Sunday, March 24, 2013

Fayetteville Stage Race

16/17 March-

So once again I found myself trying to be a cyclist,  but in reality I am still a triathlete at heart ;)  This race was a good one for a triathlete as it was a Road Race, Time Trial, and Road Race.  Funny how since Mineral Wells I have received a few comments from fellow cyclist and friends telling me that Crit racing isn't my thing, so Fayetteville would be good for me.  Funny thing is last year I picked up 6 wins in Crits, granted they were CAT3 crits but none the less I wouldn't say I am a horrible Crit racer.  But yes, Fayetteville suited me a lot better than Mineral Wells, as that was not a typical Crit course and obviously did not suit me well.

Fayetteville was about a 3.5-4 hour drive and since I had to work Friday night I decided to get up early Saturday morning and head down.  Luckily another cyclist from Ft. Worth wanted to car pool, so bright and early at 0430 we were on the road to Fayetteville, which is in the middle of no where Texas.  The first Road Race did not start until 1010.  We got down there with plenty of time to spare, I ended up sleeping in the back of the car for about 40 minutes.

Stage 1- 68 mile RR-

Great weather for the race, sunny, not a cloud in the sky and just an overall great day to be on the bike.  I sat in for quite a while and then decided to attack a few times.  The Garmin Devo kids didn't want to let anything get away so they controlled the race up front and kept bringing everything back.  Then about half way through they put their whole team up front and just kept the tempo up and guys started falling off the back.  On the first lap I got dinged by the referee with a warning for going over the "centerline" which is usually the yellow line, but there was no yellow line as it was a narrow country road that was about the width of one lane.  I swore at the race brief they mentioned they would be less strict on this road, but no worries just a warning.  I stayed in the bunch and on the last lap went to move towards the front with about 3 miles to go.  Sure enough the referee saw a different centerline then I did and got me again, but this time gave me a 30 second penalty.  It was a judgement call, and as always the referee is always right.  In the final stretch I lost contact with the group and lost about 16 seconds, and then add the 30 second penalty and I was 46 seconds off the lead.

After the race I had a friendly chat with the moto referee.  He is a retired Army Warrant Officer, and I had met him at Mineral Wells.  We talked about the call and he explained how his number one priority is rider safety.  I told him that I respected his decision and that it was a judgement call.  Great guy and I have learned in a short amount of time to never argue with the ref, especially during the race.  So we talked after and were both very calm.  I appreciate the work he does and he had his belief of what the ceneterline was and I had mine, obviously I think center is a not 50%, but hey we agreed to disagree ;)

Category: Elite CAT2/3-
Results: 41 out of 61 (
Link to ride on Strava:

Stage 2- 9 mile TT-

The winds got pretty nasty in the afternoon and I was a little worried.  I had not ridden my new Jet Disc and Jet 9 in windy conditions.  I figured they would be alright and I would be able to handle the Jet 9 in the cross winds but wasn't sure.  I felt pretty good in the TT and the wheels handled really really well.  The Garmin Devo kids destroyed it and  I ended up just outside the top 10.  I finished 10th in Mineral Wells and figured I would be around the same even though it was a bigger field.

Here is the setup that I used for the TT:
 Category: Elite CAT2/3-
Results: 11 out of 61 (
GC Standings After Stage 2: 22 out of 61 (
Link to ride on Strava: (If you look at the guy that Strava says I rode with he is the one that won the TT, if you want to look at his file)

Stage 3- 80 mile RR-

We got the early start time on Sunday and it was a little chilly, not bad though.  Around mile 1 a guy from Dallas Bike Works went off the front and everyone let him go.  He opened up a big gap pretty quickly.  I got antsy, and being a little cold figured I could use it as a chance to warmup.  I chased him down and also brought a guy along with me, which was his teammate.  We stayed up the road for quite awhile keeping a good size gap.  Then a group started to chase and eventually after about 20-30 minutes they caught us.  We had a break of 13 guys and we started working together, well I wouldn't really say together.  The break had a Garmin kid in it and was represented by the other teams as well.  We started building up a nice gap and around mile 50 it was at 4 minutes.  I don't really know how we got ended up with that big of a gap, because quite honestly our break was worthless at working together minus about 5 of us.

I felt really out of place in the break being a triathlete and knowing how to do a rotating paceline.  8 of the 13 guys didn't know what the heck was going on and couldn't figure things out.  Garmin kid wasn't working but everyone kept letting him in the paceline, and when I say everyone I mean the 8 guys, not the 5 of us that knew how to ride a bike like a cyclist.  There was one guy that was completely clueless, he would sit on the back then come to the front then ride so hard he would end up off the front.  Then he would come back ot the group and wonder what happened to everyone.  Then back he would go to hang out on the tail for 20 minutes then he would do the same all over again.  He didn't know how to work with the group.  Finally I told him "I don't want to be an A-hole, but you need to just sit on the back and enjoy the ride you are screwing everything up and you don't know what you are doing".  He looked at me like I was the crazy one.  The 4 other guys laughed and told me thanks because they were about to throw him off the road.

So back to our 4 minute gap at mile 50.  All of the sudden Garmin goes to the front of the peloton (heard about this after the race), and they started drilling it.  Our 4 minutes went to two minutes in a matter of about 20 minutes.  Then next thing you know we are at mile 75 and the whole group is back together.  Talk about a demoralizing moment in a bike race, being away for 73 miles and getting caught with 5 to go.  It sucked, I was mentally out of it at that point.

And here is where I screwed up.............I gave up positioning, I went to the back and never gained positioning back.  Going into the final 3K things really picked up and out the back I went.  I lost quite a bit of time and a shot at the top 15, more than likely 9-12th in the GC.  But I showed up to the race to get a good workout in, and I definitely got that.  I like to get results and represent the military team, but the end result is to have a great triathlon season, and the bike racing is just a stepping stone to that.

Category: Elite CAT2/3-
Results: 32 out of 61 (
Final GC Standings: 24 out of 61 (
Link to ride on Strava:

 Photo of our dysfunctional break (Photo Courtesy of DNA Racing's Chad Hodges, well actually his wife)

Overall it was a great weekend of training and I was really happy with getting some high intensity miles in.  Unfortunately I think this will be my last bike race for a while as triathlon season is coming to a start.  I may do a TT in the future and possibly one more race towards the end of the season, but have to focus on the priority and that is swimming, biking and running.

James McCowen and his crew put on an amazing race.  Very safe and fun environment.  I appreciate his support of the military and allowing me to come down and race a great event.  Looking forward to racing down there next year and hopefully I can get a few more guys from the team to come down.

Thanks for all of the support, especially to HED Cycling for taking care of me and allowing me to be a part of a great organization.  They have been supportive last year and then this year were able to help a little more, and being a little guy in the big picture it means a lot.  The HED wheels performed amazing in the cross winds of the TT.  Special thanks to Fort Worth Cycling for getting the bikes ready for the weekends races and also to Honey Stinger and FRS for the nutrition support.  Big thanks to all of my family and friends for the continued support!

Next blog should be a good one, going to be an inside look at the transition from an early season cycling focus (last season) to a triathlon specific early season focus (this year).

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