Monday, December 08, 2008

17 Wheelsets and still... Boughton Farms 2008.

Yesterday was the last race of the season. Since last race, I've been fighting sickness and weather in a bad combination. If the weather was nice, I could ride through the cough. Instead I've managed about 8 hours of trainer time in 20 days. But it's the last race of the season, and considering my placing in the overall, I'm going to just race for fun.

The weather was cooperating with the FUN part, since it was about 20degrees and snowing on my drive down. The course was mostly snow covered, and all hard packed icy. The wooded sections were solid. Instead of mud, we were riding snow and ice.

I decided I'd spend all my warm up on the course instead of in the barn on the trainer. So I had about an hour to get used to the conditions. I don't really have 17 wheel sets. I've got 3 dedicated to cross, and then a couple of road sets I can convert for the season... so let's say 6 maybe? Only 4 of them were runnable this morning and I didn't bring the backup bike with the set on there. SO...

Wheel set 1: I have a set of Grifo Challenge tubbies mounted on some nice wheels. It's my #1 set. When loading the car up, I went to pump them up and the valve was stuck on the rear. It's got short valve stem on a deep V rim, so I've got the problem solver valve extenders on there... I guess there some gunk in there, because when I did get the valve open, it wouldn't close. So I left my #1 wheel set at home.

Wheel set 2: Vittoria tubbies on the backup wheels. I ran them at about 30psi... and I was getting pounded on the first warm up. So I dropped them down a bit, you know the scientific method of just hitting the valve a few times to get something reasonable.... well, I took out to much. So I bottomed out a bunch, on the next lap section I took.

Wheel set 3: The Michelin Muds I had planned on leaving in the pit. I threw them on at about 35psi, and was pleased with how they handled. Just enough gripping through the corners. Perfect.

I took the Vittorias to re-pump up, and saw I was running them at about 10psi. So I pumped them to about 25 for a pit set of wheels. I've been having wheel trouble this year. So when I got back to the pit, I decided to spin each wheel before heading out for another lap. And noticed my front mud was torn near the bead and had started to bubble out hitting the brake pad. At least it was before I lined up this time. So the choice of the day was a Vittoria up front and mud on the back. I got a bit more practice, and still didn't like the feel of the Vittoria, but I didn't have a choice.

Bill and I lined up at the back, so I figured I'd just give it all I had to finish the season. The start had us go about 100m, then loop around the barn before hitting the long straights across the field. The field was well lined out by the time we got there. I ended up near the back, and I stuck on Thom's wheel. I figured I hang on him as long as I possibly could, while goading him to go faster. If I'm on your wheel Thom, you're not racing your fastest.

Carnage on the first lap. Ray eats it huge in the field crossing. Thom and I pass Dave swearing about dropping his chain after the only barrier set. Then it's into the woods... were Thom is pretty slow. Sprinting out on the straights we're away until the hill where Thom gets a gap, and Dave re-catches me. So, I try to hang on Dave for as long as possible. 1lap down.

It's the last race of the season. So I'm constantly pushing myself to leave everything here. Dave gaps me in the fields, but I pass Ryan when he dumps it in the turns, and can't get footing to get back on the bike. Then Ray jumps around me on the headwind section.

So the universe is again put in it's proper order for this year. I'm sitting somewhere around 20th in the field. I can see Dave ahead of me, and Rick and a couple others are chasing me. I'm staying reasonably clean throughout the technical bits, and pushing the straights to maintain my gaps... as best I can. With three laps in, I'm already wishing it was over... but continue to tell myself its the last time I can race until April... so don't waste it.

Then Lynn flashes 4 to go. So I can start counting down instead. With 3 to go, a guy in blue is closing the gap to me, and Dave is opening up his.... or actually I guess I started going a bit more backwards.

2 to go, Blue guy catches me and I cannot hold his wheel. Poop. But I have 2 more laps this season, so I better leave it all behind. Maybe I can bring him back. Through the barriers and I hear some cheering for Tony. That's not good for me... I REALLY have to move if I want to stay on the lead lap.

Doesn't happen, Paul and Tony catch me at the far end of the field about 1K from the line. I do get a good seat to watch Tony sit on until Paul gunned it up the last rise on the course. Tony lost his 10 seconds in about 300m.

I came in another 20seconds back. The good news is I was totally spent. I felt worse after this race than I have all season, so at least I know I could not have gone much faster... I gave all the fitness I possibly could. So the only thing that could make me faster would have been having the right wheels... or figuring out my bike handling through the woods... or any of the other million ways I lost time that did NOT include my fitness.

