Race Report – 2020 Swamp Classic – Kevin Shutt
2020 Swamp Classic Omnium
Feb. 1 & 2, 2020
RR, TT & Crit
Novice (formerly CAT 5)
SPOILER ALERT: Racing is f’n fun! More spoilers: I didn’t win any races;I didn’t step on any podiums and this weekend was nothing but a series of victories and firsts for me, which was great because Swamp Classic up in hilly Gainesville was the season opener for us down here in Florida.
RR Course Description (Crit Report at the end)
The Swamp Road Race course was three laps of about 13 miles. It’s mostly under tree canopy on mostly rough roads with a few miles of relief on relatively smooth tarmac. Traffic is very low in the area on a Saturday afternoon; CAT 5s, er…Novices went off at 1 p.m. It was overcast and in the upper 60s/low 70s by the time we started. Cold for Florida natives and even us acclimated transplantees. The route was rolling hills with 1300 feet elevation gain over 39 miles and false flats were littered throughout. Coming into Start/Finish was a decent downhill followed by flat road for about 200 yards. The climbs up that start at about 2km out and bump again at 1km out. Afterward, lots of us were complaining about that 2km “climb.”
My prep included a good-nights sleep, albeit in a motel 20 minutes from the venue. Brought my own dinner for Friday night to avoid going out and succumbing to less-healthy pre-race options: I ate white rice boiled in mushroom stock and a curry cauliflower dish made at home the night before and some crispy fried tofu. This would also serve as my recovery meal after my RR and before the three-hour drive home Sunday evening.
Other prep included my standard overnight oats with raisins (forgot the walnut) three hours before the start, half a banana 60 minutes out, the rest of the banana 30 minutes out and a gel at the start. Scratch that. I forgot my starting line gel!!! I had a 16-oz bottle with two scoops of eFuel (CrankSports), which I fully consumed during the race but didn’t feel I needed any more fluids.
45 minutes on the trainer, using a Coach Kyle inspired workout on my Garmin head unit while on the stationary trainer. Listened to SiriusXM Turbo on headphones.
RR Result: 23 of 35 (one of which was a DNF).
The race was fast on open roads with a lead-out deputy, manned intersections and a motorcycle official sweeping. “Yellow Line/Center of Road” rule was in effect, meaning that
offenders crossing into the oncoming lane would be relegated to the back on the third offense. I’m aware of only one rider that happened to in my race.
The first race of the season among CAT5/Novices is typically a recipe for disaster but I’m happy to report there were no crashes that I know of in any of the Novice races this weekend. Overall, the race went smoothly. Most of the guys most of the time raced hard but safely. The pace was faster than I expected for a RR so early on. My goal for this race was to find steady wheels and sit in to save myself for the last lap. But, I think the hills, especially the false flats, took a toll on me that I just wasn’t expecting and I was fatiguing more than I realized…until the 3rd lap.
Halfway through the first lap, I was able to carry momentum up one of the hills into a gentle descent into a left turn and I took this opportunity to go with a group of three (I made it four) that was chasing a two-man break. I hit 1300 watts briefly during this surge and it ended up hurting me down the road, literally. We caught the break, and after a few minutes and several rotations at the front were swallowed up by the pack. Unfortunately, for me, this goofing off and failure to adhere to MY PLAN came with consequences.
Going up the hills at 2km from the start-finish during the 2nd lap of three, I realized I didn’t have my legs anymore, at least not for the hills. I dropped to the back and then got spit off as I didn’t even have the legs to rejoin on the downhill, on which a heavier guy like me should excel!
I started the 3rd and final lap alone with the pack ever-so-slowly growing the daylight between them and me. I was dropping F Bombs to myself but quitting wasn’t an option so I put my head down, pushed forward and kept an eye out for help.
I found it in the form of two guys with whom I worked briefly before realizing they didn’t have the legs I did and I had to press forward alone. I would end up working with one of them, Matt, again during the crit on Sunday. It was during my solo lap back to the Finish Line that I realized for the first time that the course was riddled with false flats and that I had not been gearing down appropriately earlier in the race because I was too focused on pack positioning to think about the effort on my legs….but solo I saw that I was pushing way too many watts for what I thought was flat tarmac. These false flats, IMO, hurt me more than that stupid chase in the first lap. But, even that hurt me and still was stupid.
I finished my first ever road race 4.5 minutes off of the main pack. That might not seem like anything to write home about (and it’s NOT) but in the context of my career it was a great start to the season: 1) My first Road Race 2) I wasn’t lapped, DNF’d or crashed 3) It was the first race of my first omnium ever and, of course, of the 2020 season.
