Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tour de Dung #2: Hello Cat 4

The scene for the last 2010 installation of the annual "Tour de Dung", named after the nearby locality of Dungeness, closer to the more famous Sequim, Wa - with the Straight of Juan de Fuca to the north and the Olympic mountains to the south:

Compared to some of the pics I've seen of training crits in industrial parks on the east coast this is like riding in heaven. But we weren't here for the scenery, it was time to sweat.

The "Tour de Dung": a road race on a 12-mile loop with a few ups and downs, but nothing to really slow us down all that much. Nice and smooth and fast. Really fun racing, but a bit of a trek to get out there with the ferry and all.. still worth the trip even with a long day for a two-hour race.

I hitched a ride in the team van, along with a bunch of other Recycled Cycles racers - some in the Cat 3's, some in the 4's, and some in the 5's. Other RCR (Recycled Cycles Racing) people drove out separately.

My trusty Ciocc alongside the van:

This was my first race in a Cat 4-only field, and while I'd done Cat 4/5 crits & circuit races last year doing Sequim in both the 5's and the 4's allowed me to see the differences between how the two categories ride.

As you can imagine the 4's are a tad faster - but in addition the race is a bit faster, there are more breaks/attacks, and it's actually kind of smoother. Oh and you race longer, so one more lap or 12 more miles of racing in the 4's. I have no problem with that, it's more mileage for the money! Gotta say this was the fastest 48 miler I've ever done.

Took a few photos & videos throughout the day, and posted a few here.

The registration line was long but we had time:

The Race

After a quick change in the van (you can stand up in it!) I lined up with other 4's getting ready to get it on. Saw Rob M. from 2nd Ascent who also just recently upgraded. Didn't see Mark M who is about to upgrade to the 3's, but I knew he'd be here and gunning for another win.

Recycled had decent numbers in this race: Five in total! Three racers that have been 4's for a while now, and at least one of them is close to getting to the next category (based on wins/points), and then two brand-new 4's including me. The plan for this race was to just keep it together for the final sprint.

The race was off and the first thing I noticed was that there was no real 15-mph neutral rollout like in the 5's. The lead-moto just took off and we were gunning up the hill.. so much for a warm-up! Nothing too blistering but I was a bit surprised. Sometimes there are inconsistencies in local amateur racing like this (even in pro racing I'm sure), and it's just part of the game.

The weather was great, clear skies and a tad chilly. My new team kit was great - bib shorts, short sleeve jersey with just arm warmers felt perfect. Added the white "belgian booties" from Castelli for that Faux Pro look.

Looking back at the stats somehow the first (of four) 12-mile laps was one of our fastest! Everyone feels fresh in the beginning I guess, and thinks they'll muscle through the whole race. Then on the second lap things tone down a bit (e.g. 23 mph average instead of 24). A few riders went off the front, but nothing really threatening, and it all got reeled back.

It was tempting to try an attack of my own on the short-ish climbs, but I really just wanted to save it for the final 200 meters. Every time I get out in front of the wind off the front of the peloton after about 30 seconds I feel like I'm cycling through molten lava - the legs are burning and barely moving in slow motion. Must be a pacing thing, e.g. I'm jamming it too hard to make the separation and having nothing left to keep it up.

Maybe one day I'll perfect the solo attack... and since sprinting doesn't seem to be a natural talent of mine I might have to start thinking about The Attack a lot more. What it will probably take is a group of riders going up the road from different teams.

The race was relatively uneventful, and I just tried not to half-wheel too much (sometimes it seems like you can't fill a gap without doing it) and keep it smooth. The course is tight but the turns are wide enough that they're pretty safe.

After the left-turn-to-downhill-to-right-turn everyone mini-sprinted out of the turn, naturally; but somehow one guy was all of a sudden dancing on the asphalt, no longer clipped into the pedals and the bike's rear jumping around like a bronco. Must've done the "I'm a pro so I look down while I sprint" thing and probably turned the front wheel too much. Or something.

I rode by and yelled "nice save!" as he somehow kept it upright after all the scary stuff.

Final Wind-up

I made sure to stick in the upper 20 or so riders on the final lap, which might have been somewhat a waste of energy but moving up during a one-lane road race can be... challenging. So I prefer to stay up front and not have to battle through the pack when the time is right.

Two other team mates and I are up in the mix in the final wind-up (Josh had flatted out the last lap, Todd had done a lot of work on the front and was tired, I presume). Cool. Not exactly lined up for any kind of lead out, but at least most of us there in terms of not crashing out or blowing up.

Last weekend in the 5's race I ended up 10th in the sprint and felt like I could have done better if I'd gone to the outside (left) of the road, since the wind was coming from the right. But this time the wind felt more like it was coming from straight on... I'm not sure if anyone really likes sprinting into a headwind but I really hate it!

Even though the wind was different this time around I tried to line up like I wanted to for last time, I guess just to see if I could hold a position in the final 1 km. Well I held the position but that didn't really do me much good..