So closes another season. Special thanks to the Lake Effect/Bike Authority guys for putting on another great series. Thanks for all the work you put in. It's very nice to have this series in the area, and to see it grow the way it has the last few years.

This was also my last race in the Snakebite Racing colors. I've enjoyed being on the team immensely, and am leaving with mixed emotions. Thanks for the support, and camaraderie over the last 4 years. Next year, I'll be racing for Team Spin in their cat 3 squad.

Good luck to all those doing Nationals. I'll be sitting by the computer cheering everyone on.

Happy Holidays to all. My goal is to not eat to much, it's now time to start training for next year.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Broadview Heights - 11/16/08

Running some numbers on this weekends race: With only 1 race at the fields this year, I figured it was maybe 60/40 that we would have a wet, nasty day, since that's probably been the history. But it is the fields, you'd think we lived in the pacific northwest... as the weekend drew near, the rains came... and then Saturday, it REALLY came down. So... sure to be wet race day.

The course was set up with a 100m start straight into a 90 left to a 180 around a pole, then straight to an off-camber muddy side along the long end of basketball court. A nice sweeper on the short edge, and then on the concrete for the trip back along the long edge. Then the first dismount had us ride through 2m of mud, 3 uneven stairs, and remount on pavement. Definitely the most difficult feature of the course.

Other fun sections included bombing down the wet sled hill, float the bike at the bottom, and try to hit the 10ft wide gate leading to the road. Hop the curb, ride pavement halfway back up the other side, and shoulder the bike up the other side. Remount some where either in or just beyond the mud puddle, and ride up and down some slick grass punctuated with extra slickery rail ties.

Lots of field crossings around the soccer fields included many extra soggy sections. The worst soggy was right before the start/finish, which promised to make any sprint finish exciting.

So we lined up at 1:44 fr the A race in 30* with some light flakes falling. I guess there wasn't much going on this weekend, as we had all kinds of visitors around... guys came in from Pittsburgh, and Columbus, which was nice to fill the field.

I lined up second row, and felt great at the start. sitting in about 10th heading into the first turn. I hopped off the bike to do the 180, and run the long basket ball off camber section.

The goal is to race the start aggressively, because someone will screw up the start and hold you up. So I'm feeling good about my position... then it turns I'm the one doing the holding up. At the short end I intended to remount, and ride to the stairs... but I end up tripping over my own feet... and dropping my bike. By the time I regain my balance the bike is 10feet behind me... and most of the field has passed before I'm moving again.

Reset button. So the rest of the race was spent trying to regain any of the positions I had lost. I was not very successful. In fact I was going backwards faster than forwards.

The good news is I was happy with my wheel/tire choice. I really like how the Grifo Challenge tires work in the mud. I was running about 30psi. I guess the rule is you should bottom out no more than once a lap... I think I may have bottomed out once all race. The tire didn't gunk up in the thicker mud, held about as well as anything else I've run in these conditions, and cleaned off in the really wet sections. Very nice.

I was also pleased with the lines I was working. Finding solid, fast lines pretty much every where. Thought the far soccer field was nasty until someone (Ernesto) cleared out the large trashcan in the corner... that helped my crossings tremendously.

The bad news is I really have no top end. I'm pretty much nowhere near my max heart rate, and my average for the entire race has been consistently one zone lower than ever before.

At about three quarters through the first lap, I was ready to just pack it in and go home. I didn't. I decided this would be a race of attrition, which was soon starting to play out as Rick broke his dérailleur cable halfway through the next lap. Then I started seeing more and more guys on the side of the course. I just pushed through riding my own race where I was.

My buddy Brett missed the start... I think he was focusing a bit to much on the after race beers. I'm think he saw the field go by, and decided he better hurry up to get to the Master's start... but we all started together. So, he started at least a minute behind. He managed to catch my group, which I promptly fell out of.... then I passed him when he flatted on one of the rail ties. After the race, he asked me why I was going so slow. Nice, buddy.

With two to go, I noticed Jason from Spin was coming back towards me... so I at least had a rabbit. My goal was to NOT get lapped, and maybe to beat Jason. Not fantastic goals, but you need something out there.

Jason knew I was coming, and was sprinting out of corners. But I had the technical bits down, so through the lap, I kept closing the gap. I made the first goal and finished on the lead lap. So then went after the rest of the gap. Jason ran the basket ball court. I ran the off camber, but rode the rest. That helped loads. Then I matched his acceleration away, but completed closing the gap on the sled hill descent, and attacked him on the run up. It was enough that he gave it up. It doesn't matter for his points since we're in different races, but it certainly helped my overall race day to bring him back.

