Tucson Bicycle Classic 2014
After reading Bryan’s exciting Shoot-out report, this is going to seem pretty dull!
The weeks before TBC, I was undecided about racing, because I felt unprepared, but I thought, “what the heck, I need to do this, it’s in our backyard”. I had been off the bike for six weeks, due to traveling and surgery on my shoulder and hip and didn’t have high expectations.
TT – Doug wanted me to buy a TT bike, but I am frugal, so I settled for TT bars. I practiced on them the Monday before the TT and felt pretty comfortable.
The day of the TT, the ladies had good conditions, with some windy gusts here and there. I had my best TT time ever (according to Strava) and finished in 8th place out of 15.
On a side note, it was a lot of fun, hanging with the team at the Brown picnic area. Pretty cool that we have an age range of 19 years old, up to 70! There was a flurry of activity with racers coming and going. Thanks to Bryan Schlegel, who provided a TT warm-up, that was enlarged by Doug and taped to wall for the racers to follow!
Road Race – In my prior years of doing TBC, both times, the field was only three racers. This year, we had 15 women in the 55+! Amazing! We were in a combined field with the 45+ and 65+, 70+, so there was a big group. I was able to hang with the lead group for the first lap and over the railroad tracks and then the pace picked up, I was hanging on and my left calf starting cramping. It continued to cramp and I started to drop back, further and further away from group. I had to unclip and pedal with my right leg only, it was miserable! The cramping got worse, but I managed to finish, but dropped to 10th place.
Circuit Race – The leaders started off with a bang and we passed the Cat 4 women, who had started two minutes before us, dropping seven of the women. I was able to hang with the leaders for two laps and then fell off, with two other women. We were working together nicely, and then another woman dropped on the climb. It was down to two of us, chasing the leaders. I learned the woman I was working with, had won the very first TBC back in the 80’s! When we turned on to Greasewood on the final lap, I kicked it up and went as hard as I could. I ended up in 5th place.
Overall – I finished in 8th GC, taking 17 minutes off my 2012 GC time!
It was a hard, but fun weekend. After looking back at everything, I saw I hadn’t done enough long, hard training rides.
Public thanks to my honey, Doug, who not only has to prepare his bike, but mine too – I’m so blessed, I just have to get on my bike and ride!
The senior masters categories all raced together: master 65+(my group), 70+, and 75+ … we were scored separately. In the master 65+ there were nine entries, in the master 70+ five entries and in the master 75+, three entries.
Stage I – time trial:
In preparation for the prologue, I rode the 3.2 mile course about 10 times in the two weeks prior to the race. On Wednesday before the race, my time was 8:45. My best time ever. However, on race day after coming down the ramp and making the first right turn, I was met with the first drops of rain and a strong headwind. It did not let up, but only increased, at some points being a driving rain and probably headwinds of 15 to 20 mph, and gusts even stronger. Terrible conditions to match my terrible time of 10:00. However, conditions were the same for everyone in our group and I came in second, 18 seconds out of first, and 14 seconds ahead of John Conahay who was third.
Stage II – road race:
At the start of this stage, my plan was simply to ensure no one got away and I held my 2nd position within the GC. On the first lap nothing happened, however, on the second lap, Franz Hammer took off and was quickly followed by Roy Quade. Our GC leader, Randall Maddox, and I discussed what level of threat this was to us. My assessment at that time was that it was nothing too serious, since Franz was 77 years old, and not in our group,and I didn’t feel Roy would have enough strength to stay away. However, they built the lead to perhaps 25 to 30 seconds ahead of the peloton. Randall and I decided to pursue them. Although we were gaining, it became apparent without a very hard effort, they would not be caught. At that point, I put my head down and buried myself to catch them prior to Helmet Peak. We were successful in doing that, and as we made the turn, I was in the front. It might be interesting to read Randall’s excellent blog report of this, so I’ve included a link to that here: http://teammaddog83.blogspot.
Stage III – circuit race:
Unlike VOS, when I had my position of second in the GC pretty sewn up at the start of the final stage, today was very different. With Conahay so close, I really wanted to win the bonus time on the sprint lap. Randall and I talked about this and we devised a plan where I would round the corner on Greasewood first and Randall would position himself second. Randall would slow the pace of the peloton as I sprinted ahead. However, I couldn’t muster a sprint for the kilometer. Conahay won the sprint lap and got the three second bonus, Randall got second and I got third. Conahay and I were now only two seconds apart. I needed to win this stage to keep my second place in GC. As we approached the last lap, Randall and I discussed our strategy. Randall was very thankful for the work I had done for him in the road race, protecting his yellow jersey, (and my position in the GC). He was willing to sacrifice himself to preserve my lead. This time, as we turned onto Greasewood, Randall was first and I was second. Randall motored up that first climb and buried himself on the downhill section. I clung to his wheel. As we approached the 200 meter mark, I gave it my all and powered past him for the final sprint. This time, I did have good sprinting legs and won the stage, securing my position of second in the GC six seconds, 13 seconds out of first. During the final sprint, my power peaked at close to 900 watts and averaged almost 700 Watts, for the final 20 seconds. Not bad for this old guy’s legs.
