Thursday, August 30, 2007

Valley City Photos...

A rare post that is not a race report. Jim Nichols and Rick Adams were marshalling corners, with cameras in hand.... So they sent some photos that I can post. These are Jim's... great shots, by the way. Thanks.

One shot from the Cat 4 race.

Then a bunch from the 1/2/3 race. These are from the first lap...

Then lap two, all still together, but we're moving now.

This is the chase group on lap 4. Wittled down to 9 remainders. I came home in front of 1 of these guys.

And Tom K is seeing stars, but still chasing just off the back.

A couple from the Master's field.... Scott Thor (StarkVelo) rode away from the field half way through the second lap. Check out his Valley City Blog

This one is before the attack. What yellow line rule?

Looks like a chase, but who can tell?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Westlake Worlds 8/21/07

Another edition of the Tuesday Night Worlds of Westlake training races. Just your basic local Tuesday night industrial park crit.

After Saturday's race, and more importantly the way my legs felt Sunday, I was glad I got time for a good warm up. 4 laps... one in zone 1, then up the pressure to zone 2 for lap, then do another in zone 3 and 4 with a sprint at the end to get the heart rate up, then an easy one to roll it out. It's probably the most deliberate warm up I have ever done. The good news was, my legs felt fine.

There was a pretty big crowd with 60 riders between both A and B races. SBR had 5 in the nearly 40 strong A field with Rick, Gary and I being joined by Dave and Chris. Dave has now done his duty by attending one Westlake for the year, Chris was in for his first ever. We talked about covering the moves, trying to get someone in every thing that went away. I was sceptical that it would work, as Chris had no idea what he was in for.. so my plan was to try to get into a break that looked promising, and follow the accelerations often to get some good speedwork for the night.

Off we go, and they ring the first prime as we cross the line, so there's no free lap today. I worked to stay near the front, but with the acceleration I was still about mid pack. Through for lap one and we're racing.

So mostly the normal stuff. A few attacks went, they were pulled back.... second prime was for cash. An attack went, it was pulled back, somehow I found myself fourth wheel at 200m with some guys that I expected to be going for the prime. At 100m, I jumped a little, got over the top and rolled in for it... looked back, and had a pretty big gap again. So I was wondering if I screwed up and sprinted for nothing... doh! Whatever, if it was a prime, I won. If not, no harm done except looking like a fool.

A few more attacks, and I started following the moves. About 4 laps in Paul Martin decided to bridge to the break. I saw him stand and jump with Brent Evans on his wheel, Pete Baughman and I also went with, and we were away. Coming through the start finish, it looked like Brent was having issues with Paul's wheel as a gap started to open. So I decided to jump across and help out. I came around Brent hoping he'd jump on, but he missed it. I made Paul's wheel, and settle in for the ride. We made the break, and they all sat up. Hmmm... It all comes back together.

Another prime lap, they ring the bell, someone attacks, and I think Paul went to pull it back again. I was close, and when Paul pulled off, I pulled through and put in a bit of effort before pulling off. Then Dave came around me and I told him to go for it. He shifted down, and finished off the split. He ended up near the front, and jumped for the prime at 400m (he admits that was a bit long), then thought better of it, or was pulled back. From my spot, I watched Dave jump again near 200m and drag race Tris Hopkins to the line, narrowly missing out on the point(s). A valiant effort, which may have turned out different with a few more Westlakes under in the legs.

So that's was the night. Follow wheels as they accelerate to make, or bridge to, a break. I followed all kinds of stuff. Martin, Batke, Hopkins, it didn't matter to me... and I was committed to working also, not just sitting on.

Chris must have been watching the play book, cause I looked up and he'd made a break of 3 or 4. His break didn't last long either... none of them did. But it was good to see the attempt on his first outing.

Another break got away about 10 laps in for yet another prime. Coming out of turn one, Dick Brink made a jump, and I got on his wheel. I pulled through and let Dick know I was working when it looked like Dick was about to sit up. We made it across to the group of 3 including Batke and another RGF and had a decent gap. So we started to work the back side. Heading into the S turns, I see Gary come up along side of me, with another RGF and Rick, and I'm shocked!!! MY OWN TEAM JUST CHASED ME DOWN!!! What is this? The break sat up figuring why work when we were caught. Then I realized that the three of them had bridged the gap... shooting for the prime I guess. So I shouted, "GO, GO GO!". It didn't matter, the bridge killed the break attempt because the first 5 thought it was the whole field, and then we didn't get organized again before it really was.

