Monday, May 16, 2011

Velocity Team Speed Theory Cat 5 RR

The title of this race report is important. The Cat 5 team really put it together for the first time in the two years I’ve been racing. Not only did we have a plan, we actually executed it. In the end, we were not successful but the team did what a team should do.
Tthe wind was out of the SE at a fairly steady 45kph gusting to 50. I checked that on weather stats from Edmonton so it’s not an exaggeration.
The plan was for Daryl to make a breakaway attempt on the second lap somewhere on the south leg by the correction line. If possible, I would then bridge up to him and hopefully there would be 4 or 5 riders to widen the gap. If that failed we would do a second attempt on the third lap. The gang was also on to help protect me so that I had the goods to bridge up once he was away. Special thanks to Brice, our newest member who made a huge effort to keep me out of the wind. I know it cost him most of the matches in his legs.

The pace was crazy hard. Some really strong dudes were pushing the wind and making the pack, including yours truly, suffer. With that said I felt good and had my mental game working for me. I hit the ditch once when my front wheel was making noises in the derailleur ahead of me... not a good sound. The pack was unstable. The wind, hard pace and the gutter riding made it difficult for anyone to hold a nice line.

The second lap was moving along at a blistering pace of 24kph when Daryl shot off the front. “Shot off” might be an exaggeration but going faster than the group required herculean effort as the head wind was so brutal. He and one other fellow got away only by a hundred feet or so. It was up to the rest of the team to make it stick. Brice slowed a few guys up who were trying to chase them down. Jay and I were in a perfect position to keep the hounds at bay. We were 3rd position, side by side so we just eased off ever so slightly. A few guys went around which we let go. I was hoping they would catch the lead group so they had a few more guys to work with. Then some idiot decided that he would break up me and Jay. We were shoulder to should and this guy drives between us knocking Jay down and I nearly hit the pavement. I was in shock for a second then I sprinted up and yelled at him for a few seconds (until I couldn’t breathe anymore). I stopped to see how Jay was. He was getting back up so I got started again. The wind was so strong that a 15 second gap required a very hard effort. I managed to catch back on but it cost me to do so. Jay and two others were not so lucky and were now off the lead pack. The fellow later apologized to me but it is Jay and the others who were taken out of the race that he needs to apologize to. It was unquestionably poor judgment and un called for.

It took me a few kilometers to recover and make my way back to the front. There I caught up with Matt leading or in third position in the pack. Together we got up front and began our blocking tactics on the very fast stretch leading west. We were working hard enough that it was tough to pass but not hard enough to make any gains on the away group. Two guys got away and bridged up. Now there were 4 of them.
Matt and I continued to lead the pack for much of the north leg. It was taking a toll on us. Once we hit the wind again we were no longer in control. The pack was slowly being reduced as more and more guys fell victim to the pace and the wind. Daryl and the lead group were also having troubles. The winner apparently took off and the remaining was swallowed up by our group.

The leg heading west was hell on wheels. The boys up front were setting an absolutely blistering pace. Even though it was mostly a tail wind, being off the wheel ahead of you was certain death. Every light on my instrument panel had gone red but I just kept saying to myself DO NOT GIVE UP, DO NOT LET THAT WHEEL GET AWAY. We got to the next corner and I was nearing failure. A 4 second break around the corner for recovery and the gas was back on full throttle. Daryl (who I thought was Matt) had pulled the plug and given up. I passed him and thought he would catch my wheel. I eased up to let him catch up so we could work together to get on to the main group. It was not going to happen. The pace was so fast that we could not catch up for the sprint finish. Not that I was capable of any sort of “Sprinting” into that wind. It took just about everything I had to stay upright and moving forward to get over the finish line.

I don’t remember where everyone else finished. In the end I think I was 12th place behind Daryl. I won’t know that for sure until the results are posted. It was an excellent team effort by the entire Cat 5 team. Alan and Steve were instrumental in keeping the pace moving at several points during the race. Steve tells me he was ‘the man’ getting an echelon going on the third lap. I saw Rob W hitting it hard early in the race against that wind.

Thanks to the Velocity group for putting on the event and for the race officials who endured that crazy wind (and who let us on the crit course when we arrived late…. another story for another time). Lastly, the strong dudes pushing the pace up front. You guys made it an exciting and hard race.

Results update:
Cat 4 GC: Physio Dave 5th, Slayer Dan 6th, Flying Bike Mike 12th
Cat 5 GC: Darryl 3rd, Matt 8th
Women GC: Rhonda 9th

Cat 4 RR: Slayer Dan 10th, Physio Dave 11th
Cat 5 RR: Darryl 7th, Tom 8th, Matt 9th
Women RR: Rhonda 9th


Darryl said...

It was a well-executed plan for a while. Too bad I didn't seal the deal. What's more, Tom dropped back out of the front group to try to pace me back up, but the horsepower just wasn't there. Don't despair though, Andy said that several riders were DQed, so we might have snuck into the placings anyway. I think Tom's help might have brought me back into a GC placing as well, so be prepared to do a happy dance if the results turn out in our favour.
Tough as it was, that was the best experience I've ever had racing my bike. Thanks to all the dudes that worked so hard and wound up with bruises and contusions trying to help the team (and me) out. Next time I look into my suitcase of courage I hope I find more than the unravelling argylle socks of despair.


Steve Waters said...

Well one slight editorial update. Steve left his mark on RR 211 South - about the same time he admitted his day was over. Celebrated on Monday by buying a new helmet and getting bike repaired.

Awesome weekend.

RobWoolley said...

That was a great weekend! I am humbled and sad I was only able to contribute to the RR on the first bit of the first lap. I will be attending the Tom Kenny school of pain to toughen up.

What a great job guys, I have never seen Cat5 so organized.

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