Tag Archives: race

Pensacola Cycling Classic Day 1 – Time Trial

Another tough race this evening – I was pleased with my heartrate data, but I don’t think my time was fast enough to hold onto 4th place after Jan Kolar put in a strong time to beat me. Still, it was fun – especially since the race went a couple miles into the part of the national seashore that was closed due to damage from Hurricane Isaac. There were a couple sections of road that were washed away but only on one half of the road. Here’s my data:

2012 Pensacola Cycling Classic annotated power map

2012 Pensacola Cycling Classic data plot

Kevin Pawlik, Me, and Borris Simmonds before the time trial

Pensacola Cycling Classic Day 1 – Road Race

Quick summary – really tough race with attacks from the gun. I ended up initiating the race winning break about halfway through the first of three 25 mile laps coming across the top of the largest hill on the course. Initially, there were seven of us, but on that same hill 25 miles later on the next lap we were down to 6 riders. Then on the same hill 25 miles later, Serghei Tvetkov (Team Exergy) and Ruben Companioni (Team Coco’s) dropped the remaining four of us. We chased hard eventually losing one rider so it was Stephan Hirsch (706 Project), Jan Kolar (HomeSmart/L5Flyers), and me (Tria Cycling p/b DonohooAuto.com) to fight it out for the last step on the podium. Stephan came out on top for 3rd, and I was next for 4th just edging out Jan who took 5th.

Parking on the Christmas Tree Rd hill overlooking other hills in the area.

The details – there were lots of attacks right from the gun which strung out the field and enabled me to move from my position towards the middle of the pack up to the front. I watched carefully and ended up in a couple moves. One really good looking move had both Team Coco’s riders and at least one UHC/706 rider. We had a gap and were absolutely drilling it but we just couldn’t extend our gap more than 20 seconds from a hard chasing field.

Still, we were away for quite a while so when we were caught, it was only a mile or two before we made it to the course’s big hill (0.4 miles at 5%). I had been in a lot of moves by this point in the race so I was hoping that there wouldn’t be any hard attacks on the hill. There weren’t. In fact, the pace was slow enough that as we made it towards the top of the steeper section I decided to attack – not expecting much, but knowing that last year this is where our break got away.

The attack worked, though, because we got a good gap with good team representation: Ruben Companioni (Team Coco’s), Stephan Hirsch (UHC/706 Project), Jan Kolar (HomeSmart/L5Flyers), Tim Reagan (Herring Gas), Serghei Tvetkov (Team Exergy), a rider in black kit I didn’t recognize, and me (Tria Cycling p/b DonohooAuto.com). We were flat out from that moment on. The field was chasing hard, but I think people were tired from the previous chase. So we very slowly pushed out our lead. By the end of the first lap, I believe we were up to about a minute. On the second lap, we were out to two minutes, and then by the start of the last lap we were about 4 minutes ahead.

We never let up and with the windy conditions it seemed like you were always getting hit by a crosswind or pushing it really hard with a tailwind. I never felt good so halfway through the last lap as we reached the hill I knew there was likely to be an attack but had already given up on it even before the attack happened! I was just focusing on trying not to get dropped. Serghei initiated the move and Ruben covered it with no problem. I was expecting Stephan to go with it too leaving Jan, me, and the other rider to chase – but he stayed back with us opting to wait until the top to really start chasing. I was cooked by this point and we tried to get a good rotation going but Stephan was clearly stronger than the rest of us – and I was wanting it to come down to a sprint for 3rd as I might be able to pull something together for the uphill finish.

As we came into the finish, Stephan was on the front with 500 meters to go when he pulled off. I went through next and decided to hit it as hard as I could on the uphill with about 400 meters to go. I didn’t get a gap, and Jan came around with 300 meters to go. Stephan came around Jan and then with about 100 meters to go I was able to repass Jan to take 4th.

I was COMPLETELY exhausted after the sprint. Not breathing well, not able to get enough air, not able to think straight, I found a tent where somebody had some ice cold water (THANKS!). Then I very, very slowly pedaled back up the hill to the car, cranked the AC up to maximum and sat there for a while trying to cool off before heading back to check the results and get my spare wheels from the follow vehicle.

Now it’s time to head out for the time trial – will probably have 110-115 miles total for the day after it’s all said and done. At this point I’m hoping to hit the TT hard enough to hold my 4th overall position. We’ll see how it goes!

Fool’s Gold 2012 MTB race

Quick summary

Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale) took the win (also wrapping up the title for the 2012 NUE series), followed by Ben Swanepoel (Squirt Lube) in 2nd, and Christian Tanguy (Team CF) in 3rd. But before all that, I snuck away on the Cooper Gap climb to try to get the Strava KOM with Swanepoel catching me across the top before the Winding Stair descent. Once we hit the single track, I quickly lost ground eventually ending up in 13th place. Exhausted and happy now!