I'm not real sure how the timing is going on these A races... and I'm really not complaining. I did 7 laps (I think) in about 58min.... over 8m per lap. I did see Tony coming in probably 2 or so minutes behind me when I was hitting the sled hill, so I know they must have finished up in somewhere near 45-50 min. No results yet, so I'm not sure how close I was to getting lapped, how many total people were in the field, or where I placed (overall and Master's). I do think I would have been hard pressed to hold off the fast guys for another lap.

I'll rebuff my last paragraph by saying I totally appreciate all the work that Team Lakeeffect puts into these race. I'm not sure what Bill has to do to get Lynn to score all these races and put up with all of us stuck up, prima donna racers every weekend, but I'm sure he doesn't do enough. Though I did see Lynn and Renae picking through a rather extensive collection of wine bottles after the race. Every race has been well laid out, and well run even if a lot of us whine about some minor point that we think we know better about.

I have to say that this area would totally suck if we didn't have this series... thanks to everyone for doing what you all do!

The other "good" news is I'm now fighting a sore throat. So that may have had a part in my lack of top end... and I've got 3 weeks before my next race... so I can recover, and maybe find that confounded bridge.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Kirtland Park 2008

I missed last years edition of Kirtland park, and was bummed to hear about the course additions that I missed. I like this park first because I got my first taste of cyclocross here, and second because it's a cool venue. On warm ups, Bill was saying how much this park felt like the Java Johnny's UCI race at Sunset Park in Cincinnati. Small rinky dink park, with a fantastic race covering about every available inch of ground.

I arrived in plenty of time to get lots of warm ups laps in. I started warm ups in the parking lot above the amphitheater, and promptly dump myself on the second 180 turn. How in the world do you skin both knees... above the knee cap? Great... all told I think I dumped it about 5 times in warm ups... including a nice one before the east end stair run up, that I have no idea how I ended up on the ground. I was already off the bike, close to the shoulder move, when I flipped myself and the bike down. Great! Rick assured me he didn't see that... I hope not, cause that's exactly why I was looking around... "Did anyone see that?"

The good news was, after riding the course a lot, and practicing the amphitheater even more, I felt pretty good about cleaning things... and I wasn't the only one with issues on sections. It's all about NOT loosing time.

Cool thing about the downtown race, was at 12:45, a pair of F18s did a fly over!!! Wow Cyclocross is going big time with fly overs and everything! Then military helicopters TOO! Oh, the Browns had a 1:00 kickoff, and Obama rally started at about 1:45 (I think). I like the CX big time explanation better.

I lined up on the second row next to Bill and Derick, combined start today, so we're off!

It looks to me like there are about 40 racers, and I'm sitting around 30th at the start. At the 180, I see an opening next to Bill, so I take the inside line close to the tree. There's a bit of contact, and Bill and I have a little chat about it as we accelerate to the next turn. It was literally a little chat. Up the west stairs, and the race is already well sorted out. I figure, I'm sitting around 6th in the Master's with Bill up the way a bit, and Rick on my wheel, and Derick behind by a reasonable gap.

I'm not firing on all cylinders after yesterdays efforts, but I'm about where I should be in the master's field. Then some of the A racers start passing me, that I think I should be able to hang with or beat... so that plays on my head. Rick is stuck to me like glue... which also works on me.

So 20minutes in, and I touched the front breaks on the first 180 into the amphitheater... and go down HARD. again to cheers of the crowd YAY! My foot is stuck in the pedal, Rick is by me, Derick comes by while I take my chain beack above the chain guard, and I'm now playing catch up. I was real close to just packing it all in... and going to eat some cookies. It takes a while for me to get my head back into the race.

I figured out my front brakes are a bit grabby... it must be time for some adjustment. So I take the feather touch for the remainder of the race. Up ahead I see that Rick isn't pushing it as hard without someone to follow, and Derick catches and then leaves him. I've got my own issues with Stephan from RGD in his first CX race of the year. He passed me when I first revisited the amphitheater, and was getting used to it again, so I had to take a lap to get by him, and leave for Rick.

I end up catching Rick when Mike Plank(SPIN) returns to the race after what must have been a hard fall on the service garage off camber. He tried an attack through the start finish, and I latched on. Mike got around Rick, and I couldn't get around before the 180. When he accelerated away, it was Rick and I again. I passed Rick at the remount on top of the stairs, and went in search fo Derick.

