TeamEN Hang On: Who’s Sprint is it Anyways?
We’ve been here before, the Team Endurance Hang On ride. Read the first ride report for the full description. It’s tons of fun and these rides are very close to what someone may actually experience in a road race scenario. Today, like usual, it was two laps of the Road to Ruins course.
The Warm Up
Today, there were a fair group of riders that started. Over 100, I believe with about half making it through the 2.5-4.0w/kg warmup. Most of the regulars were in attendance, Lucas, Tim and Robin (fresh back from vacay). Notably absent was Patrick MacCrann and PJ, but filling in was Steve Pomfret, climber boss from KRT. Comically, the group was forewarning the new riders exactly where the attacks would come on the next lap. Well, so much for my element of surprise!
The race started as usual on the second pass through the Jungle banner with about 15km to go. Nothing happened right off the gun, a slight ramp up of pace but no hard attacks. Looks like everyone was paying attention previously and was trying to anticipate moves rather than make them on their own. There were two sections where you could make an attack stick on this course, first is the climb out of the Jungle, an 8-9 minute draftable climb, and the second is the ramps up to the volcano, two sharp kickers bridged by a 30 second effort.
We commence the climb at just below 5w/kg. It’s going too easy so I move to the front to up the pace a bit. There are only a few areas where this climb goes over 5%, so if you’re not pushing the pace it is very easy to sit in. As soon as we hit the first yellow numbers, Tim attacks. I wait. Still lots of climbing left and I see that Pomfret hasn’t gone yet. Still a super strong wheel to follow to the front. I put in a few digs to get back on terms by the time we hit the rope bridge and suddenly I’m feeling the train trip from hell that was Thursday. This could be interesting.
Tim’s move, and the subsequent chase has opened up a pretty good gap of about 20 seconds on the rest of the bunch. with double draft and the horsepower up front, that’s not going to close easily, if ever. We slow a bit during the transition portion of the climb and Chris Harris is able to make the gap.
We aren’t going fast enough as we start the second part of the climb. We are seeing another rider - M.Eldridge - starting to come across. He looks strong, cruising with power at about 5w/kg for some time. Assuming he is putting in a big dig to bridge, as soon as he gets to the pack I attack. I don’t need more people to work against, let’s see how well he holds on. He can’t keep pace with the 7-8w/kg moves we were making up the paved section of the Jungle climb but claws his way back after we crest, putting out 6-7w/kg in the flats as the rest of us recover.
He just continues at that pace. Robin checks his HR and noes that he isn’t wearing a HRM. Coupled with the amazing power output, I think we all subconsciously agree to just let him go up the road. He won’t be counted in the results anyways. Not surprisingly, he continues on, we let him go.
Hitting the gravel downhill towards the volcano Robin asks, rather bluntly, if Tim and I have aeros. Not hiding anything, I answer “Yes”, Tim doesn’t so I assume he does. I also assume that Robin, since he had to ask, doesn’t. Noted for future use.
As one of the only other places where you can start to dwindle down the group, the two little ramps into the volcano become strategic. Going into the cone of fire there are six of us (technically chasing Eldridge) and I put in a hard dig up the first ramp, carry it over the flat and then a slightly less hard dig up the second. It ended up being something like 630w over 30 seconds, enough to snap the elastic for Lucas. When I looked up, we were only a second or so off of Eldridge and in retrospect I should have tried to bridge up. Instead we backed off.
We all stare at each other for the next kilometer. Steve Pomfret puts in a few efforts to keep the pace lively, but nothing really happens. We exit the volcano, cross the bridge, head through the tunnel… still nothing. Maybe no one else has a power up at all, I think to myself. I recalculate strategy for a late sprint.
About 300m out, Pomfret pops a feather - here we go! I move to his wheel (as best you can in Zwift). Tim slides in behind me. Sneaky bugger. At the 250m mark, I see Tim throw his aero on (He did have one!) and as soon as he starts to gain on me, I pop my aero and we are off. A heads up sprint for less than 200m! Given there wasn’t much carnage prior, I had tons of energy and was able to pour it on. I’m able to hold 14.5 w/kg to get around Tim and then over 12 w/kg to the line to take the bunch sprint - accelerating from 50 to 63kph in about 12 seconds.
Winning the bunch ended up winning the day as well. So I guess you can mark this one as a win with an asterisk. Looking back, I really wish I would have just bridged up and gone head to head with Eldridge.