Sunday, May 21, 2006

Powerman Road Race - 5/20/2006

So I ended up bailing on the last RATL because of the rain threat. I don't like racing crits in the rain because of all the corners, and sketchy handling. Next up is Chippewa Creek Road Race... but it fell on my anniversary. "Good Monring, Honey. Happy Anniversary. I'm leaving for a bike race." Didn't seem like a good way to start the day, so I decided to drive to Lucas Ohio to do the PowerMan road race put on by Ohio Valley Racing on Saturday instead.

The race starts at 9, so we had to leave my house no later than 6:30 to get there with any time to spare. I went with Dave Steiner, a cat 3 I've trained with for the past 2 years. We arrived at 8:15, and immediately got into the registration line.

The Powerman course is a 17.75 mile course. The cat 4 race is 2 laps, the cat 3 race is 3. Since Dave is racing the 3 race, I figure either I'm going to be sitting around for 45 minutes or so until his race is complete or I could ask to race up to get into the cat 3 race. I waffled on the idea up until registration. I got into line and was sure I'd be racing with the 4's until I handed the guy my license. He looked at it, then asked me if I was racing in the 4 race. Since he asked first, I asked if he'd let me race up. His response was "Just don't cause any problems. I like to split the fields up to keep them smaller." So I entered my first cat 3 race. The worst that could happen is that I'll be doing a 54 mile training ride that cost $25, and I might just see how I stack up with the 3's.

So this is a two way street. I now have no expectations except to do my best to stay with the field. It also relieves me of pressure of having to get a result in the 4 field. I may be passing up points to my upgrade, but hey, if I want to cat up, it's a good test, and the course is not supposed to be that hard. Just rollers with a couple of hills that are reported to not effect the race.

Because they use chip timing devices, the registration line was moving slow. They had to get everyone in the computer and hand out the devices... so we didn't get through everything until almost 9:00.... so they pushed the start time back to 9:30. Well, this is going to change my day planning, but I'm paid and here so let's get to work.

Rolling around, there are a lot of cat 1/2's I know and a fair number of 4's. Rumor has it they're combining the cat 4 field with the cat 5's. So now I'm kind of glad that I'm racing up. As we line up though, it's announced they are also combining the cat 3 with the 1/2/3 race. There were only 6 registered for the 1/2/3 race and they are paying 9 deep in a field of 25, so everyone has a chance.... they say. That changes everything. My confidence and expectations have changed a bit, but since I've ridden with cat 2's in the past, I'm hoping to be alright. My only problem is I haven't been riding with 2's recently, so I'm not real sure how this will go. Looking around the field, there are lots of single riders including myself. There are 2 A&F cat 2's, and 2 WV Healthcare that I know. One is a 2 and the other a 3. The only team with numbers is Echelon with at least 6 guys. A warning about a bridge with fresh concrete and we're off!

3 laps for 54 miles, I'm not expecting much to happen on the first lap. Actually, we roll out and are looking for that bridge. We find it soon as it's close to the parking lot. We are routed into the left lane under some construction hardware, then back to the road. Shortly after that, the first guy goes off the front. We're less than 2 miles into a 54 mile race, and someone is taking off already. My strategy is to chase nothing, stay in the middle of the field and follow wheels. The guy gets about 100 meters, and someone chases him down. Then the field slows and we're back to a leasurly pace. A little while later, another guy goes, everyone looks at each other... then one or two guys bridge up, someone gets nervouse and it's all pulled back together again. Then again,,, and again.... and we haven't finished one lap yet.

Two interesting moves. First an Echolon guy goes, and gets a couple of other guys in a little move. The other Echelon guys mass at the front to block to help the gap. As soon as Roadhouse's Braumberger jumps, the A&F guys go, and then everyone goes around the block and its all back together.

The other move was Chris Riccardi from WV went.. His team mate Nick then just looked back and shrugged, then marked every move to bring him back by moving to second wheel. As soon as the guy at the fron pulled over, Nick pulled over with him and it killed the chase instantly. It's much more effective than the Echelon blocking tactic and something I'm hoping to use in the future.

