Article Tour De Kumano; JBCF E2. Stage 3

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#1
Tour De Kumano; JBCF E2. Stage 3

I’m tired and the legs have handed in their notice and have taken the remaining holiday they are owed, cleared their desk and gone. For the last 2 days I’ve been riding with panache, ignoring the power meter and the heart rate and just going with the ebb and flow of the racing and ignoring the body as it screamed out for more oxygen or to relent the maniacal pace we set, but I ignored it, we all did and now we were paying the price.

I’d had a pretty good warm down and massage the day before and this morning I woke up early to get a endorphinic massage which encourages analgesic action through the release of endorphins, increased blood flow and thus relieve the pain of over stressed muscles. The sensation is like someone pounding you with a rubber mallet but it does the trick and I have to say the Compex Wireless is a gift from the God’s and I’m pretty sure Perseus would have preferred one of these over that dumb bloody owl.

The hotel we were staying in is right by the start line of the 3rd stage, so we could take things easy this morning and I decided to take a walk along the majestic coast line before breakfast, it’s one of those areas that haven’t felt the touch of westernization or the mass domestic tourist surge and it reminded me of the coastline of Devon and Cornwall where I used to go on family holidays as a child.

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After a hearty breakfast and onsen we had more time to relax, catching up on email and uploading some of the photos to Facebook. Talking with the support team and generally taking it easy, an hour before the official start time I headed down to the team tent and started warming up.

It’s always strange when I get asked for a photo and I always explain that I’m not one of the UCI Pro riders but a domestic team rider. They always seem to reply the same”Oh I know, who you are! “and It always takes me by surprise, Tokyo CX was the biggest boost as there seemed to be a whole section chanting my name as I went through. I have no idea who these fans are but I thank them from the bottom of my heart as they spur you on to great feats.
 

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#2
As I spin the pedals the legs aren’t feeling too heavy and I know that once the race starts the adrenalin and testosterone kick in the legs will come alive. So I go over plan A which is ATTACK!

Last year I was cut on this very stage having missed the final cut off time on the final lap by 10 seconds and I had no intention of letting it happen again. The plan was genius in its simplicity attack from the start, jump to the E1 group and then hang on for dear life and let them pull me around, SIMPLE!

Obviously I wasn’t thinking about the climb that raised 100m in 400m at an average gradient of 9% or the fact I would need to do it 5 times.

If that failed Plan B would be put in to affect – Plan B consisted of suffering, swearing and pretty much the same as Plan A only with E2 riders and anyone else we picked up.

I spoke to a couple of the stronger riders about my plan and they all agreed it was the way to do things and as the gun barked we moved to the front of the peloton and stayed there. My old team mate from Fuji decided he was going to take the race to them and almost got penalized by the marshal for jumping the outrider before the green “Start”” flag went up, again he wasn’t very happy and I think he was frustrated because although we had been told there would be a 15 second delay the out rider was deliberately riding slow and putting more time and distance between us and the E1 race.

(Although there is an official start on the startline using a starting gun, we have a rolling start about 3km after the start line and is seen as a neutral zone. Once we clear the neutral zone the marshal/out rider or Commissaire will raise a green flag to indicate the official start of the race.)

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Giving my good friend Fatty a hard time about his need to shave his legs! You know who you are ;)

Finally the flag went up and we powered away, straight in to the first climb, I was feeling great and very quickly I was up at the front. I looked around and they already looked blown. Math at the speed of thought and I was gone, powering up the climb without a second look back. I was a man possessed and tearing the climb to pieces as I accelerate away at an average of 660w and 24.8km/h.

Craig Lewis (Continental Pro for Champion Systems) went up it at an average speed of 26.8 km/h and at 487w – guess I need to shed some weight!

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As I reached the summit I was alone, only one other rider had pursued me and he was gaining fast. I got my head down and continued to power up the rest of the climb, he passed me and I slotted perfectly on to his back wheel and we rode well together.

