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2015 Cycle to the Sun - Cycle

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Paia, Hawaii
United States
Maui Cyclery
66F / 19C
Total Time = 3h 40m 23s
Overall Rank = 33/190
Age Group = M30-39
Age Group Rank = 11/26
Pre-race routine:

Came into this event the heaviest I've ever been for this race. Right around 162-163. I keep telling myself I will get down under 150 for this race, but it never happens. Once I knew I wouldn't even be under 155 (lightest I've been is 158) I kind of just said screw it with my diet the last few weeks.

Legs were feeling okay, pretty strong by all accounts on hard intervals, but in the back of my mind I also knew that I didn't put together as many long rides as I have in the past.

I did manage to put together a pretty sophisticated pacing plan based on power, HR, and altitude adjustments. I was able to use 2012 HR data, as well as 2014 power and HR data to try and formulate some general guidelines of where I should be at every 1000' increment and put it on a pacing chart on my stem. Of course, not every race goes to plan, and I was more than willing to stretch these goals one way or another...but just there to make sure I don't do anything stupid, or get too discouraged as power drops with altitude gain.
Event warmup:

Rode up and down the side bike path for 10 minutes. HR seemed okay, but not as low as it would be if I were going to have a really good day. I lined up around 20 riders back, but full knowing that I was going to let the lead group go and settle in to my pacing plan ASAP.
  • 3h 40m 23s
  • 35.1 miles
  • 9.56 mile/hr

So with my FTP about 285 this year, the goal was to average about 235-245 watts for 3.5 hours. Of course with elevation gain, power drops, so the ending goal would be closer to 215-231 watts depending how much the altitude took out of me. My pacing chart gave me a really good idea of how that power "should" drop off if everything was going to plan...but I also knew that HR is one of my main governors for pacing this race...especially early on.

So the race starts and the lead group isn't going too fast. Just fast enough where I'm trailing by about 20-30 meters while settling into my tempo of about 235 watts. HR was a little high at this point (165ish), so I backed off a little and grouped up with about 8 other guys. I got a little bit of a draft benefit here so my average power dipped to around 225...but I wasn't going to complain.

As usual, the group gets a little frisky and people surge a tiny bit. I didn't react and just did my own thing. Eventually they come back and we go through this whole process all over again. Sau was with me and his goal was to just stick with me as much as he could...backing off when he normally would have chased other guys.

At around 1000' the lead group finally disappears and Lou went with them. Bischoff was being smart and pulled back, but still about 100 meters ahead of us. Scotty was in our group as well with a few other guys including a 16 year old kid Shay. We pretty much stayed together for the next 20-30 minutes before we see Lou up the road taking a pee in the trees. He gets back on his bike and jumps right in with Bischoff...and a couple of guys from our group go up the road and bridge...making them a solid group of 4. I'm about 1:40 down from last year's PR, but I know I started a bit too hard the first 20 minutes last year.

By this time, it's pretty much just me Sau, Scotty, Shay, and one other guy. Scotty starts feeling good and he just chugs along at his pace slowly pulling ahead of Sau and I. I was on the lower edge of my power goals through the first 3000' but now I'm starting to dip below them by abou 5-10 watts while still trying to say within my HR goals. My legs just didn't feel too great, but I know from experience that you just can't force it. You either hope they come around later or you just manage what you have this day and live with it. Despite this, I was making up time on last year as this was when I was smart enough to back way off last year.

So by 4000' I just switch to HR pacing only. Trying to keep my HR under 170, which is still a bit high for this point of the race. My previous PR was done with an avg HR of 167, and I was now even with last year's progress...but I wasn't feeling as good at this point. Sau was the only one with me now and all my other friends were up the road and out of sight. No worries though...I tell everyone that this race doesn't start until 6000', and everything before then is just a warm up.

Reyn was driving support for us, and now giving me some time checks to the other guys. It started out as 1:30ish down...then 3:00 down. I still felt crappy...but under control. I could tell Sau was starting to struggle at around 5000', but he was hanging in there as long as he could. I was starting to bleed big chunks of time to last year's down over 2.5 minutes, so I knew I wasn't going to be catching anyone at this rate and I was almost resigned to the fact that this would just be a survival ride. I was still in good spirits...most of the spectators were surprised I was still smiling as most of the other people ahead of me likely looked like they were in pain already...I just had nothing to respond with in my legs. Power was starting to dip under 200 watts where it should be in the 215-225 range. 6500' just clicked. As I rolled through some of the steeper switchbacks...I saw my power bumping up into the 220-230 range without too much of a struggle. HR was starting to rise over 172...but my legs started to feel better. Sau dropped off and with roughly 70-75 minutes left in the race I figured I would just give it a go and see what happens. The next time I saw Reyn, I took a bottle and told him to drive up the road and give me a time check on Lou and his group. The report was 4.5 minutes with about 2800 feet left of climbing.

