2016 William & Mary Tidewater Winter Classic, Cat 3 Race Report

After a 2 mile neutral roll out, we made the left onto the course and proceeded to have a second neutral portion. I was immediately agitated and started working my way to the front. While I was working to get in a position to attack, Jordan Whiley got on the front and started hammering. _This kept me in check until roughly the half-way point in the ​first lap,​ where I decided to see who was serious.

I launched a ​scathing attack (seated, mind you) that a few others bridged across to and we got a little pace line going for a touch (maybe 1 to 2 miles). After that, too many bodies joined and we were caught by the pack and re-shuffled. I made sure to stay near the front and when we hit the second hill (maybe a couple minutes after getting caught) I went again and only one guy followed.

We spent the next 70 minutes off the front and worked our way to a maximum advantage of 45 seconds. Well, right after we got word of that gap, the group trimmed it down to 12 seconds, and I put in one last effort to see if we could stay away; by the time we made it back to the spot of my original attack, we were effectively caught and I sat up.

I made one last attempt to bridge to a late move, but was marked and then waited for the sprint. I thought I might have recovered enough and certainly didn’t want a slow finish, so, as discussed pre-race, Rick moved to the front of the pack and drilled the last ~2 miles. I did my best to get in a good spot and attempted to sprint, but the legs were toast (and still are). Had we brought a sprinter, I’m confident we would have won this race. Rick is going to be awesome drilling the last 5 minutes or so, for when the race will come down to a sprint.

Dawg Days of Summer Men 3/4 Circuit Race

First race in six weeks, last race of the season – the Dawg Days of Summer Men 3/4 Circuit Race in Bowie, MD. Tods won out of a four-man break, and I took fifth in the field sprint to take 9th overall. Won a prime — a signed copy of “Cutting Edge Cycling” by Hunter Allen & Stephen Cheung. Hooray.

Felt OK during the race, it started off hard as usual, but then let up abruptly as one guy from PTS attacked at the end of the first lap and his teammate ‘controlled the front’, which was fine with me. I was sitting in fourth or fifth for most of the first few laps, getting myself back into the swing of racing (it’s been a while since I’ve done a race where I felt comfortable). The PTS guy was joined by another guy from TBL, but they were reeled in soon and another break attempt went off with a few other guys, but they got reeled in too. The prime bell went off and an AABC and Squadra Coppi guy had a go of it, but Coppi faded early, which left AABC in the wind for too long, and I decided I was in a good position to contest it, so I launched a sprint and took the first of the two-place prime, with AABC taking second. I was a bit gassed from that, and the field came around me half a lap later. I was lucky to have the sense to slot in around 20th in the 100-man field and hold position, as a lap later we were going kind of slow and a couple guys tried to move up on the right and ended up crashing out on the curb — I was right next to it, grabbed a bunch of brakes and managed to avoid it, but Rick wasn’t so lucky; his helmet ended up cracked, but he seemed fine after the race, just banged up. Jeff (who wasn’t really feeling it, just racing because his daughter wanted to see him race) stopped to render assistance, and I and Tods continued racing.

A lap or so later, with about five to go, I was still sitting around 20th, now just maintaining position, with Tods near the front. I didn’t know that there was a two-man break up the road with one chaser; Tods put in a huge sprint and broke away himself (with me being a little puzzled as to why, with no prime lap and me not knowing anyone was up the road, but I couldn’t do anything to help him anyways). He picked up the chaser, and then they picked up the two escapees, and they worked together to stay away. Meanwhile, I was still sitting in the pack, whiling away the laps and trying to get a feel for better places to move up (actually, I had already figured out where was best — outside on the first leg, inside on the next leg, inside-ish on the final leg, but sometimes outside — it was getting into a not-boxed-in position to move up that was the real trick).

Final lap, and the field kinda starts to get going. My initial plan before the race started was to get onto the front of the pack and drill it, to string things out for Tods (or Rick), who is always pretty good at finding fifth or sixth wheel in the pack in the final laps. But since he was up the road, I was executing my other plan: don’t get boxed in, go for the field sprint. Simple stuff. There’s the usual jostling and yelling as the field goes through the last turns, but we all make it through OK. Final turn, and I was on the inside, looking for an opening, keeping my wits as the chaos is surrounding me. I found an opening on the right and just as I’m coming through and starting to light an out-of-the-saddle sprint — maybe there’s no podium spots left, but a top-ten is nice, after all — an R1V rider nudges my right shifter and I check up a little (first time I’ve touched bars in a sprint). I keep it upright, and still manage to follow him to take fifth-ish in the field sprint, and take 9th overall, my first top-ten of my Cat 3 career.

Tods managed to time his sprint perfectly – first leg of the course, one of his break mates pulls and is spent. Second leg: another break mate pulls, and pulls through the final turn. Last leg: Tods was sitting in third, and said he knew the two other guys were going to go to the right — it’s the logical thing to do, as that last leg to the start-finish curves to the right, and going right is the shortest way to the line. So Tods went around on the left from like 800m out and won with tons of time to put in a victory salute after he crossed the line.

Giro di Coppi 2015 Race Report

4 laps. 50 miles. Center line rule. Straight 4. 50+ starters. Very hilly.

 

It was a good day for racing. Early rain cleared for clean air and blue skies – and heat by the end. My experience with center line road races is that it’s extremely easy to get stuck at the back with no way to move up. You have to burn a bunch of matches to move up whenever there is an opportunity, it’s no fun. Because of this. I started towards the front and stayed in the top 15 positions the whole race. It really made the race a lot more fun and less stressful. The climbs were hit hard, but everywhere else was pretty mellow. This meant I wasn’t spending too much energy in the wind while near the front. It stayed together for pretty much the whole race.

By the last 5 miles the peloton was depleted to just about 20 guys at the most – some just barely holding on. The last mile is a crest of a hill, to a flat 400 meters, to a downhill, to the last 800 meter mini stair step climb to the finish. I chose to wait for the final sprint to do anything. ! was in around 15th position in the last 500 m on the center line. We had the whole road at 200 m – I figured people would go on the left. The move ended up going up the middle. I jumped as best I could and weaved my way through those cracking and sprinted to 9th.

My reflections on the race is that I need to learn how I win. In a cat 4 road race with an uphill finish I can hold my own in a sprint – I can even pick up a couple of spots – but I can’t win. Either I don’t have the positioning, or I don’t have the kick, or both. From earlier experiences I’m afraid to go long and blow up before the line. I have to figure out what I can do after 50+ miles of racing. Once I figure out where I launch my final attack I think I’ll be able to crack the top 3. Page Valley is my next road race and the final mile is similar to Coppi. I have 3 weeks to figure out what I’ll do.

 

Tour of Washington County Crit

A short 15 mile crit. 20 laps of a 5 turn course (4 rights and a left) with a roughly 3 block uphill drag finish stretch. Super hot weather.

This race just felt fast. My first 3/4 crit. I started near the back, trying to squeeze in one more lap. I immediately was holding on for to the coat tails of the peloton. The profile of the course meant a big effort up a short climb after turn 3 and then again after turn 5 to the finish. Clearly starting potion was critical since there was barely anywhere to really move up. This put me in a bad spot as I was doing all I could to grab on spot at a time and crawl my way  back into the main bunch.

I kept messing up the sharp 5th turn, taking it on the inside instead of the outside. I came out way to slow and had to go full gas just to limit my loses and stay in contact. As more riders fell off the back I was more dedicated to stay on. The lap counter ticked down, as my confidence grew by the smallest bit. I did my best to track wheels and just focus on other rider’s backsides. i took the final turn wrong again and ended the races with a small gap between me and the main spriting bunch. That was the hardest crit I’ve raced, I’m so glad I was able to finish it.

 

I placed 30/44 in the Crit.

I placed 33/44 in GC. 23:03.54 down.

Tour of Washington County TT

10 miles there and back course. Rolling hills and minimal wind. I was riding a stock road set up.

I hadn’t brought my trainer, so I had to warm up on the road. I think this hurt my result since I could only go so hard for so long while warming up. With ten miles I wanted to hold at least 270 W since I figured it would take at the most 30 minutes (I don’t have a lot of experience judging how long shorter distances will take).

Unfortunately, part because of warm up and because of sleep, I just couldn’t hold that threshold on the first 5 miles. I tried to play to my strengths and weakness on the course. I pushed harder on the uphills and held steady on the down hill. Since I had no TT set up, I could make the most time climbing when aero was a smaller factor and weight was a little more important.

At the turn around I just tried to ride to the fel in my legs, holding as I as I could sustain. I was able to pick it up in the last mile, so I think I did a good job pacing myself for what I was able to do. Even though I don’t do many TTs they’re something I want to train at because I think I could be really good.

I finished 32/52 on the day. Time of 25:46 only 3:21 down from the winner.

For comparison, I would have placed 19th in Cat 4, 2.02 behind that winner.

Tour of Washington County RR

8 laps, 66 miles cat 3/4. KOM points at the end of every odd lap + finish and sprint points half way through the even laps both 3 deep.

I was feeling good at the start. My goal was to go for some KOM points and then top placing at the end. The race started fast and was very surgy out of turns for a 66 mile road race. There was an air of competition I hadn’t felt in a race before. I suppose because of the jerseys and the GC more people feel they have a chance to do something. I was able to move up easily – I love full enclosures.

