Monday, March 05, 2007

Albany Georgia Cup summary - a slow crowded race

I think there were about 15 riders from the Macon area at the Albany Georgia Cup race yesterday, which is quite a change from last year, when there were typically only 3 or 4. It was windy and cool (50 degrees) at the start. The course was very flat with only a bump or two that could be called a hill.

The Pro-Am (pro-1-2-3), Elite (3-4), and Masters races started first, then the Competitive (4-5). Our field was about 90 riders. Most of us from MAX and Macon Roadmasters started somewhere in the middle of the group. Lots of slinky action early in the 31-mile route. I guess nobody wanted to pull hard that early and the group was so big and roads so narrow, that it was difficult to move up - lots of short accelerations and braking, "slowing."

I finally worked my way to the front 20 or 30 riders after a few miles into the headwind. Then we turned right and had a stiff breeze from the left. As folks started to seek cover near the right side of the road, Bill came by out in the wind on my left steadily headed for the front, so I followed. He pulled off the front a ways, I and one or two others followed. It was too early for a 1 or 2 man breakaway, but I hoped that either the extra speed would shed some of the size of the peloton or even better, that we'd get 8 or 10 aggressive co-workers and be able make some space between us and the group so that we could get away. We were joined for a while by Jake and then for a while by Todd and a few others from other teams. After 10 minutes of short punches off the front, we were making no progress and gaining no passengers, so we faded back and were absorbed by the group.

At about mile 20, I was riding beside Jake when sombody's tire popped just in front of us. I thought it was a crash that would clog the road. The guys up front heard it and accelerated. I told Jake to go, thinking it might split the group, but it did not.

Shortly thereafter, the wind hit us hard from the right. I was on the yellow line in the wind shade and Jake was in the middle of the lane. The right windy side was open for a change. I told Jake to get in the wind and we'd advance up the side of the group. He jumped out there and took off, but somebody else grabbed his wheel and blocked me from following. He made a huge advance to about 10th, pulling a few folks with him, then settled in. I was still back at about 40th.

Somebody then hit the breaks in front of Jake, he touched the back wheel and went down into the grassy shoulder with a couple of other riders. It wasn't a bad crash, so he hopped up and started sprinting to catch the peloton. The motorcycle official grabbed his jersey and started to pull him up to the group, but he started drifting toward the motorcycle. He lost control and crashed - this time head-first into the asphalt. He's ok, but has lots of road rash and some broken bike parts and helmet.

At the end, Todd, Drew and I were in about 20th as we approached the finish. When the official opened both lanes, I faded to the left white line. Other folks had the same idea, and I was forced onto the grassy shoulder for about 100 feet and lost 10 or 20 places. When I got back onto the asphalt, I got tangled in another pair of handlebars, but we eased back apart and congratulated each other in a good save as we crossed the line while braking.

I think the first 50 riders, including Todd, Drew, me, Bill, Ron, and Dale finished with the same time. We had other Macon riders in the race, but I don't know how they finished.

In general, the race was a really shitty one -- much less enjoyable than last year's races. Hopefully that will change with hillier courses.

My power intensity factor (% of threshold) for the entire race was 0.75. For comparison, it was typically 0.83 for our Peach Peloton rides this winter. And in the PP I didn't wear out my break pads.

Other results:
Pro,1,2 - I don't know how Chad finished.
Elite - Jeff Clayton snagged 4th place with a strong sprint finish. I think Christian worked hard for his team off the front most of the race and had nothing left for the sprint finish.
Masters - Eddie finished in the lead group, but I don't have details.