Coldspring Learning by John Bartle

The finish of the Coldspring Road Race is a one kilo hill, not too steep, but with a 8% incline at about 300 meters.

The finish of the Coldspring Road Race is a one kilo hill, not too steep, but with a 8% incline at about 300 meters. Not a finish for the power sprinters, so lightweights have a chance. Twenty or so racers, a mix of 50+ and 60 +, were coming to the line and about to catch two breakaways who had been dangling a few seconds ahead of the desultory pack. The VC strategy, hatched by wise Old Haney, was to sit on the strongest riders in our category and come around them before the line. Mike was to follow Willie Allen and I Dave Parks. Good plan?

The approach was at a moderate rate of speed and I was in a protected leeward spot in the top 10. The inevitable jockeying in the right hand lane shuffled me back about six riders. (The desire for self preservation should not exert so strong an influence in a final sprint – even in a masters race.) I lost contact with Parks, he went to the left, slightly windward, but into some space. The pace ramped up with about 400m. to go and I found space and was able to go all out when the road opened up with 200m. to go. I came around several riders until the last 50 meters when it felt like I hit a wall of foam. (Whoever began presenting the overhead shots of a Pro sprint in slow motion must have had this same experience and tried to replicate it.) Of course, Parks executed his typical long sprint and was about four bike lengths, and four places ahead of me at the end—less than a second but out of reach. He was 3rd overall and first in the 60+. I was second (again). So was it a good plan? It worked for Mike who came around Willie for third!

Interestingly, through the magic of Strava, I showed to be 1 second faster than Parks over the last 600 meters which was a Strava segment. However, Strava also showed a dip in my power curve before 300 m. to go—at which time Parks was cranking at the front. The lesson is—stick to the plan—or control the sprint from the front if you are confident and strong enough.

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