Ride highlights

  • The beautiful sunrise leaving the winery
  • Chatting with everyone before, after, and during the race
  • Riding hard up the Copper Gap climb and leading the race
  • The fog across the top of the mountain on the Winding Stair descent
  • Sunlight breaking through the fog and rays of sunshine shooting through the pine trees (I think that was near Bull Mountain)
  • Getting the chance to see Gerry Pflug climb up a super steep hill on his singlespeed … amazing!
  • ALL of the creek/river crossings. For somebody like me who is always thwarted by creeks and rivers on road rides and route planning, it was awesome to be able to just ride straight through the creeks on my mountain bike.
  • 6 inch long millipede crossing the trail – I rode around it
  • Small deer or fox jumped off the trail in front of me
  • Any singletrack that was uphill … especially the climb up to the top of Bull Mountain up steep singletrack through a thick pine forest breaking out into a HUGE grassy meadow at the top of the mountain. I really disliked the singletrack descent down from the grassy meadow, though, because without functional front suspension I got beat up pretty bad on that section ended up in that deep rut both laps having lost control and lucky not to have crashed.

The details

About 100 riders set out before sunrise on a 100 mile mountain bike race. Lightning and light rain gave way to a beautiful sunrise as we rolled out of the winery onto Hightower Church road in a fast neutral section. Shortly before we made the left onto Forest Service Rd 28, I moved up the right side and then immediately followed two riders that surged at the front stringing out the group. As we hit the gravel with some of the steep fast rollers, I tried to stay towards the front but ended up drifting a few spots back.

We were probably a mile into the Cooper Gap climb when I realized that I could make some time on everyone else before the singletrack if I went hard on the climb. This turned out to be a great decision because drilling that climb and taking the KOM was the best part of the race for me. And considering how slow I was compared to everyone else on the singletrack, it wouldn’t have done any good to “save energy” for the singletrack. Even after I rode away from the group, I kept on expecting to look back and see the group closing in, but I never saw the group again after the first few switchbacks.

Across the top, Ben Swanepol caught me, and I was able to keep up with him on the rollers before the Winding Stair descent. As soon as we hit the descent, I thought that I would be able to follow his lines and keep up but this lasted only a few seconds before I nearly lost it on some of the washboard (my front suspension was not working right – almost like a rigid fork – I got beat up pretty bad by the rougher sections of the course). So I slowed way down and kept expecting the rest of the group to catch me. But Ben and I must have had a pretty big lead by the top since the rest of the group, led by Jeremiah Bishop, didn’t catch me until just after we made the turn onto the singletrack near the bottom of the Winding Stair descent.

I knew immediately that I needed to get out of the way so I pulled off the trail and maybe 7 or 8 riders passed me. Then there was a break so I hopped back on the trail and continued to ride as fast as I thought was humanly possible. But three more riders caught up to me and then we got tangled up as I tried to get off the trail. Hopefully this was the only time I slowed anyone down on the singletrack. This section was short enough that when we hit the next gravel road I was able to drill it and pass a few people coming really close to catching back up to the lead group (less than 50 meters ahead). But as I saw them disappear into the next section of singletrack, I knew that was the last time I would see the leaders.

Within a few minutes of entering the second section of singletrack, the riders that I had passed on the gravel road started catching up to me and I pulled over immediately to let each of them pass. A few minutes after that Gerry Pflug (Salsa) came by on his singlespeed. That was one of the highlights of the race for me as I got to see the top singlespeed racer in America grind up a super steep climb that I could barely clear with my geared bike! Then it got lonely for a really long time. Nobody coming up from behind, and nobody in sight ahead of me all the way to the 2/3 aid station. By this point, I had already given up on a top finish so I focused on making sure I got enough nutrition. By the end of the race, I ended up stopping at FIVE aid stations and making sure I left each one with two full bottles. Still, I didn’t get the nutrition quite right because I didn’t put anything in the self-supported cooler drop-off and I didn’t realize how long it would take to get from aid station 2/3 back to aid station 2/3 for the 3rd time. I’m pretty sure I rode about 10 miles without anything to drink. I backed way off the pace to keep from cramping. Around every corner I kept hoping to see the aid station. When I finally got there, I filled up both of my bottles and then took a third bottle that I filled with a mix of heed and a can of coke. This first time through the aid station, though, was the lowest point of the race for me as I realized that this was going to be at least an order of magnitude more challenging than I had anticipated. I went from leading the race to wondering if I was going to make the time cut-off.

Fortunately, though, a number of things happened within the next few miles of the race that really boosted my confidence. First, Zach Morrey (Blue Ridge Cyclery) caught and passed me. Then Rob Spreng (Dirty Harry’s) passed me, too. But Rob passed me shortly before the singletrack turned uphill. So I caught and passed him on one of the uphill sections of singletrack. Then when it turned downhill again, Rob caught up to me and passed me again. We ended up settling into a nice rhythm this way for a long time. He made it to the deep water crossing a few seconds before I did and we were joking about it afterwards that the creek was much deeper than we had expected. The singletrack turned uphill and so I left Rob for a while and eventually caught back up to Zach. I left him on the next long climb and then that is when I ran out of water. I was still ahead of Rob and Zach after leaving the aid station, but they both caught and blew past me shortly after the skies opened up and the heavy downpour turned the singletrack section that I had enjoyed on the first lap and was looking forward to on the second lap into a muddy mess. The mud didn’t seem that slippery, but with several more events on my racing calendar this year I wasn’t taking any chances with all the collar-bone breaking roots and rocks just laying there on the ground waiting to be fallen on.

