Sunday, February 21, 2010

Berkeley 2TT Race Report

There's nothing I like about Berkeley, but that's probably because I'm a Stanford guy and I have a fond dislike for those Cal Bears. However, I'll chalk up this event as one redeeming quality for Berkeley...

Last year Clark and I rode in the 70+ Masters category with our TT bikes, but this year we wanted to try something different. We signed up for the Merckx category. For those not familiar with this category you cannot use any aero equipment (wheels, bars, frame, etc.), not even a skinsuit! We found out prior to the event that our arch-nemesis from Morgan Stanley (Chris Phipps, Paul Dyrwal) were going to ride in the same category. Last year they took 4th place from us by 1.5 seconds.

Luckily we arrived with plenty of time because the registration lines were moving very slow. I think we wasted 30+ minutes at the reg desk because they were so disorganized. On the plus side both Clark and I learned that we can get a very effective warm-up in less than 25 minutes.

At the start line there were quite a few teams around us that were late. Thankfully we were on time (yes, it's the experience you bring to the table as a Master's racer) and ready to rock the course. Our plan was simple: ramp up the intensity and leave the tanks empty.

Off we went and Clark got us up to speed. The first couple miles along San Pablo Road had a not-too-friendly headwind. We probably passed at least four teams along this part of the road which was a nice confidence boost, but no luck in seeing the Morgan Stanley guys up ahead of us (they started three minutes ahead). In my effort to maximize my recovery behind Clark's draft I was riding dangerously close to his rear wheel. At one point I came about an inch from rubbing wheels, but I kept my mouth shut because I didn't want to distract my teammate.

As we rolled through the backside of the course and navigated the gradual climbing/rollers we kept the pace high. I forgot to ask Clark about this afterwards, but I got the sense that we tempered our efforts back just a little bit on this stretch of road so we'd be a tad more fresh for the upcoming hills.

The wind was enough of a factor that I actually could get a some protection behind Clark as we hit the first big climb. I was feeling pretty good so I yelled up to him to ramp it up just a bit. Around mid-hill I could sense Clark fading so I came around to hammer up the last half of the climb.

Up and over a few smaller climbs and we were still picking off teams left and right. Coming into the final hill we found a good tempo and got comfortable in the pain closet. Like the previous major climb I came around and led us over the last 3+ minutes. I didn't ride with my power meter, but I can probably estimate that I was pulling 450+ watts (5+ w/kg) on the final portion of that climb.

We flew down the small descent to the uphill finish line and emptied our tanks. We crossed the line at 43:15 and were pleased with the effort. Chris and Paul were waiting past the finish line and we swapped stories; come to find out Chris pulled Paul all the way from the start to the base of the first climb (12+ miles)! They won, but at least this year it wasn't by 1.5 seconds. Next year we'll probably go back to the TT bikes to see what happens.


djconnel said...

No skin suit?

djconnel said...

Okay, that link didn't work. Try this.