Posts tagged ‘road race’
First, before the power data – here’s a video that my wife got of the Pro/1/2 criterium finish Saturday night where I got 5th in the race, 4th in the field sprint.
And now for the data – first the summary data, splits, and HR/Power graph for the criterium and the road race.
2012 Tour de Tuscaloosa Criterium Pro/1/2 lap splits Power Lap Time Miles Avg xPow Max HR MPH 1 2:58 1.2 245 259 871 155 25.2 2 2:53 1.2 291 286 879 164 25.7 3 2:41 1.2 353 385 996 176 27.8 4 2:53 1.3 324 331 821 180 26 5 2:59 1.3 305 313 997 175 25.2 6 2:47 1.3 223 229 814 167 27 7 2:45 1.2 284 303 941 174 27.4 8 2:54 1.2 274 285 840 170 25.7 9 2:50 1.2 269 294 856 174 26.2 10 2:53 1.3 282 310 932 172 26.1 11 2:56 1.2 310 382 877 175 25.5 12 3:01 1.2 267 288 831 177 24.8 13 3:04 1.2 208 221 720 160 24.3 14 2:54 1.2 218 233 736 159 25.6 15 2:58 1.2 232 229 727 163 25.2 16 2:48 1.2 262 271 790 170 26.5 17 2:57 1.3 248 254 920 167 25.5 18 2:36 1.2 353 352 925 179 28.8 Total 52:01 22.5 274 312 997 170 26
2012 Tour de Tuscaloosa Road Race Pro/1/2 lap splits Power Lap Time Miles Avg xPow Max HR MPH 1 22:04 9.6 274 305 963 161 26.1 2 21:41 9.6 262 281 801 157 26.6 3 21:45 9.6 292 310 808 166 26.5 4 22:35 9.6 254 273 641 155 25.6 5 23:17 9.6 257 276 604 153 24.8 6 23:28 9.6 254 268 697 152 24.5 7 18:41 8.0 313 332 950 166 25.8 Total 2:34:57 66.1 270 295 963 158 25.6
Now for the detailed data graphs and plots … first the critical power curves for both the criterium and the road race. I tied one power record in the criterium, and I set three new personal power records for the road race as indicated on the graphs.
Here are the pedal force / pedal velocity graphs which highlight the different amount of force being applied to the pedals at different cadences.
And finally here are the power maps for the two courses:
(You will want to watch this video below with the volume turned down – I love my fanatical wife! This is me winning the 2012 Alabama State Road Race Championships (Pro/1/2) today at the Tour de Tuscloosa)
Quick thanks and shout out
Thanks to all my teammates today. We ended up winning the state championship medals in 3 categories – me (Cat 1), Justin Bynum (Cat 2), Kevin Paulik (Cat 3). Kudos also to two other riders from Birmingham taking the Cat 4 (Jason Kellen) and Cat 5 (Boris Simmonds) medals.
The Pro/1/2 race had about 60 in it with lots of strong teams. I attacked hard when we reached the bottom of the first hill on the course about 1/2 mile into the race. Stuart Lamp (Nashvillecyclist.com) came with me initially but then ended up pulling a hamstring before the top. Jan Kolar (HomeSmart/L5flyers) bridged up to me across the top and the two of us drilled it. Behind, a group of six had formed and caught us shortly before Sam Sutton Hill (short and steep). Our group of 8 worked moderately well together, and we were flying! But some riders were struggling and I felt our pace was going to drop soon so I attacked again on the third lap at the same spot where I had attacked at the beginning of the race and again only Jan Kolar was able to respond and come with me. He asked me “Are you sure you want to do this?”. I looked back and saw Andy Crater coming across and said “Yes, let’s go!”. Andy joined us and we were rolling hard with Emile Abraham leading the chase behind. We hit the Sam Sutton Hill with maybe a 5-10 second gap – which Emile crossed solo to us like the hill wasn’t even there. Once it was the four of us, we were gone.
We worked well together, and it was clear that a very interesting race was playing out behind us based on the time splits we were getting from the moto official. It’s the first time I’ve heard “3 minutes to the field – it’s crazy back there” as a time split. This was after we had gotten a time split of 2’30” to a break of thirteen, 3’30” to the field. Half a lap later, we got the “it’s crazy back there” time split. Then we didn’t get any time splits for about 2 full laps (20 miles) until we got a time split of 3’30” to the field. We thought everything was great until maybe half a lap later when we got a time split of 2’30” to a chase group of six. Then a lap later we got a time split of 1’30” with a little more than one lap to go. By the top of the feedzone hill we had gotten a few more time splits (apparently the moto ref was bouncing back and forth b/t our group and the chase) and the gap went very quickly from 1’30” to 1’00” to 50″ to 45″. We were in full blown panic mode at this point and drilled it hard pretty much the entire last lap.
Andy Crater came into the last corner first and attacked hard on the short steep kicker section of the feedzone hill. Emile and I quickly chased up to him with Jan coming off our group. Andy sat up as soon as he was caught and neither Emile or I came around so our pace dropped to 14mph. Jan crawled his way back up to us. I was afraid of the chase group catching us at that pace, so I went back to the front and ramped the pace back up to 21mph across the false flat in the middle of the hill. As we got closer to the top, I knew that I had to attack hard on the hill because Andy and Emile would easily beat me in the flat sprint across the top. So right as we reached the steepest part of the climb when I was still on the front and our pace had dropped back down to 14mph again, I jumped hard from the front and immediately got back up to 21mph and kept it above 20mph for nearly the rest of the hill. This was enough to get a big enough gap to ease up at the 250 meter to go sign and come into the finish line solo. With my wife and kids there cheering frantically, it has to be one of the sweetest wins in nearly 20 years of bike racing.
Behind us, I found out after the race that it was Joey Rosskopf and Frank Travieso driving the six man group also containing my teammate Pat Allison. Pat ended up fourth in that group for 8th in the race, which was the 3rd place Alabama rider (bronze medal). My teammate, Justin Bynum, finished in the second chase group for 17th in the race, but he was the 1st place Alabama Cat 2 rider to take the gold medal.
After our race was over, my other teammate Kevin Pawlik took the gold medal in the Cat 3 race.
What a great day for Tria Cycling p/b DonohooAuto.com and Infinity Med-i-spa!
Race summary via a video (watch the whole thing (it’s worth it) or scroll to 2’20” to watch George Hincapie’s first puncture, scroll to 4’40” to watch a glimpse of what my race was like yesterday – Hincapie alone with two Domo-Frites riders who have a teammate alone in the lead up the road. Then scroll to exactly 5 minutes to watch Hincapie’s second puncture and watch from there until the end and you have a good summary of my race at Rouge Roubaix yesterday. Even the finish placing at the end was the same — we both got a disappointing 4th place.) Disappointed? Yes. Happy? Yes. I have always said that just finishing Rouge Roubaix is a victory.
Race summary in words It was a smaller than normal field with maybe 40 riders and several teams represented, but the strongest and deepest team was clearly Plano Cycling from Texas. With a strong tailwind and constant attacks, none of the early suicide breaks would stick so it was pretty much all together with a small break about 30 seconds ahead going into the first dirt section. I entered the dirt in second or third position and came out of it first after we caught and passed the small lead group somewhere in the middle of the dirt section. I attacked the last hill to get a good 5-10 second gap on the field for the Strava segment challenge. 40 miles and LOTS of attacking later, I was sprinting (and grabbing) the $100 bill at the top of Blockhouse Hill so I think I was fastest on the Blockhouse Hill challenge segment. I was with another rider (Eric in green jersey) and we worked well together for the next 20 miles all the way through the third dirt/gravel section. At the end of the third dirt section, eventual winner Adam Koble (Plano) caught us and just as we were getting into a rotation I pinch flatted my front wheel. The motorcycle neutral support was right behind me, and I was riding again 34 seconds after stopping. I started riding just as a chase group containing two Plano riders and Jason Snow passed. I quickly caught back up to them, but Jason was cooked and the two Plano riders couldn’t work because they had a teammate up the road. I was starting to bonk pretty bad and Jason gave me a Clif bar (thanks!!) which I ate as I sat the front driving the pace hard to try to catch the two leaders. Then the Plano riders started to attack to try to get away so that they would have another rider up the road instead of just Adam. I believe Jason came off of our group during one of these attacks. We were closing in on them when I see Eric pull off to the side of the road just ahead of us with a flat. This motivated me to push the pace even harder because now Adam was having to work by himself as the lone leader up the road. So here I was pulling the two Plano riders back up to their leader when “psssssssttttttt” I get a puncture on the replacement front wheel. The motorcycle wheels were behind us again so I was up and rolling 24 seconds after stopping. Eric caught me right after I got started again so the two of us worked together to catch the Plano riders. This was less than 3 miles from the finish with one more hill left (Mahoney Hill) – I hit the hill hard to try and pop one or both of the Plano riders but only ended up with Eric coming off the pace. I was first wheel going into the sprint when Plano #1 (Ryan Dromgoole) attacked out of the corner with 500 meters to go. He got just enough of a gap that I couldn’t grab his wheel and even as I closed in on him 25 meters from the line, Plano #2 (Corey Ray) who had been on my wheel came around me to take the last step of the podium. Kudos to Team Plano for riding an awesome, aggressive, strategic race. Kudos to the whole team! I wonder if two records were set yesterday? 1) fastest rouge roubaix ever 2) podium sweep by a single team
The detailed report with pictures, short video, maps, and power data
The first 25 miles
Normally in this race, there is a 3 or 4 mile neutral section, followed by a number of attacks that fairly quickly establish the early suicide break. This year we had a strong tailwind and a smaller field so even though there was lots and lots of attacking, nothing would stick. I rode aggressively and tried to get in a move but couldn’t do it – and my legs felt awful – I thought for sure I had a flat or that something was binding in the drivetrain. A few miles before the first dirt section, a break of 3 finally established itself with Stephen Mire (S3), Scott Kuppersmith (Indian Cycle Racing), and one of the Plano riders taking a 45 second gap into the first dirt section.
The first dirt section
The first dirt section was really rough – especially at the beginning with some nasty washboard. I lost a full bottle of gatorade (175 very important calories) here. And even though it was really rough, we were still going fast. Plus, unlike previous years where you had one or two strongmen laying down a killer pace that keeps the group strung out, this year the pace was more manageable opening up the opportunity for attacks – of which there were plenty even on the dirt! I covered some of these moves. Each one would shed more riders from the lead group. Towards the later part on one of the downhills, my speed sensor fell down the fork and was bouncing into the spokes. I thought for sure it was going to get lodged between the spokes and the fork causing the front wheel to stop or breaking some spokes, but within a half mile or so the speed sensor settled down so that is was hanging down sideways outside the hub but no longer hitting the spokes. Towards the end of the first dirt section, I had moved to the front and attacked hard on the last hill to try to get some time for the Strava challenge segment and ended up finishing a few seconds in front of the group.
The long, hard 40 mile road section between the first and second dirt sections
Back out on the road it was constant attacks from many different riders including me, but mainly from Plano riders. I would chase some attacks and try to counterattack, but I think I was being watched too closely. All of the attacks, though, did create a split in the group with about 8 of us in the front split and 10 in the chase group. I was in the front split which worked well together but we were eventually chased down by the chase group. Once the two groups merged again it was attack/attack/attack. This time I instigated a lot of the attacks as I was really tired of trying to respond to the Plano attacks. Nothing was getting away, though. Then as I was sitting on the front pushing an easy 175 watts and admiring the big flood plain off the to right, I turned around saw that I had a 50 meter gap! Once I realized I had a gap, I immediately attacked knowing that the turn was coming up in less than half a mile.
The second dirt section – Blockhouse Hill
I had a small lead and was pushing a steady tempo when Eric Stubbs (GearLink Racing) caught me. He rode my wheel for a second and then attacked hard. I couldn’t imagine what he was doing, but then I remembered about the $100 sprint at the top of the hill. So I pulled it together to try and chase back onto him. I caught him about 2/3rds of the way up the hill. He was still pushing hard though and he came over to my side of the hard-packed mud double track. He was still with me as I approached the man holding the $100 bill, so I had a brief thought wondering if we were going to physically battle for the $100 but I put in a little surge and got there first to grab the money and stuff it as far as I could inside my jersey pocket to make sure it didn’t fall out. My coffee shop cleat covers which I had brought in case I needed to run up any of the hills acted as a nice paperweight. We worked really well together through the remainder of the short dirt section and out onto the paved roads again. I was hoping we had insurmountable lead by this point, but every time I looked back you could see a lead vehicle for a chase group. We got one time split shortly before the start of the third dirt section, which indicated we had a 50 second gap.
The third dirt section – Tunica Hills
I struggled in the 3rd dirt section not from lack of energy but from lack of technical skills. The gravel was kinda rough this year with a bit of mud, too, and I found myself taking the worst possible lines. Even on the opening steep climb, I was on the wrong side of the double track and my rear wheel slid sideways in some gravel about halfway up the climb. Fortunately I was able to push through to the harder packed side, make the nearly 90 degree turn back up the hill and resume pedaling in my 39×28 all on a 12-15% incline at 4-6mph. Across the top it didn’t get much better as I ended up off the road at least twice coming to a near stop before having to sprint back up the next hill to catch back up to Eric who was descending awesomely showing me the perfect lines which I would proceed to not take b/c of some sort of technical brain malfunction.
Flat #1 – front wheel pinch flat
Towards the end of the third dirt section, the lead vehicle that had been behind us was nearly up to us. There was only one rider, though, eventual winner Adam Koble from Team Plano. Just as we were getting into a rotation, I pinch flatted my front wheel on one of the washed out gravel sections that we hit at close to 30mph. The motorcycle neutral support was right behind me, and I was riding again 34 seconds after stopping. I started riding and latched onto a chase group containing two Plano riders (Ryan Dromgoole and Corey Ray) and a third rider – Jason Snow. Jason was cooked and the two Plano riders couldn’t work because they had a teammate up the road. Jason offered me a Clif bar as I was starting to bonk so I was able to drive the pace and begin to close the gap to the leading duo of Adam and Eric. As we got to another hilly section, the Plano riders tried a few attacks, but I was able to chase down each one and even put in a counter attack or two. Jason came off during this section.
Flat #2 – front wheel puncture
So it was me leading the two Plano riders back up to their leader when we went through just a tiny bit of gravel when I hear the dreaded “psssssssssstttt” of a front wheel puncture with less than 10 miles to go. This was an even quicker change than last time (24 seconds from flat to riding again). Eric caught me right as I was pulling out, and the two of us worked together catching the Plano riders again with about 3 miles to go. I pushed the pace super hard on the last hill (Mahoney Hill) hoping to drop one of the Plano riders, but only Eric came off leaving me again with the two Plano riders. I led them into the sprint hoping that they would make some mistake that would enable me to get onto the podium – but when Ryan attacked with 500 meters to go, he gapped me and I spent nearly the entire sprint trying to catch his draft. When I caught his draft maybe 25 meters from the line, he gave it one more burst that not only prevented me from coming around but also allowed his teammate Corey who had been on my wheel to pass me for third.
Kudos and records
Kudos to Team Plano for riding an awesome, aggressive, strategic race. Kudos to the whole team! I wonder if two records were set yesterday? 1) fastest rouge roubaix ever 2) podium sweep by a single team
Pedal force – velocity graph – all over the place even more so than normal
Video of a very tired me crossing the line after more than 40 miles on a solo break (Video taken by Russell Fulmer’s wife – thank you!)
What a great way to start off the racing season – with our team taking 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th. I won on a long solo break after my initial break companion, Joe from Florence, came off the pace on the hill before the transition back to smooth pavement. We already had a somewhat sizable gap so I couldn’t just sit up and wait – instead I really didn’t have any choice but to put my head down and ride as hard as I could for the next 2 hours. My teammate Justin Bynum put in a late move and got away with and then outsprinted a Velocity rider for 2nd. My teammates Pat and Chris Allison took the top two spots in the field sprint for 4th and 5th. What a great start to the season!
Here are my iBike stats from the race -
---------Selection Stats--------- Dist: 48.51 mi (2:05:38) Energy: 2338.3 kJ Cals Burn: 2235.5 kcal Climbing: 1708 ft Braking: -2.9 kJ (-0.1%) Min Avg Max Power 0 310.2 681 W Aero 0 253.9 774 W Rolling 0 42.4 61 W Gravity -645 3.0 479 W Speed 0.0 23.2 33.6 mi/h Wind 0.0 23.1 37.9 mi/h Elev 671 770 856 ft Slope -11.2 0.04 8.8 % Caden 0 75.5 107 rpm HR 99 165.4 185 bpm NP:332W IF:1.11 TSS:257 VI:1.07 CdA: 0.342 m^2; Crr: 0.0055 168 lbs (includes bike, clothes, equipment); 2/19/2012 2:32 PM 45 degF; 1015 mbar
Here is my Powertap data (yes I had both my iBike and my powertap for this race) including the new personal power records for the entire range from 20 minutes to 2 hours!
Interesting “Y” shape on my pedal force / pedal velocity graph. I’m used to the spike in the middle, but not the strong underlying portion – I guess the darker CP curve section is b/c of the steadiness of the flats/downhills and the vertical portion is attacking the hills
I arrived really early so I could do some of my favorite climbs in the area, including the 231 climb which is just awesome after/during rain b/c there are waterfalls pouring off of every cliff … the panorama below doesn’t even include the ones you can see as you are climbing – I hiked off the road to a kudzu cliff (that’s the way kudzu looks in the winter) to get the picture of this large waterfall.
Finally, here is a topocreator map of the entire race plus my warm-up climbs up 231/Blount Mountain and the always steep Chandler Mountain climb.
Great race today in Grant, Alabama. Chris Cundiff organized a race billed as “The Race of the Falling Leaves” in tribute of the race of the same name held today in Italy around Lake Komo. The race held up to its name as there were literally leaves falling as we raced three times up the mountain where the town of Grant is located. I ended up edging out Mike Olheiser in the final sprint to take the win. Here’s all the data!
Road Race Summary
I’ve got a 4th place streak going on here with two races in a row missing the podium by one spot. The race went well until the final sprint where I came in a disappointing 4th from a 5-man break after losing the wheel of the winner Grant Potter (Z-Motion). Phil Gaimon (Kenda) for sure deserves most aggressive rider since he realized that Grant would win the sprint from our breakaway group and repeatedly tried to dislodge him with attack after attack in the last 10 miles. But it was altogether for the finish with Grant taking the win, Jonathan Atwell (The Hub) 2nd, Serghei Tvetkov (Aerocat) 3rd, me 4th, and Phil 5th. Our break had a sizeable margin of 3-4 minutes over the field by the end.
Time Trial Summary
The time trial was amazingly fun and also went pretty well. I surpassed my predicted 6 minute power threshold by a few watts (see annotated CP curve towards bottom of this post). My goal at the beginning of the time trial was to focus on maintaining a lap average of 375 watts. After the first couple minutes, I was still well into the 400s, so I began to be really motivated that maybe I could maintain 400 watts for the entire TT. But then my legs started to fade and my power started to drop. I still had a lot of upper body strength left, though, so I stood up and cranked it back up to 400 watts a couple times. Normally, this would be a big time trial aero “no-no”, but with a massive tailwind, I’m pretty sure that it was OK since I was able to get my speed back up both times. In the end, my average speed was just over 29mph, and my average power was 395 watts. Checking the results today, it looks like I was somewhere in the top 15 maybe around 13th, but I was last place of the five of us in the break from the road race, which put me in 5th place on the GC going into Sunday’s criterium (next post). Time trial data posted at the bottom of this post. Also – kudos to John Hart for absolutely smoking the time trial with a time of 5’35” for an average speed of 33mph!!!
Road Race Details and Data
Here is how the road race played out:
1st lap – there were lots of attacks/chasing in the first few miles with one group of 3 eventually getting away and another group of 3 chasing. When we made it to the longest hill on the course, Phil Gaimon (Kenda) attacked hard. A few of us were able to hold his wheel as we caught the break by the top of the hill. They latched onto our group essentially turning the race into a field split. There wasn’t enough cooperation in the large front group, so after a few miles the rest of the field caught back up to us. I believe there were a few more attacks to finish off the lap, but it was basically all together by the start of the second lap.
2nd lap – Towards the beginning of the second lap, a small group of maybe 3 or 4 riders including Jake Brewer (Herring Gas) rolled up the road. I attacked repeatedly to try to bridge across, but every time field would string out and chase. John Hart (Friends of the Great Smokies) was able to escape, though, and set out in pursuit. A few more riders were able to get away solo and chase. Eventually, there were at least 8 guys up the road including Serghei Tvetcov (Aerocat). This group all came together into one lead group. I tried a couple more times to get away or form a second chase group before the long gradual downhill section, but I was reeled back in each time. So on the downhill, I decided to rest in anticipation of the downhill. I was near the front when I saw a rider getting ready to attack at the base of the hill. I grabbed his wheel and followed him knowing that the real attack would come a little bit later. Sure enough, Phil came flying around a few seconds later. I drilled it hard and was able to close the gap back up to him by the top with only one rider in tow – Jonathan. My teammate Pat Allison was caught in the middle behind us. I could hear him yelling across the top that he was coming so I stopped working so that he could finish the bridge to our chase group. Unfortunately, Phil and Jonathan were drilling it super hard through a heavy crosswind section so Pat was unable to make the bridge. I was struggling just to hang onto their wheel, so I can’t imagine crossing the gap alone. By the end of the crosswind section, Pat was swallowed by the field and we were getting close to finishing the bridge to the lead group. This was about 3/4 of the way through the second lap. As a large group, we rotated well for the rest of the lap and kept a pretty good speed.
3rd lap – A couple miles into the start of the third lap, we could see that the field was not too far behind us. At this point, the commitment level in the group really dropped. People were still pulling, but not very hard. At one point, after John Hart and Phil pulled I noticed a gap behind Phil. So I attacked hoping that the two of them would come with me to form another group. They didn’t, though, and so I ended up riding off the front solo for a couple minutes. When the group came back together, we continued rotating but the impetus was definitely gone from the group. This was right when we reached the rolling section on the front side of the course. I noticed another gap opening up behind Serghei as he was getting ready to pull so I attacked again and this time there were three of us together. Phil and Grant bridged up to us a couple minutes later to form the final break of five. At this point in the race, we worked together really well with everybody pulling hard because the rest of the break behind us was chasing hard. Eventually, though, we started to pull away and get a sizeable gap. Our group was an interesting one with one strong sprinter and four all-rounders (i.e., not sprinters). For the last 10 miles, starting with the long hill on the course, it was attack after attack. Phil attacked the most with Serghei counter attacking several times with me on his wheel. Jonathan attacked a few times, and I attacked once or twice. Grant was able to chase back each move and still take the sprint at the end!
Going into the final sprint, I was sitting on Grant’s wheel after Phil had attacked and strung out the group. Serghei countered to start the sprint in the final few hundred meters. As Grant surged for the sprint with 200 meters to go, I lost his wheel for a second but was closing it back up to him when Jonathan realized that Grant was the better wheel than Serghei. So Jonathan pulled over to grab the wheel in the space that I had opened up. It was my fault for letting the gap open up in the first place, but Grant’s surge was probably several hundred watts more powerful than mine and it took time for me to get his draft and move back up. In the end, the two of them were able to squeeze by Serghei for the finish and I only made it halfway around him – so the final finish order was Grant, Jonathan, Serghei, me, and Phil.
All-in-all, it was a good race with a somewhat disappointing finish. There were lots of tactical sections as well as flat-out sections as well as strategic battles. Fun, hard racing. Lots of data below …
Road race data
Time Trial data
The River Gorge road race is of course the highlight event of the weekend with the only summit finish of the year in the entire southeast racing calendar. Plus, throw in a tough climb up Sand Mountain early in the race, and this race really packs a punch for its 60 mile distance. Here is an annotated summary of the race using my heartrate data (no power on my light climbing wheel). Ooops! Correction – Tim Valentine just reminded me about Roan Groan on the TN/VA border with its mountain top finish. I’ve never had the opportunity to do that race, maybe next year!
Here is how the race played out. After we made the left out of the neutral zone, there was an attack. Then there was a chase all the way up the first hill. We flew up the hill, and as my mindset was on saving energy for the climbs later in the race, I let myself slide backwards through the group rather than trying to kill it to stay up front. We settled into a fast pace through the next several miles, and I found a few opportunities to move up so that I was about mid-pack (instead of the back) by the time we made the righthand turn to go up the first steep hill of the race.
Already on this first steep hill, there were riders heading backwards, and I had to come to a near stop a couple times trying to maneuver around them. By the top, there was a group of maybe 15 riders that had split off the front and had a 20-30 second gap on the field which coalesced behind them on the descent underneath I-24. Several riders worked the front of the group through the next rolling upward section and started to close the gap. By the top of the rollers, though, there was still a 10-20 second gap, and riders started to sit up for the descent. I went straight to the front to try to keep the pace rolling. There were only three of us who worked on the descent, but we eventually caught the front group.
It was gruppo compacto all the way to the Tennessee River where we turned left to head up the next larger hill. Several riders went hard, but the group stayed together to the top and down the descent at a crazy-fast speed to the next long flat section. It was here that I missed my opportunity to be in the lead group as two separate moves left the front, and I was too far back to go with them. I missed another opportunity when Brendan Sullivan attacked with a couple others on the road leading into Alabama before Sand Mountain. Afterwards, our pace plummeted in the group all the way to the foot of Sand Mountain. Our average speed for two miles was only 17MPH. I wanted to attack, but I had missed my opportunity as the guys in the front were going slow and there was no way to get around on the narrow road.
I had managed to very slowly work my way to the front still planning to attack before Sand Mountain when we made it to the bottom of Sand Mountain. So instead of attacking before Sand Mountain, I rolled off the front in a steady pursuit of a Krystal rider who had attacked right at the base of the climb. Then Nate Brown came flying around me as the climb started to get steeper. I dug deep to grab and hold his wheel as we caught and passed the Krystal rider a few hundred meters later. Nate’s attack had shattered the group, and there was only three or four of us left at the front of the climb by this point. Nate sat up at this point (calling it a day, I think?) and I was left in front. Mike Stone came around a couple seconds later, and I was planning on going to the back of our small group but there was a gap opening up so I rallied to chase back on to Mike’s wheel and then sat there for the rest of the climb way above threshold thinking that at any moment my legs would explode. He drilled it all the way to the top as we caught and passed a couple riders coming off the lead group.
Mike’s relentless pace up the climb meant that it was just me and him by the top. I grabbed a bottle from Kristine, and he grabbed a musette from his team. I worked hard to stay on his wheel and tried to help him across the top, but the pace would slow down a fraction every time I came to the front. Towards the end of the rollers across the top of Sand Mountain, I was starting to feel better and recovered from the Sand Mountain climb and there was still no sight of the field regrouping behind us. We flew down the descent back to the Tennessee River and made the right-hand turn with a group of riders visible in the distance in front of us. After a minute or so back on the flats, I looked back and could see the field already down the mountain behind us as well. The moto official gave us a split of 40 seconds to the field at this point. We kept it steady and pushed it hard over the smaller climbs and gradually closed the distance to the group in front of us finally catching them just before the stair-stepper. Michael and I were in pursuit of them for 14.5 miles (or almost 1/4 of the race).
Once we caught them, we kept pushing even though the field was only 1 minute back from us as we started the stair stepper climb. There were six of us in the group – me and mt teammate Pat from Tria, three Hincapie Devo riders (Mike Stone, Parker Kyzer, and Justin Lowe), as well as AJ Meyer (Hincapie Green). Once we made it to the top of the stair stepper and through the second feed zone, our chase group gelled the best I have EVER seen in a race. It was literally a six-man team time trial in pursuit of the front group which had a three and a half minute gap on us. Our chase averaged 30mph for 8 miles over rolling terrain with one steep downhill. At one point, we could see the women’s field up ahead of us with a follow car just too far ahead to tell what field it was. Pat asked me if that was the lead group, and I said “probably not, but let’s pretend like it is” and we went even faster in pursuit. Pat really dug deep during this pursuit even after he started cramping. We all were flying and for me those 8 miles were the best part of the race. It was awesome!
By the time we reached the turn-off for the final Raccoon Mountain climb, we had caught Frank Travesio (Realcyclist) who had come off the lead group. We had also lost a couple of the Hincapie riders on the climb up to the turn-off. So it was five of us heading into the bottom of the final climb. Pat went to the front and drilled it hitting 50+mph on the downhill and then across the flat to the bottom of the hill. At the bottom, Mike set out first and I came around to grab his wheel. I thought it would be a repeat of Sand Mountain with him pushing me to the breaking point on the climb, but instead I found that my legs were doing fine enough behind him for me to attack about halfway up the first steep section. I got a good gap, but couldn’t extend it at all until near the very top of the first steep section of the climb. I drilled it down the hill bunny hopping the speed bumps at 45mph because there were Cat 4 and Women riders on the descent at the same time and that was the only open line.
On the second half of the climb which isn’t as steep as the first half, I was able to keep the pace high and extend my lead on Mike. Up ahead I could see two riders climbing who I realized must be in my field. I came really close and could hear the cheers for the final sprint with 200 meters to go but I couldn’t quite catch Chris and Brendan. So we had nearly bridged a 3+ minute gap to the back of the lead group by the top of the climb!
With nine riders still left in the lead group, that means I finished 10th. Definitely not the result I was hoping for, but I am still very happy with it because of how good I felt on the final climb. All the obsessive climbing for Strava has really helped this year! Too bad this is the second and final of only two races for the entire year that have significant climbing (the first was the Tour of Atlanta Burnt Mountain road race at the end of May).
I rode my American Classic tubular wheel, so I don’t have any power data other than the Strava data below -
And here is the link to the interactive Strava data for all three events this weekend -