The first lap was a good test of the finishing two kickers. I tested my gear choice keeping in mind that I should be shooting for 100-115 rpm. A couple of guys went off the front and soaked up the sprint points and perhaps the second KOM points. Half way through the  3rd lap I went off the front with a couple other guys and scored first place for some KOM points. after I crossed the line I let up since it was just 2 of us now and the peloton was close. Reflecting on it, I maybe should have stayed with that guy, He went on to take the yellow jersey that day i think.

I was pack in the pack and hurting. At the same spot I broke away the lap before I drifted 20 meters off the back. It was a blessing that the field slowed and I was able to latch back on. I moved up through the field again on  2 kickers that I could power up. I recovered on the fast stretch into the 2 kickers to the finish and started the 7th lap in about 15th – 20th position I was on the right side of the road, just on the shoulder and hit a big rock I didn’t see. I thought I was ok, and then a few seconds later I was flat.

For whatever reason, our neutral service car had left us on the 4th lap or so. I had to weight for the 1/2/3 car a couple minutes behind to get a new wheel. I rode the 7th lap solo and was pulled as I crossed the line. I wish I could have finished the race. This was the first race I’ve ever been pulled from and it absolutely sucks.

 

I was placed 38/58. My last lap was calculated on the lap I did solo I think, but I’m not sure. My time was 19:37 behind the leader. I was the 5th Cat 4, though

Ride Sally Ride 2015 report

Just a 1km triangle with fast wide turns and windy straits. A 20 mile – 34 lap – race.

I really liked this race last year and was looking forward to it again. Jake was our guy, it was time to get him some more points. There was talk about having me maybe go for a prime and/or try to get in a break. I took a wrong turn riding to the course and got to the start line just in time for the race, but too late for strategy talk.

 

I had a bad start, Rich missed his clip in so we had to work our way back up to the field in the first few laps. By the time I was in good position it looked like we only had 20 laps to go. I was pretty sure I heard the prime bell at 17 or 18 to go with a small break of 4 or 5 just off the front. My thinking was that if I could get to the break by the prime, I could one: sprint for it and two: attack from the break as they got brought back in.

 

At the start/finish I saw my chance with a wide open hole on the inside. I lite it up and got away from the peloton (it felt amazing)! I connected with the break a got in the line around turn 3. That was my mistake and I was to far back and out of momentum to contend for the prime. Looking back at it, I should have kept my pace and ridden by them through the turn to surprise sprint to the line – my first lesson learned in prime sprinting with a break.

 

There was a clear sense of job done among the break riders as we slowed up after the prime. I was still fresh and wanted to go, so as they relaxed and the peloton closed, I went on the attack. A perfect move – almost – as I quickly set into pace with Rick controlling the peloton behind me. I was hoping that other teams would chace and Rick would be able to stay off out of the wind, but I didn’t share my plan before hand so that was probably my mistake. I did my best to stay at threshold as the laps counted down. I’ve only been off the front once before and am still working on shifting my mind to ‘go for the win’ instead of ‘conserve and be smart’ when I have this type of opportunity. I feel like I could have gone harder and made a bigger effort to get two turns between me and the field. If I could have stayed out of site I could have been more successful. A couple riders were trying to bridge to me which I thought would help. However, once they got on and I slid into their draft, they slowed pace just a fraction and that was it.

 

Back in in the bunch I stayed near the front and covered one surge and then helped pull back another with 5 to go. That last effort to keep the solo Whole Wheel Velo(?) rider from breaking loose cooked my legs and I drifted back in the pack till the finish.

Ride Sally Ride – Cat 4 Race Report

With a threat of rain in the air the night before I was really hoping this one would have dry roads. The wide open course would allow us to hit turns at speed and have some fun. With a plan in place to lead Jake out we went to work.

NCVC had several riders in the race and were communicating well. They sent riders off the front and controlled the pack. I tried to encourage others to chase and eventually went out to try and spark the group. They hung me out to dry. We chased this break down just to have NCVC counter.

After several of these attempts Scott took made an attempt at a solo counter. He got a nice gap and I moved up to control the peloton. Over the course of several laps off the front he was able to grow his lead to 15s. It was just too early in the race especially with the wind. With 10 laps to go 3 riders bridge up and this creates the urgency to bring things back together. With 7 to go we are all back together.

A few more surges occur but nothing serious. With just over 1 lap to go a few riders took off. The plan was to see things go a bit later but I started to ramp up for a long lead out. Entering turn 1, I looked back and Jake right where he needs to be. However he has a flat and coming through turn 1 there are two separate crashes and he went down hard.

