Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fayetteville Stage Race

This weekend was the Fayetteville Stage Race which is a Division 1 Texas race comprised of a road race and a time trial on Saturday followed by a road race on Sunday. My plan was to do the RR and TT on Saturday and come back on Sunday if I was in a reasonably good position. The reason for this is that Fayetteville is about 110 miles each way from my house. So back to back 220 mile driving days with racing could be a bit much. I was entered in the 35+ 4/5 category. The category was full at 75 racers.

The road race on Saturday morning was 46 miles which was basically a 2.5 mile road out to a 22 mile loop which we ran twice. I got a reasonably good start and was in the top 15 when we hit the loop. Then as is usually the case with me, I drifted back as a result of letting others slide by and not aggressively filling openings. In another 5 miles I was probably in the last 25 riders and pissed off at myself. I have to work on this issue because it is a problem every race. I started to work my way up as opportunities presented themselves and worked my way up to mid pack by about half way through the first lap. The race took a turn onto a side road that had no center line, but the center line rule was still being enforced. I moved up a few more riders and then saw a beautiful opening near mid road that I shot through and as I did there was nobody in the way as they were all pacelining on the edge of the road. I hit the gas and went right to the front. There was a reasonable headwind at that point so I took a pull and then another rider came through and took a pull. Then I took another pull and a different rider came through and took a pull. After another rider I pulled again. I decided I was probably doing too much work and drifted back to the 5th or so position and tucked in for a while. Around that time we came through the start/finish for the completion of the first lap. 22 miles to go. As we turned left after the start/finish, I was on the front again, but there was another pace line formed with a rider beside me. There was not wind at that point and the pace was moderate. Then the first real attack of the day came. A rider in red tore off wide left on the yellow line and floored it. In the distance I could see the steepest hill on the course and understood his plan. I chased and was about 5th wheel at the bottom of the climb. I was overtaken by several riders on the climb, but the attacker died on the climb and the whole race came back together again. Over the next few miles I stayed in the top 20. After another 5 miles another rider attacked and got what I thought was a good gap. I was sitting 2nd wheel and asked my teammate if we should be worried because the gap was getting sizable. We agreed we shouldn't. After he was out there suffering for a few miles we picked up the pace. I took the front and we reeled him in fairly easily. I think he was spent and was happy to be caught. Here is where I made another rookie mistake. As I pulled the group up to the rider I fell in behind him when I should have just overtaken him and continued the pace. Of course, the whole pack blew right by and I was in about 20th again. IDIOT! We came to a flat tail wind section and the guys on the front just floored it. The pace was fast and hard for a few miles and I looked behind me to see the peleton strung out and breaking up all over the road. Perfect! As we turned back into the wind, the guys on front figured they had done enough work and the pace slowed to a crawl. I mean slow slow, like 15 mph. That gave everyone a chance to recover and get back on. At that point we were 3 miles from the finish. We turned right onto the finish road and the pace picked up, but wasn't blazing. We continued in toward the finish uneventfully. It looked like it would come down to a sprint finish. When we were within a 1/2 mile of the finish, the wheel truck with an official flew up along side us on the left and started yelling at a few riders about a yellow line violation just to my left. Seconds later there was a pile up. I saw it out of the corner of my eye. It took out one of my teammates. I think the official made a bad call interrupting the race at that point and the distraction probably caused the crash. He should have waited until we passed through the finish and talked to the riders. As we approached the line I got ready to sprint and then noticed two ambulances on each side of the road just before the finish cleaning up a wreck from a race that finished before ours. The site was enough of a distraction that there wasn't really a sprint and the main group pedaled through and were all given the same time. Pretty damn uneventful.

