Mark McCormack’s 2005 Race Diary
Diary Entries – March 29, 2005 – Cross Continental Commuting
After a brief trip home after training camp I returned to southern California for some more racing in the warmer air.
I had a great flight schedule that flew me from Boston to LA and then a 20 minute flight over to Ontario, CA where I was picked up by Sophie (team Soigneur) and driven to our hotel in Diamond Bar, CA. The hotel was in a perfect location: I could walk to several restaurants, a grocery store, and the Big K for my snack food needs. The hotel was also a perfect distance from all the race sights which allowed for some additional training time and provided the perfect warm up and cool down riding after some challenging racing.
It was pretty much Health Net domination at this race. These guys stomped the uphill time trial stage and took the top 4 spots. I had a typical result for myself on such a race by finishing between 1 and 2 minutes behind the super climbers like Scott Moninger the stage winner. I felt good about my effort. I rode from the hotel to the start in a cool rain and arrived 30 minutes prior to my start time so that I could make sure I had all the loose ends taken care of. I checked in with the official race clock to see if my start was on schedule. Once I knew that I would start on time I went about the remainder of my warm up which merely involved continuing to ride around so that my body wouldn’t shut down after riding to the race from the hotel.
The race up the mountain was twisty and undulating. There were never really any sections that let off but there were plenty of sections that got much steeper. I had opted to use the big ring for this effort as I haven’t had the chance to do much climbing yet. I was better off relying on my muscular power rather than my cardio system. I have found that if I keep the cadence low I can control my heart rate better and prevent myself from going anaerobic too quickly. I felt like I was making great progress up the mountain until about 1 km from the finish and from that point forward it was a struggle to keep my composure. I was caught by Danny Pate who started 30 seconds behind me.
The next day started in dry air with some wet pavement. Eventually the clouds needed emptying and we enjoyed a few heavy showers. You wouldn’t believe how many professionals had a hard time coping with some cool rain. Guys were frantically trying to get their rain jackets in the feed zone as they shivered away their energy. Another good reason to train in New England over the winter!
This stage was a 94 mile circuit race that had two climbs per 7 mile lap of which we completed 14. The climbs were about 2-3 minutes each and definitely played a big part along with the cool rain to zap the legs of most of the 120 rider field.
My teammate Aaron made the only lengthy break of the day along with Eric Wohlberg and one other rider. These three were caught with just under 2 laps remaining and the race was on for a field sprint.
Health Net had been doing all of the work on the front from the start of the race and had done a good job managing their resources throughout the day, even overcoming two badly timed punctures with 3 laps to go. I was one of the guys from my team charged with looking after our sprinter JJ. After cresting the final climb with only 2 miles remaining in the race there was no control by any one team on the front of the 25 man lead group (which started the climb with at least 80 riders). In the front group the fast sprinters were all there including Gord Frazer, Charles Dionne, Ben Brooks, Alex Candelario, JJ, etc.
I had Gustavo in front of me and JJ behind me with about 1 mile to go. Gustavo brought us to the front and put us into a good position. As I was getting ready to go with my portion of the lead-out, Jelly Belly was storming up the right. I immediately jumped on to their train and in all the mayhem JJ was bounced off my wheel. When I jumped with 350 meters to go I thought that I still had JJ there. When I looked down and back with about 200 meters to go I noticed a red tire, which meant that JJ wasn’t there. I continued with my effort for another 50 meters with the hope that JJ was just behind the red tire guy. In the end, JJ was boxed in further back and never really got a chance to unleash his speed on the other sprinters. Gord won on the day and continued Health Net’s winning ways on the weekend.
My teammates and I cleaned up from the race and mounted our bikes for the 25 minute cruise back to the hotel.
The final stage was a 90 minute downtown criterium in the late afternoon. Unfortunately the race had to be shortened due to a 45 minute delay in getting our race started. We only raced for 60 minutes but I wasn’t complaining as I had to get back to the hotel for a shower before taking my evening flight home.
The criterium was very fast and had its share of crashes throughout. There was one large break that formed in the first 10 minutes and Aaron and Derek from my team were there. The biggest problem was the two time bonuses that brought them back. There was a tight GC battle for a podium spot so that time bonuses played a big part. I was in the break that was established with 5 laps to go and was caught with 1.5 laps to go. I was working hard in the break at first to see what would come of it. It turned out that one of the guys in the break wouldn’t work and with 3 laps to go I had decided that I too would opt for the free ride. I wasn’t in that break to race for 2nd on the stage so the only way I would give myself a chance to win was if I was resting up for the finish along with the other rider that wouldn’t work. Unfortunately for the break, with two riders sitting on and a very motivated team Jelly Belly chasing from behind, we didn’t make it to the finish before being caught. Another problem for my team was JJ crashed with 4 laps to go which meant no free lap and the end to his race.
Once we were caught I did manage to stay in the top 10 positions and kept both tires on the pavement. I finished 9th.
There were no big results this weekend for me or my teammates. I have to admit though that I feel much stronger this year than at this time last year and my teammates are also looking solid. I have a good feeling about the races later this season and hope that with a healthy spring for me and my teammates, we will all have some great performances.
After a flight through the night back to Boston I took the subway out to the city, walked to South Station and took the commuter rail down to Canton where my family picked me up. Straight to the café in Foxboro center for a nice breakfast and some quality family time after being away for a week.
It was nice to feel the relatively warm air at home and to witness the snow piles diminishing into streaming water across the roads.
I had some great training at home after San Dimas. I did my first outdoor ride on my Power Cranks. For those that don’t know what these are, ask around and you will see why I took my time in riding outside with them.
I also managed to get back to the Blue Hills access road. I returned there twice in 3 days to get in some very high quality intervals. I was working on replicating the prologue that I will be facing at Redlands this Thursday (March 31st). I had to start my efforts on the climb that starts near the hockey rink and continue the effort over to rte 138 and then to the access road and up to the summit at the observation tower. These took 14 to 15 minutes each and the final 5 minutes were brutal. I am optimistic that these efforts will serve me well.
I was fortunate have been able to get some of my weekend training buddies together for a great workout the day before Easter. We did a 5 hour ride that took us from Foxboro down through Bridgewater and into Carver and Wareham before heading back towards Foxboro. When the ride was over we had covered 105 miles. I had even convinced the three guys I was with to do a 1 hour TTT. We all suffered during that 1 hour but the suffering seemed to bring about smiles on all our faces.
Heading West Again (Redlands Classic)
I am sitting on the plane as I write this entry, listening to the voices of the movie “The Incredibles”. It is a long flight from Boston to LA. My legs feel thick and I know that when I arrive at my host house after the travel is completed I will attempt to go for a ride. And when I get on my bike, I will wonder to myself how I can feel so out of shape. Flying on airplanes does not agree with me or my legs.
The next time you hear from me I will have completed the Redlands Classic. Hopefully I will have some good things to report back. I will also be looking toward the Tour de Georgia and one great event back home, the Chris Hinds Memorial Criterium. See you there.
Until then, I hope that you are all enjoying the signs of spring and riding your bikes outside once again.
Thanks for Reading.
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