16 Aug Tour of Elk Grove TT and Crit — 2011
This is my fifth year doing the charity prologue TT. This is a chance to find out how slow I am comparing my time to the domestic pro field as well a few tour guys. That is correct, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, have raced Elk Grove only a few weeks after the tour, which is cool. For those that have never raced in a prologue, they can be very difficult events. The length of the course is 4.5 miles with 7 turns, one that is 180 degrees, two or these corners you must scrub a few mph if you want to keep the rubber side down.
I arrive 2 hours before starting time begin, why? A huge warm up is required in order to perform well, since it is only 4.5 miles, you must go full gas from the gate or you will not post your best time. It is like a USGP cyclocross start, 5 to10 minutes of hell from the start. I sign in, grab my number returning to the mobile locker room, the TDI wagon. Prep is pinning my number on the long sleeve skin suit, setting up the TT rig, slipping into my normal kit, bibs and a jersey and start my warm up on my road bike. A standard TT warm up since I do not like riding my TT bike much. I do ride it, normally 1 time during the week before a TT, though not for more than 1 hour at a time.
I have one hour to warm up, perfect, I will have time to ride a few laps on the course, testing the windy sections. I notice the wind is swirling then seems to shift direction about a 1/2 hour into my warm up, weird.
I am not feeling very good, go figure, I have just returned from the family cottage in southern Michigan, spending time on the beach, body surfing 4-5 foot waves in Michigan Lake. Awesome fun but not good for cycling legs. Maybe it was Heidi driving the motor at 43 mph instead of the 35, like I had asked for. I am not complaining, being super happy Heidi will motor pace me at all. I am sure this is her way of telling me she is not fond of doing this, just more insane Wayne behavior. Laughing while thinking of the beach fun that has my legs feeling heavy, I return to the car to get the TT rig, skinsuit, funny helmet, and shoe covers. A few really hard 30 to 45 second efforts and I am off to the start house. The officials comment, there you are, only 2 minutes until my starting time.
Nikki Cyp gives me the 30 seconds warning, 10 seconds, a few really deep breaths and I am off. Steadily I increase the speed to 30, holding it until the top of the false flat, now up to 32, sweet, it feels better than I thought. U-turn/180 already, being careful not to overcook this corner. Exiting as quickly as I can, trying to regain my speed, I have the TT ride back to 32 though feeling crosswind assist, an increase is needed. I roll through the start finish area at 33, now starting to feel the lactic come in, I allow the speed to drop slightly, recovering for the head wind section ahead. After the corner the wind is strong, it shifted again; this was a tailwind section in the warm up. I made a mistake going a little too fast in the crosswind assist section. Funny how the brain does not function when going full gas, I normally pay close attention to the wind at all times. Now it is either slow down or stay on the gas risk blowing the engine, slowing wins. I am now angry with myself, saying let it go, anger will sap energy, stay focused. Making it to the back section and full tailwind, I am rolling at 36. The rest of the TT I am flying, for an old guy. I cross the line and am sucking wind big time.
Later I find out the times, which do not surprise me, though a few guys I know, went faster than I believe. I ran a 9:27 which is a fraction above 29 mph avg. Two guys that I was skeptical of their times, went under 9:00 flat, which is 30 mph avg. Awesome if they really did this. No big deal, it is for charity and the state TT will be the real test. All in all I am happy to have the opportunity to ride the prologue and give a small amount back to the community of Elk Grove, since they are super supportive of bicycle racing.
Saturday 1-2 Crit
I do not normally play with the kids, being a master’s racer, where I belong. I could explain, giving you the excuses why I made this choice, I will spare you the BS. The truth is Bob Karlow and Ryan Freund were chest bumping about doing this race so I thought I would join in for the fun. While at registration I do not see their names on the sign in list, or see either one of them warming up. I have been at the cottage where we have no phone, television, or phone service for the cell, being in seclusion, I do not know if there was a change of plan. Whatever, I am lining up and racing with the kids solo or with teammates. It does not matter with neither of the chest bumpers to be found. Bob has some story why he did not race, whatever, while Ryan reads the original 1:45 start time which has been changed to 12:15. He was not the only one caught by this error.
The whistle starts the race, given the fast pace, I quickly move to the back, planning to sit in for at least 2/3 of the race. Settling in nicely, I am talking with Nate Iden (Burnham Racing), who is also sitting in the back. This is a great course to ride tail gunner, you can slow down early and hardly use the brakes for the 180 corner. The same goes for the other corners, the large group is braking as I allow a 10 to 15 bike gap, no braking, roll through the corner not wasting energy, laughter.
There are 20 laps like this only having to close 1 gap on the front straight, where we were going 32-35 consistently. I am starting to feel lose. I can tell the energy of the group is changing and I decide it is time to start racing.
I move up about 30 guys on the back section, sliding in for a rest on the front straight. Next lap I move to the front about the start/finish area, sweet. I hold this position, 3rd to 8th wheel for a lap, feeling good. So far no moves off the front have stuck, so I will hang out here waiting for a break attempt that looks promising. 15 laps to go and a large cash prime is on the line, with Andy Crater and Chad (Texas Road House) going for it. They do not slow down and after a lap they have 10 seconds, as the Texas Road House crew begins to block the field. Bingo, two fast guys and a chance for a podium for the old guy, if I can get across. I wait until the back stretch, as the momentum slows, 100 meters from turn 4 I weasel through from 8th wheel and go full gas. Ripping the corners I am clear with no reaction from the field. I set the speed at 36 through the start/ finish line closing to 150 meters, OUCH. The engine room is telling me to stop this stupid pace, you are going really deep. Gaining a little power from all the cheering (thanks everyone) I make contact at the exit of turn 3, almost a full lap effort. H.R. reads 178, my max is 184 but my legs feel ok. I say give me 1/2 a lap and I am in the rotation. Crater pulls off and Chad sits up!!!, What the…
I yell, “your guys are blocking”, then Crater yells, “come on”. I say, “You’ve got to be kidding.”
I am still salty about this since Chad ends up in a 3 man break on Sunday, wining that race. I will say he screwed the pooch, making a poor choice. Did I tell you this guy has a great sprint? Oh well, that is racing, I feel good about the bridge. Recovering while being caught, I move to the back of the field. Now I settle in and the legs feel good again, it is time to save the good legs for tomorrow’s master’s race so I signal the official I am pulling out. A nice cool down and I am on my way home.