Posts tagged ‘nrc’

2011 Sunny King NRC Criterium and Foothills Road Race reports

Sunny King NRC criterium summary – I survived to finish 36th place with well over 100 starters and only 73 finishers. I moved up quite a bit on the last few laps, but it wasn’t enough to get into the top 30. Considering how hard the race was and how bad I felt early on, during the middle, and then late in the race, too – I was surprised to be able to finish at all, let alone move up so far by the end. It is easily the highest heartrate I’ve ever had in a race of this distance. There really isn’t much to report about the race. It started out really hard, stayed really hard, and never really let up. The speed was slower than previous years, but the race was harder. The annotated photo below the heartrate data is a visual picture of why the race was so hard – turns 3 and 4 this year were much slower than previous years. But the start/finish stretch was just as fast normal. This meant that the further back you were in the group, the faster you had to reaccelerate up over 30mph EVERY lap. Our average speed was 27.5mph with at least 1/4 of the course (heading into turn 3 and then all the way through turn 4) at less than 25mph, which means the rest of the course was really fast. Check out the stats, photos, videos, and statistics for the details!


2011 Sunny King heartrate summary – 93% of the race spent in Zone 5!

2011 Sunny King NRC Criterium heartrate data – annotated

Annotated photo showing what makes the race so hard!

Videos from the Sunny King criterium pro race taken by my wife -

Videos I took of races earlier in the day -

I’ve got some good videos of the Cat 4 race I will post tomorrow. Ed Merritt and Brandon Thorton both rode really strong in their first Cat 4 race. Ed took 4th and Brandon was in the top 10. JD also had a great ride, and overall it was a really showing by BBC who factored into just about everything in the race.

Foothills Road Race report – Last year, there were about 60 guys in Sunday’s race. This year, there were over 100! And many of those racers were strong pros looking for some Tour of California hill training and just looking for a good hard road race. Well, they found one for sure! Here is how the race played out.

We started at 8AM in the morning just over 10 hours after finishing our hard criterium the night before. I was suspecting that an early break would be let go because of how hard the race was the previous night. I was hilariously wrong. Riders were attacking from the start line. We were not reminded of a yellow-line rule before the start, so many of the pros who are used to racing on closed roads attacked from the start line on the wrong side of the road. In fact, the entire group of 100 riders was strung out single file within 500 meters of the start on the WRONG side of the road. I was chuckling and all of a sudden VERY excited about the race. Bill did a great job of getting us all back on the correct side of the road, but with such a large group and so many pros anxious to attack and/or chase down breaks, it was pretty much impossible. Bill made an excellent decision to stop trying to keep us on the righthand side of the road. Instead he rode his motorcycle in front of us to block oncoming traffic, as well as getting a police car to go well in front of us on the descents to make sure that all oncoming traffic was stopped at the base of the hill.

One of the Hincapie development riders went off the front after the initial flurry of attacks and rode solo for a few miles leading into the first climb. We caught him on the climb and flew up the climb, but no break could be established with so many strong teams in the group. There was a pretty steady stream of attacks that were all brought back. I attacked at about the same place where Travis Sherman and I bridged up to the winning break last year. It turned into a good break of about 6 guys with Bissell, Kenda, Team Type I, and Pure Black represented, but we couldn’t get a good rotation going with everybody going a different pace on the hills, so our break was doomed just like all the others before it. The break that stuck went shortly after ours on a slight downhill leading into a long less rolling section of the course. There was representation from seven pro teams (Kenda – Johnny Sundt, Team Type I – Ty Magner, Bissell, Kelly Benefits, Mountain Khakis, Real Cyclist, and Pure Black (New Zealand)) so nobody was motivated in the group to chase and our pace plummeted.

Several things happened at this point in the race that contributed to the demise of the break:

1) The Real Cyclist and Mountain Khakis riders were dropped from the break.
2) Several strong amateurs attacked occasionally ramping our pace back up
3) We went over two Cat 4 climbs back to back.

I felt good on the climbs, but still found myself about mid pack on both of them. The descent after the second climb was AWESOME. It was full of tight, banked switchbacks and we were flying down it. Unfortunately, Brent Mahan (Nashville Cyclist) went down on one of the corners but was able to get back up and finish the race minus some skin. By the time we made it to the bottom of the second descent, both the Real Cyclist team and Mountain Khakis were at the front leading the chase. Behind them sat Bissell and Kelly Benefits. Then behind them was everybody else fighting for position trying to stay on the correct side of the road (but many times spread completely over the road).

