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Cycle Mode Eco Classic in Motegi


Maximum Pace
Sep 1, 2007
This is right in the middle of a busy time for TCC events, but just as a general heads-up:

The Cycle Mode Eco Classic in Twin Ring Motegi (Apr 12/13)


- 2, 3, 4, and 6 hour enduro races (solo and team)
- Time trials (solo and team)
- MTB cross-country
- Duathlon (running and cycling)
- Cycle trials

I've signed up for the time trial and 4-hour enduro. Been wanting to do some time trialling for ages now, and this is one of the few opportunities I've seen.
(Edit: Ha-ha, I was just spellchecking it when you posted... Here's the report...)

Had a great time up at Motegi, both in my events and just hanging around watching all the cycling action. There were all sorts of things going on: duathlons (running/cycling), MTB cross-country, 2, 3, 4, and 6 hour enduros, time trials, and bike trials. There were also distributor booths set up in the central paddock area, and like the Cycle Mode show in Makuhari, participants could test ride various bikes. I finally got to try out a Cervelo, albeit a somewhat undersized one :)

My races went really well. Saturday afternoon was the 7.2 km time trial. Finished 5th (out of about thirty riders) with an average speed of 39.29 km/h.
Sunday was the 4-hour enduro, and this was my best result ever. 5th overall out of approx 350 riders(?), average speed 37.13 km/h. That was just good enough to beat the top-placed team as well, so I was plenty chuffed.

Here's how they went...

Time Trial

This consisted of three laps on the Nascar-style banked oval (7.2 km total), a great setting for a time trial. There were about thirty solo riders, with a very wide range of abilities: there was a guy with a Cervelo P3C, Zipp disk wheels and skinsuit (who won it), and there were duffers with regular road bikes and no aero bars.

Not much to tell about the race really. Went round in a circle as fast as possible, but probably I underpaced myself. Everything I'd read about TT strategy said to go out slow and build up toward the end, but I think I took this too far. I kicked up the velocity considerably in the last half lap and still felt there was more left in the tank...at least, that's how I remember it now :)

They always say that it is easier to go harder in actual competition than in practice, and this race really demonstrated that to me. I'd got a heart rate monitor a month or two ago, and on solo rides I've never been able to get my heart rate much above 165 bpm or so. At that point my legs are killing me, I'm gasping for air, I'm dying on the bike...I figured 160 is my maximum sustainable for anything longer than a short sprint. But when it came time to run this race, I was at the mid to high 170s the whole time, and felt perfectly fine! The power of adrenaline, I guess...

Not sure how to interpret the results. There was such a wide range of abilities the ranking was fairly meaningless. 39 km/hr seems a bit slow, but there was a head wind down one straight so that might have been a factor. Still, great experience, and hopefully I can use what I learned in the Saitama TT in two weeks.

4-Hour Enduro

On Sunday I had had the choice of 4 or 6 hour enduros, run on the same circuit at the same time. I'd decided the better part of valor was discretion and went for the 4-hour ride. There was the usual wide range of riders and rides that come out for these circuit events: a few kids, 4 or 5 recumbents (including a guy in a bright yellow, fully faired jobbie that looked a little like a banana), and MTBs of various descriptions. Most people however were on road bikes. In contrast to the sunny skies we enjoyed on Saturday, today was overcast and drizzly, but the rain never got so bad that it was a factor on the course.

It still ended up being the hardest ride I've ever done, however. Usually after a race I'm always thinking "I could have/should have gone harder..." (see above, for example), but this time I know it was my very best effort. In fact, I probably had some luck on my side to finish where I did.

I was going to write a blow-by-blow account of the whole thing, but that, I realized, would get as tedious as riding it sometimes was, so here are just some of the highlights:

0 to 2 hours
The plan was to hang on to the lead group for as long as possible, but the pace was ferocious. A couple of very strong riders at the front pulled us along at >40km/h the majority of the time, and riders were constantly being dropped from a peloton that probably started at 100+. There was a single 300 meter-long hill where a lot of the attrition occurred, and also two very tight 180-degree turns that connected the road and oval tracks where we had to slow down almost to a stop--the surges coming out of these were almost as tough as the hill.

Inevitably, though, it was the hill that got me, right around the two hour mark. I chased for 5 km or so, the pack a tantalizing 30 meters ahead, but gave up when I realized that even if I did catch them, the hill was coming right up again and I was in no condition to hang on there. There were about 20 riders still in the pack when I was forced to bid it "adieu".

2 to 3 hours
I took a break for a little while, joining random slow pace lines or just cycling on my own. Even more than a physical break, it was a relief not to have to concentrate so hard riding in a fast-moving bunch. At this point I also pulled over on to the grass for 30 seconds to adjust my computer magnet, which had been going clackclackclackclackclackclack against the sensor since about 10 km in. This was my only stop of the ride.

After a while of this I caught onto the wheel of a guy in a red jersey who was just motoring around the course at 35 km/h+, but who was, incredibly, even slower on the hill than me. This worked out well for both of us (well, for me anyway), and for a few laps we were "partners"...

