Posts tagged ‘road race’
Last year, I opened up my season with back-to-back wins at Southern Cross and the Camp Sumatanga training race the next day. This year, I’ve started off the season with a 3rd place time trial podium, 6th place at Southern Cross, and 1st place again this year at the Sumatanga Category A race. The win yesterday at Sumatanga helped ease the sting from Southern Cross where I just didn’t have it on that opening climb and watched the lead group of eight riders ride away from me less than halfway up the climb. Also easing the Southern Cross sting was the outstanding performances by Birmingham riders Chris Edmonds, Jerry Dufour (17), and Reid Richesin (15) who placed 3rd, 5th, and 12th!
SOUTHERN CROSS ULTRACX RACE #1
So let’s start with Southern Cross – amazing again this year. I could finish dead last and while disappointed would still feel like the weekend was worth it. Race promoter and ultra-endurance racer Eddie O’Dea announced before the start that it was the biggest field yet for Southern Cross, and I would go one step farther to say it was also the strongest field as evidenced by the lead group of eight still together well into the Winding Stair climb. New this year was an additional dirt climb out of the winery instead of the traditional climb out via the road. I was really happy with my start able to ride almost everything, including the log drop and the new dirt climb out of the winery. The only thing I had to run was the main run-up, which given the heavy rains from a few days before the race was too wet to ride.
Leaving the winery, the lead group consisted of Thomas Turner (Jamis), Nick Van Winkle (Litespeed-BMW), Chris Edmonds (Infinity), Mike Simonson (616 Fabrications), Jerry Dufour (Team Momentum), Tim Proctor (The Bicycle Station), Gerry Pflug (Rare Disease Cycling), Eric Murphy (UHC/706 Project), Andy Scarano (UHC/706 Project), and me (Friends of the Great Smokies Cycling). There may have been a few more riders behind me, but I was glued to the wheels in front of me and never looked back. I felt OK at this point, but we seemed to be riding really, really fast.
I wasn’t sure about the climb given that we were killing it on the rollers leading into it, but once we started I felt the pace was hard but manageable. Just before the first steep pitch I could no longer hold the pace. It happened somewhat suddenly as the lead group kept motoring and I was unable to stand up and match the pace. I had opted to take my camelbak explorer backpack to make sure I had adequate hydration and tools to combat any flats, but with the extra weight pressing down on my lower back I couldn’t stand up to get any extra torque out of the bars. If it had just been a couple riders left leaving me behind, I would have been OK mentally but as I watched them round a turn ahead of me I counted one, two, three, … eight riders! This was super de-motivating.
I continued on, but as you can see in my heartrate data below I was cracked and dropped back down into Zone 4 sub-threshold. Near the top, though, I looked back to see Gerry Pflug single-speed champ, killing it up a steep section of the climb. I knew that my best chance at getting any kind of result was to hop on when he came by. Sure enough, I dug as hard as I could when he came by with my HR skyrocketing well back into Zone 5. I stuck to his wheel like glue and then dug really deep again to try to hold on to make it to the true top of the climb. Once there, I knew I would be fine until the second climb.
I stayed tucked behind Gerry from that spot all the way until we hit the pavement at which point I took over to set the pace into the next climb. My plan was to simply hold onto Gerry’s wheel all the way up the second climb, but we caught Eric Murphy about 1/4 of the way up the climb. This climb rolls a bit and although I was content to rest, Eric wanted to push the pace a bit harder on the downhills where Gerry needed to coast (singlespeed) so we got into somewhat of a rotation. As we got farther up the climb I spent more time on the front. But as we neared the very top, Gerry came around forced to push the pace harder by his singlespeed gearing. I could barely hold on, but what really helped is that I had drank enough water that I could stand up again without all the weight from the camelbak pressing down right on my lower back.
Somewhere in the middle of the climb, Frank Marrs (Mission Source) came flying by us. No hope of our group latching onto him, and we let him ride away. Towards the top, we were starting to catch him again and then passed him when he had to stop at the aid station for water. A few minutes later, he came flying by us again. I was unable to hold his wheel and he rode away again but ended up flatting on the next fast descent. Gerry and I kept plugging along at a steady tempo and I related to him some highlights from last year’s race as we reached critical points from the previous year.
I led through the descent and onto the road with Gerry pulling up the hills on the road and me pushing the pace on the descents and flatter sections. When we finally made it back to the winery, we could see Jerry Dufour partway up the Montaluce Monster (100% grade beer run-up). This gave me some renewed hope of maybe catching one more rider to crack the top 5, but Jerry was too fast and ended up pulling away. Meanwhile when I was near the top of the run-up, I looked back and saw another racer (Brad Cobb) had already made it partway up the run-up. I was no longer even trying to catch Jerry, but I rode really hard to make sure I stayed away from Brad. It all worked out though with Jerry taking the last spot of the Open Male podium, Gerry winning the single-speed race, and me taking 6th. Brad was actually in the 40+ race where he ended up 2nd as Tim Proctor had already finished 5th overall to take the Masters 40+ race win.
After the race, I talked to Jerry and Chris to find out how the race had played out up front. Jerry was the only one who could match Thomas’s pace all the way up the Winding Stair climb. But across the top, Thomas put in some surges that eventually saw Jerry falling back to the chase group behind. The chase group got smaller as people flatted or dropped off the pace eventually leaving just Nick, Chris, Mike, Tim, and Jerry in the front group. Jerry came off this group on the road section while the rest of the group went into the finish together. The only reason why we saw Jerry at all is because he missed the turn back into the winery. Fortunately, he realized his mistake quickly enough so that he didn’t lose any places because of the mistake. Chris and Nick sprinted it out for 2nd place behind Thomas who had finished about 3 minutes earlier. Last year’s ulta-cx winner Mike Simonson raced strong and ended up 4th behind Chris and Nick in the winery course.
Very proud of the Birmingham results this year – Chris Edmonds (3rd), Jerry Dufour (5th), me in 6th place, and 15 year old Reid Richensin finishing 12th. Also, Pat Casey took 2nd place in the singlespeed division, and Hardwick Gregg took 4th in the Men’s 50+. Maybe next year we can aim for a podium sweep! I’m already looking forward to it.
Having won the race last year, I was interested in a side by side comparison of all the data from last year and this year. Basically I was 4 minutes slower this year with a heartrate average of 1 bpm lower. Given that it was really cold last year, I think that probably works out to 2-3 bpm lower than last year if the temperatures had been the same both years.
|Southern Cross 2014 – lower HR average overall but 10 additional minutes in Zone 5||Southern Cross 2013 – higher HR average with quite a bit more time spent in Zone 4|
CAMP SUMATANGA TRAINING RACE
A large strong field showed up for the first GSMR training race up at Camp Sumatanga. My former team Infinity Med-i-Spa had the largest team, but there were also two strong military team riders (Kurt Page and Chris Cundiff), as well as strong teams from Huntsville, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, and a number of other fast riders without teammates. I figured given the strength of the field, that the strategy was to let Infinity do as much work as possible bringing back moves. They scored a major coup though getting two teammates (Wes Douglas and Kevin Pawlik) up the road by themselves! It was still early enough in the race, though, that people from other teams in the field were motivated to chase. After about a lap, we brought them back. In the meantime, it got confusing with the Cat B field catching the A field. The combined fields rode a lap together before the officials stopped us at the start/finish to separate the fields.
Will Hibberts (Infinity) had just rolled off the front so he was given a 10 second start. A couple of us attacked immediately upon restart and killed it all the way up the hill, but it all came back together. Shortly after this, Wes (Infinity) and Pat Casey (Team Momentum) got away. I tried to attack on the backside hill to bridge up to them, but there was enough people strung behind me to keep it all together. When we crossed the start/finish with two 10 mile laps to go, I knew that we had to try to get away on the front hill or Wes and Pat would have too much of a lead to close by the end of the race. Near the top I attacked hard and only Mark Fisher (Village VW) and Jamie Alexander (Infinity) were able to go with me. Towards the end of the next-to-last lap we finished the bridge up to Wes and Pat.
I was worried that the field would catch us because our pace was not very fast at all in the merged group (everybody was trying to save up for the finish). When I looked back and could see the field not too far behind us, I figured the best bet at staying away was to shrink the size of the group. I tried attacking three or four times, but I could not get our group to shrink at all. The good news, though, was that our pace did ramp up as people also counter-attacked. Eventually, though, we came into the last couple miles as a still in tact breakaway of five. Wes attacked with 2 miles to go, I covered it and Mark led the rest of the break back up to us. Mark kept right on going hard and ended up leading all the way into the start of the sprint.
The order coming into the start of the sprint was Mark, Pat, Jamie, me, and Wes. Pat started the sprint with maybe 300 meters to go. Jamie kept his wheel and I kept Jamie’s wheel. As we got to about 200 meters, Jamie started to go around Pat to the right and I started to go around on the left. Right as both of us pulled even with Pat, he gave it one more surge! Fortunately for me that was still with 100 meters to go and he couldn’t hold that surge to the line so at the very end I was able to continue on past to take the win. Pat held on for second with Jamie in third, Wes in fourth, and Mark having led our group for the last 2 miles of the race finished fifth.
