RACE REPORT – 2020 CHAIN OF LAKES CYCLING CLASSIC – Kevin J. Shutt
Chain of Lakes Cycling Classic
Winter Haven, FL
Feb. 29, 2020, 10:30 a.m. RR & 4:30 p.m. TT
March 1, 2020, 12 p.m. Crit
The CoL RR was three laps of 13 miles for 39 miles total with an elevation gain of 700 feet.
The TT was an out-and-back 8 Miler with a “two left turns” U-Turn at a triangular intersection. There were two 90-degree bends and just 150-feet of elevation gain.
The CoL Crit was Downtown Winter Haven and included 10 turns and about 100 feet of climbing over the 30-minute race on the 8/10-mile course.
For the RR: the temps were in the low-40s when I left the house four hours before my race, getting me to the venue about three hours prior to my start. By the time we started the race at 1030 a.m., it had warmed to the mid-70s. The venue wasn’t conducive to getting on the trainer so I spent 40 minutes on the road getting my legs and mind ready, loosely following the descriptive warmup session Coach Chuck provided. My warmup ended about five minutes prior to the start.
Within 30 minutes of completing the road race, I ate a serving of overnight oats that included ground hemp, chia & flax along with raisins and walnuts. Over the course of my downtime, I also drank coffee and ate fresh fruit and hydrated.
By the time the TT started, the heat of the day had passed; the average temp during my TT was 6-degrees cooler than during the RR. I warmed up on the road again but not really following any guidance…just focusing on loosening up the legs and mentally getting back into the game after a four-hour layover.
Sunday’s Crit was the warmest of the three races averaging 75-degrees over 30 minutes. I got on the trainer following Coach Chuck’s prescribed crit warmup.
Having (hopefully) learned from past experience (I spent all of my first season in 2019 off the back solo in every crit I entered) I went into the RR with a plan to stay in the front half of the pack but never get up front or go off the front: regardless how I felt in the moment or how slow/disorganized the peleton seemed. The bottom line is: I was racing to finish with the pack; that was my primary goal. I’ll worry about bunch sprints down the road, literally, as my race craft improves to the point that I’m racing smart. I succeeded in my goal almost to a ‘T.’ There was ONE TIME for about 30 seconds that I was drifting to the front and into the wind, so II worked my way back into the pack and continued to be shielded from the wind no matter which way the road turned.
For every surge in speed, I had a wheel to surf back to the group. Eventually, however, I grew fatigued and started some poor line choices in the third and final lap of the RR. I ended up in the wind more than I wanted and I had to work harder to stay with the pack. BUT, I was still with the lead pack until close to the 1km to go sign when the road bent slightly to the right and I found myself seemingly coming to a stand still as I took the worst part of that crosswind right in the face. The finish was into that wind, on a slight uphill and I ended up about 30 seconds off of the winner. On paper, it’s a terrible finish. In reality, it’s a terrible finish. I get that…but for my progression and confidence, it was a win. I finally followed a plan and it paid off. It wasn’t a perfect execution but it was better than anything to date. Yes, I have work to do. That is not lost on me as I celebrate this little personal victory.
Regarding my fitness, I’m definitely seeing gains in my ability to recover between surges and that was a component of my ability to stick to my plan.
I wasn’t excited about getting back on the bike for TT because it had been 4 hours since my RR ended and because it seemed windier and was definitely cooler…especially whenever the sun hid behind the clouds. My warmup was half-assed but not terrible. I just quit sooner than I should have. My start was also pushed back by about 10 minutes, but I didn’t know this until I was lining up. So, I guess the warmup WAS terrible. The execution went well. Loosely: my plan was to keep the power over FTP as long as I could into the headwind sections and use the tailwinds to recover while still pushing good power. I ended up feeling much better during the TT than I expected but for the time, TTs are not my strong suit. I was mostly doing it for the Omnium stage. The reality is that this whole racing thing isn’t my strong suit.
I was tired going into the crit at noon Sunday. My warmup was decent on the trainer but not complete as I missed the final FRC intervals because I had to answer the call of nature. I’m not sure how much that affected me in the race. Also, my head wasn’t in the game for whatever reason. Lining up, I didn’t fight for position and after the whistle, I wasn’t aggressive in trying to move up. My plan was to stay in the front third and do as little work as possible until the last three laps or so. I never got there because I didn’t put my self there when we lined up. By lap five, I got caught in traffic that ended up gapped. I did NOT try to organize the group of 8-10 of us to fight our way back into the race and that’s my biggest regret from Chain of Lakes.
We went the next five laps or so as a disorganized pack of Cat5 racers before we started to look like a decent pace line. I tried to avoid the front but the pace would drop way too much and I found myself going to the front a couple times to push the group before I just stayed up there. After a lap or two I would try to get off the pull only to have the whole line follow me to whichever side of the road I moved toward to allow them to pull through. I feared that slowing too much would spark an attack that I couldn’t answer, so I sucked it up and kept pulling. That’s another regret from the weekend. I did that 2-3 times then we were on the final lap. I just stopped pedaling and got on the end of the train as it went around me. I stayed there until the final turn and sprinted up the right side of the road. It was the longer line. I was able to beat four of my fellow dropped racers while three others were well off the front at the finish.when I crossed the finish line.
It was my first bunch sprint, even if it was for 14th place and nearly 2-minutes behind the winner.
All-in-all it was a good, fun weekend of racing. I am seeing progress, especially now that I am doing races a second time. I still have a long way to go. I need to be more aggressive about positioning. I need to start bringing together all my little moral victories and lessons learned to be as competitive as I can in these races. And with coach’s guidance, I still need to work on key areas such as one-minute power.