Three River Rumble, hosted by Rockwood, TN played host to the 2017 Tennessee State Criterium Championships. The day was set to be beautiful weather, with bright sunny skies and not overly hot. My race didn’t start until late in the afternoon so I decided to volunteer as a corner marshal for a couple hours. I always appreciate the work organizers put into the event and I figured it wouldn’t hurt me to help them out. I parked myself on a corner and helped direct traffic. I learned, yet again, how much some of these rural towns hate cycling and being healthy. It truly was disappointing and saddening to experience the anger and hatred towards us. I had quite a few people not care about the cyclist safety and ignore my instructions to stay off the course. I do not understand how people immediately degrade/dehumanize cyclists once they clip in. What makes this even worse is that the county and city approved the race, and has for a couple of years. If the citizens don’t appreciate the business the race brings to the town then they should go to their town meeting and complain. Do not put the riders’ safety at jeopardy because you are not involved in your local politics. Alright, time to step off my soap box and on to the race.
The story of the day was breakaway. Now, I spent most of the day on turn 5 being the corner marshal so I could not see when attacks happened. None of the attacks happened coming into turn 5 or right after turn 5. Actually, most of the time there was already a break established coming into my turn. I took this as people were attacking on the long tail wind section after turn 6 or going into turn 3. The stretch between turn 3 and 4 was a cross wind which was then immediately followed by a long tailwind. A gap needed to be established before the final turn because it was a long wide open headwind section.
My race had a smaller field, which was surprising for a Saturday crit and the state championship. I felt that my chances were pretty good for a podium and overall win. The whistle blew, and yet again I struggled to clip in. This is something I clearly need to work on because it has caused me to have crappy starting position on every crit I have done this year. Spending the first couple of laps moving up is a waste of energy. The first two laps started out with a medium speed, 24.2 mph. They ended up being below the average speed on the day, 25.6 mph. I averaged 245 watts over the first two laps while the eventual winner, Jeremiah, averaged 215watts. It wasn’t until the 4th lap that attacks really started happening frequently. Looking back at my power data I can see 10-12 attacks over the remaining 30ish minutes of the race.
The payoff for these attacks were minimal. At most I put some fatigue into some of the guys hanging on but it didn’t do much in regards to the contenders. This is one thing that I need to work on, patience. I tend to be extremely impatient in a game that requires it.
It wasn’t until 19 minutes in that the decisive move was made. At this point, I put in a huge attack with the goal of not letting up in order to finally split the field. This dig required an initial 486w 76 second effort which was part of a 5 minute @ 416w effort. This broke the field down into 5 riders. Only two of the riders were really willing to work, with the eventual winner kind of sitting in and doing weak pulls. After this the race was really on. There were an additional 5 attacks, most made by me, in order to reduce the field even more. The digs were usually shorter efforts down the backstretch, with the tailwind. One of the attacks did separate one rider from the breakaway. It wasn’t until the final 3.5 minutes, though, that the real damage was done. This is when Jeremiah’s patience paid off. He went to work and made two significant attacks on the final 2 laps. The first one was a leg ripper going into turn 6 but we all held on. Jeremiah then attacked again into turn 1. I was at the back of the group and the rider in front of me couldn’t handle the attack. I had to slow down and move around him which created a gap between me and the two riders. I knew I had to close that gap so I pushed the pedals so hard (601w for 45 seconds with a HR of 181 BPM. I could feel my eyeballs wanting to pop out of my head. I thought I had closed the gap coming out of turn 5 but at this point Jeremiah attacked again. He opened up a small gap and I had to chase again. This gap was one I couldn’t close. We rounded the final corner, two riders only a bike length or two in front of me, but with a strong headwind it was too much. I did not have enough protection and power to contend for the win.
STRAVA FILE: https://www.strava.com/activities/986304265/analysis