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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Podium #3: Bloomington Cycling Grand Prix - Third Place!

Podium Picture from
This was my third podium out of the four criteriums I raced this season!  I was especially happy to be third because I barely made it to the podium this time.  About half way through the race, I made a strong, all-out attack that stretched out the field and minimized attacks for the remainder of the race.  I tried to ride more aggressively to show that I can use other tactics other than just sitting in until the final lap.  The goal of the attack was to drop riders, scatter the teams and weaken the sprinters.  I did this because I noticed that the teams were "hogging" the front of the peloton to dictate the pace in favor of their sprinter.  My plan backfired when I realized that I went too hard and barely had enough energy for the final sprint.  I passed third place right before the finish line.  This was one of the hardest days on the bike thus far.  I was super happy to have third place, especially when it seemed like I wouldn't have been there at all!

Below is a map of the course.  The course ran counterclockwise and started/ finished about 3/4 of the way on Kirkwood Avenue.
I attached a Strava screenshot of the elevation profile from the course below.  The start/ finish was on a ~3.2% hill.  After making a left turn onto Indiana, half of the distance is a short downhill followed by a short 5% hill towards the next turn onto 7th street.  Using a tight line was important to safely execute the turn from 7th Street to Dunn.  Dunn was a little bit tricky.  Half of the road was on camber and the other half was off camber.  Last year, there were a lot of accidents caused by riders exiting too wide and being unable to adjust their line due to the off camber of the road.  Immediately turning onto 6th street was a hard headwind and a few potholes/ raised pavement that could easily cause a flat.  7th street to grant was very short, so there was very little opportunity to pass.  Kirkwood starts off very flat until passing Dunn.  The grade progressively reaches a peak elevation of about 5% after Dunn.
I attacked right after the turn onto 7th street.  I attacked here for three reasons:

  1. This was where the peloton's overall speed would start to drop.
  2. The peloton would form less pacelines due to the tightness of the turns.
  3. I could pick the fastest line and use the whole road without worrying about hitting another rider.

From the previous laps, I kept a mental note about the average speed from 7th to Grant.  From the start of 7th street to the end of Grant, the peloton averaged about 23mph.  When I attacked, I averaged 28.4 mph from 7th street to the end of Grant.  Upon reaching Kirkwood, I turned around to see if anyone had matched my attack, but I was unfortunately solo and when a few riders closed the gap, no one wanted to keep the pressure on so we reintegrated back into the peloton.

Below is a Strava comparison of my average speed.  I placed markers at the start of my attack.  If you'd like to see the full graph from the race go to my Strava profile.
The final laps were pretty uneventful.  After I made a hard attack early in the race, the remainder of the race was pretty much steady state.  I unfortunately used up too much energy and stayed in the redline to sustain the elevated pace.  By the last lap, I was fifth wheel and my legs were still not ready for a final sprint, but that didn't matter since it was the final lap!  When we finally reached Kirkwood, the sprint started immediately and my legs still felt fried.  I ignored it and sprinted as hard as I could even though my legs felt numb and weak.  I passed fourth place on the flat before reaching Dunn, but had a moderate gap to third place.  Since I knew the elevation started to rise after Dunn, I made another kick which allowed me to pass third place!  The major thought that motivated me to keep sprinting was the panic that set in after realizing that I might not reach the podium!  It felt good to be third place!

Again, I'd like to thank my sponsors, and!