Sunday, August 15, 2010

Breakaway Cycling Race Day - Stage Race Update

Hill climb complete!(Pic compliments of J Fougere)
Time Trial Start(pic compliments of J Fougere)
ITT Startline
Laying in the hatch
Heading to St Croix
Feeling the "burn"
Cresting the climb(pic compliments of R Grey)
Sprinting - Lap one(pic compliments of J Fougere)
Sprint to the line - lap 2(pic compliments of J Fougere)
 Under clear sunny(and hot) skies the BC race day stage race was held in central Nova Scotia. With temperatures probably around the 30-33C range with little wind it was one long, hot day in the saddle.

 17km Time Trial.

  The course was challenging to say the least with rolling hills, one steep pitch after the turnaround and a long gradual climb back towards the start/finish. I had just strapped on the aerobars the day before so the race was the shakedown ride. Not the smartest thing to do but I don't pretend to be the smartest knife in the block. Turns out they worked fine except for the left bar which loosened up midway through the time trial. I had mentally prepared for the steep pitch but underestimated the gradual climb near the end. Carrying decent speed to that point I lost some valuable time slogging up the false flat. Strong downhill finish to the line,however, placed me high in the overall with a 5th place for Cat C.Completed the stage with a time of 28:49@35.8 kph average.

  48km Road Race

   The road course was 2 laps of a 24 km(ish) loop of rolling hills with three longer climbs on the backside leading into the start finish. On the first lap the pack stayed together for about 10km untill some of the stronger riders began to up the pace. The pack rode well with many riders contributing up front. I and some others began to initiate some minor attacks to mix things up but the core of the Cat C pack stayed together till the start of the hills on the backside of the course. I managed to stay up front on the climbs but it required hard efforts and I found myself (thanks to gravity on the final descent) second man heading into the start/finish line. With prime time bonuses being offered for the first 5 riders I commenced the sprint but was passed by several riders at the line.Note to self - work on sprinting.

  It hurt. Thankfully the pace slackened for a couple kilometers on the second lap as the racers all recovered. I spent the next 15 kms sitting in, rehydrating and suffering from some chills. Uh Oh! The mid day heat was nasty and it was taking a toll so I needed to ride smart if I was to vie for a high finish. With about 12 kilometers to go a lone rider went of the front and stayed there till the start of the big climbs. Game on the boys hit the hills harder, swept up the flyer and broke up what remained of the C Cat. On the final climb the elastic stretched as I was off the back but I remained in touch and knew I could get back using descending speed. On the descent I passed 2(or 3?) competitors and was about a car's length from joining the lead pack of 5 riders when the short pitch to the finish began so I ended up crossing the line a couple seconds behind for a 6th place finish with a Cyclesmith rider right on my wheel.Ended up clocking a 34.5 kph average speed for the stage.

 I was feeling the burn! I headed right back to the car, got fluids and watermelon into me after stripping off and laid in the back of the hatchback, out of the sun and tried to cool down.

 7km Hill Climb

  There was some delays so I had quite some time to prepare for the final stage. Basically a 3km moderate climb into a scorching 2 km descent into a sharp right turn into the teeth of the beast. A 2 kilometer steep climb averaging a 7/8% grade that jumped up to 10/12% in spots. I was feeling OK on the initial climb and was sitting 4th man on the descent but knew I would be off the back once on the Dawson road climb. Within seconds of starting the hill a group of 7 riders broke away and I had nothing in the legs. Riding a sustainable pace I latched on to another rider dropped from the front and we climbed the hill together until he sprinted for the line. I was not gonna attest the attack since I basically sat in and followed his pace for most of the climb and had no intent, nor legs, to sprint.Ended the stage with a modest 22.6 kph average and a time of 18:56.

  I am not sure of my stage 3 result nor my overall as I headed back to the city soon thereafter the final stage after being pulled back to the St. Croix sportsfield by a cadre of Cyclesmith riders who were well represented as usual. I think I maintained a top ten placing on the hill climb so combined with a 5th and 6th placings earlier in the day I suspect my overall placing was top ten. I'm happy with that effort considering the hilly nature of all three stages combined with the August heat.

  Update - My stage three hill climb was worse than I thought as I fell outside the top 10 with a 11th best placing. Overall I still managed a 7th place for the combined stage race which is a personal best. Yeah me!

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