Tag Archives: heartrate

2010 Meridian / Cuba Omnium Race Report

Wow – I just had my first omnium win thanks to amazing teamwork by Tria Cycling this weekend at the Cuba Meridian Challenge Omnium.

Quick summary
Saturday criterium – 3rd place, I initiated 4-man break that lapped field, went too early in the finishing sprint to finish 3rd.

Sunday road race – 1st place, I won by a couple minutes after an 11 mile solo break.

Omnium - I ended up tied with Woody Boudreaux with 41 pts. The tiebreaker was the placing in the road race … so, I won!

The details
This is going to be a super busy week for me with the Fall semester starting back up and flying to New York at the end of the week for the Chris Thater memorial race – so I’m trying to hammer out this race report as fast possible … excuse the typos, incomplete thoughts, etc…


  • Some attacks went early, but they came back due to pretty fast initial pace.
  • Saw my opportunity to attack on the 6th lap and attacked going into turns 2, 3 and then carried my momentum up the hill before turn 4.
  • I wasn’t expecting to get away solo, but I had a good gap right away so I decided to push it.
  • I lasted out front by myself for about a lap and a half before Travis Sherman (Marx/Bensdorf) and Ryan (Woody) Boudreaux (Herring Gas) bridged up to me. Then Pat Allison (Ion Nutrition) bridged to the 3 of us.
  • We rotated well and quickly got out of sight of the field.
  • Eventually, we started closing in on lapping the field.
  • I wanted to attack early to see if any of the riders in our break were struggling and might get dropped and not finish making the bridge.
  • Unfortunately, all I ended up doing was overshooting turn 3 and swinging wide into the small parking lot area on the outside before coming back into the course.
  • Once we caught the group, I went straight through the group and tried to attack again, but couldn’t get away.
  • My teammate, Paul Tower, made it into a break off the front of the field and ended up winning that sprint for 5th place in the race
  • I moved into position behind Pat on the last lap with my teammate Stuart Lamp setting a high pace to keep people from shuffling around
  • Got separated from Pat when he went right and I went left around a slower rider about halfway through the lap.
  • Then in the finish, Pat was to my right and it looked like he was blocked in so I nailed it coming around left barely squeezing through the riders who were pulling off the front.
  • Unfortunately for me, it was pretty big headwind sprint and I went from 300 meters out – so I couldn’t hold it. Got passed by three people including Woody and Pat – so that meant I got third in the race.

Road Race
A couple moves went early in the race, but with the fast pace nothing was getting away. Well, that is until Wes launched a strong counter attack, taking Gavin (BBC) and two or three other riders with him – I’m still confused about how many people were in that original break. Wes pushed the pace hard, and their break pushed out its lead to nearly three minutes after the first of three laps.

I was very happy with Wes in the break, but about halfway through the second lap I was concerned that there might be too many people in the break which would increase the number of places ahead of Pat and Woody that I would need to finish in order to win the omnium. I was 9 points behind Woody and 5 points behind Pat, so if the break stayed away that would mean I would need to finish 4 or 5 spots ahead of them in the sprint … and I wasn’t sure I could do that given the fact that they had both beaten me in the sprint the day before. So I worked my way up to Stuart, and we had a discussion about what to do. We resolved that Paul could be the surprise winner if he got away solo and finished enough spots ahead. So Stuart asked Paul to attack and try to get away. This was advantageous to me because it meant that Herring Gas and possibly Pat would have to expend energy chasing Paul down – or Paul would get away and possibly sneak away with the omnium for our team!

Paul put in a hard acceleration on one of the first big rollers. He strung out the field until the elastic snapped with only Travis able to hold on. This wasn’t ideal because Travis who had gotten 4th yesterday was high in the overall. I knew that Herring would have to chase though b/c they couldn’t let Paul get away. Jake Brewer (Herring) put in a hard attack, and I was right there so I just went with him and was able to take the free ride up to Paul. The field was also right behind us, but Jake launched straight through the break and attacked again. I was still right there with him so I just followed his wheel.