I'm doing well at just sitting in. I'll just watch Nick, and follow wheels close to him. I figure Nick will not miss any decisive moves, and I don't expect anything huge yet anyway. So no energy wasted. About 10 miles in Todd Shaker is talking to Braumberger about how this is a really slow pace.... I'm not complaining, I figure we'll be racing soon enough.

At about mile 12, we come to the climb. It's well marked on the pavement. "Small chainring", "climb ahead".... and I notice everyone shifting to the small ring. So I do also. We make the right turn, and we climb... a serious climb! This is bigger than the Chippewa hill! From the topo, this was a 100+ foot climb that should not have been decisive, but it's pretty steep. Almost immediately I'm loosing contact as the field stretches out. One guy shifts near the start of the climb and breaks his rear derailler off... it's a mangled mess.

I'm probably about 20th over the top, and I'm not far behind, maybe 20 meters, but the pressure is on. There's a short decent, and I see Dave is on the back of the field... If I can reattach before they get over the next climb, I'll be fine. I'm almost there at the base of the climb, and I can see Dave has nothing left. I catch him and shout some encouragement. I'm hoping we can work together to get back on. We crest that climb close together, and the field is totally splintered!

Once over the climbs, there is about a five mile descent to the finish. Dave and I start rotating through to get back on. Ahead is a single guy, then a pair, then it looks like the main field has split into two groups. Now we've got some work to do. We bring back the single Echolon guy pretty quickly. He sits on and then starts working with us. We bring back the next two before the start finish, so we're three Echolon's, Dave and myself. It looks like one of the pair has been working while the other isn't doing anything... like they were working for his result or something. We catch them and start rotating through.

The two new guys went straight to the back. When they got to the front for their pull, the guy that was doing the work, does his turn. Then there is a little conversation between the three, and the worker is gone. I never saw a gap open, but I think he just pulled into the parking lot as we went by. So we're down to 2 Echelon, Dave and Myself. We picked up one more single guy shortly before we started the second lap. Pulling around the back side, I'm averaging about 20.5 or so. Dave is doing pulls a little faster, but the other guys all seem to be pulling a little slower. We picked up another Echelon on the backside, and we're back up to 6. Shortly after we catch the guy we hit a little rise that shed the first Echelon that we caught. He's not far back, and the other single guy says we should wait for him. "no sence dropping anyone now." Dave is not happy about waiting, but the little bit of hesitation is enough for the guy to get back on and we're rolling again. By now we can see no one in front of us and we have no idea of the gaps.

Second time up the climb, and Dave and I are about 20 meters or so behind the other 4. Dave makes a comment about them trying to drop us on the climb, and I suspect that they'll wait until the last lap to do that since Dave and I are the motors on the flatter sections. We regroup over the top easily, and again go to work. As we're doing the desent, the front end of the 4 race starts to gain on us. We continue to work it, but don't want to effect their finish, so when it's obvious they are coming around, we sit up for a bit to let them by. Now we've got real disorganization. The other single and I start working to keep a gap on the 4 race, but we end up drafting this big cadilac. The other guy is sittng 10feet off the bumper, and I'm nervous...

As the 4's finish, we come through shortly behind, and start to figure out if we'll keep going. Dave and I are in and it ends up the three Echelon are also... so we've got 5 for the third lap. What a mess that was. Dave and I are still pulling in the 20-22 range, but they're only pulling at 18 or so. They're chatting like it's a club ride. I'm not sure if we would have made it back to anything, but it didn't seem we would get much help from the others at this rate.

I totally expected the three of them to attack Dave and I on the last climb up the hill, then try to work together to get away. Instead, Dave and I were at the front on the hill waiting for their move, and we left one of the Echelon's behind. When we crested, the other two said they'd wait for their buddy. Dave and I were riding along, and I asked him if he wanted to work the end of the race.... it's not like we really had done that much during the third lap.... he agrees and we start trading pulls. This is training and at least it would be a little work. We're doing about 30-35 on this section, and it feels pretty good.

After about a mile, Dave notices that the other three are working together and are coming back to us. So I suggest that we don't burry ourselves to keep them from catching us. Instead, we'll try to work them over. At the catch, one guy goes to the front. I had to give a little kick to make sure he didn't open a gap. Then another guy goes off the front, and does get a gap... so Dave starts to bring it back. Dave and I start trading pulls to just keep the gap constant. With what I think is about a mile to go, I get to the front and just sit on a gap of about 50 meters. I'm just leave the guy hanging there. He keeps looking back for us, but I don't want to close to soon. If I do, another Echelon will jump and I'll have to chases that. I want to leave him out there and jump just before the line.