UNION GROVE TIME TRIAL
I headed up to Huntsville for a 20 mile time trial making the podium on pace for a 57 minute 40K TT, about two minutes faster than my previous best time trial. The key difference, though, is that my legs did not feel great for this race and instead I had a time trial bike, disc wheel, and aero equipment to shave two minutes off my time – even coming near the end of a 430 mile week on the bike. I’m looking forward to later time trials where my legs feel fresh, and I’m able to push the pace even faster! I paired one of my Martindale 6.0s with a Zipp disc wheel on Mike Olheiser’s old cervelo TT bike (see setup below – it was really, really fast, love those Martindale wheels!)
Gotten a bit behind on the blogs … this one I started last Saturday after the River Gorge race – and I think I’ll go ahead and try to finish it up before this afternoon’s race in Anderson, SC.
River Gorge Road Race
Wow, another epic race today at the River Gorge road race up in Chattanooga, TN. The race was going really well until it wasn’t. I missed the early move, but managed to escape the field with Dirk Polhman (Texas Roadhouse) before Sand Mountain. Looking at the strava data, we had about a 2 minute gap by the bottom of the climb. Across the top we caught Bryant Funston (Marx and Bensdorf) and Tim Henry (Litespeed-BMW) coming off the initial break. We worked well together across the top of Sand Mountain, but there was a huge group this year that made it up Sand Mountain together. And they were able to pull our chase group back shortly before we began the descent down Sand Mountain.
There was an attack immediately before the descent, so we absolutely flew down the mountain. At the bottom, I rolled off the front again when the pace slowed down – this time taking Mark Fisher (Village Volkswagon). The two of us worked well together to extend our lead all the way to the bottom of the stairstepper climb. But the chase behind was on, and we got caught by a flying field about halfway up the climb. I was struggling by this point and came off shortly before the top of the climb.
Me and Jacob Hill (Stan’s Notubes) chased back onto the back of the field on the long rolling downhill towards the river. The pace stayed relatively tame on the climb up to the TVA entrance before we divebombed all the way back down to the Tennessee River. I tried to move up across the short flat section before the Raccoon Mountain climb, but there were some attacks that strung out the field and I couldn’t even move up. I started the climb at the back having set my mind just to ride my own pace up the climb and hopefully catch a bunch of people who would ride too hard and blow up. Instead, I came almost immediately off the back of the group and was only able to push about 250 watts up the climb.
So I was disappointed with my result, but happy with another fun, hard, challenging strategic day at River Gorge. I think Jonathan Jacob, today’s winner, said it best “This race never gets any easier”. Mark Fisher did really well catching all but Jonathan from the original breakaway to take 3rd for the day. Stephen Bassett (Texas Roadhouse) also road really well and was able to beat Mark in a two-up sprint at the top of the climb for second place in the race.
At the front, here’s how the race played out: Chris Brown (Litespeed-BMW) and Bryant Funston (Marx and Bensdorf) got away really early (on US-11). Brendan Sullivan (Lupus) bridged across with a couple other riders – Dave Gearhart (Litespeed-BMW) and maybe one other rider. Then Tim Henry (Litespeed-BMW) and Jonathan Jacob (Bissell) bridged across. I ended up missing all of these moves and nearly tacked onto the last one getting caught in the middle for about half a mile but unable to close the gap. The original break of four worked well together, but when additional riders bridged across, the harmony in the break diminished and Brendan ended up soloing off the front of the break for a large portion of the race – only getting caught by the break towards the end of the race. The next group on the course was what was left of our main field (about 27 riders) – and we were given a time split of 1’20″ to the break at the bottom of the Raccoon Mountain climb.
Mark attacked early on the climb and caught everybody but Jonathan before the top of the first steep part of the climb. Our group was shattered at this point, but I was far enough back not to see clearly what was going on in front. Here’s all my heartrate data from the race:
River Gorge Road Race – heartrate zone summary
National Road Race – Blue Mound
Whew. Tough race at the road race. Hot. A cat 3 climb at the end of each lap plus six times up a steep hill in the middle of the course plus a final finishing climb only a couple hundred feet short of a cat 2 climb. This should have been a dream course for me, but it wasn’t happening. I’m a few pounds above my ideal racing weight right now so that doesn’t make for great climbing. Still, I’m happy to have stuck it out and finished 90th out of 200 people with over 100 people DNF’ing.
We started out up on top of Blue Mound which rises 1000 feet from the valley floors with amazing views. The official kept us neutral on the long four or five mile descent, which made for a crazy amount of braking on the way down with at least one tire explosion from overheating. Once the race was on I had already lost a lot of positions and with 200 riders in the field — even with a rolling enclosure — made it challenging to try to move around. Our field was so large that when we hit the bottom of any steep hill, the guys at the back (including me) had to come to a complete stop before proceeding forward up the hill.
