Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Tariffville, CT
Bikes: Tsunami Bikes
One thing I didn't get to experience until I was a stronger Cat 3 is just how fast the 2s and 1s go when they try to bridge to a break. The first time I tried to go with someone it was just insane how fast they went. I couldn't stay in the breaks - I'd just blow up after a minute or two - but it was a lot of fun bridging to them. That's when I realized that you need to get across to the breaks quicker than not.
Part of it is the audience also - this is a Cat 3-4-5 type question. When a non-racer or a new racer (Cat 4-5) says "hey, let's catch that group", it ends up being a 23-26 mph effort. It's not a bridging effort, it's more like a "keep the same distance" effort. This is especially true on group rides. I'm sure everyone's done rides where a group escapes (or you end up in the 2nd or 3rd group), the riders with you work together to try and "catch" the group in front. Then when you get to the regroup point or the deli at the end of the ride you learn that you were down 5 or 10 minutes. It's because to bridge the gap requires an extraordinary effort, whether it's a short sharp effort or a drawn out one. The work required is tremendous and extremely uncomfortable. For me I get shelled if it's a drawn out effort so I have to make them much shorter and therefore much faster.
In this clip I try to launch a teammate across what I thought was a 15 second gap. It was more like 25-30 seconds and he never made it. He got within about 7 seconds but it was a 15-16 second gap when I pulled off, and I think that if it was closer to 10 seconds he could have made it (he ended up hanging just behind the break for about two laps before he gave up). He's soloed for 7 laps at this same course before (trying to bridge to a break), got caught at 200m to go, led out the sprint and won the (field) sprint. I figured he might be able to get across even if it was more than 10 seconds but on this day it wasn't to be. I'm holding about 34-35 mph in the "boost" phase, I basically sit up super hard, and it takes a full minute for the field to roll up to me. The "pre-boost" is at about 10 minutes in.
When I make efforts to bridge I made really hard efforts. That effort above is typical, it's not unusual. In races I rarely make those efforts because, frankly, even if I make it across I end up getting shelled later. On group rides though I love to let myself get gapped off, usually either unintentionally on a hill (I get shelled) or intentionally when the group gets frisky and ends up getting some separation (I just hang back). Then I do one massive move to get back to the front group.
"...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson