Monthly Archives: April 2013

2013 Sunny King Criterium and Foothills Road Race

Me and Kristine before the start of the 2013 Sunny King criteriumMe and Kristine before the start of the 2013 Sunny King criterium

SATURDAY’s Sunny King Pro/1 Criterium
A five man break gets away about one/third of the way through the race. A four or five man chase with Frank Travieso (Mountain Khakis) and eventual winner Carlos Alzate (UHC) gets away a few laps later after my own very short-lived bridge attempt. I watched them go from near the very front having just been reeled back in by the field thinking that looks like a good move, but no way I can do anything about it right now. Our pace in the pack plummits as UHC now has Karl Menzies in the original break and Carlos in a strong bridge move. Brendan Cornett related to me at the post-race dinner how amazing (and painful) it was as Frank and Carlos traded pace ramping up the speed insanely after giving each other a short rest. Two or three guys end up getting dropped from the break, which doesn’t surprise me given that it takes practically no time at all for the break to lap the field. Once the break laps the field, UHC goes to the front and controls the pace for the rest of the race to make sure that nobody from the original break has a chance to try to escape again. Perfect leadout train for Carlos leads to another UHC win. Sergio Hernandez (Predator Cycling) takes second followed by final leadout man from UHC (Karl Menzies) in 3rd.

Meanwhile, back in my part of the race, fighting elbow to elbow with everyone behind the UHC leadout train, I end up in decent position maybe mid pack 25 riders from the front when two guys run into each other in turn 3 – right in front of me – with maybe five laps to go. They don’t go down, but I end up having to chase around them to close the gap. Tired from this, I lost a lot of places and end up towards the back of the pack with three laps to go. By two laps to go, people in front of me are starting to sit up and a gap opens up about five riders in front of me after turn 1 across the top going into turn 2. Nobody (including me) closes it down quickly enough, so the field slingshots itself down the hill a lot faster than those of us who are now suddenly off the back. I’d say at this point there’s about 30-35 guys left in the main field with another 15-20 of us gapped off. There is still almost two whole laps left, so I end up chasing hard with a small group. One of the things about the sunny king course is that in order to control the field, you have to keep the pace super fast since it is a really wide course in spots. This means that when the leadout guys are done – they are done, I mean really done, put a fork in them done – so it’s pretty easy to catch and pass all the leadout guys after they sit up. My small group ended up catching and passing about 15 guys from the front pack who had sat up on the final lap and I ended up 4th in that group to take 21st for the race.

About 75 starters and only 40 or so finishers. Here’s a video of the last three laps and another one of the call-ups and the first 20 minutes of the race:

Here’s a short video of me attacking and trying to bridge … and if you look very carefully you can see towards the middle of the video where the successful chase group including Frank and Carlos has separated itself from the field. I’m heading backwards by this point.

Team Lupus driving the 2013 Foothills Road Race pro/1/2 fieldTeam Lupus driving the 2013 Foothills Road Race pro/1/2 field

SUNDAY’s Foothills Road Race
A key part of this race is summed up by the picture above I took during the race. Why did I take a picture during the race? Well, long story but I accidentally brought my phone with me when I forgot to drop it back off by the car after my warm-up before the race. I realized this about an hour into the race. A little while later as Team Lupus was chasing I had just moved up and noticed that three teams were lined up at the front (Team Lupus driving it, a couple guys from Predator Cycling behind them – but not visible in this pic, and then the Mountain Khakis team). Much later, 1K from the finish when I was dropped from the break with bad cramps, I missed another golden opportunity – to call Kristine and chat with her towards the end of a race – since the field was several minutes behind.

