John Bye is an experienced triathlete, an eye still on KONA, and he loves to race his road bike.
After PRing huge with his first triathlon goal of 2015, his second goal of the season was to have a successful performance at the illustrious Tour of the Battenkill, a unique and volatile early-season goal for a triathlete with ambition in long-course performance.
As his coach, I tried to create a system that syncs well with his busy schedule, to really give us both what we need: he is strong at Battenkill and not going off the rails, setting back his triathlon preparation.
In terms of race strategy, this means going at Battenkill and not turning back.
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In the 45+ race at mile four, John Bye rode in tenth position, the downhill was fast and John was tucked in nicely, feeling confident.
On one of the power rollers, John found himself pushing hard and on the front. He sensed his aggression was stringing the group out, and he noted that. He sat up and slid back into the front group.
At Meeting House Road, John wanted to be first onto the dirt – he pushed the pace, able to whittle the group down to eight riders.
His friend knew the course well and told him to save it for the next climb.
On that climb, Mile 33, John pinned it up the climb, smashing himself, and only one other rider could follow. John kept the throttle pinned after the climb, this rider on his wheel. John peeked back and could see six riders all strung out, chasing in panic.
John kept his head down and drilled max pace on the flats. When he popped out of Juniper Swamp, it was just him and the other rider.
“35 miles is too far to go like this alone,” the rider said.
John didn’t stop pedaling. “It’s likely the six chasers broke into two groups of three. It’s unlikely that two or three guys would catch-up to us as we seem to have a pretty big lead.”
John turned around. He could not see anyone back there. He told his breakaway partner that he wanted to keep going, time to go, they are off the front for a reason – the strength is here, let’s flex it, let’s use it.
John put his head down and drilled the pace from the front, feeling great.
At Mile 45, the motorcycle guy roared up with a dust cloud. “You have a significant lead on the field. About two minutes.”
John was doing more work in the group, committed to drilling it and staying well off the front with a cushion, not knowing what would happen down the road. “I felt really good, I wanted to hammer the dirt section on Riddle Road,” and he wanted to put it on his breakaway companion a bit.
At the pace, his companion cramped and his chances of winning might have been toast. John was charging hard into the downhill terrain, very very windy and he used his size to muscle into the resistance.
John was planning to do a series of attacks in the final miles to soften him up, but it was not necessary – the rider made it clear the race was over, and John was able to keep his pace steady and pedal hard to the line.
1st place and superior use of training time for a rider with long-course goals in triathlon – way to maximize your strengths on this course. Great work, John!
In the Battenkill Gran Fondo, Gary Chapman ripped 2nd in his age group! “I didn’t go gangbusters in the beginning. We kept the leaders in sight, blasting the descents and working hard on the flats. My strategy was to save gas and conserve for mile 50, for Joe Bean and Riddle, I was hoping some of the boys would shoot their last bullet and most did. I knew if I could drill the last little bump I would have about half-a-mile to hammer solo to the finish.”
In the Cat-3 race, Jesse O’Donnell knew all the fireworks were going to happen in the second-half, and he was relentlessly able to make the lead group. The final turn charged into a HARD sprint, and the group seemed pensive – Jesse confidently roared into that last turn and sprinted early, giving everything to the line – he could’ve easily gotten 40th. A triathlete sprinting to a top-5, awesome race strategy here, Jesse – you are an incredibly capable rider.
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Taylor WINS the Pro/1/2 Carl Dolan Criterium in DC!
“I followed a few stupid moves,” Nicholas Taylor said. “I burned some matches unnecessarily. I was annoyed, I knew I was working too much when it was obvious the was going to stay together.”
In the thrilling finale, the peloton hurtled to the finish together. In the final mile, one train surged, then slowed, and then another one launched, and Nicholas was able to hop on the second surge.
One rider accelerated fiercely, Nicholas was able to match, to go, not giving him that sprinter’s gap, and at the line Nicholas was able to keep his teeth gritted and keep accelerating with everything, reaching the finish line first, no time for a victory salute — wild sprint finish victory!