It turns out, it's much shorter than a mile, as we round a corner, I see the line. So I start to ramp up the speed to reel the guy in, I see another guy coming up on my left, so I start my sprint, leaving the guy behind and catch the first guy by a length at the line. So I sprinted for some crazy low placing, but at least it was something like a race for the last 5 miles. Dave ended up not wanting to pull the third Echelon in, so he came across fourth of the 5 and we were the tail of the 1/2/3 race finishers.

I ended up in 13th place. From another report, it turns out a group of 9 got away on the first hill, including all 6 cat 1/2's, John Lorson from Orrville, Chris Riccardi from WVH, and Blair Fraley from Echelon. Then there was a chase group of 7 which shed the last two guys that we picked up. They dropped two more on the second climb that pulled off, so that set the final placing. We were just over 13 minutes down on the cat 1/2 group and 5 on the cat 3 group.

Distance: 53.3 miles
Avg: 21.1
Time: 2:30

So our group was about 2 mph slower than the 1/2 group, and just under 1 mph slower than the cat 3 group.

So that was educational. Aside from learning some nice blocking technique on the first lap, I learned I've got some work to do before I upgrade. I guess it's time to get some structured training going. Hill repeats and intervals here I come.

I like the chip timing, this is the second time I;ve raced with this type of system. It can't sort out a sprint the way this one worked, but it did tell me how far we were behind. The race was organized all right, though they could have used more registration help. The intersections were all manned by Sherrif's so there were no traffic problems except for the last intersection that I think we surprised the Sherrif since we were so far back. The course was nice, though the description of the hill was a little off as it was much more work than I was lead to believe. I guess that's what I get for listening to the promoter.... and for racing up.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Race at the Lake #3

If I whine about getting a "virus", will that make me sound like a pro? Probably not. So we'll just talk about the race and whine a little.

RATL3. It's about 55 degrees and sunny. I've been feeling like garbage this week, and I still show up to the race... I guess I hope that my feelings are lying, or I like to be punished. I've got no expectations for today, maybe I'll learn to sit in and conserve for the finish.

SnakeBite has only our standard 5. Jason has won the last two editions, Mehul and Brian have been in the field, and Don is still working on staying with the field as he's breaking into the Cat 4 fields. Brett's got his upgrade so he'll be racing the 3 race today, with Todd and Tom.

We suited up and did our normal warm up routine. Though I did not feel like pushing it much, just go through the motions. On the line, we didn't even talk about team strategy. The only plan we had was that Jason would try something around the 7th lap, and work on going for the finish.

My plan was to sit in and see how I felt. I'd like to get into a prime position, and I was going to work on positioning for the finish. I wanted to work my way up the outside on the climb to get to the front with two to go, then use the outside again on the final lap to get into the front end.


42 line up for the cat 4 race. Big numbers from StarkVelo, Orrville and Summit. Matt Weeks from October Lake Effect has joined his buddy this week, so we've got another wheel to watch. COBC also has about 5 there.

I ended up sitting in the middle of the StarkVelo guys at the start, about third line back. Whistle blows, and we're moving. I think I'm going to try to line up at the front from now on, as sitting in a large field it takes forever for everyone to get clipped in and moving. It took long enough for 7-8 guys to roll off the front before we were around to the back side of the course. Interesting start.

Not super concerned about the gap, but it sticks for a long time. I'm starting to get concerned as I see a lot of teams up front including Summit, October Lake Effect, and maybe a StarkVelo and an Orrville. None of our guys though... I'm not sure how Jason missed that move, as he starts right on the front line. So no one up the road, I start to move to the front. I don't think we can contribute much, but I'd like to be closer to the front in case something happens.

On the hill on the third lap we make some progress on bringing the move back, and it looks like Summit is doing most of the work. Once we reconnect, I move into my normal position about 10 back. Every lap, I'm trying to stay on the outside on the climb so I'm not boxed in like last week, and it's working pretty well.

