Sunday, May 3, 2009

Turkey Hill Country Classic


Another great race in the books. The Turkey Hill Country Classic was amazing and I learned so much about racing. A full field of 50 riders showed up despite the threat of rain. The course was an awesome rolling 6 mile loop with all but one road shut down for us - meaning we could use both lanes! This meant that we could take some fast lines through the corners, starting wide, swinging all the way down through the apex, and coming back out wide into the left lane.

Only on River Road did we only have the use of one lane (click here for the course map). But even then, we were in a rolling enclosure meaning that while on River road our lane would be completely shut down to traffic!

Two days before the race I went out for a hard training ride up in the mountains to get ready and felt great. My strategy was to stay at the front for the entire race and try to be there if the break went up the road or if it came down to a field
sprint.

I made sure to get to the start staging area early so that I could line up in the first 4 or 5 rows. Because we ha
d use of both lanes I wasn't worried about getting in the front row. The race quickly settled into a nice manageable pace on the first lap. It quickly became apparent who was going to be doing the work at the front. Myself and 4 or 5 other guys pulled the peleton the entire race. We covered all the breaks and pulled up all the short/steep rollers. The one advantage of this is that you can control the speed, and the 4 others I was with wanted to keep the peleton at about 20mph.

An interesting phenomena occurs at this point. Other riders who may be stronger and faster do not want to come up front and pull. They may make remarks to leaders about lifting the pace, but do not want to do the work themselves. Therefore a select number of riders get to set the pace.

Once it became clear that no breakaways were going to be forming since (a) other racers were lacking the motivation to go and (b) the course just was not suited to a break - I started trying to save energy by not chasing down every rider that got a gap. By the time the last kilometer (.6 miles) came around I knew that it was going to be a bunch sprint.

One guy came flying up the left lane and immediately 5 guys went with him. Having pulled the entire race I wasn't able to bridge the gap like I would have liked. Fortunately another rider I had been working with was coming across the gap, offered me his wheel, and pulled me across. But by this point I had slipped from third wheel to twelfth. But because we had both lanes I had some room to move back up, drafting off the other riders in front of me to save energy while doing so. However, at one point I got boxed in but just enough of gap opened for me to slide through and get some open road.

By the time I could see the line I knew one of the top four spots was out of the question as the riders there were pure sprinters. I was racing for fifth. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the rider on the my left coming up quick and I threw my bike at the line, grabbing 5th by about a half a wheel.

It was an awesome feeling riding in the front of such a large group of riders. At one point during
the race I was completely surrounded by other
guys. This is where staying calm if you bump into someone is so important. There were many times during the race where I would feel someone bump into me or I would touch someone else's bars. But everyone knows how to react and stay upright. It truly is amazing to watch/be part of. There was one minor crash but everyone got back up quickly and regained their positions.

So the spring campaign a has come to a close. It was great two months and I learned so much about racing and tactics. Up next is some long, steady, distance training for the next 6 weeks. I am hoping to log around 1,200 miles in that time to help get ready for the Nightmare at the beginning of August. The next race I have scheduled is the Housatonic Hills road race in Southbury CT. if I am still living up in NY.

Thanks for Reading!
Captain Crunch

1 comment:

Matt Heppe said...

Thanks for the info on the race. Sounds like you had fun.

What category were you racing? I am going to do Turkey Hill in two weeks. It will be my first race and I'm curious what it will be like.

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I got my name from a friend while playing a video game a long time ago and it just stuck. As if you couldn't tell from the picture I am a huge cycling nut, always looking for something harder.