I had a 39×28 so it wasn’t too hard to start spinning again up the steep slopes, but I still feel like it was quite an advantage to be at the front and start the climb at 15 mph instead of being at the back and starting the climbs at 0mph. I made it up the 2.5 mile end-of-the-lap climb (cat 3) the first time still connected to the back of the field – but just barely. After flying across the top flatter section trying to keep up with the front of the field already charging down the descent was crazy hard. Pretty much the same story the second time up the climb, but this time the elastic snapped somewhere in front of me and there were about 20 or 30 of us who had to chase back on the descent and through the valley. We finally made the juncture with the back of the field after chasing in the caravan for quite a while right before the start of the third time up the climb. It turns out I had a great view for the race-winning move as I could see the attack stringing out the front of the field while the rest of us were still bunching up going into the steep part of the climb. I was at the very back and pretty much cooked but it didn’t matter b/c huge gaps opened up in the back of the field as many people started to drop out of the race.
I continued a steady hard effort and found myself with another group that swelled to maybe 20 riders at its largest, but people started coming off our group as the heat started to get to people. I was really struggling, too, and amazed how hard it felt to be going so slow with such little wattage (well under 300 watts) on the climbs. We eventually caught Brendan Sullivan and Johnny Brizzard who had survived in the field longer than I had. After two more laps, our group had shrunk to just seven riders. I wasn’t sure how many people would be left in the race, and I was hoping it was maybe as few as 50 people so I went hard on the final climb coming in 2nd behind Brendan Sullivan out of our 7 man group which pretty much exploded at the bottom of the hill. It turns out, though, that enough people had stuck it out that our efforts were for 89th and 90th places with only 99 people finishing and 101 people DNFing.
National Criterium – Madison Capitol Building
My confidence level after six disappointing races (including the five races at the end of Dairyland the week before) was pretty low heading into the crit. Still, I had done really well on this course before (9th place in the final stage of the 2011 tour of america’s dairyland) so I was hoping for a good result. I started out towards the front and then slid backwards gradually. I think I never made it farther than 3/4 of the way towards the back of the 150 rider field, but it was hard to tell. I didn’t think the race was too hard, but it was still tough to move around until people started to get tired. Then you could move up fairly easily coming out of the last turn as people slowed down after drilling it up the hill into the turn. I used this strategy to move from about mid-pack with 3 laps to go all the way into 38th place by the time it was all said and done. Definitely my best result of the two weeks in Wisconsin, but as I detail below with some of my favorite instagram pictures the trip was a fun family vacation despite mediocre race results. Plus, I was happy to race with the best amateur racers in the country and spend a week exploring Madison – I ended up riding 441 miles for the seven days I was in Madison!
Also, a big shout-out to racers from the southeast … Nathan Brown (Memphis) and Ty Magner (Georgia) both took home national championships. Brendan Cornett did well in the crit (9th place). Andy Scarano, David Guttenplan, Winston David, Brendan Sullivan, and a bunch of other people from the southeast were all up there racing and had good results … way to represent!
Annotated heartrate data from both days
National road race – heartrate zone summary
National criterium – heartrate zone summary
2013 National Criterium Lap data ... auto-lap missed a few laps as indicated Lap Time AvgPow MaxPow HR RPM MPH 1 1:25 326 838 151 86 26 2 1:18 292 806 167 84 27.5 3 1:16 297 828 171 84 28.8 4 1:17 292 774 173 83 28.9 5 1:12 284 844 173 82 29.9 6 1:15 280 864 175 83 29.7 7 1:11 258 892 174 80 30.6 8 1:16 238 825 173 79 28.8 9 1:14 250 831 173 78 29.3 10 1:17 259 830 172 79 28.9 11-12 2:27 268 888 176 79 29.8 13 1:11 283 718 179 81 29.9 14 1:15 274 835 178 81 29.3 15-16 2:29 264 943 177 78 29.7 17 1:13 255 827 176 75 29.9 18 1:16 241 768 178 79 28.8 19 1:19 241 821 173 82 27.6 20 1:19 259 836 174 78 27.5 21 1:17 231 810 176 73 28.1 22-24 3:44 260 884 178 76 29.4 25 1:16 237 787 177 77 28.7 26-28 3:51 246 867 177 76 28.4 29 1:23 249 773 177 78 25.7 30-32 3:48 243 820 