Between working a different schedule, constant rain, and family obligations I was only able to ride for two hours last week. I have the baby all day on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, so I usually don’t ride much on those days. That is OK if I race on the weekend, but this weekend I also didn’t race. I was really looking for a good workout so I decided to go to the first of the Table Mountain Race Series.
The races are held at the State Patrol’s test track on top of South Table Mountain near Golden. The course if perfect for a training series. All of the corners can be taken at top speed. There are no curbs, posts, or signs on the edges of the course, so if you do have a mishap, there are few solid objects around. The course is exposed to wind, but this allows for 360 degree views across the entire course.
I was surprised to see 22 racers toeing the line for the 30+ masters race. It had been raining all day, and the course was just wet enough to spit some water off the tires. It was dry in Boulder when I left, but I was still glad to see decent conditions. I showed up late and only had time to grab my number and line up without any warmup.
The BRC Real Estate team seemed to have every-other rider in the race. I think they had six or seven guys. I knew they would probably feature and every break of the day (three, I think) had one present. The race has a sprint competition and every-other lap is a sprint which keeps things interesting and fast.
Just as in any other crit, the prime (sprint) lap is a great time to attack. The guys interested in the sprint hammer at full speed, but you can motor along between them and the racers that aren’t interested in contesting the sprint at all. Once across the line: BOOM! Attack and see who else had the same plan. When it works out, the peloton is too far away to respond, and the sprinters are all too tired.
I sat in for the first sprint, and at the second sprint 20 minutes into the race, I went. The pack was really strung out across the straight after the start finish and at first I wasn’t sure what was going to transpire, but eventually we had a three man break. Myself, a BRC rider, and Carlos Casali, who I have raced against in Pro/1/2 races and know he is good in a crit.
We built our lead to about a minute and I knew we were going to stick it to the finish. I didn’t let up and kept pulling hard, especially up the gentle hill. I wanted to tire the other guys out and it was working. At 8 laps to go I could feel the pace slowing in the break. It was a little early, but I decided if I went earlier it would surprise them and make it certain I got a good workout.
I wasn’t in the best position, as I was in the middle of the three of us when we hit the hill. It was the best place to go so I jumped. I got the gap I wanted but it wasn’t as big as I had liked. I crested the rise at the finish with only 20 meters or so. I dug in hard. If they caught me they would know my plan and it would only be more difficult to escape next time.
The gap held at only a few seconds for the first lap, but then started to go out. After a few laps I had a comfortable 10-15 seconds and it was holding steady. The last few times up the hill I was really coming unglued. The gap held until the last lap when it really went out as the chasers gave up and started to think about the battle for 2nd place.
I crossed the line first, cheered by the race officials and what I think was a lone spectator. It was sort of anti-climatic but I got in the workout I needed and actually put out my best power numbers to date: 336 Watts Normalized Power for the hour long race. That confirms my estimated threshold of 340 watts, and is my highest ever recorded NP for an hour. For the last 20 minutes riding solo I averaged 323w @ 25.6 mph.
A note about racing the master’s race: First of all, it was the first masters race I’ve been eligible for, since this season my racing age is 30, so it was fun to be able to do it. For the short time I was in the peloton, it was very controlled and smooth, which was nice. The turnout was low due to the weather, but the level of competition may not be what I’m looking for. This is why there are different categories in amateur cycling, so everyone can have a good time and a chance to win.
The Master’s scene in Colorado is going strong, and even though many racers qualify for either category, most of the racers spend most of their time in one category or the other, although they do cross over occasionally. The Pro/1/2/3 training racers are held on Thursday, and I can’t make it due to work. I’ll probably try going again on Tuesday once the season gets going and the field is stronger, but I don’t really want to be a sandbagger and might prefer to do a hard workout on my own.
Just to give an idea of the differences in speed: I did the Cat 4 race on 5/23/09 and finished in the pack (Note: I’m not in the results since they were only posted 10 places deep, as that is how far the series points went). My average speed in the Cat 4s was 25.4 mph in a field of 50. Yesterday my average speed was 25.7. In a August weekend race (non-training series) Pro/1/2 race on the same course, I averaged 27.3 mph.