The rain stopped fairly quickly, but it was 30 minutes of single track riding before it started to dry out. I caught Rob during the final double track climb up to the gravel road (FS-28) that would eventually take us back to the paved road leading to the winery. I was so elated to be on my way back and to have survived all the singletrack that I absolutely crushed the gravel road and paved road back to the winery. In fact, I was closing in on Zach on the paved road, but as I watched him turn into the winery I knew it was all over to try to catch him b/c of the last technical bits in the winery – which had turned pretty slippery after all the 50 milers and the first 12 100 milers had ridden it. Still it was fun to come flying up the last hill to the cheers of my beautiful wife. What an amazing adventure and what a great experience!

Shortly after finishing with Zack Morrey (Blue Ridge Cyclery) and Chris Peariso (Adventure 212).

Labor Day Omnium Day 3 – Anderson Civic Center Circuit Race

This is the same course as the NRC race that I almost won last year. Read my detailed race report from last year. I was definitely hoping to make the podium this year, but the race played out much differently since the race was much shorter. We did 25 laps of the 2.7 mile course last year as opposed to only 13 laps of the same course this year. Consequently, this year’s race felt much more like a crit than a circuit race.

Basically, the entire race was similar to last year’s opening few laps with several splits in the group, large breaks, and everything coming back together. The one exception was Team Mountain Khaki’s Jon Hamblen and Team Type I’s Alexy Schmidt who got away at some point and stayed away for the length of the race. I don’t remember how they got away but I think it was later in the race. Maybe on the 8th or 9th lap. Speaking of laps, here is my lap power and heartrate data:

Lap	Length	Mi.	AvgPow	MaxPow	HR	MPH
1	6:20	2.7	253	843	152	26.1
2	6:06	2.7	285	935	161	26.9
3	6:15	2.7	253	877	155	26.3
4	6:24	2.7	209	814	153	25.4
5	6:28	2.8	249	1049	153	25.5
6	5:48	2.7	320	1093	165	28.4
7	6:32	2.7	196	743	158	25.2
8	6:36	2.7	210	817	153	24.9
9	6:18	2.7	258	941	161	26.1
10	6:17	2.8	266	929	161	26.5
11	6:03	2.8	266	960	168	27.6
12	6:01	2.7	269	914	167	27.2
13	5:53	2.7	325	959	176	27.8

About halfway through the race was a 3 place omnium points prime that I decided I really wanted to get just to make sure that I had at least some omnium points for the weekend in case I didn’t get any in the finish. There was a global bike rider that attacked about 1K from the line and got away pretty cleanly. Our pace accelerated and then slowed. Right when it slowed, I attacked hard and got a good gap, and just barely closed the gap to the global bike rider in the final stretch. I didn’t have anything left to come around him, though, and Frank Travieso ended up passing both of us so I ended up 3rd in the sprint. It was a LOT of effort for 1 point, but I was relieved to have at least earned a point to be in the omnium results in case of a bad finish.

Going into the finish, I was in OK position (but not great) maybe 15 riders from the front but got boxed in on the big hill sliding to near the back of the field as it seemed everybody went up the sides while the middle completely stalled. Across the top of the hill, I swung out into the wind and passed pretty much the whole field narrowly squeezing through the righthand bend just inside the grass. Unfortunately, on the next roller somebody swung over and hit my front wheel. I could hear my spokes hitting some part of their bike, and I found out after the race that I had bent a spoke and my front wheel was rubbing the brake pads. I didn’t know this at the time, and the group had slowed just enough that I could repass the people who had passed me while I was checking to see if I had any broken spokes that would prevent me from sprinting. I attacked hard into the next to last corner passing people all the way into 5th position.

This would have been perfect for the sprint with me sitting on Frank Travieso’s (Team Cocos) wheel who ended up winning the field sprint for 3rd, but I got chopped on the righthand turn and lost a lot of speed — somewhat expected since I was moving up on the inside line. I was just hoping that the speed of the final lap would cause the leaders to swing wide with enough room for me to squeeze through. I thought wrong, and after losing speed I opened up a big gap that I felt obligated to close. Although strategically, it would have been better for me to have swung wide and let somebody else close the gap. I would have felt really miserable about that, though, since I had caused the gap to open so I tried with everything I could to close the gap (with my heartrate staying in the 190s for the last minute or two of the race), but I could only keep the gap constant at about 10 meters. Consequently, I got passed by 8 people on the final stretch since I had basically been sprinting for over half a mile by the end of the race, half of that with my front wheel rubbing the brakes. This put me in 12th for the field sprint, 14th for the race with Jon and Alexey both up the road. The result combined with my 1 point intermediate sprint was good enough to move me into 22nd in the omnium – tied with two other people, but the tie breaker was stage wins followed by total number of intermediate sprint points. I was the only one with intermediate sprint points, so that 1 point prime ended up moving me ahead of them in the results!

Circuit race annotated power map (click to enlarge)

Annotated power map from Saturday’s criterium (click to enlarge)

River Gorge 2012

If you are looking for positive happy go lucky race reports, then skip over this one.