We still didn’t get much separation, so it all came back together. A little earlier in the lap, James Hall had put in a good acceleration and gotten away solo and was pulling away from the pack. On the next hill right as we were catching James, I attacked again, this time taking Pat, Woody, and Travis. My thinking in initiating this break is that if we didn’t get a good gap, then that could be a good launch pad for Paul who could counter attack. We got a great gap, though, and I really pushed the pace hard at the beginning to extend our lead. With all the major teams represented, nobody was going to chase so our gap quickly grew and we settled into a good rhythm to make the bridge up to the leading break of 4. At the start of the last lap, we were given a couple time splits from spectators in the feedzone saying the gap was about 2 minutes. Within a couple miles we could see the break, and a couple miles later we had caught the lead group right at the bottom of the first big roller.

Pat put in the first attack – a very strong one on the first hill that whittled our group down to six riders with Travis suffering a bit in the heat with dehydration. I was planning on attacking on the last, largest hill but my teammate Wes Douglas ended up attacking before I could. This turned out to be perfect because it allowed me to slip to the back of our group and then catch everyone by surprise a minute or two later. Our pace had slowed down to 11mph, even with Wes rolling off the front so I decided that everybody must be struggling with the heat. It just felt like the perfect time to attack. I ramped it up and attacked very hard to make sure that I got a clean break so that Pat and Woody would have to chase hard to catch me. I hit a top speed of 26.5 mph going up the hill cresting the top (steepest part) at 22.5mph.

Even with a big initial gap, I wasn’t sure I could hold it to the finish with all the downhill rolling sections still left to come. First time split from the moto officila was: “looks like about a minute”. The next time split was: “still looks like a minute”. Then the one after that was: “I’d guess a minute and a half”. Then no more time splits. Turns out I ended up winning by about 3 minutes! Exhausted, I rode straight to the registration area where the organizers (Magnolia Cycling) always have lots of cold drinks waiting for us. Awesome!

Everyone from the team finished well with Wes finishing in the break after setting me up for my solo attack and win – and Paul cleaning up by winning the field sprint.

Meridian Criterium Heartrate Data

  1. My initial attack, which started out solo and morphed into 4-man break
  2. Attacking to try to finish bridging to the back of the field solo
  3. Positioning, resting, easier pace
  4. The finishing sprint

Cuba Road Race Heartrate Data

  1. Easy first lap with my teammate Wes up the road
  2. Paul’s initial acceleration and counter-attack from Jake Brewer
  3. My attack that established our 4-man chase group
  4. My attack to launch solo and win! (see zoomed portion below)

11 mile solo attack to win Cuba Road Race

  1. Maxed out at 26.5mph up this climb to launch my attack!
  2. Hurting really bad here, gap about a minute.
  3. The downhills hurt worse than the uphills here.
  4. Sat up at the very end when no one was in sight behind me.

2010 Masters Road Nationals 30-34 Road Race – Report

(Left to right) John Delong (Gary Fischer – Subaru) 4th, Jonathan Jacob (Nuvo) 2nd, Andy Crater (Aerocat) 1st, Adam Bergman (Texas Roadhouse) 3rd, Brian Toone (Tria Cycling p/b Donohooauto.com) 5th. I photoshopped John into the picture because an abrupt scheduling change of when the ceremony was going to be led to him missing the podium.

Analise cheering in the staging area before the start

My podium girl and boy!

The race went really well, and I ended up in 5th place and on the podium thanks to the awesome support that my wife documented in her guest blog yesterday that she typed up as we were driving home to Birmingham. My beautiful wife, who is getting to be a pro at the feedzone, handed me not one, not two, but 10 bottles during the race with only one dropped (b/c of me not her). So that means during the race I needed 11 bottles of water/gatorade. That was because the air temp was 101 degrees by the end of our race with a heat index of 113!!!

