Watopia: First June Friday Training Race

I’m so tired from the last two days of riding, I’m afraid that my brain has suffered from oxygen debt. I hope I can remember what happened during the Friday Training Race. As usual, I’ll just let Chris Wiedmann give the extended race report.

I almost didn’t participate. My Six Jersey Challenge attempt on Thursday had only been finished about 16 hours before. However, as I walked down the stairs into the basement my legs didn’t have that stiff feel I had when I woke up that morning.

I had a muted excitement about this ride. It would be the first time I would race with the new Zwift update. This update allows us to connect both a power meter and a Kickr to the program. This is helpful to me because while I love the feedback the Kickr allows from the software, I have not always liked the way it sends data.

You can’t ride like you would on the road. For instance, going for a sprint you have to start well before you think you do because you have to get the wheel spun up before the wattage reaches the level you need. Then when you are finished it just continues releasing the power.

This also plays a factor when trying to ride in a nuanced manner. I have been suspicious that this delay has played a role in my inability to stay with a group. I just haven’t learned how to find the sweet spot.

Riding with the power meter solves that issue. The response from the crank based power meter to the computer is immediate. Now there is only the small delay as the software receives the data and processes it.

Even if I couldn’t finish strong in the race, at least I could test my theory. So after warming up with Chris Wiedmann I pulled into the “drop in” zone to await the start. I kept seeing more and more riders appear with FTR beside their names. This would be a big group.

Becker is the lone rider in the middle - putting a hurting on us!

Becker is the lone rider in the middle – putting a hurting on us!

We rolled off and I looked around to take stock of the FTR-A riders around me. There didn’t seem to be too many. Most riders were FTR-B or C. Well, at least I could count on having a top ten finish!

There was Wiedmann, of course. F. Garcia and M. Wardle were on board. C. Schumm was there as well as N. Law — the usual suspects. This might work out okay… then I saw H. Becker pop up nearby. Oh boy, this really changed everything.

We finished up the warmup and Wiedmann called the start. Immediately I knew things were going to be different. I found it easy to adjust with the ebb and flow of the pack. I was paying so much attention to sitting in I didn’t notice a move up front.

Suddenly, I saw Becker and Garcia with a 2 second gap. This was not normal. Typically there was no attempt to make a selection until the first climb. Here we were just getting started and two strong riders were testing us.

I knew then I had to cross the gap or they would be gone. I could see Wardle and Wiedmann responding the same way. However, by the time we reached the sprint zone Wardle, Garcia, and myself with Becker were holding a soft gap over the rest of the field.

The rollers grew the gap even more and then on the first climb we were over a minute over the closest following racer. I was just happy to hold with the other three riders. We went over the top together and I spent the rest of the second full lap trying to make Becker and company do as much of the work as possible.

It was working until we reached the rollers. This was when I started to feel fatigued. It wasn’t that my heart rate was over the top. It was up there, but manageable. It was simply a matter of my legs feeling fatigued.

However, I stayed with them to finish out that second lap. It was now time to take on the climb once more. We hit it and the other guys started up at a pace that would have me pushing up at over 400 watts. It was too much. I could do 350, but that was it. I was done trying to keep up with them.

That was the race. For the most part the finishing order was where each racer was at that point (though the time gaps continued to grow). I kept an okay pace, but to be honest, with over a minute lead on the next racer, I didn’t have a lot of motivation to push too hard. I would ride along and then pick up my pace if I saw him closing in.

I finished a distant fourth place, but I was happy! Finally, I had no instance where I found myself slipping off the back and having to push to get back on. Of course, with the very early move, there wasn’t much pack riding for me anyway!

One sad thing to note. I was followed by G. Christopher who was in the B group. He stayed about 40 seconds behind me and even closing into around 15 seconds as I would begin a climb. One time he messaged the group asking where the finish was… the alien statues?

I tried to reply to him to say the Start/Finish banner, but my iPhone was so covered with sweat, I couldn’t get the touch screen to work! I had also dropped my towel earlier and had nothing dry with which to wipe it off. Unfortunately, no one replied and he stopped at the statues.

It is sad that he was giving me, an A rider, pause for concern and had the B race wrapped up. He ended with a DNF. Good ride, Garry! Sorry I couldn’t warn you.

And now… for the real report from Chris Wiedmann:

FTR Race Report 2015-06-05

19 riders gathered for the start of today’s Friday Training Race. This week H.-G. Becker was the main engine in the grinder that chewed up and spit out the rest of the riders. He drove the pace hard and managed a solo victory over M. Wardle with F. Garcia following some distance back in third.

In the B race a miscommunication cost G. Christopher the victory when he finished 1/2 lap early leaving B. Greatrick to take the victory with M. R and J. Lemon rounding out the podium. In the C race, S. Carter held off R. Butler for the victory with S. Yeatts on the third step of the podium.

The race started out fast with immediate attacks over the rollers after the start. Only Becker, Wardle, Garcia and J. Pait made it to the first climb in the lead group. Becker immediately drove the pace up, pulling out a 5s gap over the other riders, but they regrouped shortly thereafter.

On the next big climb, however, Becker managed to split the field with Wardle the only rider able to stay in contact. Garcia and Pait followed solo with growing gaps between all riders. On the third climb Becker proved his superiority by dropping Wardle. The rest of the race was a time trial to the finish with Becker taking the win and the rest of the group following in order.

The fast start separated the B group from the As by the back climb. J. Lemon managed to get a small lead with G. Christopher, J. Curley and B. Greatrick chasing one-by-one further back. By the second climb, Lemon and Christopher had joined up with Greatrick and Curley chasing. On the third climb Greatrick opened a gap on Curley and started working to bridge to the leaders. Curley dropped back to the next chase group of M. R and I. Munro.

Christopher managed to get a gap on Lemon on the back climb of this lap. Christopher and Greatrick pushed on solo in front of the chasers while M.R managed to bridge up to Lemon at the base of the last climb. Christopher dropped out leaving Greatrick to solo to the victory. M.R managed to pull out a slim lead on Lemon and hold him off to the line for second. Lemon finished third.

In the C race, Carter and Butler managed to establish a lead group in front of the rest of the field. Carter managed to pull out a gap on the last lap that he held to the finish. Butler solo a short time after, with Yeatts following for third.

Results:
A Group
1. H.-G. Becker 1:00:59 (41.0 km/h)
2. M. Wardle 0:00:32
3 F. Garcia 0:02:54
4. J. Pait 0:05:41
5. C. Wiedmann 0:09:20
DNF N. Law (Pub emergency)

B Group
1. B. Greatrick 1:05:35 (37.0 km/h)
2. M. R 0:01:03
3. J. Lemon 0:01:08
4. J. Curley 0:03:53
5. R. Van Praet 0:04:03
DNF G. Christopher
DNF I. Munro (Pub emergency)

C Group
1. S. Carter 1:11:45 (34.9 km/h)
2. R. Butler 0:00:22
3. S. Yeatts 0:04:52
4. T. Marshall 0:11:35
-1 Lap
5. G. Raya -0:07:00

Note: Time gaps for entertainment purposes only. Corrections to placings and race narrative are welcome. I have skipped listing anybody whose Strava activity I could not find. If you wish to be included, let me know.

Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1410852035907353
Strava fly-by: http://labs.strava.com/flyby/viewer/…