Chris Winn: Ramblings From The Road


23 April 2012


Well what can I say....I'm on the road again!  So I'm typing this from the kitchen of my team mate's home in St Louis, Missouri and I've just ticked off race week number one of three. There are two more left with the now fast approaching Joe Martin Stage Race and then the SRAM Tour of the Gila following that.  I kicked things off over the past weekend with the two day-three stage Tour of the Hermann here in Missouri so click the link below to get the full scoop!

With a quieter weekend of racing in Colorado it was my team mate Austin who suggested heading across to St Louis for what is one of the bigger weekend stage races there.  Sadly though, and I only learned this midway through the weekend, this was to be the final edition of the Tour of the Hermann and after completing it I'm disappointed! All three stages are held in and around the quaint German-esque town of Hermann, with a 14mile TT and super hilly criterium on Saturday and a 90mile hilly road race on the Sunday.  With the weather looking cool but no rain on the radar we were in for a good weekend and a nice tune up before back to back NRC events the following weeks.


Obtaining a time trial bike this season is unfortunately just not in the budget so it was a matter of attaching clip on bars to the Foil and going for it as best I could.  I figured the Scott Foil is a pretty rad aero shaped road bike frame anyway!  The course was super undulating with a few steeper hills that you could really gain speed with on their down sides.  It was an out and back affair and with multiple categories going at one there were always rabbits to chase and keep the motivation to suffer going.  It hurt as time trials always do, and after going full gas for 30 minutes I was 10th @ 1.52 behind the winner.  I was pretty happy with this going against guys with full blown TT rigs and disc wheels etc. I would have loved something bigger than a 53T front chain ring as spinning at 120rpm with little wattage does not create great speed!  My team mate Austin had a top ride for 3rd place and put himself well in the hunt for overall GC.

Yikes.  I don't recall ever frothing at the mouth in a time trial before!  Bike racing ain't pretty sometimes folks! Please no rabies jokes or ones about drinking dish soap....maybe I cleaned my bottle a little too much?

It was a mad idea by the race promoter to put King Of the Mountain points at the top of the start/finish hill for the first three laps of the race.  So mad in fact that I decided to have a crack at it as the finish line climb was bastardly steep and coming down to sea from living at altitude I was feeling super good!  I knew this tactic would hurt my chances towards the end of the 19 lap race but nonetheless I was keen to give it a go.  As expected the first three laps were chaotic but I managed to snare enough points to put me in the KOM jersey. Of course once the first three lap madness was over the break took off up the road while those of us that were in the hunt for KOM tired to catch our breath.  Luckily Austin followed the move which I knew from the make up of riders in it would have no trouble in staying away.  This took the pressure off me to just cover and follow moves for the rest of the race but also try to  conserve some energy.  After all we had a 150km road stage the follow day and I wanted to try and hold onto this newly acquired spotted jersey!  With three laps to go a fat $110 crowd prime was announced for our group and feeling confident I kicked hard on the hill and went after it.  I snagged it without too much competition and at this point there were only two laps to go so I kept the pace on and forced a gap.  It was a painful solo effort but I was able to hold off the chasing bunch to take 7th, while Austin finished 3rd place out of the break.  Overall it was a successful start to the race and I was excited to have a jersey to try and keep in the final stage!

Last lap dash.

Spotty top!


With yesterdays KOM points being a three lap in a row drag race the final stage would be much more tactical in the search for points.  The weekend event format was a stage race omnium where the overall GC is determined by points and not by overall time.  So the top 15 places on a stage score points each and those with the highest amount overall leads the race.  However, the race promoter had decided to include all KOM points to count towards the overall omnium GC also!  So this meant it was going to be a mega bun-fight between the higher ranked GC riders looking to move up overall and the guys in the hunt for just the KOM jersey.  Ouch! 

The road race was three 30mile laps of a very undulating course.  Roller after roller there was very little flat road at all.  There were two chances per lap for KOM points, the hardest being a crazy steep (~20%) short hill immediatley after crossing the start/finish line and the other around 10miles into the circuit on a much nicer grade.  The starting lap featured a neutral roll out that bypassed the first KOM so in total there were 5 chances to gain points.  As expected there was plenty of aggression from the gun and I desperately hoped to slip quietly up the road in a breakaway but it was not to be!  The first KOM came quickly and not knowing exactly the top I kicked way too hard too early and just managed to get 2nd.  It was clear though that higher up GC guys were wanting points too with overall race leader Joe Schmalz having a go also.  The rest of the first lap was tough as having a leaders jersey on the back I wasn't being let go easily.  In the end just one rider slipped away and the bunch seemed to be content with that.  I was too somewhat, especially with over 70miles left to ride the odds of him returning sooner rather than later were high.   

Starting the second lap up the steep climb it was stupidly fast but by the top a select group had formed which I was mega excited about as I'd hoped catch the lone leader and then continue the points chase from in this smaller group.  The bunch had other ideas and began to chase us down ever so slowly however.  Desperate to keep the group away until the second KOM (sprinting against 5 is much nicer than 50 odd) we were caught with a mile to go before the line!  Bugger!  Nonetheless I mopped up some more points but a crash behind took the sting out of our forward momentum with the lone race leader still taking maximum points up the road.  Shortly after a group of 4 riders slipped away which was no threat other than for the stage win, but did however neutralize any KOM points going into the last lap.  At this time all the bigger teams were represented in the break and Austin and I were a little helpless to defend on our own.  Race leader Joe and I had a little chat and decided that regardless if this break was gone or not we'd ride hard up the final lap climb for good training and try and split the field.  Well we did just that!  This time it was just Joe, myself and Austin over the top but we were sooned joined by one other.  We gathered momentum and rotated hard and all of a sudden were catching the leaders.  We were back in the hunt!  We motored on and caught a few remnants of the break so all of a sudden KOM points were available again. Thankfully my breakaway companions let me take those without a fuss and we began to close down of the leaders.  All of a sudden there they were, and with a quick reshuffle it was 6 of us now with 15miles left and Austin and I were both in the hunt.  Coming in with around 5 miles to go a gap opened up in which Austin, Joe and one other began to ride away.  A moments hesitation occured as I wasn't going to pull the other two riders with me back up to Austin and soon enough the front three were slipping away.  It's funny how split second moments in cycling can totally change the race.  With a few attacks by my fellow break away companions to try and bridge, I sensed some fatigue so I countered hoping to only come across to Austin solo if I could.  By that stage I was well toasted and with 4 miles left it was an uphill battle.  It was another super painful time trial to the finish but I held on solo for fourth and Austin took second in the sprint.  Tired legs!

In the wash up I had tied the KOM competition with the rider who spent 58miles solo taking points.  Good on him!  Being a team of two it was tough to cover all the moves and he gambled hard and it payed off. They gave him the jersey based on a count back of how many KOM wins.  However, the stage result and taking more KOM points on the day moved me up into 3rd overall which I was happy about considering not having a time trial bike to be a real factor on that opening stage.  Austin secured second place so we had two Horizon Organic/Panache jersey's on the box .  Good times!  So it's a few days rest then we head south to Fayetteville for the Joe Martin Stage Race starting Thursday.  A shout out of thanks to the Allison family for hosting me and to Austin's sister Flannery for the great photos!

Finish of the RR.  Well cooked and ready to lie down.

Sneaky bottle of plonk stashed away there....

Rockin' the new Smith Pivlock V2.....

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