Saturday, October 4, 2014

2014 USA Cycling Masters Road Nationals Notes

2014 Masters Road Nationals Notes
by Jim Langley

Some teammates and racers from other teams have asked about the USA Cycling National Championships for Masters Road racers, that took place in and around Ogden, Utah this year during the first week of September.

So, here are some photos and details, which may be helpful should USA Cycling choose to hold the race here again - and especially if they reuse these race courses.

We had three Spokesman Bicycles racers there: myself, racing in the 60-64 (all 3 events), Bob Montague, competing in the 55-59 (Time Trial and Road Race) and Stefano Profumo in the 35-39, who could only do the RR and who also was our top finisher in 11th place!

Scroll, scroll, scroll to see photos and notes about the area and the races... and if you have questions to prepare for training for these races, just email me and I'll give you more details.
Race One: Antelope Island: 9/3/2014:34K Time Trial - The time trial course is actually on Ranch Road on the island (it took me quite awhile to find it), which travels a bit over 10miles and ends at a dirt driveway to the ranch. The turnaround is just before the dirt on a slight downhill. After leaving the starting box, there was about a mile climb so everyone was trying to figure out whether to hammer it or hold back and save something. There was a significant tailwind making it hard to completely hold back. I love hills and went up it at probably too hard a tempo because I got to the turnaround way too quickly and paid for it. All the way back I suffered against the headwind and only lost watts. Spectacular course, though, with nice pavement, fun rollers, the challenging climb at the start and the backside of it at the finish. Nice views of the Great Salt Lake, too, not that I got much of a look!
Race Two: Snowbasin Resort: 9/5:73K Road Race - After spending a few days camping on Antelope Island, I drove up to Snowbasin Resort, which is about 30 minutes from Ogden and near 7,000 feet elevation. I was able to camp in the big parking lot they have their for the skiers. It's a nice quiet location and close to the start/finish, so ideal. Like the TT, the RR starts with a serious climb so a good warmup was essential. After that mile lung-burner, there's a 7-mile descent where guys said their computers were showing 55mph. Total fun with the Ogden police moving cars right off the road with a very professional rolling closure. Once at the bottom, we did two laps of Pineview reservoir. On lap 2, things went bonkers with attacks, crashes, trash-talking; it was the most fun I've had at Nationals in my 7 times doing it. The strongmen brokeaway on lap 2 and I hit the bottom of the final double 3-mile climb probably around 12th. I moved up a few places at the beginning of the first climb but I did not know the course and I should have waited, because it got steeper and the guys were all waiting. Still, I only got passed by a few faster, fitters guys but I hung in there and had a pretty good climb. Overall, an enjoyable and memorable course. I need an altitude tent to do better next year probably.
Race Three: Downtown Ogden:9/6:45min Criterium - Another awesome course: 8-corners, decent pavement and a nice little kicker hill right after the start/finish. This was my best finish with 14th. I did a lot right but blew a corner on the last lap, lost my position and finished at the back of the field sprint. Super fun race.

And now some photos of the area and week staying there. 

The campsite on Antelope Island only a mile from the start of the time trial. Only $15 per night. Beautiful spot to kick back before and after races. Even had a bison or two pass close by. I took two days to drive to the island. The first day I drove to Elko, Nevada and stayed free camping in a Walmart. That left about a 5-hour drive to get onto the island and to my campsite. A happy coincidence was that Sirrius satellite radio was doing a free preview the entire trip so I was able to listen to commercial free music the entire time. Cell phone and internet access was spotty on the island but I purchased a small cell phone booster before the trip and with that I could get online or use my phone as needed.
Taken while preriding the time trial course on Ranch Road on Tuesday, the day before the race. Wide open with nice views, zero traffic and not much wind on that day, which was to change come raceday. It would have been smarter to rest and not ride so much the day before the race, but I felt like I needed to see the entire course. I am sure I paid for it in the race.

They estimate that 600 bison roam the island. There's only one restaurant on the island and their speciality is - you guessed it - bison burgers! The island is also home to lots of other animals and birds. I was glad to have my binoculars and to be camping on the island, not just there for the race.

Lovely skies on Antelope Island. It was in the high eighties mid day but cooled quickly at night. People said there might be bugs but it turns out they're seasonal and not a big problem in September - at least this year.

Nervous time. It's Wednesday morning and all the racers who had to wait in line to pay for their permit to get onto the island are arriving and parking. Those of us who camped on the island could take our time getting over to the starting area for bike checks and registration/packet pickup. The starting house and bike check is to the left and up a little hill - next photo.

The starting area. You can just see the starting house on the right under the blue tent and the hill looming in the distance. USA Cycling officials are tucked in ahead of the truck making sure the bikes are legal to race. Once your bike is okayed you have to stay in the corral waiting for them to call you up onto the starting platform. A lot of racers went to registration and bike check on Tuesday in Ogden, the day before the race, and I heard stories of bikes failing the inspection and the racers having to rush over to bike shops for modifications to their aero bar positions at great expense in order to be able to race. My bike passed the bike check but these stories had me worried.

Post-race photo. I'm smiling because I'm so glad the pain finally ended. It was the worst I've ever felt in any time trial - going back to the 1970s when I first started doing them. Had awful saddle sores/numbness and it was really tough just keeping it going and not quitting altogether. I was so happy to be off the bike!

One of the highlights of the trip was going down to the lake for a dip after the race. You float like a cork in the Great Salt Lake, and it's a wonderfully fun feeling to enjoy the water effortlessly. When you get out you're covered with a crust of salt, which seems to get tighter and tighter making you race to the showers.

It's Friday morning and we're at the start/finish of the road race at Snowbasin Resort high above Ogden. We have to fight not to get dropped on the opening mile+ climb right off the starting line. Then, after a few flat, fast laps around a reservoir, it's going to come down to the final climbs and who has the most fitness to get to the top in front. The air doesn't feel that thin, however, the air is quite dry. We've been extra hydrating and I'm hoping the being here all week will help at least a little.

Stefano ready to head to the start for his race. This is where campers stayed the night before the race. Nice spot and free! Stefano had a great result taking 11th. Bob and I raced later in the day. We all had a nice dinner in downtown Ogden Saturday night. Another highlight for me was being able to fix Stefano's bicycle. He boxed it for the flight to Ogden. When he built the bike, he found he could hardly turn the crankarms because the bearings were way too tight. He told me about this and I took a look. It turned out that the left crankarm bolts were completely loose and the only thing holding the crankarm on was the dustcap! Even worse, the dustcap had been tightened so much that the bottom bracket bearing were barely able to turn. It was an easy thing to fix because all the parts were still there. But, had Stefano not noticed, the crankarm would have fallen off within a mile of the start of the race, not to mention how hard pedaling would have been for him. It was great having all my tools and being able to put his bike right for him so he could have his best chance in the race.

Summing up, it was another great Nationals in the nicest location yet and with the most teammates, too! Thanks for reading,
Jim Langley