Posts tagged ‘race’
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:
Quick summary – really tough race with attacks from the gun. I ended up initiating the race winning break about halfway through the first of three 25 mile laps coming across the top of the largest hill on the course. Initially, there were seven of us, but on that same hill 25 miles later on the next lap we were down to 6 riders. Then on the same hill 25 miles later, Serghei Tvetkov (Team Exergy) and Ruben Companioni (Team Coco’s) dropped the remaining four of us. We chased hard eventually losing one rider so it was Stephan Hirsch (706 Project), Jan Kolar (HomeSmart/L5Flyers), and me (Tria Cycling p/b DonohooAuto.com) to fight it out for the last step on the podium. Stephan came out on top for 3rd, and I was next for 4th just edging out Jan who took 5th.
The details – there were lots of attacks right from the gun which strung out the field and enabled me to move from my position towards the middle of the pack up to the front. I watched carefully and ended up in a couple moves. One really good looking move had both Team Coco’s riders and at least one UHC/706 rider. We had a gap and were absolutely drilling it but we just couldn’t extend our gap more than 20 seconds from a hard chasing field.
Still, we were away for quite a while so when we were caught, it was only a mile or two before we made it to the course’s big hill (0.4 miles at 5%). I had been in a lot of moves by this point in the race so I was hoping that there wouldn’t be any hard attacks on the hill. There weren’t. In fact, the pace was slow enough that as we made it towards the top of the steeper section I decided to attack – not expecting much, but knowing that last year this is where our break got away.
The attack worked, though, because we got a good gap with good team representation: Ruben Companioni (Team Coco’s), Stephan Hirsch (UHC/706 Project), Jan Kolar (HomeSmart/L5Flyers), Tim Reagan (Herring Gas), Serghei Tvetkov (Team Exergy), a rider in black kit I didn’t recognize, and me (Tria Cycling p/b DonohooAuto.com). We were flat out from that moment on. The field was chasing hard, but I think people were tired from the previous chase. So we very slowly pushed out our lead. By the end of the first lap, I believe we were up to about a minute. On the second lap, we were out to two minutes, and then by the start of the last lap we were about 4 minutes ahead.
We never let up and with the windy conditions it seemed like you were always getting hit by a crosswind or pushing it really hard with a tailwind. I never felt good so halfway through the last lap as we reached the hill I knew there was likely to be an attack but had already given up on it even before the attack happened! I was just focusing on trying not to get dropped. Serghei initiated the move and Ruben covered it with no problem. I was expecting Stephan to go with it too leaving Jan, me, and the other rider to chase – but he stayed back with us opting to wait until the top to really start chasing. I was cooked by this point and we tried to get a good rotation going but Stephan was clearly stronger than the rest of us – and I was wanting it to come down to a sprint for 3rd as I might be able to pull something together for the uphill finish.
As we came into the finish, Stephan was on the front with 500 meters to go when he pulled off. I went through next and decided to hit it as hard as I could on the uphill with about 400 meters to go. I didn’t get a gap, and Jan came around with 300 meters to go. Stephan came around Jan and then with about 100 meters to go I was able to repass Jan to take 4th.
I was COMPLETELY exhausted after the sprint. Not breathing well, not able to get enough air, not able to think straight, I found a tent where somebody had some ice cold water (THANKS!). Then I very, very slowly pedaled back up the hill to the car, cranked the AC up to maximum and sat there for a while trying to cool off before heading back to check the results and get my spare wheels from the follow vehicle.
Now it’s time to head out for the time trial – will probably have 110-115 miles total for the day after it’s all said and done. At this point I’m hoping to hit the TT hard enough to hold my 4th overall position. We’ll see how it goes!
Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale) took the win (also wrapping up the title for the 2012 NUE series), followed by Ben Swanepoel (Squirt Lube) in 2nd, and Christian Tanguy (Team CF) in 3rd. But before all that, I snuck away on the Cooper Gap climb to try to get the Strava KOM with Swanepoel catching me across the top before the Winding Stair descent. Once we hit the single track, I quickly lost ground eventually ending up in 13th place. Exhausted and happy now!