Eventually, I was tired of being way back in the pack and pulled out into the wind and moved all the way up to sit in front of Bissell and act as the gatekeeper for the riders who were working. I don’t think Bissell was happy about it, but we were still far enough out from the finish that they really didn’t care either as long as I was the only one in front of them. As we got closer to the steep rollers and the final climb near the finish, positioning became an all-out battle. I was pushed farther back in the group and fought hard to stay right behind the Bissell and Kelly Benefits trains. I had to fight some wind, too, but it was worth it to be able to keep my position close to the front and stay out of trouble with some 50+mph short steep downhills. I heard screeching brakes more than one time during this section. We made it to the final climb, and the break was visible higher up on the climb maybe about 30-45 seconds in front of us. Cesar Grajales put in a strong attack and got some separation, but a group of about 20 riders including me bridged back up to him on the descent. Another 20-30 riders bridged across to us a couple miles later right about the same time that a string of attacks led us to catching the break of five riders with less than 2 miles to go.

I was fighting hard for position at the front when a Garmin development rider grabbed my jersey and pulled back on me. I guess I didn’t look “pro” enough to be fighting for position with the leadout trains of the other teams. But I paid my money to race, and believe you me, I was going to race! I entered the sprint in great position and was riding with very little effort in the draft of a strong Kelly Benefits rider (Dan Holloway?) when I decided to give it a go with 150 meters to go. Well, there is a big difference between drafting a large rider at 40 mph and trying to fight the wind at 40mph. I had such a good draft that I didn’t realize how much I was just being sucked along. When I pulled out into the wind to sprint, I was promptly passed by 3 or 4 people who started their sprint from behind me. I did end up passing a couple other people, but I would have been much better off just staying on the Kelly Benefits rider’s wheel. I ended up 14th, when I was really aiming for a top 10. Cole House (Real Cyclist) took the sprint win. Disappointing finish for me, but the race was definitely raced at nearly the same caliber as an NRC road race. I would normally be ecstatic about a top 20 in any NRC event, so I am trying to convince myself that 14th is OK given the quality of the field and the intensity of the racing.

Here’s my heartrate summary and data:
2011 Foothills Road Race heartrate summary
2011 Foothills Road Race heartrate data

Oh, and here are my lap split times from the Sunny King crit (including calculated power and average speed):

All ride data from the criterium can be viewed on Strava here:

All ride data from the foothills road race can be viewed here:

April 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm 6 comments

Chris Thater Memorial Race

UPDATE – Nevermind, I made the mistake of taking the last flight out of Birmingham. The flight has a flat tire, which they are replacing in about an hour, which means I miss my connection to NY. There is no way I can make it to the race in time!

I’m privileged to be racing tomorrow in the last race of this year’s NRC series – the Chris Thater Memorial criterium up in Binghamton, NY. This race is also part of the USA Crits series where I am currently still holding my position in the Top 10. Here’s my topocreator map of the course … at 1.3miles long, this is a bit longer than a typical crit course. We’re supposed to be racing 50 miles, so I guess that means about 38, 39, or 40 laps.

August 28, 2010 at 4:09 pm Leave a comment

Sunny King Criterium and Foothills Road Race – Race Reports

Sunny King Criterium – NRC Pro Race
With Sunny King bumped up a couple weeks from its normal spot on the calendar, this turned out to be my first NRC race of the year. There were lots of strong pro teams represented in the field, and there were lots of people lining the streets, making lots of noise, and watching the race online and on the jumbotron tv. My teammate Terry Duran and myself lined up at the start to represent our team. I had a great start and worked hard to stay towards the front, but eventually the surges leading into turn 3 saw me lose position and drift farther back than I would like to be. It’s nearly impossible to survive on that course if you are at the back of the pack because you have to maintain such a high speed through the corners to maintain contact with the people in front of you who are already accelerating up to full speed — sometimes this is called the slinky effect. So after about 15 laps, I was starting to really struggle far back in the field when a break of 15 riders separated themselves off the front. Our pace in the field slowed down which gave me a bit of time to recover and then work my way back up to the front of the race.

I attacked and got away from the main field with about 16 laps to go in the race. I managed to stay away for two complete laps before getting caught. I was hoping that the announcer would ring the bell to indicate a cash prime — plus I wanted to get some good exposure for our sponsors! I was caught, though, and settled in near the front of the field and resigned myself to hanging on and placing as high up in the field sprint as possible. Terry and I surfed the pack together, constantly fighting for position and passing people wherever we could find room. In the final sprint, I placed in the top 20, but with the break having lapped our field it worked out to 27th in the race. Terry finished a couple spots behind in 29th. Good start to the upcoming crit racing series!