177 76 29 33 1:11 265 693 176 77 30.4 34-35 2:20 293 815 181 79 31.1 36 1:17 231 937 180 72 27.9 37-38 2:32 249 756 178 80 28.2 39 1:12 259 778 179 74 30.2 40 1:15 221 715 176 76 29.1 41 1:14 249 773 177 77 28.9 42 1:17 243 809 175 75 27.4 43-44 2:24 249 790 177 74 29.8 45 1:18 246 777 178 73 27.9 46 1:17 240 885 178 76 27.7 47 1:14 235 546 179 79 28.3 48 1:12 242 653 177 79 29.7 49 1:15 226 744 175 72 28.4 50 1:13 264 646 175 77 28.6 51 1:14 204 648 175 73 28.7 52 1:14 215 757 170 72 28.6 53 1:13 247 794 178 76 28.4 54 1:13 263 775 176 78 28.7 55 1:17 231 794 176 79 27.4 56 1:15 252 730 178 79 28 57 1:14 242 758 177 77 28.5 58 1:15 224 805 177 77 28.1 59 1:14 216 873 174 76 28.3 60 1:14 242 919 169 76 28.6 61 1:11 249 778 178 73 30.1 62 1:10 255 821 178 74 30.1 63 1:11 245 914 177 73 29.4 64 1:19 211 688 178 78 26.6 65 1:17 243 729 172 75 27.5 66 1:15 209 716 170 75 28.4 67 1:13 239 679 171 74 29 68 1:17 214 770 169 71 27.1 69 1:14 232 690 174 72 28.6 70 1:12 231 741 173 72 29.2 71 1:11 244 923 178 73 30 72 1:14 227 805 177 73 28.4 73 1:18 252 833 181 80 27.4 74 1:17 242 736 183 73 27.5 75 1:16 213 718 178 75 27.8 76 1:12 256 721 175 76 29.2 77 1:14 224 759 180 75 28.4 78 1:16 248 783 182 74 27.9 79 1:14 295 855 185 77 28.8 80 1:08 348 921 189 74 31.6
iBike data from the road race … this was recorded on Wednesday before the race when I pre-rode a lap of the course with Jimmy Schurman.
Me with Josiah and Analise after our cool-down lap riding the course together.
Our cool-down lap … Analise and Josiah are on the far right of the picture behind me.
Between turns 3 and 4 climbing the hill (I’m towards the left of the pic)
Just before the start of the race – 150 cat 1s ready to take off
A little bit of bike path, a little bit of alley, a little bit of climbing, and a whole lot of awesome warming up for #roadnats criterium in Madison WI
One of my favorite pics from the trip – Analise and Josiah crossing a creek
Josiah had to wrestle @ktoone for the packers horse – Ella’s Deli
Me and Josiah after the road race
Quintessential Wisconsin country-side and rolling hills
Spent a lot of time at the Holiday Inn waterpark
The Blue Mounds finishing hills
Awesome bike paths in Madison
Got a chance to ride with my friend Lennie who happened to be up there on a day-trip
Celebrating 10 awesome years together
Wednesday – Fond du Lac road race – 70th out of 150 starters, 124 finishers
Thursday – Road America road race – 94th out of 150 starters, 102 finishers
Friday – Fond du Lac criterium – 59th out of 105 starters, 61 finishers
Saturday – Downer Classic criterium – 62nd out of 150 starters, 116 finishers
Sunday – East Tosa Grand Prix – 37th out of 119 starters, 86th finishers
Somewhat disappointing results, but still some great racing/training over the past five days. I missed the first six days of the series so I could race the SRS race weekend in Montgomery — hard to pass up on such a great venue so close to home. Still working on a race report for that weekend, but I thought I’d go ahead and finish this one up first. We started driving up immediately after the Montgomery race on Sunday expecting to make it 700 miles up to La Porte, Indiana but instead only made it about 400 miles up to Elizebethtown, Kentucky. On Monday we finished the drive up to La Porte to stay with Kristine’s grandmother. Then on Tuesday we finished the drive up to Wisconsin where I dropped Kristine and the kids off at Kohler-Andrea state park to go camping on the shores of Lake Michigan while I headed back down to Milwaukee to race the last five days of the 11 day Tour of America’s Dairyland.
Wednesday – Fond du Lac road race
First day of racing at the 2013 Tour of America’s Dairyland
I finished near the back of what was left of the field in a field sprint after our race was cut short by the county sheriffs for center line rule violation. This was my first race of the series as we started our drive up on Sunday immediately after the Montgomery SRS race but didn’t arrive in Wisconsin until Tuesday. On Tuesday, I had a nice ride starting from Saulkville and heading west into the hills.
On Wednesday, I headed up to the race where I found out there was a waiting list to race (field limit of 150 had been reached). Fortunately, I had pre-registered but that meant that our field was huge with 150 riders. As you can see in the rollout video below, there was no pre-race instructions that I could hear and so I wasn’t sure if we had the whole road. For a field of that size and roads that small you have to have a rolling enclosure. Even though we weren’t supposed to have the whole road, that is how the race ended up playing out as you can see in the videos underneath the jersey pic above.