Oh well, now back to the race – Lupus was chasing because they only had one guy (who was not a climber) in the original break. They knew their best chance to win the race was with one of their strong climbers (Mike Stone) who I think had missed the original move. Lupus has a number of strong riders, proved by the fact that they were able to bring back what I thought for sure was the day’s winning break. It took a long time, though. In fact, it wasn’t until the bottom of the third big climb of the day (Cottaquilla west to east) that the catch was made. I was in good position towards the front having been following Frank Travieso around in the field thinking that he was going to launch for Mountain Khakis but several other people attacked first and had a small move. When that move was brought back, the pace eased up a bit, and I found myself on the wheel of a different Mountain Khakis rider who attacked. I was right there and saw him shift to attack, so I just went with him up and over the top. This attack ended up splitting the field so that there was about 25 of us left by the bottom of the awesome switchback descent (end of the first video below). It was at the bottom of this descent back in the field, though, that David Carpenter (Village Volkswagon) was t-boned by a dog that darted out into the road. He was air-lifted back to Birmingham, but I’m happy to report today that he has been released from the hospital already once his ct-scan came back negative.

Meanwhile in our race, I noticed that there wasn’t very many of us left so I tried to rally the troops to keep the split open. Instead, there was a number of attacks in quick succession that led to a break of 9 separating itself from the field – me, David Guttenplan, two globalbike/706 project riders (shawn gravois and another rider), two mountain khakis riders, Sergio Hernandez (Predator Cycling), one Astellas rider, and one other rider I didn’t know with an Australian accent – making for a total of 9 of us in the break. We worked really well together for a long time and yet our first time split from Bill was only 40 seconds. I was nervous that the break wasn’t going to make it, but our next time split was a minute. Then it went out to two minutes. But then when we turned left to head back into the steep rollers, the gap had come down to 1’30”. A few minutes later it was down to 1’25”. Then it was back up to 1’30” and held steady there all the way until we started attacking the crap out of each other (see endgame video). At one point towards the beginning of the video before the first set of attacks, I try to convey this with “come on guys, sell out!” meaning fully commit to the move instead of holding something back for later.

I was on Sergio’s wheel when he launched the first attack. I went with it b/c I saw him get ready to attack. I didn’t pull through b/c I was thinking we still needed the break to work together to make sure we stayed away from the field. Instead of a counter attack, we went back into a rotation for a couple minutes before there was a series of attacks leading all the way into the bottom of the final climb. During one of these attacks, I started to cramp and I thought “that’s it” I’m not working any more. If we get caught, we get caught but I cannot put any more effort into the break. I didn’t need to, though, because the attacks kept going constantly. I would get dropped by each attack, then catch back on during the ensuing cat and mouse. Sergio’s final attack towards the top saw him go clear with one other rider. The rest of us crossed the top together (I couldn’t believe I had survived the climb after cramping at the bottom). After a nearly 50mph descent we were closing in slowly on the leading duo when somebody hesitated (wasn’t me b/c I was just sitting on the back by this point) and Shawn Gravois rolled off the front. He finished the bridge up to the leading two and eventually finished third while the rest of us slowed down and started attacking each other again. I would get dropped with each attack and then roll back onto the group. Eventually, David Guttenplan rolled off our group and nobody was able to cover. He didn’t quite make the bridge but finished fourth just behind the podium sprint. I don’t know what happened in that sprint they were so far ahead by the time I crossed the line about a minute or so later having come off the remnants of the break just before they started their sprint for the line.

What a crazy race with the break getting reeled back in by Team Lupus over a distance of maybe 20 miles and then the second break forming straight into the nasty headwind. And then the finale with so many attacks and a blowing up of the break … I guess if you think about it — the break finished in four groups – the top 3 sprinting it out, David Guttenplan just behind for fourth, the next four guys sprinting for fifth, and then me by myself for 9th.

This video below has the last part of the chase led by Team Lupus heading into the two back-to-back climbs (White’s Gap and Cottaquilla west to east). It also has the switchback descent. David Carpenter was taken out by a dog somewhere in the runout after all the switchbacks. You can see from my video how high the speed was through there! This is all late in the video … the descent starts at 15:00 (15 minutes) into the video and finishes at 18 minutes.

This next video shows the formation of our breaks – including the series of attacks that led up to the formation of our nine-man break.

This final video shows the last 30 minutes of the race – including a 52 mph descent and then a bunch of attacks and then me getting dropped with about a mile or so to go.

Lots and lots and lots of data

Here’s the data from all the races — starting with the Sunny King criterium.

Sunny King Pro/1 NCC Criterium
21st place
Note that there are only 59 laps, because the
field got lapped. The break did 60 laps.
Lap	Time	AvgPow	MaxPow	HR	RPM	MPH
1	1:40	320	938	148	86	25.4
2	1:28	315	888	167	84	28.3
3	1:28	282	822	169	83	29.0
4	1:30	289	864	166	83	27.7
5	1:28	288	813	169	82	28.2
6	1:30	270	1021	171	85	27.7
7	1:25	284	886	170	86	28.7
8	1:26	285	978	172	82	28.7
9	1:26	301	913	175	81	28.6
10	1:28	302	846	178	88	28.0
11	1:27	292	859	176	85	28.3
12	1:26	301	948	176	86	28.9
13	1:28	281	768	173	83	28.2
14	1:27	294	923	175	81	28.4
15	1:30	262	842	177	79	27.8
16	1:40	225	829	166	83	24.9
17	1:33	252	876	168	78	26.9
18	1:26	285	771	174	81	29.0
19	1:29	318	653	177	87	28.0
20	1:27	260	870	175	84	27.9
21	1:32	250	783	171	82	26.9
22	1:33	263	812	164	78	27.0
23	1:30	300	972	170	81	28.0
24	1:28	303	947	174	82	28.5
25	1:28	270	947	170	78	28.3
26	1:32	342	787	177	82	27.1
27	1:38	195	768	174	80	25.4
28	1:40	234	692	159	80	25.1
29	1:37	286	914	160	78	25.7
30	1:38	261	833	170	82	25.9
31	1:35	226	800	164	80	26.3
32	1:33	268	855	163	82	26.6
33	1:31	269	897	168	82	27.4
34	1:33	246	806	168	81	26.6
35	1:32	265	856	167	83	27.1
36	1:39	184	674	156	78	25.0
37	1:34	271	929	159	83	26.3
38	1:31	288	734	167	82	27.6
39	1:30	256	966	168	79	27.3
40	1:38	244	785	158	83	25.2
41	1:30	253	899	163	84	27.8
42	1:28	264	893	167	85	28.1
43	1:28	266	851	169	81	28.2
44	1:31	274	927	168	81	27.4
45	1:29	260	850	168	83	27.8
46	1:29	290	793	170	79	28.0
47	1:28	274	869	173	79	28.5
48	1:29	289	812	173	80	28.2
49	1:30	269	870	173	80	27.4
50	1:29	269	934	170	80	27.8
51	1:31	259	834	171	77	27.3
52	1:27	306	790	170	80	28.5
53	1:26	272	797	173	78	28.6
54	1:27	307	939	174	81	28.4
55	1:25	299	856	178	80	29.0
56	1:25	311	782	178	79	29.1
57	1:25	298	790	179	77	28.9
58	1:26	303	803	180	76	28.9
59	1:26	343	741	181	77	28.6

Sunny King power map (note the surge coming out of turn 4 almost all the way up the hill until having to coast or brake into turn 1)Sunny King power map (note the surge coming out of turn 4 almost all the way up the hill until having to coast or brake into turn 1)

Sunny king critical power curve - note the spikes and the comment in the photoSunny king critical power curve – note the spikes and the comment in the photo

Sunny King heartrate plot annotated (click to enlarge)Sunny King heartrate plot annotated (click to enlarge)

Sunny King heartrate summary - lower than previous years - probably b/c of the cool tempsSunny King heartrate summary – lower than previous years – probably b/c of the cool temps

2013 foothills road race heartrate data annotated (click to enlarge)2013 foothills road race heartrate data annotated (click to enlarge)

2013 foothills road race heartrate summary2013 foothills road race heartrate summary

