Friday, September 7, 2012

Masters Road Nationals

For the 2nd year, Masters Road Nationals was held in my home town of Bend ,OR.  Initially I wasn't planing to do this race, but as the event got closer I decided that I might as use it as a hard training day and maybe try and pull out a good result.  This would be my only road race of the season (and for good reason, I'll explain later), so expectations were no too high.  Not that I didn't have confidence in my fitness level, but more the fact that my training was not suited for road racing.

I did the Masters 40-44 race last season and was able to get into a breakaway with 5 other riders but ran out of gas with 5 miles remaining.  This season the course changed and would be the same as the Cycling Classic Stage race road course.  On paper it looks like a good course, but for Nationals, I don't think it was a hard enough course.

The total distance of the course was 68 miles, and the first 12 miles were all down hill.  Then for the next 45-50 miles it was flat.  So needless to say, those 45-50 miles were like an endurance training ride.  Then the final 5 miles included a 2.5 miles (6%) climb a 1/2 mile false flat, then another steep 1/2 mile climb followed by 2 miles of flat roads to the finish.  Much like the Cascade Cycling Classic, the race would be decided  by the 2.5 mile climb.

The pace during the race was pretty high (avg speed was 24.5 mph), we covered the 68 mile course in just over 2.5 hours.  Talking with some fellow racers, Jason Snovel and Jason Boynton (Team Folsom Bike/Mercedes Benz), they gave me a heads up as to which riders to keep an eye on.   It was pretty easy to mark them during the race because things were steady the entire time, no attacks.

As we approached the final 2.5 mile climb I made sure to be near the front.  I was sitting about 15th wheel at the bottom.  This may have cost me the race.  As soon as the road kicked up, one of the race favorites, Chris Phipps, and a teammate attacked with a few others.  I was about 8 riders behind and had to work my way around them to try and catch the attack.  I was a little too far back to make the gap and as it turned out  that would be the move that decided the race.

There was 5 riders in the lead group, then myself and 4 others.  The peloton was getting shredded quickly.  In my group it was Larry Walker (last years' winner), Ryan McKean, and Dan Bryant, and one other rider  Bryant began to pull away and worked himself up to the lead group, while the rest of us tried to do the same.  Myself and Walker would do most of the work, and eventually we dropped the unknown rider.   So now it was Walker, myself and McKean as we crested the climb near Todd Lake.  We had a short flat section then another steep short climb before the final 2 mile run in to the finish.  Half way up the steep climb, Walker opened up a small gap on myself and McKean.  I tried to have McKean work together with me so we could pull Walker back but he wouldn't (this is the reason why I don't road race).  With 2 miles of flat roads left the smart thing would be to have each of us taking turns at the front to try and pull back Walker, and possibly the lead group that wasn't too far ahead.  All I kept hearing was that he was blown and had nothing left.  So I put my head down and rode as hard as I could, putting in a few surges (with McKean staying right on my wheel).  Then, and this is great, with 100 meters remaining he pulls in front with enough power to beat me by 3 seconds.

I would understand if we were racing for 1st and 2nd and this happened but for 7th and 8th, come on.  I understand road racing is a tactical sport but this was lame.  And Ryan is a friend, he is a local Bend rider, so I wouldn't have expected that from him.  So I finished 8th overall about 40 seconds behind the winner Matt Carinio.  

Full results

I now have a week before the MTB Marathon Nationals race, which will also be held in Bend, OR up near Mt Bachelor.  The course has changed from last years' race and this will certainly make for a tough race.  The distance is estimated at 54 miles so winning times should be around 3.5 hrs.  Stayed tuned for more reports on MTB Nationals.  

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