The time trial for me started about 4 hours after the road race finished. It was 6.6 miles over rolling terrain and the wind had picked up as well. I would be doing the TT on the same bike and in exactly the same gear as I rode the RR in. Eddy style. As I rolled up to the start line for the TT we were lined up by number. I noticed that more than 1/2 of the riders had full on TT bikes along with the helmets and all the gear. SHIT! That is the difference between the 35 4/5 and the regular 4/5. The 35 guys have money to buy the toys. Oh well. I would just have to do the best I could with what I had. 5,4,3,2,1 GO. I steadily ran my HR up to my target of 160-164. After 2 miles I was a hurting unit. This was basically a 6 mile interval and after the RR in the morning it was a killer. I just tried to stay low and be steady and turn the pedals. At 4 miles my legs were absolutely screaming. I also noticed that I had a long string of droll running from my mouth to my shoulder. Nice. I thought I was slowly catching my 30 second man. 5 miles in and I was telling myself it would be over soon. 6 miles and I was desperately looking for a finish line. There it was! 100 meters before the finish I got caught by a dude on a full blown TT rig. Check his number. FUCK! He started 2 minutes behind me! I rode back to the car fairly certain I had been slaughtered in the TT. I drove home feeling both satisfied from the road race and disappointed from the TT. I checked the results late last night and found that I sat in 27th position. I finished the TT in 37th. One guy beat me by over 2.5 minutes. I now believe that TT equipment is vital if you are going to do well in these things.

Given the 27th overall I decided Sunday would be better spent with the family than driving back to Fayetteville for another road race.

On an upside, crit season hits full swing here in April and I can't wait.

Peter at Southwest Cycle Sport let me use these for the weekend. I have been thinking about buying some deep dish carbon tubulars for racing and wanted to try some. They were fantastic. They were noticably stiffer and faster than the American Classic 420s that I usually race on. I took them out on a training ride today and you can really tell a difference at high speed. I honestly think that 28 or 29 on the ACs is 30 or so on the Eastons given the same effort. I need to own these or an equivalent.

I have fallen behind on blog reading and hope to catch up on all of your happenings tomorrow. Have a good Monday.


Blogger bluecolnago said...

great race report, chris! congrats on your finish! you be 'da man! :)

3/17/08, 4:57 AM  
Blogger oldmanandhisbike said...

That sounds like a long, tough day in the saddle. Pretty impressive results for so early in the year. Congrats on 27th; you are finishing in the first 3rd.
Glad to see you avoided the crashes too.
Those wheels are sweet. When you get yours, you will have to take them down to the local hot rod customizing shop and get them detailed with tribal markings! :^)

3/17/08, 11:02 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

An absolutely entertaining report there. I guess I can take a few lessons from your story here. Scrambling for good positions is one of the keys - whose wheel to take, whose wheel not to take. Keep racing though!

3/17/08, 12:25 PM  
Blogger CyclistRick said...

Position, position, position. That was my mantra yesterday. And it worked for a while. Lots o' learning we are doing out there. Good thing about mistakes is that we can learn.

And those wheels are nice on a day with no to moderate wind. But folks with wheels like that, especially on the front, were having a hard time staying on the course during our race yesterday.

3/17/08, 3:09 PM  
Blogger Pete Basso said...

Chris - while in the peloton you have to be thinking about all the time, effort and training you've put into this sport. You deserve to be in the front and running the race, if you don't believe that then you'll get pushed to the back every time. Great job battling to the front and staying there.

BTW, I'm contemplating the same TT equipment issue that you are. It does make a difference but it is also very expensive. Good luck in your next race. You wrote a great report, it was fun to read. I could actually picture myself in the race with you as you described the play by play.

3/17/08, 3:59 PM  
Blogger bryan said...

the thing I've noticed in my brief foray into Cat. 4 is the aero stuff. The younger guys feel the need to have everything to go fast, because they're on the way up and 'getting serious.' And that's cool, but all of that stuff gives them a good chunk of time, if only because of the equipment.

The older guys, like you mentioned, can afford the stuff, so they get a bonus, too. Almost all of the guys who beat me in my only Cat. 4 TT last year had at least one bit of aero gear (bike, helmet, etc.). So that's why I got a helmet. Plus, if I get the loaner Zipps, it'll be another bonus. So -- helmet first, because it gives the biggest bonus. Wheels and bike next, I guess.

Oh, and nice job staying where you needed to be (for the most part) in the RR.

