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2015 Pineapple Hill Sprint Road Race - Cycle

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Wahaiwa, Hawaii
United States
Tradewinds Cycling Team
65F / 18C
Total Time = 30m 4s
Overall Rank = 1/60
Age Group = M18-34 Cat 4/5
Age Group Rank = 1/17
Pre-race routine:

Had a few hard training weekends 2-3 weeks out, and the legs felt a little shot. So mostly easy riding while commuting for the past 12 days with some 2ish hour rides on the weekend before and the day before the race.

Legs started feeling better a few days prior, weight was down to 160...which is still way too much, but a lot better than 165-167 that I was hovering around a few weeks ago.
Event warmup:

Made sure to do a long warm up and get into a good sweat. 37 total minutes on the trainer with 5x1' efforts around threshold.
  • 30m 4s
  • 11.3 miles
  • 22.55 mile/hr

First race of the season. Just one time up Pineapple Hill, climbing 1000 feet over the course of 4.5 miles. with the ending 4.5 miles being flat and rolling.

Last year Jason Smith and a few of the other climbers just drilled it at the start of the climb and the field was shredded in a matter of 30 seconds. I fully expected the same this year and hoped to be in a small group that could maybe contend for my division podium...maybe top 10 overall.

So as the race starts, nothing really happens. Understandable since they added 1.5 miles of flats to the beginning of the course. But I think this sort of lulled the elite guys into a pack mentality as we rolled as one big group for a little while. Once the climb actually started, there was an acceleration, but nothing crazy. Jason Smith was the marked man, and when he would attack, the entire group would just ride up to his wheel and obviously Jason would ease up instead of dragging the whole group.

This went on several times...and if a few guys counter attacked, I'm sure they would have split the field, but sitting in the back of a 25 man pack was generating a nice draft...even at a 4% grade. Halfway through the climb I was still feeling pretty good, and noticed some of my rivals were sticking their nose in the wind up front. When they would accelerate, I had no trouble answering, and actually found myself moving up in the pack while some of the others seemed to struggle to hang on.

By the time we got to the last little incline of the climb, I was certain this is where the race would blow. Jason made another dig and I knew if I could match it, then the remaining 4 miles were just rollers and I could sit in. Again, to my surprise I was moving up past some of the other guys who I would have thought would be climbing these sections stronger than me. Before I knew it I was 3rd wheel behind Jason and local pro triathlete Ben Williams. They eased up shortly after cresting once realizing that there were still 12 of us there.

I quickly dropped to the back of the group to sit in the draft. The real climbing was over, and I was starting to realize that this was going to be a bunch finish, and everything was falling into place for me. Some of the skinnier guys tried to go off the front, but there was no way it was going to work and they were just wasting energy. I suppose they had to try though.

As we are approaching the last right corner, there is a very short pitch that's maybe 200 meters long, but I knew it would be a good area to move up in the field. Again, as people were making this effort out of the saddle, I was easily going by where they were struggling and it was then where I actually believed I had a chance to win this.

I made the corner in 3rd position...behind Jason and Ben as we now have around 3k to the finish. The center line rule was in effect despite both lanes being closed, and it's pretty tight, so positioning is everything. That said, it's still 3k to the finish and with 12 people still here, it's a balance of being near the front, but not being stuck at the front too soon.

I could tell guys were getting a little excited as they would surge. I dropped back to around 6th or 7th position, but made sure to fight not to drop any farther. Team Quick Release still had 4 riders in the group, where everyone else was solo for their team. They had a train lined up, but the led it out too soon considering some of their guys were already blown. As the front of their train dropped to the back, I managed to move back up to 3rd wheel as we just started the shallow 500 meter climb (about 3%) to the finish.

Ideally, I would have wanted someone in front of me to start their sprint and allow me to slingshot past, but as we got to around 300 meters I knew that guys from behind were going to start jumping and I could get boxed in. I took a few more pedal strokes and made sure I was in the proper gear...then I felt just the slightest hesitation from the two guys in front of me.

I jumped...I went all in with 200 meters to go. It was about 50 meters sooner than I would have wanted to, but I created a big gap right away as my power peaked at 1019 watts. There was an adrenaline rush that went through me as I saw the finish line 100 meters away and I just put my head down. I could feel that my speed had topped out with 50 meters left...which is a bad sign if someone is on your wheel, but there was nobody there. I yelled out to myself "f***ing dig", and took one peak back to see Jason 15 meters back and the rest of the field not even close. I couldn't believe what I was seeing an still threw my bike at the line just in case.

Did that really just happen? I've won Cat 4/5 races before, but nothing against the upper cat guys. Granted, this is a very small pond I'm racing in, but it just goes to show that the strongest guy does not win every race. It took a lot of different things to go my way to even be there at the end but I'll take it.

After the race I got a lot of congratulations and I couldn't have been happier. Guys that absolutely destroy me on the steeper hills we climb in training were giving me some shit about sand bagging, it was all in good fun.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. I'm sure there are a lot of things some of the stronger climbers would have done differently though. I'm sure next year they will make sure it's not a bunch finish to the line. In the normal road race the elites do 4 laps of this climb, so by the last lap, the bigger sprinter type guys are already gone. But only one time up, they need to put in a bigger effort to narrow down the field like they did last year.
Post race
What limited your ability to perform faster:

I still have weight to lose. Tantalus TT and Haleakala will not be so kind to my weight.

Last updated: 2015-03-16 12:00 AM
00:30:04 | 11.3 miles | 22.55 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/17
Overall: 0/60
Performance: Good
214 AP, 309 NP, Avg HR 158, Max 193
Wind: Some
Course: Starting from Haliewa town, rolling neutral till the traffic light, then game on once we're on the highway. Right at the bypass road, and same finish as the normal Pineapple Hill RR. I like the improvements of extending the course and not making that last right turn so close to the finish line.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]

2015-03-16 12:37 PM

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Subject: 2015 Pineapple Hill Sprint Road Race

2015-03-16 4:41 PM
in reply to: #5101161

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PEI, Canada
Subject: RE: 2015 Pineapple Hill Sprint Road Race

Great race Jason, congrats!

2015-03-17 7:43 AM
in reply to: #5101161

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Houston, Texas
Subject: RE: 2015 Pineapple Hill Sprint Road Race

Nice race, Jason!  I'm so glad you discuss tactics in all of your RR's....I really appreciate the insight, as it's so different from a triathlon!

2015-03-19 6:49 AM
in reply to: #5101161

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Englewood, Florida
Subject: RE: 2015 Pineapple Hill Sprint Road Race

Very well done, congratulations! Thank you for a detailed writeup.  For a MOP/BOP guy like myself, it is quite interesting to see how much mental work goes on during the race up at the front.

Great job!!!

2015-03-19 7:48 AM
in reply to: #5101161

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Subject: RE: 2015 Pineapple Hill Sprint Road Race

Pretty sweet victory Jason!

2015-03-19 9:58 AM
in reply to: #5101161

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Extreme Veteran
Ridgeland, Mississippi
Subject: RE: 2015 Pineapple Hill Sprint Road Race

I always say that I'd gladly "lose" every training ride if it meant being ready to win on race day.  Awesome effort!

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