Saturday, January 23, 2016

Race Strategy, Stagecoach 400

Link here for race info:

My ‘passion’ is self-supported multi day bike racing.  I have been at it for a while now and feel I know the basics pretty well.  In terms of importance one could break down the basic parameters as follows:
·         Fitness
·         Bike/gear/craftsmanship
·         Route knowledge
·         Race Strategy

This break down isn’t absolute, one might come up with a logical alternative but this one suffices for this post. 

Fitness, ahh even at my age fitness is an ongoing work in progress but in general I just need to reach my ‘race weight’ and that gets me 90 to 95% of my maximum.  In all honesty I do not have the inclination (read time and dedication) to work on that last 5 to 10 %.  I will leave that to those who want to and can.  I struggle hard enough just to reach the desired weight and frankly that’s good enough for me.
Bike/gear/craftsmanship is also a never finished project.  I truly enjoy honing my gear and craftsmanship However unless I take up wintertime multiday racing I am pretty far along the learning curve in this area.  I work at this more for the satisfaction and fun rather than noticeable improvement.

Route knowledge is something I do spend a lot of time at.  I know many like to approach a multi-day with less than ideal route knowledge because that’s the way they want to experience the event.  I on the other hand truly enjoy the study.  Studying a route is one of my simple pleasures in life.  And it’s also a huge stress relief from my day to day work life.  Perhaps someday I will do a multi-day without my usual in-depth pre-route preparation, just for the experience, but I sort of doubt it.

Race Strategy, now this is currently where my head is at.  This is where one tries to put all the pieces together in such a way so as to minimize your finish time and maximize your race placement.  I think if I ever archive perfect implementation of an ideal race strategy my head will explode from pure satisfaction.  It won’t happen because first I always make too many mistakes during a race and second I can always think of something I might have done better.  To me strategy is a journey not a destination (thanks Ralph)

So right now as I prep for the upcoming 2016 Stagecoach 400 I am  working on fitness/weight but really I am wondering and thinking about strategy.  How should I approach this particular race?  My current thinking (sure to change) is to focus on pace, followed by duration with a set recovery time.  This is not so different than what I always think I will do.  But in both Stagecoach 400’s I have done it seems I never quite nail the ‘pace’ part of the plan, ha-not even close.  Which then throws the rest of my strategy out of sync, and I wind up yo-yoing most of race. 

So how might I actually hold a sustainable pace?  Sounds easy but when you factor in my untested/current/improving/early year fitness level, huge temperature differential vs my home base and the shock of always longer than trained for ride hours—well let’s just say I could not possibly do worse than my first two Stagecoach races at holding a ideal 1st day pace.  If fact this is a common issue (horrible first day & maybe even second day) in almost all my multi-day races.  Only in the TDR have I avoided this issue, I think because the TDR sort of regulates your effort due to the easy terrain.
Thought about it for most of my 5 hour ride today.......nice day bty....

Power Meter?  Heart Rate Monitor? Perceived exertion scale? Jedi focus? Forget the whole idea and just go with the natural flow? 

What say you?

I am open to all ideas......