Monday, April 14, 2008

Chattanooga Race Report - two more podiums

We had a great weekend of racing in Chattanooga. Here's a summary:

Time Trial
Doug, Drew, Jake, and I represented Security Bank at the 5.6-mile rolling course located about 15 miles east of Chattanooga. It was sunny and cool. As I was warming up on the trainer, my tubular flatted on my disc wheel. Not good. But I borrowed a HED Jet 60 from Doug, so no major problem. The first 2 minutes of the TT were a steady 2 percent climb. I was the first Competitive rider to go off, so I caught a few ladies, but didn't feel all that fast. I finished 8th at 13:31. Jake had a good TT, placing 6th with a 13:18. Drew powered his non-aero road bike to a 14th place finish with 13:47.

I quickly returned my bike to the start where we adjusted the saddle up a little to fit Douglas and he started with his warmup. He'd been riding his Tarmac with short aero bars and we figured he'd do much better with an aero setup. Doug rode a 12:27 to finish 8th in Elite.

Four good starts to the weekend.

L-shaped fast course with open corners - very windy through the tall buildings with shifting directions and lots of hard gusts. Drew had a flat as he started to warm up. He fixed it and had a second flat, which he repaired just prior to the start. So he only had a 5-minute warmup. As we started and he went through turn 1, he felt a squishy rear tire and realized he had a 3rd flat. He was out of spare tubes and had to abandon the race.

I felt much better in this crit. I tried to stay in the front half of the group, which wasn't too difficult. Jake got in a little 3-man break early but was caught pretty quickly. For the next 20 minutes he stayed midpack. Then with 2 laps to go, Jake tore off the front at the finish line. He was making good progress and the chase was having trouble getting organized. Turn four is a left into what we called the wind tunnel. Lots of gusty wind. Jake took an aggressive turn and the wind hit him at the wrong time. He slid across the asphalt on his shoulder and landed sitting on the sidewalk, where I saw him as we rode by. The gusts hit us as we went by - so I knew immediately that the wind had played a role in his crash. I finished 22nd. Jake had more road rash to add to the prior weekend's barrier kiss, but no structural damage to body or bike.

Doug had a good mid-pack finish in his first Cat3 crit. Lots of riders were shelled from the race, and Doug finished comfortably in a pack that averaged over 30 mph.

We ordered some pitchers of beer and watched an exciting Pro-Am race with lots of tactical work by the Toshiba team. Chad had a very strong race in a very tough field.

Road Race
The cove route was twisty with lots of small rollers - a great and very scenic 22-mile course (we did two laps). It had one climb in the middle about like the Pate interstate climb, but maybe twice as long. It was about 45 degrees and breezy, we were cool at that start, but the sun warmed us up pretty quickly. The first half of the first lap had lots of braking, which sucked. Jake attacked at least once before the first climb but was brought back. We had a mid-pack crash that took down or stopped the back half of the field. I barely avoided it by veering into the left lane.

We hit the first climb and a group of maybe 20 riders clumped together at the front as we approached the top. I was a few meters off that group but feeling pretty good. I know Jake was in the front group and Drew was either in the front group or somewhere near me. I easily chased up the the group just over the top. On another long but less steep climb the guy in front of Drew and I went down and Drew had to stop, but he chased back on with no problem. Lucky for me, Drew handled the situation well and did not try to swerve around the crash (he would have taken us both down); he just stopped in front of it and waited for the traffic to clear. I think Jake attacked again at least once on the first lap, but I'm not sure. Every time he'd go, the riders around me would say "Damn, your buddy is doing it again!." He was truly playing Badger.

Jake attacked again early in the 2nd lap and was reeled in. He attacked again just before the climb with a Cannondale rider. A assos jersey rider bridged up to them just at the climb. Just as the group caught him, the assos rider's front Zipp 404 wheel came off and was rolling around in a little circle on the road. His front end dove into the road just in front of Drew, who swerved off the road to avoid him and almost was lost for good down a 30-foot cliff but recovered without stopping. Jake was obviously toasted from the attack efforts. I passed him on the climb like he was standing still. He was standing in his 39-25 and doing about 5 mph. I thought his day was over and I was sure he'd be very disappointed not to have finished in the front group after all the effort he'd put into the race. I thought to myself "nothing ventured, nothing gained."

Drew put in a surge effort to join two or three others as the group was getting back together after the climb. I thought for a minute that he'd make it, but it was brought back. Five minutes later I heard another loud crash behind me on a descent as folks were trying to chase back on. A few minutes after that, I felt a little tap on my hip. It was Jake. He'd had a hard chase back to the group. He immediately moved back to the front and attacked again with 7 miles to go in the race.

At this point there were 20 riders in the front group, including me, Drew, and 3 or 4 Krystal riders. After winning some KOMs, the Krystal riders now had calculated that they had all three GC podium positions locked up. They knew Jake had lost time in the crit due to his crash. It was clear that they were racing to keep those spots. I don't know if Jake was using that to his advantage, but it worked. He killed himself to hold a 20-second gap for just about the entire last 7 miles. It would have opened up more, but twice there were bridge attempts by other riders that were pulled back by the Krystal team. I figured they were using Jake's gap to prevent other attacks, but as we neared the finish, they weren't closing down the gap to go for the win. I still don't know what their strategy was or if they had one. But if they were trying to win the race, they either didn't execute, had a bad plan, or just couldn't catch the Badger. Jake crossed the finish line with a 15-second gap to take the win! Drew took 7th and I took 12th.

Doug started his first Cat3 road race just after we finished. I don't have many details, but he attacked his field halfway through the first lap. Two other riders bridged up to him. They dropped one of the guys in the second lap, but Doug and the other rider held off the entire field for about 50 miles. Doug took 2nd place! He had a 3-minute gap over the field.

Eddie attacked a few times in his race, but could not get away. He finished 10th in the field sprint.

Doug took 2nd, I took 6th, and Jake took 9th in GC. Drew won't get a GC result due to his terrible luck with flats. Another strong weekend for Security Bank.