Tour de Rock. Week 4. St. Paul Sprint Triathlon. Rollers.

24.91 miles, 1:07 time, 3rd place. St. Paul Sprint Triathlon.

This week’s Tour de Rock took us on a rolling 2 lap course. 4 nights of competition. I rode on Thursday’s “B” group. Alvin, Kirk, Amy and I were riding for the “Where’s my Gun?” Team. We hung together for quite a while, I’m sure exactly where 3 of us pulled away from the crowd. Alvin, Kirk and I were able to work together and keep the lead. We may have even stretched the lead. We three got the sprint points after the first lap; I crossed 3rd. We kept it all together through the end. The second lap, I was struggling to keep with the guys. I finished 3rd! 201W average power. That felt great. Then, we cheered the other riders in.  Bill was watching closely. His reports for the whole week are below.

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Bill’s “B” ride report (Thurs):

This week’s “B” race looked to be quite competitive, and started out like a “house ‘a fire”.  All riders were dedicated to the proposition of not getting dropped and the entire group of eight riders stayed together for about the first five miles, through the first big descent.  Riding for the Gunners were Kirk, Amy, Joe & Alvin; while riding for the Pushers were Trevor, Allison, Scott and Jaime. 

Even though they ultimately stayed together, that didn’t mean a breakaway wasn’t attempted.  Right from the gun, Jaime took off and left the others in the dust.  Alvin gave chase, eventually catching up.  The two paired up and managed to hold the others about 150 feet behind for a while, but eventually the wolves came calling, eating into their lead and bringing them back to the bunch.  From that point, the bunch stayed together for a while. 

However, on the first big descent, there were high speed accelerations at the front, and the group got strung way out.  Eventually, the elastic broke down and Kirk, Joe and Alvin got away as a group.  While this was happening, Allison and Scott formed a pair behind those three, with Trevor and Jaime forming another pair further behind, while Amy got launched off the back.  As soon as Joe, Alvin & Kirk got away, they started to work together and took turns on their pulls to keep their speed as high as possible, while Allison and Scott only had each other to work with.  Trevor and Jaime managed to catch them back up after a while, leading to the groupings which were stable for the middle portion of the race.  Joe, Kirk & Alvin (all Gunners) were on the front, Trevor, Jaime, Scott and Allison (all Pushers) were about 1/4 mile behind, and Amy was about another 1/4 mile back. 

At the intermediate sprint, Alvin went across first in recognition of his hard work, while Joe took second and Kirk third.  Since there was no real sprint, there was also no slackening of the pace across the line and into the second lap.  The Pusher group tried to chase, but was slowly losing time and eventually Trevor came off the back on a climb, leaving only Jaime, Scott & Allison to take it to the line. 

And that, folks, it about how it ended.  Both groups worked together well, but the Gunners group worked a bit better together and was able to put about 3 minutes into the Pushers group. Trevor was another 5 minutes back, and Amy came home about 2 minutes behind him. 

So, as of the end of Week Four, in the team competition the Gunners total time is 52:30:17, about 43 minutes in front of the Pushers at 53:13:40.  The top ten in the individual race is as follows: 

Place
Name
Total Time
Gap
1
Ben
3:37:18
0:00:00
2
Bill
3:38:19
0:01:01
3
Jeff
3:40:40
0:03:22
4
Bryan
3:42:51
0:05:33
5
Peter
3:44:50
0:07:32
6
Jason
3:46:16
0:08:58
7
Tyler
3:51:43
0:14:25
8
Jonathan
3:57:07
0:19:49
9
Alvin
3:59:51
0:22:33
10
Kirk
4:01:42
0:24:24

In the sprint points, the standings are: 

11/19/2015
11/26/2015
12/3/2015
12/10/2015
Total
Ben
10
10
0
6
26
Bill
4.5
3
0
10
17.5
Kirk
4
7
0
2
13
Trevor
7
4
0
0
11
Tyler
0
6
0
3
9
Alvin
0
0
0
7
7
Eugene
5
0
0
1
6
Joe
0
2
0
4
6
Philip
1
0
0
5
6
GT
0
5
0
0
5
Gregg
2
0
0
3
5
Allen
0
0
0
5
5
Jeff
4.5
0
0
0
4.5
Luis
0
3
0
0
3
Jaime
3
0
0
0
3
Michael B.
0
0
0
3
3
Hank
0
1
0
0
1
Lindsay
0
0
0
1
1

And with that, Week Four comes to a close.  Next week, the climbing starts in earnest, complete with KOM points and (maybe even) multiple climbs with multiple KOM points.  It should be interesting – bring your “A” game!

Bill’s “A” Report (Wed)

These races seem to just get tougher and tougher, as the racers get smarter, stronger and harder.  Tonight, one of “A” groups met the qualifications for full “Express” status. 

There was the usual surge at the start, although it was a bit more tentative than in the past, like the riders wanted to size each other up a bit first.  For Tony, that didn’t matter because he got dropped almost immediately anyway, and was able to enjoy the pleasures of a ride undisturbed by the surges and tactics of others. 

The other riders formed a group, with the Gunners putting Ben, Bill, Bryan and  Peter in that group, while the Pushers had Jason, Tyler and Mike Webb.  That group wasn’t together for more than a couple of minutes when Bill made a big surge and went off the front.  However, the rest of the group seemed content to roll along, with the Gunners content in the knowledge that they were gonna pick up time anyway tonight, and nobody else came out.  So, Bill faded back to the pack after a few minutes. 

