Yesterday marked my long ride ever, coming in at approximately 139 miles as a part of the Rapha Gentlemen’s Race. We headed out to the beach (Lincoln City) on Friday evening and stayed in a suite at the Inn at Spanish Head thanks to team president Jim who served as sugar daddy for the evening. [...]
Archive for February, 2010
I made yesterday’s race a lot more interesting than it was supposed to be for myself. Sublime Sublimity, now in it’s 2nd year, already has a reputation for being one of the harder one-day road races in Oregon, not to mention that it comes very early on the calendar. For my field, it was 40 miles of rolling hills and unforgiving terrain that doesn’t give you much of a chance to rest. As it turned out, I gave myself pretty much no chance to rest.
About half way into the first lap (of 3 laps plus several miles of a fourth lap to the finish), I rolled slightly off the front of the field with teammate Chris DuBois coming over the top of a climb. We decided to work just enough to hopefully put some panic in the field and make them chase us hard enough to drop anyone that was hurting early in the race. The intention was never to stay away, but after two more riders bridged the gap up to us, we decided to give it a go. DuBois dropped back to the main field fairly quickly, but the remaining three of us took off up the road. It was an interesting mix in the break, partly because two of us could climb, and the third rider from Portland Velo was extremely strong on flats and downhill but couldn’t climb very quickly.
After only 5 miles or so, the break began to fall apart, and I found myself alone up the road with somewhere just under a minute lead on the main field. I decided I had nothing to lose, so I chose to try to stay away solo with just over two laps to go. I had several things working in my favor besides being strong on the climbs and having decent time trialing strength; first, the course had enough corners and rolling terrain that I knew if I could stay about a minute ahead of the field, I’d be out of sight for the most part. Second, I was catching a number of Cat 1/2 racers that had fallen off the pace of the race that started several minutes ahead of us, and they would serve to confuse the chasing field nicely on exactly where I was at.
After a lap off the front on my own I was feeling decent and still had about the same gap on the field of a minute or slightly less. Then things got interesting when a dump truck blocked the road briefly, bringing me to a stop and allowing the main field to catch up with me. The race officials kept the main group back and allowed me to regain my break time once the road was clear, but I think having me close in their sights waiting for the dump truck probably made them smell blood and want to bring me back. Worse, I was in a really nice rhythm, and having to completely stop and then immediately get back to a hard threshold tempo really hurt and I started cramping slightly.
I stayed away for another full lap while fighting cramping, but eventually I was reeled back in with only 2-3 miles to go in the race. At that point I was hurting and worried I’d get shot out the back of the lead group, but I managed to hang in alright and actually found the strength to close a gap or two that opened up during attacking that occurred in the final miles. I spent the last mile yelling at Chris DuBois that my legs were toasted and I’d be pissed if he didn’t beat me since he should be fresh. Apparently that helped with some motivation, because he had a strong finish and came in 6th. I hung on for 10th on a short finishing climb with a 20 percent grade that made everyone’s tired legs scream at them.
All in all, I’m pleased with how it went, even if a 30 mile time trial wasn’t in my original plans for the day. This one told me a lot more about my fitness than the win at Cherry Pie did. It’s good – really good. April races, look out.
My aunt was there and took some great photos:
Next up come the Banana Belts which I’ll mostly treat as training races. That said, if the opportunity to snag the rest of the points I need to secure a Cat 2 upgrade arises, I’ll definitely take advantage of it.
You probably wouldn’t guess that these photos were taken in February on the Oregon Coast if I hadn’t just told you so. Today was a brief but fun escape from reality to go explore Seaside to Tillamook with Jess, and the weather was perfect.
Lots to say about the race, both good and bad, but I guess the bottom line is that I won, which is awesome! Sorry if the report is a bit long.
This one was a weird one. It still hasn’t quite sunk in fully, partly because with a mile to go my only goal left was to try to salvage my race and pull out a top 15.
First off, I feel really bad for the portion of our field that missed the start. Apparently our field’s registration capped out at 100, yet we were staged and started a full 8 minutes early and we rolled out with probably only 70 riders. One of our riders didn’t make it in time, and several other teams were lacking a majority of their groups. Not sure why that happened, but at the very least I hope the promoter gives them all refunds.
If they didn’t manage to catch up with the group before the end of the neutral rollout, it was race over for them. As soon as the race began, someone drilled it and we were going 30MPH from the gun. Early on in the lap, Rob and Derek made things interesting up front, and then about the time Rob moved back to rest up, a break got away that ended up being 7 riders at one point. I tried to bridge to it into a slight headwind and failed, coming within probably 30 yards of the break before not being able to hold the pace and dropping back. I don’t feel quite as bad about that looking back, considering at one point I looked down and I was in my 53X13 chasing them.
I made one other attempt to bridge with two other riders, but the peleton chased us and we never got much of a gap on them. At this point, I wasn’t feeling very good and needed to rest up.
Coming into the climb the first time, suddenly I was passing riders all over the place and started to feel a bit better about my form. The break started shedding some riders and was down to 4 starting the second of two laps (26 miles each for a total of 52). At this point it began to look like the break was finally going to get caught, and I slipped back in the pack a ways to rest up to be up front for the last miles of the race.
We had a fast first lap – averaging over 26MPH, and then as soon as the break was caught about a quarter of the way into the second lap, the pace slowed significantly and the movement in the peleton bottlenecked worse than I think I’ve ever seen it before. I spend the last 20 miles of the race trying in vain to move up even a few spots, but found myself stuck very solidly around 40th place in the pack. We were 5 wide, bumping bars, crossing wheels, etc. Justin managed to get himself up to a comfortable spot near the front just in time before things froze up, but Pat, Derek, and myself all found ourselves mid pack trying to get a glimpse of the front of the race.
Nearing the Finish
With several miles to go, everyone was getting anxious with nowhere to go and feeling pretty much completely stuck. Some yelling, bumping, and other general sketchiness occurred. I just tried to keep myself calm and patient, telling myself that a line would open up. That hope started to fade as we approached the base of the final climb to the finish.
The Finishing Climb
The base of the climb was about the point where I decided a top 15 would be a decent way to salvage the day, and I figured I could pass enough people to do so. Up the first of the steps of the climb things stayed fairly packed together with nowhere to move. Then, out of nowhere on the second step of the climb a huge line opened to the left and I jumped hard, going from 30th or further back up to top 10.
Justin gave me a very motivating “go get ‘em” as I passed, and I found myself sitting 5th-6th wheel around the final corner into the steep part of the finishing climb – which was right where I would have wanted to be regardless of the last 20 frustrating miles. I was already a bit spent from the effort to move up, but I figured I’d trust my legs from several weeks of hard 2-3 minute Tabor intervals to carry me to the finish.
Someone jumped pretty much right away after the corner, and I grabbed his wheel as he came around everyone heading towards the 200 meter sign. Instead of starting to die off, I actually managed to grab an extra gear and came around him with about 100 meters to go and put my head down and dug hard hoping no one could come around me.
I made it to the line first and was fairly sure I had won, but had to double-check with officials partly because there were a few riders up ahead that it turns out had fallen off the back of the race in front of us. That, and I was in a mild state of disbelief that I’d managed to pull a win out of what seemed like a hopeless situation.
Justin got caught up in a crash on the finishing climb, which spoiled what would have otherwise been a very good finishing place (he’s fine). It’s his turn next week.
Thanks also to Derek for trying to help me move up. Even though we never actually made much headway, he definitely kept me focused on trying to move up, which in reality at the very least kept me fighting to hold my position and not slip further back.