Today was interesting because so many guys were attacking. At about Lap 5 Chris from Orrville attacks on hill. As we come through the line, they ring the prime bell. He's got a good gap, but has to hold on alone for the entire lap. Over the hill we accelerate, and I just sit in mostly looking for a move to go after the prime. Matt Weeks takes the prime, catching Chris before we hit the turns leading to the finish. Nothing materializes at the front and we slow for a minute or two.

Seems like there is someone off the front at all times. As soon as we catch the guy, another guy goes. Lap 7 comes and Jason goes hard up the hill causing a gap. Again the prime bell rings as he goes through... the move gets neutralized and Matt Weeks picks up another prime. I'm still sitting in and I feel all right. Though I still have little confidence in getting where I need to be.

A few more attacks, but it's all together as we come through for the last prime bell. As we hit the hill and unattached rider attacks the hill hard. I'm a little bit back, and figure I'll move up on the outside. It works great. As I get near the front, the Pista-Elite rider takes off after the unattached guy. Then I dig as we crest, at the same time that Wes (I think) from Orrville is coming out from the inside. I'm committed now, so I jump on Wes's wheel. We're gaining on the Pista guy and we've got a nice gap. So the prime should be between the 4 of us. We catch the Pista guy coming before the turns, and I pull up to the turns, but don't dig to deep. Unfortunately, neither do the other two. We come out of the turns, and start the sprint, but it's pretty obvious we aren't going to catch the unattached guy. We needed to work together a bit more on the chase.

Through the line, and Wes is calling that we've got a pretty nice gap, as are some of the guys on the side. OK, I'll kill myself if I need to. Wes tries to get us organized and pulls, I'm on his wheel and the unattached guy is on mine. Wes pulls off and I give a short pull, and try to pull off, but the unattached guy won't pull through.... that was pretty much it, we were caught on the hill then.

So now I've got to recover for the finish. A few more digs are tried but nothing is getting away now. I somehow find myself near the back and make a move on the outside before we have 2 to go. Front 10 with 2 to go is all right, now I just need to stay here. Up the hill again, and the field stalls and then rolls over.... we hit the hill and everything slows down. So we're wall to wall, and no where to go. How did I get this far back? OK, We'll try again on the last lap.

Last lap, Mehul has a jump coming through the start finish! Nice! The team is going to work it a bit. Unfortunately, Mehul pretty much died getting off the front. Then just hung out there freewheeling around to the hill. The field stalled again going up the hill, so I couldn't get around again... and am forced to move up on the downhill. Well, so is everyone else!

I end up following a wheel up to the second row, which works fine, except we're going into the last two turns 5 across... and I'm on the inside of the first turn. I chicken out, and back off a bit, then I've got to chase back up... which is pretty much impossible. Out of the last turn and dig as deep as I can to get across the line.

I ended up 13th. Jason had the line in site, but also had to brake for someone and ended up second. Nice job Jason. Turns out I had the wheel of the guy that won, before it got wide going into the turn.

Overall, I'm pleased with my placing considering the way I felt during the week. I'd have liked to see some kind of lead out up the hill on the last lap to make it safer, but I know how everyone in the field wants to sprint for a place. Hopefully next week we can get the team organized to do something good. I think we need to organize our efforts a bit better toward a goal.


Word from the Cat3 race. Brett followed a break after the second Prime in his first taste fo the cat 3 field. Turned into the winning move with most teams represented. He ended up with a 6th place out of the 6 man break. Nicely done Brett!

Looking at my HRM data, if it's at all an accurate measure. I did almost no real work today. The only time I got inot my zone 5 was during the prime and at the finish. The good news is I actually sat in, didn't panic too often and made it to the finish. I've often thought of how much energy is wasted during a race, or when I'm time trialing to make it to the ride on time. How much time am I really saving compared to the energy I'm using? Something else to think about, I guess.

Last race of the series next week, then on to road races.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Holding Your Line!

This is a first... all my other writings have been about races. But I think this really need to be communicated. What does it mean? Am I guilty? Well, beginning riders are almost certainly guilty, and experienced riders will also do silly things when the going gets rough.

