Monday, February 14, 2011

Double down came up short!

CCCX #2 Feb 12, 2011 M45+123

Steve Heaton

This was the first race with most of our new team. The plan was to go out and attack the race. We discussed many tactics and strategies based on each individual’s goals. We had attackers or responders to breakaway threats and a couple of sprinters if it ended in pack finish. Everyone knew in advance what to expect when a teammate made his move and how to support that effort. I found it comforting knowing I didn’t have to chase down every move. Having a strong team focused on the big picture and working together was sweet.

The team took the lead from the very start of the race. Dennis instantly drove the pace high setting the mood of what was going to be a very aggressive tactical race by Team Bicycle Trip/Symantec. Ken attacks and takes a handful of guys with him.

We blocked along with a few another teams allowing Ken a good gap to try and build on. After one lap I noticed he needed help so I jumped the gap and started cracking the whip. Ken and I did most of the work to get it going but the rest didn’t have it in them to organize, so we let up. The team took turns attacking over and over. Ken, Geoff, Russ and Mark at various times along with other teams. The race was very active! Just the way I like it.
Go guys go!

Mark and Geoff got away with a couple others at one point. The team was on fire letting everyone know we had plans. The depth of our team showed loud and clear especially when Mark got away.
Blockers – It seemed just about everyone had a turn at the front blocking.

Later in the race Mark attacked with another guy and off they went with the help of the team coming to the front to block.

Mark unloaded him in “baggage claim” on one of the climbs shortly after. We blocked as he hovered in front of us at a good distance over the last 3 laps in hopes of a solo win. On the final half lap backside hilly section Mark came back and it was time for me to step up and position for a chance at the win.

As we started the final descent I was approx 5 back knowing once we got to the bottom it would probably slow. I would be ready to jump around these guys to maintain top 3 into the final corner if the group behind starts to overtake us to the final corners. We did slow “way too much” and I started yelling GO GO GO. This is a dangerous situation to be in with 20 seconds remaining in the race and having a pack of hungry guys charging down on you from behind. I can’t look back. I have to watch the wheels in front of me. If I look back I could overlap a wheel and crash, taking people with me. My choices are, wait for someone to come around me, or go all out to the line. How long can I hold second wheel with one corner left. I’m thinking (instinctively) once I exit the corner I’m gonna punch it to the line in a fury of heat! I couldn’t believe that no one came around us before the second to last turn. I came out of the last turn second wheel when a guy sprints out of the corner around us getting the jump on me. I immediately jumped to get on his wheel but found myself passing him and was headed to the line…. “shift” I hit another gear and launched away up the rise to the line arms in the air.

In the simplest of words I won the race. It seemed so easy to pull off. Coming around the final turn to the line I could taste the win. It felt as if I was just doing another sprint practice, going all out for 15sec.

BUT it was not so simple and it wasn’t that easy to pull off. So many things have to come together especially in the final moments. One small error in judgment and all hopes are thrown out the window. It’s a fight or flight moment. It’s very difficult to put it all together in the heat of the moment.

A sprinters delight!!!

Changes happen so fast. No time for “thinking” of what is the best option. It’s over by the time you process your thoughts. To be in the right place at the right time requires forethought well in advance of the sprint. In this race it was 2 laps to go when I started setting up for the sprint. I focused on my timing with forward movements to use the least amount of energy at various places on the course. When the pace increased on the last lap I focused on maintaining a good position. My strategy for winning the race in a pack finish was to position two or three back going into the last turn using very little energy. It’s a great feeling when it all comes together crossing the line.

CCCX #2 Feb 12, 2011 35+123

Steve Heaton

I decided to race another race to see how my fitness was at this early stage of the season.

While I was waiting to start the next race I drank lots of fluid and ate strategically to make sure I got the right amount of calories. I didn’t do any pre-riding. I just relaxed and basked in the glory of my win. My buddy Derek was racing alone and so was I. We decided to work for each other and help whoever had the best chance.

Off we went and just like the earlier race attacks happened from the start. This time I was going to ride as economically as possible. I had started to feel cramps at the end of my earlier race. I knew if I went out in a break I would come up short later. With 5 laps to go I was starting to suffer and didn’t know what was to come. I sat in the back literally hanging on for dear life. With 3 laps to go I gapped myself unknowingly and almost got dropped. Cramping was setting in and I was taking it surge by surge. I remember telling myself to take the pain look off my face and if they hit it one more time “I’m out”. Attacks kept on coming until 2 laps to go a break of 8 got away and I couldn’t do a damn thing. Now it’s 1 lap to go and I’m still hanging on? I don’t know - I was cramping, suffering and wanting to drop out of the race. The gap wasn’t out of reach. We still had a shot at regrouping. Derek goes to the front and drills it to close some of the gap and put us in striking distance. No one was able to continue the pace so we dangled but Derek I could see wanted to catch them. I came up to Derek and yelled his name “DEREK” and he took off BAMM! “Holy crap what did I do?” He punched it we were flying leading into the last climbing/roller section on the back side. 50m before the turn he pulls off and I have to pull through. The break is so close. If we don’t get on they will roll away from us. I took the corner full gas gutter to cone (white knuckling it) knowing I needed all the momentum I could get out of the corner. I jumped once out of the corner and latched on to the breakaway at the top. I looked back and I was alone. No time to thank Derek. I have to do all I can to hang. If I can make it to the bottom of the hill I’m going to have a shot at another win. Three big attacks came then a slowdown allowing Derek and the rest to come back before we descend. From my experience I don’t see us slowing down at the bottom like the earlier race so I’m once again in 5th spot down the hill then I moved up to 3rd going into the final corners (we are hauling ass).

I can’t believe it. I’m lining up for another shot at a win. I feel great and ready to unload a big sprint! Out of the final corner I jumped……..I got a few pedal strokes and “POP” off goes my chain to the inside. I quickly hit the shifter a couple of times then it jams but I got nothing with 70m to go and I’m coasting in for 7th place. Derek was on my wheel and was able to get around me for 3rd. I’m so glad I didn’t take him down or anyone else. Such a bummer…… I’m sure I was looking at least a podium spot.
Cant win them all but it sure was fun trying...............


Dennis the Mennis said...

Incredible racing, Steve! We're lucky to have you on our side!

Satin Matt said...

great stuff - congrats Steve!

GratzILLa said...

"Holy crap, what did I do?" haha! You turned up the HEAT! Interesting how it seems you're racing with sheer confidence here - training, and strong teams, pays in souped-up ways! Bummer on the chain pain but superb effort, Steve! Once again, your dialog is outstanding.