I did the math in my head. One climb of Tantalus back on Oahu is 1400 feet and about the same average grade as this climb. It's pretty easy to make up 2-2.5 minutes on that climb just by putting out 20 more watts. So if I could sustain 20 more watts than that group the rest of the way...4-5 minutes was possible.

So the next 15 minutes I just put my head down and went for it. HR started to jack up in the 177 range which I have never done in this race. Power was right around in the 210-215 range despite now being close to 8000'...where my initial power goal on my pacing chart said 200. I reeled in Shay pretty quickly and blew right by him. A few other guys up the road that were starting to crack gave me that motivation to keep chugging on. Scotty was next and the spectators (they keep driving up the road so they see you multiple times) started noticing I was turning it on and really cheering for me.

The next time I saw Reyn he said my gap was down to 3:00 to Lou, so I made up 1/3 of the gap in the first 15 minutes of this effort. I could start to see Bischoff in the distance and noticed he was dropped from Lou's group. I kept the power down and slowly reeled him in at around 8500'. Reyn kept driving up ahead and gave me another split at 1:45 to Lou. I could tell he was getting excited for me too, and I told him that I got this.

Lou was now in sight, about 1:10 back at around 9000'. I could tell he was starting to fade, as was I...with my HR hovering now right at 180 and power dropping back down to the 205 range. Slowly though, I reeled him in and caught him just past 9500'. However...that effort was now starting to take it's toll as I could feel the bites in both my quads so I backed off and Lou was fine just sitting on my wheel for the next 5 minutes.

We were just soft pedaling at around 160 watts waiting for the last quarter mile that averages around 14%. Fortunately for me, I cracked, but Lou cracked even worse. We were both paper-boying it up the last incline but I managed to gap him by about 20 yards. No out of the saddle sprint for the line this year...I just did the least amount of effort necessary to roll my bike across that line ahead of Lou.
What would you do differently?:

Not be so fat. 1 pound is roughly 1 minute on this climb, so while I was 7 minutes slower than last year it makes sense considering I was about 5 pounds heavier. Other than that, I think I managed what I had very well.

This is probably one of the most humbling races there is. Nowhere to hide, and if you blow before the finish pay a huge price.
Post race
What limited your ability to perform faster:


Event comments:

One of the best races around. We had perfect weather today, and Donnie and the folks at Maui Cyclery put on another first class event.

Last updated: 2015-06-29 12:00 AM
03:40:23 | 35.1 miles | 9.56 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/26
Overall: 0/190
AP 210, NP 212, AVG HR 170
Wind: Some
Course: Paia to the top of Haleakala, 0 to 10000 feet and a 5.1% avg grade.
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]

2015-06-29 2:43 PM

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Subject: 2015 Cycle to the Sun

2015-06-29 4:07 PM
in reply to: #5125566

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Kailua, Hawaii
Subject: RE: 2015 Cycle to the Sun
hats off to you, excellent ! tough climb for sure.

your report made me feel the pain!
2015-06-29 4:40 PM
in reply to: #5125566

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PEI, Canada
Subject: RE: 2015 Cycle to the Sun

Sounds like you made lots of good decisions that worked out well in the end, very smart!

Like Rusty I keep saying I'm going to do this race one day.  No idea why it appeals to me, I can't train for any of the conditions!  I'd have to work on my fatness too.  


2015-06-29 4:49 PM
in reply to: #5125566

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Houston, Texas
Subject: RE: 2015 Cycle to the Sun

Wow, just wow!!  It is simply amazing to have that kind of patience and just let your legs come around, rather than going into a funk and being bummed that things are not working out the way you had planned / wanted.  That's awesome, Jason!  I need to keep that in mind for myself in the future.

Oh, and sometimes the fatness is just worth it....depriving yourself of delicious treats sucks way more than being a few minutes slower

2015-06-30 8:16 AM
in reply to: #5125566

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2000500100100100100 home in The ATL
Subject: RE: 2015 Cycle to the Sun

"What limited your ability to perform faster? Fatness." Ha-ha - that is classic, Jason. I really do enjoy reading about this race, every year Jason  - it always sounds epic. I love the fact that you can see up the road so far and that you know so many of the racers. I do hope I get to do it some day, but it sounds like one of those courses that takes some time to really master.


2015-07-01 10:35 AM
in reply to: #5125566

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Englewood, Florida
Subject: RE: 2015 Cycle to the Sun

Dude, that is one awesome RR for an awesome race. Great job pushing through the rough part at the beginning to get to the part where you somehow felt better-ish. And then pushing even more. Congratulations.

2015-07-03 4:40 PM
in reply to: #5125566

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Subject: RE: 2015 Cycle to the Sun
"Fatness," LOL great blow by blow report Jason!
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