Pro/1/2 podium – Left to right – Said Assali (Shama Cycles), Me (Friends of the Great Smokies), and David Potter (Infinity Racing/Tom Williams BMW-Mini).
I’m super happy to take the win today in the Alabama state road race in Elkmont up near the border of Tennessee. We had a small 1/2 field combined with the 3s and the Masters for a grand total of maybe 15-20 people in the race. This led to interesting team dynamics with team members spread across different fields, but there wasn’t a whole lot of choice for the officials given the small turnout. The race organizers did something awesome I’ve never seen before in 20 years of racing … they handed out black ribbons at the start for us to wear in honor of James Keith Green who was killed earlier this week bicycling in Lauderdale County not far from the race course. Given my accident earlier in the year, it meant a lot for me to be able to cross the line solo holding up the ribbon as a tribute to someone who was not as fortunate as I was.
The race itself played out differently than I had imagined … I was hoping for a break, which did happen — but not in the way I would have expected. On the first lap, there were a few attacks, but everything stayed together with everyone being fresh. Then across the top of the plateau after the first climb on the second lap, Said Assali and David Potter rolled off the front. I was near the front so I attacked to bridge across thinking that I would probably just pull the field up with me. Instead, I got away solo and when I caught up to them went flying by saying “let’s go, this is it”.
Sure enough, by the time the field started chasing we had already hit 53 mph on the steep descent off the plateau. We had maybe a 15-20 second gap as we started up the steeper longer second climb. I was thinking that somebody from the field might bridge across to us, but we stayed away to the top and then started really rolling well into the headwind part of the course. A few miles later, it seemed pretty clear that we were going to stay away. For the next 30 miles or so, we worked well together until I attacked at the entrance of the roubaix portion of the course (Robinson Rd – a mix of pavement and gravel and potholes).
I was hoping to reduce the break from 3 to 2, but both Said and David had no problem holding my wheel. The end of that section immediately transitions into the first climb. I hit it hard again … again hoping to get away with just one other rider … but both Said and David came off my pace, which meant I would have to push it HARD for the next 12 miles to the end of the lap if I was going to stay away for the win. Fortunately, I was able to hold them off for the win!
Here’s my annotated heartrate and power data:
Heartrate zone summary.
Also, I’ve linked to my shifting data (specifically lap 6) from the race. One of the things that I learned from the 24 hour race was that I tended to shift into easier gears when I started to get tired. So when I started to get tired on my solo break late in the race and my power started to drop well below threshold, I would shift down into a harder gear for a bit and pick up the pace. This plays out in the data as more frequent shifting on lap 6 as opposed to lap 5, which was entirely in the 3 man break. 11.6 seconds between shifts on lap 6 vs 14.1 seconds per shift on lap 5.