Climbing Postscript
On the grand scheme of riding and racing, the road race was kinda short (less than three hours) so I wanted to get some extra climbing in, and when I told Mark Fisher about my plan to go climb the Bain’s Gap cat 2 climbs, he was all-in. So after enjoing the nice post-ride pasta meal, we drove off down the Cheaha Challenge route about 15 miles, parked and did a crazy adventure ride through a bomb range (now open to the public as part of a national wildlife refuge) up steep 20+% gravel roads. Ironically, the closest climbs by comparison in terms of steepness and looseness are in the bayou of Louisiana/Mississippin on the rouge roubaix course — although those climbs are shorter. The gallery of pics below is from that ride with Mark:

Mississippi Gran Prix 2013

Quick summary
Friday night crit – 6th in a race that ended in a field sprint
Saturday morning road race – 7th in a race that ended in a field sprint
Saturday afternoon time trial – 32nd in a time trial that ended with a sprint
Sunday morning circuit race – 6th in a race that ended in a field sprint
Stage race overall – 18th place (one spot out of the money)

I’m happy to have made top 10 in all of the races – excellent practice/preparation for all the positioning that is going to happen in the upcoming Sunny King and Athens Twilight pro crits. It looks like WordPress is starting to overlay ads on top of each of the videos … click the “youtube” icon on each video to watch a version of the video without an ad.

Friday night crit

New, fast course this year with a new combination of roads in the downtown part of Brookhaven. I brought my family this year, so after we finished the drive from Birmingham I left them at the hotel and biked over to registration so that they didn’t have to get to the race start quite so early. I was riding through downtown admiring everything before the race got crazy when a pickup truck passed me and clipped me with his rear view mirror. Other than a sore back (I was very lucky that his mirror collapsed immediately and it was tall enough to clear my handlebars), I was OK. What a crazy start to the weekend.

After a quick stop by registration, I continued my long warm-up by heading over south of town through the old antebellum homes underneath huge oak? trees. It was a nice relaxing way to warm-up for what was a pretty intense race. ThinkFinance was the primary instigator constantly sending riders off the front. I tried to get in a few of the moves and attacked once or twice myself (Kristine got this great picture of me attacking to bridge up to one of the ThinkFinance riders) but with many highly motivated racers competing in a timed stage race, everything was getting brought back together. Along the way I managed to lose a very close finish for a $50 prime sprint at the halfway point of the race.

Kristine got this great picture of me attacking to bridge up to a ThinkFinance rider who was off the front. We lasted less than half a lap off the front.

Kristine got this great picture of me attacking to bridge up to a ThinkFinance rider who was off the front. We lasted less than half a lap off the front.

With about 6 laps to go I was still pretty close to the front of the race, and I managed to find myself on the wheel of Michael McBrien (Bikes Plus Racing) a super strong sprinter from Pensacola – who himself was glued to the wheel of Mat Davis (Team La’Sport) another strong sprinter. I’m thinking “this is perfect!” – but then on the second to last lap I got pinched between two riders heading into turn 1, hit the brakes briefly, and lost several positions by the end of turn 1. I tried to work my way around again, but I had lost the good wheels and ended up starting the sprint from about 8th spot and finishing in 6th.

Colton Jarisch (ThinkFinance) took the sprint, followed by Michael McBrien (Bikes Plus), and then Mat Davis (Team LaS’port). The three of them were pretty much a photo finish for the first three spots. A few meters behind was Bryant Funston (Marx and Bensdorf), Woody Boudreaux (Herring Gas), and then me (Friends of the Great Smokies).

Saturday morning road race

This year’s race started out a bit slower than last year with me not attacking from the start line. It took less than a mile though before riders started launching off the front … Scott Kuppersmith (Absolute Racing) and Marx and Bensdorf had some initial solo attacks, but then it was a ThinkFinance rider and a Marx and Bensdorf rider (Brett Shanaman?) who finally broke the elastic sticking a two man move that got quite a bit of time on the field (maybe a minute or more?). Herring Gas and Team La’sport settled into a steady mode of chasing with a few attacks interspersed, but it took about 25 miles of the 27.5 mile lap before the two-man break was reeled back in.

