
Six Gap criterium pro/1/2 power map (click to enlarge)
Six Gap criterium pro/1/2 last lap power data (click to enlarge)
Six Gap criterium pro/1/2 heartrate zones
Six Gap Criterium Lap Data Pro/1/2 Third Place Lap Time AvgPow MaxPow HR MPH 1 1:16 301 796 165 25.7 2 1:15 255 725 169 26.2 3 1:14 266 849 170 26 4 1:13 301 877 169 27.3 5 1:08 381 874 181 29.1 6 1:12 324 711 185 27.6 7 1:17 280 651 177 26 8 1:17 247 570 175 26.2 9 1:22 233 806 165 25 10 1:14 304 955 166 27.8 11 1:10 359 801 181 29.4 12 1:20 219 644 176 26.5 13 1:20 210 779 165 25.9 14 1:20 233 882 162 26.7 15 1:13 325 884 167 29.3 16 1:11 344 921 183 31.1 17 1:09 352 691 185 29.5 18 1:15 300 655 186 28.4 19 1:21 234 594 178 25.5 20 1:15 239 777 169 27.9 21 1:16 217 813 166 27.7 22 1:18 259 920 163 26.3 23 1:13 271 756 176 28.6 24 1:13 352 890 180 28.5 25 1:11 296 696 184 28.6 26 1:13 317 661 183 27.7 27 1:15 279 631 182 27.4 28 1:14 294 643 180 27.4 29 1:17 291 837 179 25.9 30 1:16 228 630 177 27.3 31 1:19 192 738 172 25.7 32 1:20 214 746 164 26 33 1:15 221 745 166 26.5 34 1:27 195 767 163 22.8 35 1:21 241 973 161 24.9 36 1:16 240 807 169 26.2 37 1:17 235 872 164 25.5 38 1:23 206 873 166 24.4 39 1:21 234 890 166 24.4 40 1:15 249 852 165 26.8 41 1:20 282 887 166 24.9 42 1:21 262 810 180 25 43 1:15 285 912 177 26.8 44 1:13 287 917 175 27.4 45 1:12 235 715 176 27 46 1:07 463 990 185 29.2
Sunday @ 7:30AM, Six Gap Gran Fondo
Less than 12 hours later, I was lined up with close to 3,000 other people awaiting the start of the annual Six Gap century. There is a reason why this event draws so many people – the course covers some of the best cycling roads in the entire country. Huge climbs, awesome descents, and lots of fun awaits those who do this event. The century also has a KOM competition that was sponsored this year by the USA Pro Cycling Challenge (the pro tour race in Colorado). This year’s competition was based on your chip timing up Hogpen Gap – a 7 mile stair-stepper climb with sustained sections as steep as 15%.
The first few miles leaving the high school were a great time chat with people and enjoy the draft of such a huge group. When you get that many cyclists together, you know that there are going to be a lot of yo-yoing back and forth as the pace accelerates on the downhill and then suddenly slows on the next steep roller — so you do your best to pay attention and help each other out by calling out when the pace is slowing and everything is fine. The group takes up pretty much the whole road, but on a Sunday morning in a rural section of the mountains of north georgia, I can only recall seeing a couple cars the entire 10 mile section leading into the first large hill on the course.
I was pretty far back when we reached the first of the six major climbs of the day – Neel’s Gap. I worked my way close to the front by the top of the first section of the climb. Then shortly after the bottom of the next climb, I finally made it all the way to the front. My teammate, Boris Simmonds, accelerated a bit and got away from the group early on the climb. Jimmy Schurman (Globalbike) set a fast pace that eventually reeled in Borris and dropped everyone except Christian Parrett (Globalbike), Mark Fisher (strong rider from Birmingham), and me. Across the top, we slowed down enough that quite a few riders joined us on the descent with a group of maybe 20 riders starting the climb up Jack’s Gap together.
The pace up Jack’s was tame enough that most of us were still together going into the third climb of the day (Unicoi Gap). Mark pushed it super hard at the bottom. I was on his wheel so I initially went with him, but I was pushing 375 watts up the climb and wanted to save some energy for the next climb up Hogpen Gap. Mark went on alone and I joined the rest of the group cruising up Unicoi at a more leisurely pace. We stopped at the top and refueled with lots of PB&J sandwiches.
Our group pushed the pace hard heading into the Hogpen climb so we were down to less than 10 riders by the turn onto GA-348. Jimmy Schurman was drilling it hard at the front and pretty soon it was just me, Mark, and Christian again. We crested the first part of the climb together, but Mark came off our group on the next steep section of the climb. Eventually we caught a couple riders who had not stopped at the Unicoi rest stop. Last year, Jimmy had dropped me at the steep section of the climb where there is a pull-out and several portapotties setup. This year I was happy to be able to hang with him and Christian all the way to the last steep roller before the top (about 1K to go). I just couldn’t sustain an above-threshold pace anymore so I eased up a bit to finish the climb at right about my threshold power of 300 watts.
After a couple minutes of waiting for more people from our group to catch up at the top, we headed down the super fast Hogpen descent. I thought Wolfpen was included again in the KOM competition so I pushed the pace hard at the bottom, Jimmy took over in the middle, and then Christian finished it off. Wolfpen is not nearly as steep as Hogpen so there was about 10 of us who survived the climb together. It’s tricky passing all the 3 gap riders and my voice was kinda horse from shouting “hello, on your left” up the climb and down the descent on the other side.