I managed to not loose a lot more space, but Derick was not coming back. I was soon caught by the Pflug/Ernesto/Martin train... right as I was approaching the single file gate out of the ball diamond... so I sat up and let them through. Then went back to work knowing I only had 1 lap to go. After conceding my goal for the day (to not get lapped) My new goal was to not get caught by anyone else... and that took some serious work, cause I could see one guy coming, and then Brent and Matt Weeks fighting it out.

Run for my life! And I did.

Turns out Bill had a mechanical, so I finished in 6th place in the masters... that would be about 35th overall maybe? I haven't seen the results yet. Overall not happy with my legs this weekend, but it's still better to be racing, and I'll still return for more punishment next time... I've got 2 weeks to find something, anything.

Chagrin River Cyclocross Challenge 2008!

Double weekend.... or the crash and leg burn! Two races this weekend, First the Chagrin River Cyclocross Challenge, AKA the CX party by the river... Brett called for a costume party, and there were 6 costumes in the A/Master's fields. Better than anything else I've seen in CleveO



Saturday, I scrambled to get together a costume for the race. I've already shown up at random races with the Shrek headgear, so I figured I should go a little bit further.... I broke out the retro (V2) Snakebite kit... which is scary enough for our resident artsy guy. Then I scored a little more fun from the drug store Halloween clearance table.

Check Rick's Flickr site for more costume fun photo's!
It turns out we had a good number of costumes, which made the day even more fun. Add beer hand ups through the barriers, and overall party atmosphere that Brett brings.... what a fun day.

Oh, and the race!

On a political note, since this is election week, there's a lot I can say about Master's races... but I'm coming to realize I am just a grumpy old man.

Anyway, I don't think they had a "payout" for the master's category, even though we started 30seconds after the A's. I don't fault Brett on this, he ran a great race.... but it did ensure that Rudy was not racing for a placing... Since everyone is giving opinions now, I'm going to vote to always start the master's with the A field in every race. That will give the slower A racers someone to race against... filing out the field, and let the Master's racers know where they really stand. The idea is to get a decent number of guys into the field. I'm SUPER happy that there are more than 12 guys in the A races now... why artificially take guys out?

OK, no more soap box. I got a good start for the Master's field. I was second wheel through the first half lap, and felt good. Rudy set the pace, and I sat. I had no problem when Jeff came around me fine, I'll sit on. Five of us were away.... four Lake Effect and me. Then Derick muscled his way past, and proceeded let a gap open to Jeff and Rudy. I have no idea if I could have prevented that gap. I felt fine, but also didn't want to get worked by team tactics. So I just sat on and hoped I could go the distance racing Bill and Derick.

Brett did another fantastic job on the course. The new sections were great, and it ended up a challenging mile and quarter course. Twisty and at times technical, I had two time loss spots about half a lap apart. The sand was ridable this year, the hill was a greasy mess... and my remount on it was less than optimal. The other spot was the "former" river crossing. I could ride it if I cut it at an angle. The fastest guys were hitting it straight and able to make it.

So, Bill gets around me, and a gap opens slowly in my time spots. Soon, I'm alone chasing Derick, and racing among the "slower" A racers, picking off those I can. In the end I'm racing with Greg from Spin, and I totally screw the river crossing.... and drop my chain. I almost took Greg out at the same time... but he made it past with only minimal contact. I get the chain straightened out, and I'm no trying to chase Greg down again!

Derick is gone, there's no one pressuring me from behind. I only got lapped by the first 5 A racers... yeah. So I finish in fifth masters. At least the scene was fun, and I got lots of cheers for the wings! Got to love that.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Orrville CX #2.

I got the pass to race yesterday. So I hit up the Orrville CX race.

This week, I finally have the tubular setup together.... but the grifo challenge have short 32mm valve stems, and I have some deep rims. We had talked about valve extenders, but decided I could use the extender for filling without actually installing them. It worked alright, but I need to figure out a better way to do this.

Stacked field with about everyone there. I think there were about 20 including all the usual A race suspect. Didn't anyone go to Kentucky?

I lined up second row, picked a gear, and waited for the start. We're racing on time. Shooting to end at 60 minutes. I thought we'd get an idea of the lap count... not to be though. Here's a short lap by lap account:

Lap 1: Poor start in at least 1 gear to big. The field is lined out like a crit. Gaps are opening in front of me, but I'm working to keep my own gap manageble. AND I may not have enough pressure in my rear tire... it's bottoming out more than I want. Tubulars or not, I hope this pinch flat thing I hear about is true.

Lap 2: Trying to keep the gap to Bill and Derrick (Team Lake Effect) constant, when John Lorson (Orrville) catches me on his single speed. I will NOT loose his wheel. I soon leave him behind because I have gears that can wind up on the pavement... and because he stopped right before the pavement to fix something.

Lap 3: Trying to hold off Lorson who is slowly coming back. I'm starting to get the flow of the course down and having a bit of fun.

Lap 4: I Think I caught Bill here. Lorson is still back. I go hard to stay away and hopefully open the gap to Lorson. Bill came back to me more than I caught him. The guys ahead of us are continuing to open their gaps on me.

It's drizzling. Is that good for me? 54 and wet? Maybe... the grass is getting slippery.

Lap 5: Derick has at least a half K on me, if not more. And it's opening. I'm taking some corners a little gingerly since the tires are slipping a bit more than I'm used to. Very careful on the pavement corners. I have to get that corner drift feel again. It's been a while.

Lap 6: Lorson catches me. I'm faster up the little climbs where he's over geared.... and I can get more gear when he's spinning like crazy. I again sit on, then attack on the grass flats. The gap opens a lot on the downhill pavement section.

Lap 7: Continue to open the gap to Lorson slowly. It's not huge but it's a few hundred meters.

Lap 8: I don't know for sure, but I cross the line at 51minutes. So I'm guessing I've got two to go. I tried to push it to hold off Lorson, Derick is gone, so there's no one to chase. Then I see Paul Martin is about 500m back. So I figure I have to get to the line before him to finish on the lead lap.

So.... sweeping left downhill 180, I've been slick here for at least three of the previous laps... I take it tight and aggressive, and The bike comes out from under me. I land hard, and stop rolling with the bike above me. I get back on, and pedal the chain back into place... but it must not be seated well. I get moving up the hill and I've got nothing.. I get off the bike, and wait for my head to catch up with me, as Lorson goes by. Then Bill goes by, and then I notice my chain is under the third eye... so I fix it and get moving again.

Then Paul catches me in the twisty trees. Then Shawn catches me on the pavement climb to the finish... I see Paul finish up right behind Bill. So he gets the last lap, and I don't. Race over.

Still lots to work on for next week now. The good news is I raced my bike this weekend, and I've got two races coming up next weekend. Though rattled a bit, I felt fine last night with the exception of a slightly sore shoulder.

I figure without the crash, I would have finished in the same spot and on the lead lap. I lost quite a bit of ground getting my head and bike back together. So the drop cost me two places and a finish on the lead lap... but it could have been a lot worse... and the bike is mechanically alright.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Posted results.

Well, They gave me a DNF for Harbin park. Don't quite understand that, especially since I KNOW I was in front of Andys Burns who they posted at 1 lap down. And we had timing chips... so I don't know how they screwed that one up.

Very disappointed.
Harbin Park Results

Other results are also up:
For Friday:
Darkhorse Results

And Saturday:
Java Johnny's Results

Harbin Park UCI - 10/12

Last day of UCI racing, and this one will be bigger. UCI C1, so the course is wide all the way around. This is a power course also... lots of climbing and descending, with a really fast drop and short rise into a right hand turn before the wooded section, a short descent into a 180 switchback that climbs to the top of the park. The course also had a two way sand pit. Uphill between the finish and the barriers, that ended with a left (in the sand). And Downhill just past the second pit passing. Uphill was questionable on riding, downhill was fast and pretty straight forward.
Course Description just scroll down a bit.

Gary did pretty well again, as did Rick. Rick shot off the line, and got the hole shot with about 20m to the group. Very nice. I was hoping he could hold that for the whole race, but he faded and ended in 6th. Still a very nice result.

Same folks in my race. Again I had a fifth row start position. I got off the line well, and felt really good heading into the off-camber section. Then the wheels started to come off as we climbed toward the finish line. I felt like I was going well, but I go passed by a TON of guys.

I again tried to focus on Derick just ahead, target acquired, now bring him back. First time down the hill to the woods, and through the tight switch back. And I'm passed by an older Barbasol rider. It turns out I think I've been chasing this guy all weekend. He's the guy I targeted after my mechanical on Friday, and I was somehow chasing him on Saturday also... As we're climbing the hill on the first lap, I'm just digging in trying not to let a gap open up and the guy slows, and ducks under the tape.

Up until today, I said the worst feeling in the world is clawing your way back to someone, catching and dropping the guy, then having him quit shortly after you go by. I now have to update that. The worst feeling is being in the process of getting dropped when the guy dropping you climbs off.

I guess I should have known I was in trouble then. Next lap through a guy in white jersey is about 300m behind me. I keep him there on the paved climb and figure I can make ground on him through the rest of the lap. As I hit the woods, he comes around me. He made up 300m on me on a descent! Wow!!! The rest of the climb, I decided I will not quit until I am lapped... so DON'T get lapped!

