Race course was a 12 mile loop, mostly North/South. Head south on the outbound north on the imbound with the only "climb" (small pretty gradual, with a long flat section in the middle) coming at at about halfway through the loop. I was racing four loops There was a strong wind coming from the WNW, tailwind out and headwind back. (22 mph steady with strong gusts). In addition there was a 400m finishing straight that went straight north and it was wide open (read nasty headwind sprint). Given that I'm not a very good sprinter, I try to avoid them. Given that this race would have a very windy not uphill sprint finish I was basically screwed for the sprint. Race plan had to involve at least trying to break away. I wanted to first sit in for a lap and then try and get a break on the tail wind section where my break would have an advantage. Hopefully get out of sight before the headwind came. That never happened though.
First lap went well, sat in, watched to see if anything dangerous looking tried to roll of the front. Near the end of the first lap I moved up into top 5 wheels, attack position. On the last downhill before turning into the crosswind while transferring over to the tailwind section I got really low, dug a bit got up front, and then tried to gutter the field stretch things out and then right when we hit the tailwind I attacked. It kinda worked, a group of 3 of us were off the front but the other two wouldn't work. Either they didn't have it in them or they just didn't want to pull through. I kinda gave up but pushed it at threshold at that point, we were caught within a mile. I knew I needed some help to drive a break, I don't have a mega-watt TT engine! (I don't think anyone my size does) I slipped right in at third wheel in the pack, and then maybe 15 seconds later jumped again. I did this at least 1 more maybe two more times. Then sat in again, right before the hill coming up I gave another dig it seemed like it might work well, me and one other were off the front but it was clear the other guy just didn't have it, we were just about back in the fold at the base of the climb when 3 guys went off together. I tried to go with but just didn't have it at that point, I'd been attacking the last 6 miles and looking through my power file I see 6 little attacks in that span, trying to find something that might stick. These guys attacked hard, and I ended up settling back into the field (lesson #1 is here). I sat in the whole headwind section to recover.
Around the end of lap 2 I started thinking about a bridge. (at this point the group had 4 guys and 30 seconds on I the field) I knew I would have to jump harder to make it stick though. I decided to wait until people were riding hard again to make my move because the whole headwind we had been virtually soft-pedalling in the back. Attacking people who feel like attacking is just a bad idea. The base quickened a bit... but it never got hard so I decided to go. BAD MOVE, I never got far, I had no one with me and then the counter came, and 2 guys rode off into the sunset up to the break.
At this point I knew I'd spent basically all my matches in the book, but wasn't going to give up. I went up front in the headwind to organize chase, and I chased and chased and chased. No one helped at all though. For one there was a team of 6 with 4 guys upfront blocking, 1 guy in the break and 1 guy saving his sprint legs. I knew what was going on and told people not to let them pull. I tried again and again to try and get us rotating but no one would go. At this point I said "screw it" and decided I would try to reel the break in myself. I went up front, didn't look at my power meter and just pedaled at the point where my legs felt like exploding. (turns out that point is ~240w, I think I might need to adjust my FTP. Testing required) A couple time someone came up to take over only to explode, so I just took over pedalling again. We pulled in two guys who had been spit out by the break, one of which was the guy with a large team and they instantly sprung to life, I moved back to try and rest in case there was a sprint. Talking to one of the guys in the back I asked: "Why doesn't anybody want to work to pull back the break." He said something about not wanting to take any wind to which I responded "What does it matter if you take wind you are breathing easy back here, don't look too beat up and you have no shot at winning anymore. Do you hate working in the wind more than you like winning?" I was angry, the breaks lead had grown out to 1 minute (hopefully not while I was killing myself up front. But seriously: if you don't want to try and win, why come out to a bike race? You can not spend gas money and race entry fees stay at home and go a group ride if you just want to socialize.
Anyways we ultimately ended up setting up for a field sprint but with 100 people on a 1 lane road I failed to move up to where I need to be ( DOHHHH, I KNOW BETTER THAN THIS!!!) It's alright, I had zero sprint left and ended up getting spit out the back in those nasty 400m of wind attempting to sprint.
Good learning experience, gonna remember the lessons below and keep training hard.
- Don't burn through all your matches in 6 miles of idiotic repetitive attacks
- Don't make half ass attacks because you feel like it. Attack with intent when the opportune time presents itself.
- Don't expect people to actually want to race their bikes
- POSITION, POSITION, POSITION.