Quick summary of results
Time Trial – 46th, 10 seconds slower than last year, disappointing.
Criterium – Big crash with no more free laps. Instead of immediately telling us there were no more free laps so that we could chase, the official ushered us over into the pit to tell us to wait until the end of the race so that we could race two additional laps to sort out placings from 28th place on. I don’t think this got communicated to the results people, though, because as far as I can tell none of the people from my group are listed in the results. Very disappointing.
Road Race – 7th, best finish ever at this race, but disappointing to cramp so badly on the final climb and not be able to fight for the win. Disappointing.
Omnium – 12th. Surprised as my only omnium points came in the road race.

The River Gorge road race is amazing – entering three states (TN, GA, and AL) – and traversing a wild topography consisting of deep canyons and steep mountains. Click to enlarge – annotated power data for the Sand Mountain climb

Road Race details
I’ve included today’s (Sunday) road race details first. We started at the Covenant Transport Center headquarters about 2 miles down the road from the normal start, so this shortened the race from 62 miles to just under 60 miles. I started at the very back. It took until the righthand turn onto the first hill of the day for me to move about halfway up the large pack. The hill was a bit slower pace than previous years, so everybody was still bunched up. I moved up some on the long gradual descent after the first KOM. When we hit the wider road heading towards the Tennesse River, I was able to move close to the front not too far behind the BMC train as they chased an early 6 or 7 man move that I never even saw get away I was so far back in the pack at the beginning.

BMC timed the catch perfectly at the bottom of the Sand Mountain climb. I had slipped a little ways back and started the climb about 20 riders from the front. I chased around a few people who opened gaps and then latched onto a large group led by two BMC riders. I was struggling to maintain a good rhythm but hung on all the way up until the 200 meters to go sign for the KOM. I was really cooked, but fortunately Ryan Sullivan (United Healthcare/706 Project) had also just come off the group, and he and I were able to work together to catch back up to the group (with Ryan doing most of the work as I barely hung on).

A few more riders caught up to us before the long descent back down to the Tennessee River making our group about 15-20 riders with all major teams represented. We were not a harmonious group as there was an attack or two across the top of the mountain, and even one attack at the top of the descent. I covered that one and made it back down to the Tennessee River just behind John Murphy (Kenda Pro Cycling) and one or two other riders. The others in the group caught back up quickly, and nobody seemed like they wanted to work so I attacked hoping to get things goings – but little did I know what a firestorm of attacks would ensue. Attack, chase, counter-attack, chase, counter-attack took us into the medium climb up off the Tennessee River. I looked back expecting to see the rest of our group closing fast, but they were gone. At this point, I knew this was the move but I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it over the climb with the group. I dug as deep as I could and made it.

There was maybe 7 or 8 of us. The attacking didn’t stop as John Murphy really wanted to get away. This ended up dropping two riders from our group to bring us down to 6 riders. John eventually got away twice. Both times Oscar Clark (UHC/706), Shawn Gravois (Globalbike), Ty Magner (BMC) and I worked together to bring him back, although the first time was before the stair-stepper cat 3 climb and Shawn did most of the work to bring John back. The second time, it was all four of us working together while John’s teammate, Robert Sweeting (Kenda) was able to get the free ride with his teammate up the road. We caught John right before the turn into the TVA area on a gradual hill. Immediately, Oscar put in a hard dig taking Shawn, Ty, and Robert with him – whereas John and I went straight out the back. I had bad cramps in my right leg. These cramps subsided fairly quickly so I hit it hard to catch back up to John and together we chased on the descent (hitting 58mph) back down to the TN river before the final climb up Raccoon Mountain.

John joined back up with the other four right as the road pitched up. I, on the other hand, started cramping again so I didn’t catch back on. As the climb steepened, both legs locked up and I had to coast to a stop up the hill, unclip, and wait for the cramps to subside. A few seconds later I was rolling again for another couple minutes. But right as I caught back up to John again, my leg locked up again and I had to coast to a stop again. This time after the cramp subsided, I was able to pick up the pace to catch and pass John. I thought for sure I had 5th place locked up, but 500 meters before the finish Tanner Putt (BMC) caught and passed me. A few seconds later Jake Rytlewski (Astella/ABD) came by, too. Jimmy Schurmann (Globalbike) was closing in fast when I hit the 200 meters to go sign. Fortunately, the grade had lessened enough that I was able to stand up and hit it hard to stay just in front of him to finish 7th.

In the group ahead, Oscar took the win, followed by Robert and Ty. Shawn was fourth, although he should some award for all the work he did on the step climb to bring back John the first time.

Road race heartrate summary

Annotated heartrate power data – click to enlarge

Time trial details
This year’s Pro/1/2 field was one of the best ever at River Gorge, which has always had a strong field. This year there were more than 60 pros and cat 1s plus an additional 30-40 cat 2s. I knew that I had no shot of getting into the top 10 in the time trial for omnium points, so technically it might make more sense for me to soft pedal the time trial to save up for the criterium. But what would be the fun in that? Plus, how could I compare to previous years?

River Gorge time trial power map – click to enlarge.

So I got a good warm-up in riding to the start with my teammate Borris. We headed up to the top of Raccoon Mountain via the finishing climb of the road race at a nice easy pace. Packet pick-up, several back and forths across the part of the reservoir dam not being used for the TT course, and it was time for me to go. I started out easier than last year, but then hit it hard on the short climb. My power average ended up being about 5 watts lower than last year (358 watts vs 363 watts), and my speed was about 1/2 mile hour slower (10 seconds slower). Last year I raced Mercx style with no TT equipment, whereas this year I raced with clip-on tt bars, an aero helmet, and a front trispoke wheel. I can’t help but think that the extra baggage slowed me down more than it sped me up. Definitely going to race this time trial Mercx style next year for another comparison.

