Sunday, August 3, 2008

NCNCA (Fort Ord) RR M35+ 4/5 Race Report

Distance: 41 miles (each lap was ~10.2 miles)
Teammates: Allen Wulczynski, Jonathan Racine, Doug Aldrich, Jeff Farnsworth, Chris Soukup
Conditions: Perfect with 5-7mph wind from the WNW
Result: 2nd of 35?

I was on the hunt for my last remaining upgrade points after a near miss at Watsonville a few weeks ago. We had a very strong team of guys put together for this race and with the small field I had a hunch that we could tactically dominate this race. Since I hadn't done this race before the more experienced guys from the race team gave some great advice leading up to the event. This course is full of rollers which you can easily power over and one big climb that jacks up for the first 0.2 miles, then backs off a bit for the next 0.1 mile before jacking up again for the remaining 0.2 miles. This climb takes a little bit over 3 minutes in total to ascend. Jeff put in a nice little dig at the front to lead us up through a portion of the hill. A few guys burned a match or two responding to his attack.

The goal was to protect Chris and I with others attacking where possible. The first lap started out pretty slow. We had full road to race on except for the two out-and-back sections (which only encompassed about 3 miles of each lap). As the course was new to most racers, lap one was more like a recon ride...just seeing where the potholes were on the road. However, there was one incident on the descent from the big climb. A BBC rider (I think) somehow got tangled up near the front with somebody and hit the deck hard. Too bad for him, but lucky for me and a few others, he bounced to the left and everybody got around him safely to the right. Amazingly, he was able to get up, brush himself off and re-attach a few miles later.

All along this first lap, and subsequently on laps two and three, I kept a keen eye out for potential rollers where an attack might succeed. But I got a sense that the final climb would decide the race. Back to the action...

On lap two Allen and Jeff went to work attacking off the front, but we lost Doug to a flat. From my viewpoint at the back of a slowly attrition'ing lead group (we had lost Jonathan too along the way, but he was a trooper to stick it out with his injuries from yesterday's training ride) we were able to put in attack after attack with success. It was an SJBC yo-yo at the front! Our attackers never got too far out of reach, but those that bridged up definitely spent themselves and when Allen and Jeff would be caught, the did just enough work to make others riders spend themselves and those chasing in the lead group work hard to catch them.

At some point during the third lap I rolled up to Chris and he said he wasn't feeling too good. That put a bit of pressure on me, but I was starting to feel better as the race got longer. We climbed the hill again and somehow a Webcor guy rolled off the front. I didn't realize it, but he did have about 30-40 seconds on our group. SJBC didn't put in any effort to catch him which raised the frustration of one rider in particular. (I'll let Chris add more about this...).

Our lead group was now down to around 15 guys, and we were getting neutralized by different groups as we were descending to the big climb. We hit the climb, still not having caught the Webcor rider, but he was only 50 yards up the road. Our pace was definitely the hardest this time up and the race was on! I was in the top 5 and determined to hold that position. Out of nowhere around halfway up the climb I saw Chris coming up on my left. So much for him not feeling good. I let him roll by and allowed Russ (Family Center Cycling) to latch on. Chris was on fire and you could tell he wanted to catch the Webcor guy before the top of the hill. We poured on the watts and hammered up the remaining 0.2 miles of the climb. Webcor was caught just before the peak and he was toast.

As we crested and rode across a windy exposed false flat plateau before our downhill plunge back to the rollers, I put in my attack. I hadn't looked back on the climb to see what was happening behind, but I knew that if I took out my little hammer and went hard it might cause some chaos. With hammer in hand, I threw it down. A small group followed: Russ (who I had been marking the whole race), Jeremy from Eden Cycles who is very strong and Chris. I let up just a bit to let them latch on, then glanced back. We had separated ourselves and now were were going to kill it on the descent.

This was a fun descent as we had the whole road and the turns could be taken at full speed. I actually spun out my gearing (50 front, 12t in the rear...138rpm) going down the hill, but the damage was done. We had 4 very motivated guys and only 3 miles to go. We all worked hard over the remaining rollers to extend our break.

With 1km to go, we eased up a bit. Chris was pretty spent and I was just happy to be in the winning break since I knew just rolling across the line would give me my upgrade points. I let Jeremy and Russ lead us into the small climb at 200m to go. Jeremy jumped, and Russ looked back at me. I didn't respond, but when I saw that Russ wasn't going to go, I jumped. At this point Jeremy was too far up to be caught, but I was able to secure second without any issue. Chris rolled across in fourth.

The four of us congratulated each other after the race and debriefed. Apparently we just pulled away from folks on the climb. Nice to know I can lug my large frame up with some of these climbers.

Now for some power data:

Overall: Average power - 251 watts, Norm power - 325 watts

Lap 1/Lap 2/Lap 3/Lap 4
  • Average power (watts) - 235/249/241/281
  • Norm power (watts) - 323/323/308/344
  • Big climb watts (average, not norm) - 464/444/452/473
  • Big climb w/kg - 5.04/4.83/4.91/5.14
  • The final climb was 10 seconds faster than our previous best up that hill


Anonymous said...

Great race report and congrats on your upgrade!

Manley Man said...

Thanks. I'm pretty excited to work for my M35+ 4/5 teammates in my next 2 races (Patterson Pass, San Ardo). It will be fun to help them to get on the podium.

Sufferin' P said...

Great job, Todd! Blondes do have more fun.
FWIW, 6.0 w/kg up the climb wasn't enough to keep me from getting dropped in the 35+1/2/3. And, judging from my buddy's time for the climb in the P123 race (2:00 flat) they were probably doing around 8 w/kg. And they got to do it 10 times.
Upgrading... be careful what you wish for. ;)

Manley Man said...

Yeah, I'm expecting a whole new world of hurt to be opened to my eyes. Two minutes up that climb is pretty impressive.

Sufferin' P said...

Hate to let actual data get in the way of approximation, but it looks like my buddy was exaggerating that climb time. Just saw a file for the guy who finished one place in front of my friend and the fastest time up the climb was 2:28. Still, 7.4 w/kg ain't shabby, especially when repeated 10 times.

standers said...

Great race report! Congrats on bustin' a move on that climb.

I have a few photos of you at the turnaround.

Feel free to use them.


Manley Man said...

So if I maintain my current power numbers, I'd need to drop 44 pounds to produce the same w/kg. Hmm, 6'9" weighing 155 pounds sound like an unreachable target to me. More realistic to up the wattage another 100+ watts for that those 2-3 minute efforts.

Kevin Threm said...

Nice job...a little payback for the Brisbane fiasco. I knew I was in trouble when I saw you breeze to the front the second time up that hill. Maybe I'll try and steal your old spot on the SJBC 4/5 team next year =].

Manley Man said...

Kevin, shoot me an email at toddmanley (at) gmail (dot) com and we can chat more about SJBC. I'm talked to Russ Cadwallader (who came in 3rd) about SJBC too :)