Archive for August, 2010
Whew – what a tough race. 138 starters, 53 finishers and unfortunately I wasn’t one of them. It started out well with my first call-up ever in an NRC race and first time in front of Kristine. I had a great start, and was cruising through the first two laps in very good position. Then coming through the start/finish line on the third lap, I heard the sound of clanking metal and saw out of the corner of my eye riders going down on the far righthand side of the peloton. Since I was all the way on the left, I thought “whew, I’m safe”. Then, catching me totally by surprise, and with an amazing suddenness that is indelibly etched into my mind, the Globalbike rider immediately next to me was dragged straight down to the ground with such forcefulness that I nearly fell off my bike out of shock. Fortunately for me, he was dragged to the right so I did make it safely through. With the speed we were going, riders from behind piled into the wreck and quickly blocked the road behind me. Less than 30 riders out of a pack of 138 had made it through. It took nearly two laps for them to be inserted back into the race at the pit, and unfortunately the officials decided to insert all 100 riders in front of our group. There was yelling and cursing like you wouldn’t believe from our group, but we had to deal with it and I went from being in the very front of the race to the very back of the race. The slingshot effect was terrible, and for the next 50 minutes I was in the single file line at the back of the group going nonstop around the course with no real place to rest. I tried everything I could to move up, but whenever the group bunched up in front of us, it would take too long for us at the back to make it up to the bunch who had already started to accelerate again. The image of it was terrible – you would see the front 50 riders bunched up at the top of the hill with the back 30 or so by this point still strung out single file. Just as we would start to make it to the front group, they would have accelerated again into single file meaning that we were riding the whole course single file with very little draft. I lasted much longer than I thought I would, and pulled out while still barely hanging on at the back just because I literally couldn’t take it any more. Hard to think straight, and I am somewhat regretting the decision now to have willingly pulled out instead of waiting to get dropped at some point later in the race as there were only 18 laps left when I quit. Who knows maybe I could have recovered and hung on to finish? On a positive note, for the few laps I was at the front, it was a very fun course, well-organized, and there were thousands of people lining the course. Also, I only lost two positions in the USA crits overall, and I’m currently still in the top 10 in 9th. Next race – Chris Thater Memorial in New York!
We’re still driving back to Birmingham at the moment, and I’ll post my heartrate data when I get home. Here’s my prediction – low zone 5 at the start, dipping down to zone 4 after the wreck, then shooting up high into zone 5 all the way until I pulled out one hour into the race.
Amazing cleat story here – after two and a half years and at least 25,000 miles I had to replace my speedplay zero cleats this morning. I knew that there was a problem about a week ago when the right cleat was loose even with the tension screws closed all the way down. It turns out that I had sheered off a plastic tab that helps hold the locking mechanism in place. It’s hard to tell in the blurry picture, but you can wiggle the locking mechanism with your hand even though it’s supposed to be secure. So today I installed a replacement cleat, and I thought the warning message was hilarious in light of the miles that I had on the shoe. It says to replace the cleat every 5,000 miles! Mine lasted 5x longer than that! Tonight’s the Charlotte Criterium (Presbyterian Invitational) and I’ll be posting my race report sometime tomorrow – hoping to get more points in the USA crits series to keep my top 10 standing (I’m currently 7th by 1 point).
(Left to right) John Delong (Gary Fischer – Subaru) 4th, Jonathan Jacob (Nuvo) 2nd, Andy Crater (Aerocat) 1st, Adam Bergman (Texas Roadhouse) 3rd, Brian Toone (Tria Cycling p/b Donohooauto.com) 5th. I photoshopped John into the picture because an abrupt scheduling change of when the ceremony was going to be led to him missing the podium.
The race went really well, and I ended up in 5th place and on the podium thanks to the awesome support that my wife documented in her guest blog yesterday that she typed up as we were driving home to Birmingham. My beautiful wife, who is getting to be a pro at the feedzone, handed me not one, not two, but 10 bottles during the race with only one dropped (b/c of me not her). So that means during the race I needed 11 bottles of water/gatorade. That was because the air temp was 101 degrees by the end of our race with a heat index of 113!!!
Quick summary: I missed the winning move when it went at the end of the 1st lap. With 14 laps to race I just didn’t think there was any way it was going to stick even with the firepower it had in it. But I was wrong. The break of 4 whittled itself down to a break of 3 that ended up winning by nearly 4 minutes. I attacked to bridge 3 times and it was the 3rd time that led to a successful solo break from the field. I bridged up to John Delong who was 4th on the road at that time, and the two of us worked together for nearly 30 miles gaining a maximum advantage of just over 1 minute and trimming the lead groups advantage to just 2 and a half minutes before the two of us started to die/wilt/fade/wish we were dead in the 113 degree heat index. So the lead group’s advantage swung the other direction to 4 minutes by the end and our advantage on the chasing field was only 11 seconds at the finish. It was definitely a hard fought 5th place for me!
How the race played out is really evident in my heartrate data so I’ve included the course map and heartrate data below.
- Crazy fast from the gun – not feeling good at all here.
- Many attacks on the second lap, the winning break got away here.
- I attacked up the start/finish hill at the end of the second lap to try to bridge to the leaders. Didn’t make it.
- Conserving energy, very hot, tired, discouraged.
- Attacking on the Cochran Tunnel Hill to bridge to two riders who had rolled off the front about a mile or two earlier. Very encouraged by how good I felt attacking on the hill. Caught the riders near the top of the climb and slowed to try to form breakaway. Group of about six riders formed and we stayed away from chasing field before getting caught on the feedzone climb.
- Attacking on the Cochran Tunnel Hill again on the next lap. Got away solo and nearly a lap later bridged to John Delong who had rolled off a few miles earlier. We worked together with John pulling on most of the downhills, flats, and rolling sections and me pulling on each of the four climbs/hills. Together we were able to just barely stay away from what was left of the field with John taking a well-deserved 4th and me rolling in a few seconds later for 5th.
The Cochran Tunnel Hill was definitely my favorite part of the race. We drove through the Tunnel on I-64 on our way to the hotel on Tuesday night wondering if that was where the road race course crossed the interstate. Turns out that it not only was the spot, it was also the key spot of the race for me. The hill has a couple switchback like turns before straightening out. There is so many trees and vegetation that you don’t realize you are crossing over the interstate which goes through a tunnel through the hill. The speeds that I have highlighted on my heartrate data are the minimum speeds for a given climb of the hill. The first one (16.5mph) is the fastest climb that we did when I was with the field. The second one (18.5mph) is the attack I did to try to bridge to two riders who were chasing where I caught them before the top and slowed down to try to let them catch on to form a larger chase group. The third one (21mph) is the attack I did solo to get away from the field one lap later. I think I must have had a 20 second gap by the top of the 0.3 mile climb in order not to have gotten caught on the subsequent downhill. Then I was able to extend that lead on the feedzone climb which is only a mile from the top of the Cochran Hill. The last one (12mph) is the minimum speed that John and I did during our chase. I was completely exhausted in the heat and amazed that we were still in front of the field.
Immediately after my race finished, my teammate Terry Duran started his 50-54 race, which he won!!! So one national championship and two national championship podiums in one day for Tria Cycling!!!
What. A. Day. I’ve always joked that it’s harder on the side of the road than in the race, but today that might actually have been true! 99 degrees. Heat index of 110. Race at 12 noon. 14 laps on a 5-mile course. Brian will surely post his side of the Master’s National Championships Road Race story, but mine was pretty grueling (and entertaining), too.
We started out the day late, in spite of a nice organized plan of when to leave. Brian let the kids and I go to the pool, and they had a blast, so that set us back at least 15 stressful minutes. When we finally found a parking place, it was just 40 minutes until Brian’s start time. We sent him off, and I haphazardly packed a bag with waterbottles, Gatorade powder, and snacks for the kids. Notably found to be missing later was sunblock and something to sit on. Arg. The kids insisted on taking their backpacks loaded with toys and scooters. We started trekking up the hill, and luckily caught Brian before his race. Analise gave him a pre-race cheer with her homemade sign (photo).
For some reason, we had to trek back down the long hill to our car, before a long walk back up and then down to settle into the feed zone. Are you tired yet? Because Josiah was. And crying. It was a long unhappy walk, and this poor mom/fan was on a mission to get to the feed zone with bottles for Brian ASAP. (At this point, I could tell you where Brain was, that he’d been on the front and attacking, even post pics but I’ll leave that for his race report, which may or may not be longer than this.)
So I settled the kids down in the shade on the grass (well, on Analise’s homemade sign) while I headed down the steep hill to the unshaded side of the road to give Brian a bottle. (Which he didn’t take, much to my dismay. He had talked about only wanting 2 bottles, but given how we were melting in the heat, I had decided I’d be there coaxing him with water/Gatorade on every lap.) Josiah was still unhappy when I left, but when I came back they were both completly unraveled. Their were ants on the sign and crawling on them. (But just a few! Please… don’t think I’m a terrible mom!) So we moved to the golf cart path, and I spent the 12 min between laps trying to make them happy.
I headed down to hand a bottle, which Brian took, but then I had to quickly head back up the hill to the kids to pick up our one waterbottle and Brian’s empty one and go fill them. That was an uphill walk, maybe only 400m or so, but one I did probably 8 times, no kidding. Brian took 9 bottles during the race, and if he hadn’t, there’s no way he would have finished.
Eventually the kids wanted to come down towards the road with me. I’d struck up a camraderie with another wife/fan with a 6-month old who was feeding her husband (aka me 3 years ago, minus one 3-year old). She and I would be on the side of the road waiting for the guys, while Analise was trying to keep her little one from crying. Josiah would give us updates like, “The baby isn’t crying because my sister is giving it a waterbottle.”
So we made it through 13 laps, handed Brian his last, and probably most important bottle, and we headed cross-country up the hill to the finish. The kids found a big rock to watch the exciting finish, and I moved a little ways away so I could see him coming up the hill. (And yell. I yell loud and often at races. Brian even told me today he heard me on the other side of the course, but I think that’s because I’m in his head.) And so we cheered him to his 5th place finish (photo). Believe me, it was a team effort! We are so proud of him!
The fun wasn’t over, though. Brian was exhausted, so he asked me to go get him something to eat/drink. He had checked about the award’s ceremony, and it wasn’t going to be until 7pm. I headed off (down the long hill) to drive to Smoothie King. As I was trekking back up the hill, trying to carry 4 smoothie cups, I vaguely heard the announcer on the loudspeaker say “Brian” (garble-garble) “Kristine” (ears perked up) “podium”. Dang! I got there as quickly as I could to find them waiting for me, and the 4th place finisher (who didn’t end up making it back to the abruptly rescheduled ceremony).
The kids got to be Brian’s podium crew, giving him hugs and kisses after he got called up (photo). So sweet! They, of course, had their time on the podium after the official ceremony (photo). So this #1 fan is exhausted. And sunburned. And dirty. But it was all worth it today!
Another year, another great trip to Chicago. We had a great time hanging out with friends both at and away from the race. Josiah played football for the first time and got his first real taste of baseball with the family that we stayed with. He loved it! We took our scenic drive route past Fermi National Lab and through the outskirts of far western Chicago (Batavia, Geneva, North Aurora) to drive slowly past a horse jumping contest that takes place every year this same weekend as the Tour of Elk Grove. The races went really well, but my results were only mediocre. Check out my reports and heartrate data at the end of this blog.
Saturday – big field, aerocat, kenda, jamis sutter home, is corp had strong teams, started out front row and fought hard to stay there — until the last lap where I lost a lot of position in a swarm going into the 180. Then trying to move up going into the next turn, I got bumped pretty hard and pushed into the gutter losing even more position, fought to get it back, ended up 22nd. So this race was perfect for me except for the very last lap where it counted most!
Sunday – 90 starters, same strong teams. I was more aggressive in this race with $1650 worth of primes on offer. I made it into a break with John Eisenger, agreed to split $100 prime when two more riders bridged up to us foiling that plan. John attacked and got the prime. This was a few laps before the $500 mid-race prime. Our break got caught shortly before the announcers rang the bell for the mid-race prime. A rider attacked hard and got enough of a gap to stay away for the prime.
I was in a couple other moves, too, so I spent more time today either off the front or recouperating mid-pack. With 10 laps to go, I was determined not to get swarmed again so I did a lot of work out in the wind, attacking whenever I heard riders coming up from behind. With three laps to go, I was in sixth or seventh position when the Jamis rider in front of me slid out on the 180 degree turn. I was already on his inside so I scooted by safely with no problem, but this created a split in the group. With three aerocat riders in the front group of 10 riders, they decided to drill it, but nobody else wanted to help work so with two to go we were all back together. I fought hard to stay at the front, but still lost some position in the 180 swarm. I came out of the corner better than Saturday’s race, though, and I think I started the sprint in about 15th place, moving up a couple spots to 13th by the line.
The kids raced the bigwheel race and Kristine got some video of the finish of our race both days. Check it out below:
Saturday’s 1/2 finish
Sunday’s 1/2 finish
- Nothing exciting to annotate here – just conserving energy for the finish
- Two-man break going for $100 prime
- 10 man field split after Jamis rider wrecked at front of field with 3 to go
- Field all back together for the finish