The 200-meter sign came and people starting winding up, a few started going full-on. Team mates and I were all seemingly in position for a top ten, if we could hold position to the line... Which I could not do. My sprint only lasted 150-meters, or something, because near the line Chris & I were swamped and lost what seemed like 10 spots in a split-second. Then I was still trying to at least overcome the bike in front of me, but couldn't do it.

I must have been too far up front initially, since I don't have enough power/speed to lead out the pack the whole way in the final drag race. Or something.

Anyway in the end I came out in 25th place, out of 60-something starters. No points, not one step closer to the Cat 3's, but another notch in the experience column. JC got 9th place, and Chris came in 21st, so RCR did pretty well overall.

I hear the winner has been training hard since last year and this was the first race he's won - congrats, Bart!!

After the Race

The Recycled Cycles Cat 5's were still racing and since we were all riding back together we stuck around and cheered them on. We heard over the radio that Kyle, a strong junior, was off the front of the 5's pack! When he came by we cheered him on, and were impressed with the distance he had on the peloton - later on he said it was reported at 1 minute 45 seconds - you couldn't even see the riders behind him, and were talking about how Joe Parkin said something like, "the best way to win is to be the only one in the picture." We were sure of an RCR victory, and it was only a matter of time before he came around again since it was now his final lap.

The field came by and didn't look like they were really chasing hard, so then we really thought it was in the bag. But we had to wait about 30 minutes to find out...

In the mean time we were invited into the GCRacing (FinishLynx cam) tent, to see our sprint photo finish.

In addition to the crazy finish-line camera they also have a cool computer setup - I believe this was the Cat 3's finish picture.

Some Cat 5's coming through:

Eventually the results from my race, the Cat 4's, were posted. The preliminary results included time splits, which I'd never seen before in a RR! (calc'd via the FinishLynx cam, each pixel represents some fraction of a second) - the top 25 riders all came in within one second - a small consolation:

More Cat 5's coming around.

The staging scene:

Eventually we heard over the official's radio that the lead car was coming around the final corner, so 1 km to go. Would we see Kyle crest the hill and approach the finish line solo as expected? It was not to be - the pack appeared instead, and Kyle wasn't in it! We were baffled but he said he just blew up eventually and they overtook him. Excellent try though! I think he had the best result out of all of us that day.

Video of the Cat 5 peloton coming through: pack #1, pack #2

Video of the Cat 5 finishes: pack #1, pack #2

Cat 4 Race Stats

Final (weak) sprint for 25th:
Duration: 0:25 seconds
Distance: 0.23 mi
Min Max Avg
Power: 248 816 588 watts
Heart Rate: 182 188 184 bpm
Cadence: 99 116 109 rpm
Speed: 28.3 34.4 32.4 mph
Crank Torque: 207 682 454 lb-in

Looking at the speed & torque values, I feel like I was under-geared to really get the speed up.. and that I also needed to spin it up faster.

Only hit 34.4 mph max... no wonder I lost! I heard Bart, the guy from Starbucks who took the sprint, hit 37 to take the win.. gotta work on my sprint for sure. Or maybe I should forget about sprinting and just think about break-aways? Time will tell.

Stats for the entire workout - 24.2 mph average for almost 50 miles! I must admit that's the fastest long-ish ride I've ever done. And that's pretty slow as far as bike racing goes.. Now I really can't wait to do one of those 30-40 minute crits this summer!

Entire workout (183 watts):
Duration: 1:58:06
Work: 1296 kJ
TSS: 136.8 (intensity factor 0.834)
Norm Power: 238
VI: 1.3
Distance: 47.68 mi
Elevation Gain: 2861 ft
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 995 183 watts
Heart Rate: 117 189 152 bpm
Cadence: 30 142 84 rpm
Speed: 3.4 49.4 24.2 mph
Crank Torque: 0 1774 175 lb-in

Peak 5min (293 watts) - last 5 minutes of the race - not wasted energy in the middle of the race - good.
Duration: 5:00
Work: 88 kJ
TSS: 11 (intensity factor 1.15)
Norm Power: 328
VI: 1.12
Distance: 2.138 mi
Elevation Gain: 162 ft
Elevation Loss: 152 ft
Grade: 0.1 % (10 ft)
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 925 293 watts
Heart Rate: 151 188 171 bpm
Cadence: 38 116 94 rpm
Speed: 5.5 34.4 25.6 mph
Crank Torque: 0 1199 268 lb-in

Peak 20min (229 watts) - the last 20 minutes of the race, so I at least got that part right:
Duration: 20:00
Work: 274 kJ
TSS: 29.6 (intensity factor 0.942)
Norm Power: 268
VI: 1.18
Distance: 8.317 mi
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 925 228 watts
Heart Rate: 130 188 162 bpm
Cadence: 30 131 87 rpm
Speed: 3.7 48.3 24.9 mph
Crank Torque: 0 1271 220 lb-in

Thanks to all the volunteers & organizers for putting on this event! I'll certainly be back next year.

1 comment:

Robert H said...

This was a fun read, Matt. Thanks!