Posts tagged ‘road race’
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!
What a disappointing race. I missed the original break b/c I thought it was missing TT1, but in fact there were TWO tt1 riders, Dan Holt in the initial move and Alexey Schmidt in a bridge group with Mike Stone (Hincapie Devo). It was a large field combined with the Cat 3s and the fading light it was hard to recognize kits – especially since I started near the back and didn’t move up to the front quickly enough.
About halfway through the race and completely frustrated about missing the move once I realized TT1 must have had a rider up the road by the way they were covering moves in the field, I attacked hard to bridge across. Ended up rolling solo for half a lap rather than establishing a chase group. Once I was caught, I recovered and tried to stay near the front. With four laps to go (2.5 miles per lap), Joey Rosskopf (TT1) attacked hard at the bottom of the pit row hill. I bridged across to him by the top of the hill. David Guttenplan (United Health Care/707) bridged next with Joe Eldridge (TT1). Also, there was a cat 3 with them. The field sat up, and we had a huge gap.
Still, there wasn’t good cohesion until we caught Eric Murphy (UHC/707) and another rider. We got into a rotation for a minute or two, but there were people sitting on. Eric and David pulled hard and a gap opened up to the rider behind them. I looked to TT1 to close it down but they didn’t so I pulled hard and ended up rolling off the group. I couldn’t catch UHC by myself so I sat up thinking we could still work together but it was too late. Field caught us at the start of the last lap. I was 10th or so in the field sprint for 17th or 18th in the race. Meanwhile, Eric and David completed the bridge to the leaders where David ended up winning the group sprint for 3rd — with Alex Schmidt and Mike Stone already off the front of that group to take 1st and 2nd.
Even though it was disappointing the way the race turned out, on the bright side, there was a beautiful sunset sky immediately after the race was over.
Huntsville Omnium Day 1
Two roads races and one time trial makes for a long day of racing. It was a lot of fun, though, and I ended up getting 3rd in the Pro/1/2 road race, 3rd in the Masters 35+ road race, ? in the Pro/1/2 time trial, and ? in the Masters 35+ time trial. After racing two road races in the morning, thankfully we only had to race the time trial once to be scored in both categories based on our time.
Before I dive into the details of the races, some quick stats:
|Race||Avg Power||Avg Speed||Avg HR|
|Pro/1/2||213 watts||23.4 mph||159 bpm|
|Masters 35+||200 watts||24.0 mph||152 bpm|
|Time Trial||586 watts||26.2 mph||166 bpm|
I wanted to post these stats because the Pro/1/2 road race and Masters road races played out so differently and yet I got the same place in each race. I was already thinking even before the end of the Masters road race that it was going to be really interesting to compare the data from the two races as well as the tactics and how everything played out.
Pro/1/2 road race
First, the pro/1/2 road race was a pretty small field, but it was quite strong. This meant that whenever somebody attacked, there was always somebody strong enough to bring it back together. The days action started out with Nate Robinson going solo and establishing a 1 minute+ lead. At some point the entire field got into a rotation, and we started to gradually close the gap. Then the attacking began. It’s hard to remember all the attacks because there were so many. I launched one attack that led to a good break with me, Christian Parrett (Globalbike), and Anders (Litespeed-BMW). We worked together really well and were absolutely drilling it, but the gap never got more than maybe 20 seconds. Anders teammate, Chris Brown, bridged up to us and even with the extra horse power, the rest of the field brought us back on the downhill/headwind section of the course.
After the umpteenth attack was brought back on the last lap, we had about 5 or 6 miles of steady very slow riding. Then John Hart (Friends of the Great Smokies) put in the first attack to start the end game with about 3 or 4 miles left in the race. The sudden attack after several miles of slow riding meant that it was “cramp city” for me and probably a lot of other riders. I was able to fight the initial cramp and go with Anders when he countered John’s attack. After these late attacks, the field had been whittled down to just five riders – and we were at a stalemate going into the last mile. Christian put in the first attack with about 1K to go. Anders covered that move with me on his wheel. But then Anders stepped up the pace to lead out Chris. Christian ended up on Anders wheel, then Chris, then me. Christian started his sprint on the downhill leading to the finish. I was still in third position as we hit the bottom of the hill. The finish line seemed so close, and I was in perfect position so I attacked thinking that we had maybe 200 meters left. But after a few seconds into my sprint, we then crossed the 200 meter mark so I had gone too early and both Chris Brown and ? (Harpeth Bicycles) was able to come around with me taking third.
Masters road race
The masters road race had a larger field of maybe 25 riders. I was still tired and very hot from the 8AM race which had gone longer than expected because of our slow average speed. I wanted to race conservatively to make sure that I could finish. Fortunately, there was an early break that got up the road. Also, fortunately, there were some strong riders/teams at the front that worked well together to slowly bring the move back after about a lap and a half. This meant that for the first 15 miles of the race, the pace was very smooth and I worked hard to make sure that I stayed out of the wind as much as possible.
Towards the beginning of the 3rd lap, Chris Brown (Litespeed-BMW) launched a hard solo attack. I was in good position to cover so I drilled it as hard as possible and was able to catch up to him. At this point, there was a solo rider up the road and I figured that we would bridge up to him and have a break of three. But lo and behold, the field came charging up to us just as we starting to get into a rotation! We sat up and our pace dropped leaving the solo rider still close to a minute in front of the field.
I’m not exactly sure what happened next, but only a couple miles later I ended up off the front with three other riders (Britton, Chris, and John). We drilled it hard, fully committed to the move and yet two riders were able to bridge up to us from the field (GW and somebody else). This meant we had a group of six chasing one guy. We worked well together as a group, caught the solo rider towards the end of that lap with one lap to go. Our group worked well together all the way to the end. This time in the sprint, I thought I would wait as long as possible and it worked pretty well as I had a ton of speed for the finish coming up hard on the winner (Britton) and second place – but it was too late as they had already crossed the line leaving me in third again.
Two road races down and only one very short (1K) time trial to go. It turns out that there is a lot of strategy that goes into a 1K time trial – especially one that starts out at the bottom of an 11% hill, then crests to a false flat downhill with a massive tailwind. How hard do you go up the hill? How much do you need left in the tank for the false flat downhill with a tailwind?
I decided ahead of time to meter my effort based on average wattage. I know that I can maintain 500 watts for over two minutes – so for a 1K effort that would take about a minute and a half, I was aiming for about 550 watts given the 100 miles of road racing that I had just done. I took one look at my power meter, however, saw 800 watts and decided not to look at the power meter anymore. I ended up with an average power just under 590 watts – so I was happy with that although I’m not sure how that will compare to everyone else.
Quick summary – this was a long, hot race with a huge field of more than 175 riders. I rode really conservatively never chasing anything down or trying to get into any moves, and this worked out well as I had tons of energy left for the uphill finishing sprint where I finished 8th. With three riders up the road, that means I finished 11th in the race. Congrats to Mat Davis (Team La’Sport) on a strong second place finish. Also, the power map and plot below also summarize the race … hard on the uphills and coasting or braking on all the downhills getting sucked along by the huge field.
2012 elite nationals heartrate, power, speed plot. I thought my power meter wasn’t working correctly because the power averages were so low … but look at how much my heartrate drops on all the downhills. So I’m thinking the power meter was working correctly! (click to enlarge)
Heart rate zone summary
These Garmin screenshots also summarize the race. The max speeds indicate the “sucking” power that the huge field had. 51mph on a less than 10% downhill! Also, the temperature of 107.1 degF indicates how hot it was in the sun. And finally over 8300′ of climbing is a lot of climbing for a race!
Kristine and I drove over to Augusta, GA on Saturday for the road race today – leaving the kids home with Grandma and Grandpa. This made for a short, fun getaway trip with Kristine to race on a course that I raced over 15 years ago as a college student at Clemson. The course is on a large, active military base (Fort Gordon), which adds to its uniqueness. “CAUTION: target area”, “The Confidence Course” were two signs that I noticed today, but my favorite from 15 years ago was “WARNING: unexploded ordinance”. I didn’t see that sign today, but I really didn’t have much time to look either as the race was super fast covering 103 miles in just over 4 hours. The course is constantly rolling with no flat sections at all. There are a few longer hills including the finishing hill, but none of them are long enough to be categorized climbs.
The air temperature was probably low to mid 90s with lots of humidity, but in the sun it was well over that with my Garmin reading a max of 107.1 degF. I knew that hydration would be important, and so I planned to take a bottle from Kristine and a neutral water bottle every lap. Kristine positioned herself at the front of the feedzone, and did an excellent job handing me five bottles for a total of nine bottles of gatorade, coke, and water consumed during the 4 hour race. I never once felt any muscle tightness (indicative of an oncoming cramp) and was able to sprint at full speed at the end of the race without fear of cramping.
Strategically, I raced a conservative race having convinced myself that I should wait until two laps to go to try and get into any kind of move. But with two laps to go, our field was still really large and moving really fast so I didn’t think a break would be able to stick. Many breaks formed during the race but were brought back by the large field’s momentum on the downhills.
Funny sidenote – I had ridden to the start from our hotel, so I knew that I would need to do a bit of math to figure out which lap we were on during the race. With two laps to go, I was pretty sure we had two laps to go – but my distance was already up to 85 miles partway through that lap so I had a hard time convincing myself that we really had two full laps left to go. I knew that I had ridden about 8 miles before the start, but in my state of delirium from the heat I couldn’t quite figure out what to do with that 8 miles to confirm that we really had two laps left. Eventually, I got it all worked out and realized that I need to add the 8 miles to expected race distance of 104 miles to get the total that would appear on my Garmin when the race was over. I would guess this took 10 minutes to figure out between thinking about the race and moving around in the pack and then revisiting this relatively simple math problem in my head. Plus, what makes the story even funnier is that I forgot all the math and had the number 113 stuck in my head so that when I saw 109 miles, I figured we had 3 miles left because I subtracted 113 from 109 incorrectly to get 3 miles, which was the correct distance even though the subtraction was wrong. I would imagine that a neuroscientist would be quite interested to see all the craziness going on in my head to make me struggle with these extremely simple math problems during the race.
Back to the race – there was one break very early with a chase group behind it that had close to a 2 minute gap on the field. I’m pretty sure that all the major teams were represented, but they couldn’t extend their gap because there would always be somebody attacking from our group causing the whole field to chase. Once the field got up to speed on the rollers – there was no stopping it. We hit close to 50mph just about every lap on the downhill after the feedzone, and I am sure that the breaks were going at least 5mph slower on all the downhills. Our giant field would bunch up on some of the uphills slowing the pace down substantially. But then we would go flying down the next downhill. Plus some of the uphills were short enough that if there was an attack at the front of the group, then those in the back could carry there momentum up the hill without the normal yo-yo effect. This meant that the field was not only flying on the downhills, we were also flying up some of the uphills.
Eventually, a strong group of 3 emerged from the largest break (about 19 riders). And this turned out to be the winning break with eventual winner Julian Kyer (Juwi Solar), Mat Davis (Team La’Sport), and Stefano Barberi (Cashcall Mortgage). These three built up a lead of 1’30″ with two laps to go while the remnants of the larger break was quickly chased down by the field. The gap continued to fall throughout the last two laps – during which time a chase group of two or three emerged from the field. This chase group stayed away until 1K to go when they were caught during the sprint. The break of three stayed together until the final climb and just barely held off the field – finishing 17, 14 and 6 seconds in front of the field.
In the field sprint, I decided that I needed to be on the righthand side of the group going up the final hill – even though the wind was coming from the right because the field was always bunching up on the left. This worked out really well because the field bunched up on the left and I flew around a ton of people (10-20) at the very bottom of the climb. Then I got tucked in behind another rider across the crest of the hill into the slight downhill 200 meters. The road made a quarter-turn into a stiff headwind, though, and as people who had been at the front started to crack, I passed a lot more people to end up 8th in the field sprint, 11th in the race with Julian, Mat, and Stefano already across the line.