Monday, March 15, 2010

CCCX #2 M35+123 3/`3/10 Steve Heaton

3/13/10 CCCX #2 M35+123
Steve Heaton

A Circuit Race with approximately 10 min. laps on rolling terrain. Tailwind out for the flatter sections, then rolling back, up hill into the wind for a while, then a right hand descent (bumpy at high speeds) followed by a left sweeper reaching top end speed with a head wind going super fast. It ends up rolling out flat for 100 meters to the line.
After the race I initially thought to myself well, it’s not going to be much of a race report. But…on further consideration….
I’m going to share some of my strategy for preparation and during the race. It all started with training earlier in the week. This is my last build week of training and I didn’t want to cut any of my harder efforts out to be fresh for this race. I was able to do my harder efforts on Tues/Thurs and basically cut out my tempo rides and be ready to race on Sat. The problem is I do better when I have been on the bike the day before a hard effort but in order to work everything out (family, cycling, job) it was my best option for future goals. I went to this race with 2 days off the bike and knew it was going to be a gamble. Sometimes I just can’t get it going under these circumstances. Since this isn’t a priority race for me I was willing to take a chance. Even though, I still go to all races with a goal, plan and desire to win!
As I’m warming up at my car on my trainer I can’t help but over hear a Team discussing strategy. One of them won this race at CCCX #1 a couple weeks back. He proclaimed to NOT be a sprinter. I know he is strong so that means he is going for a breakaway or a big move close to the finish? Plus he has 3 teammates to help him (I’ll log this info. into my memory files for later). I get about 30mins of easy pedaling on the trainer then head out to do a lap on course 12mins and pushed it the last 5mins. The race starts and Ana (local cycling buddy and strong rider) pushes the pace off the line (ouch) I’m not ready for all out. All good cause it mellowed out. It was cold and windy and most guys didn’t have leg warmers and I assume they too needed more time to warm up. About half way I’m not feeling it. We had a few 1-2 man breakaways that didn’t get far. I went to the front a couple of times one of them heading into the final descent to close the gap on a guy up the road.

The real reason was to feel the wind from a lead position since I had plans on being one of the front runners to the line for the win. I’m not feeling it with 2 laps to go, not sure if I’m going to have a sprint. Attack comes and 4 riders are off and blocking is forming at the front. Another guy (I noted to watch) takes chase. They let him go so I attacked and easily latched on to the break (now my confidence is on the rise). Most teams are represented accept Joselyn’s so they chased us down. In order to conserve energy I was using the high cadence I have been practicing all winter on all the uphill sections. This kept me from having to stand and use more taxing muscles + I needed every drop of energy for the final sprint. I was concentrating the whole race to hold a forward position. I wasn’t always in position and I knew on the final lap it would only get much harder. With a little more than half a lap to go I’m about 5 back when the 4th rider has a guy roll up next to him to take has wheel? They start battling for the wheel and strike up some tuff talk so I slipped around to take the wheel from both them (neither said a word, it was a sweet move). I’m now on the wheel of guy who won this race last time with his teammate in front of him (2nd) ready to lead out his man in 3rd. Sitting 4th wheel might have seemed like too far forward at this point knowing lead guy is going to pull off any moment. I’m banking on someone attacking on one of these final rollers before the finish (non sprinter move). We turn right into the head wind roller section (lead guy pulls off). Two riders left in front of me with only a few minutes of racing (self proclaimed non sprinter dude and his teammate leading him) and me. We hold positions through all rollers until the final blip to descent. The attack comes, “what to do”~~~ “What to do”………. it’s a long ways but if he can hold his power output it’s possible? I know that guy is strong. I could respond and ride his wheel and attack to the line? I don’t trust him! I knew he wasn’t a sprinter so I stayed put 3rd wheel. Non sprinter dude’s lead out is done now I’m 2nd wheel headed into the descent and now lead guy picked up the pace descending toward the finish (I couldn’t ask for a better situation). Flyer dude is out of sight on the sweeper still a ways to the line.
NOW this is where it gets exciting!!! (Everything goes into slow motion)
As we swept through the high speed left descending bend to the final LONG run in to the straight to the finish line I’m thinking we will get overtaken any second???? I’m prepared to jump and catch the move for second wheel when it happens. No one is coming??? It’s because the sprinters are far forward waiting for someone to jump. I looked back a few times way more than I would normally but I wasn’t going to get caught off guard. No one is coming, I look up the road to see how far flyer dude is…………….he’s about 100+ meters from the line. We are 50 meters from him. I had to be patient since I was going to lead out the sprint. It’s a nutty moment but like I said I experience it in slow motion. At this point I have to decide when to make the final move. They seem to be waiting for me? I hear “Go Bike Trip” from behind. At this point it looks like I’m in the driver’s seat. It’s a risky moment. If I jump early I could get nothing. If I wait much more Flyer dude is going to get the win (HUMM… feels familiar, Cantua Creek my last race?) Time comes for me to let it fly. I jumped (53x12) and quickly (11) biggest gear wide the F**K open charging down on flyer dude concentrating on the slingshot pass to the right. Wind was coming from the right and you would think that going left would be better but in this situation there was a row of bushes close to the edge creating a slight wind block. On my warm up lap I rode on both sides of the road in this section to be sure I was positive and wouldn’t second guess myself in the heat of the moment. Another reason to go right was to create a split since we are so close to the line. The pack is spread out behind. Some would slow to squeeze right, others would have to go the long way around left. I’m on fire and feel like I can keep this going to the line. I see Keith on my wheel (yes I do look under my arm pit in a sprint) really close to my back wheel looking smooth. I know I’m a faster sprinter but if he gets the slingshot anything can happen.....………..he says “on right” so I check and he is behind me wanting me to move over to let him pass? We are charging into the last 30 meters at ALL OUT 53x11 blazing sprint (I don’t think so). He had enough room to get by if he was able to slingshot but no time for anything else (see link to photo’s ). I knew this sprint was going to be taken from close to the front. See if everyone is tapped out with no gear options in a head wind at 40+ mph to pass 1 rider is a bike length back. A bike is approx 5ft x 2- 4 places is 5-15+ft you have to be ripping fast to make that happen in the final moments of the sprint against a sprinter. Since we are all maxed out then the best way to pass me is a slingshot. As long as I keep accelerating to the line I should be able to hold them off (@#$%!&* Crazy moment!!!!!) 20 Meters to the line! I see no one coming around, I look hard for the line give it a mental push……………………….yeahhh left arm pump. #1 place!

What to take from this? Preparation for a race is very important, having a plan and sticking to it helps keep me focused along with adapting to a given moment with the goal of redirecting focus back to my goal. I truly wasn’t confident in winning this race half way through but I knew I had to stay true to my goals by staying forward especially on the final lap, ready for the key breakaways and respond without hesitation! Stay relaxed by focusing on breathing and be sure to notice any excessive body motions and smooth it out if needed. Pay attention to fluid & energy intake as needed. I run on 1 bottle of fluid & 200 calories an hour. I don’t spend too much time hyper focusing on any one thought. Final 15mins of a race be ready for anything. When the time comes to sprint flip the switch to the ON position and drive it to the line nice and aero.


Dennis the Mennis said...

Awesome report and result Steve!!!

Jim Langley said...

Fantastic Steve. Whata win and whata great write-up. I was with you right to the line. Very, very impressive win. Good for you!!!!

Mark Edwards said...

Great race and result Steve. You're such a complete racer, where most guys hope to develop one strength, you've got a whole arsenal to choose from. I'm glad you're on our team. You've got a great season ahead of you.