Thank You- Skins Compression for C400 Cycling specific Bib shorts and long sleeve compression jersey, SRM Dura- Ace 7900 Wireless Crankset Power Meter System Power Control 7, Oakley Sunglasses, Swiftwick 7″ Merino Wool Socks!
Sasha- my Cervelo Soloist SL- Electronic Dura-Ace 7900 Di2, Wireless Dura-Ace SRM Crankset Power Meter system with Power Control 7, Zipp 404 Carbon Clinchers, Fizik Arione Versus Saddle, Fizik Microtex bar tape
PURPLE – ELEVATION
RED– HEART RATE
If not for the 12 minutes off the bike for a flat 10 miles from the finish this would’ve been a sub 6 hour century with 11k feet of climbing.
The graph above is for my best 60 minutes of power production. It was in the first hour of the event, Normalized Power 248 watts or 3.64 w/kg. Remember being a century there is no point in riding at threshold all day. Also you only go as hard as is necessary to stay with the lead pack. So even though I could have gone harder it didn’t seem to me to be the best strategy. Moreover, I didn’t know the route well enough to go solo either.
But I digress, it makes perfect sense that the first hour was the best hour of power since it is during these 60 minutes that I was trying to establish the break. You should be able to see an “attack” of over 600 watts for about 45 seconds, at approximately mile 4. I wasn’t happy with the pace being set by the other riders– it felt slow. Additionally, there were a few riders whose pedal style was really hard to pace off of. Their pace seemed choppy and the power surges were intermittent.
The hard attack was for 45 seconds but the sustained hard pace over threshold was for 7:20 at 320 watts or 4.7 w/kg see below The purple line is watts.
It was very obvious that other than myself no one else was using a power meter to keep their effort steady and not waste energy. Riding with my SRM power meter allowed me to gauge my effort and not follow them when they surged. Keeping the power consistent I would just creep up to them again and close the gap. I knew if I “attacked” while everyone was still trying to warm-up it would break up the group. We were on a climb (purple line is elevation profile) and I also knew attacking on a climb would shake people up mentally. Hey, trust me it hurt me too because I wasn’t warmed up either. But my tactics worked when I jumped very few followed. In just the first 5 miles of the event a small group of only five riders was formed off the front of the field. A field of 100 riders or so were registered but I never found out how many actually rode the event.
The graph above is from the start to the first check point at Lake Elizabeth. I set tempo for the majority of the climbing for the first 15 miles and then decided to hang back and see how everyone else felt. I sat in the back of the lead group and watched as the riders would surge at the wrong times and waste an awful lot of energy instead of being fluid and consistent. By the time we reached Lake Elizabeth (mile 27 and 3,100 feet of climbing) the 5 man break was down to 4 riders. I was the first to roll in, top off my bottle and first to roll out. I hadn’t drank much because it was so cold. I waited for two more riders to exit the checkpoint. The break was now down to three riders.
The graph above is from Lake Elizabeth (mile 27) to Three Points (mile 39). The climbing continued for several more miles. One of the three riders was struggling to maintain our pace and dropped off. So now there was only two of us, Jon and myself. We worked together trading pulls through the uphill and downhill sections. We were moving at a good clip when we came up on the left turn at Three Points. We would have missed it if the volunteers didn’t wave frantically and yell at us to stop and check-in. I checked in from the roadside but Jon ran up on the grass and dirt to fill his bottles again. I didn’t need anything since we had just left a checkpoint 12 miles earlier. My “race plan” was to refuel at the turn around point 12 miles further down the road– the half way point of the century.
The next two graphs, above and below, are for the pesky little climbs from Three Points to Quail Lake and back. They were a lot easier to deal with on this day compared to the times I have climbed this section as part of the double centuries. I was getting a little fatigued but having Jon there made me work harder.
My son have awesome food from one of the SAG stops.
The graph above is from Three Points back to the finish. After a couple of short climbs you can see a long descent. It’s funny I didn’t remember the climb being that long. It’s usually the other way around where you think the climb is long and the descent is too short 😉
The graph above shows the time off the bike (12 minutes) for a flat just 10 miles from the finish. I was in a turn going 31 mph and I front flatted. The tire went flat instantly. I was fortunate enough that no cars were coming from the opposite direction. I grabbed handfuls of front and rear brake, straightened up my line and headed towards the guard rail. Because of my straight line I didn’t roll the tire off the rim, I kept the bike upright, I didn’t damage the Zipp Carbon Clincher $2,750 wheelset …oh and I kept all of my skin 😉 I was amazed at my fast reaction and skills. I came to rest just inches from the guard rail. How I did that I don’t know–instinct I guess. You know they say everything happens so fast in a crash but then they also say it seems like it happened in slow motion weird isn’t it?
Why 12 minutes for flat change? Like a bonehead I didn’t have long stem tubes for the Zipp 404 rim! After trying several combinations of tubes and valve extenders we patched the tube and got back on the road.
During my harrowing experience I thought about the Frank Schleck in the video below.
Even though Jon’s actions were selfless when he assisted me in changing my flat just 10 miles from the finish he had to know that the last climb was every man for himself. You can see in the graph above the power (yellow line) steadily increasing. This may sound corny but I allowed myself to fantasize about being in the winning two man break. I imagined Jon and I going into the final 2 kilometers of a race in some European country. The sides of the road were lined with spectators as we entered the barriers. The set-up was perfect. In the final kilometer there was a climb with a respectable grade (about 7.5%- 8%) that led to a parking lot where volunteers were waiting for riders. I set the early pace on the climb. The pace was moderately hard. Jon seemed to accept the pace so I knew he wasn’t working hard enough nor was I hurting him. I then rolled off and let him take the lead. I kept a watchful eye on Jon’s pedaling style, his hand position on the handlebars, his breathing and his overall body language for signs of weakness or an impending attack. The attack never came. So I came around again and pushed the pace even higher. I looked behind me and thought I saw a gap opening so I pushed even harder. I didn’t know where the top of the climb was so I was looking for any clue, any sign that we were about to summit. Finally, I thought I saw the top nearing and I attacked out of the saddle. It wasn’t an all out effort but it was enough to create a gap. Jon later confided in me that when I stood up he tried to follow but he had to sit back down. I thought it was a fitting way to finish a great century. I came in first by a bike wheel but it was all I needed.
Riding with Jon made the day so much more fun. We pushed each other all day and when we were finished I felt we had accomplished a good effort as a team. It can’t be overstated that Tour de Francis events are well supported and just filled with awesome people. I will definitely be back!
Two pictures of Jon – the guy that stuck to me like white on rice all day.
My son and I off to our next Epic Adventure.