Race Report: Modesto Road Race

Posted 25 May 2016

By Adam Naguib

tags: race reports, road, data

Mile 71: I was in the perfect position for the sprint. I’d wanted to be third wheel in our group, which in total consisted of three. I was. Unfortunately my inexperience showed. I wanted to go at 200 m, which is when the leader of our trio decided to hit out. We ended up crossing the line in the positions that we were when the sprint started. Neither myself, third wheel, or the guy in second, came around. I ended third. The mistake I made was coming out of the slipstream way too early. I probably came out into the wind after about 50 m (i.e. with 150 m to go). That was wrong. I should have sat there and sat there and only nosed out in the final 50 m. I showed no patience. Next time. it wasn’t an abysmal sprint at least. Over 1000 w, which wasn’t bad as I had spent the preceding ~35 miles or so for the majority in one move or another off of the front, or at least trying to make a move happen.

Let’s go back…

Mile 35: There has been a break of three riders up the road from the gun more or less. That was absolutely fine. This race was pan flat with cross and head wind sections. The wind wasn’t enough to smash the field, but enough to make some parts of the course sluggish. The three riders never really got too far. For some reason, and to my satisfaction, two teams with some representation set to pulling the field along and bringing the escapees back. That was perfect- we’d catch the break, the most highly represented teams would be burned up, and I would do nothing. At mile 35, about half way through the race, we made the catch.

Miles-35-50: After the catch, more moves went. Some would coalesce with a small gap, but everything was being pursued. The course simply wasn’t selective enough for people to drift off. A move that stuck was going to need to pretty big effort from the riders getting away. My power data show that this period of the race was where I put out my maximum power (over 1100 w) which was in a breakaway attempt. This whole period of ~15 miles was punctuated by really hard efforts, including two solo efforts off the front I tried to make for a few miles each. Neither came to anything. These are pretty obvious from the heart rate data. The plateau regions are sustained efforts at trying to rustle up a breakaway. At about mile 45, a strong rider managed to get a decent gap and kept going. A couple of miles later, I went in pursuit, but my foray did little but to entice a chase, of me that is, which resulted in my capture 3 miles later.

I knew the rider up the road. He was strong and I had raced with him before. I knew that if I got up to him we’d stand a great chance. I was trapped in the field and knew I had to get up there. I decided, with 25 miles left, that on one of the cross wind sections that I would go full gas and put it in the gutter. It wasn’t super windy and I didn’t think that I would shatter the field, but I thought I might get a bit of a gap with a few riders which would give us a chance to bridge what was now ~1 minute to our lone leader. I hustled up to second wheel as we took the turn onto the cross-wind section, then as we came out of the bend attacked. After 30 seconds I looked back and saw a 200 m gap; no-one had bothered to try and come with. Admittedly, for the last 15 miles the field had been tearing itself apart somewhat, but still, didn’t expect that. Oh well, at this point I guess I was bridging alone.

I felt pretty good and covered the first mile or so at a good clip. By mile 2 several things happened. First, in my post-escape glee and excitement, I had managed to cut the deficit to my target up the road to about 30 seconds. I was edging closer. Second, I had enticed a lone chaser from the group. A peek over my shoulder let me see a lone rider with a good ~25 second gap on the field trying to cross over. I was quite impressed- I was making good speed and closing on the leader and the guy behind was closing on me. I was going hard so he must have been putting out some watts. The scenario was shaping up nicely. I eased up on the pedals and let my chaser make the bridge. Two is for sure better than one when going up the road in the absence of the peloton. We had been, and were, working very hard. The next three miles that it took us to close that final 30 seconds were a massive effort, even with the both of us. The heart rate data show it clearly. With two, there is no significant rest (although it is much better than solo). And, of course, we had to exceed the speed of our target. We managed it, but it was no small effort. Once we made the bridge we were set. Three of us up the road. We rotated seamlessly. There were no shenanigans and no-one skipped a pull. Flick of an elbow, take your turn, rotate off. That was the story of the last 20+ miles of the race for us. Apparently, 3 is the magic number. If you look at the HR data, after we coalesced as a group of three, about half the time my heart rate was climbing, about half the time falling. The power data are harder to interpret but show a similar trend. Interesting to know for the future. A 2-up move is not for the feint of heart! Also of significance is that not only as a group of three did half of the time my heart rate fall, but the maximum heart rate at no point (except the final 200 m) exceeded that during the bridge effort. Who knew that riding a group of 3 was so much easier than with two?

The peloton crossed the line ~6 minutes after us.

Nice podium pic, in my opinion.