2010 Sunny King Criterium Heartrate data

  1. Incredibly intense first 20 laps
  2. The breakaway of 15 riders got away here, and our pace slowed
  3. Bahati attacked here and the pace ramped way up as the field chased him
  4. My two-lap getaway
  5. The intense finishing laps

Foothills Road Race
New this year for the weekend was the addition of a road race on Sunday. The start location was the same as the Cheaha Challenge century in Piedmont, AL, but we did a different course that was still very challenging with nearly constantly rolling terrain a few steep kickers. I lined up with Stuart, Wes, and Paul in the field which still had all the same pro teams represented as the crit last night. The route did have a couple miles of flat roads towards the beginning, and the attacks were pretty much nonstop until the first big hill at which point our pace up the hill was fast enough to prevent most attacks. A small group of 3 or 4 guys did emerge across the top with a small gap and extended their lead on the downhill and next few rolling hills. Then we came to the steepest hill of the course, and a group of 5 more guys chased onto the original breakaway making a total of 9 up the road. I had drifted too far back and couldn’t get around people on the hill to go with them.

So this group of 9 is off, and I was thinking the race was over because all the pro teams were represented in the break. So when Michael Stone (Hincapie Development) attacked a couple miles later, I went with him. One other guy went with us and the three of us had a nice gap on the field and were working hard to cross the gap to the breakaway. It looked like we were making progress, but after we turned a corner we saw that the field was strung out and closing very fast. Once they caught us, however, the pace dropped off again and the break re-extended its lead. A bit frustrated I rolled off the front on the next hill and three guys bridged up to me — Travis Sherman (Moontoast/Tristar/Warp9) and two other guys. We worked really well on some rolling uphill terrain and caught the leaders by the top of the last hill.

The lead group wasn’t working well together, though, so I thought the field would be joining us shortly. Instead, there was some attacks right as we joined the back of the group and our pace skyrocketed for about 5 minutes. Then a United Healthcare rider flatted, which meant the other United Healthcare rider wasn’t going to do any more work until his teammate rejoined our break. So the break was somewhat neutralized until he rejoined the field. In the meantime, four or five more guys had crossed the gap between the field and our break, including one more Kenda rider. Kenda had 3 or 4 guys in the break against United Healthcare’s two so they were super motivated and drove the pace. Unfortunately, there were too many people and we never got a smooth rotation going. Several times I would pull through, and instead of the next person pulling through, they or somebody behind them would attack. So our break consisted of numerous small attacks, breaks, chases, etc… Eventually we extended our lead to over 5 minutes as the relentless attacks kept our overall pace pretty high. Also, eventually a group of three got away with Fly V, Bahati Foundation (Cesar Grejales), and United Healthcare represented. So it was up to Kenda and Team Type I to chase, but the attacks had tired everyone — so the three strongmen up front extended their lead.

I made it into a small group of about 8-10 riders who crested the hill together. I was next to Karl Menzies (United Healthcare) when he saw we had a gap and launched himself off the front of our group. I just watched him go, legs burning too much from the climb to try and catch onto his wheel. It was amazing though – 5-10 hard pedal strokes, tuck onto the top bar of the bike, and he was easily going 5mph faster than us on the descent. Oscar Clark (Mountain Khakis) worked hard and eventually brought back Menzies and a small group of riders who had bridged up to him. So we were all together going into the final corner with 500 meters to go, and I was sitting 5th wheel, when the rider in front of me opened up a gap on the first 3 riders going into the corner. In retrospect, I should have immediately come around and closed the gap, but I was hoping somebody from behind would — but nobody did so those guys sprinted it out for 4th, 5th, and 6th just ahead of the rest of us. When the surge finally came, I lost some position and then regained a few spots to finish 5th in our sprint — 11th for the race. Overall, I was happy with the race, but disappointed with not being aggressive enough to immediately jump across the gap at the finish. Sometimes you have to be patient, sometimes you have to be aggressive — it’s really hard to know how to play out a sprint finish. It helps to have really fast legs, but experience can usually buy you a few places as well. I’ll chalk this one up to experience and next time will hopefully place a few spots higher!