3/17/08, 7:53 PM  
Blogger Groover said...

Very nice race report. I could picture every move. Well done, Chris!
Mmmh, deep dish carbon wheels... Highly recommend the purchase as I haven't regretted one cent I spent on my Corima Aero Tubs. It's like riding a whole new bike.

3/17/08, 9:31 PM  
Blogger lauren said...

good job! lots to learn. the learnings never end is what i always think.

3/17/08, 9:39 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Blue - thanks brutha

Oldman - 27th may as well be 270th. If you ain't first, you're last baby! HA!

Ron - my racing problems at this point lie in the strategy and execution. I need to work on those.

Pete - it is expensive and in my case probably not worth it unless I start doing more on the TT front. Maybe next year I will look into a rig.

Bryan - I honestly think that in the TT last weekend that a full on TT bike, disk wheel, skin suit, booties, helmet, etc. made about 2 minutes of difference.

Groover - they certain add to the experience. I shall own some of those soon.

Lauren - true. In my case it is usually me learning that I don't know shit. HA!

3/18/08, 7:57 AM  
Blogger jahowie said...

Thanks for the race report. You are doing great!! I would have no idea how to race my bike. Keep up the good work.

3/18/08, 8:05 AM  
Blogger Taugimba said...

Good to see that the FSR is still going on. It was my favorites while racing in Texas.

3/18/08, 9:57 AM  
Anonymous Donald said...

Great description... I needed my heart rate monitor while reading.
So, how much are those wheels?

3/18/08, 1:48 PM  
Blogger Sev said...

Cheers for the read. Not racing yet, so every insight is a bonus for me! Sev.

3/18/08, 4:23 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Jahowie - you would quickly figure it out.

Taugimba - how many times have you done FSR?

Donald - around $1500-1600.

Sev - so when do you strap it one and take the start line?

3/18/08, 6:48 PM  
Blogger Mallie said...

I'm late reading, but sounds like you put out a solid, hard effort. And you know what's causing you problems, which is half the battle. And you know darned good and well there's a big difference between 27th and 77th!

3/19/08, 2:04 AM  
Blogger bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

You're only an idiot if you don't learn from the things that happen in each race. Sounds pretty darn successful to me!

Want to feel good about your TT? Check out the results from the Visalia ITT & know that I was in a funny helmet on my converted TT bike...2.5 minutes is nothin' :).

3/19/08, 12:58 PM  
Blogger Sev said...

I have raced one crit Chris. It was totally different to how I thought a race would go. Very little attacking and everyone waiting for the prime and obviously the final lap. I enjoyed it as a 'training' run. Good interval work. Waiting for the road race season to start I think. Anyway, I'll keep stopping back for valuable advice. Sev.

3/19/08, 3:46 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Mallie - I guess 27th could be worse.

BBelf - I will check them out.

Sev - at least by reading here you will know what not to do. HA!

3/20/08, 4:47 AM  
Blogger chatterbox said...

If you don't get the snool going in a TT, then you are not working hard enough! Great job. Next year you'll have to throw in the 3rd stage just for fun.

3/20/08, 1:05 PM  
Blogger sydney_b said...

Chris, good job and nice write-up. Regarding TTs -- the equipment seems to account for so much. That kind of rules me out. Fortunately, there are few on my schedule, and I'll just suffer through those. :)

3/20/08, 1:30 PM  
Blogger Them Country Folk: said...

Hey, congrats on the race!

3/21/08, 6:15 AM  
Blogger Sacwheelgirl said...

Geesh! A road race, then a time trial! That's hard time in the pain cave. Nice race report (and nice wheels-- I wish I had friends like that).

3/21/08, 8:55 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Chatterbox - I don't know. I am not sure why they do two road races instead of the standard RR, TT, crit format.

Syd - I think the equipment does make a big difference, but unless you are going to use it more than 3 times a year, it is probably not worth the money.

Countryfolk - thanks. Did you find a Texas house yet?

Sacwheelgirl - they are nice wheels. I am going to try them a few more times before I decide they are a must have.

3/22/08, 8:16 PM  

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