Quick summary: I missed the winning move when it went at the end of the 1st lap. With 14 laps to race I just didn’t think there was any way it was going to stick even with the firepower it had in it. But I was wrong. The break of 4 whittled itself down to a break of 3 that ended up winning by nearly 4 minutes. I attacked to bridge 3 times and it was the 3rd time that led to a successful solo break from the field. I bridged up to John Delong who was 4th on the road at that time, and the two of us worked together for nearly 30 miles gaining a maximum advantage of just over 1 minute and trimming the lead groups advantage to just 2 and a half minutes before the two of us started to die/wilt/fade/wish we were dead in the 113 degree heat index. So the lead group’s advantage swung the other direction to 4 minutes by the end and our advantage on the chasing field was only 11 seconds at the finish. It was definitely a hard fought 5th place for me!

How the race played out is really evident in my heartrate data so I’ve included the course map and heartrate data below.

2010 Cherokee Park Masters National Road Race Course – Louisville, KY

  1. Crazy fast from the gun – not feeling good at all here.
  2. Many attacks on the second lap, the winning break got away here.
  3. I attacked up the start/finish hill at the end of the second lap to try to bridge to the leaders. Didn’t make it.
  4. Conserving energy, very hot, tired, discouraged.
  5. Attacking on the Cochran Tunnel Hill to bridge to two riders who had rolled off the front about a mile or two earlier. Very encouraged by how good I felt attacking on the hill. Caught the riders near the top of the climb and slowed to try to form breakaway. Group of about six riders formed and we stayed away from chasing field before getting caught on the feedzone climb.
  6. Attacking on the Cochran Tunnel Hill again on the next lap. Got away solo and nearly a lap later bridged to John Delong who had rolled off a few miles earlier. We worked together with John pulling on most of the downhills, flats, and rolling sections and me pulling on each of the four climbs/hills. Together we were able to just barely stay away from what was left of the field with John taking a well-deserved 4th and me rolling in a few seconds later for 5th.

The Cochran Tunnel Hill was definitely my favorite part of the race. We drove through the Tunnel on I-64 on our way to the hotel on Tuesday night wondering if that was where the road race course crossed the interstate. Turns out that it not only was the spot, it was also the key spot of the race for me. The hill has a couple switchback like turns before straightening out. There is so many trees and vegetation that you don’t realize you are crossing over the interstate which goes through a tunnel through the hill. The speeds that I have highlighted on my heartrate data are the minimum speeds for a given climb of the hill. The first one (16.5mph) is the fastest climb that we did when I was with the field. The second one (18.5mph) is the attack I did to try to bridge to two riders who were chasing where I caught them before the top and slowed down to try to let them catch on to form a larger chase group. The third one (21mph) is the attack I did solo to get away from the field one lap later. I think I must have had a 20 second gap by the top of the 0.3 mile climb in order not to have gotten caught on the subsequent downhill. Then I was able to extend that lead on the feedzone climb which is only a mile from the top of the Cochran Hill. The last one (12mph) is the minimum speed that John and I did during our chase. I was completely exhausted in the heat and amazed that we were still in front of the field.

Crossing the finish line for 5th place – exhausted but very happy

Immediately after my race finished, my teammate Terry Duran started his 50-54 race, which he won!!! So one national championship and two national championship podiums in one day for Tria Cycling!!!

Tour of Elk Grove wrap-up

Another year, another great trip to Chicago. We had a great time hanging out with friends both at and away from the race. Josiah played football for the first time and got his first real taste of baseball with the family that we stayed with. He loved it! We took our scenic drive route past Fermi National Lab and through the outskirts of far western Chicago (Batavia, Geneva, North Aurora) to drive slowly past a horse jumping contest that takes place every year this same weekend as the Tour of Elk Grove. The races went really well, but my results were only mediocre. Check out my reports and heartrate data at the end of this blog.

Saturday – big field, aerocat, kenda, jamis sutter home, is corp had strong teams, started out front row and fought hard to stay there — until the last lap where I lost a lot of position in a swarm going into the 180. Then trying to move up going into the next turn, I got bumped pretty hard and pushed into the gutter losing even more position, fought to get it back, ended up 22nd. So this race was perfect for me except for the very last lap where it counted most!

Sunday – 90 starters, same strong teams. I was more aggressive in this race with $1650 worth of primes on offer. I made it into a break with John Eisenger, agreed to split $100 prime when two more riders bridged up to us foiling that plan. John attacked and got the prime. This was a few laps before the $500 mid-race prime. Our break got caught shortly before the announcers rang the bell for the mid-race prime. A rider attacked hard and got enough of a gap to stay away for the prime.

I was in a couple other moves, too, so I spent more time today either off the front or recouperating mid-pack. With 10 laps to go, I was determined not to get swarmed again so I did a lot of work out in the wind, attacking whenever I heard riders coming up from behind. With three laps to go, I was in sixth or seventh position when the Jamis rider in front of me slid out on the 180 degree turn. I was already on his inside so I scooted by safely with no problem, but this created a split in the group. With three aerocat riders in the front group of 10 riders, they decided to drill it, but nobody else wanted to help work so with two to go we were all back together. I fought hard to stay at the front, but still lost some position in the 180 swarm. I came out of the corner better than Saturday’s race, though, and I think I started the sprint in about 15th place, moving up a couple spots to 13th by the line.

The kids raced the bigwheel race and Kristine got some video of the finish of our race both days. Check it out below:

Saturday’s 1/2 finish

Sunday’s 1/2 finish

Here’s a topocreator map of the Sunday’s race and warm-up. The race course is the part in the middle with the start/finish indicated and traveling in counter-clockwise fashion.

  • Nothing exciting to annotate here – just conserving energy for the finish

  1. Two-man break going for $100 prime
  2. 10 man field split after Jamis rider wrecked at front of field with 3 to go
  3. Field all back together for the finish

Nashville Criterium Race Series #7 and #8

What a great weekend of racing put on by Tim Hall (nashvillecyclist.com) at the Tennessee Titans stadium in Nashville, TN. The races were #7 and #8 of a summer long series that continues through August. The setup is not like any other parking lot crit you may have raced in – we’re talking about the Tennessee Titans, and the parking lot is enormous and perfectly paved with the potential for many different course configurations. The event was well-staffed, well-run, and HOT! The high temps for the area were approaching 100 both days, but that didn’t stop well over 100 participants each day with about 30 racing the P/1/2/3 category each day.

This was a fun family trip for us, too, as we got to see and stay with our cousins who live south of Nashville in Franklin. Saturday started out with the 2.5 hour drive from Birmingham to Franklin. I parked, unloaded, said a quick hello to my cousins before getting dressed to ride to the start (about 25 miles away). I wanted to get some extra miles in this weekend, and I’ve never really done any long rides in Nashville, so I thought riding to and from the start of the crit would be a perfect way to do both! Here is the route I took – absolutely beautiful country roads on the way up, going through a shaded, rock-walled, tree-lined stretch of Old Natchez Trace, well-timed lights and a bike lane near Vanderbilt, and a beautiful pedestrian bridge across the Cumberland River that leads pretty much straight into the Tennessee Titans parking lot.

Ride from Franklin, TN to Titans stadium in Nashville

  1. Initial break, unsuccessful
  2. Going with the winning break
  3. Bridging to the back of the field when lapping
  4. My unsuccessful attacks to get away from the field
  5. Attacking and staying away to win – tied all-time max heartrate

Saturday’s race went really well for me. There were about 30 guys, 8 from nashvillecyclist, 4 from sonic, and a few from cumberland univ and a few from cumberland transit. Less than halfway through the first lap, a sonic rider attacked, and a nashville cyclist rider responded. I had an opening beside me so I attacked hard and bridged across to them bringing I think one or two other riders with me. We had a good gap and rotated well, but it was so early in the race and the pack was fresh enough to bring us back a few laps later.