3 to 3.5 hours
I really started to feel the pain here. Back sore, butt sore, legs very sore. Cramped once or twice on the hill. Thinking "thank the heavens I didn't sign up for the six hour event!" Tired, tired, tired. I think somewhere in here Red Jersey and I caught up to some more dropped riders from the 4-hour tete de la course and I ended up joining this pack of 10 or so.

3.5 hours to 3.75 hours.
Around this time I'm lapped by the front group that had dropped me one and a half hours ago, but now there are only 4 or 5 riders left--including the two motor heads that had been driving the pace earlier. This is when I realized that I might have a chance of finishing in the top twenty. How many other dropped riders had I caught up to? Passed? Had any passed me? It was hard to tell, because there were also the six hour riders on the course (with different colored numbers) and riders from teams, whom I learned to identify by the ankle straps they wore.

Final 15 minutes
With two laps to go, about six of us came together into a fairly smooth rolling pace line, including a couple of riders I remembered from the earlier leading pack. This would be the group I would finish with. Somewhere around the penultimate lap, I got a second wind and really perked up. As we came into the final stretch a couple of us, knowing we were on the same lap, sprinted for the hairpin turn that immediately preceded the finish line. Much to my surprise I found I had the legs to get there first, and rolled over the finish line a few minutes past 1 PM. Later, I found out that I was fifth and 9 seconds ahead of 6th and 7th spots, so the final effort was well worth it!

That was it for my weekend. Staggered back to the car, spent 30 minutes trying to uncramp the legs, then drove home.

An all round great event for a cycling fan, and something I'd definitely recommend it for any TCC members possibly considering it for next year.
Superb . . .

Congratulations on your 5th position. Very impressive.

You make the weekend sound very interesting - wish I had come along! Did you meet many people / make any new friends? How was the ride on the Cervelo?


Thanks, Phil. It was a great event. The duathlon was run at the same time as the enduro--they shared part of our course on the bike leg--and I did think, hmm, that looks like Philip's cup of tea... And there was lots of other events to try out as well. For example, they had team and pairs time trialling right after the solo race, and that looked like it would be a hoot to try on the oval track with some fellow TCCers.

Met a few people on Saturday when I had more time to loiter. Spent a lot of time with the Cervelo booth guys, they probably got sick of me actually. My hotel was a ways from the circuit, unfortunately, and I was the only cyclist staying there. Worth it though for the superb yakiniku in the evening; three heaping plates of "calby", chicken, and "hormone", just what the doctor ordered the night before an enduro :)

It was hard to judge the Cervelo I rode. It was a 54 RS, two sizes too small, and had platform pedals, so it wasn't possible to really put it through its paces. Crazy light, though. Almost too light, if that's possible...

Great writeup and outstanding results, Phil. Thanks for sharing. That sounds like a fantastic weekend of cycling.

Sounds like fun.
Were both races on the Indy track or did you hit the Formula one track for the enduro?
Do you think the Shimofusa work out help or hinder your preparations for this?
Any bad crashes?
I've been on the main race track twice for 100km January races but always too cold then. Would like to do this next year.
The enduros combined the Indy and road circuit, so one lap was a total of 7 kms and change. We also went counterclockwise (the 100km is clockwise, as you probably remember.) That meant we went UP the short sharp hill with the elbow bend and underpass, and DOWN the meandering slope toward the oval.

Shimofusa was great preparation, especially for the time trial; those five crit races were basically intense <10 min intervals, just about the same amount of time as the time trial. They also helped me prepare for the surges on the two sharp turns (but I was still the slowest out of them. For some reason (Ed: excess baggage?) my low-speed acceleration is terrible...)

No big crashes. Saw three riders down: a girl on a mountain bike went off into the grass on the downhill, a slower-looking rider hit the pylons that separated part of the course from the duathlon route, and I saw one guy just beyond the underpass lying on his back on the grass grimacing, his bike besides him. Maybe that was just cramp, though... One oblivious dufus decided to cut right through the entire front group to get to the pit lane, but miraculously did not take anybody out, although about twenty of us had to slam on our brakes and yell "abunai!" at him... :eek:

Well done Phil!
They are some really good results!:happy1:
Notably, the TT ave.spd - Nearly 40km/h.
And 5th out of 350?... Is in the top 1.5 percentile! That is absolutely awesome.
(and I thought top 15% at Kusatsu was something to rave about:eek:uch:)
BTW, did you gain "points" for such a high finishing position, or is that a different criterion race?

Thanks also to you & Peter (Edogawakikkoman) for your kind wishes to everyone going to Kusatsu. We'll do our best!
BTW, did you gain "points" for such a high finishing position, or is that a different criterion race?

Alas, no; the result must be its own reward... :)

Thanks also to you & Peter (Edogawakikkoman) for your kind wishes to everyone going to Kusatsu. We'll do our best!

Yeah, good luck again! Can't wait to read reports/see photos/view results...
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