Old thread but I thought this might be an interesting place to put some learning from this past weekend’s race- Blue Ridge Brutal in the mountains of NC. 102 miles, 9000ft of climbing, couple big climbs at the beginning and end with a ton of rollers/short climbs in the middle 60 miles.
Here’s how NOT to play the race and what happens with poor pacing/tactics. I figured I was one of the top 5 strongest there, so I wanted to get into a break in the first climbs (which usually sticks). I did manage to make that break (with some long efforts above threshold), but we were caught about an hour in by a huge peleton. however, there were so many guys free-loading and visibly struggling up every rolling hill. I decided to hit pretty much every roller above threshold to try and snap the elastic and shed the guys hanging on (massive energy expenditure as you’ll see below). Problem is, the peleton was large enough and the climbs short enough that the group kept coming back together.
Tying to the point of this original thread, I got just over 3 hours in and like a light switch, my legs went from magic to feeling heavy and less responsive. I could feel muscle fatigue and just not as much strength in pushing down on the pedals. I could still close down gaps but it was much much harder to keep pushing above threshold. I also felt little twinges of a possible cramp in the calves though that never happened.
I looked down at my watch and saw 295NP for the 1st 3 hours of the race. Well that would be why I was now in the struggle bus. I fueled well, probably could’ve drank a little more but that wasn’t the limiter. Turns out pushing threshold + for 1:20 of the first 3 hours takes a toll thereafter.
I made the tactical decision to sit in leading to the steepest climb of the day and let a couple guys ride off the front. Had a decent effort up the climb (333 for 8 mins) but did not have the gas to hold the wheel of a few guys. That effort pretty much fried me for the rest of the race, and I couldn’t really push threshold for the remaining hour (260NP). I’m a great descender and TTer and only lost 30"-1’ on the climb, and normally I would’ve been able to TT my way back to the few guys after the climb, dropped the others with me except one but ended up losing a couple more mins on the top 4. The legs were just done for the last hour- man the quads and hips ached more like a hard run than a bike race.
Moral of the story- be more selective about how many and when you are writing checks in a 5 hour race!