Posts tagged ‘road race’
Each year for the past 10+ years, Bill Seitz and his GSMR team have put on an excellent “kick-off-the-year” training series up in a rural valley near Gadsden at the Camp Sumataunga. I signed up to race all three races, but I forgot about a church program Analise and Josiah were going to be in for the 2nd race. I won the first race in a tight field sprint after numerous attacks from me and plenty of other riders all failed to produce a lasting break. Will Hibberts took the second race this year from a race-long break including Mark, Jacob Tubbs, and a few other strong guys that ended up setting the new course record fastest lap time. In the last race, Mark Fisher, AJ Meyer, and I got into a late race break with just one 10 mile lap left to go before the finishing climb. Then on the finishing climb (as you can see in the video below), Mark dropped me and AJ like a rock to win on the Chandler Mountain climb. I ended up holding on for 2nd with AJ just behind in third.
CHANDLER MOUNTAIN FINISHING CLIMB Dist: 1.00 mi (0:07:01) Climbing: 607 ft Min Avg Max DFPM Pow 0 348.5 602 W Aero 0 15.2 74 W Speed 5.3 8.6 14.9 mi/h Elev 136 467 745 ft Slope 0.2 11.03 18.4 % Caden 45 64.7 92 rpm HR 156 182.5 189 bpm NP:367W IF:1.24 TSS:18 VI:1.04 3/3/2013 4:43 PM 35 degF; 990 mbar
Saturday marked another great end of the season ride/race/party at the Tour de Cullman. The ride starts out as a motor-cycle led neutral social ride before we hit the start of the 18 mile race portion of the ride. It was fun meeting people and catching up on a year of bike racing. As you might imagine, the Lance Armstrong saga dominated a lot of the conversations going on during the ride.
Once we made it to Co Rd 26, the green flag was dropped and Philip Thompson set the early pace at the front. We got into a short rotation before making the left onto Co Rd 11 where the race really gets started with a steep 1K, 9% average 15% max wall. Boris lifted the pace at the front causing the group to explode. Only Stuart Lamp, Darrell O’Quinn, and I were able to keep up with Boris across the top.
Shortly before the next intersection, Stuart came off the pace. Darrell hung tough through the rollers before another surge by Boris saw the lead group whittled down to just me and him. We worked together well through the steep rollers heading downhill towards the Warrior River. But it was no holds barred once we turned right onto the final 4 mile skyball climb. We set a pretty good pace up the climb with not quite as strong a headwind this year. Then when we hit the always steep Fat Dunn road, I surged and Boris couldn’t quite hold my wheel. I turned on the gas even more as we hit the dirt and eventually extended that lead out to 1 minute by the end. I was able to get this video of Boris coming in for 2nd:
Here is my annotated power map:
And here are some more pics and videos from a great day of racing, riding, and having fun.
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!
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
Podium! I ended up second after a long 70 mile breakaway from the gun. I was tired of missing the early move so I decided to initiate the first attack by attacking as soon as the race started. David Guttenplan (United Healthcare / 707) followed me across the top of the feedzone hill, and Dave Gearhart (Team Mission Source) bridged up to us before the start of the first downhill section. Dave really drilled the pace, and we got into one of the best rotations for a three-man breakaway group I’ve ever been in. The course was constantly rolling except for a couple long gradual false flat type climbs (1-3% gradient). Lots of turns, too, so we were quickly out of sight and had a 3 minute gap by the end of the first of seven 10 mile laps.
By the end of the second lap, we had a 3.5 minute gap. Our gap started to come down on the third lap, and by the middle of the fourth lap, Oscar Clark (UHC/707) and Alexey Schmidt (Team Type 1) had bridged across to us. They gave our break new life, and we started flying again. Oscar was clearly the strongest, and with one lap to go he hit it hard through the start/finish getting a gap. Nobody was able to chase (including myself), and that was how the race was won – with 10 miles to go! Alexey was saving up for the finish and didn’t chase either – so for a while it was just me, Dave, and Alexey pulling with David sitting on since he had a teammate up the road. I thought Alexey might be struggling a bit so I attacked hard on the second hill after the KOM hill. Unfortunately, Alexey had no problem covering the move. So that put me in the unenviable position of having to pull for the next mile or so because we didn’t know what the time gap was to the field behind us.
Eventually, we were told that the gap to the chase group behind was more than 4 minutes with about 5 miles left in the race. So I stopped pulling hard, and basically Dave, Alexey, and I did a soft rotation. I had already worked it out that I was going to attack at the bottom of the 1K to go hill when I looked back from one of my pulls and I had a 50 meter gap! So I drilled it hard with less than 2 miles to the finish. There was one more short uphill followed by a righthand turn and a long downhill, so I hit it really really hard on the uphill to make sure I had enough of a gap not to get caught on the long downhill. Still, by the bottom of the hill at the 1K to go sign, the rest of the break was no more than 5 seconds behind. I hit it hard again on the hill thinking that my only shot at staying away was to extend my gap on the hill. I had nothing left by the top, but the chase had given up as they were starting to cat/mouse for the sprint so I was able to cruise in the final 300 meters from the top of the hill to the finish.
Dave Gearhart, who raced super strong all day, led out the sprint only getting passed right at the line by both David and Alexey. Oscar had a time gap of more than two minutes by the end of the race. Major kudos and thanks to Robb Pressley who gave me a ice cold bottle in the feedzone every lap after the first one for a total of 8 bottles including the two I started with. It was hot!