Next lap.... another guy does the same thing! Makes up 200-300m on the descent. What the HECK!

As I go through the 180 switchback I see the two leaders heading into the woods.... I'm dead. I don't think I can hold them off for three more laps cause they are FLYING. Sure enough, they catch me at the same spot one lap later.

Let me update that "worst feeling" again... getting caught by the leaders with two and a half laps left in the race.

The good news is I rode the sand both directions all but the first lap. I had to run the uphill side then because there was so much traffic. Considering how far back I was, that was alright with me.

Two laps sucked. Bill and Derick got pulled with 1 to go, because (the official said) they impeded the finish sprint. The sprint finish was seconds behind them... it was a tough call since they wanted to finish on the lead lap... I wouldn't have been happy with that either.

Looking at my HR data, I guess I was pretty spent. Even with my mechanical on Friday, I averaged about 167. I usually average between 168 and 170 in a cx race. On Saturday, I averaged 162, on Sunday.... 152. It wasn't like I wanted to just take it easy either. I guess I was just beating a dead horse. It was hot all weekend, but I don't think that had as much of an effect as the repeat race days.

We didn't hang around for the Elite races on Sunday. 4 hours of driving, and we were both pretty beat. Dave didn't finish much better than I, though he wasn't lapped. He flatted on his last sand crossing and lost 5 places running it in. No matter, he was pretty far back by that point anyway. I guess three days of racing will do that to you.

Up next the Spin CROSS MY HEART AND HOPE TO DIE WILLOUGHBY CYCLOCROSS SPECTACULAR at Todd Park. Always a fun time.

Java Johnny's UCI - 10/11

What a cool course. We arrived again early enough to get a lap in before the start of the 10:30 race, and probably could have gotten in two.

Here we were at a marquee event for our sport. One of the biggest races in the country, including many of the big name stars, and it's held at this rinky-dink little park in the middle of an old town in Ohio. How cool it that! Talk about a "cult" type sport.

The park was REALLY small, but they used the space extremely well. It had about everything... Course Description There was a grass start this time, with barriers and a double sand pit. First crossing was no problem, but then you did a switchback and did the second crossing... I ran that part.

Through out the entire race, this course confused me. I like to think ahead to prep for what I'm doing next, and I repeatedly got it wrong. It's partly because there was almost no time between races to pre-ride the course, and partly because the course was folded into itself so that you thought you were in one place, but you were in the next lane over.

Gary did the 3/4 men's race at 10:30 and got 4th (I think). Sadie did the beginner ladies race, and Rick did the 3/4 master's race. Dave ROCKED his start this time getting from his 3rd or 4th row start position into the top 10 through the first barrier/hill climb. He rode very strong, and finished 16th out of about 60! Very nicely done.

I was hoping for a similar result. I started with Rudy, Jeff, Bill and Derick from Lake Effect... well they were all in front of me. Registering on the Tuesday before the weekend gave me some fifth row start places... not optimal. I got off the line alright, but got held up on the first turn somehow, then even further through the barrier hill climb. I swear I think I was almost last by that point, though I know I had at least 10 guys behind me. I just focused on keeping Derick close, and trying to pick him off.

I have a feeling I did a poor recovery job because I was not getting my heart rate up where I thought it should be. I was working hard enough, I just wasn't responding. I ended up keeping Derick in site for the entire race, I just never got back to his wheel. Ended in 40th out of 60+, with Derrick in 39th, Jeff in 37th, and Bill taking 35th. Rudy didn't have great legs (he says) but he still pulled into 25th.

The elite races were again fun to watch and very tactical. Katie Compton again went to win the women's race with Georgia Gould having a poor start, clawing her way back to Katie, then flatting. She didn't have a spare wheel so Katie Compton's husband gave her one of Katies to finish the race. Georgia finished 6th behind some of the other big named ladies that attended.

Jeremy Powers repeated pulling Jeremiah Bishop away from Barry Wicks and Jon Baker. Barry wanted Baker to pull through, but Baker sat on Barry hoping to pull out a third place. Jeremy dropped Bishop for the win, and Baker flatted in the last lap. Baker rode the flat for nearly a half lap, including a spin out where he ended up heading backwards on a paved section for a second... but he had enough of a gap on Troy Wells to hold onto fourth.