- The beautiful sunrise leaving the winery
- Chatting with everyone before, after, and during the race
- Riding hard up the Copper Gap climb and leading the race
- The fog across the top of the mountain on the Winding Stair descent
- Sunlight breaking through the fog and rays of sunshine shooting through the pine trees (I think that was near Bull Mountain)
- Getting the chance to see Gerry Pflug climb up a super steep hill on his singlespeed … amazing!
- ALL of the creek/river crossings. For somebody like me who is always thwarted by creeks and rivers on road rides and route planning, it was awesome to be able to just ride straight through the creeks on my mountain bike.
- 6 inch long millipede crossing the trail – I rode around it
- Small deer or fox jumped off the trail in front of me
- Any singletrack that was uphill … especially the climb up to the top of Bull Mountain up steep singletrack through a thick pine forest breaking out into a HUGE grassy meadow at the top of the mountain. I really disliked the singletrack descent down from the grassy meadow, though, because without functional front suspension I got beat up pretty bad on that section ended up in that deep rut both laps having lost control and lucky not to have crashed.
About 100 riders set out before sunrise on a 100 mile mountain bike race. Lightning and light rain gave way to a beautiful sunrise as we rolled out of the winery onto Hightower Church road in a fast neutral section. Shortly before we made the left onto Forest Service Rd 28, I moved up the right side and then immediately followed two riders that surged at the front stringing out the group. As we hit the gravel with some of the steep fast rollers, I tried to stay towards the front but ended up drifting a few spots back.
We were probably a mile into the Cooper Gap climb when I realized that I could make some time on everyone else before the singletrack if I went hard on the climb. This turned out to be a great decision because drilling that climb and taking the KOM was the best part of the race for me. And considering how slow I was compared to everyone else on the singletrack, it wouldn’t have done any good to “save energy” for the singletrack. Even after I rode away from the group, I kept on expecting to look back and see the group closing in, but I never saw the group again after the first few switchbacks.
Across the top, Ben Swanepol caught me, and I was able to keep up with him on the rollers before the Winding Stair descent. As soon as we hit the descent, I thought that I would be able to follow his lines and keep up but this lasted only a few seconds before I nearly lost it on some of the washboard (my front suspension was not working right – almost like a rigid fork – I got beat up pretty bad by the rougher sections of the course). So I slowed way down and kept expecting the rest of the group to catch me. But Ben and I must have had a pretty big lead by the top since the rest of the group, led by Jeremiah Bishop, didn’t catch me until just after we made the turn onto the singletrack near the bottom of the Winding Stair descent.
I knew immediately that I needed to get out of the way so I pulled off the trail and maybe 7 or 8 riders passed me. Then there was a break so I hopped back on the trail and continued to ride as fast as I thought was humanly possible. But three more riders caught up to me and then we got tangled up as I tried to get off the trail. Hopefully this was the only time I slowed anyone down on the singletrack. This section was short enough that when we hit the next gravel road I was able to drill it and pass a few people coming really close to catching back up to the lead group (less than 50 meters ahead). But as I saw them disappear into the next section of singletrack, I knew that was the last time I would see the leaders.
Within a few minutes of entering the second section of singletrack, the riders that I had passed on the gravel road started catching up to me and I pulled over immediately to let each of them pass. A few minutes after that Gerry Pflug (Salsa) came by on his singlespeed. That was one of the highlights of the race for me as I got to see the top singlespeed racer in America grind up a super steep climb that I could barely clear with my geared bike! Then it got lonely for a really long time. Nobody coming up from behind, and nobody in sight ahead of me all the way to the 2/3 aid station. By this point, I had already given up on a top finish so I focused on making sure I got enough nutrition. By the end of the race, I ended up stopping at FIVE aid stations and making sure I left each one with two full bottles. Still, I didn’t get the nutrition quite right because I didn’t put anything in the self-supported cooler drop-off and I didn’t realize how long it would take to get from aid station 2/3 back to aid station 2/3 for the 3rd time. I’m pretty sure I rode about 10 miles without anything to drink. I backed way off the pace to keep from cramping. Around every corner I kept hoping to see the aid station. When I finally got there, I filled up both of my bottles and then took a third bottle that I filled with a mix of heed and a can of coke. This first time through the aid station, though, was the lowest point of the race for me as I realized that this was going to be at least an order of magnitude more challenging than I had anticipated. I went from leading the race to wondering if I was going to make the time cut-off.
