Monday, March 25, 2013

Race Report: 2013 Black Hills Circuit Race in Honor of Sean McCormick

Category 3/4     
Boyds, MD
Number of starters: 78
Road-Results Predictor: 61st

Course description: Course was a 1.5 mile on rolling terrain in clockwise direction. One short, small ring climb. Lots of twists and an uphill sprint finish, all within a great park setting. Yellow/centerline rule in effect.

Weather: cloudy and overcast, start was around 40 degrees

The Climb

This is going to be another of Chuck’s ‘would’ve could’ve should’ve’ excuse filled race report. We entered the park with plenty of time for the race only to find an ambulance on the course working on an Evo rider in the CAT 5 race. My nerves went hay wire, thinking back to what others have told me the scene was for my race almost a year ago next month. After a few minutes of shaky hands, sweaty palms, we found out the guy was going to be okay after a short trip to the hospital. (Side note: we got an email last night, from the rider, saying he was home and doing well). 

For the next couple of hours we watched some of the racing while Dana got prepared for the Women’s 1/2/3 race. Got to hang out with some fellow US Military Cycling Teammates; Jim Weinstein, Sunny Gills, Scott and Katy Giles. My race was immediately following Dana’s so I decided to head out and get a few laps in to warm-up. I had pre-ridden the course on Saturday so I was already familiar with what was in store for today.

Quick pre-race strategy: The race would start out in the parking lot, right turn and then immediately had about a 30 second climb (.2 miles) around 8-12% grade. I had grabbed a 28 cog so I could climb in my 53. Then there was a sharp right turn with a winding road down to another small incline. I figured that at the top of the climb some folks would attempt to rest and jam up the turn, while others would carry the momentum down the backside. On my pre-ride, I was able to ride the entire course pretty hard and never touch the brakes. After the small incline there was another sharp left turn, more winding roads, another left turn, then the road would bend back to the climb, total of 1.5 miles. I knew that the climbs would be Zone 6 (anaerobic) and the flats zone 1. So my race should pan out to be about 50% Active Recovery and 30% Anaerobic Capacity, just like a crit.

How the race played out from my vantage point: 

It was hard to tell the total number of riders but it was close to 60. We got to the first climb pacing around 16 mph and 600 watts. It was jammed pack, lap one and I was having to make left and right maneuvers to get around guys who either couldn’t climb, wrong gear, didn’t like the tight quarters. Made it to the top and was correct, log jam.

Corner finally clearing
Finally got around them and to the flats, but it took very little effort to be back in the pack. Rinse and repeat the last few lines 13 more times. The only other little bit of info; I could not believe how much I had to us the brakes. Every time we would come to a little climb the full accordion effect would occur and I had to apply the brakes. At 200 lbs the last thing you want to do is brake before a climb. Tactical mistake number one. I was just field fodder. I must have missed the part that I should be racing and not just sitting in. I was conserving my energy to do nothing more than a pack finish. I am very disappointed in my lack of racing. I remember thinking on the fourth lap remaining that if I was on the front, I had the power to go off the front. But I did nothing to get there. I continued to sit in.

The last lap I finally decided to do something. I started moving up from probably around 50th. I was pushed to the edge of the double-yellow line due to the five or six riders across. Apparently there were several well represented teams that decided that the yellow-line rule did not apply to them as three (on the same team) passed clearly to the left. Interesting. 

How to stay within the rules and still move forward if there was a sift flowing of unimpeded riders on the left, but I digress. STAYING WITH IN THE RULES, I continued moving forward as I SAFELY could. Finally we came to the bottom of the climb, the road opened up and I made great Finishline Poster Filler for the 30 guys in front and to the right of me. The sad part is this is a great race for someone like me; it plays to my power and minimizes my limiters. Two good parts: Rubberside down and beat road-results. As we always say, if it didn't happen of Strava it didn't happen, so here is the link.

By the numbers:
Duration: 52:36
Normalized Power: 357
Distance: 20.56 mi
Power: Max 999 Avg 243 watts
Heart Rate: Max 183 Avg 153 bpm

Speed: Max 35.4 Avg 23.5 mph

Good decisions: I participated; better race prep
Bad decisions: positioning for the start of the race, not racing, just riding

Overall finish: 32nd.  Well officially even though the picture above of the finish line 374 was 21st and two guys I know for a fact I passed are listed 29th and 30th.  Another reason to be in the top 5.

2013 Lessons to learn:

  • Race, don't participate
  • Get to the front of the race as soon as possible 
Thoughts for 2014:
  • Get to the front of the race as soon as possible
  • Use the climb and the follow on flat to get some space on the group
  • Be in a position to make a decision to go off the front with 3-5 laps left
  • Use Sufferfest Revolver on the CT as a main training aid in Jan / Feb / Mar.  My prediction was correct 42% active recovery, 34% anaerobic capacity.

Power Distribution Chart

Monday, March 18, 2013

Race Report: 2013 Shamrock Criterium

Category 3/4
Virginia Beach, VA
Number of starters:  50

Course description:  40 minutes, flat, four corners. 
Weather:  cool and clear, around 60 degrees

How the race played out from my vantage point:

This year I changed things up a little then last year.  I had an issue with my race wheels last year, so this year they were on the bike prior to the warm-up.  Did a really good warm-up and had timed things about right.  This included getting to the race with plenty of time and not rolling in 15 minutes before the registration closes.   With 20 minutes to race time I went out on the course to do a few laps, and they were already lining up.  So, like last year, I was now I was lining up dead last.  NOTE:  first bad decision.

Looking at last year’s numbers and this year’s, they are almost identical, including my weight, back down to 202 lbs.  So again, the race started off very fast!  The first 10 minutes the average speed was just less than 29 mph.  I was tail gunning trying to move forward unfortunately due to my bad positioning with the start, I was trying to bridge between guys getting shelled off the back.  Not a winning strategy.

I never gained much ground and was on the back of the pack as long as I could hold on.  Given that the average power for the first half of the race was around 325 watts, I should have been able to stay on.  But I finally got detached and found myself alone.  After a few laps I caught a Conte’s rider, James Schaefer, and we took turns pacing around the course.  Finally the lead group came around and we reattached.  By this time I was basically cooked, instead of coming back midway in the pack I tried to hop on the tail end, apparently learning nothing from being there in the beginning.  I hung on a few laps then dropped off and promptly my race was over, ending up 32nd of 50.  So road-results was close, which really sucks.  The worst part of it all, is having the data from last year, there is no reason I should not have stayed and bettered by 18th place finish last year.

Like last year, poor luck in the beginning and tactical failure at the end.

Good decisions:  I raced; better race prep
Bad decisions:  positioning for the start of the race

Overall finish:  32th.

Thoughts for 2014:

1.)   This race will be fast, anticipate at 28-30 mph for the first 10 minutes.  For me at 202 lbs, that is a 340 watt NP effort.  3.74 w/kg effort

2.)    Course is flat with 4 corners – Cassette selection 11/2x

3.)    Va Beach riders line up early, anticipate being at the line by 15 minutes before

4.)    Trainer warm-up (yes there are roads out of the park, but pretty busy)