Towards the start of the second lap, I got into one promising looking move, but then I ended up struggling a bit with some of the counter attacks and the cross-winds — hoping that none of those attacks would stick b/c there was no way I was going to be able to bridge across. Fortunately, everything was coming back together. By about midway through the third lap, it was pretty clear that nothing was going to get away. Again, I found myself in great position heading into the final sprint again on Michael and Mat’s wheel. But about 3K before the sprint started in earnest there was a surge and in the reshuffle I slid a few spots back. I started the sprint this time from maybe 10th wheel, but as it was a long sprint I was able to pass a few of the guys who were fading to end up in 7th.

Colton took the field sprint for his second win in a row. Michael was moving up fast but then as the sprint shifted over, Michael ended up off the left side of the road on the gravel (you can see that on my video). Blair Krogh (4D Fitness) flew up the right-hand side to take 2nd with Mat in 3rd. I was on Bryant’s wheel as we were passing everybody, but he made it around Andrew Hammond (Herring Gas) and Woody (Herring) to take fourth whereas I didn’t quite make it around either of them … if only the line had been 5 meters farther down the road … so I ended up 7th.

Saturday afternoon time trial adventure
As much as I love racing, and as much as I dread time trials – this was probably still one of the highlight from the weekend. And it has been for the past three years — from three years ago when Justin Bynum, Pat Allison, and I all did ghetto skinsuits (wear the bibb shorts over the jersey) to last year’s Strava climbing challenge where I did maybe 100-150 repeats on a tiny 30 foot hill to eek every ounce of elevation gain out of my 2.5 hour warm-up ride to this year’s adventure of riding to the start and back from the hotel on some cool backroads watching a beautiful sunset while my wife and kids went roller skating at the Brookhaven skating rink. The time trial always seems to pull through in the fun factor even if my legs cannot seem to pull through to not absolutely kill my standing in the overall. This year, I even had help from the awesome guys at 4D fitness (Blair Krogh, William Jones, Daniel Wisner, Dustin Drewes) with Dustin loaning me his disc wheel to replace my Reynolds with a broken spoke (I forgot to mention that in my write-up about the road race — I broke a spoke in my rear wheel in the road race, either just riding around or during the sprint).

Even with the disc wheel, tt bars, and a full-fledged skinsuit from FGS cycling, I couldn’t crack the top 30. The annotated heartrate data below pretty much tells the story:

Saturday time trial - annotated heartrate plot (click to enlarge)Saturday time trial – annotated heartrate plot (click to enlarge)
Saturday time trial - heartrate zone summary.Saturday time trial – heartrate zone summary.

Colton crushed the time trial to take his third win in a row, but behind him the times were pretty close leading to a somewhat tight GC battle for 2nd-10th spots.