Fortunately, though, a number of things happened within the next few miles of the race that really boosted my confidence. First, Zach Morrey (Blue Ridge Cyclery) caught and passed me. Then Rob Spreng (Dirty Harry’s) passed me, too. But Rob passed me shortly before the singletrack turned uphill. So I caught and passed him on one of the uphill sections of singletrack. Then when it turned downhill again, Rob caught up to me and passed me again. We ended up settling into a nice rhythm this way for a long time. He made it to the deep water crossing a few seconds before I did and we were joking about it afterwards that the creek was much deeper than we had expected. The singletrack turned uphill and so I left Rob for a while and eventually caught back up to Zach. I left him on the next long climb and then that is when I ran out of water. I was still ahead of Rob and Zach after leaving the aid station, but they both caught and blew past me shortly after the skies opened up and the heavy downpour turned the singletrack section that I had enjoyed on the first lap and was looking forward to on the second lap into a muddy mess. The mud didn’t seem that slippery, but with several more events on my racing calendar this year I wasn’t taking any chances with all the collar-bone breaking roots and rocks just laying there on the ground waiting to be fallen on.
The rain stopped fairly quickly, but it was 30 minutes of single track riding before it started to dry out. I caught Rob during the final double track climb up to the gravel road (FS-28) that would eventually take us back to the paved road leading to the winery. I was so elated to be on my way back and to have survived all the singletrack that I absolutely crushed the gravel road and paved road back to the winery. In fact, I was closing in on Zach on the paved road, but as I watched him turn into the winery I knew it was all over to try to catch him b/c of the last technical bits in the winery – which had turned pretty slippery after all the 50 milers and the first 12 100 milers had ridden it. Still it was fun to come flying up the last hill to the cheers of my beautiful wife. What an amazing adventure and what a great experience!
This is the same course as the NRC race that I almost won last year. Read my detailed race report from last year. I was definitely hoping to make the podium this year, but the race played out much differently since the race was much shorter. We did 25 laps of the 2.7 mile course last year as opposed to only 13 laps of the same course this year. Consequently, this year’s race felt much more like a crit than a circuit race.
Basically, the entire race was similar to last year’s opening few laps with several splits in the group, large breaks, and everything coming back together. The one exception was Team Mountain Khaki’s Jon Hamblen and Team Type I’s Alexy Schmidt who got away at some point and stayed away for the length of the race. I don’t remember how they got away but I think it was later in the race. Maybe on the 8th or 9th lap. Speaking of laps, here is my lap power and heartrate data:
Lap Length Mi. AvgPow MaxPow HR MPH 1 6:20 2.7 253 843 152 26.1 2 6:06 2.7 285 935 161 26.9 3 6:15 2.7 253 877 155 26.3 4 6:24 2.7 209 814 153 25.4 5 6:28 2.8 249 1049 153 25.5 6 5:48 2.7 320 1093 165 28.4 7 6:32 2.7 196 743 158 25.2 8 6:36 2.7 210 817 153 24.9 9 6:18 2.7 258 941 161 26.1 10 6:17 2.8 266 929 161 26.5 11 6:03 2.8 266 960 168 27.6 12 6:01 2.7 269 914 167 27.2 13 5:53 2.7 325 959 176 27.8
About halfway through the race was a 3 place omnium points prime that I decided I really wanted to get just to make sure that I had at least some omnium points for the weekend in case I didn’t get any in the finish. There was a global bike rider that attacked about 1K from the line and got away pretty cleanly. Our pace accelerated and then slowed. Right when it slowed, I attacked hard and got a good gap, and just barely closed the gap to the global bike rider in the final stretch. I didn’t have anything left to come around him, though, and Frank Travieso ended up passing both of us so I ended up 3rd in the sprint. It was a LOT of effort for 1 point, but I was relieved to have at least earned a point to be in the omnium results in case of a bad finish.
