It's been a long build. Base ended around the last week in february and I've been building ever since, with a proposed target of Killington. Because Syracuse is a larger event and happens one week before Killington it has to be considered part of the peak. Hence I am beginning my taper now.
Whew. It could not have come at a more needed time. As the chart clearly shows, I had a peak in performance at Hollenbeck's (which was verified by the race result as well). The build had to continue for another couple of weeks though and the inevitable fall from grace which accompanies a bit of training overload was bound to happen.
That said, I was not really off form for Bristol. Certainly I wasn't peaking, or treating it like an A-race. Neither had I made a mistake with feeding or hydration or intra-week resting. All of those ducks were in a tidy little row leading in to Bristol.
I just couldn't go fast enough.
That's my "excuse".
Of course, I knew going in to the race that I was a bit out of my league considering the field size and who was in it. Remember the Battenkill report? Well, Bruce Bird showed up for this race too, fresh off his beating of Roger Aspholm to win the 40+ at Battenkill. He brought with him a few teammates from Bloor, and we had a bunch of other Canadians come down from London and Kurzawinski (and possibly some other teams with which I have precious little familiarity).
I do know how to check race results though, and every name on the list was either RMMA.1 or RMMB.1. ouch.
So did any New Yorkers decide to show up to race for the jersey? Yes. A few. Maybe 6 of us.
Most of them were familiar to me. And most of them are fast 2s. I've raced against Andy Melnychenko and Dan Staffo before. I know what I am up against. The plan is to hold on for dear life as long as possible and try to have a fun day.
The field was only 18 strong. It was a bit windy. Not the ideal conditions if you want to hide in a pack and make the other guys do the work. I did my best, but it was not meant to be. Attacks came right out of the gate. Surges, spikes, Strung out lines, power climbs, grinds. You name it!
And we aren't even half way through the first lap.
By the time we get to the real climb, Egypt hill, I am still in the group and in decent position, feeling strong but a bit winded from the constant surging that has been going on. Bird and Staffo take off on the climb. 5 guys chase hard, thinking (incorrectly) that they can catch those two. 5 more guys are chasing the first 5. I am in the second 5.
I know who is in these groups and know where I stand. I am the strongest climber in group 2, but we are not gaining any ground on the climb. Two of the guys in my group are much stronger on flats and they start pushing the pace big-time to try and catch the other group on the 6 mile flat headwind section leading up to lap two.
And we did it! Unbelievably so, but it happened. We averaged 25 into that awful headwind and closed a several minute gap in the space of 6 agonizing miles.
Here was the cost:
two riders were totally shelled. I looked behind me and saw nothing but clear road. Once we got close enough to read markings on the backs of the riders up the road, my other two companions stood up and powered across the gulf of air, catching on.
I didn't make it.
The legs just couldn't take it any more. They wouldn't push any more. I had used up a big bunch of matches taking 350w pulls in that horrible chase and I had to helplessly watch them roll away from me. My race was going to be a time trial for the next 40 miles.
I thought maybe I'd have a shot at catching them on the uphill, and it looked like that was possible for a while, but by the time I got to the S/F line, they were out of sight.
At this point I had to make a decision. I reminded myself of the "don't quit" post that I had made recently. TTing for two hours is no joke, and it will carry a price, but I chose to keep going hard and hope that maybe I could find my way on to the NY podium somehow.
The second lap was mostly solo, but I did start to run into riders from other fields, mixing it up a bit here and there, passing, getting passed. the whole course became essentially dotted with little groups of riders from all the fields racing concurrently.
the second time going by the S/F line the sky turned black. We had been told sunny and mid 60s. What we got was a hard driving rain with a mixture of ice. I soaked through. Everyone soaked through. Nobody even had a vest. Totally unprepared.
A lot of riders quit at that point. I did not. I got so effin angry that I started shouting obscenities to no-one in particular, alone on the course, hoping there were no spectators around the next bend. There weren't. It was raining too hard.
The anger made me go faster. I was determined to keep going in this race even if I got struck by lightning (which was a possibility at this point).
The last time through the descent and flat section I hooked up with a couple of riders and did my best to take my pulls. I was spent, but determined to be completely out of gas at the line, and Que Sera Sera from there.
On the final climb I lost them, passed a few from who knows which field, got passed by a few, and made it over the line.
10th, out of 18, and the 4th New Yorker. I missed the podium by one spot.
After looking at the file from the ride I realized that I didn't have a bad legs day. It was certainly not a peak performance by any stretch of the imagination, but my numbers were not all that far off. I was just in a small field stacked with 1s and 2s and here I am, fresh off a 3 upgrade, in a race that blows apart on the first lap. I did what I could.
The only record set was in the duration. 2:39 at .98 intensity. That means the Normalized power for the entire race was only 2 watts below my set threshold. Tough day.
Should I bump up my threshold? Probably. Am I going to do it? Probably not until my taper is going well and I start to see some of the benefits from all of this building I have done, and get a proper time trial in. Last thursday night's race was another indicator that it's time to taper.
Here's a report from the race winner:
Note that he seems to treat reporting the same course with far less expression of pain and agony. I guess that is what it's like when you have the strength to just ride away from everyone and win races by minutes.