Saturday, April 15, 2017

Sunny King Criterium and McClellan Road Race

This past weekend I raced the Sunny King Criterium and Fort McClellan Road Race in Anniston, Alabama. Both races are part of the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour, and there was a ton of heat at both events.

For the Sunny King Criterium we did 60 laps on a 4-turn 0.6 mile course that has a slight uphill on the finish straight. As far as Pro Road Tour criteriums go Sunny King is a relatively easy one, so it is a nice way to get the season started. However, this year there was a higher level of competition, so I was interested to see how it would play out. I tried to get a good starting position, but the best I could manage was about mid-pack. The pace started out very fast, and we were strung out from the gun. I did not panic and took opportunities to move up as the pace slowed. About 20 laps into the race a break of 10 riders rolled, and the riders at the front sat up. I used this moment to get all the way to the front, and I was on Michael Hernandez's wheel. On the start/finish straight he jumped, and I did the best I could to jump with him. I hit peak watts for me, but it was not enough. My acceleration could not snap me away from the group nor hold Mike's wheel. This was the move of the day, and I just could not get there. This attempt to go to the break really left me empty, and I floated back in the group. I tried to ride the front or jump away a couple more times, but I had no success. I just spent the rest of the race riding it out and looking for an opportunity. With 9 laps to go I was caught behind a crash and took a free-lap. We were thrown in very far back in the field, so it would not have been possible to make it to the front of the race again. I just rode it out in the group I was with to finish the race. Here is a link to my race on Strava

The McClellan Road Race was a race I had on my mind all winter. It is a 92 mile road race where we do 4 laps on a 23 mile circuit that features a 0.7 mile climb at 11% and a 1.5 mile highway climb at 6%. The lap starts out where we hit the climb immediately. I felt the break may go on the first time up the 0.7 mile climb, so I positioned myself at the front of the peloton. However, a random stick on the course had other designs for my race. During the first kilometer of the race this stick lodged itself in my front wheel. I had to stop to take this stick out of my wheel and pedal back up to the peloton. I made it back to the group before the climb, but I didn't panic to make it up to the front of the peloton. If I used all that energy early I may have had no energy all race, so I did the first climb conservatively. A group of about 25 guys rolled off the front of the peloton over the first climb, but a group of 25 never works well together right? This group was drilling it, but I still did not panic. My legs were good, and it is best to let guys waste energy keeping the split close. There was another split over the highway climb, but I could tell that was coming back too. The second time up Bains Gap I finally decided it was time to start racing and my quest to attempt to make it to the front of the race. My group was working well together and on the highway climb we had the leaders in sight. I didn't account for the fact that now teams use radios, so when they heard we were close the break worked harder. I need to account for this in future races. The third time up Bains Gap I blew and lost contact with some of the guys that were in my 10 rider group. Guys from behind bridged up to me, and I rode hard with them. We were still riding hard and were catching riders that were imploding from the first group on the road. There was a rule in this race that if you were ever 8 minutes behind on the road then your group would be pulled. We got a check that we were 5.5 minutes behind the last time through the start/ finish. However, the race decided to pull us at the top of Bain's Gap. My group of ~10-15 riders was 5 seconds behind the last rider who was not pulled. This was very strange logic, but I listened to the officials. We would have picked up that rider on the descent and he would have finished faster with our group than doing the last 17 miles by himself. Here is a link to my race on Strava

The last weekend did not go too well, but I am confident with my level of fitness. I just need a little luck and no more of that bad kind. Maybe I don't need any luck, just no bad will do the job. Next up for me is Speed Week starting next weekend. Stay tuned for blog posts and youtube videos.