Race Report from Chile

Posted on March 26, 2011


Rough one in Chile

I'm the 2nd guy from the left.


The Santiago Continental Cup didn’t pan out as I hoped it would. The race was actually 30 minutes outside of Santiago at a place called Piedra Roja. The athletes were bused out to the race course on Saturday for training and then Sunday for the race. The swim was in a calm, protected lake. The bike was 8x5k loops that were basically an out and back where one way you had a slight head wind and a false flat and, in turn, the opposite way was a nice gradual downhill with a speedy tailwind. Each lap included a slightly technical section through transition. The run was more or less the same as the bike course.

Photos compliments of Mary Huffman

When race time rolled around things were running about 15-20 minutes late, naturally. We were finally called to the start line by rank, however, because so many athletes had missed the mandatory pre-race meeting, I had the 2nd starting position despite being ranked 6th. The penalty for missing a race meeting is being placed at the back of the start list.  We all lined up on the pontoon and the horn blasted to send us on our way. I initially got out fast but settled in too early. After a couple hundred meters I got in a nice draft on someone’s feet, unfortunately, they turned out to be slow feet, and a group of about 5 guys broke away and put a minute on the main pack by the end of the swim. I exited the water in the back of the main pack and had to destroy myself to make sure I’d get into the group during the first few K’s of the bike.

When I finally got settled in and my feet into my shoes I went to the front to help out with the work. There was a lead group of about 5 or 6 and then another 3 or 4 closing in on them. Then there was my group of about 12, and behind us an even bigger pack closing in on us. As we began taking pulls it became clear that I was one of the stronger riders in the group. On one of my turns I simply rolled off the front without even knowing it. By the time I realized it I had a pretty decent gap, so I just decided to go for it. I rode a full lap on my own, bridging about half the distance to the 2nd group of 3-4. However, I began to run out of steam and my original group began closing in on me. I sat up and let them swallow me up. I went to the back of the pack for a bit to recover. This was about midway through the bike.

The big pack behind my group caught up to us, and we became one 25 or so man pack. I hung out at the back for the next lap a bit frustrated that I didn’t really have anyone else willing to take hard pulls.  I eventually decided to try to make something happen and went back to the front. This time Felipe Van de Wyngard, who had bridged up from the pack behind, seemed to be working hard and trying to get things organized to catch the first 2 small groups, which had merged into one ~10 man lead pack. I started taking turns with Felipe with Andrew Russel doing his fair share, too. We started making up ground. I was keeping the pace high taking just about every other pull. I filled in the frequent gaps in the paceline. I felt great on the bike and ended up doing a lion’s share of the work. We began to make progress and close in on the leaders. On the 7th lap we got within striking distance. I was taking a pull on the front and decided to attack. My hope was to bridge up solo to the leaders, get them going, and stay away from the giant chase pack where very few were willing to work. I killed myself getting up to the leaders, and just when I arrived on the last guy’s back wheel, someone attacked and sent me into even more oxygen debt. But I did it. I looked back and the chase pack was still a couple hundred meters behind. I recovered for a few seconds, and then went to the front and pushed the pace hard. Like the last pack, I rode right off the front. With just one lap to go I thought there was a possibility that I could stay away. I continued hammering in the lead solo, but the lead pack and chase pack merged behind me and then reeled me in. It was a big effort on my part, and it had taken its toll. I settled in towards the front of the group as we neared transition. I got off the bike in the middle of the pack, got on my run shoes, and headed out on the run course.

I started out conservatively as I tried to recover a bit from the tough bike effort. I was probably in 25th place or so. I began to feel better and picked up the pace, slowly but surely reeling guys in. I ran up to about 15th or so towards the end of the first lap. At this point some sharp stomach cramps began to set in. I continued on but my pace was reduced to almost a jog. I lost all the spots I had ran through, and I effectively went from “racing” to “survival mode”. In the hot 85-degree sun I’m thinking I under-hydrated a bit on the bike and paid for it big-time 2.5k into the run. I finished in 28th place. It wasn’t pretty by any means.

Overall it was a very disappointing race. Rough swim, strong bike, awful run, no ITU points, no prize money. After this effort I’m anxious to get my feet wet in some non-draft racing so I can show my strength on the bike. After an average performance in Clermont and a poor showing in Chile I need to start banging out some good results this season!

Some Random Notes on Chile

  • I read an article on the plane saying that you should set aside a few minutes everyday to marvel at the modernity of Santiago. So if you’re ever in Santiago, be sure to marvel for a bit.
  • There are mountains in every direction in Santiago. It is very beautiful, but it also traps smog over the city.
  • I was looking forward to the continental breakfast at my hotel. However, after much confusion, my maid explained to me that “continental breakfast” in Chile just means some crackers and jam and a packet of instant coffee. Disappointing.
  • Very few people speak english. I was communicating to the hotel staff using a Babel Fish translation web site. This took forever, but was pretty entertaining.
  • The sushi in Santiago is excellent!