Monthly Archives: June 2010

Road America Tour of the Dairyland report

Not quite as large a field as the previous days, but still well over 75 riders lined up for Stage 5 of the Tour of America’s Dairlyland. This course is very similar to the Barber’s course that we race every year in Alabama, but maybe a couple miles longer. Check out the topocreator map below:

In the first 5 laps, there were a lot of small breaks/moves/chasing, but everything would bunch up on the course’s 2 main hills. I knew from experience at Barber’s that it’s really hard for a break to stick, so I wasn’t going to go with any early moves — or at least that was the plan. But at the beginning of the 6th lap, I found myself pretty far back in the field and wanting to move up. I saw a rider who looked like he was getting ready to move up, so I hopped on his wheel. As he ramped up the speed, I realized he was intending to attack to bridge to a chase group of 3 that was chasing another break of 3 that was still up the road. It wasn’t part of my plan, but the opportunity was too good to miss, so I quickly grabbed onto him and together we bridged to the chase group.

We were moving fast and half a lap later, our group of five had caught the leading trio, making our group a break of 8. With almost 50 miles left to race, it was going to be a long day. But by the end of that lap our gap was already 45sec, and one lap later, it had grown to 1:05, where it stayed for the next 9 laps. Then the main field started to chase in earnest, and our gap had shrunk to 25sec with 3 laps to go. We flew around the course on the downhills and straightaways during our breaks, but we crawled up the uphills — so I was surprised that our break had lasted as long as it had. With 2 laps to go, Johnny Sundt (Kenda) attacked hard on the start/finish hill. This split our group in half with me and two other riders able to go with him on the climb. We got into a rotation, but the other four riders bridged up to us by the end of that lap. Also by the end of that lap, our gap had ballooned back up to 1minute, 20 seconds so we knew at that point that we weren’t going to get caught.

In the ensuing cat/mouse game, a rider slipped away solo and stayed away with none of us making an organized effort to chase. In the final mile, another rider got away solo with too many of us eyeing each other to see who would chase. So he ALSO stayed away which meant, six of us would be sprinting for 3rd place. Mike Sherer (ABD) attacked at the bottom of the climb, and I bridged up to him and countered hoping to win the sprint up the 10% gradient by dropping the group. I dropped everyone but Sundt who stayed glued to my wheel and came around about 100 meters before the line to take third with me coming in just behind him for 4th.


Me leading the break through the start/finish hill


Me leading the break again on the start/finish hill


The eventual winner making his attack with one lap to go


Me at the front of the sprint for third place

  1. Bridging up to the break … and the start of our 50 mile breakaway
  2. Responding to Sundt’s attack with 2 to go
  3. Responding to another attack with 1 to go
  4. The final uphill sprint

2010 Giro d’Grafton race report and heartrate data

Quick Summary

  1. 2nd on 1st $200 prime
  2. 3rd on $750 prime with 7 laps to go
  3. Narrowly avoided crash in final 100m to finish 14th.

Heartrate and power data for the entire race

  1. Going for the $200 prime
  2. Struggling to move forward from towards the back of the pack
  3. Easier once I made it to the front
  4. Attacking to go for the $750 prime
  5. The finishing sprint

Heartrate and power data for the last seven laps

  1. Attacking for the $750 prime
  2. The actual sprint for the $750 prime
  3. Hitting it hard to keep my position at the front of the pack
  4. The 39mph crash in front of me with 100m to go
  5. The actual finish of the race, tied my current known maximum heartrate

I just found this youtube video online that has some good clips of the race. At about 34 seconds into the video, I am the first rider around the corner with Andy Crater behind me. Andy had just won the $200 prime, and I decided to keep rolling in case a break came up to us. It did, but our break only lasted for maybe half a lap before the field caught back up to us.

Detailed Summary
Nearly 140 riders lined up for the start of the race. I got to the staging area real early, but after all the callups and people rolling in front of the staging area, I ended up on the third row for the start. Better than at the back, but not ideal. Fortunately, somebody in front and to the right of me had trouble clipping in, and this opened up a hole so I was able to zip around him and into the top 15 or so. The pace was fast, but manageable. Then at the start of the sixth or seventh lap, the announcer rang the bell for a $200 prime. I wasn’t intending to go for the prime, but I was already at the front when Emile Abraham (Aerocat) attacked with his teammate Andy Crater on his wheel. I was right there so I jumped in third wheel as we got a small gap on the field going into turn 5 and 6. Out of turn 6, Emile peeled off and Andy launched his sprint. I tried to come around, but couldn’t do it and had to settle for second (i.e., nothing).

