Monday, March 26, 2012

Deer Trail/ Breakaway Tactics.

I wrote this as an email to a friend on how to do well at Deer Trail Road Race in 2011.  It ended up being a very long article about road tactics for a certain type of rider (the type I had become).
The fun part is that I ended up winning this race in the P12 field also.  That makes 3 wins in 3 categories for me and Deer Trail.  woo.

I'm publishing it now for a friend, in case they want some unsolicited advice, and for anybody else who happens to be reading and wants to comment.

Take a look at this:
The course is laid out like a big "L."  After a rollout through the
small town, you go east, turnaround, west, right turn, north,
turnaround south, left turn, east, turnaround, west.  The finish line
is on the west facing leg, meaning you'll see it while passing it on
the east leg, and you'll cross the finish line during the first lap of
the east/west leg.
I won this race twice:  Once as a 4, and 2 years later as a 3.  As a 4
the course was slightly different, but the same idea.  A teammate
drilled it into the turnaround and as we sprinted out of it, about 10
of us got a gap and formed a group.  The group eventually weakened, so
3 of us attacked it.  Later, 1 guy got dropped from our smaller group,
and I beat the last guy in the sprint.
As a 3, I just rolled off the front about halfway through the race and
nobody cared.   I kept it steady, 2 guys bridged up, and I beat them
in the sprint.

Things to think about:

The beginning of the race is likely to be slow and intensely
claustrophobic.  This is my least favorite part of racing and it sucks
but you have to play the game.  DO NOT cross the yellow line.
Especially to move up.  You will get kicked out of the race, or at the
very least, relegated to the back of the pack.  It's also bad form and
makes the team (and you) look bad.  If you have teammates to play
domestique, it's nice to have them push the pace at the front a
little.  Not enough to burn anybody out, just enough to make people
want to ride 2 or 3 wide, instead of 4 or 6 wide across the entire

If you're going to win the race, you need to either attack, or win the
group sprint.  I've never even participated in a group sprint, much
less won one, so Imma stick to attacking:

The goal of attacking is to get yourself separated from the group.
The group is inherently stronger than the individual, but nobody wants
to work if they don't have to, or if somebody else might gain from it.
 In order to attack successfully, you need to go when either:
A) Nobody else is capable of going with you, or,
B) Nobody else is willing to go with you.

Of course, in reality, it's some combination of the two, but in my
opinion, one of these features is dominant in successful attacks. If
you're going to go with A, you need to know your own strengths and
weaknesses.   You also need to know which parts of the course you'll
be best suited to use your strengths while excluding others from using
theirs (they're stuck in the pack, they're recovering from an effort,
they're going too slow at the moment, etc.)

If you're going to go with option B, you're going to have to do things
which others may consider stupid, suicidal, not worth it, etc.  I
spent most of 2009 doing this poorly, and finished 9th or 14th in
plenty of races I could have done better in if I hadn't spent hours
off the front and then gotten caught.  In 2010 I got just a little
smarter about when/where to go, and had more success.  Hopefully you can learn from my bad decisions instead of wasting your own time
figuring it out.

Wind Patterns:
In a tailwind, you get less of a draft, so it hurts even if you're
sheltered.  Understand that it hurts more for everybody, not just you.
 Since everyone is working harder, people are less rested to do things
like cover attacks or bridge to breaks.  Since it hurts so badly,
nobody wants to leave the shelter they think they're getting from the
group.  In my opinion, this is a good section for a hard, fast attack,
because everybody is tired and they're thinking about rest, not extra

In a headwind, you get more benefit from hiding in the group.  People
in spots 2-10 are well rested and ready to pounce on anything that
moves.  People think that the headwind might make it easier to keep a
gap once you get it, but since everybody is thinking that, it's harder
to get a gap in the first place.  In my opinion, this is a good
section to try to roll off the front nonchalantly.  When the gap is
small, people think, "let that idiot twist in the wind."  Then if you
can get some distance, nobody wants to be the sucker that drags the
entire pack back to you.  Attacking hard into a headwind can work too,
but people will be expecting it, so you need to be serious.

