Quick summary: 4th road race, 19th time trial
The details: it was a relatively small field (about 35 riders), but it was packed with heat. Two Team Type I pros were here (Emile Abraham and Daniel Holt), Brent Bookwalter (BMC), and four riders from a pro team called DLP (UCI Continental) along with Michael Olheiser and three riders from Texas Roadhouse. The pace started out slow in the road race because it was raining and wet. I put in the first attack and strung out the field. There was one counter attack that was chased down and then there was another strong attack at the base of the first major climb. Only Olheiser, me, and the US national team rider (?) could maintain the pace up the climb. We went up and over and flew down the other side which was kinda scary on the wet roads. We traded pace across the valley, but when we hit the next climb at 25mph Olheiser didn’t even slow down. Seriously, he probably went up that next climb at 20+mph all the way to the top. The national team rider and I both popped pretty quickly from that and the field came up to us.
Then there was a section of the race where several riders and teams were working together to try to bring Olheiser back so there weren’t any attacks or breaks. Once it became clear that we weren’t going to bring Olheiser back, the attacks and breaks started again. There were several “roll off” breaks where a few riders would simply roll off the front of the group at a slightly faster speed and simultaneously you get a couple of riders at the front who slow down or don’t want to pull through and all of a sudden there is a 5 man break up the road! This happened right before the long climb on the course. A group of about 8 riders simply rolled off the front. I got caught out near the back of the main field and managed to work myself to the front by the top of the climb. Several of us that didn’t have team members in the break worked together over the next 10 miles to bring the front group back. We did, and then almost immediately another “roll off” break went up the road. Darrell O’Quinn bridged up to it with a Krystal rider. There was pretty good team representation in the break and nobody in the pack looked like they were motivated to chase it down, so I attacked hard up the righthand side of the road and managed to get a clean gap with only a DLP rider in tow. I made it halfway across the gap and then convinced the DLP rider to work with me since they would then have a second rider in the break. We finished the bridge together and made it up to the lead group (minus Olheiser who was already several minutes up the road).
So after a few minutes our break of 7 started to gel and people started to work together although I wasn’t super happy with the composition of the group (we were missing two of the pros and one entire strong team – Texas Roadhouse). Eventually we got into a really good rhythm with everybody pulling through. I felt pretty comfortable that we were going to stay away to the end (about 20 miles to go). We made it to the last major climb (excluding the finishing climb) and only three of us were able to maintain a high pace up the climb. I found myself off the front with a strong DLP rider (Thad Dulin who raced for Jittery Joe’s last year), and a Team Type I pro (Daniel Holt) coming across the top. We worked well together and put about 30-45 seconds into the remainder of the break. We were rolling into a headwind at a pace that fluxuated between 25 and 28mph. Finally, we turned and you could see the last climb just ahead of us. We congratulated each other and joked that maybe we should just roll up the last climb and then do a standing start sprint with 200 meters to go. We laughed and then started up the climb. Right about that moment, we looked back and saw that the pack was RIGHT THERE maybe only 15 seconds behind us and we still had a 1km climb left to go! I panicked at that point thinking that I might cramp and get left behind if I waited for one of the other riders to attack – so I went to the front and pulled as hard as I could up the climb without cramping desperately hoping that I would be able to pull hard enough to keep us away and maybe drop one of the other two riders with me. That wasn’t going to happen so when we made it to the 200 meter mark I led out the sprint hoping that maybe I would catch at least one rider struggling – but I could hear both of them shift into harder gears behind me and then launch around me to take 2nd and 3rd while I rolled across in 4th. The pack came in a few seconds (maybe 10) later.
Here is my HR data (my power meter was installed but not working for the road race):
- I was in a break on the first climb with Olheiser and the US National rider
- Olheiser rode away from us on the second climb
- I got caught at the back of the group at the bottom of this climb and worked my way to the front by the top
- Here I was helping to chase down the split of 10 riders up the road
- This is my bridge to break up the road.
- Here is where our break got split up, and I went up the road with Thad Dulin (DLP) and Daniel Holt (Team Type I)
- The finishing climb
Darryl Seelhorst, Wes Douglas, Darrell O’Quinn, Jim Brock, and I had a nice relaxing lunch and talk on the front porch of a country store in what has got to be the most beautiful part of Tennessee. Then we went back to the state park where our cars were parked from the road race and worked on our bikes. I worked on getting my new Polar power meter working right (technical details in next post, but it turns out it was a problem with spacing for the cadence magnet) and I tried to put TT bars on my bike, but the two sets of bars that I had were 15 and 20 years old respectively and designed to work with the old thinner handlebars. So I did the TT Eddy Merckx style and was very pleased even though I got next to last. I wanted to test out my power meter and get a baseline for the type of power that I could hold for a 9.1 mile time trial. I decided to go with 20 pedal strokes hard, 5 strokes easy for the race but quickly discovered that I needed 10 strokes and sometimes 20 easy in order to keep from blowing up. Also, I went out too hard. Here is my power and HR data from the TT: