Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Westlake Training Crit - 6/26/2007

After a week of vacation with a bunch of low intensity, I hit yet another Tuesday Worlds of Westlake last night.

It was the Zipp Demo night, where the Speed Weaponry Wagon brought 30 pair of Zipp/Zero Point demo wheels for trial... first come first served, I guess they were all doled out in 30 minutes. I had no intention of a trial as I have come to learn I should not ride that which I can not afford.... or the lust of the flesh will hurt my wallet (well, the bike trinkets anyway) . See the pair of Steelman frames hanging on my wall as enough proof for me.

The demo seemed to bring out lots of people, as it looked like the A field had about 40-50 guys in it with lots of the area names in attendance. We had Tom, Ray, Rick and Gary all joining in the A race pain that we call fun. The goal for me was to get some leg speed and get back into intensity. I've got a big weekend in Western New York coming up, and I don't need to dig a huge hole for myself now. And there's nothing like motor pacing behind the big engines here to get the legs moving. So sit in and follow any wheel I can.

So we roll neutral to the S/F line, and as we go through, they're ringing the bell for the first prime. Hmm. Looks like the first lap attack won't happen now. Up the pace goes, and as we come through for that one, they ring the next... 24 laps of primes? Probably not, but this does get the pace up quickly.

Off the second prime, Jeremy Grimm and Tris Hopkins get off the front, and manage to stay away for a bit more than half the race. The race settled down, to the normal craziness.

Highlights include when the junior from October/Lake Effect was on Gary's wheel a bit off the front, and touched Gary's wheel, and came down. Fortunately the gap was large enough that the field had time to react. The kid jumped up quickly and just stood there as we all went around him and his yard sale. No definite word on how he is, but it wasn't too bad as we saw him walking around throughout the remainder of the race.

With the construction going on in and around the course, there seems to be more traffic in the area as people try to avoid closed and congested streets. We were often tightening up corners to avoid the oncoming lane, and there were a few other close calls as pedals brushed the pavement but everyone else managed to hold it together.

As the pace picked up, I was having fun trying to pick the wheels that would keep me near the front, or get me across the gaps. We brought back the first break, and others tried to go. This time Paul Martin and his two mates kept things closer. The gap would open, sometimes significantly, and they'd ramp up the speed and close it down.

At one point, the field completely blew apart as Paul went with a large group of the big guns. I managed to jump on Rudy's wheel as we made it up to the group, and I thought we had made the race with about 15 quick guys and others strewn all over the place. Not sure of the strategies yet, the group slowed and it all came back together within a lap or so.

Another instance, Paul went, and I hopped on Tris' wheel as he came by. We made it up to Paul's small group while he took a small breath after bringing back Baldesar and his buddy. Paul then stood to go again after the next group, and for some reason, I said "no". What? Who said that? I cussed at myself for that hesitation, because it cause me to sit on Bladesars wheel when he wasn't going to chase it... and everyone else went around. "No?" I can't say "no" when Paul jumps. That's two races I've done that now... the first time was, well, the first time I've ever been presented with the prospect. This time was just wrong. I should have just gone.

Pretty much the way the race went. There was the incident when the cop directing traffic at the corner, stopped a car going in the same direction as we were... so we could all get around it. We were chasing a break at the time, and none of us knew what to do with that. The wind comes out of the chase as we all hestitated.

Primes were still coming fast and furious. Prime for a baseball cap, some other trinket that I couldn't tell. Some for cash and some for points. I think I was semi interested three times. One I thought about holding Jeremy Grimms wheel, but he didn't go for it, so it all fizzled as a small group got away for the prize.

Another go, I was sitting fourth wheel with Rudy on the front driving the pace coming into the last corner, when Stephan comes up on the curb side, basically taking my spot in the line. I guess I was far enough back, and the wind was right that I was still in the draft. He motioned that he wanted to come out, and I figured his wheel was good to be on. It was a smooth acceleration, and as we came up on Rudy he accelerated also. Rudy took the prime from Stephan by half a wheel or so, and I was at about a wheel behind that. It wasn't my all out sprint speed, but a high heart rate had me ducking back in to try and recover before something bad happened.

Shortly after this, Tom got away with 3 others. The team did a nice job of getting on the front and slowing every one down. Not sure how it would turn out, since we still had Paul with us, they got a pretty good gap. I pulled up next to Ray, and warned him. "You know what's going to happen. Paul will come up, and we will start going at 30 per to bring this back. Be ready." Paul waited to see if anyone else got nervous first. So it was actually Dick that started the pull, Paul was a few wheels behind, and away we went to bring it all back.

With 5 to go, I felt great and was thinking about a good finish. When they rang for a 3 point prime.... ooohhhh. 3 points would look good next to my name. Coming into the last corner, I was set up well, and it looked like everyone was waiting for the move. It was at that moment that Tom came up beside me and told me how he blew sky high in his break.... just as Mehul made his jump. It was enough that I hesitated and I missed the move. Not Tom's fault, but mine.... I was on Mehuls wheel, and I could have gone with. But I didn't. Mistake two. Mehul came through solo with 25m gap between us and the group, as everyone just let him go.

It was close to the finish, so it was probably better that I didn't go. With 4 to go small groups started attacking like crazy. Ray got off the front as I somehow got stuck on the front, and more followed. I didn't feel I could accelerate to get onto any of them from the front and pretty soon there were about 10 up the road, include Paul, Tris, Rudy and Ray.

We were chasing pretty hard heading toward the start finish when a gap opened up. I was near Tony Marut, and told him we needed to get across... let's close the gap down. He hesitated, and I decided to close it myself. Get on my wheel Tony, let's go. We closed it quick enough before the start finish, I did not want to be in the third group on the road. Since the construction changed the traffic patterns, they had put a four way stop at the first corner now. Through the start finish, with a few cars in front of us. And the cars actually stopped... we all stood on our brakes. The smell of smoking rubber was thick, as we came to a complete stop.... and that totally killed the chase. I tried to pick up the pace again after the sharp corner, but instead shot off the front... again! Well that didn't work. I guess the race was over in everyone's mind.

Three more laps of silliness with some half hearted accelerations here and there. On the last lap, I heard Dick asked Tom Frueh if he was going to sprint... Tom said he would, even if he was sprinting for nothing. Then Dick ramped up the pace, and pulled off before the cop corner. I made my way near the front, and gave a half hearted attack, which ended up just accelerating the group and leading the whole thing out, which was fine with me. Tom pulled Dick around me at about 150 meters, and I sat up to roll in.

Overall a good day of speed work, with the minor exceptions... call them mental lapses. Now it's final top off of the training for the Raccoon Rally this weekend. One road race, and one mountain bike race. As I've said before, my own personal stage race. It'll be the first time I've had the mountain bike out all year. Woah, that's just scary.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Westlake Training Crit - 6/12/2007

Another Tuesday Worlds of Westlake last night. It gave me a chance to take the new bike out to put it through it's paces.

Interesting evening of "tactics" in the A's. Big numbers in RGF and Lake Effect again, with a field of mabye 35-40. We had Rick, Gary, and Ray. First lap, Dick takes a group of 6 or 7 away. Then another group of 3 goes. Yet almost all the big guns are still in the group.

The breaks get some distance with everyone represented except SBR. So, I go to work... not expecting to actually effect the breaks, but because I came out to get some work in... and sitting on the RGF block was not doing work. I get a little help, and a lot of interference, even though the strong guys haven't done anything yet, and when they do, it won't matter anyway. It probably wasn't the smartest thing to do, but I had my reasons... even Gary, Rick and Ray were sitting back there laughing at me... I mean, if your own team mates can't laugh at you, then why race after all.

Somewhere around lap 6, PM decides he's had enough of a warm up, and comes around with Tris Hopkins, Shawn Adams, Stefan, Rudy and Tom Frueh on his wheel, so I jump on the end of that train... cause you don't let the big boys go if you can help it. And we're away from the group, cooking along at something that was faster than I could have done on my own. In short order, I look back and Brent Evans and Chris Riccardi have bridged... and we're making ground on the first break up the road. Paul closes to the break, and sits up, so we all get a little breather.

