This was my first time racing the Eugene Roubaix...mostly due to the dirt road section. But I wanted another race in before the OBRA championships in two weeks, so this became the year to race it.
I looked at the profile before heading to Eugene and overall it looked to be fairly flat, and for the most part it was...but there are a lot more rollers than expected on that course and the one little climb was fairly steep.
We had a neutral roll out over the hill the first time which lasted about 3K. Once we were able to start racing we had a lot of people trying to get breaks started. I jumped after a few of them, but nothing was able to get away during the first lap. When we hit the gravel section...it was smoother than expected...but the pedal was down as expected. We entered the gravel road at 30mph and held near that speed for most of the way through the first time.
This with the hill just after split the pack into two groups from what I could see.
Once we came down the hill and hit the sharp right hand turn one guy was able to get away and put 200-300 meters on the field. There was a short but shallow climb during this part, but then it went downhill for a while. I decided to bridge the gap here. It looked like a couple started to chase, but stopped after 10-15 seconds. Here I bridged with the other guy and we worked together for the next 35-37 miles putting at one point 3 minutes on the field.
However, the last lap we both started to tire from the rollers and I started to get cramps in my calves.
With about 4 miles to go a chase group of 4 caught us making our group 6 riders now. We kept the pace pretty mellow knowing we had 2+ minutes on the field and took tried to vie for position through the gravel section.
I started out in good position through the gravel...but somehow ended up in front, which was where I didn't want to be heading into the final 1K. With about 100 meters to go in the gravel the first guy jumped. I accelerated and was able to hold his pace for a while, but then my legs tied up on me and the others were able to get around me.
With 100 meters or so left there was a gap between me and the other 5 so I just put my head down and crossed the line for 6th place. Out of the prizes, but overall...a good day in the saddle. Looking at the results today (5/1/11) it looks like I moved up to 5th...so either I was ahead of somebody else, or they relegated a rider due to centerline violation, I'm not sure which.
I can honestly say I left it all out on the road today and am still feeling it now that I'm home and cleaned up.
Numbers on the day:
55.7 miles raced 2:26:58 total time Average watts: 280 (NP 316 watts) Max power: 1416 watts 20 min power: 329 watts 60 min power: 313 watts Average HR: 155 bpm TSS: 224.2
This was the first time I had ridden the De Ronde Portland, though I’ve heard the legendary stories of the ride…Just under 48 miles and 7700+ feet of climbing, with a couple of climbs averaging 25% or greater for a ¼ mile or longer. The reality is the total climbing is somewhere between 4700 and 7700 feet. Mapmyride.com has it at 4700 feet, but I’ve seen GPS profiles with 7700-8000 feet of climbing. The unofficial amount is 5400 feet which I’ve seen listed on several different locations.
I’m not a climber…by any definition of the term, but wanted to at least ride it once in my life to say I had done it, so knowing the weather was supposed to be good and not a whole lot of racing leading up to the race or after the race, I thought this year was as good as any to give it a try.
I was able to get a ride with one of my teammates to the start line (about 25 miles from where I live) where we arrived early to kind of chill out a little before the ride. Slowly the area started filling up with riders from different teams as well as recreational riders. I’d say by the time we started there were at lest 300-400 riders, maybe closer to 500…but it’s always hard to tell with a group that size since there is no “Official” ride taking place and no registration to count numbers.
Some groups took off early but most left just after 10:00am with a few words from the unofficial organizer of the ride. The basic premise of the ride is to follow the “Lions” on the road until you reach the top of Council Crest.
Granted this is a “Ride” but there is an unofficial count through the first 10-20 riders to the top…kind of a bragging rights thing…so I didn’t want to take it easy, though I knew I wasn’t going to be near the front either. Mostly I wanted to push myself and see what kind of time I could put in.
