Weather: Sunny, Highs 60s, 11 mph winds WSW w/ gusts recorded at 30-35 mph
Field Size: 35-45
Teams: Frazier Cycling, RTO, Miller School of Albemarle
This report marks the final road race for the Hincapie Spring Series. It was held again at Donaldson/STAC just outside of Greenville, SC. The direction of travel was the same as the previous report. If you would like to read more about the course than please see my previous report. Weather conditions were drastically different this time around though. Last week we had a minor wind prevailing out of the north, which led to a headwind crossing the finish. This week we had a wind from the south with knock-you-off-your-bike gusts. What did this mean? I figured it meant staying protected for most of the race and a bunch sprint to decide the victor. I was wrong; so wrong that not a single field stuck together.
The race began just after 1pm again. I did a 40ish minute warmup but still felt those weak leg nerves. I think this is just something I will have to live with but it only lasts the first 60 seconds of a race anyways. This time I do want to include a couple of nutrition tactics I try pre-race. I start off with a Red Bull 60 minutes prior to the start. The next thing I chug down is related to the length of the race. If the race will last more than 90 minutes I drink a small serving of exogenous Ketone salts. Why? While I eat a lot of carbs so I am far from ketonic I feel that there might be a performance benefit during longer medium to low intensity efforts. I am still trying to find research based evidence that uses “normal” carbohydrate consumption and exogenous ketone consumption at the same time. If you know of anything please let me know. Finally, I have started to mess around with Lithium Aspartate. This supplement has been proven to help in cognition and psychological disorders. Now, I started to mess around with this because of hearing a couple of podcasters using it to boost creativity and cognition. I took a 5mg capsule and felt like I had consumed 8 cups of coffee. Thoughts were clearer and energy levels increased. I took this experience and decided to start messing around with it in a race situation. One cool thing is that I took it prior to the criterium race on Sunday and the entire 45 minute race felt barely fatiguing. I don’t know if this is just related to fitness or if the lithium had some effect on blocking the mental side of fatigue. Much more research to come.
Time to race. There was a similar crowd as last weekend. Frazier Cycling, a phenomenal junior dev program out Georgia, was at the line in strength. RTO, a Greenville squad, had a couple guys and then there was a new team, Miller School of Albermarle. Didn’t really know anything about the Miller School but they sure looked professional. They ended up being strong in Sunday’s crit but were barely present in today’s race. The Miller School did try to make a couple of moves in the first couple of minutes. They were part of a couple of attacks that tried to get away on the first lap. All of the moves ended up being pulled back though. One attack, from the strong Columbian, eventually did create havoc in the pack. The Columbian broke away with one other rider which eventually got a 40 second gap. This prompted a hard chase by the pack. This chase effort is what broke the field up and created a 9 man chase group.
This chase group consisted of RTO, a couple of Frazier guys, a Hincapie rider, and then some individual riders. Our chase was going full-bore to bring back the Columbian. Most of the initial work was done by me and the Hincapie rider. The Hincapie rider would pay greatly for this as he only lasted one lap with our chase group. The chase group did eventually catch the Columbian and his breakaway mate. The leg thrashing did not stop once we were back together. We still hammered the pace for the rest of the race.
Let’s revisit the weather situation on the day. It was sunny, decently warm, but with high winds. The course is a 9ish mile loop so that means there will be points of tailwinds, crosswinds, and headwinds. Headwind riding is pretty simple in a group. We all just line up behind one poor sucker and let him pull us through the sucky zone. Crosswinds, they can be tricky in a group setting. The best way describe how a group should ride in a crosswind is through video and pictures.
The diagram on the left shows how you should ride in an echelon formation, if you are trying to cooperate. I want to put emphasis on the cooperation portion because that drastically changes the rotation. That is for a different time though. For a cooperative group the rotation will be into the wind, and if there is limited road then you stack off the back as far away from wind as possible. Now, the diagram on the right shows how we looked. We were a highly motivated group and everybody showed willingness to work together, but the group struggled to get into the correct rotation. We did eventually figure it out but it was not a smooth process.
Our breakaway got a big enough gap that we essentially became the field. By the time this happened there were only 8 of us and what makes that important is that the payout went 8 deep. So we were all going to make something, it was just a matter of figuring out who got the upgrade points and the big payouts. Now, I know I am not a strong sprinter because of the triathlon background. I had to attack at some point in order to give myself the best opportunity to win. On a day with crosswinds, the best time to attack is either towards the end of the crosswind or at the very beginning. You have to be extremely strong to attack at the beginning though. It is now the end of the final lap, my legs are starting to feel the fatigue, so I knew I had to attack towards the end of the crosswind section. The crosswind turned into a strong tailwind. I made my strong move, pushing above 450w. I worked hard for about 60 seconds, making sure I did not turn to look. I imagined that I had gotten a gap. Low and behold, I got a gap and had a small group chasing me. The small group was gaining on me so I made the judgement call to let them catch me and get some rest. When they caught me I did not listen to myself and actually tried to attack again. I didn’t get anywhere and now I was really starting to hurt. I had a NP of 404w for 3.5 minutes going into the final stretch. I did too much and when it finally came time to sprint I had nothing left. I ended up getting 5th overall.