Race Recap: Sumatanga Road Race 3/4s

Road season has officially started and it’s good to get back to racing the bike. This past weekend I raced the second race in the 2018 Sumatanga training series. This was my first race of the season and the first race with my new team, AlaCOMP-Brick.

I was going into this race looking forward to where my legs were at and was hoping to get an idea of what kind of tactics I would be able to use in the early season races, most importantly, the one at Auburn coming up this weekend. With this being the first race and my training not being of the highest quality lately, I planned to take this race a little less aggressively than I typically like to race.

The lack of teammates also led to me having to work with a more passive style of racing since nothing could really stick and it benefited me to conserve energy for the finish. While I didn’t have teammates this time in the 3/4 race, it was an added enjoyment to get to support teammates in the P123 race and the 4/5, where we get good results in each race.

Race Recap

The race was about what I expected for an early season training race with a chance of rain forecasted. There were only 15 total riders in the 3/4 race plus 3 women from the P123 field racing with us. Being such a small field, I didn’t know some strategies would work out.

Like expected, the race started with a pretty slow neutral roll out. I was fine with this..but only for a couple of minutes. After awhile it got boring and I decided I would work my way to the front just to get a more effective warm up and see if others were willing to mess around early. Because of the slow pace, my move towards the front to up the speed might have been seen as an attack, but I really just wanted to up the tempo and really get the race going.

Others reacted quickly and just held onto my wheel, which wasn’t a good sign for any other attacks that I wanted to do later. After pulling at a decent pace on the front until the first turn, I tried to turn off to see if others wanted to keep racing at this pace. They didn’t. And honestly, this would be the story of this race. I don’t know if it was because everyone was out of shape from the off-season or they just all thought they could sprint, but no one wanted to do anything at the front.

This was to be expected, but I didn’t think it would be as bad as it ended up being. Even when I through down a few attacks that caused a split in the field with 5-6 of us forming a gap, no one wanted to pull through after the initial attack. They would just follow my wheel, and then when I was done with my effort they were happy to let the rest of the group rejoin. This made for a pretty slow race at several points, which isn’t my favorite form or racing.

This idea that no one wanted to work led to my only costly mistake in the race. On the second lap, after a few small attacks, one person made it up the road a few bike lengths. I was near the front but didn’t think it was worth much to jump on the wheel and didn’t want to bring the group all back together again. Then another person bridged the short gap. Then a third. At this point, I figured we should shut this gap down. So did others in the group, and the front started to pull back the gap. We rotated a little bit, which was probably the most rotation we did throughout the race, and brought the gap down to probably a few seconds. But when some of the slower/lazier riders made it to the front, the gap started to grow again.

At this pint I was a little gassed and wasn’t ready to expend even more of my own energy to bring back a small attack on the second of five laps. In hindsight, I probably should have just put in one final effort when we had the gap down to a few seconds to try and bridge. Because the way the rest of the race went, we wouldn’t have had to held that quick of a pace in order to stay away from the group that was generally uninterested in bringing back any moves.

We completed the next two laps and as we came through to start out fourth of five laps, I assumed that we would have brought the gap down a little bit and then maybe the group would get more of an urgency to pull the break back. When we rolled through the start/finish line, the race director told us that the gap was just a minute. However, still no one wanted to up the pace, and honestly they seemed to be even less interested. Quickly after that I turned around and frustratingly asked “so does everyone have a teammate in the break?” It turns out that almost everyone else had heard the race director say four minutes instead of just one minute. It now made sense why no one wanted to chase. I tried to convince them that he had said one minute, but no one would listen. Then, when we came back through for the final lap, and heard two minutes to the break, it was too late.

Now we were starting the final lap, and I had accepted that the break was gone. We were now racing for 4th place. At this point in the race, I was also starting to feel a little of the fatigue that I normally don’t feel at this point in a relatively easy race. I had been eating more than usual and thought I had been drinking enough water. I did forget my Gatorade that day, so that could have been the issue. Or I just don’t have the race legs I’m used to yet. Anyways, I decided to just try and sit in on the final lap and see what I had left for the final short climb towards the finish. Yes, I was actually planning on contesting a sprint, which if you know me, definitely isn’t my typical plan of action.

This is where the course and some of the things I had noticed started to come into play. First, they had moved the start/finish line closer to the top of the final climb instead of near the bottom of the hill like last year. Previously, the course had a pretty flat long drag for the final sprint, which definitely wouldn’t suit me. The finish line was about 200 meters past the top of the last hill, so it wasn’t the best idea to try and attack from the base, although I knew a few people would probably go that route. Another thing that had happened every lap before this was that the entire group would overly shift to the left of the road, closest to the yellow line, to avoid two simple breaks in the pavement in the middle of the road.

As I was sitting near the back of the pack, albeit just a small field of 14 now, as we finished the final section of chip seal, I knew I had to move up and pick a good wheel. I planned to try and get to the front third on the far right side when the group once again shifted to avoid the breaks in the pavement. Sure enough, this worked quite well, and one of the women racers even followed my wheel as well.

When I got near the front, I found the wheel of one of the smaller riders who I figured would try to attack from the bottom of the climb, like he had done on a few of the other climbs throughout the day. At this point, I was probably about fifth or sixth in the pack and was on the wheel of someone who I figured would attack up the hill but was someone I also figured I could out sprint in the final 200 meters.

I made the correct assumption in following his attack up the climb, except I didn’t account for the one twitchy guy we had all tried to avoid for most of the race. There was one guy all race who was literally shaking on the bike and whose bike was literally falling apart on the chip seal. Sure enough, this guy didn’t hold his line at all and came hard to the right all of a sudden, leading the guy whose wheel I was following to practically run into the grass and give up on his attack up the inside of the hill.

With my original wheel lost, I quickly tried to move around the back of the small group and get to the left side of the road before the top of the climb so that I could be one of the first to jump into the left lane when the sprint opened up with 200 meters to go. This actually worked out better than I expected. I had most of the left lane to myself, and with the energy I had conserved on the last lap, my sprint actually felt pretty strong. I quickly passed a hand full of riders and looked to be gaining on a few more to sit in about 7th position in the field.

I was able to come around two people in the first 100 meters of the sprint, but let up a little when it seemed the last three in front of me where clear and I had already seen the ones I had passed call it quits. I’d say I gave it about a 90% effort in the final sprint, which is more than most sprints that aren’t for the win. The two guys in 2nd and 3rd also sat up earlier than I expected so if I had kept the power down, I might have been able to pass them as well.

Regardless, I secured 4th in the field sprint which put me in 7th overall of a race in which I mistakenly let a break go for once. 7th out of a field of basically 18 riders was plenty good with me and made me start to feel better about Auburn coming up this weekend. My legs felt better than expected and the tactics proved to be good enough, especially my plan in the final.


Granted the race wasn’t very hard, and it is the very beginning of the season for almost everyone, but my legs felt good. I made one mistake in letting the break go early, but I also think I did a good job of then conserving my energy and still being able to contest the final attacks and sprint at the end.

The change to the course was a big improvement from my perspective and I hope Sumatanga sticks with this format later in the year if they continue the race series past these first few races planned for the early spring.

Racing with teammates once again wasn’t the best, but I am looking forward to my new teammates catting up soon so we can have a strong representation in both the 3/4 race and the P123 races.

Finally, Auburn is this weekend, and I’ve definitely got the racing excitement rekindled now. I’m ready to rip it this weekend.