Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cohutta warm-up: Boone-Roubaix

Hard to believe the National Ultra Endurance series season opener, Cohutta 100, is only 1 week away!

While Boone-Roubaix is not a MTB race, it did serve as a good warm-up for Cohutta.  The course had several hard climbs, including one gravel road climb and descent of 1.3 miles.

My race went pretty well.  The CAT 4/5 field was pretty large (75+ riders).  Somehow I managed to lose touch with the lead group early and ended up having to chase hard.  Eventually I grouped together with 4 or 5 others and we pace-lined back to the field  ...just in time to hit the same series of climbs for lap #2.  I suffered through the climbs again - at least I was with the group this time. 

Next came the gravel road climb to the highest point on the course.  The field blew apart pretty big early in the climb.  I faired a little better than some on the gravel, but got dropped by the fastest riders.  I bombed the gravel descent (I love gravel descents!), pushed hard on the remaining paved climbs and bombed the final descent.  At this point I was riding solo, but with 9 miles of flat, open road to the finish I knew I had to dig hard to keep away from the ones I managed to drop on the climb.  I could see a couple of riders way in the distance, but my finest Fabian Cancellera time trialing impersonations couldn't reel them in.  I ended up crossing the line 13th.  I felt pretty good about my effort, especially since I had already raced twice this week and wasn't super fresh like I would have been for an 'A' priority race.

What I learned at Boone-Roubaix:
1.  Tires are important.  I saw a number of flats, including one guy that flatted during the warm-up!  I raced Bontrager Race XLite 25mm wide All-weather triple puncture protection tires.  They gripped well on the rough stuff and cornered well on the paved descents.  The bigger volume helps them avoid pinch flatting and helps the thicker sidewalls feel more supple.

2.  Chain drops.  You will need to shift between the small and big ring several times.  Get any chain drop issues you may have taken care of before race day.  Consider some sort of chain watcher.

3.  Lots of climbing.  Don't under estimate the early climbs (like I did).  Even if you are a strong climber stay toward the front.  If the front of the pack decides to hammer you need to be able to respond.

4.  Patience.  Even if you can hammer the climbs and bomb the descents there are a lot of places a group of riders working together will be much faster.  Stay with a group on the flats whenever possible.

Now for some rest and recovery...

See you on the trails!

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