Quick Summary: 41st out of well over 100 riders, 3rd place in a 3-place mid-race sprint, initiated the main break of the day, rode aggressively
The Details: Wow, what a racing experience – from start to finish. Let me run you through the day. 5:15AM wakeup call to eat some pancakes and let them digest before our early 7:15AM start in Atlanta, Georgia. This race is part of the US 10K Classic – a huge running race/walk with thousands of participants. Our staging time was 6:30AM so I left our hotel in the very dark early morning to ride the 3 or 4 miles from the hotel to the start line. When you crested the top of one of the many rolling hills on US 41, you could see across a small valley to the hill where the race would start. The roads were already blocked off and there were police cars with blue lights flashing at every intersection on both sides of the road and in the middle all the way up the hill. It was quite a sight in the dark!
The runners had already started to mass waiting for their start after ours so we had a send-off crowd numbering close to ten thousand as we started. The race starts out on a very wide road down a very steep hill. By the bottom of the hill, we had already hit 45mph in only the first 30 seconds of the race. I had a great start at the front of the group and was waiting for somebody to attack on the first roller. Sure enough, there was an attack and I was in good position to go with it. About 6 of us were in the move and we had a small gap of about 5 seconds on the field going into the tricky “flyover” onto South Cobb Drive. I was at the back when we reached the ramp and I knew we were supposed to go right but the five guys in front of me all want straight. I yelled that we were supposed to go right, but they missed the turn and so I ended up leading the way by myself onto the flyover. This was really, really funny and ironic because Kristine and I had pre-driven the course the night before and gotten confused at the intersection so she told me somewhat adamantly that I shouldn’t be the first person leading the way – and yet I was the only one who got it right!
The field caught up pretty quickly on the rollers and there were several very shortlived moves. I worked hard to fight for position and saw how easy it was to get passed and lose position on the wide roads. Then on one of the hills, a rider next to me lost control (hit something maybe?) and started to fall. It scared me a bit because it was right next to me, but I thought to myself wow he is about 4 feet away no problem I’m safe – well, he swerved a little bit in my direction and was close enough that when he fell his helmet glanced off my left calf kinda hard. That wasn’t enough to knock me over so that was the first crash of the day that I narrowly avoided. On the second lap I made it into a large move (mabye 20 riders) but we never had more than a 5 second gap and we got caught shortly after the feedzone.
For the next three laps I was tired and trying to recover and still fight for position. Several large groups of riders separated from the field including a group of 10 at the front and then maybe a group of 25-30 chasers. I was still back in the field and thinking “oh no”, but fortunately the groups in front of us never worked well together and the field stayed pretty strung out to bring them back. Near the end of the fifth lap, the field had just come back together, and I had just gotten pulled to the front by a rider trying to advance his position in the field so I decided to slingshot around him and gun it up the hill to see if I could get a move going. I looked back and only Trent Wilson (Jittery Joe’s) had responded in the field. Right as I looked back he came flying by and I drilled it to catch onto his wheel. We started working together right about the time that Yosvany Falcon (Toshiba-Santo) bridged up to us. The three of us worked well together for the next lap, but then on the lap after that I started to cramp a bit and decided that I needed to just sit on for the hard part of the course (the rollers on S Cobb Drive), but I helped where I could on the windy part of the course and the main downhill stretch on US 41. It was awesome because the 10k run went the opposite way on the course and literally thousands of people were cheering for us as the three of us would fly by going the other way.
We ended up staying away for the mid-race prime which fortunately was a three-place prime! Our maximum lead was just about a minute, but that was nowhere near enough without several of the major pro teams represented in the break (Kelly Benefits, Healthnet, Jelly Belly, Inferno). When we were finally caught after four laps away on our own (20 miles), there were seven Kelly Benefits riders on the front working together to bring it all back together.
There were still 3 laps to go (15 miles) plus the finishing stretch (1.5 miles) so I was able to sit in the field and recover, but I was too tired to fight for position on the lap after we got caught and so I ended up near the back of the large pack. With 1 lap to go, I was feeling much better and fought my way up to about mid-pack, but still about 75 riders from the front. On the feedzone hill with about 2 miles to go, I saw an opening and attacked hard but I was tired and the pace was fast so I only moved up about 25 riders by the time we made it to the nasty corner. I was sitting in about 50th going into the last mile and moved up nine spots by the crazy downhill sprint finish for 41st place. I hit 51 mph in the sprint and towards the end simply tucked low and coasted across the line passing about 5 people while coasting!
There were a LOT of crashes on the last lap, but the worst crash was with two laps to go. I didn’t see what happened, but I nearly got taken out by a bike (with no rider on it). I never did see where the rider was. All I saw was the bike – and I could see at least 15 feet on either side of the bike and there was no rider. That had to have been a bad crash for the bike to get flung that far away from the rider.
Finally, here’s my power and heartrate data for the race.
- This is the early move I went with
- I was aggressive early and tried to get in a number of moves
- Here I was trying to recover and still fight for position
- Here is the attack I made to start the break that would last for four laps
- Got caught here
- The last lap and finish