Pace Bend 2009 Race Review

I’ll provide more details below, but to summarize my feelings over the weekend – I think the training is working, and my form is coming. I just need a hard month of training and racing, and I’ll be ready for early April.

The weekend was supposed to be a back-to-back weekend of competition, similar to previous weekends, but due to a PR commitment with the League of American Bicyclists, I was unable to travel down to Walburg for the first competition. It was a good thing, however, because a front came through about 30 minutes after the race began, and winds whipped up to 30kts, while the temps dropped severely. So on Saturday, I skipped out on a date night, went to bed early, and arose early on Sunday to drive down to Pace Bend.

Pace Bend park is a county park with a 6.2 mile course of truly rolling terrain, overlooking Lake Travis, near Austin, TX. On this one day, the course is completely closed to traffic, so you have both lanes open. That makes for a 40′ wide track, with two ‘serious’ climbs per lap, including the finish, which is about 400m of climbing at about 4.9% incline. This was apparently the first year they had the finish at this location, and everyone loved it.

I arrived in time to see Cindy, who finished fourth on the day, maybe higher, and was strong throughout. It was later revealed that she also set some new MMP (Mean Maximal Power) PR’s, so I’m proud of her for that. It was cold throughout the morning, but as the sun rose, and the winds stayed calm, the temps rose steadily, until by the time of my 12:35 start, it was right at about 70 degrees, and awesome.

There were a number of starters (over 80), and the race kept a good, solid pace from the beginning. I was lucky to have a great teammate in Robert Snedden, and with my reputation for being a worker, I stayed near the front (to avoid crashes), and did my part to contribute. I started some breaks, caught some breaks, and actually practiced what I was going to do for the last 400m every time I approached the Finish Line. With 10 laps, it ended up being some great practice. Robert got in to a break about 2/3 of the way through, and I tried to block a bridge effort, but all in all, most of the pack stayed together, more or less, for the entirety of the race.

Still, it was a great opportunity to practice some hard efforts, like ‘attack-counterattack’, and ‘pick the right place’ for a short climb. The rule of thumb that I use is “First at the bottom doesn’t necessarily mean First at the Top.” And today, that rang pretty true. Still, the hills just weren’t long enough for anyone to make a break stick. On the final lap, with over 40 riders bunched up, we were actually NEUTRALIZED by the race official as three P1’s in a break (Good Lord, do they have stamina) actually got about a minute up the road. So it kind of messed up our race, and made the final 500m a lot more risky. Robert was in front of me at that point, and I was right behind him. I told him – “Robert, I’m right behind you – when I say it, and you’ll know what “it” is, pedal like hell and then drift right.” He nodded in agreement.

It ALMOST worked.

At 300m, Robert was in about 10th place, and some riders started to go, a little early. I said, “wait”, and then, about 2 seconds later, “NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW!” And he pedaled like he had a motor attached. The lead four riders drifted behind us, slowly, but other riders started to come by us. Robert pedaled and drifted right, and stayed out of trouble, but I got sandwiched behind two or three passing riders. And then, with <100m to go, there was the now ubiquitous grinding sound of shouts, confusion, and metal, as a rider went down behind me. I missed my opportunity to jump and stand, and that pause cost me a slightly higher finish. I don’t think either of us would have won it, but it was neat to work together, and push/pull ourselves towards the finish as a team. As it was, Robert finished 9th, I finished 10th, but it felt like an intrinsic victory, and both of us thought so.

Looking at the numbers, I’m pretty happy. It was a fast race, about 24.6mph average, and I matched my 20MMP PNorm, and I set some shorter MMP4, 3, and 1 PR’s for the season, and I recorded the highest 30 seconds MMP of my wattage recording career. It was a race where my body and bike felt like they were one and the same. I took the 90 degree corners fast and smooth, and picked lines that were aggressive, usually passing 3 or 4 riders every time. The aeolus 6.5 wheels feel balanced, smooth, and fast. They were worth the small weight penalty with their efficiency. I’ll try to link to a photo shot by Kevin Tokarski to demonstrate my emotions about this race. I’m taking a fast corner, in the lead, looking in to the turn, outside leg down, bike and body tilted just right.

That’s how this race felt – it felt just right. I think my form is coming on, I think I know where my weaknesses are, and I think I will be adressing them over the next 6 weeks. My clients who are racing are showing equally strong results, and I think it’s further proof that no matter where you are, the Consistenty, Safety, and Effectiveness of indoor intervals on a CompuTrainer can yield some absolutely incredible results, given the amount of time you have available in a busy week’s schedule. The preseason set us up properly, the early season yielded a leap in fitness, and now, we’re on track for some strong spring results. I can’t vouch for tactics (I recently asked a Chessmaster if surviving 30 moves at Level 1 was good… He laughed and said I needed to keep practicing and thinking about more moves ahead and possibilities. I hope I can learn that), but my athletes and myself are coming in to this season strong, healthy, and better prepared for the hills, attacks, and Time Trials that are ahead.

(edit) – I purchased a commercial copy of the image. Here it is.

Rounding the top corner at Pace Bend 2009

Rounding the top corner at Pace Bend 2009

Oh – one more thing. This was the second time I’d raced with the Rotor Agilis crankset hooked up to a Quarq Saturn Cinqo. The thing worked completely flawlessly. Combined with the 705 from Garmin, it showed everything I needed it to, there were no data drops, and the whole bike, race ready with the Aeolus wheels, weighed 17.5 lbs. I considered throwing some lightweight wheels on there to take it to 16 lbs, but theadvantage would have been less than 1% overall weight, and the aero advantage is almost always worth it. I may change my mind on some races with longer uphill finishes, but honestly, that Quarq/Agilis combo with aero wheels on an aero bike with a rider that’s as dialed in as I am really makes it the right machine at the right time.

Thanks for reading.


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