Criterium details
You know what, this race was so disappointing I don’t really want to relive it by writing it up. Instead, I’ll just say that I need to work on paying a little closer attention to when the free laps end before the start of the race. I thought it was 5 to go, but apparently they had announced 8 to go. I got caught up in a crash with 6 to go and thought we had one more lap to get back into the race. I have included the annotated heartrate data below.

Downtown Chattanooga heartrate summary

Annotated heartrate plot. Speed data is spiky from bad satellite signal. Click to enlarge.

Annotated power map

Warm-up map with all three venues annotated. Click to enlarge.

Out west – days 19, 20, 21 – Tulsa Tough Race Report

Watching the Friday night fireworks as the pacecar zooms by near the end of the race

Friday, Blue Dome Criterium, 38th
This was a great kick-off race for the weekend of racing at Tulsa Tough. I didn’t know how my legs would feel after a 750 mile drive on the heels of two days of HC climbing in Los Alamos. But it turns out they felt really great. I didn’t anticipate how early our Pro/1 field would try to line up for the start immediately following the 1/2 race — so I ended up starting near the very back of the field. The figure-eight course was super fast, but not very hard. You could always carry your speed through each corner – and because the race never really slowed down much it was hard to pass anyone since there would always be a corner coming up. Eventually I figured out that the short stretch of road between turns 4 and 5 was the spot to pass – but as I found out on the next to last lap, it put you in a bad spot for turn #6. I was moving up really well from near the back of the field to the top 30 or so when I got cut off on turn #6 having to slam on the brakes to avoid colliding with the rider coming from outside to inside on that corner. I lost 10 spots immediately and a lot of momentum going into the final lap. The last lap was so fast that there wasn’t much passing. I ended up getting 38th. The best part of the race, though, was the fireworks (literally) from a nearby baseball game that started with 15 minutes left in our race lasting until the next to last lap. It was a really psychedelic experience as the fireworks were in plain view in front of us on two stretches of the course. Plus they were so loud that you didn’t hear the normal sounds of a bike race. I was disappointed with my result, but the race was very fast and fun, and I knew my legs felt great for the rest of the weekend.

Saturday, Brady Village Criterium, 25th
Josiah and Analise both raced the kids race with Josiah cruising to a 2nd place finish in the 6 and under category. The video below is of Josiah getting 2nd in the kids race. Analise had a rough start, but finished strong in the 7 and older category.

Josiah shows off his 2nd place medal, and Analise shows off her ribbon

Our race was an L-shaped course starting out very flat with two quick lefts. Then after a long straightaway, the course had its only righthand turn followed by a long uphill. This hill was lined with tons of people from nearby restaurants and bars. Then we turned left to continue up a frontage road next to an interstate overpass. People climbed way up on the concrete to watch the race and scream/cheer for us. Then we turned left to fly down the hill into the final turn. Even with a very strong headwind, the hill was steep enough that we went screaming through the last turn fast every lap. I started towards the middle of the field and fought hard to stay there eventually moving up to 25th by the end.

Sunday, Cry-baby Hill Criterium, 32nd
This was the marquee event of the weekend and has to rank as one of the coolest criterium experiences ever. The long 10% hill on the course was lined with so many people packed in so tightly that it felt like what I would imagine riding a grand tour climb through throngs of people would be like. On some laps, you could only fit two or three riders at a time together through the people spraying water with garden hoses, super-soakers, and water bottles. I started at the back again after getting lost on my warm-up. I only had a few minutes to find water, find and kiss Kristine, and make it to the start line. Then there was a somewhat lengthy call-up so I actually had a little more time than I anticipated. In any case, I was at the very back.

The course started out flat along the Arkansas River before narrowing from four lanes to a one lane off-ramp at the base of Cry Baby Hill. The average gradient for the climb is about 10% with half the climb on the off-ramp, and the other half once you make the righthand turn onto W 13th St. This is where it got really crowded with so many people yelling and screaming and many of them dressed up in different costumes. Super-soakers, water bottles, garden hoses were all used to douse us with water, which was really important because the race temp was well into the 90s. Imagine an Athens Twilight crowd on a narrow road without any barriers separating the crowd from the racers – it was absolutely awesome.

Once you crested the climb, you went down a short steep hill to a cross steep with a hump across the middle. On the first lap when we were flying, I caught air on the hump accidentally. Then the road kicked back up again for the turn onto S Galveston Ave which took you down a steep hill into a 110 degree turn back onto the start/finish stretch. This is when you were hit with a huge tailwind, which meant that the corner wasn’t too bad because the tailwind made it possible to get back up to speed quickly/easily rather than trying to risk carrying a crazy amount of speed through the corner.

Josiah making the most of a small sand pit next to turn 3 (don’t worry, this was a very slow uphill corner)
Kristine got this video of the downhill corner of the first lap of our race (Pro/1) -

I felt really good on the hill and passed people every lap. I would continue to pass people on the downhill into the 110 degree turn. I would then hold my position well until just before the turn to go up the hill, where I would usually get passed by several people every lap. Rinse and repeat and this meant that I very, very slowly worked my way from the back of the field to the front. Just before two laps to go, I surged one more time and moved into the top 20 – but then on the flat stretch leading into the hill, there was a big swarm of people up either side and I lost a lot of positions. I started passing people again on the climb, but the damage was done as I was maybe 40 riders back by this point. I continued passing riders everywhere I could, but I only ended up 32nd. Still, this was an Athens Twilight style race that you were happy to finish. Next year, I will be more aggressive on the flat stretch going into the hill so that I don’t lose so many positions each lap.

Coming out of turn 3

Here is all my power and heartrate data from the three races:

Tulsa Tough Friday – Blue Dome Criterium

Tulsa Tough Saturday – Brady Village Criterium

Tulsa Tough Sunday – Cry Baby Hill Criterium

Tulsa Tough Friday – Blue Dome Criterium

Tulsa Tough Saturday – Brady Village Criterium

Tulsa Tough Sunday – Cry Baby Hill Criterium

Tulsa Tough Friday – Blue Dome Criterium – Pedal Force / Pedal Velocity

Tulsa Tough Saturday – Brady Village Criterium – Pedal Force / Pedal Velocity

Tulsa Tough Sunday – Cry Baby Hill Criterium – Pedal Force / Pedal Velocity

Tulsa Tough Friday – Blue Dome Criterium – Power Map

Tulsa Tough Saturday – Brady Village Criterium – Power Map

Tulsa Tough Sunday – Cry Baby Hill Criterium – Power Map

LAP DATA / SPLITS

DAY 1, FRIDAY BLUE DOME CRITERIUM
Lap	Time	Avg Pow	Max Pow	HR	MPH
1	01:37	304	901	155	25.5
2	01:23	255	897	164	28.3
3	01:21	309	923	167	29.5
4	01:20	302	911	171	29.4
5	01:19	311	959	173	30.3
6	01:16	292	888	174	31.1
7	01:20	266	883	171	30.2
8	01:20	266	835	169	29.9
9	01:18	304	914	171	30.7
10	01:21	290	705	172	29.2
11	01:24	263	952	169	28.2
12	01:27	267	857	168	27.6
13	01:24	280	792	168	28.7
14	01:20	286	752	167	30
15	01:27	232	728	161	27.8
16	01:21	283	775	161	29.9
17	01:26	256	898	164	28
18	01:22	274	769	165	29.4
19	01:22	298	919	166	29.5
20	01:20	261	939	165	30
21	01:21	247	675	164	29.8
22	01:22	284	878	163	29.5
23	01:21	280	744	168	29.1
24	01:23	233	708	163	28.9
25	01:19	292	844	164	30.1
26	01:21	248	779	166	29.3
27	01:20	307	880	168	29.6
28	01:22	253	963	167	28.8
29	01:23	275	862	167	29
30	01:19	283	744	169	29.9
31	01:21	275	841	171	29.4
32	01:24	261	936	167	28.2
33	01:20	291	841	170	29.6
34	01:21	276	843	172	29
35	01:21	318	959	177	29.4
36	01:21	293	973	176	29.6
37	01:19	284	981	179	30.7
38	01:18	294	870	180	30.8
39	01:19	304	907	185	30.2
40	01:19	328	940	184	30.1
41	01:18	356	976	187	30.9
42	01:14	363	765	190	32.2
DAY 2, SATURDAY BRADY VILLAGE CRITERIUM
Lap	Time	Avg Pow	Max Pow	HR	MPH
1	01:57	295	880	151	26.1
2	01:42	287	839	166	29.1
3	01:43	270	888	168	28.3
4	01:40	246	958	164	29.4
5	01:44	262	821	165	28.2
6	01:41	279	894	170	28.9
7	01:41	257	913	170	29.5
8	01:37	300	909	170	30.3
9	01:46	262	814	172	27.9
10	01:42	279	990	170	29.3
11	01:38	296	998	178	29.7
12	01:39	263	976	175	30.1
13	01:41	270	949	173	29.4
14	01:41	275	941	173	29.5
15	01:42	242	773	174	29.1
16	01:42	245	768	165	29.3
17	01:42	263	853	170	28.8
18	01:43	275	876	173	28.7
19	01:45	268	796	171	27.9
20	01:44	278	937	171	28.3
21	01:42	235	826	169	29
22	01:43	254	890	170	29
23	01:45	266	735	169	28.5
24	01:43	259	767	171	28.6
25	01:40	260	781	172	29.7
26	01:43	275	805	172	28.8
27	01:43	261	716	170	29
28	01:44	250	729	170	28.5
29	01:47	237	892	173	27.7
30	01:46	263	912	171	27.9
31	01:44	244	737	171	28.6
32	01:46	256	754	172	28.3
33	01:47	278	868	173	27.4
34	01:46	247	773	173	27.9
35	01:42	270	862	172	29.2
36	01:41	266	864	176	29.4
37	01:40	284	888	178	29.8
38	01:46	273	884	175	28.1
39	01:43	263	821	175	28.7
40	01:43	291	882	180	29.2
41	01:44	281	860	181	28.6
42	01:41	287	880	181	29.3
43	01:44	248	901	181	28.2
44	01:43	272	806	181	28.4
45	01:47	274	954	183	27.7
46	01:42	297	927	189	28.9
47	01:37	379	990	193	30.3
DAY 3, SUNDAY CRY BABY HILL CRITERIUM
Lap	Time	Avg Pow	Max Pow	HR	MPH
1	02:09	310	847	152	23.7
2	01:53	279	826	163	26.1
3	01:56	259	909	163	25.5
4	01:52	267	819	165	26.7
5	01:54	280	907	166	25.8
6	01:57	279	928	173	25.3
7	02:06	222	803	165	23.4
8	01:56	262	784	165	25.1
9	01:56	265	960	167	25.4
10	01:50	318	1042	176	26.9
11	01:53	314	928	180	25.7
12	02:05	261	818	170	24
13	01:55	263	879	173	25.3
14	02:03	218	755	170	24
15	02:04	233	891	167	24
16	02:00	249	705	168	24.9
17	01:57	252	926	170	25.5
18	02:01	250	873	171	24.7
19	01:58	227	783	171	25.3
20	02:03	226	805	166	24
21	02:03	223	679	168	24.4
22	02:04	246	758	166	23.8
23	01:57	266	816	173	25
24	02:05	238	877	165	23.8
25	01:56	257	815	173	25.6
26	02:04	225	870	167	23.8
27	02:04	243	729	168	24
28	01:58	264	785	174	24.6
29	02:09	221	760	167	22.8
30	02:01	248	801	169	24.3
31	02:03	237	739	171	24
32	02:04	252	768	170	23.7
33	02:01	247	912	173	24.1
34	01:57	279	855	174	25.4
35	02:00	259	879	174	24.3
36	01:56	273	931	178	25.6
37	01:43	373	1041	188	28.3