The Swamp TT
The Swamp TT was an out-and-back course from the same Start/Finish line but “backward” so it included the same rolling hills as the RR and coming back, it had the 2km and 1km climbs (remember this is a guy living in FL referring to climbs). The TT started at about 3:30 p.m. and I went off at 4:04 p.m. or so. It was a headwind out and what felt like mostly a downhill course to the U-Turn. Total distance was 9.67 miles and I eeked out a 20.7 mph average on legs tired from what turned out to be a 13-mile TT for me just an hour prior. LOL
I finished 10th out of 11 starters. I know. Not great but hey, it’s the top 10! Seriously though, I’m racing for series points with TopViewSports this season so thought TT is not something I’m training for, I’m including as many of them as possible anytime TVS hosts an omnium. Worst-case-scenario: I would have used it as a recovery ride…which I did not do this time. I gave it my all….but the legs were tired.
Swamp Classic Criterium
Feb. 2, 2020, at 2:45 p.m.
Novice (was CAT5) 13th of 21
Flat cart track of approx 7/10th of a mile with two big left-hand sweepers and fast chicane that you could pedal through at full gas, a wide 90-degree right-hander that lent itself to coasting as it let into a 180-degree hairpin just a 100 feet or so away. Elevation gain was +/- 3-feet depending on your line throughout the laps.
About 45 minutes on the trainer with a coach prescribed intense warm-up to prep the muscles for what they would see during the race. Food: same as yesterday’s road race but this time I didn’t forget the start line Gu gel.
The Swamp Classic 2020 was my first-ever USAC race. Last year I didn’t do the RR or TT. Coming back Sunday on tired legs from Saturday’s event for my second Swamp Crit was exciting for me. I knew that over the course of the year I had grown as a racer from fitness & race craft to weight & mental toughness. I didn’t grow in weight though but have slowly lost a few pounds continue to work toward a proper race weight with help from my nutritionist Jim.
It was time to put all of last year’s lessons learned, training (I started working with Coach Chuck just a couple weeks after this race) and improved diet could be applied to the crit race.
At first, I regretted racing the day prior as my legs felt heavy and tired the first six minutes of the race. We were turning 2-minute laps and I just knew that I didn’t have the legs to continue on
and I blamed the extra racing. But, mentally, I told myself to hang on and to work on race craft; watch what’s happening and use it to help me, which I did until I didn’t.
I got caught up in a group that was dropping but failed to realize it until too late. Myself and two other racing friends were caught in this second group. A third friend was part of the reason we were getting blown up at the back: Willem was mixing it upfront with an attack with another guy. We’re buddies and ride together back home so I got on the front and soft-pedaled to let him have a good attack. I was quickly swallowed up by a peloton that wasn’t having any of that early attacking BS and before I know it I was at the back then off the back with a small group.
My racing buddy Brendan organized three of us (Matt from yesterday’s road race was among us) and we worked together a couple of laps until I saw that Willem had dropped himself. After a lap or two, we had him within out sights and I yelled, “Willem, you’ve got help!” He heard me; looked back and the four of us worked together to close what HAD TO BE a 15-20 second gap. It took us several laps (five or more?). It felt like 20 minutes but was probably fewer.
At one point, after the 180-degree hairpin and entering the fast left-hand sweeper onto the Start/Finish straight, I head a female voice tell somebody, she wasn’t yelling at us, that our chase group was about six seconds off the group. This invigorated me because it confirmed what I perceived was happening and because I was excited that we were being watched. Our little race within a race mattered to somebody else at that point in time. But I made the stupid mistake of not telling my for-the-time-being teammates this good news. This surely would have invigorated them as well.
I was beside myself with giddy excitement when the sweeping motorcycle official pulled over to let us back to the peloton! I kept my game face on for the most part but did let out a few excited F-Bombs to let the crew know that I was tired but very pleased with the group’s work.
Eventually, the Five Laps to go sign came out. In the past that would have meant that I would be lapped and I would see the Three Laps to go sign next. But this time, I just settled in and said my goal was to finish with the pack. Don’t worry about a finish sprint (there was another break anyway) and watch that hairpin (the previous two races that day had crashes there in the final two laps, one resulting in a hospital trip for a race acquaintance).
I finished the race about 30 seconds off of the main pack. It was truly my first group finish since I started racing and though I would have preferred it happening sooner, I wasn’t displeased that it happened at The Swamp.
Back in September 2019, my last race of my first season at Pinellas Park, I was on the bell lap and was jockeying for position to contest the bunch sprint when a bonehead move upfront hard to the left (granted I was not on the correct side because I chose the longer line to the finish) and took four us out with less than a half-mile to go. # ShuttGoesRacing