MGCC Ride & Race - Spin It to Win It!
TUESDAY! It was high time for some more intensity in my diet. My Cervelo S5 is in at my (almost) local bike shop, where Mike and the ToWheels team will make it all pretty. New bottom bracket (because… Cervelo), cables, brakes, tuned drivetrain, trued wheels, etc. Basically make it race ready for April 19th. Hopefully it will be enough of a confidence booster to have me do well there. Thankfully, there are a few practice rounds both in London and Windsor to work out any kinks. All this means is that I’m without my regular bike for the next few Zwift races. Instead I’m on my Giant TCX SLR, slightly different geometry and an 11-speed drivetrain. Oh, and SPD pedals, because I forgot to take the pedals off the S5 (oops). Great for the mud runs and flying mounts in the basement.
It was a good field logged on today, including some that have been hiding away from the races for the past several months - like Kevin Higgins and Hans Ulsrud. Other regulars included Luiz and George from Splunk, Tim, Michael and Chris from MGCC, Rolston (and Higgins) from Ascent and a few guys from 545 Velo. We all missed Blair, but blamed him for the splits on the first lap none-the-less. Hans yelled, most listened, a few were DQ’d. We go onto the race lap.
And we were off. The first lap started out a bit hot. No one took off with a big attack but the pace bumped up significantly. Hans throws out the “Are we going fast enough?” reminder to the group as we head up over 50kph. I was pushing about 300w through Ocean Ave but knew that we couldn’t break up the group with what was a tempo/lower threshold effort on such a flat course. That also wasn’t my workout goal.
Timeout for Workout Goals
I use a platform called xert for my training. It has a data driven workout advisor that helps guide you on what you should be focusing on based on your stated goals. The first road race of the year for me is a goal race, because I have unfinished business there. I am at the point in the periodization of my training plan where I need to be focusing on my “Breakaway Specialist” efforts or intervals around 440W to help build my power around the 4:30 mark on my power curve.
I already knew where I was going to use as my first race lap attacks. Attack on the first lap you say? That’s ridiculous! Well, when you have a lead group of 30+ riders, you need to start culling quickly. The first attack went on the ramp out of Ocean Avenue, about 30 seconds at 500w to see who was just hanging on.
Ends up, most were pretty fresh, or at least had matches left to burn after the initial hard pull. The second spot to test the bunch was heading into the village from the top of the switch backs. Nothing novel about this spot. It’s actually one of my favourite areas to attack because most people are just happy to be done the little climb up from the bridge when you drop the hammer on them. So, 500W for 45 seconds this time to see if we can cause some damage before we hit the final lap.
Again, not much immediate damage done (except maybe Hans?), however the bunch was going to have none of it for the rest of the lap. After we crossed the sprint bridge there was a significant surge again, pushing quickly through the Esses. This one wasn’t my doing, but I felt like it was targeted in my direction. A sort of “let’s see how many matches you have” burst, courtesy of someone’s teammate (upon review, this looks to be the 545 guys with Chris Harris). Over the next two minutes we push 370w to just stick with the bunch before we line up for the next, and final lap. Casualties: Marcel, Joanne, on of the 545 guys.
I’ll be honest, Lap 2 was pretty boring a repeat of Lap 1 without much of my intentional attacking. I kept an eye on Luiz, George, Rolston and Higgins as we rolled on through. The chat turned to Portugese, where I’m sure Hans and Luiz were spreading lies about us.
The Ascent/MGCC guys take the aggressive approach to exiting Ocean Avenue on this lap. I’m happy to follow in the wheels. George stretches his legs across the dam, I follow. Hans Ulsrud goes in the first turn on the switchback, we pull him back. No one attacks hard over the last bump into the village, but the pace remains high. Riders are starting to get dropped.
We take the sprint banner and head over to the Esses for the last time. The blob lurches forward up the climb, led by the usual suspects at this point. Not enough to shatter the remaining 16 or so riders, so down to a sprint we go.
Did I point out that I was on my CX bike? With CX gearing? That’s a 46 tooth “big ring” up front. That’s a few fewer teeth than I’m used to. I’m heading into a sprinting contest with a drafting power up. While it is better than nothing, the odds are certainly against me in this situation. My only hope is a long sprint where top speed is less of an issue than keeping the power on for 15 seconds or more.
As we drop through the rock tunnel and into the final sprint area, I’m amazed to see Rolston take off on the front super early. He’s dropping watts like they’re going out of style. Is this a setup for Higgins? With 400m to go, I see aero helmets pop up over a bunch of riders, I toss on the draft to hold on. I’m watching for orange numbers but it doesn’t seem to be happening yet. I ramp it up to over 600w, enough to turn me orange - 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Boom, Rolston and Ben Beger are fading and the others start sprinting. I’m spinning in what ended up being the right gear. 100rpm and 100m, I’m closing in on the two in front…. Luiz and Hunziker, both with aeros. I catch and pass Hunziker and take Luiz to the line.
it’s over. The scoreboard comes up. Luiz is shown first in on the top step, then that 1-2 second delay before your own results are computed. Suddenly, my name shows up as first?! Apparently I had pip’d him at the line with an imaginary bike throw. I would have sworn my screen had be behind by half a wheel, but I can’t argue with the Zwift gods. The three of us ended up within one tenth of a second, with just two hundredths separating Luiz and I. That’s literally a blink of an eye. Thankfully computers don’t have eyes.
You can watch the race below, thanks to the 545 guys that live streamed it on Twitch. I should probably do this at least once this year as long as it doesn’t kill my poor MacBook Air.