Steve Heaton 45-49
~ Two Man Flyer ~
I was rested and ready to battle for victory against some of the strongest guys in my category. I took a sunny 10min nap in my hammock right before I left for the race that day. I knew without a doubt my fitness was good. Earlier in the week and the prior week I did a couple tests to see what level of power I was producing. My FTP, VO2 and Sprint results showed high output holding peak fitness from 2 months ago.
This year’s Championship race was held in Monterey offering me home course advantage. I have won a few races here making it more likely for me to do well. The beauty of District Championships is the course changes over the years to accommodate riders throughout the district. It effectively levels the playing field for everyone to have a chance at a Championship title. Some years altitude friendly riders have the advantage other year’s skinny frail climbers and finally this year power riders like myself. The CCCX race series is held on the same course runs from Jan 30 ends Oct 1. I’m leading the series overall with two races remaining.
The race almost always ends up with a breakaway. I wasn’t going to let any sizeable group go up the road without me in it.
Ding Dong the race is on……………………….. Literally it was on from the start!
Immediate attack and five riders go up the road. With five teams represented I noticed at least one super strong guy and I couldn’t just sit back and watch them roll out of sight. So I kept the pace high and would attack at 90% with lots of body language to see if I could light a spark under the belly of the beast. With one lap down and nothing from the pack I threw down a serious 110% attack and bridged up to the breakaway by myself.
No one is going to escape me today!
Upon arrival I noticed one guy pulling mostly and the others hanging on desperately. I recovered from my attack to bridge up, looked back and we had a decisive gap. I decided to see what we can make of it since we now have 6 teams represented.
By the end of the second lap it’s just me and Dirk?
I usually only mention my teammates names because my race reports are about me and how I experienced the race including teammates but this guy (Dirk) and I ended up riding like teammates.
I Said to Dirk “it’s just us.” He just kept on pushing the pace and I synced up. The pace felt like we only had one lap remaining but in reality it was the beginning of many to come. Next thing I know we have 8 laps to go with 40mins down and 1h20mins of racing remaining. I’m thinking this is a huge effort so far with two times as much required to finish it. Between the two of us we had just two teammates in the pack that could do any potential blocking. The odds of us two holding off the peloton was highly unlikely. We charged forward like two horses on a race track going round and round full speed ahead.
The daunting challenge ahead seemed endless with the amount of time required to pull off the two man flyer. I focused on hydration and food intake to make sure I wouldn’t fall apart late in the race. To give you an idea of how hard I had to ride, I would pull at 90-100% efforts between 30sec and 2min with recover efforts at 75-90%. For those of you with power L4/5 – L3/4 with very little at 75%/L3. Even on the down hills we would literally sprint into the downhill and sling shot past each other over and over. It was a crazy fast pace but it’s what it takes to hold off the pack especially with a Championship title on the line.
After 1hr 30min (9laps into it) our lead stayed around 1min 30secs. With 4 laps to go the official car came up to us and said a chase group of 10 guys is charging hard after you. With 3 laps to go on the long straight I could just start to see them. Dirk could tell I was getting nervous and said if we still have a good gap with two laps to go we can take this race. I put my head down and proceeded to hammer it out.
Two laps and I can see the chase on the long straight away getting closer. I’m really feeling the pressure to not slow and push through the pain. We held our pace pretty well but with 10 hungry rested and strong guys chasing with less than two laps remaining it wasn’t looking good. As we came into the finish stretch with one lap remaining I looked back and the chase is charging really hard with 15sec gap to us.
Turn on the volume
We hammered it out on the long flat section in hopes they would hesitate looking at each other but then I knew it was over. I eased up and let Dirk set the pace on the stretch of road he liked pulling. With about half lap to go (5mins to finish) on the first riser they sprinted past in order to drop us and that they did. I attempted to go with but didn’t have it. As I watched them roll away I said to myself “YOU HAVE ONE LAST CHANCE – NOW OR NEVER”. Don’t let the last two hours of hard fought effort turn to nothing.
I stood up again and went all out like my life depended on it. I felt if I could catch them and recover before the start of the climbing section I have a chance. Then if I make the first climb the rest are rollers into a strong headwind and no one will want to be in front and the pace might slow enough for me to recover before finish sprint.
I was able to catch them and did make the climb. I was so elated and now feeling like I had a shot at a good finish. As we approach the final turn to start our sprint I’m about five back and would rather be first or second back but couldn’t power my way into that position. We jump for the line and I don’t have the power in my legs to sprint past these guys but I held my position and beat half the group for 5th place.
Me on the left coming to the line and pretty much sums up the experience as I approached the line. A blur...........
What an exciting day of racing!