Out west – day 13 – Barn Burner 104 MTB race

Me and Josiah immediately after the finish

Great race today at the Barn Burner just outside of Flagstaff, AZ. This was by far the hardest race I have ever done – 104 miles of double track forest roads – some very bumpy, some very sandy, some very crazy, all of it a whole lot of fun! I was happy to finish 4th overall, but sad to lose my Garmin Edge 800 with approx. 25,000 miles on it.

Race Details – the dust bowl
It was a Le Mans start, which means you ran to your bikes mounted on bikestands or being held by your support crew. I opted to have Kristine hold my bike so I wouldn’t have to try and extract it from all the bikes jammed together on the bike racks. I ran kinda slowly because I don’t run well and because the terrain had some lava rocks and there were tons of people jostling together. I met Kristine behind the bikestand area, mounted my Garmin and took off running through the grass to get back to the dirt road. By this point dust was everywhere, and I was easily 100-200 riders back.

The first mile of the race was on some dusty, sandy rutted roads so it was really hard to see a good line and you didn’t want to get caught in the deep sand so I could only pass a few people here and there – but as soon as we turned onto the main forest road, the terrain tilted upwards on a long false flat. I passed probably 100 riders through here. At the beginning it was streams of riders that I was passing, but then it has started to break up into small groups – so I started to catch and pass these groups.

Lost water bottle
Right before the lefthand turn onto the next rutted sandy section, I latched onto the back of a fairly large group of maybe 10 riders. It was here that I realized that mountain bike racing requires a lot of trust/faith in the rider immediately in front of you. You are trusting that they are going to take a good line and not crash. This section of the course really emphasized that trust because there was so much dust you couldn’t see the ground in front of you – you could only barely see the wheel of the rider in front of you. It was at this point that I lost a bottle when the road unexpectedly dropped a good 2-3 feet into a rounded rut/hole. I wasn’t expecting it so my weight was forward and I ended up coming out of the hole doing a front wheelie. Luckily the ground was smooth long enough that I could get the rear wheel back down without flipping over the handlebars. Hitting the hole popped out my water bottle so I did the entire first lap on one bottle.

Lost Garmin
Not too long after the front wheelie, the group I was in came out onto another stretch of road which was much harder packed. I went to the front and tried to rally the troops, but I ended up dropping that group and catching one or two more groups until I finally latched onto the back of the lead group. I knew I had reached the front group because there was no more dust in front of this group. This was towards the top of the long gradual descent before the first climb. This part of the course was super fast, and we were absolutely flying single file trusting the rider in front of you to take a good line. For about five minutes, this was my favorite part of the race, but then I felt something hit my knee. I thought it was my only water bottle popping out of the cage so as we are motoring along I’m looking down and doing a double-take to see if it’s my water bottle. It wasn’t, so I continued staring hard at the wheel in front of me following his line. Then I glanced at my handlebars and noticed my Garmin was gone!!! I debated for another 10-15 seconds about turning around or keeping on going. I realized the Garmin was worth too much to just abandon – so I turned around and rode backwards on the course. It had been a couple minutes of fast riding since I had felt something hit my knee (which I assume now must have been my Garmin), so I had to ride back a long ways but I never did see it. It is quite an understatement to say that my motivation was completely gone by this point in the race. I was about to attack the Strava KOM challenge segment hard, and now I not only wasn’t going to be able to do that – I had lost my great position at the front of the race and given the leaders a good 5 minute head start.

