Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tour de Millersburg Stage Race Recap.

What a great weekend! That sentence could pretty much sum up my time up in Millersburg, PA for the Tour de Millersburg Stage Race. First off, I gotta say kudos to the town of Millersburg and to the race promoter for putting on a great event. The way the town came together and the amount of spectators was inspiring. Bob Roll was even there! I imagine this race is only going to get bigger and bigger. The area is perfect for a stage race. Tip to Organizers: Add some real hills to the road race to weed out some of the sprinters. OK, now on to the race.

TT (WTF?!?): I put on my clip-on bar for the first time ever Saturday morning, warmed up well and headed out for my start of the TT. My start time was 8:56AM. The weather was perfect, very little wind. The course was laid out along the Susquehanna River on a perfectly smooth road with some ever so slight ups and downs. A fast course. I got out fairly smoothly and started to gain on my 30 second man, keeping him in my sights, never pushing too hard as to kill myself, but pushing hard enough to figure I'd pass him at the turn-around and see what I had left for the second half. I don't have a computer on my bike which I now know is a big mistake for a TT. It's tough to actually judge how fast you are going, or how far you have left to go.

I got passed by two guys right before the turn-around #144 and #146, the Squadra Coppi Guy was FAST!!!! I started to increase my speed at that point and maintained my distance pretty well behind the Bayside Velo guy, but the Squadra Coppi dude just kept going. My Catch guy kept looking back (Funny!) and even got out of the saddle on one of the "hills" before I passed him. He went right around me again, then proceeded to die. I went around him again and kept going this time. At the finish I felt like I had a pretty good run, but knew I had more in me. Next time I'll have a computer. This is where things got weird. The #142 guy came in over 30 seconds behind me, yet in the results it says he did a 29:42 while saying I did 32:00. WTF?!!!! I know I was faster than 32, and way faster than him. I'm figuring with him starting 30 seconds ahead of me, and me beating him by over 30s at the line, my real time was somewhere in the mid 28's. 28:30/28:45 range. They also could have switched our times, with him having the 32:00, but he wasn't THAT far behind me. I should have disputed this, but didn't. Anyway. I know about what I did so the results don't matter much in the end. Still a mid-pack crappy time anyway. Plenty of room for improvement in the time-trial. I suck at it. Next year I'm going to train for the TT, do more TT's and look into an aero helmet, aero wheels at least to help out.

Criterium: I'm not much of a sprinter, so my goal for the Crit was to stay near the front, stay out of trouble, and hang on for the best finish possible. So much for a plan. The course started on a small hill, not steep, but kinda long for a crit. The rest was fast downhills, two 90 degree rights, then a straight to the finish. I think the race was something like 11 laps/20 miles. People were racing crazy I tell'ya. I'd get up near the front, then have a group of guys dive inside before the corners and re-take my position. This went on for a bunch of laps until one of the wrecks happened. Of course, right in front of me. I had to stop, walk my bike around the pile, run over a water bottle, jump back into the pedals and start my chase. I chased HARD for a half lap and noticed Kyle Jones up ahead with one of his teammates I think. I kept thinking to myself, If I can JUST get on Kyle's wheel I'll be OK. Luckily, up the hill the pace slowed down and I made contact. I was the last guy to regain contact with the pack as there was nobody behind me at this point. Kyle started working his way up the inside and I followed him. He attacked and I would have loved to have gone with him, but was dead from my chase. I sat in and recovered for the sprint and ended up finishing at almost the tail end of the main bunch, actually passing a few guys. Lesson from the Crit: I need more experience in Crits. This is only my second crit of my second racing career and I need to work on cornering and maintaining my position, rather than drifting back then wasting energy working my way back up. I won't do stupid stuff like some of those guys diving into the inside of the corners though.

Road Race: Ahhh, the road race. I was looking forward to this one. 54 miles, 3 laps of rolling and absolutely beautiful countryside. My original plan was to go with the first break-away attempt and see what happens. Plan Foiled Again! 30 minutes before the race I hopped on my bike and noticed that a spoke had unthreaded, dangling, and my front wheel was bent to hell. I had to work fast to get the tire/rimstrip off, rethread it, true it, put it back together, and head downtown to the start. I made it, with not much warm-up and lined up next to Kyle Jones and Terry Anderson of Haymarket. I just want to say that though I know of both riders through their blogs, it was a pleasure to speak to them for the first time in person. Both great guys. It was nice talking over the previous days races with them for perspective. The race was going to have a neutral start out of town. (Good Warm-Up Thanks!) Again, perfect weather and great roads for racing. I worked my way up near the front to be ready for the first attack so I could go along. I didn't go on the first attack, but waited for the inevitable Kyle Jones Breakaway, which did come. He got up the road a bit and I bridged up to him, going around, and we traded a couple pulls before one other rider joined us. The other rider went to the front and I got on his wheel, we traded a pull or two before I realized this isn't going to work so well. Kyle had already drifted back to the bunch and I noticed the pack was catching us after only about a mile. I pretty much sat up and got back into the pack.

Attack after attack would go up the road, but the peloton was never really interested in letting anyone go. They would get a couple hundred yards at most before the bunch would string out at 35mph and catch back up. This happened the whole race as there really wasn't enough hills to break the group up. I wish race promoters would put a few longer climbs in to get rid of the big guys and pure sprinters, but realize it's tough to close down a course with it strung out over miles and miles of road. This race was gonna come down to a bunch sprint I know it. Blah.

I hung around the pack, took a few pulls on the second lap, guys did a lot of shouting at each other, and generally tried to bide my time until the 3rd lap to see if there wouldn't be another opportunity to go for it again. With about 5 miles to go in the race, I attacked on a smallish hill and went for it. I went really hard into the headwind and up the hill and got a pretty nice gap, but soon realized two things. I was too far from the finish to make it stick, and not fast enough to make it stick. The pack started to reel me in when a Spinners guy went around me, I couldn't even hold his wheel and decided it was time to sit up, wait for the pack, and try and stay with the bunch for the sprint. We got into town and the pace really got fast finally. I guess on one corner, the bunch actually split into two. I was in the front bunch, made it around the last turn in the pack and got passed by a few guys at the finish. Overall, a good race, but nothing special (actually crappy) for my own results. I guess I ended up 33rd, 7th in Cat4.

This might be my last race of the year if I can't get into the Giro di Coppi next month. If you enjoy racing, head to Millersburg next August, you won't be sorry.


Kyle Jones said...

It was nice meeting you John. I thought it was funny you came up to me in the road race. I was thinking man john is either stupid or strong to bridge up to me, haha. My whole goal was to not finish with the pack that day. I fell out the back of course.

John P. said...

Hahahaha, Yeah, I was waiting for you to go for it!

I get so tired of all these races ending in bunch sprints. They are great for sprinters and race promotors, but not for the racers. My plan was to go in the very first break to shake things up. The courses aren't tough enough to string out the field and that doesn't suit me at all as a rider.

My second break-away attempt wasn't as stupid as that one, but you have to take chances or you'll have no chance. That's my motto, and Jens Voight's. LOL

Kyle Jones said...

Some of the most successful guys do attack all the time. So it is not unheard of. I am willing to put everything on the line to do something. And that is the fun part. My whole racing strategy is going to change for next year for sure. At Millersburg I will sit in more and go for the sprints. I am not a TT or climber.

John P. said...

That was the funny part of that road race. Every attack was pretty much chased down quickly. None lasted very long. Nobody was content to let a rider hang out there. In-fact, did you notice all the yelling in the peloton to chase them down? It was always going to be very tough for the lone rider, or a two-man breakaway that day.