During the race, there were several breaks but with such a large field there was always somebody chasing. This kept our pace extremely high as we averaged about 28mph for the race, but that was only because of the slow uphills. The rest of the time we spent well above 30mph including bouts of closer to 40mph with some nasty crosswinds that had us guttered. I heard several people comment that this is what a European race probably felt like. I managed to get in one chase group that worked well for about 2 or 3 miles but we got caught shortly before the field caught a small break that was still off the front.
It was crazy being in a field that large, at one point I crested a hill with most of the field stretched out in front of me. It was amazing to see so many riders strung out over a distance that probably measured a quarter mile and 30 seconds of ride time. In the end, there was well under 100 riders left in the main field as many people had been guttered and dropped in the heavy crosswinds. There was several times that I thought I was going to open up a gap with how hard I was working to just barely hold the wheel in front of me while also trying to get as close to the edge of the road as possible without hitting debris or holes.
With about five miles to the finish, I was moving up on the left when the field swerved left and I ended up going off the road on the wrong side of the road (that’s how closely the yellow line rule was being observed). At this point, I realized I was the very last rider in the field! So I tried to move up again and stayed attentive to see if there was any chance of blasting up one of the sides and passing a lot of people — but the opportunity never presented itself and so there wasn’t much point in contesting the sprint from the very back.
The course was a really great course with classic Wisconsin farm fields covering rolling hills with cool barns dotting the landscape. There was hardly any traffic (maybe saw three or four cars the entire race) so it really would not have been hard to have a rolling enclosure with one lead moto ahead of any break, an official with the field, and then the support cars behind the field. That’s actually pretty much how the race played out, but the sheriffs were not happy since I’m guessing they were told we would be on one side of the road. They cut our race short by two laps (20 miles).
Thursday – Road America road race
The last time I raced this race (2010), I was much more aggressive staying towards the front, and the field was quite a bit smaller … maybe 100 guys instead of more than 150 which we had in the race this year. I ended up 4th having made it into the day’s break. I figured there would be a break again this year, but I was too far back to make it into it when the break went, or when any of the several chase groups established themselves. I always seemed to find myself finally making it to the front just as another chase group had already left. So by the time our field was sprinting for the end, there were more than 30 guys up the road. I had been fighting off cramps so I didn’t bother sprinting the uphill finish and risk locking up my leg and throwing off the rest of the weekend. The one highlight of the race was finally making it into a chase group with about 3 laps left but we only lasted a lap and a half before getting reeled back in by the field.
Saturday – ISCorp Downer Classic criterium
View of downtown Milwaukee on my ride back to the hotel after the race
Fun commute to/from the race … huge field again, raced well until big surge on inside late in the race. I remembered this from two years ago and was on the correct side moving way up the field, but this year I opted to stay on the easier, safer, slow side and lost tons of position. Finished mid-pack of the field sprint. Awesome commute back on North Avenue – lights were easy to time and even in the dark it was really well lit. Rode right through the finishing stretch of Sunday’s criterium.
Sunday – East Tosa Grand Prix criterium
Awesome warm-up on the bike paths of Wautosa
Fun neighborhood criterium. Definitely my best race of the series – missed the break though. Rode well near the front until again a surge on the inside saw me lose a lot of positions. I favored the outside and found it easy to move up each lap on the downhill between turns 2 and 3 – but the problem was how many positions I would lose through the start/finish on any slow laps where everyone would surge up the inside. Felt great during the race, though, so this was a good way to end the series in preparation for the elite amateur national road race and criterium this week in Madison, WI.
Tons of data, these are all in chronological order: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
2013 ToAD, Wednesday Fond du Lac road race summary
Epic. Awesome. Classic. Wow. Whatever your favorite exclamation word is — this weekend was it! The criterium Saturday night had the feel of Athens Twilight with a fast course, lots of people lining the course, and a huge field. I ended up in OK position (top 20) for the start of the last lap, but got stuck behind a crash with three turns to go. After coming to a complete stop, I went around the crash and ended up 27th. Meanwhile, Team Predator Carbon Repair swept the podium. The road race was the highlight of the weekend for me, though, with a downtown circuit on a closed course (rolling enclosure) that featured a steep 16% climb towards the end of each lap and two separate 50mph descents. I rode conservatively, so I survived the race – but I also missed the key move. In fact, I watched it go away thinking that it was still too early (about halfway through the race). The move stuck, and a few laps later I ended up in a five-man chase group. We worked well together and stayed away from the field, but I was fighting off cramps and ended up last in the chase group for 14th in the race. Daniel Patten (Mountain Khakis/Smart Stop) attacked the break and ended up winning solo. Chris Uberti (Mountain Khakis/Smart Stop) also got away and soloed in for second.
Normally I do a long write up of everyting I can remember from the race, but this time I’m starting with the data, which connected to at least part of my write-up anyway. The lap data for the criterium is messed up because the Garmin was struggling with keeping a satellite signal given how fast we were going underneath the skyscrapers in downtown Winston-Salem. So the autolap feature wasn’t kicking in every lap as shown below in the lap data:
Winston-Salem downtown criterium Pro/1/2 27th place GPS didn't handle skyscrapers well Auto-lap wasn't correctly lapping every time Lap(s) Time Miles AvgPow MaxPow HR RPM MPH 1 2:15 0.91 350 946 166 81 24.8 2-4 5:42 2.71 307 979 178 82 28.5 5-8 7:39 3.75 272 996 181 81 29.4 9-10 4:00 1.87 252 1011 180 82 28 11-26 31:30 14.27 264 1026 180 82 27.2 27-28 3:58 1.84 263 894 180 83 27.9 29-30 3:59 1.76 254 894 179 80 26.4 31-33 5:58 2.62 263 932 181 82 26.4 34 1:52 0.84 269 939 181 80 27 35 1:58 0.89 270 954 181 82 27 36 1:48 0.83 271 1000 183 80 27.6 37 1:58 0.89 266 884 183 81 27.2 38 1:54 0.9 276 905 184 80 28.4 39 1:57 0.88 322 896 187 78 27.7
You can tell from the data that the course was about 0.9 miles long and laps were a bit under 2 minutes long. The start/finish stretch was straight with a very gradual downhill into turn 1. This led into a slight rise all the way through Turn 2, which was a brick covered turn — no issues since it wasn’t raining but would be a bit tricky in the rain. You continued climbing out of Turn 2 until you crested the hill right in front of the Mariott (race hotel). The road dipped down sharply (about 8%), and we hit about 40mph every lap. There was a bit of a flat run-out before Turn 3, but you still had a lot of momentum, which you wanted to carry through Turn 3 because this was straight back uphill to the high point on the course. Turn 4 should have been a fast turn, but it seemed like we always bunched up there. Turn 5 was a right turn, followed very quickly by a left and 100 meters left to the start/finish line.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of this race for me was how high my heartrate was. I’ve known that my threshold heartrate is about 180, but I’ve always kept my Zone 5 starting at a heartrate of 175. In this race, I averaged 180 for well over 1 hour, 15 minutes so I’m guessing my threshold heartrate might even be a beat or two above 180. The problem with changing my HR zones at this point in my life is that it makes it impossible to do an apples-to-apples comparison of time spent in heartrate zones from all my previous years. I guess I’ll just leave it as is. Anybody have thoughts on this?
Winston-Salem downtown crit pro/1/2 – heartrate zone summary
Winston-Salem Downtown Road Race Pro/1/2 - 14th Lap(s) Time Miles AvgPow MaxPow HR RPM MPH 1 16:50 7.19 248 853 160 88 25.7 2 17:12 7.18 240 813 162 88 25.1 3 17:28 7.18 223 817 162 82 24.7 4 17:23 7.16 233 747 160 81 24.7 5 18:05 7.17 200 749 155 81 23.8 6 19:25 7.23 191 682 145 79 22.4 7 18:49 7.21 196 718 148 78 23 8 18:02 7.2 237 714 159 82 23.9 9 19:17 7.18 212 631 151 78 22.3 10 18:33 7.15 223 649 160 79 23.1 11 19:28 7.13 211 731 154 76 22
You can tell from the lap data above that the road race course was around 7.2 miles long. The primary feature of the course was the fact that it went through so much of downtown Winston-Salem on a closed circuit (rolling enclosure). This was a hard race, but it was definitely one of the best courses I’ve raced this year. It was also quite hilly — with a steep 16% climb out of Hanes Park less than a mile from the finish.
Given how hot, long, and hard the road race course was I tried to be really conservative so you can see my heartrate data is much lower. You can also see why so many people didn’t finish the race — look how hard we started out before the times slipped down into something more reasonable.
Winston-Salem Cycling Classic heartrate zone summary
Kristine and I wanted to bring the kids, but their weekend was already full (Josiah was fishing with some friends) and Analise had something going on at church. So it was just me and Kristine making the 7.5 hour drive from Birmingham Saturday morning arriving about 3 hours before the start of the race. This gave me some time to warm up and explore Winston-Salem. I found some cool roads and some sort of boarding school (appeared to be closed for the summer) with a dirt road back to a farm. I also saw a few urban trails (you can also see on the road race map how many dedicated trails there are in Winston-Salem – the solid green lines). It wasn’t enough time to explore all the roads, though, and I’m already seriously thinking about an excuse to get back up there and ride some more!
I rolled back towards the course just in time to see Allison Powers take the crit win. I had already ridden the course a few times before the start of the women’s race, but I decided to spin around one more time before the start of our race. I think we ended up getting in a couple laps before people started to line up. I lucked out a bit because right as I finished a lap, they brought out the ribbon to block off our staging area. Almost instantly, there were more than 100 riders lined up behind it because everybody knew how difficult this course was going to be.