The Strava climb (1st climb)
Frustrated at not finding my Garmin, I went flying up the climb that started shortly after the stretch of trail where I couldn’t find my Garmin. It was the more technical of the two climbs on the course, but I didn’t care – I just flew past everyone no matter what line I had to take. By the top of the climb, the race was all blown apart and people were by themselves and no longer in groups.

The rocky technical descent
After the top of the climb, there was a short rolling section followed by the longer, rockier, and more technical of the two major descents. It started out super fast on a mostly clean but a few high speed rocky sections that you could roll over, but then there was a hard left turn on loose dirt that required clipping out for balance that immediately led into some nasty rocky sections that you just had to blow threw as there wasn’t much of a clean line. I went really slow through here on the first lap – getting passed by two riders, the second of which came by probably 10 mph faster just riding over all the big rocks I was trying to avoid. So that is when I learned that you can do that – just bomb over rocks at 30mph – the bike and wheels can handle it these days!

Once I reached the bottom, I continued passing riders all the way to the start of the second climb – the longer, steeper, and less technical stair stepper. In fact, I almost ran right into the back of a small group of three because I had been so intent on catching them that I wasn’t looking for turn signs. I caught them right at the turn and had to slam on the brakes skidding for some distance before stopping just shy of ramming into the last rider. I immediately passed them and continued passing riders all the way up the long climb.

The fast descent that gradually became slower
At the top of the long climb was a super fast steep descent. I didn’t have my Garmin, but it felt like I hit 50mph on this descent on the first lap. There was one clear, clean line between loose gravel/dirt and larger rocks on either side of the foot-wide line, but the line was clear, non-washboardy, and had no rocks in it — on the first lap! I almost wrecked here on the second lap because I tried to take it at the same speed as the first lap, but 1100 riders doing that descent on the first lap had loosened up soil on the clean line and created a bit of washboarding so that it no longer felt safe to go really fast. So each lap of the race, this descent got a bit sketchier and slower for me.

After the steep, sketchy part was a harder packed fast double track that went next to some sort of campground before turning onto the original national forest service road leading back up to the two-way Barn Burner entrance road. I flew through this part catching one or two more riders, and I heard someone yell out “ninth” as I made the turn in towards the barn.

The pit crew
At the end of each lap, you have to dismount your bike and run through the barn. Below is a video of me coming through the barn at the end of my second lap. You can see Analise waving the chain lube that I desperately needed because of all the dust/dirt on the course. My pit crew was just like a Nascar pit crew! Josiah would hold my bike, while Analise would hand me bars/gels/chain lub and Kristine would refill my bottles with gatorade. I would stand there eating and drinking whatever I could get down before Kristine finished with the gatorade. It was so awesome – less than 30 seconds to have two new bottles, a lubed chain, more gels/powerbars, and then off again.

The second, third and fourth laps
On the second lap, I was caught by a rider wearing a green Trek kit and the two of us worked together catching another rider to form a group of three. We worked well together all the way until the second climb where I rode away catching and passing a few more people on the climb finishing the lap in 5th place.

I rode the first half of the third lap alone eventually catching Derek Wilkerson who was in 4th place at the time. We worked well together catching and dropping the third place rider. Derek was a far better descender than me and had to wait for me after the descents. At the end of the third lap, I stopped with my pit crew to refill bottles and gels while Derek had enough to keep going.

I was so tired I figured I would never see him again, but a relay rider came flying by on the long gradual false flat leaving the barn. I hopped on his wheel and dug deep to stay there and soon we had caught up to Derek who tagged onto us making a small group of three. I was digging way too deep, so when we turned onto the dusty long descent I decided to back off and do my best to pace myself to hold onto a top 5 finish. I cramped on the Strava climb, stopped, went easier until I got caught by another relay rider towards the top. I was able to stick with him until the descent, but then he dropped me hard on the descent. I was caught by one more team rider on the section leading into the second climb, and he really lifted my pace again – but he flatted shortly before the start of the climb.

I went up the final climb knowing that I would need to go slow to keep from cramping again, but I continued to pass lapped riders many of whom were walking there bikes up the steep sections of the climb. I was able to solider on in a very easy gear to make it up the climb – but there were definitely sections I was wondering if I was going to have to get off and walk. I kept thinking that at any moment whoever was in 5th place would come cruising by. It didn’t happen though, and I made it up to the top, down the sketchy descent, and then turned on the gas one final time to make it to the finish line. It turns out that I was over 12 minutes ahead of 5th place so I could have taken the finish a little bit easier.

At the finish (as you may be able to tell from the picture at the top), I was exhausted. It took a while to be able to get out more than one or two coherent sentences in a row. I sat on the gatorade jug for quite a while drinking chocolate milk and cokes.

Two final videos before all the pictures – the first is of my finish. Look at Josiah cheering me at the top of the video near the far track, Analise near the turn, and then Kristine filming the video. It was awesome to come through there and see my family cheering me on. Also, there was a cool dirt bike track next to the barn so that the kids could spend the hour and a half between laps riding up and down the jumps and around the berms. Analise is tackling one of the jumps in the second video.

Analise, me, and Josiah after the race
Podium for 30-39 yr old males … 2nd place for me … Ken Chlouber handing out Leadville entries!