Oh boy, the excitement for this weekend has been building over the past 4 months. Every workout I saw that attack, that sprint, that breakaway. The race season has finally arrived and boy am I ready to race. The past couple of years Hincapie Sportswear has put on a spring racing series. It is held in the final three weekends of February. One of the benefits of living in the south is the early Spring temperatures. The first weekend of the 2017 series was on 11-12 February in which I had Army National Guard duty. I committed to racing the final two weekends, and possibly do well enough to be in contention for the series yellow jersey. It is going to be tough at this point which will be explained later. So last Friday, I took off from work early, recorded a podcast with Mike Tarnapoll at InsideTracker, packed up the dogs and bike and headed to Asheville.
Weather: Sunny, partly cloudy, and upper 60s. Rain predicted for afternoon. Tailwind into the finish
Race Start: 1100
Field Size: 30-40 riders
Teams Represented: Fuzion Cycling, Lees-McRae, RTO
The first race of the weekend was at the Fork Shoals course. This is a 15 mile loop consisting of minor rolling terrain. The front quarter and the back 3rd quarter of the course have some climbs. While there are a lot of crashes, the course has good quality roads and roads are wide enough. There were two or three crashes with one resulting in an emergency hospital visit.
How did the race playout? For me, it didn’t really play out. I started out the race riding the caboose and chit chatting with the other cyclists. After 11 miles I heard some laughter behind me which was followed by notification of a flat tire. 4 miles left to the start/finish line and my car made for a desperate situation. The tire was holding some air up until 2 miles to start line. I didn’t really have an option and wasn’t ready to quit so I hung on the back until the final corner. The pack made the turn faster than I could and they got a small gap. I reached the parking lot, sped over to my car, changed my wheel, and rocketed out on a mission to chase the pack down.
I had about 2 minutes to make up which I thought was possible at the time. There were only two thoughts going through my head. Should I go all out and see if I can catch them within a lap or take it a little easier and hope I can catch them on one of the final laps? I chose to ride FTP and catch them on one of the final laps. About halfway through my first chase lap I could see the group up the road. I roughly calculated my gap at 1 minute. My moral got a quick bump and I chased harder. A couple of minutes later I started to catch riders that were pooped out the back. This was about 20-30 minutes of chasing and I still felt strong. My heart rate was in the 160s and legs weren’t feeling too fatigued. I began to ask myself if I should go harder. I decided that I should keep it controlled and revaluate my effort once I got another gap update.
About 40 minutes into my chase I got another gap update and it was not as moral boosting. I was told that my gap was remaining the same/growing. Now, the field was probably racing and breakaways were being established. I probably should have stopped chasing at this point. I decided to see how hard I could actually go for an hour. So I went for another 20 minutes at the same intensity. It ended up being a normalized power of 364w at 168 BPM. After an hour I met two more racers that were spit out the back of the pack. I decided to ride with them to the finish line. I am glad that I did because they had some great stories. One of the guys I was riding with ended up being Jeremy Powers’ personal mechanic. He was in the area with some of his friends doing a mini training camp. The other rider I met rode for Lees-McRae College on a scholarship. For those who don’t know, Lees-McRae consistently produces the top American cycling talent. Andrew Talansky and Brent Bookwalter are just two names that graduated from this prestigious college.
Our little group rode to the finish line to watch the CAT 3 finish as well as the Pro 1/2 finish. The CAT 3 finish was a sprint out of a small select group. A Lees-McRae rider won the sprint. The Pro 1/2 finish was a similar situation but was won by a rider from the Palmetto State Medical Elite Cycling Team (stunning kits BTW).
That was a lot longer of a report than I was expecting. The second race report from the weekend will definitely be a behemoth. I will have that released in the next couple of days so stay tuned.