La Primavera at Lago Vista Race Report: Welcome to Violet Crown!
Dan Perkins, Carey Jung, and Dan Piercy (l to r) at the front of Sunday's 35+ 4/5 race at 2012 La Primavera at Lago Vista, the day after Perkins' win chronicled below.
By Dan Perkins
I was very excited about the race weekend for Lago Vista this week. It was to be my first race with Violet Crown Sports Association after leaving my old team. Of course, I wanted to make a good impression, and Lago Vista is my kind of course—lots of hills and a “survival of the fittest” kind of pace. To make things even more exciting, Violet Crown had six racers in the 35+ 4/5 race on Saturday, after Weston Giunta, Ken Greene, and Carey Jung switched over from the packed 3/4 race. In the days leading up to the race, we had quite a few email discussions about tactics. I have to admit that this pre-race chatter was so much more productive than anything I ever experienced at my old team. Although in the end, we didn’t resolve to have any kind of specific strategy for Saturday’s race, we did decide that with six guys in the field (Bill Neale and Scot Morris were the other two), we had some options to both initiate and defend against any attacks. Of particular interest to us was the Velossimo team that also sported six racers. One thing was certain… we expected the race to be exciting.
After the initial roll out, past the first little descent and into the short climb about a quarter mile into the race, Bill Neale went to the front and set a good pace. It was nothing blistering, but enough to string out the pack a bit as the road began to rise a bit. Bill’s pace was probably a bit harder/faster than most of the field was expecting early on. That played to my advantage, though, because as the field strung out, some space opened up on the left near the center line and allowed me to move from the back of the group up to the front where the rest of the team was already assembled. Bill was on the front with Carey, Weston, Ken, and Scot in various places in the top half of the peloton. I noticed the Velossimo guys were mixed in pretty well, too.
Anyway, Bill got us most of the way up the first three miles of the course, and I was able to slide into the pace line along the way. About a half mile from the turn around to the descent, I moved up to give Bill a breather. I knew that Carey and Weston were right in there behind me, but I wasn’t sure where Scot and Ken were at that time. I led for a bit up to the start of the descent, and then I decided to sit in and coast a bit to make sure I had my breath for the start of the next lap. From what I remember, there was nothing particularly memorable about the descents during the first lap. I do remember a lot more jockeying for position, but I managed to maintain a spot in the top 10 as we rolled through the finish line to complete Lap One.
Lap Two was a lot more of the same. When we got to the turn off and the descent, I just repeated my Lap One descent strategy: sitting in to recover. At that time, I was planning to put in an attack to see if we could thin out the herd a little. I had no idea what was in store for me on the next lap.
After we rolled through the finish line to start Lap Three, I decided I was going to make my move at the first incline. The Saturday La Primavera course has a flat start, followed by a short descent into the first “climb” to start the uphill grind. The first climb is not too bad, but it doesn’t level out completely once you hit the top. You’re constantly going up (for the most part) for darn near all of the three miles to the top. As we started to crest the first rise, I just went for it… put my head down and cranked it. Carey tells me that a Velossimo guy went with me for a while, but then dropped off thinking there was no way I’d stay away for five laps. I gotta admit that I wasn’t thinking about a breakaway win at that point. I was just hoping to force the field to chase me down and drop some of the guys off the back.
As I pushed up the hill, I didn’t really check behind me much. I assumed the pack would either be right there or a few meters back letting me suffer alone. When I got to the turnaround for the descent, I checked over my shoulder and there was nobody there. I had no idea how far out in front I was, but I was pretty shocked that I was alone. At that point, I figured I’d just go as hard as I could for as long as I could and hope that my effort would pay off for one of us.
But the chase group never appeared. Back in the pack, Carey and Ken were marking the chasers. I spoke with a few guys from other teams after the race and there were quite a few of them who didn’t even know I’d gone off the front. Those who did know couldn’t seem to get enough of the other guys to buy into the fact that they needed to chase me down. The result was that only a handful of guys tried to initiate any chases at all, and every time they did, Ken and Carey would jump on the train and make those guys do all the work. The result was predictable: the chasers tired out too much to mount an effective chase. Huge, huge thanks to Ken and Carey for that work in the pack.
I spent all five laps riding scared, not knowing how far out in front I was. I’d spin up the hills on the front side of the course and then try to recover as much as possible on the descents on the back side. Every lap I kept thinking, “This is the lap when they’ll catch me.” By the time I hit Lap Seven, I figured that if I could make it to the top of the hill and still not see the pack behind me, I’d probably win the darn thing. Sure enough, as I came through the turnaround on Lap Seven and started my descent, I checked behind me and saw nobody. It was an exhilarating feeling knowing that all I had to do was get through the descent and the race was mine.
I took the descents quickly, but safely, and I was never happier to see the finish line hill in my life. It’s really weird when you win a race for the first time. I really should have thought more about what to do at the line. I’ve always envisioned myself with a nice victory salute, but when I got there, I was so tired that I just rolled through and weakly raised one arm. Lame! Hopefully, I’ll get another chance to redeem myself at the finish line. Regardless, it was a fantastic way to win a race, and one that I’ve never successfully pulled off before. It was fitting that I got this win in my first race as a Violet Crown member. Racing with you guys is going to be lots and lots of fun! It was a heck of a race, for sure. I’m looking forward to many, many more races with these guys.
For those who are interested, my ride data were as follows:
Average Power: 277 watts
Normalized Power: 304 watts
Average Watts/Kg: 3.4
Average Cadence: 99 rpm
Average Heart Rate: 168 bpm
Average Speed: 22.7 mph