Then coming through the S/F line, I saw a cumberland univ rider (Patrick Harkins) pull out to attack. I was only a couple riders behind him, so I pulled out too, jumped to his wheel right as he started his attack, and we were off. A nashville cyclist rider (Andy Reardon) and a sonic rider (Sam Miller) jumped across to us and with the strong teams represented we quickly made time on the pack. In fact, I saw that after about 10 minutes, we were already closing in on the rear of the pack. I didn’t want us to lap the field b/c that would bring Sam and Andy back up to their teammates. But even with me starting to pull slowly and for longer stretches, we still caught the field about halfway into the race.

At this point, I was in trouble b/c I didn’t know who exactly was in the break with me other than Patrick. I asked him and he pointed out the Nashville Cyclist rider (Andy) and the Sonic rider (Sam) so that I could recognize them if they attacked. But I was still feeling fresh enough that I ended up initiating all the attacks. I think it may have been my third or fourth attack that finally worked b/c two groups of two riders had rolled off the front. I was able to bridge up to Greg Miller (Knox Velo) and another rider who wasn’t able to latch on when I came flying by. But Greg did, and the two of us worked to eventually catch the other group of two that was off the front. This was shortly before the finish so that by the last couple laps I was doing all the work as those three setup for the sprint to battle it out for 5th. I dropped off the back before the sprint and rolled in to take the win ahead of Sam who was chasing solo by this point. Andy outkicked Patrick in the sprint for third.

Sunday’s race went well, too, and this time Kristine and the kids were there to watch and cheer! It was super hot again on Sunday, but we parked in the shade and there was a pretty strong breeze blowing. I warmed up on a very cool road called Davisdon St that led to a greenway along the Cumberland river (see map below) -

I was having so much fun on the greenway that I almost miscalculated how long it would take to get back to the start of the race. I had to ride pretty hard to make it back to the start in time. I only had a couple minutes to refill my bottles with gatorade, grab a couple gels, and then dash over to the start line. I was tired from Saturday, so when the race started out with a series of attacks that all came back together, I wasn’t sure how much longer I could respond to attacks. Then the officials rang the bell for the prime, and since I was already very close to the front I decided to go for it. Fortunately, I was able to wait until 250 meters to start the sprint so that after winning the prime (in a photo finish) I was just barely able to hold on to the two quick counter attacks which led to the successful break of the day.

There were five of us in the break with almost all the strong teams represented — John Hart (Friends of the Smokies), Jason Guzak (Nashville Cyclist), Edward Krei (Cumberland Transit), Patrick Harkins (Cumberland U.), and me. The five of us were drilling it hard, but not making much time on the field for the first 3 or 4 laps we were away. Sonic was at the front leading the chase, but eventually we started to pull away – at which point I was hoping that we would slow down. But we kept pressing on and ended up lapping the field by about the halfway point of the race. The field had split into two parts and we went straight through the first part and then about 10 minutes later made it to the front group. I was pretty tired so I didn’t want to try any attacks today. Fortunately, none of my break-mates attacked either before we made it to 8 laps to go. At this point, Nashville Cyclist had 3 riders at the front and set a steady tempo that kept people from attacking. I waited until halfway through the last lap, and attacked into the headwind knowing that if I could just make it to the last corner first, I could probably hold on with the tailwind sprint. And that’s how it worked out! First place!

Sunday’s race plus warm-up on Davidson St Greenway

  1. Covering and trying to go with lots of attacks
  2. Winning a prime – cool local jar of honey!
  3. Unsuccessful counter attack
  4. Counter attack that led to winning break of 5
  5. Lapping the back half of the field
  6. Nashville cyclist team at the front steady pace
  7. Attacking with 1/2 lap to go – staying away for win

Racing the Ohio Triple (Madeira Centennial Crit, Hyde Park Blast (USA Crits), Tour de Grandview)

Whew – what a hard weekend of racing … 120 miles of criterium racing in only 3 days. Today’s Tour de Grandview criterium was 42 miles long and had over 2000 ft of climbing cumulative for the race! It was by far the hardest race, not only because of the long hill on the course but also because of the hot, humid weather with heat index hovering around 100. My heartrate data tells the story, but I went from thinking that there was no way I was going to be able to finish to by the end having a shot at the top 10. But before all the details, here is the quick summary:

Quick summary and heartrate data
Sunday, June 27th, Tour de Grandview (Columbus, OH)
14th place, 80 starters (25 finishers plus another 10-15 placed on time), tough course with long hill and very hot, humid weather
2010-06-27 Tour de Grandview Heartrate data

  1. Easy first part of the race, break of 5 gets away
  2. Attacking to bridge – two laps chasing solo
  3. Caught – tired
  4. Hurting bad, figured I would be gapped off or dropped
  5. Hurting bad, figured I would be gapped off or dropped
  6. Hurting bad, figured I would be gapped off or dropped
  7. Hurting bad, figured I would be gapped off or dropped
  8. Hurting bad, figured I would be gapped off or dropped
  9. Hurting bad, figured I would be gapped off or dropped
  10. You get the idea…
  11. Field down to 25 riders by this point
  12. Recovered, starting to figure out how to get top 10
  13. The finishing laps, last rationed gatorade gone, a few accelerations, cramps, cramp in finish sprint, 14th place

Saturday, June 26th, Hyde Park Blast USA Crits Stop #3 (Hyde Park, OH)
11th place, 100+ starters (38 finishers), tough course with short steep hill up narrow alley
2010-06-26 Hyde Park Blast (USA Crits) Heartrate data

  1. Good start, near the front, not unmanageable
  2. Crash on last turn – forced into barriers – free lap
  3. Field split – only 55 riders left in the race – still hard with lots of attacks
  4. Good break got away – steady chasing by Kenda
  5. Moving up for the finish

Friday, June 25th, Madeira Centennial Criterium (Madeira, OH)
28th place, 100+ starters (60 finishers), very tough 6 corner course including two 180 degree turns, highest power average for the year
2010-06-25 Madeira Centennial Crit Heartrate data

  1. Started near the back, very difficult with the 180 degree turns, struggling, full water bottle popped out on rough pavement
  2. Neutral section after rider clotheslined by a finish line cable and attended to by EMTs. Stopped to pick up my water bottle
  3. Fast finish, moved up to about 40th, couldn’t move up any further

The Details
Friday’s Madeira Centennial crit was on one of the most unique courses I’ve raced … see annotated topocreator map below …

  1. First 180 degree turn at top of small hill
  2. First active railroad crossing, carpet laid over tracks
  3. Second 180 degree turn at top of small hill
  4. Rough pavement
  5. Second active railroad crossing, no carpet but not too rough

And by active, I mean that a train was scheduled to pass through anytime between 7:30PM and 9:00PM. Fortunately, the train was late and didn’t come by until just after we finished at 9:30. The callups were decided by order of registration, so I ended up starting near the very back because I had only decided a couple days before to register. This wasn’t a good course to be at the back because both 180 degree turns required slowing down to about 5-10mph if you were at the back as the riders in front bunched up trying to squeeze through the turns shoulder to shoulder.

About 20 minutes into the race, one of my water bottles popped out when I hit the rough pavement coming out of the second 180. As if to taunt me, the bottle (or maybe somebody helped it) had rolled into a standing position right on the side of the course. So each time through that part of the course, I would see the bottle as my one remaining bottle was just about empty. But then, there was a really bad accident (a rider was clotheslined off his bike by an air compressor cable being held up after the finish line blow-up area fell over). This neutralized the race for about 4 or 5 laps while the EMTs immobilized and transported him off the course. This accident, while terribly bad for that racer, did provide a stroke of good luck for me because it meant I was able to stop and pick up the bottle that I had dropped.

When we started back up, the organizers figured out that we would have just enough time to finish our race before the train came. This was good news because we crossed the train tracks twice on the course! I moved up pretty far – from near the back to somewhere in the top 20 riders or so but lost position in the 180 degree turns on the last couple laps, starting the sprint in the top 30 and finishing 28th. I knew the race was hard, but when I downloaded my heartrate and power data, I couldn’t believe how hard it had been — average power of 394W and average heartrate of 176bpm and 53 minutes in my Zone 5 heartrate.