Crosswinds Suck.  The concept of an echelon is a good thing to learn,
but in large groups, the reality i've seen is different.  The first 6
or 8 guys will form an echelon until the road runs out, and everybody
else will just line up on the downwind side of the road behind them,
not getting a draft.  If you're in the first (and only) echelon, and
try to rotate through, it's unlikely that you'll be able to get a spot
when you try to get back in.  Teammates can be very useful here.  Take
turns letting each other in, and you get some relief.  Attacking here
can be tricky because the guys in the first echelon are usually the
strong guys, and all of them except the first wheel are being
sheltered.  I've tried to start my own echelon, and ride so that it's
only wide enough for the people who are willing to work to get in.  It
doesn't generally work that well.

Good times to go:
The turnarounds are good places to attack, but everybody knows this,
so every turnaround will be followed by an intense sprint.  Expect
this.  Make sure you don't do too much work if the entire pack is
sitting on your wheel.  If you have a real gap, by all means exploit
it, but keep an eye on what's going on around you to make sure you
aren't just dragging 50 guys down the road.

Everybody is going to be working hard on the up-rollers.  A good time
to attack is just as the group is slowing at the crest.  Of course,
attacking on a descent isn't the greatest idea either, but you gotta
go sometime...

As soon as another attack gets brought in:  This works especially well
if one of the guys off the front was your teammate.  You've identified
the people willing to work, and you know that they're tired from
reeling the last break in.  If you go now, they'll be a little tired,
and they'll expect that it's somebody else's turn to chase you down.
Of course this method requires patience, and the faith that the first
attack (that you weren't a part of) will get brought back.  Having a
teammate in it means that you don't have to worry so much because even if it stays away, your team will have a good chance of doing well.
Also, having a teammate in the break excludes you from having to work. If you're lucky, someone might try to bridge.  You can simply hop on their wheel, and do no work until either they tire out, drag you to the break, or get you close enough to drop them and bridge the rest of the way solo.

It's important to recognize the difference between an attack getting
reeled in, and some random guy just going off the front and then
coming back.  If the pack is just riding along at the same speed they
would have been going if the guy hadn't been off the front, then they
aren't really chasing, and this stuff doesn't apply so much.  People
won't be tired, and the strong guys will still be willing to
accelerate if you try anything.  If a teammate wants to be the guy
that goes early, make sure he knows this.  He's just wasting his time
and energy if the pack is able to catch him without trying.  Also,
don’t put somebody into a break if they’re likely to get dropped from
it.  It’s bad form to chase your teammate, but if they get dropped,
your team has a lot of work to do to bring the rest of break back.

How to go:
If you're going to attack hard and fast, you can't do it from the
first 5 wheels.  People will see what you're doing, and they'll just
hop on your wheel.  You need to do it from farther back, so by the
time you hit those first 5-10 guys, you're going too fast for them to
accelerate to match you.  This can be hard, because the farther back
you go, the murkier your pathway to open road becomes.
You're looking for the perfect combination of:
The group is going a little slow,
you're far back enough to be going way faster than the leaders by the
time you get to them, and
you have a clear shot to the front.

If that opportunity arises, you should take it.  If not, do the best
with what you have, but make sure to get a clean separation.  Don't
waste yourself cuz you think you made a gap, but you really didn't.
Also, when you attack, do it as seldom and as hard as possible.
Throwing out a bunch of half assed attacks will just wear you out and
make it less likely that you'll succeed.

The sneak attack, where you simply roll off the front, is a lot harder
to plan.  This generally happens by accident (to me at least).  If you
can manage to make it happen that you're more than a few bike lengths
away from 2nd wheel, then just quietly lay the hammer down and see if
you can make it grow.  You need to get at least 10 or 15 seconds
before they can notice that you're working.  If you look back and see
a single file line chasing you down, it's probably over.  If you see
guys lined up 6 wide across the road, then it's on...

You need to work as hard as possible for the first minute or so of a
break.  After that, you can look around and see what's going on.  If
you have a small group, pull off and see who is willing to work.  If
you're alone, you're at an impasse.  Keep the effort steady, but not
urgent.  Realistically ask yourself if you can do the rest of the race
as fast or faster than you were just going in the pack.  If you're
lucky, a few guys might bridge and you'll have a breakway.  If not,
you have to make the decision to go solo, or return to the pack.
Don't get yourself into a situation that you'll regret by pulling
others along, or soloing when you know you can't hold the effort.  You
did a lot of work to get a break going, but if others aren't willing
(or able) to help you, it's going to be doomed whether you destroy
yourself or not.

