Posts Tagged ‘Georgia State Road Race Championship’

This last weekend was the Georgia State Road Race Championship which was held near Rome, GA on a rolling hills course consisting of two 41 mile laps for a total of 84 miles that includes a couple miles rolling to the course from the race start line.  With several races going on in other states, it was mainly local racers looking to contest a jersey.  Most of the faster masters racers in Georgia decided to race the P/1/2 race which was good to see as sometimes you end up with too many Cat 1/2’s in Master’s races which I think creates large disparities between masters racers.  I lined up with the team for the P/1/2 race as a Cat 2, but my focus was on the Cat 1 jersey for the team.  We had a good plan and executed well all day.  Everyone on the team had a role and rode very well which makes it fun for everyone.  I was watching for the typical moves that looked dangerous.  There were a lot of heavy hitters hanging back early in the race, so there was a nice mix of different riders trying to get up the road.  An early break of about ten riders got away about ten miles inot the race and stayed away for about thirty minutes or maybe closer to forty-five minutes.  It was out there a while, but eventually it was pulled back by the field.  I knew that the big guns would look to counter this move since it was really the only move of the day, and we were approaching an hour of racing.  Immediately, Mike Stone (Lupus) attacked and I followed his wheel.  A couple guys jumped my wheel, and we were off the front.  I was sitting on, and so were a couple other guys, so nobody pulled through.  Mike sat up, and was immediately countered by someone on his team.  I went part way and then noticed that I didn’t recognize the guy and had just jumped a few seconds earlier.  I waited to see what the pack would do.  A couple guys bridged up, but it was quickly followed by ten more riders on their wheels, so that move was harmless.  There were a couple more surges, but nothing was happening.  Then, we turned a corner and there was a long gradual stretch of road.  Brendan Sullivan (Lupus) drilled it off the front and quickly got a gap.  I was a little unsure if it was Brendan or someone else at this point.  I watch him quickly get 15m, then 20m, then 30m, then 40m.  At that point, I realized it was Brendan, and I could see he was heads down going for it.  I jumped harder than I wanted looking back at my power file.  I jumped at 1,375 watts and then rode 5 sec at 1,175w, and 10 sec around 1,000w, and a minute at an easier 560w.  I could go much harder than that, but this was an effort that is just hard enough 25 miles into an 84 mile road race to avoid most people in the pack to discourage following the move or at least thinking twice about it.  Brendan was going hard and we had a very long way to go, so I dangled a bit and tried to figure out what I wanted to do as I rode about 20m off his wheel bridging up.  I looked back and was happy to see Mike Stone bridging up with my teammate Tim Henry on his wheel.  They brought Buddy Spafford, Erik Kirk (recent Cat 2 upgrade, kudos to him on the bidge…), and another guy I didn’t know.  The six of us worked well together for the next hour.   It was not a hard break with 20 min power at 325w and 30 min at 310w, but we knew that we had about 2.5hrs left to race, so it was the perfect pace.  I did about 355w for the first 10 min, so we were not crushing it, but it was hard enough to get 45 – 60 sec in the first 10 min.  We settled in nicely and worked well rotating for the next 1.5hrs with near a 2 min gap until my teammate, Tim Henry, had a flat. That is when things got a little dicey for the group.  After losing one, everyone had to do a little more work since Village Volkswagen and Atlanta Cycling were not in the break and chasing from behind. We lifted the pace a bit and got the break back to 1:30, but we popped Erik off in the process.  Now, we are down to 5 riders with two Lupus riders.  At this point, Lupus had 1st and 2nd place in Cat 1 wrapped up if we finished the break.  The other two riders and me were Cat 2’s, but Buddy (I think it was Buddy, maybe someone can clarify if it wasn’t) was from Florida, so no jersey potential for him.  If the break held, I was competing against another rider for the Cat 2 jersey.  

When Tim reached the field, it was clear that our team was in a tough situation.  Our goal was to get a Cat 1 jersey, so we quickly assembled the troops and starting pulling the break back.  In the break, we didn’t realize the pack dynamics, but we did know that our gap was coming down quickly.  With about 15 miles to go, we got a 1 min gap time check.  It went from 2 min to 1:30 to 1:15 to 1:10 to 1 min in the hour since we lost Tim.  When you see a gap come down like that, it’s obvious that you’re in trouble in the break unless you can really ramp it up.  With about 15 miles to go, we were under 1 min, and Mike started to push the pace much harder.  I was working really hard in the first 1.5hrs of the break when we had Tim with really strong pulls, so that was making my legs tired in the final 45 min of the race.  We hit a decent climb and Mike got a small gap.  We chased back on the descent, but I got a time check from the Marshall about 10 miles to go that said the pack was at the top descending.  Quick calculations let me know that was about 30 sec, and we were likely getting caught very soon.  It went from 1 min to 30 sec in only a few miles, we looked doomed.  As soon as the road straighted and started to incline the pack could see us up ahead.  Mike looked back and saw the field about 30 sec back, so he started to attack pretty hard.  I came off with Buddy, and I couldn’t figure out if it was smart to fight to get back on or pull the plug as we were still about 8 miles out with a charging pack riding much faster ready to swallow us in less than a minute or two.  It didn’t matter as any out of the saddle effort caused cramping, so I needed to stay seated and grind out the effort.  I haven’t done a lot of road racing this season, and it requires a lot more effort than I can get from a long training ride.  After getting swallowed up, I was almost spit out the back, but the marshal encouraged me to ride back onto the back after telling me there was only 8 miles left.  My legs hurt, and I was in pain since the pack was going faster than my legs could handle.  I sprinted back onto the back of the pack where there was a strong draft.  I sat back there for the next 4 miles recovering.  With about 4 miles to go, I decided to move up slowly.  I wanted to see if I could just get midpack for the heck of it.  My legs couldn’t do an out of the saddle sprint, but there were able to do a decent spin in the drops.  I followed a few wheels closer to the front.  I was near the front by the time when a move went off the front.  I didn’t know who was in the move or whether or not I could even go with the move.  Given the cramping, I decided to sit in and hope it comes back.  It didn’t come back, so that was the top 7 spots.  I moved over behind a few good riders, and then sprinted to the line behind the first row of pack sprinters to finish 5th in the pack sprint and 12th overall.  

There are a few takeaways for me from Saturday’s race.  First, my race weight is still way to high.  I raced last week about 12lbs overweight, and then dieted all week to start this race about 8lbs overweight.  I’m now writing Monday morning about 6lbs overweight.  My plan is to get back to last season’s low weight by Georgia Games road race.  Since I didn’t travel last week and will likely not travel this week, I should be able to get very close.  I’ve traveled out of town almost every week this season with several multi-day/night trips to NYC, Miami, etc…not easy to avoid weight gain when every meal is in a restaurant with colleagues and clients.  However, this two week stretch without travel will allow me to essentially lose water, fat, muscle, heck, I don’t care what it is, I need to lose it and worry about the composition later.  

The other takeaway is that my legs finally got some intensity in April / May from crits, but June was the first month of long road races.  I am now getting race legs with the ability to go long and hard, so the 2nd half of the year should have fewer days of legs that give out around 3hrs…

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