Saturday’s Hyde Park Blast (USA Crits)
110 riders lined up for the start of this race. Tim Hall, from Nashville Cyclist, leaned over and said this was the “Athens Twilight” of the north — and he was right. Good, hard course, thousands of spectators in a party-like atmosphere, and a survival-fest of a bike race. Sounds like Athens Twilight to me! I had a fourth row starting position, but the guy in front of me clipped in really well and I followed him past two rows of riders immediately as soon as they blew the whistle to start the race. The pace was fast, and I was in zone 5 pretty quick, but everything was smooth and steady at the front of the race. Then about 5 laps into the race, there was a crash a few riders in front of me on the super fast downhill out of the alley. I had no place to go, so I decided it was better to run into the barriers than running over the riders on the ground.

After taking a free lap, the official put us back in at the very front of the large field. This turned out to be pretty important because only a few minutes later there would be a field split that eventually saw half the field pulled from the race. There were a lot of breaks and moves, but I decided that my best chance at finishing well was to conserve energy for the finish by working to stay close to the front. Coming into the final laps, I had moved up to near the front of our dwindling field (down to about 30 riders) and fought hard to stay there by accelerating hard out of the 180 degree turn on the course. On the last lap, there was a split in our field with 13 riders in it. I was about 5 riders back from the split so I attacked hard and nearly completed the bridge by the start of the final sprint with the rest of the field splintered a few seconds back. A crash took out two riders in front of me meaning I was able to squeeze through for 11th.

Check out my annotated topocreator map with highlights of the course and race:

  1. Lots of spectators here – I think the estimate was a few thousand people!
  2. Live band playing some loud hard rock music we could hear each lap.
  3. Shift into the little chainring in prep for the steep climb up the alley.
  4. The alley climb – narrow, steep, nicely paved cement – felt like a driveway.
  5. Beer and $ primes from the spectators.
  6. Crazy fast downhill – location of crash where I went into the barriers.
  7. Location of finish line crash.

The alley climb was a really unique part of this course. The alley was behind people’s houses, and so there were a lot of people grilling out on their back porches and lining the already narrow road at spots where there was some place to stand just off the road. They were giving beer and money primes later in the race after the field had thinned down. The trees lined the alley with branches hanging out into the alley. There was one evergreen tree with a branch hanging about 2-3 feet into the road that people (including myself) would brush up against on every lap. On one lap, I was preparing to brush up against the branch again when a rider passed me on the outside just before the branch. So he ran smack into the branch pushing it back out of his way. Well – guess who was there when the branch snapped back into position – me! I got hit hard on my face and arm and was a little bit stunned, surprised, and upset at first. But that quickly turned to laughter on the way down the hill as I realized what had just happened. You don’t see that in a race every day!

I really enjoyed the race and was happy to finish 11th which has moved me into 6th place overall in the USA crits series which means I will probably get a call-up at the next USA crits race in PA and maybe even the big NRC rate in DC on Pennsylvania Avenue!

Tour de Grandview, Columbus Ohio
The last race of the series was by far the hardest because it came at the end of a long weekend of crit racing, was in the hottest weather and humidity, and had the most climbing (2000ft!). Still, I was proudest of this race because less than 15 minutes into the race, I was half-hoping to get dropped or gapped off so I could call it a day. So in the end I was elated to have been able to hung on and have a shot at the top 10. Plus – any crit that has a feedzone because the climb is steep enough and the race is long enough to warrant one has got to be tough!