Of course once you get away, you need to stay away, but that's more
about fitness then anything else.  If you find yourself in a group
with someone unwilling to work you need to get rid of them.  They're
either weak, and thus useless, or they're expecting you to drag them
to the sprint.   Make the decision to drop them, or be willing to live
with yourself if they punk you in the sprint.

damn that was long.  I hope it was more useful than it was time consuming.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Capitol Reef Classic 2011, Torrey, UT

I spent the last 2 days at a stage race in Utah (Friday and Saturday, cuz apparently Sunday is reserved for other activities).  It's called the Capitol Reef Classic and it was a really great race.  Torrey, UT is simply beautiful in terms of scenery, and the weather was quite agreeable.

The race consisted of 3 stages over 2 days.  Friday was an 8 mile TT and then a 51 mile circuit race, while Saturday was an 81 mile road race. (NO CRIT!)

The TT was flat, super fast, and super fun.  I averaged 28.4 mph and 345w for 16 minutes.  I'm happy with the power.  I thought the course would be more like 20 min, but I'm not really good enough at TTing to work much harder for 16min than I could have for 20, so no complaints.

The TT Start

I'm feeling good on the TT bike now.  I think I went into State TT with not enough practice in my aero position.  I also had a relatively bad TT at Dead dog, so I'd been riding the TT bike 2-3x per week for the last few weeks, and felt a lot better in this race.
Riding back to the car after the TT finish.
I got 2nd.  1st place beat me by 23 seconds, and 3rd place was another 10s back.

I drank a recovery drink, ate a cliff bar, showered at the hotel, suited up, and put my road bike together for the circuit race which started 4 hours after I crossed the finish at the TT.  It sounds like a lot, but it felt like a rush.
Preparing for the Circuit Race

The circuit was 3 laps of a 17 mile loop with 1100 feet of climbing per lap.  There was 1 substantial hill and a lot of rollers.   After a lot of failed attempts by me and others, one guy managed to get off and put 1 minute into the field.  He got away 2/3 into the first lap.  Near the beginning of the second lap, after many more failed attempts, I managed to get away alone for about 1 minute until another guy bridged, and together we caught the OTF guy at the top of the hill.  We worked well together for the remainder of the 2nd and 3rd laps, and came in 50 sec before the rest of the field, which had been working to chase, but hadn't shattered or split.  I pulled the final 2 or 3k since I had the most to gain from putting time into the field.  One of my brakemates came around me easily at the end, but was able to hold off the other for 2nd.  This put me into 1st on GC by 27 sec.

The RR was:  Rollers, small climb, big climb, rollers, descent, rollers.

Lots of people tried to get away in the first set of rollers.  Lots of attacks, but they were all coming from guys near the front, so I was able to shut most of them down alone, with a few other racers chasing down the rest.  About 10 miles in, the guy who had won the circuit race attacked from far enough back to get a clear separation, but was thankfully alone.  With him off the front alone, I was happy to not have to patrol a slow moving pack alone.  People were a little more interested in riding tempo, and each unsuccessful bridge attempt was a surge of speed that kept him on a short leash.

We caught the guy in the middle of the first hill, which we crested without issue.  The second hill was longer, steeper, and more decisive.  By the time it was over, a group of 5 was followed by a group of 4, which I was a part of.  In my group, 1 guy refused to pull since his teammate was ahead, and 1 guy was "too tired" to pull for the first 20 mins or so.  The work was left to me and 1 guy from the Swami's team based in San Diego.
The View from the Second Feed Zone

And then the Pain.

The group of 5 was determined to keep us from catching up, so me and Swami's guy rode ourselves into the ground for 40 minutes on the plateau rollers.  I was drooling all over myself,  but we managed to make the catch just at the bottom of the descent.  Thankfully, as soon as we caught up, everybody was tired from the chasing/trying to stay way, so we just rode easy for the next hour or so.  Another group of 6 or so caught up to us with 10 miles to go, but that didn't matter much.

The final 10 miles was attack after attack.  I had to stay near the front to make sure nobody would get away, but nobody wanted to ride into the wind, so I sat on the front, or if I was lucky, 1 wheel back, and just looked backward the whole time.  Somebody would attack, I'd surge to chase them down, they'd stop once they saw me on their wheel, and then pack would catch up.  Repeat this about 6 times.  It sucked, but I couldn't let anyone get away.  If I had to chase them down once there was any significant gap, I'd bee too exhausted to do it when the next guy went.  This was painful, but I had to hope that the surges were hurting everyone else almost as much as they were hurting me.

