Sunday, May 26, 2013

Killington Stage Race: Stage 2

You remember last night I was saying today was supposed to be worse? Good news: it wasn't! It was 10 million times better. I only sprinkled on us a bit, the sun came out briefly, started in the mid 30s, finished near 40. Nothing got rain soaked. Overall weather was very good. So now for the usual race report... first the course.

Single loop road race, 61 miles. Near the start there was a nice short climb with no KOM points on offer, 2.1km at 5.6% grade. After that climb there was a long twisty downhill, fairly shallow started steeper and shallowed out to near a false flat downhill. 12km at -2% and then 20km at a -.5%, but really it was a -1% grade with a couple little climbs. Then we hit the base of the first KOM climb, overall about 7km at 4.7% but it was very stair steppy, with the initial ramps being the steepest (14% ish). After the KOM we didn't go immediately downhill, but climbed a bit more through the feed zone. Then some rolling hills before you got your real downhill. Gradual downhill until we turned right, onto a dirt road on which there was a 1.6km climb at 5.3%. Then it was meandering gradual uphill (false flat) until you hit "the Beast." The Beast opens with 3km of 9% grade of  stair stepping climbing, steepest sections were about 12-15% gradient with small sections of 4-5% in between them. After this you have 3.6km of rollers, with no net elevation gain. Then you take a left onto the main road up to the ski resort and have 1km of steady 9% grade ahead of you. The Beast was what I was (dementedly) looking forward to.

Like I said started the race in about 34 degree temps, sprinkling. I won't go through everything I had but it will suffice to say I bundled up, and couldn't take much off. Hit that first climb, were I felt quite good moved up from mid pack to the first 15 riders or so. About halfway up it the three guys in front of me crashed (I guess one of them hit the guard rail). Anyways, I was directly in the middle of what should have run into it, but in a fit of no thinking miraculous didn't think I had these handling skills, I slammed on the rear brake, fishtailed the bike into a very tight turn which I could not have made otherwise and weaved around it. It was pretty awesome. Anyways then we hit the descent which was wet with cranks all over the road. I was happy I was near the front. I could see and pick my lines pretty well, about 5km into it I heard the distinctive squeeling of brakes and skidding tires and the then a domino effect of crunching bikes. I guess a decent number went down but I talked to a number who made it back into the group. 

Anyways, we hit the base of the first climb and people went crazy on the initial steep section. I was doing about 320 w and in the second group on the road, with about 5 guys in front of us. After the steep seciton everything re grouped and it got hard at times, but I sag climbed the rest. Saving some energy. Rode easy through the aid station, on the small downhill that followed I drifted just off the back of our main group picking my own line. Rolled right back into the group at the bottom where I sat in. Then we hit the dirt road.

I was pretty nervous about the dirt road, it had rained a ton the previous couple of days and it was bound to be somewhat nasty, not to mention I just don't do that well on dirt normally. It was alright, as expected some of the stronger guys punched it on the dirt, but I held in just fine and the climb part felt pretty easy. The descent was a bit scary, but I let myself fall back a bit pick my own lines.

At this point I think a lot of guys had decided we were waiting for the climb, the main group was definately much smaller than what we started with and I was exited and ready to go. For once I had eaten and drank like I was supposed to, we mostly soft pedalled to base with and exception of a flurry of attacks at about 20k from the finish (I assumed people trying to get away who weren't the best climbers). We rolled into the base, I emptied the half bottle I had left of water onto the road and it was supposed to be show time.

I had decided leading into this that I wouldn't follow surges but would peg just over threshold up the climb. That didn't work totally, ramps were too steep. In my 28t, out of the saddle I was at 75rpm and 340w. I was trying to keep pretty even with the group but the kept pulling away. First pitches I averaged 270w, 5w/kg and was falling back. Craziness. I settled into my tempo at this point realizing I would certainly blow up if I continued at that pace. Up to the rollers I ended up averaging 250w or 4.7w/kg. On the rollers I pushed about 270w up, 220w down until I was fast enough to tuck into and aero position and gain speed. Then the last 1km I pegged 240w. All in all, 28 minutes at 233w, 4.3 w/kg. I didn't feel like dying at the end and definately could have pushed more, but at some point I lost my incentive. I finished 4 minutes down and 34/64. Not what I was hoping for on the day.

I'm also a bit perplexed, it was windy on the climb but even so I don't think my power numbers add up to my finishing time. A VAM model puts me at about 3.5 w/kg for the climb. And I know I have climbed comparably to the guy who got the stage throughout collegiate racing season. I thought I had a flat on the climb, thought my brake was rubbing but neither were true. Maybe my PM was off, and I just wasn't generating the power, or maybe those guys were really just stupid fast. Maybe a combination of the two, maybe there is something up with the bike. I dunno but I'm gonna figure it all out tonight at some point. In the end it is just disappointing because I thought I brought "A game," but got C results. Not to mention I have no plans on racing for the rest of the season outside of weekly crits since I'm headed back to Texas and there is nothing else... guess the 2 upgrade will come next year after a strong hard working off-season. Try and ride the best TT I can tomorrow.

Update: Some more time to reflect, some more data analysis and a look at ride info from other guys. Simply conclusion: I didn't go hard enough and could have gone harder. I can see early on in my effort a HR of around 182bpm, which is what I typically hold for these length of efforts. I should have just stayed with that group, dug in and kept going. Based on what I've seen data wise and from what I know of myself... I think I could have done 4.5-4.7w/kg for the climb and felt like vomiting at the end. Based on others ride files.... that would have put me right at the head of affairs. I felt like I could run afterwords and yeah my legs hurt but I was not at my limit at all. Part of this is a bit of mental defeat that I'm working on, the race was hard earlier and I let it get into my head that I wouldn't be able to keep up... when I really think I could have.

Final climb, shown with 30 second smoothing. You can see the strong efforts on the steep ramps and slight recovery between, as weel as the power surge and fall on the rollers. Perhaps not the best pacing technique, but without better gearing I feel as though I had few options. NP for the whole climb was 240w.