River Road RR and Wix Brown RR, Cat 3
This is a late race report from March 5th & 6th races
Course & Conditions
- River Road Road Race: 90km over 14 laps, another 4-corner, nearly-flat course with a lumpy false flat and a narrow road coming into the finish. Forecast was for sun and 14°C so I splurged andswapped in my deep dish carbon wheels for the day. Honestly, they just felt harsher and more susceptible to crosswinds than my nice cushy 25mm-shod Ultegra winter wheelset.
- Wix Brown Road Race: Another perfectly square 90km over 14 laps, but mixed terrain with a strong breeze. It was lumpy downhill + tailwind > false-flat downhill + crosswind > lumpy uphill + headwind > false-flat uphill + crosswind. The forecast was dark & stormy but the day ended up clear and dry.
We only had three guys out for Saturday at River Road; Jeff our sprinter, Matt and myself. Plan was to stay quiet in the pack, don’t chase anything in the first half of the race, then try to get Jeff in the winning move or lead him out for a finishing sprint.
The pace was fairly relaxed, with no single team overrepresented and willing to push the pace. Some minor attacks and hot laps but nothing like last Sunday at Aldergrove. On multiple instances I heard people wonder if a GS guy was up the road, because we were so successfully doing no work. I take that as a compliment on our ability to control a race when we do have numbers!
Potentially a bit of controversy half way through the race, when we were passed by the A group, it appears that an EV guy from our race may have used the opportunity to launch a sneaky solo attack*. I don’t remember seeing him go up the road. His Strava activity appears to show him putting in a constant steady effort so he wasn’t obviously drafting on A-group wheels, but a few A guys recalled seeing him around them during the race. In any event, he remained off the front forgotten while the rest of us rode around in the pack.
*edit: we later spoke with his teammate, he said the guy had attacked just before we neutralized to let the A guys pass, so it was a case of perfect timing and having the strength to actually pull it off.
With 2 laps to go another strong rider took off for a 20-minute solo effort. TAG and Gastown teams tried to organize a chase but weren’t able to hold a steady pace. The solo Team Whistler rider ended up catching the EV guy and going all the way for the win.
Meanwhile we got ourselves into position on the final lap with Matt in the lead, keeping himself about 5th wheel and our left side guarded. We came around the group as the Gastown leadout train fell apart and Matt was first through the final corner. There was a small crash behind us, splitting the group and It was #allgonoslow from then on.
Matt put in an incredible effort, keeping us at the front and the rest of the pack strung out single file for a kilometer over the small risers. I was struggling just to stay on his wheel! I took over with 1km to go as TAG brought their leadout up beside us and their sprinter jumped early on the downhill more than 500m from the finish – more of a late attack than a true sprint. But Jeff was in perfect position and jumped on his wheel.
Fast forward to 8:00 for the climactic leadout train
I fell off the back at this point. Jeff tells me he was counting on launching his sprint from the TAG leadout, but found himself behind only their sprinter who was fading fast. The two riders who had been off the front were only 20 meters ahead. Jeff kicked for a long sprint effort and came across the line barely seconds behind the two top finishers. Their final times were marked as 1 second between the top three places.
So 3rd on the day and a solid bunch sprint win from a very-nearly-perfectly executed leadout train. Our performance could not have gone better, unfortunately the pack failed to chase down the breakaway riders – one who we knew was there, one of whom we didn’t. Overall super happy with how the race went!
Sunday brought the strong riders out again, with Dove from Mighty and Daniel from Musette as our main threats who I was tasked with marking. Our plan was accurate and execution was on point, but I was feeling yesterday’s race in my legs and when finally the winning move went with both our targets in it, I couldn’t hold the wheel. Luckily, our two strongest riders Craig and Jeff launched past me to catch the move as I faded. I found myself in the chase group for the rest of the race but the break was gone and it was workout-mode for me from then on.
I’ll let Jeff provide the race report from the front:What a race
The plan was pretty simple: Jem marks attacks in the first half of the race, Matt and Mike mark attacks in the second half of the race, and if it’s all together at the end Craig would lead me out for a sprint.
The race started out a lot easier than last Sunday. A few small attacks here and there but nothing was sticking. About half way through, things started to heat up. Gaps had formed on the way up the finishing stretch, so the strong riders were looking to take advantage. I let Jem and Craig cover the initial attacks but after seeing the number and caliber of the riders going after the break I grabbed a wheel. The break finally got away, with Craig and myself in it. We had at least 8 riders when it started, included Dove from Mighty, and Daniel from Musette, both very strong riders.
Things were pretty civilized in the break. We kept a fairly constant rotating paceline going, with only 1 or 2 riders skipping out on pulls. I tried my best to get behind the weaker riders so pulling through was easier.
With 4 laps to go some small attacks were put in, but nothing came close to getting away. After a few of these, I remember the American track rider commenting “I thought Canadians were suppose to be nice?”, to which I quickly replied “Not in breakaways”.
On the last lap Craig did a great job of keeping the pace high, by both going to the front and shouting at the rest of the break. I was sure one of the stronger riders was going to attack on the hill, but nothing happened. Coming into the home stretch it was Dove, Craig, myself, and then the rest of the field. Dove was keeping an easy pace, watching over his shoulder for attacks. As we got within 500m Craig started to ramp up the speed, came over top of Dove, with me in tow. Craig goes full gas, holding the center line, and after a huge effort, moves right so I can open it up and come over top. The next thing I know I’m first over the line with Craig just to my right. We nailed it!
Observations & Lessons
Thinking in terms of Process, Performance and Outcome we were top notch across the board.
Process = planning; we had a pre-plan based on the course and expected rivals, but were still flexible enough to change that plan on the road based on our abilities on the day.
Performance = execution; Saturday went just about perfectly. Sunday I think we were (I was, at least) only limited by fitness – and that’s easy to improve. We all knew our tasks and executed to the best of our abilities on the day. And again, the plan was flexible enough to accomodate for change on the road.
Outcome = winning? answer = yes! Jeff clinched the bunch sprint for 3rd on Saturday, and Craig and Jeff overwinning on Sunday made the weekend hugely successful.
Considering my own performance (lower case and capital P) I’m still held back by my supra-threshold power endurance and being able to stick with the move when it goes. My unrecoverable error was rotating through to the front on the uphill headwind section and being unable to recover as the pace heated up along the uphill false flat and the final kicker where the decisive move was made. My second fastest lap, and highest lap power was actually the lap I was dropped and put in a futile 10min solo persuit before falling back to the chase group.
My immediate goals:
Process – Train anaerobic system, lactate tolerance & recovery
Performance – repeated 2min efforts at 140% FTP
Outcome – Have enough matches left to stick with the decisive move/breakaway