Saturday, March 27, 2010

C Group Breakaway for 5th on Atomic RR

Managed to get a nice little breakaway for the last lap to end up with 5th place.

Atomic has three climbs:

  1. Ross Rd, 600m@5%, about 1:30
  2. Huntingdon, 700m@4.5%, about 1:40
  3. Bradner, 400m@8%, about 1:20
Effectively they all climb about 30m total elevation. But each has its own characteristics and certainly each feels very different. 

Ross Road starts with a very fast drop and you hit the bottom and spin up for a bit, then typically everyone finishes standing up as it kicks up at the top. 

Huntingdon has a preliminary 300-400 hundred meters that is uphill slightly, so by the time you hit the steeper bits you have slowed down. But overall the grade is less. So mostly sitting down and spinning. 

Bradner starts steep, about 200m at 10% and then drops down, go around a corner and then it kicks up again for that final little insult before you get to the top (and just past that is the finish line.) Mostly people start this one standing but typically by the top everyone is back in the saddle.

We had to do six laps (10km per lap.) What I was finding was that I was quite comfortable on the Ross Rd. climb. No trouble matching the pace to the top. Even starting from the back. Huntingdon was even easier. I had a 12x27 cassette and found it very easy to go from the back at the bottom and accelerate up to the front by the top. 

Bradner the younger guys hit standing up and moved up it fairly fast, and while I could match that. I knew that doing so six times would not probably be a good idea. 

I stayed at the front for the first lap. Mainly to get nicely warmed up and get some idea how fast the C group wanted to race. That gave me a baseline and also showed how expensive it would be if I tried to do that for the entire race. I was showing about 35 TSS points for that lap. Trying to do that for six laps would get me up over 200. Doable (maybe), but probably would leave me few options at the end.

So I my goal was to do three laps with minimal effort. Hang out at the back, go to the front on Huntingdon just so I could be first at the bottom of Bradner, sag climb up Bradner so conserve matches (Anerobic Capacity efforts). 

Over the course of 4.5 laps the C group numbers dropped from about 40 down I think about 25. My strategy was to push hard on the second last time up Huntingdon and see if I could get off the front one a couple of people. That was my "easiest" climb. So instead of following and starting from the back, I moved up after the Ross Rd. climb, so I was in the top four at the bottom of Huntingdon. Then climbed just a bit faster than my normal pace and the "normal" pace was typically taking me from the back of the peleton to the front. so starting from the front and pushing a little harder caused the group to split badly.

From about half way up there was another rider who made several small jumps off the front to see if anyone wanted to try and get away. So with about 30-50m of the climb to go I moved up to him, said "lets go" and jumped hard. He managed to get my wheel and we go well off the front. Stayed well off through the Bradner climb. Which I did at his pace. About 500-800m past the start/finish another three riders managed to bridge up to us. But it appeared that we had a very good gap. 300-400m at least from the main group.

We worked our way around. I pushed fairly hard to get us some additional distance. Unfortunately couldn't quite match them on the Ross Rd climb. Ended up about 150m back. So just TT'd around following them. I could see another group about 300m back. Going up Huntingdon the group behind started closing so I picked up the pace. Hoping to stay away.

Then after the drop coming into the Bradner climb for the final sprint I come to an almost grinding halt, There was a large truck with trailer moving up this road, which is a tight steep skinny (not quite two lanes) road, with cones in the middle and this idiot is driving up at about 2kph... !!

As I slow down the group behind me catches me and we start to try and pass him, there was only about a meter left on his left side for us to climb past, and then I notice that the riders passing me where from the A group! Now I'm really confused. So I just followed them up and finished. Taking 5th. 

It turns out that the rest of the C group pretty much shattered on that climb up Huntingdon. There was effectively no real main group after that. They all just moved around the last lap as best they could. The group I had been trying stay away from was the A breakaway.

So even though it was only 5th, I think this pretty much counts as a tactical victory. Had a plan, executed the plan, and pretty much the plan worked about as well as I could have hoped for.

Overall my time was about two minutes faster than last year at Spring Series, 1:45 vs 1:47.

But I'll note that our pace was substantially slower than the BC RR Masters race last August. We did the first four laps in 1:11, the August pace was 1:02. Or 34.1 vs about 38kph. Of course that race had six "Master A" riders who had ridden Westside classic a few months earlier as Cat 1/2. So presumably that had a lot to do with the faster pace. :-)

It appears that all of those Anaerobic Capacity workouts on the Computrainer in January and February (2k loop repeats.) seem to really be making a difference in what I can do this year. Still can't sprint but much more comfortable on the climbs.