The start was fast, and the rider in front of me was unable to clip into his pedals. I ended up losing a bunch of positions immediately because of this and then continued to lose positions throughout the next few laps. I tend to start out way too conservatively. But it only took a couple laps to realize that it was time to either “move up” or “get gapped off”. I switched into Athens Twilight mode and made it my primary objective to pass riders wherever I could anywhere on the course. Still, it was tough to move around because the course was so fast. I never once made it to the very front of the race. It was a bit disheartening at the top of the backside downhill to work so hard passing people and then still see so many riders stretched out in front of you.
By the end of the race, though, I had moved all the way up to 19th (according to the chip timing) at the start of the last lap. A gap opened up in front of the rider in front of me at the top of the downhill, but I was able to hop on the wheel of a rider who came around from behind me. A third rider passed us both going into the last corner which turned out to be good for both me and the rider I was following because we could see him slam on his brakes to avoid people who had fallen just out of sight around the corner. I came to a complete stop, hunched over expecting people from behind to come plowing into me — but apparently there was a big enough gap that had opened up behind us that the other riders were able to slow down and pass us on the inside without stopping.
Unfortunately, it must have been about 12 or 13 people that made it around because I passed about 5 or 6 people after restarting and still ended up 27th having lost a net of 8 places on the final lap. Unfortunate ending to what otherwise was a great race. That’s the nature and excitement of crit racing – I could have just as easily been a couple riders farther back and been able to take advantage of the crash to move up a bunch of spots. Or I could have been a couple riders farther forward and gone down in the crash. One of the riders was hurt pretty bad and taken to the hospital. Does anyone have an update on him?
No start or finish videos from this race (yet) because I’m working with Gene to hopefully have my video integrated into the NBC/Universal sports coverage of the race that is going to air this Sunday at 3PM eastern time. I don’t think they would be interested in this video I got of Justin Williams (MRI Endurance) demonstrating some awesome cornerning and maneuvering skills on the downhill turn. Check it out -
We stayed at the race hotel — the downtown Mariott — and didn’t even have to move our car from the lot we were in. The hotel was awesome, and our room overlooked the start/finish for the Sunday road race. In fact, we were able to watch the women’s field roll out and come in for the finish of their first lap before checking out. Our race was scheduled to start as soon as the women finished, but the police needed to have a break (understandable considering how hot it was and how much work they were doing). So our race ended up starting about 30 minutes late, and we went through two separate scrums for the line.
I ended up in great position for both of them, but again started out too conservatively and lost a ton of positions in the first half lap of the course. By the time we hit the Hanes Park climb at the end of the course, I was probably 100 riders back from the front. Gaps were opening up ahead of me, but fortunately there were enough motivated people to chase back onto the group. During this time, a large break of maybe 10 or more riders escaped. I thought they were gone for good — especially when a secondary chase group of almost 10 riders formed. But there were a number of strong people left in the field (including me) who had missed the move and tried to get across. This happened enough times that we eventually brought the large 20 rider break back by about 30 miles into the race (the two groups had merged). This shocked me somewhat as I thought the race was pretty much over.
The merged field probably had less than 75 riders at this point, and the counterattacks that went eventually led to a break of 11. I still wasn’t in good position and found myself at one point as the very last rider in the field. I know this because I got squeezed out of one of the turns and had to take the long way around finding myself getting passed by the trailing motorcycle and having to catch back on. Each lap our field got smaller as people came off on the final climb and weren’t able to catch back onto the field as it flew through the start/finish, made a turn, and hit a head/sidewind through the feedzone.
With a few laps to go, there was maybe 20 of us left in the field. Andy Scarano (UHC/706) attacked and got away eventually joining his teammate Winston David who I believe was coming back from the break. I attacked up the first hill from what was left of the field, and Gavriel Epstein (Champion Systems) bridged up to me. The two of us bridged up to the UHC duo, and then the four of us eventually caught Curtis Winsor (Smartstop / Mountain Khakis) who was either coming off the break or had attacked earlier.
We worked well together, but still had a two plus minute gap to the break. With two laps to go, we were told that this would be our last lap. The police were ready for us to be off the course, and it didn’t seem realistic for us to catch the break. I had mixed feelings about it because I was fighting off cramps and ready to be done, but I was also still holding out hope we would catch some guys from the break which had dwindled down to 9 riders. With only one lap to go, though, our chase lost cohesion as we started to attack each other.
Eventually Winston got away and stayed away for 10th. Then on the final hill, Gavriel attacked and got away taking 11th. Then in the final sprint between me, Andy, and Curtis — well let’s just say I finished 14th in the race — you do the math. Less than 30 finishers out of close to 150 starters. What an epic race!