Monday, March 15, 2010

Madera Stage Race 35+ 4/5

So, last year I crashed in the crit at this race and missed the rest of the event. I was excited to be back but more than a little nervous about my first crit since the crash. It was also a bit daunting to be the only Tripper in my category. Taleo had 14 riders registered, Rio Strada had 8 and several other teams had more than 5. Still, I hoped to do my best, and I had gotten excellent tactical advice from Jim Langley, Steve Heaton, and my coach Dan Smith.
We lined up for the crit on Saturday morning and off we went. The winds were not so bad in the morning as they were for Nils' group in the afternoon, and our group pretty much stayed together. The race was a little surging in nature, but the only harder ones came on the two preme laps. There were time bonuses for those laps and several guys went really hard, causing the rest of the group to chase. After the second preme, I went hard after the guys who had gone and tried to encourage a break. No such luck. At that point, I decided to sit in and ride as safely as I could to the line. I think that almost the whole group got the same time, excepting bonuses for the premes and top three placings. After the crit, I was in 18th position and happy to have it over.
The TT was scheduled for the afternoon and the wind was really picking up. I was hearing stories of guys struggling to make 15mph on the final leg. That did not sound good. I had some aero bars, but not much else. After seeing a picture that Nils took of me as I was trying out the course on Friday, I am also aware that my most aero position is not very aero. It was to be my first TT with any aero equipment, and I hoped that my power would serve me well on this mostly flat 10 mile course. I went out too hard and after a couple of minutes my avg wattage was in zone 6. I knew that was going to be a problem and made a conscious effort to back off. I saw my wattage continue to fall off, but I felt like I was continuing to work hard on the outward leg which had a cross tailwind. I turned onto the second leg with its full on tailwind and allowed myself to recover to about my mid zone 4 level. As I came up on the third leg with its cross headwind, I realized that I was going too fast and the wind had caught me going into the turn. I had to break a bit and made the turn really wide. As I was regrouping, I was passed by the rider who started 30 seconds behind me. This guy had all the equipment, a pretty aero position, and he was very strong. I had thought he might catch me when I saw him at the start. Still it wasn't fun, and I began to dig deep. I focused on turning the cranks on the final two legs of the event and trying to stay as low and still in my upper body as I could. I focused on the guy I had started behind and did my best to catch him. As we ground towards the finish, the headwind seemed to be close to 20 mph. And then it was over and I didn't feel good. I was shot. And, still I had lost 10 spots in the GC and about 3 minutes in time. I was 3:22 back and in 28th place. Still, I felt I had given my best effort.
The road race was Sunday and I was hoping that my legs would have more in them than some of the competition. Rio Strada and Taleo had their guys atop the GC and I expected my only hope was to try and get in a break of other non contenders. We were on the second of three laps when the only attack of the day came. A Davis rider launched off the front and got a gap of about 10 seconds. I was at the front of the pack and decided to give it a shot. I bridged up to him and encouraged him to go. We were well matched in the flats and began to extend our gap. The moto-ref came by at one point and told us we were up to 32 seconds. I encouraged my breakmate to continue working and suggested that some of the teams might be blocking. He said he was going to drop when we got to the rollers because he couldn't climb. I told him I was no great climber but that I thought we could power through the rollers that lay ahead. I encouraged him to stay with me and told him that I needed him on the other side. As we approached the hills, the ref announced our lead at 49 seconds. That was the best it got. I had to wait for the Davis rider to get through the hills, and by the time we were through, we had been run down. I expect I could have stayed away a bit longer if I had pushed on my own, but I did not relish the thought of being in the wind for a whole lap, alone. I was able to recover in the group and work my way back to the front of the pack. I was fortunate to have made some connections with a couple of the guys from Bikes Plus. They were all riding at the front and had one of their guys move over to take the wind for me. I was able to stay at the front with them for the majority of the final lap and kept myself in top 5 position with less than 5 minutes to go in the race. When we got to the hills leading up to the finish, my legs just didn't have the juice left to stay with the leaders. I was going as hard as I could, but I was getting dropped on the second roller. I had burned too much energy on my break and had to be happy finishing about the same position I had started the road race in. I did pick up one spot in the GC and finished in 27th position overall. I had a great weekend. It would be nice to have some teammates!

1 comment:

Jim Langley said...

Way to go, Bob. Enjoyed your report. Awesome job hanging tough with those fast guys.