  1. Faulty readings, HR probably in the red zone
  2. The first climb where the group of 4 got away
  3. The next climb where a chase group of 5 formed
  4. Working in the 3-man chase group
  5. Attacking and then bridging up to the break
  6. Notice all the HR spikes — lots of attack,chase,rest,repeat
  7. The final climb
  8. The finishing sprint

April 19, 2010 at 12:01 pm Leave a comment

The 2009 US 100K

Attempting to bridge with Andy Crater and a Hincapie riderAttempting to bridge with Andy Crater and a Hincapie rider

Exciting racing today in Marietta, Georgia. The US 100K is a race like no other with a start just before sunrise, a fast descent immediately accelerating to 45+mph before hitting the first of three large rollers including one with a 50+mph descent, 11 laps of a short circuit with 10,000+ spectators running the 10k in the opposite direction, and then finally a 55+mph downhill sprint finish. Stuart, Terry, and I worked well together with Terry and I taking turns getting into breaks and Stuart shepherding me around the course at several key times including the last lap helping me to save energy for the finish. It was “grupo compacto” going into the feedzone hill on the last lap with a little over 1 mile to the finish. There were crashes on the hill and then in the lefthand turn forcing a number of us outside into the runners/walkers. It was madness with runners/walkers diving out of the way. I was able to rejoin the group right on Mark Hekman’s wheel (Mountain Khakis) with a little less than 1k to go, but he dove back into the main sprint train, and I couldn’t follow my way back into the line before the top of the downhill. Once we hit the downhill, I saw an opening, dived in behind somebody, tucked, hit 53mph and passed about 5-10 people before the line for 22nd. Awesome racing with Terry for the first time in a big race and I’m already excited for next season!!!

2009-09-07 US 100K Classic

September 7, 2009 at 9:14 pm Leave a comment

The 2009 Tour de Winghaven

Crazy hot and humid
95 degrees air temp, 90%humidity, light breeze. I’ve never done a hotter race, although, ironically, the 2nd hottest was this race last year. Even with the brutal conditions this is one of my favorite races. Kristine and the kids love St Louis and when we arrived on Saturday, we met my cousin and his family for dinner. They were visiting St Louis as part of a trip for him to do a triathlon in Effingham, IL. After dinner we headed to the Forest Park and I rode for just under an hour while the kids played on one of the playgrounds. My legs felt terrible at first but by the time I had done a few harder efforts and gotten the blood flowing into them again after the long 9 hour drive from Birmingham, I was feeling good and ready for the race the next day. After the race we stayed one more night and spent about 5 hours exploring only a small part of the St Louis zoo — which is free!!!

As far as the race went, it is definitely a race of survival. I made it into the front split of 20 with all the big names including four or five of the Jelly Belly pros. This was after a small break of 3 had already established itself. There were lots of attacks from within this chase group of 20, and I made it into a few of the breaks, but the rest of our group always came back up. Finally, an attack went that stuck leaving seven of us to try to finish the race ahead of the remnants of the pack. Unfortunately we were all cooked, so we couldn’t muster much more than 17-20mph. Even with a huge lead of close to 2 minutes over the remnants of the peloton, we got caught with about 5 to go. And in the field sprint, I could only manage 13th, for 27th overall. About 90 starters, only 50 finishers.

Heartrate data
2009-06-23 Tour de Winghaven 2009 - Heartrate data2009-06-21 Tour de Winghaven Circuit Race

  1. Riding conservatively, staying towards the front but not going with any moves.
  2. Bridged to a good looking break here.
  3. This major drop in heartrate signifies the fact that our break wasn’t working well together so we sat up.
  4. The major split went at the beginning of this section. We were worked well together during the early part of the move.
  5. This increase in heart rate was from a series of attacks people started to launch from within the group. I made it into several of the moves but none of them worked.
  6. The drop in heartrate here is from missing the move that left our group. The rest of us that were left rode so easy that eventually the remnants of the pack caught up to us.
  7. Here is the final sprint, couldn’t even get back up to zone 5, completely exhausted.

June 24, 2009 at 8:31 am Leave a comment

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Bunny on the glider. Alternative route up pumphouse. Lots of climbing.

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Brian Toone

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Quick reference stats

Anaerobic Threshold:
Power:315 watts
Heart rate:180 bpm
Power:1097 watts (5s)
Heart rate:198 bpm (5s)
AT power estimated by critical power curve in Golden Cheetah, which predicts I should be able to maintain 315 watts for 1 hour.

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