Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pennsylvania Dutch Country

This past weekend was the Tour de Millersburg, located in the beautiful Pennsylvania Dutch Country. The 3/4 race consisted of a 12 mile out-and-back TT on a flat road, an up and down 1.5 mile criterium loop of 13 laps, and a 54 mile road race. Coming into the race I really wanted to do well in the overall GC.

Before I describe the racing too much, I have to describe the wonderful homestay we had with the King family. The Kings are a traditional Amish family. Pennsylvania Dutch is the primary language spoken by the family at home, although they speak great English too. Their home is a 160 acre farm where they harvest corn and alfalfa. In addition to those crops, they have cows, horses, miniature ponys, a golden retriever with 10 pups, and 8 wonderful children.

I drove up to the race with Mike Githens of IMI. He lives just down the street, and he is truly one of the strongest Cat 1 racers in the area. He is a great resource for learning about the strategy of the sport of cycling.

Mike and I really enjoyed staying with the King family. We were treated like kings ourselves! In their garden, the Kings grow sweet corn, and they have beautiful grape vines. We had the best corn ever, and we had fresh squeezed grape juice each day. Our meal on Saturday night was amazing. The chicken, fresh from a neighbor's farm, was the most savory poultry I have experienced. Saturday night after dinner we sat around and talked. No TV...no Olympics! It was awesome. Mike and I read some childrens' books to the younger kids; I think they really loved that. Deep down inside, I was quite pumped to be reading the Berenstain Bears again!

Overall the King family really made the weekend awesome! The road race went directly in front of their house. They embraced the race 100%. On Sunday all of the extended King Family gathered at the house to watch the road race and cheered whole heartedly each time the various races came by their house on the 18 mile circuit.

Thanks to the King Family. I hope to come back and to stay with them again next year!

OK--to the racing.

Saturday I got my P3C off the roof rack only to discover a bat had flown into my aerobars overnight when we were driving. The thing was dead...smooshed right between the bars where the stem clamps to the basebar...gross!

I got in a good warm-up, and the TT went well. Averaged 362 watts for 26 minutes. That gave 27.8 mph avg and was good enoug for 4th place. I did some cda calculations, and it looks like I'm about as aerodynamic as a parachute.

5 hours of rest til the crit.

The 1/2/3 race went first. Githens had won the TT in 24:50. He killed that race. His team did an awesome job in the crit, and Mike was in a great position coming into the final turn. He overcooked the final turn and went down. Yikes. Fortunately he was OK, but he lost a lot of points in the omnium.

I had good legs in the crit. I went for it on the climb. I thought it was the last lap. I got about 20 seconds on the field. I passed the guy who was out in the break. I rode him off my wheel. I won...crap...there was another lap. I really thought I had won. If only I had sat on the guy in the break's wheel for 20-30 seconds then gone again. Darn. I had a total letdown realizing there was another lap. I couldn't go again. I finished behind the field. The big effort was something absurd like 460 watts for 3:30, and that actually included speeds close to 40 mph downhill...hard to put out big watts down hill. Fitness is good. NP for the crit was also absurdly high. Something like 350 or 360 watts.

The road race was a rolling course. Mike and I really thought our races were going to break up. The 3/4 race ended in a group finish. I tried to break away 3 times. The first time was an attempt to bridge to two guys up the road on the first lap. In breaking away I had my all-time max sprint power of 1283 watts! I used a match there for sure. The next break was following the Coppi guy who got 2nd in the TT. We were well marked though, and he really didn't have the pop in his acceleration to get away that I had. The final attempt was what killed me. On the final lap I bridged up to two guys. I covered the 20 second gap in about 2-3 minutes. Average was something like 420 watts in order to bridge. My legs were toast. We got the gap to about 35 seconds. Apparently that initiated some strong attacks from the group, and they brought us back. No breaks stuck. Our race ended up rolling the course in almost 26 mph for the day. It would have been hard for a breakaway to hold off the group.

My legs were done, but I was able to wheelsurf well enough to stay right in the group. The finale was a 1 mile steep downhill into a hard right hander 800 meters from the finish, one sweeping right turn, then 200 meters to the line. A HUGE part of this sport is position for the finish. With bad legs, I was able to get into position--2nd wheel on the left with about 400 meters to go before the turn. It was full gas into the turn, and I just didn't have the legs to turn the pedals anymore. I got passed, and I resigned myself to finishing with the group. If I had good legs there, I think I could have had an awesome result because of the great positioning I had.

At first I was a bit bummed with the overall result. But I do have some great takeaways from the race.
  1. Great TT Power
  2. Great Efforts in the Crits
  3. Best Sprint Max Power
  4. Excellent Positioning in Finale of RR
  5. Great training and experience
  6. I never crashed!

I hope to do this race again next year and to stay with the King Family.

Long report, but you got 3 race reports in 1!


Blogger MarkyV said...

Cool shit.

Awesome power numbers.

What's wrong with the position?

11:19 AM  
Blogger Lindsey Jerdonek said...

"We were treated like kings ourselves!"
v. clever Michael

smooshed bat = gross

I like the blog, but can you add some photos? I couldn't get through your whole post, text text text text, nothing to break it up. :)

haha you prob won't approve my comment

2:33 PM  
Blogger jnhutch said...

Thank you for coming to Millersburg. Glad you enjoyed our town, surrounding area and most of all our people. Hope you and all the riders return next year. Jim and Nancy Hutchins, Julie Hoffman's parents.

8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neat story, Mike! What a cool experience! I knew you were into racing, but had no idea you were at this level. Thanks for sharing your experiences!


8:02 PM  

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