The peloton was not having any of it so early on in the race and after they had recovered from the shock of me launching such a daring attack start to work together to bring us back. As we raced up through the hills we passed E1 riders that had already been ejected from the peloton and it gave us hope that we may be gaining on the group and Plan A would be a success.
 

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#3
We shot through a technical decent and back up the other side and looking back I knew our great escape was coming to an end. The peloton was hot on our heels, now here is the tricky part; many riders pretty much stop riding. The peloton absorbs them and then before they know it they are shot out the back and lose contact. The trick here is to keep working you have to keep the pace high sometimes take an extra dig to up the pace and then find a way in to the peloton, don’t try and join the back but either let it absorb you through the middle or try to slot in to the side as it comes through.

Fortunately I saw a space around 20th wheel and I just slotted straight in – time for a rest. WRONG!

As the road leveled out the guys at the front took another big dig, the climbers had absolutely no intention of allowing any of the sprinters to stay in the group or if they managed to stay they would be so smashed that the sprint finish would be on equal footing.

We cleared the highest point of the race and started the twisting technical decent that was a mix of concrete slabs, concrete with doughnuts, asphalt and metal grills. Last year lots of riders went down here but the guys at the front of this group were serious and knew what they were about – we shot through the section and were spat out on to the port road at speed, hanging the bike right over we shot through the first 90°bend and back on to the coastal road that we had followed early.

The rest of the peloton was playing catch up, while up front the rollers and sprinters knew we had to make the climbers work and a game of cat and mouse ensured between the two disciplines.

Clearing the last 90° right turn before the final straight we were hit by a head on gale force wind, I went over how this could play to my advantage if it came down to a group sprint and a plan started to formulate, one that would play to my strengths. But first I had to survive another 4 laps of this tortuous course.

Due to the head wind we all took turns on the front and I was happy to hear over the race commentary that I was the official race leader as we passed through the VIP, feed station and finishing line and the start of lap two.

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I decided to stay around 10th wheel just in case one or more of the climbers replicated what I had done on lap 1 but it seemed they were more concerned with what I might pull and I suddenly realized I had an escort as we climbed.

We summated on mass and again the pace increased snapping the peloton in some cases and stretching it out in others, the pace was shedding the weak and weary fast.

3 more laps to go.
 

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#4
The 3rd lap was pretty much the same as the second – the climbers setting a high pace on the climbs and descents while the big boys hung on for dear life. It was only until the 4th lap that I started to get worried; as we accelerated up the KOM I started to get the faint twinge that normally signals cramps in my hamstrings. But with nowhere to rest or the ability to stretch I had to block out the sensations and focus on fluid perfect circles in my pedaling technique.

Once we reached the summit of the climb there was still no respite, this was it, these last two laps would decide the victor and I had two choices. The first was stop pedaling and stretch out the legs and run the very possible risk of getting dropped or just keep going and ignore the sensations and hope for the best.

I decided on the latter and kept the grueling pace up, a classic case of “Shut up legs”

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Now it was time to conserve energy but watch the leaders like a hawk, the final section of the 4th lap confirmed my plans for the final 500m and I knew I was in with a shot if I could remain with the climbers over the final climb and the back undulating rollers. Sitting in the pack I was constantly scanning, nobody was prepared to throw in a last gallant effort to steal a win and it seemed that they were all content to let it come down to a sprint finish, good choice lads.

By this time our group had totally destroyed the rest of the field and riders were being pulled off the back and awarded the infamous title of DNF and by the end of the day half the peloton would be cut.

Up the final climb and the legs stayed with me, the twinges had gone. The adrenaline coursing through me with the knowledge that if everything went to plan I would be on the podium once again and promoted rightfully in to Elite 1 classification on the Japan Elite Tour.

