Bradner RR & Aldergrove Long RR, Cat 3
Course & Conditions
- Bradner: 100km over 11 laps of 8.6km and 60m of elevation gain. A beautiful course with open views of the mountains, some rapid descending and long slogs back up false flats.
- Aldergrove Long: 90km over 9 long laps of 10km and 65m elevation gain. The start-finish is at the top of a short, sharp hill, then a fast descent toward another stepped hill on the back half of the course. Another descent turns along 0 ave, a long flat straight which demarcates the US-CAN border.
- Saturday was pleasant, dry but cold while Sunday promised the rain would hold off until we were done racing… The rain arrived promptly on Lap #2.
Team was represented by Wai-Ben & Matt, Mick who had dragged himself out of a flu coma to the start line, Aaron who was lining up after 6 months off with concussion, Morgan and myself.
Mission was to try to get Wai-Ben and/or Matt into a break and to give Morgan the springboard she needed to get on the Womens podium. There was a large Cat 2/3 Women’s field with Red Truck and Hagens Berman representing. Aaron and Mick just wanted to spin the legs and try to hold on in the pack.
Lap 2 (of 11) was carnage: The bunch split with repeat attacks up the 58th ave hills. As I looked back to assess who was still in contact, Morgan popped her head up and called out that she was the only woman to make the front group! Successfully springboarded!
Lap 3: A small break got off the front, unfortunately without Wai-Ben nor Matt with them. They stayed away for a number of laps but never gained much more than 30 seconds. The chase group included us (GS), Langlois Brown, Mighty and Steed Cycles who had missed the break. We did a ton of good work together to keep them in sight. I spent a lot of time at the front to make sure the chasing women behind us couldn’t catch Morgan. Mick decided to pull out of the race after coughing up half a lung and jettisoning it to the side of the road in order to pull us up the hill one last time….
Lap 7: We caught the break, but I quickly realized I had spent far too much time at the front. Matchbook was depleted. Power numbers refused to budge much above threshold. A small dog was seen feasting on the remains of Mick’s former lung…
Lap 9: Someone had the bright idea of attacking above threshold.. Bodies were quickly strewn all over the road. I couldn’t catch a wheel and was left dangling in no-man’s land. Morgan was behind me, suffering just as much. It was an easy decision to realize the winning move was gone and focus on keeping a steady pace up for Morgan to secure her win.
Laps 10: I kinda appreciate cramping in early season races – get the cramps out of the way and teach your legs how to deal with the intensity of racing! Cramps aren’t necessarily due to poor hydration or nutrition, but are more likely related to central fatigue pathways of your motor neurons not being accustomed to high intensity and long durations.
Cramps impose a hard limit to power output, and both Morgan and I were #crampbuddies in no-man’s land, crawling along and getting passed by the D group. But not before one last burn down Satchell Rd. when Morgan spotted a familiar group up ahead, slammed it up a gear and dragged me along behind her past just about the entire rest of the Women’s peloton! That thing about cramps imposing a hard limit? Yeah, not when the Ego has a say in the matter! That was kind of awesome. Cramps promptly returned with a vengence up 58th Ave hill.
Bell Lap: The thing about cramping, your heart & lunges aren’t working hard at all.. so we just chatted our way through the final lap, stretching on the downhills and pushing each other when quads, hamstrings, calves and/or sartorius (don’t ask!) respectively locked up. Simultaneously worst and best time spent being dropped. Only 12/42 riders completed the full lap count at the end of the day, including Morgan, Wai-Ben and myself.
Morgan easily clinched the top podium. I rolled in for 10th.
100km over 2:45:00 at NP 285 W, IF 0.881, 2400 kJ… that was a big day.
Only Wai-Ben, Matt and myself were up for some more punishment. Constant monitoring of the forecast promised no rain until 1pm, and ineed the day started warmer than the day before. The rain however arrived promptly and heavily on lap #2… With the long descents and flats, it was a balancing act to work just to stay warm, but not burn yourself out with a long 100km to race.
We were all pretty depleted after yesterday so our mission was to work on positioning by staying near the front but do as little work as possible. Big TAG (super-strong Juniors) and Red Truck (super-strong Women) contingents were eager to do work at the front.
Laps 1-3 (of 9): Successfully did no work. Bunch stayed together. Rain began and temperatures dropped, and it was almost a relief to take a turn at the front to warm-up the legs.
Lap 4: First attacks were made over the finishing climb going into Lap 4… I found I couldn’t follow the initial accelerations but was able to churn out a high enough pace to drag the escapees back along Huntington rd.
Lap 5: More attacks over the finishing climb into Lap 5… dragged back.
Lap 6: [see above]
Lap 7: Wai-Ben, Matt and myself were all still in the front group but seriously considering pulling out at this point just to get warm & dry. Wai-Ben was smart. After yet another attack he fell off the pace. He ended up packing it in. I would have joined him but luckily TAG decided to do me a favour and attack again so I could warm-up in the chase. Two guys got away and stayed away until the end, but more importantly my circulatory system was still functioning.
Lap 8: Matt fell off the back of the diminished group on a descent and dangled just off the back in no-man’s land, dragging two
wheelsuckers compatriots around with him for the final two laps. Meanwhile Denise (I think) of Red Truck, Scott from Mighty and I had a brilliant rotating pace line going along 0 Ave. Only issue was Ben (Coach of TAG) and a handful of other riders were firmly sat on our wheels.
Bell Lap: Scott, Denise and I let the other guys do some work. Bad idea… shiver-wobbles are not my preferred steering method at 60+ km/h downhill into a corner. The other riders smartly gave me a wide berth. I may have played it up a bit to my advantage 😉
Final false flat climb up 272nd, Ben (Coach TAG) attacked and Scott from Mighty gave chase. The rest of us put in a paltry chase for the longest, wettest, saddest uphill sprint. I finished 6th overall and 4th in Cat 3. The final climb effort was 2:45 at 412 W.
91km over 2:30:00 at NP 284 W, IF 0.876, 1900 kJ
Coming off a few days rest last week I felt very strong this weekend. I was happy to overwork at the front for my teammates and for my own training, but I could have played things a bit more strategically to conserve matches for when the winning moves left me behind.
Over the next week I will continue to work on my 1-minute power intervals to chase breaks and improve my suprathreshold workrate. Who knows, if the weather is nice I might even get outside during the week!
Next weekend, Saturday’s course might suit a fast finish, while Sunday has some rolling terrain and steep kickers that beg for attacks. I don’t think I can spend another day in the rain if it’s as bad as this Sunday, so that will inform the final plan, but I might go for a personal result Saturday and mix it up Sunday by trying my hand at initiating attacks!