More recovery, and I'm hoping Sunday will be better. At least my tires held up for the day. We're going to try to get there earlier to get more practice laps in, since the start times are the same for both days. These times are super tight with no time between races... so it's nearly guaranteed the starts will go late. Especially if the 10:30 race starts 10 minutes late. By the 1:00 race, we were 30minutes behind.

Darkhorse UCI - 10/10

Dave Steiner and I made the trip down to the Cinci area for the triple UCI weekend. First stop was Burlington KY for the Darkhorse CX race. The course was very technical and super dry. Course Description is here.

We got there in time to do a couple of laps before the first race went off. Way better than Gary did... he arrived with Rick and Sadie for his race with 5 minutes to spare for signup... just enough to to register and jump into the start corrall. I tried to give him a heads up on the course... but it was an adventure for him. He did well finishing 8th.

Dave did the Cat 3 race next, had a pretty poor start, but raced well to get 19th out of about 35(I think)

I lined up for the Master's 1/2/3 race with 35 or so. I start on the fourth row... looked at my front wheel when I got the call up and realized I had rolled the Tufo tubie-clincher. Nice way to start my race. I got a nice start even so... and took the corners gingerly to get to the pits. A ladie was there who grabbed my spare wheel and helped me get the bike back together, and I went off in pursuit of some places. Of course, I totally screwed up the first technical turn after the pits and dropped myself on the ground... but then forced my self to relax or I wasn't going to get anywhere.

I probably should have just called it a race, and saved myself for the next two days. I felt good, and raced hard... but it seemed everytime I picked somone off, they would sit up and call it a race.

With 2 to go I had one guy in my sites. I decided I better treat this as the last lap... or it very well would be if I got caught by the leaders. I worked it trying to catch the guy, but he must have thought the same thing. Turns out he caught two more guys ahead of him, and I couldn't catch any of them. I did avoid getting lapped, I don't think I was even the last guy on the lead lap.

As I started the last lap, I looked at my rear tire, and noticed I had rolled that one too. So I pretty much just took it relatively easy around the corners to the finish. I still didn't understand why I couldn't close the gaps though until I also found my rear wheel was out of true enough to rub the brakes hard every lap....

It was very frustrating to mechanical on this race, but I didn't get lapped... I raced hard, and finished 28th our of 34 finishers... with 4 more DNFs.

We hung out to watch the elite races... Georgia Gould gave Kati Compton some competition in the women's race until 1 to go, when Katie took off. Then J-Pow, Barry Wicks, Jeramiah Bishop and Jonathon Baker animated the men's race. Powers eventually dropped everyone for the V. We though Shawn Adams was going to be the last guy caught, but Jeremy sat up to let Shawn cross the line to be last guy on the lead lap. Ernesto rocked the course from a back of the pack start to finish 20th on the day. No UCI points, but he did make some money since they paid to 25 deep. Rock on!

Plenty more racing this weekend though, so no time for dissapointment. I just went to eating and drinking to try to recover well for the Java Johnny race on Saturday.

Leroy Township - 10/5

I'm way behind in posting, so I'll make these short.

I did the Leroy Township Cross race on Oct 5 put on by Chagrin River Cycling. They did a really nice job for the first year at this park. They didn't have a lot of elevation to work with, but put on a very technical course including a BMX style rock garden and some incessant drainage ditch crossings... 7 times across this nasty little thing.

I lined up with the other 23+ A racers. Got a decent start, and settled in pretty quickly. The technical nature caused the first split as the front 6 or 7 guys got away. I was probably sitting in 12th at the end of the first lap. Then went to work trying to pick off places as people blew up.

It came down to Jason Halleran from Spin and I fighting it out for 9th place. We were pretty well matched trading places for about 2 laps. As we came through the line, Lynn told us we had three to go, and I took a breath. Jason some how got a gap on me right then. I worked hard to close it, but slid out on one of the twisty bits... and that was it. I tried to pull him back for the next lap, but my head had different ideas. I ended up a minute behind him at the finish in 10th.

The best part of this race was I had no mechanicals, and I felt like I raced well with the exception of lap3 to go, and maybe the last lap when I decided I didn't need to race quite as hard since I wasn't going to catch Jason or get caught.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wendy Park - BA CX #1 2008

Super nice course this weekend at Wendy park on Whiskey Island in downtown CleveO. Team Lake Effect did a great job of setting up just about everything... off camber, twisty turns, sand crossings, and some barriers. I have to say this course was comparable to the Michigan course I did last year.