More jumps, more responses. I was feeling pretty good. Coming in with 2 to go, Paul pulled another group of 5 away... and I thought this was it. Paul, Tris, Baldesar, Stephan... and me! Four of the big guns that could haul this around and keep it away, and I had made the split... Paul pulled off, and everyone pulled through... I was totally commited to tunring myself inside out to work with this break. I'm fifth wheel, for 5 spots, Baldesar pulls to the front, and I give him about a 30 second pull before coming around, and going hard... and no one pulls through after me... I'm crushed! I'm not sure how these guys decide to or not to work yet.

From there, just the craziness that is a field sprint. I was somewhere deep in the field as we came around for the last set of turns, and didn't get any wheels to carry me back to the front. I ended up coming in somewhere in the top 20, but didn't really get to open up my sprint. Rick managed to be near the front, and came in somewhere in the top 10.

Overall a good night, the whole team was active, and we all got some good work in. I checked after the race, and I had indeed found my nose across the line for a prime. Another $5, and this time it was a real, front of the race prime, not like last week. Funny, last week it was $3 and there were 3 SBR guys. This week, we had 5, and the prime was $5. Everyone gets a dollar!

On the "Learning to be a better bike racer", I have to figure out what makes a break go. I was probably in 4 or 5 good groups with a decent gap, including the last one. I think that I was just happy to get into the groups, and took a few breaths before thinking about working. I've often heard that when you catch a break, you should go straight to the front and pull. Looking at what happened when Gary and Rick bridged, I can see why that is so important now. I did the same thing a bit earlier in the race when Paul pulled me up to the first break. Paul sat up on the catch, and so did I. I should have gone straight to the front, and done a pull indicating to the group that we still had a gap. It probably would have also told Paul that I'm not just being a Remora.

Remoras attach themselves to larger fishes for protection and access to food. They are opportunistic feeders, eating leftover scaps of the prey their host is consuming.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Valley City Road Race 8/25/2007

So, this is the third year I've been at this race. The first I was driving a lead vehicle, the second I was standing at the corner of Dallas and 303 all day. I don't mind working the race, it's kind of fun... but I was really hoping that I could jump in at some point. Well, the stars aligned and we had enough volunteers that for the first year ever, we've been able to put some SBR jerseys into the SBR Valley City Road race.

I stood at the corner for the first wave of events. The cat 4 race had Pete S. and the cat 5 race had Matt O. racing. It's fun cheering the fields on, and keeping things safe at the same time. Standing in the sun for 2 hours is not the best warm up, but I did work up a sweat, so that's something, right?

After the cat 5s were done, Matt got changed and relieved me of my duties. Off to get changed and whatever warm up I could. It turned out, I had a few minutes, so some efforts were done, but I was hoping that it wouldn't go too fast from the gun.

Tom K and I were able to jump in the 1/2/3 field. Dave S had dressed and was ready to go, but then got the call to drive at the last minute, props to Dave for being all responsible like and working instead of racing.

With 29 1/2/3s in the field, we had the largest "A" race turnout since the races inception. I knew it was going to be painful, being my first 1/2/3 race with a legit cat 3 license. It would also be a good test of how my fitness has been going with all the down time from vacations and visiting that I'd been doing lately.

As we rolled across the line, Polo from RGF took the initiative and rolled away from the field with Andys Burns (COBC) in pursuit. Nobody else really took too much notice, as it seemed the first lap was mostly for warm up. I stay near the front, and pulled through when it was my turn. But I certainly was not going to work yet. I'd done enough of that thing at Westlake, to only get jumped by the fast guys and feel like a chump. Half way through the lap Paul Martin came up and started putting in some short efforts to keep the break close. Jeremy Grimm also took a couple of digs, but it didn't seem that he was serious yet.