We hit the 3k to go sign, which was all aboud 2 or 3% uphill.  3 guys went for it, but none of them were too high on GC.  I sat on 2nd place's wheel until about 1k, after which I just buried my head and powered through to the finish.  I passed some and got passed by others.  I think I came in 6th, but only 5 seconds behind the 3 guys, and in the same pack as all the other GC guys.  I was tired, and spent, but I did what I had to do, and held onto my lead for the stage, so I was thrilled.
Utah is pretty.  And a lot more red than this pic would suggest
Our (sort of) Podium

We parked next to these sheep at the RR and Circuit Race

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mt. Hood Cycling Classic 2011

Day 1 was the prologue.   3 miles: A short, steep climb for about a minute and a half, then a gradual downhill into a headwind, then a short steep uphill for about a minute and a half.  I felt fine, good
about pacing.  Avg power was 375 for the whole thing, but the hills were closer to 500, when a relative rest in between.  I suffered on the downhill due to my inability to produce good power at high cadences.

My time was 7:11, winning time was 6:30.  I'm 85th out of 150 and I'm ok with that.  This isn't my sort of thing, and 40 seconds will mean nothing by the end of the race.

Day 2: Stage 1.  Check out the course: first little hump was the first indicator that this could get bad.  We went up that thing ridiculously fast.  No power data, but I'm sure that I was over 400 for 5ish mins.  It hurt, but I was ok with it, and I don't think we dropped anyone that didn't regroup on the descent.

The second hump wasn't that noticeable. The first big spike was fucking pain.  The feedzone was at the very beginning, so if I wanted water, that meant starting the hill at the back of the pack.  I didn't know when it was going to end, so I told myself that every corner was the last.  Eventually I saw the KOM 1km sign, and made it over the top.  I had been dropped, but was in a small group that managed to surf the cars in the caravan and make it back to the peloton by the end of the descent.  It felt like that video of Cancellara descending in the yellow jersey to try to keep it for another day.

The hump in between the spikes wasn't noticeable on the way up, but the descent was super fast and fun.  Our field had 150 guys and we got the entire road, swooshing through both lanes was pretty cool.  I tried to get myself to the front before the second big spike, but I got swarmed just before the feedzone, so again had to start from the back.  Putting a feedzone at the beginning of the climb is pretty shitty, also since the big teams can just get fed from their cars at the top, they don't have to carry full bottles uphill like I do.

Well, I got dropped again.  This time, there was a group of 4 just 10 seconds up the road at the crest.  I chased hard alone, but by the bottom,  the group had become 10, then 15, then 20, the whole time I'm just dangling 1 minute off the back.  I held the 1 minute gap until the final descent.  I never saw them again, but in the last 5k, I just fell apart, and managed to lose another 4 minutes to the group.  I came in alone, 4 mins behind that group, and 15ish minutes behind the lead pack.  I finished 75th, but I'll need to lose or gain a few minutes to move up or down in placing.  I'll hate myself for awhile for not being able to catch that lead group in the final km of the climb.  2 minutes of digging just a little deeper would have bought me 4 minutes on GC, and made my trip to the finish line much less miserable.

Day 3a:  A mostly flat 11 mile TT with slight winds.  It's roughly a long rectangle  that goes North, East, South, West, then North.  On the way out I felt like I had a tailwind, but on the south leg, my avg speed was hovering at 30mph.  Once I made the final right turn back to the start, I got hit with a headwind and the speed went to 20 pretty quick.  I wish I would have saved more for that final leg.  During that leg, my avg power was increasing, so I wasn't fading; I just wish I had more to give at the end.  If I ignore coasting, my avg power was probably 350 or higher for the 24 mins it took me to ride, which is super rad for me on a flat course.  All inclusive however, it was 340 and I'm happy with the result.  I don't know where my time places me among the field.  I highly doubt that I put 4 minutes into anybody that was ahead of me on GC.
Afterward, I learned that I got 65th.  A former teammate who's now a great TTer beat me by 1.5 seconds.  I'm still 75th, but now I need to gain 37 seconds or lose 43 seconds in order to change places.  Tomorrow's gaps will be huge compared to that.   Here's me TTing and Michelle yelling.
For what it's worth, that guy behind me started 1 minute before I did.

