Friday, April 29, 2011

How to Execute the Perfect Sneak Attack

Last weekend, Lucas and I did some hill work near Crescent, IA. In the process of doing so, we were sneak-attacked by two dogs on Mudhollow road. The dogs weren't that big. Actually, they were kinda small and fat, but still strong enough to put on a good chase. Anyway, I took note of their attack. Here's what I learned.

How to Launch a Stealthy Hill Attack

1: Use the element of surprise.
Attack when your foe is least expecting it. Recently, Steve Tillford blogged about attacking when an opponent reaches for the water bottle. And last year, I won the cat 4 Papillion Twilight crit in part from launching an attack when someone flatted and caused a mini pileup in the field.

On this past Sunday, Lucas and I were sneak-attacked during a transition zone. We had just finished a section of gravel and were soft-peddling a moderate climb when the dogs suddenly appeared. At that point, the farthest thing from our minds was a sneak attack. For one, we weren't even racing. And for another, until the moment they appeared, our foes weren't even known. Advantage: dogs.

2: Leverage home field advantage
Being intimate with the pave sections of a spring classic certainly helps a pro cyclist minimize risk of failure.

Likewise, it should follow that being familiar with roadside hazards like concealed ditches alongside Mudhollow Road will minimize your risks, too. This point is especially true when a couple of ankle biters will come barreling out of that same ditch when you're least expecting it.

3: Timing your attack
It's common knowledge that many stage races are won and lost in the mountains. Who can forget when Alberto Contrador counter-attacked his own Astana teammate, Andrea Kloden, on the 17th stage of 2009's Tour de France? In doing so, he not only dropped Kloden, but also pulled the rival Schleck brothers along for a stage win (Frank).

Alberto Contrador pulls the Schleck brothers to stage victory

And speaking of the Schlecks, wasn't it Andy who lost the maillot jaune on last year's 15th stage of the TdF when he dropped his chain on a hill and no one waited for him?

Andy Schleck drops chain climbing 15th Stage of 2010 Tour de France

Heaven forbid that you should drop a chain climbing Mudhollow with those little fellers stripping their teeth at your feet.

In truth, the dogs appeared to be just having fun. While they made a big fuss trying to get to us, their tails were also wagging. Perhaps next time, I'll take a page from Rafal's notebook and toss some bacon for their efforts.

The scene was amusing enough that after catching our breath, we turned around and made a second run at the hill. Fortunately, Lucas captured the moment forever:

The Mudhollow dogs launch a perfect sneak attack. Photo credit Lucas Marshall

Happy Friday everyone

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