There are 3 climbs of note on the course. Two on West River, and one on Lester about 500 meters before the start finish line. As we hit the second climb, Tris Hopkins (Torrelli) punches it up the right side, and I jump on his wheel. I think Dan Quinlin(MVC) also jumped here, and got between Tris and I and we were away. I really wasn't planning on jumping, I just used that pull to get over the hill, but it wasn't long before the gaps opened between Tris and Dan and I. I was suddenly in between... not really wanting to kill myself to close a gap that I was not sure I cold hold for 3 more laps, but out in the wind. Quick decision, work hard enough to get over the last climb in front of, or with the group, but don't kill myself out here. It worked out a nice lead and fade, cause I was safely back in the fold as we headed to the line for the start of lap two.

Dan came back in short order also, as did Polo from his move. So it was Tris and Andys off the front, and then everyone else chasing. I guess we were shedding a lot guys already, as I found myself at the back of the field at times, faster than I wanted. Lap two was a lot about the chase. Paul would pull along at 35 or so, and then pull off.... and all the guys on his wheel would sit up. Pretty funny actually. So when I found myself on the PM wheel, I was committed to at least pull through. I may not contribute a lot, but I don't feel so silly then. The advantage was I felt like I could contribute. It was a blast, sitting on Pauls wheel at 35mph, just motoring along and feeling pretty good, not in the "tongue on your stem" level of effort.

As we headed out Lester, more and more of the big guys made their way to the front. Turning off Wolfe, Quinlin got to the front, and started pulling down Station. I was on his wheel going into the S turn with a bit of a gap, when he made some kind of squirrley move... I'm not sure what it was, but I backed off a second, and he pushed again. So I sat up to come back into the field.

The chase reorganized as we hit the gravel section on Station. Quinlin is again pulling, as we pass a truck parked in our lane. This caused most of the field to sit up, except for Rudy from Lake Effect, who rolled off the front alone for a while.

Second time through the rollers, I'm not as crisp as the first time through. It seems that over the second one, I end up at the back of the field instead of off or even near the front. Through the twists, a small gap opened up forming two groups before we got to the hill on Lester. Over the hill the gap opens and 6 more are away. Paul Martin, Jeremy Grim, Brian Batke, Dan Quinlin, Chris Cioccio and a Breakaway rider I don't know get a gap. I'm completely shattered as we hit the top, and Rudy is yelling at everyone that we need to close that gap before it's to late.

The turn onto 303 before Lester Hill. I don't remember this gap, or even closing it... but I know I did somehow, someway, cause I was on the other side at some point.

The chase group is Rudy, Tony Marut, Brian Diffenbacher, Matt Weeks, and Pete Baughman from Lake Effect, Tom Keller and I from SBR, Thom Dominic from Color-Me-Safe, Jim Matson from COBC, a BV Velo rider, and a Spin rider or two and an RGF or two. We just can't get organized. Our paceline is disgusting, Rudy would pull, someone would pull through... then no one. It would happen repeatedly. I would work, Matson would pull through, Rudy would come up... then nothing. It was pretty frustrating, cause the front group was in site for nearly the whole race. We just were not closing in on them.

And we kept loosing people from the chase, so I guess we were moving pretty well. I looked down quite often and saw 28-29-30+mph. I felt good, doing a bit of work, then fading back. But then someone would open up a gap in front of me. Someone would have to close it back up.... I was never sure if I was safe either, cause guys I'd normally trust were blowing up. Through the third lap and into the fourth. It seemed that Matson, Diffenbacher, Rudy and I would do the most work. The Spin and BV Velo guy were a not very smooth, and would either pull really hard, or sit up when they got to the front. It just seemed really hard to get together.

At the start of the fourth lap, we were down to 7 or 8 in the chase group. The Lake Effect guys had blown, with only Rudy and Brian still there. Thom Dominic, Matson, the BV Velo, an RGF and a Spin guy were still together. Tom K had disappeared after closing one of the gaps for me, so I was alone but still felt good enough that I might get back to the front of the race.

At the top of Lester hill, we passed Batke messing with his chain.... will he be able to chase back onto our group? We were still working inefficiently, but we were not loosing much ground on the front group. As we made the turn onto Wolfe, the Breakaway rider came off the front group and started heading back to us. So there are at 6 big guns up the road, and 8 or 9 chasing. Batke did not make it back on to us, and we were gaining on the front group... the attacks must have started.