The Crit was inconsequential.  The cat 3's sent someone to the hospital, so our 75 minutes got cut to 60.  Fine with me.  It was all uphill or down, with a long back straight mostly down that was good for drafting/resting before the climb to the finish.  I started near the front. It took about 3 laps to get pushed to the back, and another 5 or so to find a rhythm.  After that I just hung out in the final few spots and sprinted around people who were getting dropped.  The first corner was a decreasing radius off camber turn directly into the setting sun.  All I could see were the shadows of bikes in front of me.  I participated in one near miss, witnessed a few more, and navigated around a few crashes.  I know that being in the back is supposed to be dumb, but it was nice & smooth, and I had enough in reserve to sprint around people and close gaps as necessary.  I could have used that effort to sprint up to the middle of the pack, but I felt like I would have just gotten pushed back again.     Pack time.   Check out the gap that Olhauser had like 10 laps in.  Guy is insane.

And I'm just happy to have survived.  Blurry picture because it's actually pretty dark out.

Day 4: Road Race.  First look at the profile:  I noticed the night before that my rear race tubular tire had worn down to the casing, so I had to race my backup rear wheel.  I also forgot to put a magnet on it, so I have zero telemetry for the race.  It might be a good thing that I never knew how slow I was going uphill or how fast I was going down.
  The race started at a hotel, went around a bunch of hilly roads, then climbed back up and finished 2 miles past the hotel.  That means the first thing we had to do was descend what would be most of our final climb.  I thought it would be a nice rollout to stretch the legs and get ready for the day.  I was super wrong.




From the gun, we were flying down that thing single file, sprinting out of every corner just to hang on.  We took the entire road, and avoided potholes etc. while railing corners.  There were more than a few crashes, and once we got out of the woods, we were still descending on straight roads, and it just bunched up like it should have at the beginning.  I don't know who's idea it was to attack from the gun on a day with that much climbing, but it didn't work, and it just pissed a lot of people off, and injured a bunch of others....


The first KOM was fast but not unspeakable.  The climb was mostly on 1 lane forest service roads and was strikingly beautiful.  A lot of people were getting flats for reasons I don't quite understand.  I crested the hill near the back of the group (being in the back is turning into a trend I don't much appreciate).  The feed zone was at the top of the hill this time, which made it much easier to latch back onto the group after getting my bottles etc. 

On the first descent, I started at the back, and managed to work my way up through the pack.  I was happy about this until I got to the front of my group and noticed the rest of the peloton 30 seconds ahead of us.   Somehow a split had formed during the descent, and I was on the wrong side of it.  Not knowing what was in store, I worked with a few people to try to close the gap.  I wish I would have known this because the second we got to the bottom, we just turned around and went up the exact same hill we had just climbed.  A handful of guys managed to bridge up to the lead group, but I had been working on the descent and they were already climbing at what would have been my limit had I been resting that whole time.  I checked out and started doing my best to hang on to the group I was in.

That ended up working alright.  The ascent was still super painful, and I did get dropped from my group a few times, but their surges always let up, and I always managed to claw my way back on.  A few people caught us from behind, but we mostly scooped up riders from the lead group what had been dropped or gotten flats.  By the time we started climbing the third hill, it was quite apparent that we weren't going to catch the lead group.  Perhaps the others knew this all along, but I had been hopeful until this point.  The third climb still hurt immensely, but knowing we were on our own made it manageable.  We still managed to drop some of our group, and picked up more stragglers from the main field.  The climb seemed to go on forever, and even after the KOM, the rollers at the top made it impossible to rest.  The descent was super fun.  By the bottom we had all succumbed to the groupetto, and just lazily rolled up the first half of the final climb.

Looking at the profile, the final climb just looks like a steady climb, but the first half was on perfectly straight roads while the second half wound its way up the mountain.  The mountainy part was just as steep as the straight part, but it felt a lot more like a climb, so a small group of us took off.  I figured that since I'd shown up, I might as well ride, rather than sit in and meander home.  Of the 25 person groupetto, about 8 were interested in going faster than "dentist on a century" pace.  I think I finished about 5th, about 1 minute after the "winners" of our groupetto, and a whopping 26 minutes after the winners.  I was 58th out of 128 starters.

