Monday, August 13, 2007

Dahlonega GA Cup Race Report

Here's my biased, mostly accurate, but certainly incomplete account of the Dahlonega Georgia Cup race for MAX Cycling Team:

Neels Gap TT
The course was about 5.1 miles up Neels Gap at 5.6%. The first bit was downhill, followed by a 1/2 mile of false flat, then a steady climb to the top. This was my first time trial using a power meter because I used my road bike -- having it to aid me in pacing was a big help. I stayed steady a little above my threshold power and had a good ride for me - 21:43. That put me 24th for the competitive division. Doug turned in a great ride at 19:55 or something like that to grab 2nd in competitive - 30 sec off the leader. Jeff 'Stoney' Clayton was 3 seconds off my time and Jake and Drew were not too far behind us. Christian rode 17:55 in Pro-1-2 to take 8th.

Black Mountain Road Race
It was a hot 19-mile loop with a short, steep climb up to Stonepile Gap early in the loop and lots of small hills to follow. Doug and Jeff both tried to go off the front, but both efforts failed. I think those were the only real attacks in the race. I started at the back of the 75-rider pack and spent most of the 45-minutes trying to fight my way forward around a couple of small crashes, flats, and chain drops, finishing maybe 30th (I was the last rider to get the same time as the winner). Jeff took 5th in a tough uphill sprint finish. Doug and Drew were somewhere ahead of me in the sprint, and Jake fought his way back to finish just behind me after getting caught in the yo-yo back part of the peleton.

I have to learn to either start closer to the front and stay there or I need to get better at moving up - but it's very difficult in a short, intense race with narrow roads. I burned a lot of unneccesary energy yo-yoing at the back. I need to be more aggressive on shooting through gaps in the peloton whenever possible.

Doug remained in 2nd for the GC race.

3-Gap Road Race
We rode a few miles, then Jake went off the front and gapped the peloton over the steep Stonepile hill. He was caught at the base of Woody's by a group of about 25 or 30 that started up Woody's together. I dropped off the front group to stay in my zone. A little later, I passed Jake, who was still recovering from his hard early breakaway effort. Then I apprached Drew in a group of about 6 half way up the climb. I accelerated and passed them, hoping he would jump on, but he stayed with the group. After I had a good gap on that group (30 sec?), I settled back into my rythem. A few minutes later, it was great to see that Drew had put in a huge effort to drop his group and bridge up to me. The two of us worked together and topped Woody's alone, then made a hard descent int Suches, where we caught a few others and rode to Wolfpen in a group of about 6 that included Tres Cordin, the big guy in the green Kenda kit (same guys I was with in the chase at Rome), and the red-haird guy from Harbin.

I accelerated on Wolfpen and had a gap of maybe 25 or 35 seconds on the group when we topped Wolfpen Gap. I tried to kill the very technical descent and felt I had done pretty well. At the bottom, I was amazed again to see that Drew alone had out-descended his group and caught me - Mr. D has found that going down hill quickly is a strong point of his to say the least!

Drew and I worked together up Neels, catching a few folks until he told me to go ahead about half way up as he jumped into a group of about 4 or 5 riders. I think I had about 30 or 45 seconds on his group at the top of Neels. I descended as fast as I possibly could down Neels, hoping to find another group to ride in from Neels to Stonepile, but I'm light and not very fast going downhill. Drew's group caught me at the false flat on Neels where the time trial started.

Then I made a huge tactical mistake: At the TT I had stashed a water bottle in the grass on a false flat going down Neels. I was completely out of water with an hour left to ride, so I made a decision to sprint a little ahead of the group, thinking that I could easily pick up the bottle and rejoin for the remainder of the descent. It only took me about 10 seconds to grab the bottle, but all my efforts could not get me back on the group. I almost caught them at the bottom of the climb, but by the time we reached Turners Corner, they had about 20 seconds on me. I chased hard for another 5 minutes, but was loosing ground on them. I had spent lots of energy for nothing and lost the group. Utter stupidity on my part. They probably gained 2 or 3 minutes on me between Turners Corner and Stonepile Gap, and I was very tired from the chase.

I didn't know it, but Jake had been chasing just behind Drew and I for most of the day. Jake caught up with me on the 2nd Woody's climb and we worked together for a while. About half way up, Jake told me to go and I went as hard as I could to the finish. Jake outsprinted a couple of chasers at the top when he arrived.

Doug and Jeff spent most of their day at the front and Doug picked up some KOM points and time bonuses, which may break an almost exact time tie and put him in 1st place in GC. Jeff's strong finish will probably put him in the top 10 GC. Drew's very strong descending, steady effort, and smart tactics might have moved him up into the top 25 in GC. Jake and I both felt good about our rides, but likely did not get any top 25 GC points.

If Doug wins GC, that's 2 races in Georgia Cup yellow in a row for him and for MAX - a very strong showing.