I started racing on my mountain bike. I heard about a race, I had a bike. I signed up for everything. Cross country race, downhill and trials. I'd never done any of them, but it's a bike thing. I've been riding my bike since I was 5, how hard can it be? Training? None, I was riding to work about once a week for maybe 30 miles both ways. I'd ridden trails and had a blast, so let's try some competition.

Imagine my surprise when I saw the skills required to do trials. How fast guys were flying down that hill... and I got shellacked in the cross country race. I was definitely hooked and immediately knew I had a ton to learn. When I picked up road racing, I wanted to learn first. I started by looking at what other people were writing about their races. That's why I write, to give yet another view of what goes on in a race. I'm still learning, and I still do really stupid things. My goal is to only do stupid things that don't hurt anyone.... including me.

Riding in a race or with a group is an act of trust. Just like driving your car on the freeway, we trust everyone else on the road to not do anything stupid. That's why there are driving laws and test for getting your drivers license. We expect everyone on the road to drive "close" to the speed limit, to obey direction laws and to turn right from the right lane, and left from the left lane.

Sitting in a group of cyclists is no different. We expect the riders around us to be stable. If you ride next to someone that is a bit wobbly, you give them more space so they won't wobble into you. In a race, it's even worse because just about everyone is riding at a limit. So they aren't necessarily thinking clearly. If you can't think straight, then your instincts kick in and take over for you. The down side of this is tempers are really short... it's hard to be nice when you can't breath... and you want to tell someone something about their skills.... you tend to just yell "Hold your line!"

I started to write about this in my last report, and realized it's a hard concept. What do you mean "Hold your line"? I can easily say that my line runs wherever I draw it.... but that's not really right. You can't start a turn on the outside of the pack, and dive to the inside of the turn without getting other riders really upset... or taking some or all of them to the ground.

I'm no expert at racing, but I like to think I'm a smooth rider. I'm comfortable with my handling skills, and I've saved some pretty crazy situations that I'm sure would have put most people on the ground. I've also dropped my bike riding alone, when I hit a small rock because I wasn't paying attention, so it goes both ways.

So here's some tips on riding in the field.

"Holding your line" requires you to ride where others expect you to ride. So if you start to drift over to one side, and someone says "Hold your line", it's their way of saying "STOP, I'm over here and you're moving close to me faster than I think you should be." or "You just swerved and that's a bit dangerous when we're all so close and moving so fast."

Be aware of people close to you. Race situations have bikes within inches of each other, and often closer. You can't know if the guy behind you has overlapped wheels, but if my bars are next to your hips, you should know that I'm there. You need to maintain your direction and space, so we don't both go down. I regularly will put my hand out to let guys know I'm right there and they can't come over. It's effective. I've actually held riders there as they are coming over to me, so they didn't push me off the road. Is it good etiquette? I'm not sure, but it's worked often in my races.

Some people talk a lot during the race, as in "on your left" or "slowing", then they communicate to a drifting rider that they're there before it gets so close to require hand contact. I tend to use "outside" and "inside" because I can't figure out my left from right and where I am fast enough, and it takes time to translate that for the guy I'm talking to. Not that outside and inside are much better, but that's just me. I had a guy Saturday say "on your left", get his pedals even with my bars, then start moving over into me... just like a car, forgetting that I was there once I was out of "sight". Remember where you are.

Road obstacles present another problem. If you've picked a line, and you're headed for a hole, or a bed of nails.... you've got no choice but to go through it. You can't swerve around things in the field. Maintain your speed, and line... bunny hop if you can, take the hit if you can't.

If you're aware of riders around you, you'll have a feel for how close you can take corners. Corners are the biggest problem when holding a line, since you don't follow the painted line on the road. The field pinches in as it approaches the corner, and swings out as it exits. The idea is to give everyone the space they need to do this safely. Guys on the outside tend to press the field in, I've seen many guys run off the road in a gradual bend in the road because the guys on the outside want to shorten their line.

Holding your line in a tight corner is an interesting term. It usually means taking the same line as the guy in front of you, because that's what everyone expects. What if you are the front guy? Be aware, the front guy sets the line, but has to know that he truly is the front. The guy that dives inside the front guy, is the wrong party in that case. Even if it's for the win! Know that you can get by completely before making that move... or wait. Unexpected attack is one thing, unexpected stupid move is quite another.