This was probably my best racing weekend ever and not just because of the finishes of first in the circuit race, second in the time trial and second in the GC. But because of the wise counsel received from BrYan and the teamwork that Randall and I were able to have during this race. Although Randall and I aren’t teammates, we worked extremely well together and developed effective winning strategies.
Looking forward to my remaining “A” races: State crit championship and state time trial championship!
Doug (The Wheelman)
P.S. Just to keep my nickname solid … I went to check my wheels on Thursday night and found that I had a flat on my Enve 60mm that I was going to use in the TT (fortunately this was just a loose valve) AND a flat on my Enve 25 front that I was going to use in the RR and Circuit Race … Fairwheel was able to get me setup fast with a new tubular on this wheel for Saturday’s race! I really am “The Wheelman”!!
Saturday’s road race started off with a hard effort. Horn, in crazy but typical Horn fashion, went to the front and drilled it. I would say it was pretty uncomfortable trying to keep pace with the group. The group turned the corner on Duval Mine, over the tracks, and settled down in a grove up the climb. The group rode steady with maybe one have hearted attack. It was difficult to really put any distance in on the climb due to the head wind. The wind will make for weak and half ass efforts because the group will just ride any attackers down. However, the wind played a huge role on the descent. The first time heading down Helmet Peak Road was fast. With a semi cross wind and sometimes a tail wind, this made for some fast riding. Between Helmet Peak and La Canada the first time around the average speed was 29.8 mph. This was just the prelude to what was to take place the second time around. Duval Mine Road had some cross wind, but not as bad in previous years. There were some attacks, but they were quickly shut down. We turned and started the climb. I looked over and Mr. Scott was right next to me. I asked him how he was feeling. I don’t remember the response, but I had a feeling he was fine. Near the top of the climb a little attack went off and formed a break-a-way. I don’t remember if it was 3 or 4 but they worked well together. This seemed to spark the interest of San Tan Racing and they put a few people on the front. I was wondering if the break would make it to the corner of Helmet Peak before we caught them. As the group closed in on the turn, I knew the speed was going to be silly going down Helmet. I moved to second wheel before the corner. This was a very good choice because it became very fast. We came down Helmet Peak at 37.4 mph. If anyone was caught out they were pretty much out of the race. On La Canada, we stayed around 30 mph with people trying to bridge up to the break-a-way. The first attack on La Canada put me over 1,000 watts. I counted 8 times people trying to bridge up to the break-a-way just on La Canada. The wind had picked up at this point and Duval Mine was pretty difficult. There were 3 more attacks with some slight gaps. We were all back together except for the break-a-way by the turn to the climb. Now not being a great climber this is going to sound odd, I was glad to be on the climb. There was a sense of normalcy. At this point, I looked around for Tim and crew and did not see them. Rich Goedel was asking, “What are you looking for?” I asked him, “Where is the rest of my team?” His response was something like, “They didn’t make it.” Oh crap! At this point, I was bound and determine to finish in the front group. San Tan Racing began chasing hard down Mission. They were asking for help and Flagstaff Racing lent a hand. Flagstaff also was setting J Carnes and teammate up for an attack to try to get to the break-a-way. I have seen J do this before with some success. Once we turned on Helmet Peak… away they went. Once again, we went down Helmet Peak pretty fast (37.2 mph) and cut into the break-a-way. Carnes and teammate managed to get to the break-a-way, but they were doomed at this point. We were within about 10 seconds of them when we turned on La Canada. As we caught the break-a-way, I moved to the front of the group to be somewhat of an opportunist. The attacks came and I just surfed from one attack to the other. One thing that puts me into great difficultly is being on the back when attacks like these come. It’s just so much work to stay with the group riding that way. The group turned on Duval Mine and it was a drag race to the finish. People were surging by me. I had to keep riding around people who couldn’t handle the pace at the end. Out of the 35 people who made to the front group on the second lap, a dozen fell off on Duval Mine. I had to sprint with Tim Miller just to finish at the back of the main field. I should have fought harder to maintain my position. However, I am glad to be with the main pack at the end.