I turn down the intensity and roll up on the riders that went early. I knew it was a race to the last corner but just missed the jump. I get through the last turn in 4th and sprint hard enough to hold on.

The real disappointment hit when I rolled around the corner and saw Jake down on the pavement. Heal up quickly and we will be out riding together soon.

Here’s a video of the final two laps:

All American Road Race – Cat 4 Race Report

An amazing day to get out and race. A bit of sun, very little wind, the perfect temperature and three of my team mates in the field.

A 48 mile race that saw me sit at the back of the pack the most of the race. I didn’t want to be there and would attempt to move up and then fall back. The accordion effect caused me to spend energy where I shouldn’t be. I was on the breaks way too much. A few solo break attempts went off unsuccessfully. I am curious why some of the larger teams did not attempt anything at all. Rich was very well positioned all race, sitting 15-20 deep. Scott was working the pack very well and Jake was communicating with me towards the back with me.

The pace picked up significantly with the sound of the bell. I was again sitting at the very back of the pack trying to figure out how to move up. The increase in pace did pop some folks and thinned the herd a bit. I waited hoping something would open up. With about 1.5 miles to go I saw an opening on the edge of the road. It got me lined up with the rest of the team. I am behind Scott going into the last turn and about 20 or so riders back.

The race had a yellow line that was being loosely enforced with us getting full use of both lanes for the finish. A rider came past me on the left sprinting from WAY out. I grabbed his wheel for a ride to the front. Then the nasty sound of carbon could be heard as 10-15 riders got tied up in a wreck. I sat on my random ‘lead out’ for as long as possible. When a group started ramping up to the left I slid to the right and went. Two other riders timed it well and went past as well. I was able to dig a little deeper than one rider and get a second place finish.

Scott, Rich and Jake all got tied up in the crash but are all doing well. Scott will have some road rash but it could have been a lot worse.

Here’s a video of the finish:

Carl Dolan Circuit Race – Race Report

Teamwork and good people, the reason I joined Foreign Auto Services Cycling. Today was no different. I entered Carl Dolan believing the course would fit my riding style well. I knew where I wanted to be the last lap to allow myself to contend. We laid out a team plan and my goal was to sit and become familiar with the course during the 3/4 race and not burn any matches. With this being a good fit for Jake and I we were going to save ourselves for the 4/5 and try to dominate it. The rest of the guys were going to push hard and try to get Tods on the podium.

With about 100 riders doing the 3/4 race it could be tough to move up. After a few laps of just sitting in I took a free ride up to the front and allowed myself to slowly drift back. Between the wind and the finishing incline climb it was going to take some real work to see a break stay away. At a few points I looked around and I was the last rider in the back and was actually getting very bored. Being in this spot was actually mentally challenging for me. I voiced my opinion about being way back here several times. Well…

With 3 or 4 laps to go I saw Jeff moving further back in the group. He said he was not feeling great. Rich had flatted out. This left Scott and Kent to help Tods out. With 2 to go Jeff told me if I saw an opening I should go get Tods on my wheel. As we crossed the line to start the bell lap, I saw an opening that would allow me to push up to the front. I shouted for Tods. I don’t know how but before I knew it he was on my wheel. This is where things got fun and where I made a few mistakes.

I was sitting back a few lengths but still in the wind. The Spokes Velo Works guys had a 4 man train set up trying to rotate. Their sprinter was calling out orders and trying to get a solid rotation going. With about 2/3 a lap to go I could feel a surge to my left. I didn’t want to lose positions so I pushed the pace and overtook the Spokes Velo Works train. Tods directed traffic having me push from the left side of the lane to the right to control the front.

However getting out front this early was a major mistake. This meant I was going to be heads down pulling Tods and the pack with me for as long as I could go. That I did. We were able to get a clean line through the last corner. I took it a bit wide and heard Tods calling ‘Right Right Right’ to come over and get him as he took the turn nice and tight. I pushed as long as I could and just under 500m to go I popped. I pulled safely to the side and wished I had a 100 more meters to give him.

The standard Dolan mid hill last lap crash happened taking out several riders. Jake got caught up in carnage but was very lucky compared to some others(a bruised shin and no bike damage). Kent almost got caught up in it all but was able to escape. Tods was clear of it all and lit off a long sprint. Too long to go though. He was able to hang on for third verse a surging field. Kent didn’t pick the right wheel but was still was able to pull in a top10(don’t really know as results are still all screwed up)

Now time to quickly change my jersey and get to the line for the 4/5 race. With several lessons learned I am excited to play that lead out roll for my team again. Plans are meant to be changed. You have to be ready.