Austin Tri-Cyclist Blog

Friday, March 29, 2013

Enchanted Rock Duathlon Race Report
March 24, 2013

by Gray Skinner

The Enchanted Rock Duathlon was my first race of 2013. After a long off-season and winter, I was ready to once again toe the line in a race rather than knocking heads with my training partners for another weekend! Having not put the body through the rigors of racing for nearly five months, I was not sure what to expect when race day arrived early on Sunday morning.

Leah (my amazingly supportive wife and running coach!) and I traveled to Fredericksburg on Saturday and stayed at the wonderful Cyclehaus. For those of you that don’t know, Cyclehaus is a B&B for cyclists in the Texas Hill Country. Staying there was great, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to get out of town for a weekend or training camp. We then pre-rode the course in 85 degree temperatures

The wind howled through the night as the cold front rolled in. Race morning was a brisk 37 degrees F with howling winds. Setting up the bike in transition, I made the game time decision to drop the trispoke in favor of the less aero but more stable cosmic carbone in the front. Kept the rear disc in the back because I knew that I needed every edge I could get on the bike course (and partially because I have been influenced by the musings of Jack Mott!).

Race was a mass start and single file from the gun. Jamie Cleveland of Texas Iron set the pace from the beginning, with Andy Lee following closely on his shoulder. I tucked into third position on the opening single-track section and the race was on. I knew I had to limit my losses on the first run to have any chance of beating the multiple-time defending champ. I hung on behind Andy for the first 2.5 miles of the hilly 8k loop around the park. I was pleasantly surprised that I had managed to not be dropped by this point, and backed off a little as not to blow myself up too early. By this point it was a three-horse race, and I watched them run out of sight by the end of the first run.

Coming into transition, I moved with a sense of urgency as not to let the gap get any bigger. Going into the race, careful scrutiny of every possible relevant data point on the internets led me to believe that I needed to be less than two minutes behind coming out of T1. I had strategically positioned Leah with a stopwatch at the exit of T1 and was thrilled to hear that the gap was only 30 seconds! My confidence rose as I knew I was now in a position to use my strength (the bike) to win the race. I said to myself, “I’m here to win, mate!” a line I recently picked up from Chris McCormack’s book, I'm Here to Win, and got on with the business of catching the leaders. I caught Andy within the first couple of miles and then took the lead around mile 4. The winds were tough on the way back, something I relish as a former road racer. I hit the gas at the turnaround and never looked back. Coming into T2, I was not sure how far back the others were, but I was right where I needed to be, leading the race in T2 with at least a 1 minute advantage.

Back out the single-track, across the creek, through the gazebo, down the stairs and up the rock! Not sure I ran the entire way up, was pretty disorienting as there is no clear path to the top. When I saw the white flag for the finish, I was relieved to have been able to finish off this one and start 2013 on a high note! Final margin ended up being around 1 minute 30 seconds, and I was proud to add my name alongside superstar and three-time ERock Du winner Kat Hunter!

Thanks to Chris McDonald and Big Sexy Racing for their support, Missy and Don at Austin TriCyclist for help getting me on the P4, Redemption RaceProductions for putting on a great race, Jack Mott for help with the TriRig Omega, Jack Cartwright for being a great mentor and training partner and Sol Frost for the last minute tune up!

Gray Skinner is the  coach for the ATC Racing women's cycling team.
Full Results Here

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

2013 Fayetteville Stage Race Report
Women's Open

by Allison Atkinson

Cervelo P2 and TriRig Omega Brake
photo courtesy Lynn Hayner

The Fayettville Stage Race consists of a road race and time trial on Saturday, followed by another road race on Sunday. The Women's Open Saturday road race was two 23-mile laps. It started off mellow until Jubilee Subaru started launching attacks after the climb to the hot spot. That day's winning break formed once we got into the windy and flat back section of the course. Jubilee and Think Finance blocked us, while teammates Sheri Rothe and Danielle Bradley (Jubilee), Andrea Thomas (Think Finance), and Mandy Heintz (Shama Cycles) got away. My teammate Marla Briley noticed that her front shifter was loose and, as a matter of fact, the whole left side of the handlebar was snapped in half. She could not get into the drops or stand, so with the exception of a couple of pulls she did, we sat in. The break finished about three and a half minutes ahead of the pack.

