Monday, February 25, 2013

Iris Stagner Memorial Stage Race

16-17 February 2013- Iris Stagner Memorial Stage Race (formally known as Mineral Wells Stage Race)

After coming off a big training week at camp it was a few "easy" days back in Texas and then off to a Stage Race for the weekend.  I was interested to see how the body was going to respond after the big week at camp and I quickly got my answer during the Crit.  The race was 3 stages, points based, and team based.  Unfortunately you had to have 3 people for the team category, and unfortunately we only had two.  The race schedule was a 60 minute crit in the AM and 7 mile TT mid day on Saturday and then a 72 mile road race on Sunday.

The Crit-

Since the main focus of this year is triathlon the cycling races are just serving as good solid hard training days on the bike.  Going into these races I know what courses are going to take a beating on me, and the crit course was going to definitely do just that.  Since I have not been training like a cyclist I have noticed all of my power for 2 minutes and under is suffering, but my endurance state efforts are doing alright, not as high as last year mid summer but still respectable.  I have basically lost my "snap" and "jump", or whatever little bit of that I had ;)

The crit was a 6 turn technical bumpy crit with a 1/2 block section that hit 10+%.  Not to mention it was right after a rough 90 degree turn.  I knew this was going to be tough for me but thought I would at least be able to hang on for dear life.  Well the whistle blew and I didn't get clipped in right away, and after messing with my pedal for 5 seconds I was already hanging onto the back of the pack.  About 10 minutes later I was off the back of the pack, and then 10 minutes later I was pulled from the race.  Of the 60 minute crit I lasted a whopping 20 minutes and started of the Stage Race with NEGATIVE 5 points.  If you made it past the half way you lost 1 point, and within 5 laps no points were lost.

Category: Elite CAT2-
Results: Pulled/DNF out of 41 (
Link to ride on Strava:

The TT -

Now here is something that I felt comfortable with a 7 mile TT, but the problem was it wasn't flat.  No worries a few rolling hills and a little bit of wind.  I just put my head down and went hard, since I had some ground to make up from the crit, figured I had nothing to lose, other than my 30 minute run off the bike might hurt a little more than normal.  More on that crazy running stuff later on.

I put down what I considered a solid effort and felt good about the power output.  I wasn't all that happy with my placing, but according to some of the "local" Texas guys we had a stacked field of TT'ers.  I ended up 10th and made my way from dead last to 24th in the GC Standings.

Category: Elite CAT2-
Results: 10th out of 40 (
GC Standings after Stage 2: 24th out of 41 (
Link to ride on Strava:

The RR-

I knew I had some ground to make up in the GC but wasn't really worried about my finishing position overall since I was pulled from the crit.  I also knew that I wouldn't be marked since I wasn't a threat to the GC finish so I figured getting into a break would be my best bet.  The race was pretty calm the first lap, other than one solo getting up the road.  The course was 3 laps and at the finish line on every lap there was bonus points for the first 3 across the line.  I was sitting up in the top 10 coming in for the first lap and a handful of guys sprinted for the points and the solo was up the road sitting up at this point.  We went through the feed zone a few hundred meters down the road and right as we brought back the guys that sprinted for the bonus points I attacked.  I got away from the group and had one guy with me.  I kept drilling it and once we caught the solo guy he didn't want to come with so I kept pushing it.  The other guy did not want to work at all, so I looked back and we had a chase group coming.  I set into tempo and then finally just sat up and waited for the chase group.  The chase group brought 6 guys, so we had a total of 8 guys and 48 miles to go.

I thought if we worked together well we might stand a chance as the break was well represented by the big teams with Garmin Devo Kids from Austin and DNA from Oklahoma having 3 guys total in the break.  There was a short climb on the backside of the loop about 10 miles from the finish, it was the "KOM" on the second lap.  Prior to getting to the hill we sorted out who was going for the bonus points and agreed to re group at the top.  Only 2 of the guys actually wanted the points so we just rode tempo up the hill and started pushing again at the top.

We stayed away for the whole second lap and a few of the guys sprinted for the bonus points at the finish line again.  With 24 miles to go we had about a 2 minute gap.  We were still working well together and kept pushing through.  5 miles from the "climb" the race referee told us we had 2'30".  Right before the climb he came back and said "You aren't going to believe this, you have 4 minutes".  So once again we just set tempo up the climb re grouped at the top and pushed on, minus one guy dropped off the back and we waited for a bit but he never re joined so we had to push on.

In our break was a friend of a friend who was looking for upgrade points.  I knew he needed them and he knew I would help him but we didn't talk much in the break, it was just an understanding I think.  Coming into the final stretch we were still away and there was a strong cross wind on the finishing stretch.  The whole race was a rolling enclosure convoy, which meant we had the whole road, which was amazing.  The lady that made that happen was Iris Stagner, who the race was named after.  She was recently killed in a cycling accident.  I can't thank her enough for how amazing it was to be able to have the whole road to race on.  Only thing was the finishing 1K was yellow line rule due to congestion of traffic in that area.  No big deal.  I was sitting first wheel at 1K to go, not ideal at all.  I figured people would start playing games but it didn't happen and next thing I know we were at 500m.  I had the friend of the friend on my wheel and that is when I put the hammer down.  I drilled it to the left side of the road, one bike length from the yellow line, leaving him room to catch a break from the cross wind.  We opened up about a car length of a gap and I dropped him off around 200m.  I tried to hop back on his wheel but he was in a full sprint and I couldn't hang on.  Off he went and 2 more guys came around and I was able to hold on to 4th place and he took the win by half a wheel.

The great thing about bike racing is strategy and team work and if need be you can help someone else win, preferably your teammate but not having one and knowing this guy needed the upgrade points it felt like the right thing to do, and being a friend of Andy Chocha and his buddy needing the points, figured it was the least I could do.

Category: Elite CAT2-
Results: 4th out of 40 (
GC Standings after Stage 2: 15th out of 41 (
Link to ride on Strava:

Overall it was a solid weekend of racing and got in some great training.  Now back to my comment about running off the bike after the TT.  I have a great relationship with my coach and although he doesn't not like me racing the bike, I like it and we make it work.  By that I mean I sometimes have to run after the race and I am never really rested for the race like most people "rest" before a bike race.  I then will normally get hammered with a big run set on Monday after the race as my "punishment", but honestly it is just our way of doing things.

Last year at the Tour de Korea I had the chance to talk to Brad Huff and Jeremy Powers a few times throughout the week.  I was talking to Brad about the differences in triathlon and cycling and how at that point I really didn't know what I wanted to focus on and I enjoyed both sports.  He looked at me and told me "If you really want to be good at one of them you are going to have to forget about the other one", those words stuck with me and at the end of last year I made the decision that Triathlon would be the focus.  That didn't mean I was going to drop bike racing though, it just meant it wasn't "THE" focus.  I still see bike racing beneficial to my training and I really enjoy it.  I have come to realize though that racing in the CAT2 field or P/1/2 field I will not see great results nor do I expect great results.  When I toe the start line of bike races now I am looking to A) help teammates succeed and B) Get a solid workout in with the best cyclist in the area.  It is hard to find great and talented riders to train with, especially in big groups, so lining up on a P/1/2 start line gives me that opportunity.

Overall it was a great weekend and a great race.  I can't thank the crew that put on the race enough, Andy and the whole crew did an amazing job.  Great race and venue and look forward to racing the race next year as well as all of their future events.

Below are some great photos from Lee McDaniel, A.Stevens, and Biff Stephens, thanks for the amazing photos!

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