The first climb was up Saltzman Road…I say road because it’s only a road in name. It’s really a gravel road/trail that goes up through Forest Park and takes us up to Skyline road. Saltzman was actually in good shape considering all of the rain we have had and we were moving out pretty good. I don’t know my time up Saltzman, but I averaged 371 watts up the climb without pushing it very hard.
After a little respite along Skyline we took a short downhill that led us to Brynwood…which is one “STEEP” climb. I turned the corner and was saying to myself WTF? Who lives up here and why? I hit the first part of the climb out of the saddle making it about a ¼ the way up when I sat down on my saddle to power up the climb. At this time I realized my cleat tension in my right cleat was too loose for this climb. Every time I would pull back on the pedal (I was pulling really hard) the cleat would push the cleat retention springs back far enough the front of the pedal would unclip and out would come my cleat. This was quite annoying and caused me to stop several times up the climb.
After that…the only other really steep climb was college st. which was equally difficult, but that didn’t come until about half way into the ride.
The rest of the climbs were normal climbs with spots getting into the 15% range, but not for very long.
I will say, the roads for this ride are not the best roads I’ve ever ridden on. In fact the Saltzman (the dirt/gravel road) was in better shape than half the roads we were on. So it was a rough ride for a large portion of it.
Overall, I completed the ride in 3 hours 30 minutes and 46 seconds…and that was with a little doubling back when I got lost a few times. Not bad for a 190+ pound sprinter/TT guy. Looking at the pictures I was in the top 40 or so crossing the line and wasn’t too far from some of my teammates that are true climbers. I would guess the fastest guys finished in around 3 hours, maybe a little faster. Most people were in the 4+ hour range and many of my teammates came in around 4.5+ hours.
As for the toughness of the ride…It’s not easy, I’ll give it that. However, if you took Brynwood and College St. out of the ride it wouldn’t be that bad…just a slower ride with a lot of climbing. It wasn’t the hardest ride I’ve ever done, but ranks up there overall especially for how short the distance was.
I will say this was the first ride I've ever completed where my upper body was more tired than my lower body. You had to use your whole body to get up some of those climbs and it took it's tool after a while.
There was great support along the route, especially considering this is not an “Organized” ride. Several families had tables set up and were giving out free food, water and other “Assorted Beverages”. There were also 5 or 6 port-a-potties located along through course to use. That really made things great, as well as people cheering us on as we hit the top of the steepest climbs.
Overall…it’s a great ride and if you haven’t done it…it’s worth giving it a shot at least once. I’m not sure I’ll do it again, but if the season has a lull at that time again, I’ll likely give it a go if the weather is OK. If it was cold and raining…it would have been miserable, but epic.
This was my first road race of the season, but heading into it I felt pretty good. My training has been going well, even though it's been raining forever, which has put me on my trainer during the week. But I can tell I'm getting stronger because my trainer workouts have been getting better and I'm holding my power longer on group rides.
With that said not knowing the course I didn't really know what to expect other than what I had heard from a few people. I knew it was 56.6 miles long and had some climbing (some very steep but short climbs and one longer climb where the race finished). I had heard it was a hard course to get a breakaway going, but could see a couple of places where one could be done if the conditions were right.
Looking at the course profile I was a little concerned about the main hill and finish since I'm not a climber and it was an uphill finish. As it turned out most of the climb wasn't that bad, but there were a few sections that pitched up past 6% which is beyond my "Anchor" point...I.E. where I struggle at...Generally anything over 4% - 5% grades.
The race was what I would call On/Off...It was attack after attack, but nobody followed through with their attacks. So it was full on, then full off for most of the race...Kind of annoying and it kept the field together for most of the race.
On the end of the second lap (of three) a guy just kind of drifted off the front. I'm not sure if it was an attack or he just went a little hard and found himself out by himself but once he had a gap...he looked like he picked up the pace and turned it into an attack (if it wasn't). As we started the 3rd lap another guy jumped (not long after the first guy took off) and soloed his way to the lead racer.