I was starting to feel the work by now, like I was loosing power and my heart rate was down and not coming back up. I was still working as hard as I could on the front to get back to the race, but I was not feeling very well. I noticed that I had not been drinking at all, so started to try to get fluid in me to help. We hit the rollers, and I again went straight to the back of the group, and needed to use my sprint just to stay with the group. I'd made it this far, I wanted to get as good a place as possible... and I didn't want the "non-workers" to get better places than me... I should say, guys that didn't work as much, cause I think we all worked pretty hard to get to this point.

Last time up the Lester hill, I felt good about finishing well with the group.... when everyone went by me... over the top, at my limit, I just could not close that little gap one last time, so I shut everything down. I'd done my work, I could roll in for whatever place I got. Well, for 100 meters or so I shut it down. Then I talked myself into one final sprint for the finish anyway. I tried to sprint, it was lame, but I pushed it across anyway. By then I'd lost 15 seconds, and got scored as being a separate time. My group ended up just catching onto the tail of the front group, and got the same time as Grim did crossing the line.

It was a really "fun" race in a painful way. I'm pretty happy with my efforts and my 14th place since I was part of the chase and contributed to that part of the race. Of course, I would have liked to have made the front group, and had the legs to stick with it. I think a lot of that was my placement when we hit that last hill. Though all three of those rises killed me on the last three laps. Staying close to the front group was a big confidence boost, that indicates that we made a tactical, not necessarily a fitness error. I was also pleased that I had chased back onto my group as often as I needed to, instead of seeing the gap and just calling it a day... though I would have been happier with just one more successful chase right at the finish.

My legs are totally blown right now, so it's recover, recover for a few days. I guess I raced harder than I have in a long time. It's cool, cause it's build up to cyclocross season now. These efforts can only help.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Westlake Worlds 8/21/07

Finally back into racing this week. Between vacations, and family visits, I have not raced since July 4th, and I've been jonesin' to get back into it. With the pavement issues cleared up, it's another edition of the Westlake Worlds. I'll keep it short today... I hope.

At the Parking lot, Paul Martin is sporting his new stars and stripes jersey... with only 25 or so, it looks to be a fast one. Dick got off early in the second lap to start the action. Off we go.

I did a good deal of work at the front . It's pretty fun to start bringing a break back, and having the stars and stripes pull through. I guess he was happy to let me pull as long as I wanted. I don't think it's really my responsibility, but what the heck.

Paul and Jeff Braumberger (Texas Roadhouse) got away with Tom Frueh (Torrelli) and Rudy Sroka (Lake Effect) about 6laps in. Tom Keller, Ray Huang and I were chasing with one StarkVelo, and we managed to keep it reasonably close. Somehow another group of 3 or so got off the front so there was now 7 up the road with only 5 places. I took a pretty big pull, and Ray launched off of that with a couple others. So all three Torrelli, both Texas Roadhouse, 2 Lake Effect, an RGF or 2, and Ray made the race.

Back in the field Tom Keller and I continues to work, even though most of the remnants had given up. Mostly big efforts, then drop back in to recover. I started to go for a 1 point "loser" prime (give the field a prime, even though the race is gone... losers), but an RGF (Polo) got a jump. I should have jumped also, cause I probably could have at least fought for it. It pissed me off since RGF had done no work in our group, and was still jumping for the primes. So when they rang the bell for the next "loser" prime, I decided to jump at about 250m. It worked out well, even though guys were shouting "Left" as I ramped up... no one else contested, and I got my first A race prime. $3 is $3 after all... and my name in lights someday.

The field started pissing around for the field sprint with 1.5 to go, so I attacked. They brought me back right at the S/F, then slowed up after turn 1. Another guy kept it up, so I went with... and pulled through hard. Pulled off and everyone was going slow again... so I attacked again. Saving yourself for a field sprint for 12 place or so seems pretty lame to me.

I was brought back, and didn't have it to attack again, but still pushed it for the sprint. No contention, but I tried to keep the racing hard anyway.

Ray ended up working well with Weeks, and Tris Hopkins to get up to the front group. He did a boat load of work, and ended up with 6th place... so between his place, and my $3 prime, it was a good night.