The final climb up Woody’s gap is much shorter than all the rest, and the descent was mostly good this year. Last year, we got held up by more 3-gappers and more cars on the road. This year, we eventually caught a truck pulling a 4-wheeler on a trailer and had to wait for him for a mile or two. Then he decided to stop to let us by (which almost caused us to plow into the back of him) but I was thankful that we could bomb the remaining mile or two of the descent. The rollers were good, and Christian pointed out the start of the dirt climb up Woody’s gap so I’m going to try to hit that up for southern cross in february.
Another year, another fun time at Six Gap! Here is all my power data … the first map below has the six climbs annotated with power, time, distance and vertical elevation gain.
Finally, here is a map of our boating fun yesterday and a couple more videos of the kids wake-boarding with Brad.
Josiah in the middle of the large kids field. I’m talking to the promoter in the background about ideas to encourage racers to register earlier for the race — getting ready to follow behind the kids who were very excited to do an entire lap of the course!
Quick summary – 14th in the criterium after botched field sprint, but held on for 5th overall in the stage race. Up ahead in the six-man break, Frank Travieso (Team Coco’s) won a very tight sprint ahead of Michael McBrien (Subaru) in 2nd, whose twin brother Gene would win the Cat 3 race immediately following our Pro/1/2 race, David Gutenplan (UHC/706) in 3rd, and Shawn Gravois (Globalbike) in 4th. Ryan Saylor (Gearlink) and one other rider also were in the break, so the field sprint was for 7th place.
The details – the forecasted rain stayed away, so instead it was hot and humid for this one hour criterium. After a really poor time trial yesterday, I was in a distant 5th about 45 seconds back from Stephan Hirsch (UHC/706) in 3rd and Jan Kolar (HomeSmart/L5Flyers) about 15 seconds in front of me in 4th. I had a relatively safe cushion of 45 seconds in front of Jonathan Bowerman who had come off our break in the road race and finished about a minute and a half behind us. But Jonathan had a smoking fast time trial beating me by 45 seconds cutting his time gap to me in half. The rest of the field came in minutes behind us so unless a break got away and lapped me in the field twice, the worst I was going to do in the overall was 6th place.
I wasn’t going to give up a shot at the overall podium without a fight, though. My only shot at it was to somehow get into a break without Stephan and Jan. I was first off the line and led the pack through the first few corners waiting for the first attack. It came in the form of just one rider (can’t remember who) so I thought for sure that it wouldn’t stick. Then there was one more rider, and then another rider, and still I was on the front waiting for one of the teams to chase. But before you can say “oh my goodness you missed the boat”, there was a solid break of four with maybe 10-15 second gap over the field.
One team missing from the break was Team Coco’s. Frank Travieso corrected that by bridging solo at probably 35mph – given the incredibly short amount of time it took for him to leave our group and bridge the gap up to the leaders 10-15 seconds ahead of us. At this point, I thought not only was the break a done deal, but also that it was going to lap the field within the first 15 minutes of the race. The only thing keeping the break from doing that was a steady effort by UHC/706 who wanted to keep the pace fast enough so that the dreaded “double-lapping” wouldn’t happen causing somebody to leap frog Stephan in the overall. I also think they wanted to keep the pace high to discourage attacks.
I attacked as often as I could – maybe four or five times? Each time I was hoping to get one or two strong riders to go with me, but it never happened. I would go off the front, stay off the front solo for 20-30 seconds and then run out of energy, get drawn back into the field by the steady chase of UHC/706, rinse and repeat. I wasn’t the only one attacking, and all of these attacks had a nice effect of ramping the field’s pace up enough to gradually reel the break back in. At one point we were only 10 seconds back from the break. I had just finished an attack, and the pace in the field had started to slow down when Shawn Gravois (Globalbike) launched a perfectly timed attack and was able to finish the bridge to the leaders a couple laps later. The renewed horse power helped drive the break away from us again.
With eight laps to go, I gave up attacking and started to position myself for the field sprint. I worked hard to stay at the very front and managed to surf through all the surges entering the last corner in 3rd wheel. But I came out of that corner on the windward side of the two riders in front of me — I’m still not entirely sure what I was thinking — it must have been that I somehow thought I was going to have some miraculous sprint — but I was immediately blown backwards by the wind getting passed by 3 people in the sprint and then an additional 2 people within 5 meters of the finish line to finish 7th in the sprint, 14th in the race.
Not a great finish, but I was happy to have raced really hard – especially with all my family there watching and cheering – and to have snagged a top 5 in the stage race classification. Lots of data from the weekend. I was happy to have set a new power record in the road race – confirming that it was indeed a really, really tough race. Here is all the power and heartrate data from the weekend in the following order: road race, time trial, criterium.
ROAD RACE DATA
New record amount of time spent in zone 5 in a single race this year.
TIME TRIAL DATA
Time trial heartrate zones
Criterium heartrate zones
Another tough race this evening – I was pleased with my heartrate data, but I don’t think my time was fast enough to hold onto 4th place after Jan Kolar put in a strong time to beat me. Still, it was fun – especially since the race went a couple miles into the part of the national seashore that was closed due to damage from Hurricane Isaac. There were a couple sections of road that were washed away but only on one half of the road. Here’s my data: