Posts tagged ‘time trial’
I had a bit of an epiphany today during the 5 hour drive from Birmingham to the start of the Labor Day Omnium — a time trial held across the Lake Hartwell dam on the South Carolina – Georgia border. I realized that I was more interested in the race venue than I was in the race itself. Following last week’s three state road race, this was going to be a two state time trial. I’m pretty sure that’s a first for me. Also, I would be racing my bike across a dam that created the massive lake (962 miles of shoreline) with Clemson on the northern end nearly 45 miles north of the dam on the lake’s southern end. This is the lake that I was baptized in, the lake next to which I proposed to my wife, the lake I used to jog next to, the lake next to which we used to do two up, standing start 53×11 sprints on the CU cycling team.
It would be great to cap off that nice story with a resounding time trial victory, but in the end I was happy to place 26th about 37 seconds behind the winning time of Bobby Sweeting (Kenda Pro Cycling). Frank Travieso (Team Coco’s) was 2nd followed by David Winston (Globalbike) in 3rd. I was targeting more than 400w, but ended up coming in at 393w for the 4’45″ effort. I’ve included the annotated power map and power plots below.
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
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.
My attempt at the Alabama State Time Trial last week shortly after having some pretty bad food poisoning went really poorly. I had been looking forward to comparing my time with what I had done two years ago, so today I put my clip-on bars back onto the bike and swapped out to my Reynolds Wheels so that I could try again. I picked a relatively flat route to get all the way out there to Columbiana since it was going to be a long ride in the heat. But showers this morning, cloudy skies, and rain still in the air brought the temp way down to 70s and 80s for most of the ride.
When I finally made it out to the high school, I put my foot down on the start line, hit the lap button and took off. I initially set a target wattage of 300 watts, but I felt good and kept the average (including the initial surge from the start line) closer to 325 watts for the first few miles. Watts were gradually dropping from my average as I tried to keep my current wattage close to 300 on the flatter sections and 400+ on the steep rollers. On the downhills, though, I didn’t want to spin like crazy so I just let the power drop to the low 200s.
At the turnaround, I still had a 310 watt average and 24.5mph speed average so that gave me confidence to push it hard on the way back to keep a 300+ watt average for my effort. I ended up setting a half hour’s worth of power records along the way. My time ended up being just over 58 minutes, which I believe would have put me into 3rd or 4th place in the Pro/1/2 category. Definitely redeems the miserable 1 hour, 17 minute effort last week.
This course is really a great time trial course for criterium racers b/c you can take advantage of the steep hills to use your upper body strength and give your legs a bit of a break. And since you are only going 10-15mph on the steeper hills, the aerodynamic penalty of rocking the bike back and forth doesn’t matter so much. Of course, if you have a disc wheel, large front chainring and full aero setup, you might be able to carry enough momentum on the steep downhills to top out some of the rollers.
Heartrate summary for today’s tt effort
And finally, some Garmin screenshots from the ride including the lap summary screen with different stats shown … (and my TT position setup, which is the most comfortable I’ve ever felt in a time trial so I wanted to take some pics to remember how to set it up like this again in a couple weeks for the Georgia Cycling Gran Prix time trial)
I had been looking forward to this race for the past couple weeks because the course is amazing – with lots of hills – in a topographically interesting area. Several ridge lines merge and end near the turnaround point. See the topocreator map from my post about the 2010 time trial (where I did much better).
Well, on Thursday night Kristine and I celebrated our 9 year wedding anniversary. In the middle of the night, I woke up with some severe intestinal issues – eventually losing 6 pounds of water weight and collapsing on the floor on the way back from the bathroom in the early morning. After spending an entire day in bed and resting and drinking, I started to feel better in the evening. So I thought maybe if I felt really good in the morning, I would go ahead and do the time trial. Not a good idea as indicated by the stats in the screenshot with 1 mile to go in my race:
By the time I had driven to the start (the original plan was to ride to the start for a 90-100 mile ride like Wednesday), I was not feeling great anymore. After a 12 mile easy warm-up, I was feeling less great. Travis Sherman said it best – “you look hung over”. I started out with a target wattage of 325 watts and was able to maintain that for about 5 minutes – at which point I started getting nauseous. My next thought was “ok”, let’s shoot for 300watts. Then as I couldn’t even get my current power over 300, I thought maybe “250″ would be ok. A couple minutes later I realized that the only way I was going to finish the race at all is if I backed way off, so I started soft pedaling to eventually finish in 6th place (last).
So, here is future advice for anybody with food poisoning 24 hours before the start of a 40k tt … even if you feel all better when you wake up the morning of the race, don’t do it. Stay in, rest, and watch the first stage of the Tour de France instead!