I was happy to be in contention for the prime, but it was a lot of wasted energy. I spent the next 20+ laps trying to recover and work my way back to the front of the group. It was pretty crazy back in the pack and it took a really concerted effort to work my way all the way back to the front. A few thoughts kept running through my mind:

  1. “The #1 rule in moving forward is to NOT move backward”
  2. “Gee, it’s still a really long way to the front” when the group was strung out single file ahead of me
  3. “How on earth am I not to the front, yet? Who is passing me and when?”

Finally, with less than 15 laps left to go, I had worked my way back into the top 20-25 riders. It was much smoother, and not too hard to maintain that position as long as you made sure to pass people on at least two different parts of the course. This was the status quo for the next 8 laps when with 7 laps to go (no more free laps), the announcer rang the bell for a $750 prime. Coming through the start/finish line, I was sitting maybe 20th wheel but carrying some momentum so I swung to the outside, moved up to maybe 10th wheel when the group in front veered right opening a hole for me on the wind-protected side of the group. Without hesitation, I attacked as hard as I could hoping to get a gap that nobody would want to close. Unfortunately, I brought two riders with me – Rahsaan Bahati and a Mountain Khakis rider (Myerson or Howe). Nevertheless, I knew that Kristine would be excited to see me off the front so I drilled it and we absolutely flew through turns 2, 3, and 4. Turn 3 was a right turn, followed by a short 1 block straight away and then a left turn. I was going so fast through those corners that it felt like a corkscrew instead of two 90 degree turns! Plus I caught the pace car coming out of Turn 4 so we did get a little bit of a draft up the hill. By the end of those turns, we had a 5-10 second gap on the field. I was in the front and coming off turn 5, I coasted hoping that one of them would come around, but they didn’t. We gradually slowed down and started our sprint for the $750 prime from about 23mph with a comfortable gap on the field. I’d like to say that I crushed the sprint against one of the top sprinters in the country and walked away with $750, but what actually happened is that Rahsaan won by maybe 15 bike lengths, the Mountain Khakis rider was next, and then I trailed in maybe 3 or 4 seconds later with the field coming up hard.

Strategically, going for the prime wasn’t the best thing I could do — but I had the opportunity, and I wasn’t going to let it slip away and wonder what would’ve, could’ve, should’ve, etc… The only strategic advantage about going for the prime is that it meant I was at the very front of the race with 6 laps to go. When the pack came by, I knew that it was going to hurt, but I drilled it as hard as I could and slotted somewhere into the top 20 riders. The pace was fast with Aerocat, Bahati, and Mountain Khakis riders at the front drilling it. Even so, there was a lot of shuffling where riders from the back would carry more momentum and push forward ahead of the leadout riders. I tried to anticipate those “surges” and ended up in the top 15 with one lap to go.

The last lap was really fast, but I was able to move up a couple more positions going into the last corner and the downhill sprint. So I already knew at this point that barring an accident, I was going to place in the top 20 maybe even top 10. Well, with 100 meters to go, there was an accident — a bad one. According to my bike computer, I was going 39mph in the downhill, tailwind sprint when the accident happened. The sole BMC rider in the race, Cole House, got tangled up with a Mountain Khakis rider and the two of them went down at the front of the sprint — immediately in front of me. A third rider in front of me and to my right went down as he collided with another rider trying to avoid the original accident. Since I was going 39mph with very little time to react, I had already resigned myself to the fact that I was going to fall when I realized that if I punched it I could maybe squeeze between the riders and bikes on the ground to my left and right. The only obstacle was the BMC rider’s bike which was currently up in the air. It was just off to my left though so I ran into it with my shoulder and pushed it out of the way and very, very luckily no part of it got tangled up with my bike. So I made it through, but according to my computer I had slowed down to under 30mph. A lot of people were having to hit the brakes and slow down because of the accident, but there was still room for some people to come around carrying speed so I ended up getting passed by 3 or 4 people in the final 50 meters while I was trying to get back up to speed. Still, I was very happy (and lucky) to have stayed upright and finish 14th.

Brent Mahan (Nashville Cyclist) finished 11th riding a great race and has now moved into the green jersey for best young U25 rider! Congratulations Brent!