Monday, April 28, 2014

Joe Martin Stage Race, Stage 3 & 4

After our Saturday morning cruise with coffee & sticky Buns we took on Stage 3 of Joe Martin. Another 110miles but comparing to Stage 2 I knew it was going to be much harder. The Hogeye course is painful when really "being raced" and the constant winds (20-30mph) were an indicator of a hard 4+hr race.

At first, I pinned my number just like teammate & 'Ze Boss Ben Spies would have done ;-)  These cloth numbers are awesome by the way. Austin promoter Andrew Willis had them last year for Tour of Austin already. I hope other promoters catch on and we'll more of these throughout the season.

As planned, Adam took the initiative early and started the early break. 5miles in and he was up the road with 3 other guys with almost 2minutes to the field. JAMIS set Tempo and Tony and I tried to stay cool for the end. With these long 100+mile races, it's clear that the last hour of the race will be the hardest if the first 3hrs are slow/tempo-only. The break (w/ Adam) got caught after just one lap and the next 2 laps not much happened. Finally, with 1 lap to go on the Hogeye Loop it got harder & the attacks from other teams put the leader's team a bit under pressure as we raced full on that last lap. Going over the steep feed zone climb, a group of 5 or 6 was off the front and the field blew to pieces as the GC race was officially on with 30miles to go. Over the top of the climb Tony and I found ourselves in the front split with ~18 other riders and the yellow jersey. We did what we could and rolled through but it wasn't really our duty to chase the break down as the Yellow Jersey was defending all kind of attacks from Kenda & SmartStop & Optum. The rest of the pack was out of sight for 30minutes or so and at one point it looked like this was it. But, it's bike racing so a 2nd, larger group (what was left from the broken up field) got back on with us and now a group of 45-50 guys rolled FAST to the finish line. It came down to a sprint and Tony and I finished in the group, just happy to make it and be done for the day. Jacob & Justin Stanley got caught up in an early crash on lap #1 w/ Jacob flatting and not being able to finish. Stanley crashed hard on his (2013 collarbone-broken) shoulder and finished but probably can't race tomorrow. To give you an idea about the difference of speed/power. 1st lap: 51min, 23.9mph & 200W avg 4th (final) lap: 57min, 26.7mph, 265W avg. MVP was Adam today who was aggressive early on, made the break, got some sprint points, got us water just before the final time up the hill. Great teammate!
last lap & the field was slim. Adam (far left) still there helping us to position for the final time up the hill! JAMIS did an incredible job all 3days riding on the front. photo: Dean Warren

What hydration should look like during a NRC stage race: pan y agua! Had beers AFTER the crit on Sunday.

The final day, Sunday & Stage 4, was the Crit. Besides the Stillwater Crit at Nature Valley & Cry Baby Hill @ Tulsa Tough I think this is the hardest one day race/Crit I do all year in the US. A very selective, technical course and if you want to make it in a break you're usually paying for it later. Very hard to be off the front, and just hard jockeying for position in the 85minute Crit. Tony was still close to Top 25 GC and I was somewhere around 30th. Instead of just sitting in and waiting for a sprint  - and not having a true sprinter here for the Crit - we wanted to at least race. I sat in and felt decent but not great. With 10 laps (25min) to go they rang the bell for the final bonus sprint and a small group was up the road. I figured, now it's time to do at least something so jumped across on the S/F hill and got the prime the next lap. The race was so controlled (as most every year I've done that since 2006?), though that I knew a break is not going to make it. I just sat up and was back in the field while the "break" was caught 1/2 lap later. A new race started with 6 or 7 laps to go went it started to rain. I slowly felt the lactic acid in my legs and drifted further back. Tony & Adam held their own while I tail-gunned it for a bit and just rode the last few laps with a few other guys. Adam did a solid job getting 15th in what was left of the shattered field while Tony lost a few seconds on the day but still rounded out the whole weekend in 31st GC (me in 41st & Adam 57th). Great weekend all in all, though and I am looking forward to more racing with my 'broz at the end of May.

on the front before the rain hits

Full results from last weekend here:

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Joe Martin Stage Race, Stage 1 & 2

Back in Arkansas for Joe Martin Stage Race. Done that race now 6, 7 or 8 times? This year with ELBOWZ and it's pretty as usual up here. A few impressions from the last 3 days below:

beautiful day to be at Devil's Den State Park

added some extra weights to meet the 6.8kg UCI weight limit
party in the back, business up front. Ended up with a 9:01 for the TT
Day 2, easy pre-race spin: the Frisco Trail through Fayetteville is as good as it gets. No race photos today. Ended up 23rd after 100miles of somewhat easy riding and 10miles hard racing up Mt. Gaylor. Tony & I were safe in the bunch.
Day 3:  easy spin w/ Adam & Stanley. We're in Razorback Country!

They take their Tailgating seriously. Go Hogs!

Old VW on the Square
Farmers Market, sans Adam's face.
Farmers Market, with Adam's face. He's enjoying the scenery
If you're in Fayetteville, go to Little Bread Company and check out their Pecan Sticky Buns and Rolls. Funny crowd there, too. Mix of old and young, hip and not-so hip. This morning, kids playing guitars and singing....and dancing ("Flower Child Dance" by the guy on the left)
More updates from Stage 3 coming soon!