I'm sitting near the tail end of the split, when Paul decides it's time to go after the next group up the road. I see him move, and go to follow, but he's got a 2 meter gap before I can stand up... I hear a shout from the back of the group, but nobody moves.... everyone's expecting someone else to do the work, and Paul opens up a big gap. I end up just getting hauled up to the front of the group, instead of continuing on chasing at PMS (Paul Martin Speed), I pull over waiting for the next group to go... and they do. Woof!

I'm able to sit on the tail end again for a short time, but pop off in about a half lap. S*&$. Before the race, Brent said that if I had to use my finish sprint to close a gap, then it's better to stay with the group than get popped.. so I tried that. Uh, it's really hard to go faster than I already was.... at that HR anyway. As the gap opens more Brent and Chris come by, and I jump on the tail end... new life, so I work with them to see if we can close it.. It stays steady for a bit, but then slowly opens. And look, only 17 more laps to go.

It's 7:15, we started at 6:30.... and the race is gone already. I've been in threshold heart rate and above since the first burst of PMS, about 5 minutes ago. Is doing an hour and a half of Threshold considered an interval? The three of us trade pulls, but I can see we're slowing ever so slightly, since my HR is dropping. We watch the front group slowly disappear, and I'm thinking that's the whole thing. A group of 15 or so... the three of us, and then everybody else.

We probably did 3 or 4 laps together, and I was totally happy doing this. I'd get my work in and we were working together. When Chris looked back, and we were getting pulled back into the field... henceforth known as the A- field. They were close too, so Brent and I sat up when Chris decided to attack, probably out of frustration.

As we fall back into the field, Bill Marut made a comment about how hard it is to get anyone to work together. It seems the RGF's were still trying to block the A- field back, even though all the big boys were gone. Whatever, Bill and I decide that we'll work together and start towing the field around. Soon we get some help from Derrick and Jeff Cartledge.. and I'm in the Lake Effect train. The A- field is about 20 guys or so now... I think there were 5 or 6 RGF, 5 or 6 Lake Effect, the 4 SBR and a couple of Spin guys with the rest of the unattached and/or alone riders.

For the most part, it was Bill, Derrick and I doing work. When we came through the line, they rang the bell for a prime... and I joked "If we pull back 3 minutes at better than PMS, we can go for the point." But no, Rick attacks the field on the back stretch.... and as we head to the line Jeff comes up on the right and takes off with just about all the remaining RGF on his wheel. They all catch Rick, and as we regroup after the line I hear "Nice job, Polo."... What! There are primes for the A- field also??? We're not even in the race any more!

I guess that prime did some of the guys in, as we went right back to work. And I was getting pissed. RGF is still playing a little blocking game, so I start pushing them off the wheel when anyone else pulls through. I'm glad they've got team socks, cause it helped me pick them out as I was in the rest line. I'll take extra pulls, but blocking at this point is ridiculous. I then decide that I will go for the next prime.

The problem with that plan is that I've already been doing most of the work. So, they let me sit on the front going at whatever pace I want.... Brent comes through for a pull, and I'm second wheel around the back. When he comes off, I make some comment about attacking from the front. But I mostly just wait. Mehul jumps at about 400 meters, and I jump in to chase, there's an RGF on the right but he's out, I'm closing, but not fast enough... Mehul has time to gauge his efforts, and take it by 2 lengths. Then sits up and asks "does that count for us?"

Big effort, now sit in. The group is now down to maybe 15. So I have to be careful. Gaps are opened, but it still stays together with no one really wanting to work. Then it happens. We lap the B's, and almost simultaneously, we are caught by the A race.

LAPPED! Oh the shame. Of course as they come by, everyone jumps on the end of the group. Now we're all getting mixed in. The good news is that we are now moving at the pace I wanted to be going before. The bad news is it's getting really complicated. I somehow found myself in the position of the gatekeeper. As the A riders drifted off a pull, I would tell them to jump in in front of me, keeping the A and the A- field mostly separate. This worked for a bit especially after Paul took a small group up the road. Then a gap opened around the corner, and I went to close it up... then thought better... and it got really mixed up again.

And so the race finish. We did about 5 laps together. We let the A field go on the last half lap. Then 6 of us A- riders continued and did our own last lap. I ended up ramping the speed up for the finish, since Rick and Gary were with us. They jumped into the sprint and everyone felt like they actually raced.

