Weather: Sunny, Low 90s, 7 mph winds ESE w/ occasional gusts at 15 mph
Course: Fayetteville, NC JMSR Road Race Lollipop Course
Field Size: 52
Teams: DNA Racing/Garneau, Silcarbon Racing Team, COGA Elite, 303 Project, Yokohama Racing p/b Bikeline, Experience Fayetteville
I had a big gap of time to fill after the conclusion of the time trial. Later on the schedule was Stage 2 which was a 68 mile hilly road race. It was scheduled to start just prior to 1500. I got back to my car from the TT around 1000. That gave me plenty of time to get back to the hotel, grab some lunch, watch some bike racing and relax. There was only one thing on my mind for lunch… Chipotle. There was a location right up the road, within walking distance. I was at the door at 1100 to order and then scurried back to my room to chow down and watch one of the stages from 3 Days DePanne.
I headed over to the start line around 1330 so I could get situated and get my spare wheels into the truck. Once I got there I found out that they had pushed back the start times by 15 minutes. The temperatures started to rise and the day was actually turning out to be somewhat hot (91°F). I knew from experience that I don’t handle hot races very well but it wasn’t melt your face off hot like those previous races. So yeah, race starts 15 minutes later than scheduled and my group is the last to go. The road course is a “lollipop” course which means you go out to a loop and then come back the same way. Our group did the loop twice.
My plan was to stick to the back for the first half and just let the race happen up front. This goes against my typical strategy but due to the number of well represented teams I knew they would cover all of the early moves. I did make sure to pay attention to what teams were attacking though. There were a couple of attacks on the way out to the loop but for the most part it was a pretty calm ride. Once we made the left onto the loop we began to climb. The loop starts with a 1.2 mile climb named Hogeye road. Now, the climb starts pretty gentle but you round this left corner and you see “the wall.” The wall is a quarter mile section that averages above 10% grade. My first time up, riding caboose and keeping it easy, averaged 285w (3.5 w/kg for 6.5 minutes).
The first loop around was a similar flavor. I rode towards the back and just tried to stay out of the wind but with some crosswinds and climbing my Normalized Power was still decently high (for being protected). I had a NP of 297w for the 1 hour loop which is a 0.78 IF for me. A part of this included a 2 minute chase out of the feed zone. I struggled to find room to grab a bottle of water and when I eventually did the peloton was moving up the road. Gaps were created and I chased on for 2 minutes averaging 420w. Halfway through the first lap a group of 6 got away and started to make a gap. The breakaway included a representative from DNA Racing/Garneau (which was the largest team in the peloton).
The second time up Hogeye was slightly more intense but still controlled. I don’t remember what teams were working at the front but the gap to the breakaway was still growing. At this point we couldn’t see them up the road. I knew that if I wanted to have a shot at GC I needed to try and move up the road. After we completed Hogeye we turned right onto AR170 and continued to climb. At the top of the gradual climb there was a slight lull in the front because nobody wanted to work. This confirmed that I needed to make the move. I jumped out of a poorly organized peloton with only one rider following, a rider from DNA/Garneau. For the first 5 minutes of the breakaway I had a peak 10sec power of 716w with a NP of 400w (4.62 w/kg). During this initial period my companion would not work, rightfully so since he had a teammate up the road. Eventually we started to bridge the gap, making up 1 minute of the 2 minute gap. This proved that there was a good chance we could successfully bridge the gap. I convinced him that two teammates in the breakaway would be better than just having one and he started to share the load with me.
About 20 minutes into the breakaway my bladder started yelling at me. To be honest, it was actually sending signals out at the beginning of lap 1 but when I tried to pee while moving my bladder got shy. I mention this because while I was in the breakaway all I could think about was how bad I had to pee. I had only felt that pain 1 time before and that was during my auto-accident when the nurse had to eventually give me a catheter. No time to do that during a bike race so I just mustered on. I believe these bladder signals were causing some cramping in the legs and taking away some power as well. My legs really started to cramp up with 10km to go. We still couldn’t see the peloton so I figured just keep pushing hard. Well, that didn’t last too long because 1 mile or two later we turned around and saw the chasing peloton. They finally started working together and pulled us back.
Stats for the breakaway
I latched on to the peloton without too much difficulty and was just planning on taking the short ride back home. There was still one minor climb to get over though. I made it to the top but cramped hard and couldn’t latch fully onto the back of the peloton. I had to finish the last mile solo. I ended up losing a minute to the peloton and 2 minutes to the breakaway. I crossed the finish line caked in salt and a bladder that was screaming. I immediately went to the port-a-potty and let the feeling of relief wash over my body. I truly believe that the bladder situation had a significant effect on my breakaway attempt. Additionally, the heat of the day did not help my case. In the end, I believe I made the right move.