Going into the finish, I was in OK position (but not great) maybe 15 riders from the front but got boxed in on the big hill sliding to near the back of the field as it seemed everybody went up the sides while the middle completely stalled. Across the top of the hill, I swung out into the wind and passed pretty much the whole field narrowly squeezing through the righthand bend just inside the grass. Unfortunately, on the next roller somebody swung over and hit my front wheel. I could hear my spokes hitting some part of their bike, and I found out after the race that I had bent a spoke and my front wheel was rubbing the brake pads. I didn’t know this at the time, and the group had slowed just enough that I could repass the people who had passed me while I was checking to see if I had any broken spokes that would prevent me from sprinting. I attacked hard into the next to last corner passing people all the way into 5th position.
This would have been perfect for the sprint with me sitting on Frank Travieso’s (Team Cocos) wheel who ended up winning the field sprint for 3rd, but I got chopped on the righthand turn and lost a lot of speed — somewhat expected since I was moving up on the inside line. I was just hoping that the speed of the final lap would cause the leaders to swing wide with enough room for me to squeeze through. I thought wrong, and after losing speed I opened up a big gap that I felt obligated to close. Although strategically, it would have been better for me to have swung wide and let somebody else close the gap. I would have felt really miserable about that, though, since I had caused the gap to open so I tried with everything I could to close the gap (with my heartrate staying in the 190s for the last minute or two of the race), but I could only keep the gap constant at about 10 meters. Consequently, I got passed by 8 people on the final stretch since I had basically been sprinting for over half a mile by the end of the race, half of that with my front wheel rubbing the brakes. This put me in 12th for the field sprint, 14th for the race with Jon and Alexey both up the road. The result combined with my 1 point intermediate sprint was good enough to move me into 22nd in the omnium – tied with two other people, but the tie breaker was stage wins followed by total number of intermediate sprint points. I was the only one with intermediate sprint points, so that 1 point prime ended up moving me ahead of them in the results!
If you are looking for positive happy go lucky race reports, then skip over this one.
Quick summary of results
Time Trial – 46th, 10 seconds slower than last year, disappointing.
Criterium – Big crash with no more free laps. Instead of immediately telling us there were no more free laps so that we could chase, the official ushered us over into the pit to tell us to wait until the end of the race so that we could race two additional laps to sort out placings from 28th place on. I don’t think this got communicated to the results people, though, because as far as I can tell none of the people from my group are listed in the results. Very disappointing.
Road Race – 7th, best finish ever at this race, but disappointing to cramp so badly on the final climb and not be able to fight for the win. Disappointing.
Omnium – 12th. Surprised as my only omnium points came in the road race.
The River Gorge road race is amazing – entering three states (TN, GA, and AL) – and traversing a wild topography consisting of deep canyons and steep mountains. Click to enlarge – annotated power data for the Sand Mountain climb
Road Race details
I’ve included today’s (Sunday) road race details first. We started at the Covenant Transport Center headquarters about 2 miles down the road from the normal start, so this shortened the race from 62 miles to just under 60 miles. I started at the very back. It took until the righthand turn onto the first hill of the day for me to move about halfway up the large pack. The hill was a bit slower pace than previous years, so everybody was still bunched up. I moved up some on the long gradual descent after the first KOM. When we hit the wider road heading towards the Tennesse River, I was able to move close to the front not too far behind the BMC train as they chased an early 6 or 7 man move that I never even saw get away I was so far back in the pack at the beginning.
BMC timed the catch perfectly at the bottom of the Sand Mountain climb. I had slipped a little ways back and started the climb about 20 riders from the front. I chased around a few people who opened gaps and then latched onto a large group led by two BMC riders. I was struggling to maintain a good rhythm but hung on all the way up until the 200 meters to go sign for the KOM. I was really cooked, but fortunately Ryan Sullivan (United Healthcare/706 Project) had also just come off the group, and he and I were able to work together to catch back up to the group (with Ryan doing most of the work as I barely hung on).