There are different levels of guilt in not holding a line. For example, someone who drifts into you while racing in a non-strung out group is very guilty. Especially if the person sees you but does this in an attempt to get better position. That is unacceptable, and is sure to raise the ire of other racers... I've often fought for position. Even if the guy is a little ahead of me, see the example of holding the guy from pushing me off the road. I've also been pinched out between two guys.

I should also mention the other side of this. It is also your responsibility to protect your front wheel. There is no way the guy in front of you can know if your overlapping his rear wheel by three to six inches. When passing, you must be ready for the guy in front of you to move. Talking is a good way to prevent bad things from happening, though you may be giving up surprise in the process.

One other "unexpected" move is hitting the brakes in the field. Everyone expects smooth speed transitions. I read a story about a guy getting into the last corner of a race, close to the front, and hitting the brakes! Imagine doing that on the freeway... pile up waiting to happen. THe rule is don't use your brakes in the field. Either soft pedal, or smoothly move into the wind. If you're going to swing out, a quick check behind is a good idea.

How can you improve your handling? I've got two tips, both are taken from the net

First, if you've got rollers, ride them. When I train indoors, I try to do my warm up and cool down on rollers. I'll do the resistance on a stationary trainer, but I spin up and down on the rollers to work my pedal smoothness.

The other tip is to ride along painted lines on the road. Try to keep your tire close to the left edge of the line. Then look down the road, and see how far from the line you've gone. Practice riding without staring at the line, then adjusting slightly. Try looking over your shoulder... and staying close to the line.

I often will race in the drops. This protects my bars from getting hooked by other riders as they try to come past me, and it lowers my center of gravity... I think it makes me more stable, which is good for riding smooth lines. It certainly is good for cyclocross racing, when the bike want to bounce around a bit more than on a smooth road.

Practice riding smooth, and you'll ride smooth even when your at your limit. It will help you stay safer, as well as the rest of the people you ride with. You have a responsibility to the other riders in the group.

When I moved from the B races to the A races, I was immediately struck with how close the A racers ride. They ride close because they trust the riders in the field to rider smoother than the guys in the B race. So, similar to the saying "It never gets easier, you just go faster when suffering at that level" it's
the same for holding your line. I can always improve my handling, just as I can improve my fitness.

Ride Safe, everyone else is counting on it.


Race at the Lake 2

April 29, 2006

Another nice Saturday morning. Temps are in the 50's and we're racing at the lake.

Don and I arrived at about 8:30 while the women and juniors were racing, and there were about 16+ women and about the same number of juniors, which are pretty large for what I've seen. So we're expecting a larger turn out than last week.

Snakebite has 1 in the 35 strong cat 5 field, and we're looking at 8 in the 4 field. Jason, Brett, Ryan B, Jeff C, Brian S, Mehul , Don and myself. Rick Adams also showed up for moral support.

The plan for the day is to have Ryan and I sit in for the finish. Jason would try a break and I was going to attempt at least one prime. Last week we did well, let's see if we can repeat with better results. I'm doing positive thinking this week. I will do well, and I will drive it all the way to the line. It's all about learning from last week.


45 or so line up the race. 15 laps of 2K each. They announce 3 primes and payout to 8 places. They will also announce they'll be pulling lapped riders since the field is so large. We're off and immediately lined out.

Either we're moving faster this week, or I'm a bit blocked cause this is work! Not much really going on, I'm just working on holding my position about 15-20 back which is pretty far down for me, but since it's mostly lined out I feel comfortable here. Every time we hit the hill, the field compresses, and I make up a few spots. I stay far enough up front to stay out of most of the mayhem.

On the second or third time coming down the hill, an unattached rider comes by and dives a bit tight into the corners. Out of the corner a couple of StarkVelo guys warn him to "hold his line", and he starts to get defensive. I supported the Stark guys on this one and tell the guy so.

Riding in the field is a crazy experience. You put 40 bikes in an extremely tight space moving an average of 25mph going up and down hills and through tight corners. For some reason, this race is about as bad as I've seen a field react. There are four 90 degree turns, and lots of sweeping turns. The field invariable will push guys off the road, and pinch guys out through turns. Crazy stuff. When you're in the field you have to think link an amoeba. Know where other riders are and ride smooth straight paths through the turns.

