Monday, August 15, 2011

Where's The Podium? #15: Tour de Millersburg

This August weekend of racing was one that I will be looking forward to coming back to for years. I will just start this all by mentioning how warm, welcoming, and fun the whole town and host families made this event for me and my teammates.
Part of the drive up to Millersberg, PA
Heading to this weekend Whole Wheel Velo brought GC contender, Andrew Shelby, GC alternate, Chris Gould, and a supporting cast of riders including Chris "Ladies-Man" Hall, Joe "Numbas" Mazza, and myself. The weekend of racing began with a 9.5 mile individual time trial.

Andrew and Chris G. were the only from our team that aimed to make their mark on the time trial course, placing well above that aforementioned "supporting cast" of WWVC riders, Chris Hall, Joe, and me. With Andrew sitting 7th and Chris G. 12th, we looked to the criterium ahead of us that afternoon.

Shelby was strong again and able to continue his good showing in the criterium. With a last lap attack, Andrew was coursing through a corner with, as he described, "2mph too much speed," and almost wrecked over a high curb. This near wreck sapped a bit of the mayonnaise from his attack, though he finished the race with a strong mid-pack placement and enough points to have him tied for 8th or 9th going into the final day and road race.
Good morning, bikes of Whole Wheel.
I dearly wish I could have stayed in that  criterium race and been of some assistance to Andrew on that last lap. We all did... but for me, I had known this whole season that I have not been able to stick in these races with the Cat 3 fields, and I simply had to cut my losses again an focus up for the final stage.
Breakfast with Joe Mazza and a ghostly Chris Gould.
The road race was a 54 mile one with three laps of 18 miles to cover. Andrew had a mind to find an ally or two to somehow form a breakaway and possibly climb on the GC ladder with a strong finish and placement. Turns out, he did just that. Unbeknownst to me and Chris hall, the only two other WWVC racers left in the peloton at this point in the race, Andrew had actually broken away with another rider about 4 miles into the last lap. This caused some serious confusion for Chris Hall and I, but only after the race was over.
Me in the road race next to one of those juniors... they loved to throw attacks - I loved to crush their dreams.
As a teammate, I believe I worked well to monitor the front. I rode tempo, shut down breaks, recovered, rode more tempo, shut down more breaks, and recovered some more with a mind to Shelby sitting in the pack. I was doing my job as best I could and with pointers from experienced rider, Pete Custer, in mind. My work was all to be done in moderation and with Andrew, the protected rider, in mind. I really enjoyed this race and doing my best to read it, I kept in mind the riders on the front, the riders to watch, teammates, and myself and how I felt. This is turning into a lot of different aspects of the race on my mind, and I thought I was keeping up well enough.  In this case, however, ignorance was not entirely bliss, but disaster was certainly avoided, but more on that in a bit...

I'll note now that this 18 mile loop was not the most difficult, and it showed; I was in it at the end. The hills were not enough to shake me and though it rained during our race, (which I actually enjoy) having a rolling enclosure that allowed for the whole use of the road for most of the course made a huge difference for everyone to be able to move throughout the peloton. My intake of two gels, plenty of water with nuun tablets, and one cliff bar throughout the race proved to be enough for my efforts. Again, with all the activity that I was a part of on the front, I had fun and knew when I needed to recover and how to ride the different sections. I am happy knowing this and I was really hoping that my efforts last weekend at the Tour of Page County would slide over like they had here.

Andrew had indeed gone up the rode with another rider with most of the third lap to grind away. Chris informed me that, after talking to Andrew near the end of the second lap, Andrew was still feeling good for an attack off the front with a rider or two. At that point I was recovering and eating to keep my energy levels up for that fateful last lap and going into that final lap I let Andrew know I was there as I slipped to the front to continue my monitoring. Apparently I was not monitoring enough when Andrew and his compadre went up the rode, as I was probably slipping back down the field to recover. Either way, neither Chris Hall nor I saw this move. Knowing whether Andrew was up there or not, I kept all that stuff I mentioned before in mind as I shifted my focus from simply monitoring the front to marking strong riders like Brian Sjoberg and his teammates as they chased on the front to reel Andrew in. Their efforts were not enough and Chris Hall and I gave a big sigh of relief when we heard that Andrew was indeed successfully up the road after our finish.

I ended up 20th in the road race as I had nothing left for the finish, and I'm okay with that (job done). Andrew let his breakaway companion take the win (in a show of great class, though he was kicking himself for it a bit when he learned their gap had increased later in that final lap and later learning that the guy didn't even know where the finish line actually was) and he took a strong second in the road race and enough points to catapult himself to 5th on GC for the weekend!

We are all proud of his work and strong performance. I should say, that we are all proud of his hard work and performances throughout the season. He now has enough points to cat-up and cannot wait to submit for his upgrade. I am proud to have done what I could (however small or sometimes confused my help was) to be a part of his upgrading and I am also proud that he is upgrading as fast as he can. He is a confident, realistic, and aggressive rider that knows class and will be a strong racer with the big boys.
Whole Wheel Velo team of Millersburg with the Special Olympians that were on hand all day handing out water through the feed zone. 
I hope to be in that upgradeable position at some point in the next year or two. It will take me a lot of focus and hard work to get there, but I am as eager as I always am. I might even have to get in a TT position once or twice to get there as well.
Dirty legs after the road race waiting for their tun in the shower.
As I've mentioned, the town of Millersberg really did an amazing job supporting, embracing, and sacrificing a lot for us racers. From kids to an 82 year old man, that rides a segway around town (and cooked us spaghetti Friday night), the racers were treated like royalty. Our host family, Mark and Debbie, went the extra mile! They actually slept in their front room on couches and allowed us racers to take over their bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, driveway, yard, front porch, and anything else they had to offer. Our team was humbled at their hospitality and cannot wait to visit and race with them again next year. The town of Millersberg was so sweet and genuinely friendly to us all and it means a lot.

By the Numbers: Road Race

  • 53.8 miles
  • Time racing - 2:09:05
  • Average speed - 25.0 mph
  • Average HR - 164 bpm
  • Strava (note: power output and calories there cannot be trusted as I don't have a power meter and Strava somehow places numbers for that stuff after I upload)

Thanks for reading and I hope to have more teammates joining us there next year!


  1. The strava power calculations to my knowledge are based on weight and max HR. They're not actually far off, although they do seem to be slightly optimistic.

  2. Ah nice. Well, I can't be too sure anyway. I figured they were a decent ballpark, but no worries. I can wait for that techie stuff.... I need a job!

  3. In my experience, compared to my Quarq numbers, Strava calculations are high by 10 to 15% on training rides. If your ride is done in a group or peloton of a race, you can bet they will be off much more than that since the calculations are based on solo riding.

  4. Thanks, Anon. I thought as much. The Quarq power meter is the way I hope to get my power numbers when I can afford it.

  5. my favorite quote: "they loved to throw attacks - I loved to crush their dreams."