Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Road Nationals Course preview, Blue Mound State Park, WI

After a very early Saturday morning in San Antonio for the Texas State TT Championships (another "Elbowz sandwich" with Logan Hutchings first by 10seconds, me 2nd, and Heath Blackgrove 3rd) I headed straight North on I-35 on what would be a long but fun road trip! Quick stop in OKC at Waddell's house for some much needed rest and sleep. Then onto to Lawrence, KS to catch the final race (Crit) of the Tour of Lawrence and get in a last hard effort into the legs before Road Nationals this week here in Madison, WI.

We (teammate Jacob White and I) made it to Blue Mound State Park yesterday mid-afternoon after driving through Iowa most of the day. It's a big change from Texas scenery and I was reminded how nice it is up here in Wisconsin during the summer. 79 degrees, blue skies, and just a little breeze in your face.

Quick facts of the lap: 14.1 mile loop, 1280ft climbing/lap, 2 smaller but shorter pitches/climbs w/ up to 15% grade, a "Loose Gravel" section of 1/2 mile length, some more climbing in last mile of the lap with about 450ft of climbing and ~7-8% average grade. The start/finish is inside the park and you go out and do your 6 laps (U23 and Elite Cat 1) and then come back into the park. There's a nice, 300ft climb of .8miles w/ 8% grade in the run-in (or better: run-UP) to the finish and it will hurt after 80+ miles of racing.

The roads are mostly in good condition, starting out small and shaded with all the trees around the State Park. There's a lot of descending early on and it will be interesting in a 200 man field come Friday. We were going 40-44mph without much pedaling just cruising down the hill. After a few little turns and a quick run on a bigger County Road it's back onto smaller farm roads and the first two little "bumps" with 15% grade. This takes less than a minute, though and shouldn't make a big difference (for the top guys at least). After a few turns and winding road you suddenly turn left and I thought they're kidding when I saw the "Loose Gravel" sign but no, there's 1/2mile of loose gravel coming of a fast section. This will be interesting. Not sure how they found one of the few gravel roads out here and decided to use it in the US National Championships???

Shortly after comes another, longer and more gradual, 200ft climbing, over .7miles. This should make a little selection for some. And back onto County Road K before heading back on the Blue Mound Rd back to the State Park. That's where the final fun and fireworks will happen. 8% average grade over approx. 1.2miles and 460ft of climbing to the end of the lap and the feed zone. The road is wide-open at least and this should separate the contenders from the rest. Especially doing this 6 times (U23/Cat 1's). Once you're done doing your laps there's that nice surprise waiting for you with the run-in to the State Park and the final kicker to the finish with up to 10% grade, and another 280-300ft of climbing to the finish line.

A very similar course (22mile lap, using most of the same roads) to this has been used in the Tour of America's Dairyland a few years back. I remember Steve Tilford writing a blog post about it. No other than then-amateur, Matthew Busche, won that race solo back then. The field shattered completely back then.

A few pictures below and you can see the ride w/ course profile, elevation, etc. here on Strava.

Jacob can ride w/ "No handlebars, no handlebars"

"Loose Gravel"

false flat

look forward on final climb

look "back" on the final climb to end of lap

entrance to State Park, run-in to the finish
Strava profile