Overall, the RGF tactics really got to me. If we ALL would have worked together, we could have avoided being lapped. On the other hand, I got a really good night of training. Overall average was 25.0mph. It was only 25.2 before we came off the front groups. I also peaked at 44.4 during that prime sprint, which I'm pretty happy with since it was not in anyone's draft... just all out go. I also got pretty big boost in confidence, even if I didn't hold the PMS all night, I was there at the start of it. More smarts, and I'll give it a go again next time.

I'm also really happy with the bike performance... it felt solid, and I think the position is pretty dialed in. The only problem with the bike was a loose bottle cage that I only noticed rattling on the final lap. I've got a couple more trinkets coming this week, and I think it will be complete.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Westlake Training Crit - 6/5/2007

I did my first Westlake Tuesday Night World Championship training crit last night joining Ray and Tom in the A race. Ouch... I was supposed to race smart and get some "motor" pacing.

The teams with numbers were RGF with about 100 guys, and maybe 50 Lake Effects, Torrelli had all 3 guys... and Paul Martin from Roadhouse in the field of about 25. We started civil enough until Dick Brink (RGF) decided to go off the front with Matt Weeks (LE). RGF and LE rolled easy to open the break up pretty large. Somehow I managed to rolled off the front behind Cameron from RGF, and we got about half way to Dick and Matt. Cameron must have decided it was a stupid move, because as I pulled through I looked back and he was gone. I decided it was dumb then to, and sat up also. But my heart rate well into zone 5, even sitting in the field. Uh oh.

I got about a half lap recovery when Paul decided to bring the break back, pulling the group along at 30 per. Gaps were opening like crazy, and I closed a few before and I found myself WELL off the back with 16 of the 23 laps to go. Crap!

I was not alone as many others were just gone, and I ended up with RGF's Cameron and Polo(?) and another kid in a QuickStep kit. Cameron kept rolling through hard, almost attacking the rest of us, and I kept trying to get the small group to work together to maybe close the gap to the field. I guess Paul got the break back, and then another went off, and the field slowed again, because we actually made it back to the group in about a lap and a half... with some significant efforts on my part.

I got about a lap to recover as Paul decided to again go at 30 per to bring the next break back, and this time I managed to hold on. I think we repeated this exercise again, though I don't quite remember. Brain fog.... With 7 to go, the pace picked up yet again, and I ended up rubbing my front wheel on Dick's shoe when I tried to see how far back I was, no damage, just a little adrenalin rush. Though I then told myself I must be getting tired to make that kind of mistake. I guess that was a signal of things to come, and should have let the guys that saw it know too.

With 6 to go, Paul went again. I was hanging on Dick's wheel as guys were blowing in front of us. Dick ended up closing gaps repeatedly, and only Batke was behind me when a gap opened between Dick and I that I was having trouble with.... I motioned for Batke to come around, and I think his reaction got into my head... instead of digging in to follow his wheel, I sat up.

I'm pissed at myself because I quit, not because I fell off the pace. My HR was in zone 4, so I guess I should have been able to go harder, but I just shut it down. I don't know if I could have gone the distance at that pace, and I guess it doesn't matter now anyway.

I ended up riding tempo for the remaining 5 laps on my own. Doug Williams (riding B's) caught me after his wreck, and we kind of rode together... well, he sat on my wheel, then would come around and roll ahead of me for a while. I don't think I really drafted off him at all. As we came in for his final lap, he asked if I wanted to sprint with him, so I said sure... we rode side by side to 100 meters, when I jumped, and I just heard him laughing as I pulled away.

In the end I averaged 25.4 for about 1:45 with the group, peaking at near 40mph. The last 5.5 laps, I did at 22.8 on my own for about 20 minutes with a 35+ sprint with 3 to go. I probably came in about 3 minutes behind from the group.

It's pretty incredible to watch Paul totally control the race. A break goes, Paul pulls at 30 for two laps to bring it back. Another break goes, Paul brings it back again, alone. In the end, he still pulled the group to the sprint, and won. Had he not been there, I suppose that one of the breaks with RGF and Lake Effect would have stuck. Torrelli would have certainly been represented, and the rest of us would have had an easier night.