Laps are counting down, 10 to go, 9. When are they going to call the prime? Mehul is out with a mechanical on the side so we're down one! They've got to fit in 3 primes and the finish. Each prime will take 2 laps, so that's 6 plus two for the final. They better ring the first one soon! Finally, 7 to go they ring the bell. We catch and lap Don on the hill, so we're down to 6 in the field now.

I'm really far back. I've got to get to the front if I want this to work. Around the back, I push up and get into the top 10. Up the climb, I'm on the inside and I follow a Summit guy right to the front. Perfect. I'm second row at the top of the climb. The Summit guy looks at one of his teammates, who gives a nod, and the guy jumps. I'm on his wheel so I jump with him, as does a guy from Pista Elite. The Pista guy tries to pressure me off the wheel, but I'm not budging. Down the hill, and the summit guy is pulling both of us, then he falls off. I fall in behind Pista as we enter the first of two corners heading for the finish.

I'm in good position, second wheel through the turns would be perfect. I'll jump into the sprint after the turn and take this. Through the first turn, and Brett jumps up the outside of the turn! OK, teammate has a dig, I sit on this guy and have him pull me around. If he catches Brett, then I'll jump. If not, Brett has the prime. Brett opens a nice gap as we come through the last turn. I'm through third, and I see Brett won't get caught, so I sit up. Brett takes the prime nicely.

At this point I must have fallen asleep, or the effort of the last lap caught up with me. Some how I'm back to 10-12 back, and a group goes off the front. The chase is on, and I get a bit further back. As we come through the final turn again, two guys go down, and the field is braking to get through a one lane turn with two guys on the ground! Once through, one of the guys is back up and on his bike. The other guy is down. Back to the chase! And they ring the bell for the next prime!

Lots of us are hollering "Rider Down" as we go through the line. This is nuts! There's a break of about 10 up the road, and the field is strung out behind because of the wreck. We're moving to get back together, but how? Coming through the turn again, the StarkVelo rider that went down is still down, so they slow riders down through the turn and call the race neutral, though it took another lap or so to figure that out.

7 laps later they've got the Stark guy in the ambulance. Sounds like a broken collarbone, and a pedal to the head as guys were going by. They stop the field and inform us of the plan. At the bell there was a break of 6 a chase of 3 and the field. They reset the break of 6 and give them 5-10 seconds. Then the group of three is given another 10, then they let the field go. Oh, and we're only doing two more laps.

2 very short laps! This is going to be a long sprint. I'm in the field. We've got 1 in the break of three. It's Jason who won last week, but it's still like putting 1 into the money. At first we contemplate pulling him back, then Brett says let's just let someone else bring the groups back, and we'll try to get to the front to get into the finish. I'm line up on the front line of the field for the restart.

At the whistle, I sprint for the corner and end up in third or fourth wheel. I'm sitting letting the other guys pull us back up. I can see Jason sitting on the chase group as they reattach to the break on the climb. We're closing also, so it looks like it all be back together. We regroup as we're coming through the start finish... gruppo compatico and we're set for the sprint.

I'm still about 12 back, which is not good. Jason is up ahead, and I'm pretty sure Brett and Ryan are close behind. I figure I'll move on the hill. Coming around. I come up on the inside. Not the best place to be, but it will have to do. I move into the second row or so, and then the field starts it's drift inside. I'm literally holding the next to me from running me off the road. I'm here, and I will not move. It's work fighting for position! And this race is all about position.

Down the hill, and I'm about 10th into the corners, as it's lined out. Pretty far back, but it's were I was last week, and hard as I try I'm not moving up on the approach. Out of the corner, I'm digging for the line. I see Jason take the sprint, but I'm not bringing much back. I end up coming through 9th, with Brett on my wheel for 10th, and Ryan right there for 11th.

Post Race

Overall a weird race. It would have been nice to have the prime laps spread out a bit, though I'm not sure if it would have been any safer. They paid out to 10th, since the skipped the two prime laps, so SnakeBite got the only prime, the win and 9th, 10th and 11th place. Pretty good results.

Two more weeks of this crazy race. I wonder if they'll get any saner?