Sunday morning circuit race
The one potential benefit of a lousy time trial is the chance for more freedom in the circuit race. Unfortunately, there were a lot of riders close in the overall so ThinkFinance needed to watch pretty much everyone. When Kenny Bellau (Herring Gas) geared up to attack into the headwind on the backside of the course on the first lap, I was already right behind him so I went with him to test the waters. We never got more than a few seconds before being reeled back in. This played out a few more times before it became clear by the end of the first lap that ThinkFinance was going to ride the front of the race at a fast pace to discourage attacks and then if anybody got away, just continue to average about 26-27mph until the break was reeled back in. This was a very effective strategy. When I went to position myself for the bonus sprint at the end of the third lap, I realized that there was no way to get around the ThinkFinance train. With all of the fighting for position happening behind the train, I realized that joining the ThinkFinance train and helping to work would be more effective than all the jostling/fighting for position behind. On the fourth lap, I worked my way up the left side waited for an opening and then surged the remaining few spots to pull alongside the ThinkFinance team leader, Colton Jarisch, who was riding behind the rest of his team plus Stephen Mire from Team LaS’port who was employing the same strategy to help keep his teammate Mat Davis second in the overall. I asked Colton if I could help work in his train – he said “sure” and let me in front of him. One of the smoothest trains I’ve been in, we rotated well for the remainder of the fourth lap and then all the way through the rough road on the fifth lap. Then, the pace wasn’t quite fast enough and several riders drilled it up the sides causing quite the reshuffling. I ended up a few spots behind the train, but it did make for some great video of the lead-up to the final sprint as I watched Mat and Colton positioning themselves a few riders ahead of me. I ended up on Mat’s wheel for a while trying to move back up. Then I made a big mistake of trying to come around Mat when it seemed like he was too far back. Mat went on to finish 2nd behind Colton (who completed a clean sweep of all the races), whereas I ended up 6th so I would have been better off just staying on Mat’s wheel. Andrew Hammond (Herring Gas) had a strong sprint to take 3rd – good view of the sprint in the video below.

Here’s all the data from my races, including the lap power data from Friday’s crit.

Friday night criterium
6th place, 1/2/3
Lap 	Time	AvgPow	MaxPow	HR	RPM	MPH
1	1:37	316	790	157	90	26.4	
2	1:33	259	941	166	82	27.2	
3	1:28	324	971	171	87	28.6	
4	1:27	322	808	177	90	28.8	
5	1:31	257	854	175	83	27.9	
6	1:31	328	745	169	86	28	
7	1:30	272	972	177	85	28.4	
8	1:28	266	643	172	84	28.9	
9	1:34	308	983	169	82	27.4	
10	1:30	280	978	177	85	28.2	
11	1:30	355	920	180	85	28.5	
12	1:37	251	981	173	80	26.1	
13	1:30	271	773	175	84	28.3	
14	1:29	282	901	171	83	28.6	
15	1:34	246	755	170	83	27.3	
16	1:28	271	590	171	85	29	
17	1:28	271	689	174	85	29.2	
18	1:25	393	1061	170	85	29.9	($50 prime sprint)
19	1:34	270	719	179	86	27.3	
20	1:33	267	742	170	85	27.5	
21	1:33	242	797	167	83	27.1	
22	1:31	262	838	166	81	28.2	
23	1:27	318	907	171	87	29.4	
24	1:33	275	652	178	82	27.4	
25	1:33	242	837	169	82	27.5	
26	1:30	349	669	176	88	28.4	
27	1:31	302	713	180	86	27.7	
28	1:31	256	615	177	85	27.6	
29	1:32	247	628	169	87	27.7	
30	1:32	270	834	164	86	27.4	
31	1:32	280	822	168	84	28.1	
32	1:34	262	769	174	81	26.7	
33	1:33	282	754	174	86	27.7	
34	1:32	285	815	171	85	27.6	
35	1:33	249	680	173	86	27.6	
36	1:30	279	702	175	85	28.4	
37	1:32	288	821	172	87	27.5	
38	1:29	288	959	180	83	28.4	
39	1:23	382	915	186	83	30.7	

Friday night criterium - heartrate zone summaryFriday night criterium – heartrate zone summary
Friday night criterium - heartrate plot (click to enlarge)Friday night criterium – heartrate plot (click to enlarge)
Saturday morning road race - heartrate zone summarySaturday morning road race – heartrate zone summary
Saturday morning road race - annotated heartrate plot (click to enlarge)Saturday morning road race – annotated heartrate plot (click to enlarge)
Saturday time trial - heartrate zone summary.Saturday time trial – heartrate zone summary.
Saturday time trial - annotated heartrate plot (click to enlarge)Saturday time trial – annotated heartrate plot (click to enlarge)
Sunday morning circuit race - heartrate zone summary
Sunday morning circuit race - annotated heartrate plot (click to enlarge)Sunday morning circuit race – annotated heartrate plot (click to enlarge)