Economic Cycles

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Dead Dog Classic Report

with 4 comments

Team Primal had some pretty big aspirations coming into Dead Dog this weekend. We knew we’d have the most guys (as usual), but better than that, we knew we’d have 3 strong guys who could contend for GC. In total, we brought 8 guys: Me, Welker, Blake, Wild Bill Roushy, Corey Moxon, Neider, Alex, and Jack. Our 3 GC guys were going to be Blake and his time trial prowess, Alex and his climbing skills, and Neider coming off a great Omnium podium. My job was to be the ultimate domestique. It was perfect because I wanted the hard miles in my legs and my team needed someone who could climb to help in the road stage. Additionally, I was hoping to help Welker contend the sprint in the crit. But having not raced at all this year and coming off injury, I had no idea what shape I’d be in or how much help I could be.

Stage 1: 55 mile road race. I was really looking forward to this road race once I found out it had a legitimate climb. The race was an out and back, with the turn around on the top of a 9 mile climb that took us to 10,500 feet of elevation! Not only that, we were told – and saw pictures of – the amazing 10 foot high snow banks that lined the top of the climb. It was like riding the Giro or something. Anyway, the plan was for our 3 GC guys and me to try to make the selection on the climb and then duke it out for the stage win if any of us was in contention. The first part of the race was mostly downhill and mostly with a tailwind. Welker got on the front and stayed there for the first 10 miles. We made a left turn and the winds changed a bit. At this point, Blake called back to Wild Bill Roushy to come up to the front and start pulling. Wild Bill obliged. Welker and Wild Bill traded pulls at the front for the next few miles. When we got to Centennial, the road started to tilt up a bit more. I took a pull or two with Bill as we approached the first mini climb before the monster. The mini climb was fairly steep, I’d say around 7 or 8%, and we took it hard enough to feel a sting, but not so much that I couldn’t talk about the great Tom Zirbel on the side of the road clapping for us. Truly a great moment. After the first little kicker, it flattened out for a minute and then tilted up for the 9 mile lung buster. At the base of the climb the pace picked up big time. A group of riders drilled it in hopes of shattering the field. I was in the front with Blake and Neider and worked to maintain my position. Blake started coming undone but I knew he’d be okay if he rode within himself and descended like a madman. Neider and I tucked ourselves into the single file line. I was pretty much redlined. I also noticed Alex was nowhere to be found. I wondered what happened to him. (I found out later he busted his chain at the base of the first kicker and spent 15 minutes trying to get it fixed. He eventually did and was able to stay in the race).

After several minutes of pushing 300+, I was beginning to come undone. I was in a bit of a pickle. I knew I had to stay in the selection if Neider was going to. I didn’t want to leave him so early on. I also knew that if I came undone, Blake would probably need my help with pacing up the climb. The group of around 6 or 7 guys kept it going full gas and finally the elastic snapped. It was more a tactical decision than a blow up. I knew that if I held on longer, I’d risk blowing completely and being of no help to anyone – both Neider and Blake. That would be the worst possible scenario. So I thought the most prudent thing to do was to let the group go and ride my own pace near threshold and either help Neider if and when he came undone or sit up and wait for Blake if Neider looked like he was holding strong. Within a minute of coming off the front group, I saw Neider drop off. Well, that just made my decision. I rode up along side him and told him to grab my wheel. We then rode tempo all the way up the climb. We must have had another 7 miles to go at this point. I think we only lasted the first 2 miles. Ugh. Anyway, I pulled Neider the rest of the climb to the feedzone about 3/4ths of the way to the top. We grabbed our bottles and then hit the cool snow bank part. It was truly amazing. When we hit the turnaround at the top, I knew we were in good shape for two reasons. We were only a minute or two back from the leaders from what I could tell, AND Blake managed to catch us at the turnaround! (What an incredible climb by Blake!) Now it was me, Blake, Neider and like one or two other dudes for the hella fast descent. We did about 45-50mph most of the way down. Welker tried to give us the time split to the front group as we were flying down but I couldn’t make out what he said. We later found out it was around 1:30. Once we knew we weren’t but a minute or two behind the front group, we knew we had a chance to catch them. By the bottom of the descent, we had a group of probably 10 guys to roll turns with. The lead group was in sight. Blake was the most vocal about organizing and took charge of trying to teach a couple of the guys in the group how to echelon properly. We were working pretty well together until we made the right turn for the final 11 miles. I think we were around a minute back at this point and the front group seemed to be getting closer. But the headwind and the hills of the final 11 miles was throwing a monkey wrench into our paceline. Guys were starting to tire and several were sitting out turns. Neider, Blake, and I continued to encourage the guys and do our best to keep the paceline going. By the last 5 or so miles, we were falling apart big time.

All of the sudden Neider was gone after one of the bigger rollers and it was clear that our group of 10 was no longer a functioning group of 10. Instead, it was me, Blake, and 3 others taking turns on the front with a couple of other guys just sitting on for the free ride. It was frustrating because we knew we were closing in on them, and we knew that if we all worked together we could definitely catch them. With a few miles left, the gap was only 30 seconds. But still, it was only us 5 rolling turns on the front. As the front group came within striking distance, I was contemplating making one gigantic effort to bring them back myself. I went to the front and told Blake to grab my wheel. I started to give it a go and then second guessed that stupid idea. Nevermind. Dumb idea. Let’s keep pushing it guys. With 1 mile to go, they were right in front of us! You could almost reach out and grab them. It took so much digging to finally latch back onto the group in those final 2 miles. Finally, at the 1K to go sign, we caught them! But it was too late. When the front group saw that we got them and they saw the 1K to go sign, they started attacking each other. The final 1K up the finishing climb was brutality. My legs were searing from the chase. I stomped as hard as I could on the pedals but nothing I did seemed to make me go any faster. When I saw the finishing line, I stood up and hammered as hard as I could. I got nipped on the line by a guy who did no work the entire chase. What a dick. I ended up 10th, only 27 seconds back. Blake finished right behind me in 11th, just 35 seconds back. (Stage 1 Garmin file)

Despite my frustration with our poor cooperation in the last 11 miles, catching that front group was one of the most satisfying things I have ever done on a bike. It was a huge victory for us because Blake can TT his ass off. And at only 35 seconds back, he can pretty much assure himself a high spot on GC barring any crit disasters. Side note: Jack gets the hardman of the year award for breaking his crank and literally walking up the hills, while descending and riding the flats WITH ONE LEG. Anyone would have called it quits had it been one of us. But Jack sacked up and made it through like a true Belgian hardman.

Stage 2: Sunday morning crit in downtown Laramie. I was not happy to be getting up so early this morning for the crit. Not because I wasn’t ready to race, but because I was sleeping so well. Anywho, we ate some breakfast, kitted up, and rode downtown together. After taking a warm up lap around the course to check it out, I knew it was going to be a little hairy due to the jarring road surfaces. There were pretty big cracks, holes, and other obstacles all around. The ones in the turns were a little worrisome for me. Nevertheless, we lined up at the start line with the announcer calling us out for being so well represented. Before the smoke could clear from the proverbial starting gun, the pack was strung out single file. It was basically single file the entire time. Or at least that’s how it seemed to me as I surged over and over again to keep my position in the middle of the field. I only had to do two things the whole crit. First, I paced Neider up the side on the long straight away to get him to the front. Then with 2 laps to go, I saw Alex on the front with Welker on his wheel. Not much of a leadout train with only 1 guy to leadout huh? I realized this was where I could lend a hand. Welker was in the top 5 positions the whole race and he looked like he felt really good. So with only Alex in front of him with 2 to go, I surged up the side of the pack on the backside of the loop. I got in front of Alex and pushed it through the chicane and around the corners. Then I drilled it on the straightaway towards the start/finish line. Rookie mistake. I went way too hard, way too early. I should have dialed it back a bit and tried to pull for a whole lap, or at least until I got the start/finish. I ended up swinging off a bit before the start/finish leaving Alex with way too much work to do. Pulling at any point in the final lap is difficult. Pulling THE ENTIRE final lap is damn near impossible.  I didn’t realize my mistake until after the race. Next time I’ll know better. I was able to hold on to the group long enough to either get pack time, or just a few seconds back. It wasn’t Welker’s day though, so no W for Papa Bear. (Stage 2 Garmin file)

Stage 3: 9 mile time trial. There’s not much to say about the TT other than… ouch. My legs were so incredibly sore. How sore? They were so sore I couldn’t go hard enough to make myself breath heavy. They were so sore I pushed tempo wattage basically the whole time. It was painful. I was even passed by not one, but TWO people. Surprisingly, I managed to get 13th. Maybe it was my new TT helmet and skinsuit? Whatever the case, I was pleasantly surprised. And it turned out the two people that passed me both podium’d, finishing 1st and 3rd. Haha. You want to know who finished 2nd? None other than Blake Cohen himself. What a great ride! That awesome TT pushed Blake up into 6th overall. My mediocre TT bumped me down one spot to 11th overall. (Stage 3 Garmin file)

I have to admit, this first race back from injury was a monster success for me. I fulfilled every personal goal I set. I helped in both the road race and the crit, and despite my low wattage, put in a solid 20 minutes of TT time. I successfully helped pull back the front group on stage 1, which allowed Blake a shot at a really high GC spot. We also managed to nab 2 of the 3 primes at the crit! All of that, and I had a great time racing with my friends. What a great weekend!


Written by jlongo12

June 26, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Posted in cycling

4 Responses

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  1. Nice work, Justin. Great race report. Welcome back from injury!


    June 27, 2011 at 4:31 am

    • Nice wwork! Great to hear your form is returning and you enjoyed the race.

      ds albert

      June 27, 2011 at 9:37 am

  2. Great job m8y. H8 it a tick nipped your placement. We warn those freebies to cool that crap.


    June 28, 2011 at 8:23 am

  3. Nice work Longo! You’re ready for your own podium finish soon enough my friend! 🙂

    Megan D

    June 29, 2011 at 9:54 am

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