Here is a tale of two teams and two training camps culminating in the second race of the annual Camp Sumataunga training series put on by GSMR. Travis Sherman and his Moontoast/Warp9bikes.com/Tristar cycling team held their spring training camp in Birmingham this weekend as did we at the Tria Cycling / DonohooAuto / Infinity Med-i-spa cycling team. Our camp was at Lake Logan Martin with Dan Taylor hosting us for good hard riding on Friday and Saturday. Both our team and Tristar decided to cap off a hard weekend of training going head-to-head along with about 35 other riders in the second race of the GSMR training series.
I figured the start would be slow, but Tristar turned up the heat as soon as we turned the first corner with a strong series of attacks that saw a small group establish itself off the front including Mike Olheiser (Tristar), Nick Housley (Tristar), Wes Douglas (Tria Cycling), me (Tria Cycling), and maybe one or two other guys within the first two and a half miles of the race. I didn’t have time to take notice of who all was there because Nick (Tristar) attacked the break shortly after it was established. I covered the move chasing hard to bridge up to Nick taking just over 1 minute to get there (see heart rate data #3). After I pulled through, Nick who was apparently very eager to get up the road alone, attacked catching me completely by surprise and dropped me like a bad habit. I felt that the race had still yet to develop so I let him go and waited for the rest of our breakaway group to catch up. I realized that it was pretty much all together behind me, and I knew that it was “do or die” on the course’s longest hill so I wanted to make sure that I was not caught until near the top of that hill. If I was caught anywhere towards the bottom of that hill, there was a near certainty that the break would be leaving up the road without me! So I pushed it hard up the hill, caught my breath for about 10 seconds just in time to see Mike Olheiser (Tristar) come flying by with my teammate Wes close on his wheel. I dug as deep as possible knowing that this move was not coming back to the pack.
Indeed, it was the decisive move and here were the ones that made it: Mike Olheiser (Tristar), Mike Lanham (Tristar), Mark Simpson (Velocity Pro Cycles), Wes Douglas (Tria Cycling), and me (Tria Cycling). Nick was still up the road ahead of us and gradually extending his lead. Mike and Mike both pushed the pace hard at the beginning of the break with Mark, Wes, and I rolling through. The pace was very hard and we ended up losing Mark (who made it into the front group two weeks in a row) towards the end of the first lap. At that point it became a Tristar / Tria battle for the top five positions. Tristar was in a funny position because Nick was still up the road, but it was also to their advantage to keep our break away from the main group. So Mike Olheiser continued to push the pace hard while the rest of us just rolled through. On lap 2, shortly after the long hill on the backside of the course, Mike Olheiser put in a monster attack catching me completely off guard. I set off in pursuit all the way across the rollers approaching the turn onto the rough finishing road. I was closing the gap ever so slowly and then covered the final ground by basically praying and closing my eyes through the turn at not 20, not 25, but 30mph swinging all the way to what had to have been less than an inch from the side of the road! I knew that if Mike O still had a gap coming out of the corner it was over for me – but I came flying out of the corner and closed it down within a few more seconds hitting my max heartrate for the day (see heartrate data #6).
When I caught Mike, again he was faced with a tough decision because he couldn’t just drag me up to his teammate, but he had successfully gotten me separated from my teammate Wes. In the end he decided to soft pedal until his teammate Mike Lanham and Wes caught back up to us. At that point, I was in desperate need for a rest when Mike Lanham wisely launched an attack. Thankfully, Wes covered it with me barely chasing back on. Then it was a stalemate for the next 1/2 mile as we made it back onto the smooth road with the order being Mike O, Me, Wes, Mike L. I knew that Mike L was resting and getting ready to attack again so I told Wes to get behind Mike L. Mike L didn’t want that so as Wes slowed down so did Mike L. Before long, Mike O and I were at least 20 seconds up the road ahead of them. In the end I think this was the best possible scenario as Mike L and Mike O would have continued to attack us until either one or both of us had gotten dropped. So instead of that happening, Mike O started to ride tempo and I tried to pull a little bit extra hard when it was my turn to help close the gap back to Nick who had started to soft pedal when he saw us coming. From that point on it was two Tristar against me. Keep in mind that at this point we still had over 25 miles left in the race.
I knew it was in my best interest to help work with them to maintain our break to discourage them from attacking me. I kid you not, though, for the next hour and 15 minutes I had one thought running constantly through my head — “no gaps”. So whenever it was my turn to pull, I would pull at 85-90% and try to pull a little bit longer than what I normally would. And I was always watching shadows even early on in the third lap when I wasn’t suspecting that they would attack me yet. I am very very glad though that I was paying attention because halfway through the fourth lap, going into the long hill on the backside of the course I heard and saw Nick’s shadow move abruptly. I had been waiting for it for the past 30 minutes so I was ready. Even though I caught onto his wheel nearly right away, Nick didn’t let up on his attack all the way up the hill with me snaking across the road to stay in his draft at over 20mph across the top of the hill. This actually worked out well because Nick caught Mike O by surprise too and Mike had to chase back on meaning I had about 10 seconds worth of rest before Mike O counter attacked and it came on a slight downhill and I saw it coming so I closed it down immediately and Nick was too tired to attack again. So I got a nice breather plus I also got a psychological boost knowing that Nick had just punched my ticket for a free ride the rest of the way. Plus, I was angry. I no longer had any ethical, tactical, or logical reason to pull. As indicated by the heartrate 7 region, there were several attacks but I shut each one down by anticipating and jumping it even in the middle of the first pedal stroke. So we sort of reached a stalemate for the final lap with Mike O pulling the ENTIRE lap at a moderate pace with me in second and Nick in third. Mike put in one last attack coming up the hill in the middle of the rough road section. I was caught out of position a bit but was able to pull him back by the bottom of the downhill. I would have been in trouble if Nick had counter attacked right away but I think he was struggling a bit too. So in the end Mike was forced to lead it out and I was forced to try to anticipate Nick’s jump in the final sprint. I couldn’t do it though because when Nick jumped, he jumped incredibly hard opening up a huge gap that I couldn’t close so I came across in 2nd with Mike just behind in 3rd.
Wes was able to outkick Mike Lanham for fourth. Sammy came through about 30 seconds later taking the field sprint. So in the end Tristar came away with the team victory taking 1st, 3rd, and 5th – and we came in second taking 2nd, 4th, and 6th. Kudos to them for a good strategic race, and I am already looking forward to a rematch as it was great training and a great learning experience for everyone.
- Easy first 2.5 miles
- Tristar’s initial attack
- Chasing down Nick’s counter attack
- Catching on to the second break
- An attack from somebody towards the end of the first lap
- Chasing down Mike O’s attack, maximum HR for the day
- Nick’s attack halfway through the 4th lap plus additional attacks from both him and Mike O
- An attack by either Nick or Mike
- Mike’s final attack
- The final sprint