Overall Impression:
This was without a doubt the hardest and most populated race I have ever done.  It felt like a professional tour de whatever.  There were lots of full teams, we had full use of the road (until I got dropped), and we started with 150 riders. 

The biggest difference I noticed from racing in a field this large was that being in the back put me quite far away (in time and distance) from the front of the race.  This got me in big trouble on both of the RR days.  On Friday, starting from the back of the climb was just a recipe for getting dropped.  On Sunday I didn't even get dropped due to poor fitness (although I'm sure I would have).  Of course better fitness is always the answer; but on Sunday especially, I got dropped because of bad position in the race.  I don't know how I'm supposed to move up when I'm gasping for air and bleeding out of my ears, but the 50 guys ahead of me managed to do it.  I think course knowledge is key, as well as knowing when it's worth the effort to move up, and when it's okay to sit in.  I REALLY need to work on sitting in while maintaining position.  I was either in the top 5-10 guys, or the last 5-10 guys for 99% of the time I was in the main pack.   Any other time, I was just in the process of getting pushed from the front to the back.

Things I did well:
On Friday I didn't eat enough (6 scoops and 2 gels = not enough), and sort of fell apart in the last 5k.  On Sunday, I forced myself to eat so much (8 scoops and 6 or 7 gels) that I was nauseous at times, but I still felt okay all they way through to the end.  That many gels ends up being 280mg of Caffiene, which is a lot for me, so that could have been related to the nausea.  Or it could have been the heat + humidity + RIDICULOUS AMOUNTS OF CYCLING I did that day... I dunno...  Either way, I learned that I need to eat more than even I thought I needed to in order to have anything at the end of a race as long/hard as that.

I actually descended quite well.  This may be a "best of the worst" sort of thing, but I was always the fastest descender out of whatever group I was in.  When I was in the main field, I managed to not get passed, and when I was in any of the small groups, I'd always gap everyone behind me.

I spun (believe it fuckers).  I think racing at sea level had something to do with it, but I found that spinning was a great way to not get dropped.  Unfortunately, I only remembered this on the last day, and I only got to use it on the first climb.  Nevertheless, I'm counting it.

I hung on (sort of).  This is the toughest group I've ever raced with, and although nobody there was impressed by me, I thing I raced like I belonged.  I was in the top half of the finishers whenever it mattered, and I did it mostly alone.

Things I don't quite understand:
Why was everyone in the groupetto so bitter?   I know it sucks to get dropped, but you have nobody to blame but yourself, and it's fucking beautiful out here.  We're racing bikes.  Come on.   Related:  When me and a few others took off on the final climb, a few people gave us shit for "attacking the groupetto."  Funny enough, one of those guys had just bridged to my attack when he started complaining...  It's a hill... if you don't want to go fast you don't have to... but why do you care that i want to?

Why was I SOOO dirty? 
There were a few wet spots on the road from melting snow, but I finished the race covered in a thick crust of black dirt.  Nobody else did.  Maybe I wore too much sunscreen?  It was wierd.  Not so much that I was dirty, but that everyone else wasn't.

Why did we have to go so fast at the beginning of the last stage?

Things I need to get better at:
Overall fitness.  I'm overweight, plain and simple.  It sucks that the time to lose weight was back in December, but eating brownies and bacon now isn't going to help at all.  I'm not going to do anything drastic, but I need to lose at least 5 pounds asap.  My numbers are higher than ever, but I'm racing against people faster than I've raced against in the past, and I'm overweight.
This is why I'm fat.

It's the last one I swear.

PACK POSITIONING!  I guess up until this point, I've never had to worry about positioning.  I had the fitness to just ride at or near the front whenever I thought it was necessary.  I need to figure something out soon, because starting every climb from the back of the pack is no way to win a race, and a very sure way to get dropped when I might have been able to hang on otherwise.  Honestly, this probably won't be a problem unless I do another race as attended at Hood, but if/when I do, I need to be ready.

Sorry for the lengthy blabbering.  This is as much for my reflection as it is for anything else.  Please comment or question if you feel moved.


Monday, May 31, 2010

Superior Morgul Road Race, with Pictures!

The short story, we dominated this race.  There wasn't a single moment where there wasn't a primal rider either off the front, sitting 2nd or 3rd wheel, or both.  Now the long story:

The neutral rollout was mostly, well, neutral.  I started in the very last spot so I had to hustle around a bunch of people to get to the front before the weird roundabout corner.  Here we are going around that corner together. (Click for bigger pictures)
If you clicked, you saw that Garrett, Myself, and Dan were all in the top 10 around the first corner, and leading up to the hill the first time.  Suydam wanted to push it up the hill to test the pack, and he made us all suffer.  Seen here:
I'm suffering, Garrett isn't, but lots of the people behind us are suffering too.  We didn't manage to break anybody off here, but we're establishing our presence, and making people hurt.  

Shortly after we crested "THE WALL," Suydam attacked solo on the rollers over the ridge.  He was only off the front alone for a few minutes until the pack caught  him, but primal was watching the front the whole time, and made it known that everybody chasing was working for us now.  After Suydam got caught, there was a descent (seen here):
How do you like that lineup?  Can you guess which way the wind is blowing?

 "Be at the front, not on the front" bitches.  Crosswind means that both me and Suydam are drafting.  Guy in the blue Duke jersey has no idea what's coming.

There we go...

When the pack slowed on the other side of the descent, Suydam waited all of 2 minutes before he attacked again.  A very well timed attack actually, it put him in front of a group off the back of the P12 field, so very few people in our group even noticed he was gone.  Shortly after, 3 others bridged, and one of them took Thor Lochell with them, so now there was a lead group of 5, with 2 Primal members.  Back in the pack people were doing a fair amount of effort to get them back.  Most of the work was done by Matt Benti, his Rio Grande teammate, and a guy in some jersey with a jesus cross on the back. 
Here is Garrett's group crossing the finish off the front for the start of lap 2:

He was off the front for about a lap and a half and we caught his group on the roller just before we got back to the wall.  
Here I am trying to hurt the people who were working to get Suydam's group back:
None of them are around.  Good job Suydam.  Sidenote: the 14y/o garmin kid behind me is a beast, and ended up in 2nd place...

On the rollers after the hill, I tried to get a group going but everybody was apparently too tired from chasing Garrett down.  After the feed zone hill I attacked in slow motion.  I just sort of rode off the front.  Cadence: about 7 RPM.  I looked back to a 20m gap and saw that the pack was 8-wide, which meant nobody was chasing.  Woohoo!  I buried my head and let the suffering commence.  By the turn onto HWY 93 I had a 20 second gap and it just kept growing.  While off the front I got encouragement from Mark Agcaoili and Garret Davis.  I also saw plenty of Rob Helton, who was supporting DFT and rooting for Primal.  I was off the front for a lap and a half.  The way the time gaps were growing, I knew Suydam and Jesus (baby, not jersey) must have been keeping the chase efforts to a minimum.   Here I am alone on one of the descents:
Cancellaric, if I do say so myself.

By the time I got to the base of the final "THE WALL" the moto told me I had 2 minutes.  I spent the rest of the climb wiping the snot off my face so that I'd look presentable at the finish line.  Would they cheer?  Would I get my picture taken, my name announced by the wildly excited announser guy?  Sadly, no.  Nobody except Michelle and Helton realized I was off the front of the 3's field and not off the back.  I zipped up and gave my salute anyway.  I realize this was quite possibly as good as it's ever going to get, and I enjoyed it as much as I could.

As much fun as it was to win a race solo off the front (FUCKING AMAZING), I realize that this was a team effort.  Suydam's work in the first 2 laps is the only reason I was able to escape.  The fact that I was allowed to stay away, and gain time for the rest of the race, is a testament of how well Primal controlled what was left of the pack.

Next up: Dead Dog Destruction.  Let's do this.

Linked images belong to Dejan Smaic at  The rest came from smugmug, but don't have any copyright info, so I don't know who to give credit to...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

DU Criterium

I raced the DU crit today. I really hate crits. Dangerous, intensely painful, and really short, especially if one drops out 2/3 of the way through the race. I may get better at those type of sprinting efforts, but I'll never be comfortable cornering with people like that. At least our race was relatively safe. The Cat 4 race saw a bunch of people go down, at least 3 on the first lap, and another 3 on the final lap, with more sprinkled in between.

Bachik went down. That guy needs a W and an upgrade.

Monday, March 2, 2009