After a good four hour break we lined up for the TT. The 8.9-mile course is flat on the way out with two sharp right-hand turns. It was hilly on the way back, with 11-15 mph gusts that created a headwind going up the hills. In order to do well you had to conserve the hardest effort for the last 4 miles, which is difficult when you know the clock is ticking. With a time of 21:49, Michelle Hayner of Velossimo Racing placed first, with Mandy Heintz (Shama Cycles) coming in second, and Camilla Schmitz (Think Finance) third. I placed 9th.

After a good night's rest I felt good going into Sunday's 3-lap, 49-mile road race. On the first lap, Sheri Rothe and I steadily led the pack up the KOM hill. Attacks from Jubilee began in almost the same spot as Saturday, but nothing stayed away. The attacks spurred a faster pace with faster cornering on the course's sharp right-hand turns. I believe it was shortly after the turn onto Ehlinger Road when the first crash occurred. I was behind the whole thing and saw at least three women go down hard, but don’t know what caused it. After slowing down to avoid crashing, I had to bury myself to catch back on to the main group. I ended up pulling Michelle Hayner with me, which was a plus. Luckily everyone slowed the pace, and that gave me a few minutes to recover before the KOM hill.

Unfortunately, I started the climb towards the back of the pack, which meant that I was not in the group that attacked at the hot spot located at the top. I saw Kathleen Hattaway (Jubilee) chasing the group, so I instantly got on her wheel. We worked together to bridge ourselves up. Once we caught on, we joined the smooth rotation with more Jubliee women, Mandy Heintz and her teammate Jennifer Wagner, Michelle Hayner, and a few riders from Think Finance. We had managed to drop the rest of the field, so we felt good until we heard a horrible screeching. Danielle Bradley had some kind of mechanical, so her teammate Kathleen stayed behind to help her out.

Our breakaway continued until the sharp turn before the feed zone. That is where Sheri and Mandy, our GC leaders, collided mid-turn. I saw Mandy fly over her handlebars and hit her head hard. I looked back and she was not getting back on her bike, but Sheri, with the encouragement of her teammate Kim Jennings, shot up and started checking her bike. I remember Kim shouting, "Sheri! Are you ready? Are you ready?" Michelle Hayner was looking back at me as I rode up to join her. Andrea Thomas and Catherine Moore from Think Finance were in tow, so we regrouped, rotated, and pressed on. At some point Jennifer Wagner (Shama) joined us, and then, maybe five minutes later, Sheri was back on and looked frazzled but okay. After sitting in for a few rotations, she took her turn in the wind, and we kept a fast pace for the rest of the second lap.

Going into the third lap we wanted to maintain a steady but fast pace. Michelle and I had a lot of incentive to make up time, as we were not in the winning break the day before. "Don't slow down! Faster!" Michelle kept the intensity up, and we all worked to our maximum capacity. Each hill became a painful fight. Whenever I felt like I was on the verge of getting dropped, I looked at the expressions on the others’ faces and was reminded of one of my favorite quotes: "Your suffering is not special.” We lost Jennifer on the rolling hills before the feed zone, but we kept pressing. I felt relieved after safely cornering the final right-hand turn. With 1K to go we upped the pace. The final sprint was more of a fast train rolling in. We stayed together, with Sheri crossing first for a GC win. Michelle was 2nd on GC and I ended up 5th.

At this time last year I was in the hospital recovering from a crash that happened on day two of the 2012 Fayetteville Stage Race. That was my first Women’s Open race as a newly upgraded 3, and I remember barely hanging on off the back the whole time. After the crash I was so discouraged that I almost gave up racing. It felt amazing to be able to ride well enough to contribute to a winning break this year. Man, I feel the pain of those who crashed. Most of them got back up and finished, which, to me, is harder than any sprint or climb. Kudos to Sheri for getting up and winning after taking a spill. Congrats to Jubilee Subaru for incredible sportsmanship, much respect. Congrats to my teammate as well, Anne Flanagan, for placing 4th GC in the Women 4's!

Please visit the ATC Racing website for more news of our adventures!
Click here for the full Fayetteville GC results