Over the top we flew and we passed my team mate Matsudo, clearly suffering from his injuries he sustained in his crash yesterday, had joined our group but was in no state to assist me. The pace quickened almost as rhythmic as our pounding hearts. All that stood before us was the technical downhill that could very easily dash our bodies as well as our dreams of glory.
 

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#5
We screamed through the town, jostling for position as we flew through the corners. Each rider intent at maintain position or gaining wheels to their preferred spot. As we flew through the last tunnel an attack at the front went, one rider soloing for the last 2km. A quick assessment told me he would burn out before the 500m to go mark and it was evident he didn’t have the legs as the headwind sapped his resolve.

While this had happened I slotted perfectly in to 8th wheel. My command post and bastion for the final 1km. The pace increased and my guess that the rotation at the front to maintain pace in the head wind would see me in 4th wheel at the 300m mark.

Perfection!

As we screamed through the marker, my heart was screaming “Now, go now!” but the brain always calculating held the engine back, “250m or 200m, when to go?” …… GO, GO, GO!

I went at 250m and I broke to the far right clear of the peloton and any potential wheel suckers, as we rounded the corner I took advantage of the racing line and drifted more to the centre, exposing those that had followed me to the full assault of the head wind.

It was another drag race, between 4 of us. Head down, legs pumping like pistons on a steam locomotive we charged for the line. I could see rider’s front wheels gaining on me and it spurred me on to dig deeper.

Flying through the line I knew I hadn’t won but I was positive I had taken second. It was a close call and my team mates watching from the finishing line couldn’t tell. Either way it was a podium finish and a result for the team, everyone was overjoyed and congratulated me on the effort.

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FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#6
I headed back to the team tent to warm down and waited for the official results to come through, it was only until the race announcer started calling the names of the riders to assemble at the podium that we knew for sure I had taken second and a cheer went up from the team.

Not only had I secured a podium finish on the last day but I had also secured instant promotion to E1 in the Japan Elite Tour, my doubts about being able to compete with E1 was unfounded. I had posted a faster time on stage 1 than the E1 winner (not only had I caught them after a 15 second head start, but I had been with them all in the sprint finish and beaten the actual winner).

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Then on stage 2, I had been part of a chasing group that had caught the E1 riders and mixed it up in an uphill finish, probably the best day of racing I have experienced this year, that stage had it all!

And finally today, vindication for a disastrous Tour last year and I enjoyed every moment of glory on the podium.

Distance: 48km
Time: 1:18:33
Average Speed: 36.5 km/h
Max Speed: 64 km/h
Average Wattage: 331w (normal power)
Max Wattage: 1182w

Placing: 2nd
 
Likes: Doug3

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#7
I would like to give a huge thank you to my team mates Matsudo and Taro for their amazing efforts, without them and thier amazing efforts I doubt I would have finished where I did on Stage 1 and 2. They inspired me to dig that little but deeper and go beyond the limit of what I thought possible.

A huge thank you to my sponsors Champion System, especially Abeki-san. Again thank you Pieter (CS Pro Continental Race Mechanic) for getting the bike sorted on stage 2 and the nice new chain.

Special thanks to Tose-san, Catarina Cycle Parts and the countless others that cheer me on at races and for the photos that you post or send me.

Lastly thank you to the people and organizers of Kumano for staging such an amazing event year in, year out, see you next year!

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For those interested in racing the Tour De Kumano, the event organizers have the “Challenge Cup” basically similar to the citizen’s race and allows you to race the same course and distance as the JBCF races, without the need of a registered team or JCF racing license. It will cost you ¥13,000 JPY for the 3 days and you will need to organise your own accommodation and transportation.
 

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#9
Many thanks - I'm currently ranked 14th over all in the Japan Elite Tour Rankings.

With several more criteriums in the latter half of the season there is a very high chance that I will finish in the top 5. The problem is though I also have to race events I'd rather not, such as Fuji and Norikura Hill Climbs. I lost 10 points and 3 places due to not racing the JBCF Tsugaike Hillclimb race and those are points are can't be giving away now.