After that aborted breakaway attempt, things settled down for almost the entire duration of the first lap.  There were surges and sags, but not much in the way of any real attempts to break up the group.  Bryan got dropped a little at one point, but was rapidly brought back by Peter. Towards the end of the first lap, things heated up with the sprint points beckoning.  Peter went for the line first and Bill rapidly bridged over to him, bringing the rest of the group along. Then Ben went and Bill followed him, with Tyler close behind.  Bill was able to come off Ben’s wheel and nip him at the line, followed closely by Tyler. 

After the sprint, the racers relaxed for a bit to let things come back together. Tyler then made a brilliant counter-attack, going off the front.  Only Bill was in a position to chase right away, although Ben was able to power across.  Peter and Bryan tried to follow, dropping Mike and Jason in the process.  After a bit, Ben and Bill slowed the pace a bit, allowing Bryan and Peter to make it back to the group.  At this point, the Gunners had 4-on-1 in the lead group and started time-trialing to ensure that Jason and Mike stayed dropped. 

The front group was able to steadily open the gap to Jason & Mike, and started to feel more secure after a bit, settling down to the business of getting to the line briskly, with Tyler getting as much of a free ride as he wanted.  Ben and Tyler each tried a surge or two over the next few miles to see what would occur, and all that happened is that the entire group stuck together like glue. 

And so it stayed until there was about 4 miles to go.  Then…. the real attacks started.  Tyler tried one, but most of the action was coming from Ben who was actively trying to drop Tyler.  The first couple of attacks were met by all, then on about the third one, Peter and Bryan got dropped off.  They dangled just off the back and made a valiant effort to make it back on.  Just as they were closing in on the front group, there was another attack, and the front three all powered away.  Once again Bryan and Peter tried to come back, and once again an attack came just as they thought they might be making some progress, this time ending all hopes of getting back on. 

Ben attacked a couple times more, with Tyler and Bill hanging tight.  Finally, the last attack about 1/2 mile from the end popped Bill off, leaving Tyler and Ben to settle matters between themselves.  Ben apparently misestimated the finish line (that’s what he said immediately afterwards) and was right on Tyler’s wheel as they crossed the line in a time of 1:02 flat.  Bill came across 7 seconds later, followed by Peter and Bryan another 11 seconds back.  Jason was next about 4 minutes later, followed by Mike a 1/2 minute later and Tony about 7 minutes later. 

Overall, the Gunners as a team averaged a bit over 24 mph for the course and picked up roughly 22 total minutes on the Pushers. They worked well together as a team, keeping the speed up and dropping the opposition one by one, while staying together themselves.  The Pushers made a noble effort, but got caught up in the wheels of a group functioning like a machine and stamping out everything in its path, earning the moniker “The Express”. 

In the last race of the week, the “B” groups go tomorrow night.  Will the Pushers be able to pull back some of this advantage?

Bill’s “C” Report (Tues)

Overall, the Pushers gained back another minute on the Gunners tonight. They did this with a combination of hard riding and smarts. 

The riders tonight were Gregg, Eugene, Bob & Nicole for the Pushers; and Philip, Luis, Cheryll and GT subbing in for the Gunners.  Bob got hung up in traffic and didn’t actually get on his bike until 5:59, which meant that he didn’t actually start until 6:03.  In the initial flurry of the start, Nicole & Cheryll got dropped, leaving a front group of Gregg, Eugene, Philip, GT and Luis.  Cheryll and Nicole stayed together until the bitter end, leaving the boys to go their own separate ways. 

That group stayed together for a few miles, but Luis was the first one to get popped off, on the first descent.  This left GT and Phlip from the Gunners wrestling with Gregg and Eugene from the Pushers.  There was almost constant surging and sagging for several miles until Gregg made a strong move which GT missed and end up off the back as a result.  Meanwhile, Bob had caught and passed Cheryll and Nicole, and had set his sights on Luis and was bringing down the gap. 

The front group, now down to three, calmed down and stayed together until the intermediate sprint point.  At the sprint, Philip was able to come from the tail end of the group to take a narrow win over Gregg, with Eugene a second or so further behind. 

After the first lap was done, the lead group settled down for a while, then Gregg and Eugene realized that they could take turns attacking Philip, and did so.  Philip hung in there for a while, but eventually Gregg got away and was able to gap Eugene and Philip.  Further back, GT was losing ground to Eugene and Philip only slowly, the gap between Luis and Bob had stabilized, and Cheryll was going along at her own pace with Nicole faithfully and consistently tagging along behind. Gregg was eventually able to pull out a gap of about 2:35 over Philip and Eugene. 

As this went on, Eugene and Philip started playing surge games to see who could drop who over the last few miles.  Both took turns, and both looked like they had dropped the other at one point or another, only to see the opposition come clawing his way back.  Finally, with a bit over a mile to go, Eugene put in a big move and was able to drop Philip, which provided a 20-second cushion for him at the line.  While this was going on, Bob’s challenge to Luis gradually softened while Luis’ performance gradually improved, leading to Luis being able to reclaim some of the time he lost earlier in the stage. 

Luis was able to finish strong and chew a few seconds back out of Philip and Eugene’s lead, finishing a total of about 5 1/2 minutes back, while Bob, having done a long solo ride, finished another 5 minutes behind him. 

For the ladies, it turned into a game of cat and mouse.  Nicole was averaging about 30 watts less than Cheryll and doing no work, but Cheryll wasn’t able to work out how to drop her.  As a result, having taken it easy all night, Nicole had an excellent sprint left when it counted and easily dusted Cheryll for 7th. 

So, overall the Pushers have closed to a bit over 15 minutes behind the Gunners.  Tomorrow night the big guns are set to fire, and we’ll see who comes out of that in one piece. 

Good riding to all!

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