Blue Hills Classic 2010: At last, my butt is famous

I’m fading fast – I hope I didn’t pick up a GI bug from contaminated drinking water, but something has zapped my energy tonight. Not to mention that I’m past the 24-hour freshness date for race reports. So this will likely be short, or at least unedited.
Yesterday we had the fourth running of the Blue Hills Classic road race. My club hosts the race, and we have not yet managed to put a club member on the podium in any category. I wanted to change that this year, and I thought we had the horsepower to do it in the Cat 4 race. However, a quick scan of the pre-reg list revealed that we’d have to find our way past a couple of big teams to make that happen. Threshold Cycling brought 13 riders, and Cambridge Bike 8. Both are well-organized and know how to work as a team.
I prepared about as well as I could. My fitness has been quite good in the last few weeks, and the race is held on my favorite training loop. I knew the contours and the potholes perfectly. Since our race was just 21 miles long, I figured a break had a very small chance of succeeding if we could keep Threshold and CB from blocking the bunch when their riders attacked. My plan was to hover near the front, cover breaks if I saw CB and Threshold go together, but otherwise try to keep my nose out of the wind until the last lap. I had three teammates with me, and while we were down on numbers to those two teams, perhaps we could sneak somebody by them.
For a moment on the first lap, I thought maybe the race had ridden away from me. Cruising down Canton Ave at nearly 40 mph, I had shuffled toward the back of the bunch when a split formed, with maybe 20 riders in the front group. I saw my two teammates up there, so I didn’t try to close the gap. We all came back together on Unquity Hill, though. The second lap was somewhat similar, except this time the split group was smaller, contained CB and Threshold, and I went to the front to bring them back. I probably didn’t absolutely need to do that, but it wasn’t a very long or hard effort. The second trip up Unquity was pretty tame, but I found myself bumping bars as we came around the start area, trying to maintain a forward position.
Coming down Canton for the final time, I sheltered behind my teammate Can for a while. Can has many fine qualities, including throwing a very comfy draft, but a bit too late I realized that we had slid toward the back of the group as we ran downhill. The final corner is 5-6 minutes out from the finish line, and after we sprinted out of that corner I yelled to him that we needed to move up. He chose a line on the shoulder, which I didn’t feel comfortable following, so I tried to pick my way through the group as best I could. Or at least that’s how I remember it. The bar cam video looks a bit different:

The video starts on the last lap, soon after the turn from Unquity onto 138. We have a couple of riders off the front at this point, with Eric Vandendries and then Larry Alford of 545 Velo taking monster pulls to bring them back. Looks like the last escapee to come back in was Gert Reynaert of Threshold.
Nick Liddell of Threshold, our cameraman, stayed near the front all the way down Canton, and then took the lead through the final corner onto Unquity, when Gert makes another appearance, surprising Nick by dive-bombing the corner from the outside. Things get a little sprinty after that as we all get on the gas out of the corner. The pace is high but even until about 8:25 in the video, which is about where we start the final trip up Unquity. I think when Greg Whitney got off the front there. I make an appearance on the video at about 9:12. At long last, my butt is on the Internet! I’m famous! At that point, Nick fades so we don’t really see the end of the race. I was creeping up, but as soon as we hit the coned-off intersection that marked the point at which we got full width of the road, I stood up, swung left to get a clear line, and lit the afterburners. That pulled me up to 13th place, with top 10 an agonizing bike-length away. I heard crash noise as I crossed the line, but I didn’t look back to see whose sweet ride turned into a small heap of frayed carbon filaments.
Since GeWilli mentioned Watts/Kg on climbs today, here’s a screenshot of the last 2:30 or so of my race:
I averaged 426 W for the last 2 minutes, and I’m around 71 Kg, so that’s just about 6 W/Kg. And it was all I had left.
I think I did a fairly good job of reading this race, but I was obviously out of position through the last corner. If I had done a better job of staying forward, I may have snagged an even better result. I wanted to win, and I didn’t, so I failed to achieve my goal. But this is my best result in a 4s race, so I shouldn’t complain too loudly.
It’s also the last race of my spring campaign. The next two or three weeks are chock full of family visits and other enriching activities, so I’m not sure when my next race will be. There will be a next road race, though, because I feel like I’m finally starting to figure this stuff out. I may have delusions of adequacy, but I think I’m within sight of competence as a Cat 4.

2 thoughts on “Blue Hills Classic 2010: At last, my butt is famous

  1. Nice JLS – only 71kg? damn you are not that big of a guy!
    Hard to tell but it looks like you still need some work with the number pinning πŸ˜‰

  2. I used to weigh pretty close to what you weigh, but it sure looks better on you than it did on me.
    I know you’re just yanking my chain about the number, but I did put on my back number in a hurry and it wasn’t quite straight. I was thinking about you as I did that πŸ™‚

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