The race started out relatively easy as I had a good spot in the second row. Riding at the front, it was easy to fly through the corners and make it up the climb. Plus, a small group had gotten away on the first lap that had most (but not all) of the major teams represented. A large part of the field was happy to let them roll away, and I thought for sure that with everyone being so tired they would lap the group. I was feeling good enough that I wanted to make sure that I at least gave it a good shot to get across to the break. So, on the third time up the hill, I attacked 100% hard and got a clean gap on the field. By the top of the climb I came flying by another rider who had been chasing and continued my pursuit. I made it to where I could see the break at the top of the hill when I was about 3/4 of the way up meaning that they had about a 20 second gap. This was as close to making it as I came though, because on the next lap, the break wasn’t visible and the announcer said they had 30 seconds. Since I only had a 10 second gap on the field, I eased back and pushed it hard to make sure that I didn’t get caught until the top of the hill on the next lap. So now that I think about it, I must have been away chasing for 3 laps.

The field did catch me – and fortunately it was at the top of hill. I made sure to ride as much as possible in the middle of the road so that when the field came by 5mph faster, I could catch a draft from riders passing me on both sides. Then I eventually latched on near the very back of the pack. Also, fortunately, the next time up the climb was relatively tame so I basically had two full laps to recover before the guys in the front went into “blow the race apart” mode. Each time up the climb, somebody would attack in the flat leading into the climb – which meant that those of us at the back of the pack who had to slow down for the 90 degree turn leading into the climb, had to accelerate even harder up the climb. The only thing that saved me was that most of those attacks would be caught by the top of the climb — which meant there was usually a slight lull in the pace where those of us who had gotten gapped off or dropped could catch back up. This must have happened 10 times — including during the middle of the small thunderstorm which passed through the race. Yes, it started to rain for less than one lap — and only on 1/2 of the course – so we had about 5 minutes of relief from the heat before the sun came out and was blazing hot with what felt like 100% humidity. The top part of the climb was dry even though it had rained pretty hard at the bottom! About two laps later with the blazing sun, the bottom part of the course was dry again.

The thunderstorm was a bit of a psychological blow for me as the lightning flash and almost instantaneous thunder had been a cue for me that they were going to stop, delay, or call the race right then. The next lap around though, the official yelled “laps” or something like that so I thought that meant we were down to 5 laps to go. The pace was fast and I had trouble figuring out where the lap card was. It took me a few laps and by this point I was thinking we only had a couple laps left. When I finally found the lap card, it read “22 laps” and I thought “you’ve got to be kidding me”. We still had almost an hour of racing left!!! So I was a bit demoralized at that point, but the only problem was that I kept on recovering enough on the downhill to be able to hang on or chase back on at the top of the hill. It was like an endless interval session…

That is, until a good break got away with about 6 or 7 riders. Then things seemed to slow down a bit. I thought we would be sprinting for 7th or 8th because our pace really dropped. But the guys in the break weren’t working well together, or they must have just been plain exhausted because we caught them with about 5 or 6 laps to go. Two riders got off the front of our group in a strong counterattack (Andy Crater and a Panther rider) and I was already in survival mode so I was happy to let them go. Almost everyone in the field was just so exhausted that you didn’t care if somebody attacked to get away, so two riders slipped away independently with three and two laps to go, respectively and they stayed away for 3rd and 4th. Basically, if you had any legs left you could attack and the small field of 20 exhausted riders was going to let you go. Unfortunately for me, I had no legs left and was just hanging on trying to move up so that I could try to get a top 10 finish. It didn’t quite happen though, because I cramped up really bad up the climb to the finish sprint having run completely out of water/gatorade with 3 laps to go – and even though I had a bit of luck in that the muscle relaxed just enough for me to reengage my right leg and pass three or four people before the finish, it was only the people who had already passed me at the start of the sprint when I had cramped so I ended up in about the same position I started the sprint – with 4 off the front meant 14th for the race.

  1. First corner – pace slow down as attacks up the hill usually petered out by here.
  2. Hard second corner because you came from a sidewind and turned directly into a headwind.
  3. Fast downhill corner.
  4. Another bunching up spot before accelerating downhill.
  5. Very fast, rough pavement, downhill corner. First lap, the first rider didn’t make turn went straight off the road between some park bleachers and fell on the grass.
  6. Slingshot corner, accelerate hard up the climb
  7. The feedzone
  8. Lots of spectators shouting encouragement and throwing water on riders.

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