Unfortunately this race summary will not be including any footage. Apparently, Mr. Toone was at a mountain bike race on Saturday. Mountain biking… whatever. ;)
This post really got out of hand while writing, and is a little long for short attention span individuals like myself. In summary my race resulted in a DNF due to a flat tire.
The race was cut short for me by the most amazing flat I’ve had over the past 10 years. Take note of the safety pin protruding from my tire in the picture. Cyclists have to pin numbers to their jerseys so the race directors can keep track of them. For the most part, everyone uses clothes pins. Somehow a close pin came loose from a riders jersey and landed on the road in such a way that it would pierce my rear tire. Fortunately, I flatted and came to a halt in the feed zone! This made it quick and easy to find a ride. I didn’t worry with the wheel truck as the field was quickly moving down the road. I wasn’t going to catch if I tried. Further, I was nursing an injury. I go into detail on that issue, here.
At the end of 3 laps and 79 miles the race would end on top of Fouche Gap road. This was one of my first competitions of last years cat 3 season. My teammate Nick Nichols took the win via a 2 man break that went half way through the second lap. I was so thrashed at the end of the race last year that I had nothing for the climb. I didn’t want the same thing to happen this year. Plus I was a little concerned for the left leg injury. Further the P/1/2 field last year saw the break get pulled in and it was a field sprint up the 1 mile climb. Therefore!
Pre-Race goal: Sit in!
Once arriving at Mt. Alto church, the race start, the consensus was that a break would stick. Last year the talent distribution was heavily weighted to one side. A large disparity between the talent, cat 2′s and the race winner Phil Gaimon (who had won Redlands just a week prior) was massive. This year UCI Continental teams were still represented but the depth of talent that reached into the 75+ man field was incredible. This would lead to a break away, a chase, and an inevitable shattering of the field as riders trudged up the finale. I remembered a race from last year where I mentally could not deviate from my plan. I would not make the same choices this year.
The race beginning was not barren of quick attacks. I was sitting in to learn my lesson of attacking and covering attacks too soon. I chose to ignore attacks at 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and 40 minutes in. I knew I wanted to save myself for the real moves. It is unlikely that the real break would be successful from these early attempts. I became involved at the front around 45 minutes into the race. I was watching some of the big players. I wanted to keep tabs on where they where. Also, where are the teams? Litespeed, Hincapie Devo, 706 project, Lupus, and Volkswagen where all well represented.
I missed the break, and was okay with it. I just didn’t have the right timing. I saw THE chase. THE legitimate chase group. I felt it, and it was awesome to recognize it! The uncool part was being 2-3 places deep in the field and unable to get through. I pulled the “pass on (not over) the yellow line trick” to get around and respond to the chase. As the chase was separating and the field was traveling through the feed zone ending the first lap, I was in the gap. I felt really good about my move, until I looked over to see the referee He was giving me relegation to go to the back of the field. When a rider crosses the yellow line (which is a safety hazard on non closed roads) he or she will either be relegated to the back of the field with a warning or suffer disqualification. I floated back. The chase was gone. The extent of my satisfaction was to know that I saw the right move.
Once completely at the back, the referee came up to me, motioned, and said, “Alright, let’s go!” I could tell he knew that he had hurt my chances. I moved my way back to the front, and spent the rest of the second lap attempting to bridge to the chase. The chase continued to get further out of sight. Another problem was represented teams (Litespeed, Lupus, etc.) where covering every move and keeping the field controlled. An example of team play: Litespeed carried enough clout in the race to have guys in the breaks and keep their best climber in the field for the finish. At least that was my understanding of their strategy.
Then suddenly it came, my fatigue point. At 1 hour 40 minutes in I began to experience cramping. Mixing it up on the front again was taking its toll. Finishing the second lap I faded to the back of the field. No matter who was going off the front now, I couldn’t cover it. The race predictor from USA Cycling had me finishing at 45th. ”Okay, let’s just bet that placing,” I thought to myself. I had recovered and was working my way back up the field, when I heard the clicking. The clothes pin was taking me down. I pulled over and found relief that this ended my race. Continuing to battle through could have further hurt my injury. Finishing early allowed me the opportunity to walk post race. Plus I would be able to train the next day and week. After taking 1.5 weeks off, non training was becoming an issue.
I caught a ride up to the finish. I was able to see Oscar Clark take the win. To my surprise people where finishing in the top ten that I had left in the field with me. How did they do that!? Did the field catch the break and the chase!? The chase had caught the break. Then a group of riders bridged from the field to that break. Kudos to Matt Russell from Volkswagen. He put in massive efforts to tow the chase to the break which was 3 minutes up the road. Then, at a strong 175 he pulled off a top ten in this premiere uphill finish road race. Good job dude.
Below are my numbers from the race. Something happened with my data, and the Training Peaks file was inopperable.
Thanks for reading! Next race? Probably the Cedar Hill Criterium in Madison TN on April 7th.
Strava (note that the power and cadence are inaccurate):
Training Peaks (what was available):