Saturday, April 4, 2009

Escape Velocity Spring Series - Atomic RR

After many (well three) years of getting dropped on the Atomic course I finally managed to get to the finish line.... And in the general confusion caused by the small group of us finishing (about 10-15) getting passed by the A's I even managed to get a 5th.

The C group started with about 50-60 riders. We lost about 20 in the first lap, about another 10+ per lap for the next couple laps... By about lap four we where down to 20. Lap 5 about 15..

The Atomic course has three main climbs spaced around the course, with a bunch of false flats added in for fun. The first climb is about 600m @ 5.3%. The second is about 700m @ 4.5%. And the third which is just before the finish line is 515m @ 7%.

Each of the above is followed by additional sections of either a false flat or a second not quite as steep section... Overall about 140m of climbing for each loop.

For various reasons the first climb was my bete noire for many years... I kept getting dropped on it, usually in the4rd or 5th lap... Today I was getting up OK.. But on balance I think I found it almost as hard as the third climb. The strategy here was to stay on and about half way up just get up on the pedals and push... I'd be out of breath at the top, but usually could get it back quickly as the pack slowed down on the false flat...

The third climb was the hardest and I think the one that dropped most of the riders... For each of the first four laps I was literraly the last rider up who managed to get back on... This was planned. I didn't want to commit to any more effort that was required to simply stay at the back of the pack going over the top. But it left a lot of other people back there and unable to stay with us.

I had a different coping strategy for the middle climb. It comes after about a km of a false flat, then long twisting descent with a nice 45 degree turn into the second climb. And today that section had a very nice tail wind. So the goal for laps 3-5 was just TT up to the front on the false flat (which was easy as everyone stretched out because of the wind) then bomb down the descent in the top 3-4. Then simply do as much of the climb as I could at my own pace... Typically by about halfway up the pack would be in front of me, and I would then only have to match their pace for the final half of the climb. Occasionally doing a bit of standing up etc... But generally not having too much trouble.

Going up the middle climb on the last lap the A's passed us... and then as is typical they more or less sat up.. So about 10 of us where sprinting up the final climb into the back of the A group... I think at that point there was also a solo rider who had been about 200-300m ahead of us on the middle climb, and he had probably stayed in front of the A's... Anyway, luckily they did move up the final climb eventually, but there was a lot of confusion.

At the top of the climb I more or less emerged from the small group of riders I was with, the A's where about 30-40m ahead... I had no idea who or what or where anyone else was... Rachel Canning and I continued to (sort of) sprint up the final little climb after the climb, and I was able to get to the finish 50m past that just ahead of her. Apparently other than the solo break away, there where only three other riders ahead, so I got a fifth!

Checking back to 2007 when I did this as the Atomic Road Race (sanctioned race, Cat 4/5) I see that I was dropped on the hill in lap 5. The pace today was a bit faster. Average speed per lap about 33.5 for the first four laps, compared to 32.4 then. We'll be back on this course in August for the BC Provincial Road Race Championships...


Ross said...

Well done Stuart. Sounds like a tough circuit and you played it well: confusion + hill = attack. I wish I could've been there...