A few more riders caught up to us before the long descent back down to the Tennessee River making our group about 15-20 riders with all major teams represented. We were not a harmonious group as there was an attack or two across the top of the mountain, and even one attack at the top of the descent. I covered that one and made it back down to the Tennessee River just behind John Murphy (Kenda Pro Cycling) and one or two other riders. The others in the group caught back up quickly, and nobody seemed like they wanted to work so I attacked hoping to get things goings – but little did I know what a firestorm of attacks would ensue. Attack, chase, counter-attack, chase, counter-attack took us into the medium climb up off the Tennessee River. I looked back expecting to see the rest of our group closing fast, but they were gone. At this point, I knew this was the move but I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it over the climb with the group. I dug as deep as I could and made it.
There was maybe 7 or 8 of us. The attacking didn’t stop as John Murphy really wanted to get away. This ended up dropping two riders from our group to bring us down to 6 riders. John eventually got away twice. Both times Oscar Clark (UHC/706), Shawn Gravois (Globalbike), Ty Magner (BMC) and I worked together to bring him back, although the first time was before the stair-stepper cat 3 climb and Shawn did most of the work to bring John back. The second time, it was all four of us working together while John’s teammate, Robert Sweeting (Kenda) was able to get the free ride with his teammate up the road. We caught John right before the turn into the TVA area on a gradual hill. Immediately, Oscar put in a hard dig taking Shawn, Ty, and Robert with him – whereas John and I went straight out the back. I had bad cramps in my right leg. These cramps subsided fairly quickly so I hit it hard to catch back up to John and together we chased on the descent (hitting 58mph) back down to the TN river before the final climb up Raccoon Mountain.
John joined back up with the other four right as the road pitched up. I, on the other hand, started cramping again so I didn’t catch back on. As the climb steepened, both legs locked up and I had to coast to a stop up the hill, unclip, and wait for the cramps to subside. A few seconds later I was rolling again for another couple minutes. But right as I caught back up to John again, my leg locked up again and I had to coast to a stop again. This time after the cramp subsided, I was able to pick up the pace to catch and pass John. I thought for sure I had 5th place locked up, but 500 meters before the finish Tanner Putt (BMC) caught and passed me. A few seconds later Jake Rytlewski (Astella/ABD) came by, too. Jimmy Schurmann (Globalbike) was closing in fast when I hit the 200 meters to go sign. Fortunately, the grade had lessened enough that I was able to stand up and hit it hard to stay just in front of him to finish 7th.
In the group ahead, Oscar took the win, followed by Robert and Ty. Shawn was fourth, although he should some award for all the work he did on the step climb to bring back John the first time.
Road race heartrate summary
Time trial details
This year’s Pro/1/2 field was one of the best ever at River Gorge, which has always had a strong field. This year there were more than 60 pros and cat 1s plus an additional 30-40 cat 2s. I knew that I had no shot of getting into the top 10 in the time trial for omnium points, so technically it might make more sense for me to soft pedal the time trial to save up for the criterium. But what would be the fun in that? Plus, how could I compare to previous years?
So I got a good warm-up in riding to the start with my teammate Borris. We headed up to the top of Raccoon Mountain via the finishing climb of the road race at a nice easy pace. Packet pick-up, several back and forths across the part of the reservoir dam not being used for the TT course, and it was time for me to go. I started out easier than last year, but then hit it hard on the short climb. My power average ended up being about 5 watts lower than last year (358 watts vs 363 watts), and my speed was about 1/2 mile hour slower (10 seconds slower). Last year I raced Mercx style with no TT equipment, whereas this year I raced with clip-on tt bars, an aero helmet, and a front trispoke wheel. I can’t help but think that the extra baggage slowed me down more than it sped me up. Definitely going to race this time trial Mercx style next year for another comparison.
You know what, this race was so disappointing I don’t really want to relive it by writing it up. Instead, I’ll just say that I need to work on paying a little closer attention to when the free laps end before the start of the race. I thought it was 5 to go, but apparently they had announced 8 to go. I got caught up in a crash with 6 to go and thought we had one more lap to get back into the race. I have included the annotated heartrate data below.
Downtown Chattanooga heartrate summary
Annotated power map