The two of them built up a lead of around 2 minutes or more and the field wasn't chasing them hard...of course, they had multiple teammates in the race and were effectively blocking the field by disrupting any chase that was started and had good control over the pack which allowed the lead riders to stay away.
With a bit over 7 miles to go a few guys had jumped and had a small gap on the field. It looked like a good group so I jumped to catch them. As I caught them...they gave up and drifted back to the pack.
I looked back and nobody was chasing so I decided push the pace and see if I could get away knowing if I didn't I was toast on the final climb since I was "Pack Sliding" each time up the steepest pitches. This was a great place for me to go because it was fairly flat and had a bit of a cross wind, which I love when racing. After about 1.5 miles of cross wind the course turned right and headed into a headwind for the next 2.5 miles before the final climb, which again I think helped keep the field at bay until the final climb.
For a short period of time it looked like they started to chase, but it was quickly shut down again...partially by the teammates of those in the front as well as by my teammates. If a chase was going to organize it would have had to have been done by some of the smaller teams or independent riders.
After a few minutes on my own I had separated myself from the pack by a fair distance and I could see I was making up time on the two guys in front. By the time I hit the final climb I was about 10-15 meters away from catching them and once the climb leveled out a bit I was able to catch them and work with them on the final climb.
With about 2.5k - 3k to go the official told us we had 47 seconds on the field. At that point I think we all felt fairly confident we could hold them off which meant the finish would be between the three of us for the win.
Going into the final steep pitch before the last 200 meters where the road leveled off a little...the effort put into catching them...caught up to me. I didn't have much left at that point. That part of the climb started at 9%, then dropped to 6% and stayed there until we crested the steep incline. During the start of this steep pitch The other two put a few meters on me and with nothing in the legs to accelerate, they kept it to the top where it leveled off a little.
At this point I started looking behind me to see where the field was.
Looking back and looking forward I decided...3rd was good enough at this point. I could try and sprint to make it close and still take 3rd or cruise in for 3rd...I chose to cruise at that point finishing 3rd on the day.
This was my best ever climbing finish, so I was pretty happy about that, but it wouldn't have happened without my teammates helping control the pack as I broke away and caught the break.
Some numbers from todays race:
Total time of race: 2:26:42 Average watts: 236 (NP 308 watts...all the accelerations) Max watts: 1294 Average speed: 22.6 mph TSS: 213.4 IF: .876
During the chase/break away I averaged 25.1 mph into a cross/headwind and the last 20 minutes of the race averaged 325 watts. Needless to say...I really like my new Corsa Concept wheels
Well, unfortunately I wasn't able to race this month. I had planned on making the "Piece of Cake" road race my first mass start race of the year however a 3.5 mile gravel section each lap kept me from racing it. With age comes wisdom I guess...even if for the most part things were OK...though the early word was 10+ flats through the first gravel road section in the CAT 3 race alone. That just doesn't sound like much fun to me.
With that in mind, I've turned my focus to the Kings Valley road race on the 9th of this month. I've never raced Kings Valley so this will be a new experience for me. It's a Masters 3/4/5 race instead of the normal 1/2/3 races we have in the Masters field...so again something new.
Overall, I had a good month of March training wise:
58 hours and 29 minutes on the bike (trainer and outside)
1135 miles ridden
Longest ride: 79 miles (4 hours and 25 minutes)
Unfortunately most of this was spent on my single speed since we had 29 of 31 days where it rained and the 5th wettest March on record. Hopefully the month of April things start to dry out around here.
On the weight front...It was a tough month. My weight stagnated for about 3 weeks then all of the sudden over the past two days I've lost 3 pounds and finally hit 190 pounds again. I want to lose another 5-7 pounds before the end of May so I'm still watching what I eat and trying to lose the weight at a slower rate than early in the year.
For now though I'm really working on my threshold power. I've moved my training toward that direction with lots of threshold level intervals and SST training. All of my high speed work comes during group rides, so I'm only getting a small amount of that right now which is OK in the end because I need higher threshold power more than anything right now.