Saturday, April 01, 2017

Joe Martin Stages 1 and 2

Over the past couple days I have been racing the Joe Martin Stage Race in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Joe Martin is a 4 stage UCI 2.2 race that I have been coming to since 2010. I love the town of Fayetteville and the race.

Stage one was a time trial out of Devil's Den State Park. The time trial was 3 miles long, goes uphill for about 2 miles, goes downhill for about 800 meters, and rises for the final kilometer to the finish. The average grade for the entire time trial is 5%. For pacing I wanted to go almost all out to the top of the first climb. I needed to save some gas to spin out over the top of the hill and supertuck after I was up to speed. Then I would punch it to the finish. I paced it exactly this way, had good legs, but not my best and came home to 66th place 59 seconds behind the stage winner Adam de Vos of Rally. Rally took first, second, and had 2 more riders in the top 10. I thought it would make for an interesting stage 2.

Stage 2 was a 110 mile rolling point to point road race that starts in a Wal-Mart parking lot. It features a 9 mile climb, but the climb only averages 2%, so it is not selective. The race starts out on a highway for the first 10 or 12 miles. There was no wind, so we were just rolling along like a freight train. After the highway we jumped onto some smaller roads where the break of the day has usually rolled in the past. I positioned myself at the front and was attentive. I told myself I'd go if I saw Rally, Holowesko, and UHC send riders up the road. Rally was controlling the pace, and UHC and Holowesko didn't seem to be sending riders up the road, so I told myself pretty early it would be a sprint stage. I watched the break of the day roll, and that confirmed my thoughts. I just stayed in the pack, saved energy, hydrated, and ate. We rolled easy over that 9 mile climb, and there was a huge group fighting for the finale as we reeled in the break with about 10k to go. The finale of this race is always chaotic. We go from 45 miles on a 6 lane highway to a technical final 2 kilometer finish up some steep hills. I fought hard to position myself well, and I thought I was sitting good after we entered the technical section. However, riders were on their limit, and it was a chaotic fight all the way to the line. I finished around 43rd place, but I thought I was somewhere around 30th. Either way it isn't a very good ride, but it was fun fighting in that finale. My legs feel good, and I look forward to stage 3 today.

Stage 3 is another 110 mile stage that takes place on a circuit with a punchy hill that we tackle four times. Generally stage 3 is harder than stage 2, so it should be a fun one out there today.