Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Oak Ridge Velo 2016 (RR/TT)

Hot. If there is any word that would describe last weekend, that would be it. Our race started with the heat hovering around 96° and after you add the actual "on road" heat...well it was effin' hot.  34 of us started our little 50 mile race, and only 26 finished. That's the kind of heat we're talking about!

As far as the actual race went, well... it was pretty tough. Two laps with a feed zone at the start of the second lap, with one fairly steep climb about 1/3 of the way through each lap, which is (historically) the defining point of the race, at least for me. This year was no exception.

We durdle around the first lap without too much real action. There are a couple of half hearted attacks, but with  I AM cycling, Village VW and Southern Performance teams all having a good number of representatives in the race it was held together pretty well. I survive mid pack for the first lap without much trouble, but do not take in enough calories or water for the brutal conditions. A classic mistake, and something I should know better than to do, but I felt good, like I wasn't doing too much work. Eventually an attack on the second lap seems to stick, and I take it upon myself to stick my nose in the wind and slowly wind it back. I do, pull off and grab a drink, then hit a crack in the road. I keep it up, but it was a scary moment... I was paying attention, I saw the crack but didn't register it as enough to jolt me. So, better lucky than good and all that!

When we hit the climb on the second lap I'm near the front, ready to go when the inevitable attacks come. They start early and the pace is just too much for me to hold. I start going backwards and watch the strong guys head off into the (scorching) sunset. I top the climb and descend in my best Froome impression to see if I can gain anything back, but it's futile, as I'm pretty cooked. (literally and figuratively) I catch on with a few others who couldn't stand the pace and we form a small grupetto to get back home.  Everyone is pretty well smashed on the wall, so we go only as hard as we can manage. Not excited to sprint for god knows what place, we cross the line of the punishing finish just as we can.

in the white and red, didn't even have the energy to zip up my jersey
I get back to the parking lot and am fortunate enough to have the Podium Sports Medicine (Provision) trailer ready to accept me! I get some water, air conditioning, and even Ben King's old Normatec boots! Sponsor perks are nice.

Hey, this is the best I've felt all day!

Standing in front of all the sponsors logos. 

Almost depressingly fast my time in the boots is over (should have signed up for the longer session) and the clock is ticking for me to find some food, cool down and get ready for the time trial. So I spin for a little bit, pack the car and we (myself, my mom and my poor wife, whom the sun is nearly as merciless to as a vampire... and not the twilight kind...) head back into town to get a little food in me.

I considered not doing the Time Trial, as I was not feeling like I had recovered from my bout with the heat as my start time rolled closer. I decided that I would wear my short sleeve skinsuit, without any gloves or feet covers to try to stay as cool as possible, and that I would drop my target watts by about 10w avg. (to a depressingly low number!) and see how things went. 

I actually had a pretty good TT, I think I paced it very well, averaging within 3 watts of my target, and while that was lower than I had originally planned, I was confident that my original goal would have resulted in me blowing up.  I only managed to snag 5th place in the CAT4's, but I was happy with it, averaging 26+mph with some very low watts on a pretty steadily inclining course. It's a new *current* reality for me, and one I'm slowly starting to accept...for now.  My main goal, besides not dying, was just to hold my position (have I mentioned I haven't been on my Trek since States...) without sitting up, regardless of how tired I felt. I was able to meet that goal, something I was at least a little proud of.

Tony Falin gets all the best shots!

Great side view

Head on you can see a lot of wrinkles in my skinsuit, but you also get an idea of the hole I punch into the wind

My CdA has gotten pretty slippery over the last year... lots of trying new things, which really means going back and playing around with information some of the pillars of cycling fit/aerodynamics have written years before. (I look at a lot of John Cobbs older articles / posts / etc) and having an open mind to try things that even I don't think sound correct. (surprise, I have been wrong) To get really slick in the wind sometimes requires taking what you already decided was fast, throwing it out the window and starting over. That and lots...lots of testing. If you want to get fast and don't know what the Chung Method of testing is... learn.  In my own case, if I can just start putting out some watts I'll be able to put my money where my mouth is.

I was beat up enough after the TT that I decided against doing the crit race on Sunday. (Honestly it's that and the fact that I wanted to sleep in one day!) That's pretty much a wrap for my road racing this year I believe... next on the horizon is cyclocross. With any luck I won't break my neck (or anything else) as I venture off the road.

Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

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