Gravel road start into some grassy bits, with a 100* off camber turn. Up the hill with a sharp 180, then head back down a sweeping hill to a 90* onto more gravel. Transition from gravel to grass with a hop onto the paved bridge straight out to the lighthouse., around the flag pole, and back to the main land. First dismount over a 12" curb, back on for the climb up to the main level. Another 180* off camber, then twist around some nice bermed descending turns through some twisty bits, including a wide wooded section. The first 12 foot sand section, then along the lake to the beach, which included a nice right/left chicane to force most of the guys off their bikes before heading straight back to grass. Some more 180's, the barriers were three railroad ties that were hop-able, but I was faster running it. Then a few more folds before heading back to the start finish.

I decided to run the Michelin Mud Sprints since the course was hard pack, and there was lots of gravel. I ran them a bit soft at 40psi... I wanted enough to avoid the Cap City flat problem I had with the full on Muds at my last race, but I wanted the grabbiness for the two off-camber section.

Nice weather brings out everyone... A fantastic turnout with about 120 racers over the day. There were 22 A's and 21 Master's, which is huge for our area, so they staggered the start. I got a nice front row position next to the LE guys, and that was probably the last "right" thing I did.

At the start, I'm slotted in behind Rudy, Jeff, Bill and Derrick from Lake Effect. By the first turn, an RGF guy comes by me trying to find a spot, I fight past him heading into the drop and off camber. Everyone takes it a bit slow, but accelerates out of it quickly. Then Brett Davis from Solon and Phil Hines come by me. I should have latched onto them like a pit bull, but I don't think I was really "racing" yet... I'm a head case for sure.

At the pavement I get a nice gap on the guys behind me, but I loose time picking the wrong gear before the dismount, so I bog down on the hill climb. Plus dismounting on pavement is really weird... they layed down some carpet, but I was still really slow. On the climb, I end up fighting the RGF again, before the twisty bits. And somehow he's in front of me heading into the sand. How I ended up in 10th place before the beach is beyond me... but the guy totally eats it in the sand and that opens a HUGE gap to the front 6 or so. I end up dismounting and running getting around a few. That's the last run I do through the beach until the last lap.

So, three quarters of a lap in, and I'm playing catch up. 4 lake effect, Brett and Phil, the Brad Beeson from Spin, and me. I guess once I was out of traffic I was fine. So, I go in hunt of picking up places.

It takes me about another two laps to catch Brad, which I do at the hill climb after the pavement... he's slowed down dramatically... I try to give a little encouragement as I remount to pass him... but I screw the remount and he gets another gap on me. Back to work... I catch him again, and by then Derrick had come back to him. I'm sitting on their wheels as we hit the pavement, and I contemplate the strategy.... I decided to drill it into the wind... and I leave Brad behind. But Derrick is on my wheel... for a second.... before he realizes he's flat.

I carry the gap to the hill, but Brad closes it again. Through the sand, I start to open it and go in search of Bill, Brett and Phil who are about 200-500 meters ahead.

I have to say, the most incredible thing I saw was Greg Jackson (Spin) hopping the curb leading to the hill. That would probably have saved me about 15-20 seconds per lap... to be able to NOT dismount on the carpet taped to pavement, and be able to carry momentum into that hill would have been huge. He wasn't the only one to do it, but I'll bet he was the fastest at it. I need to grab some skills...

I end up screwing up all kinds of technical stuff because I'm looking at where other guys are instead of concentrating on the course... which costs me even more time. With three laps to go, I see Bill in the pits.... and I get the feeling he is done. So now I'm in fifth in the Master's.

With 2 to go, Brett is slowly coming back. I still feel pretty good, so I try to pick it up and bring him in. With one to go, I'm happy to have a good distance behind me to Paul Martin... so I know I won't get lapped. Now I just need to catch Brett.... I do the hop onto the pavement, and hit the rear hard. Uh-oh...come on, I have a half a lap to go, just hold on... but it's not to be. It's totally flat in 100m.

I ended up walking/riding the flat to the pit, then grabbing my spare bike to finish the lap. Everyone still on the course passed me while I was carrying the bike, and it was pointless to actually race after that, so I ended up being the last guy on the course! At least I got the most time on the CX bike...so I got my money's worth.

I guess I need a bit more pressure to avoid the flats... that and a bit more care on riding clean. Not that I was the only one. The Marut's had 5 flats between the two of them... and there were many others. At least mine only cost me a tub... Sawn Adams flatted two Challenge Grifos.

I've got some serious head work to do before next weekend... and before I go to do the Cinci triple weekend. This ain't no ride in the park we're talking about... it's cyclocross season. Get your head in the game!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What difference a bike makes.

So.... I was trying to explain the difference between the Steelman and the Surly CX bike to my son over the weekend. A tough prospect considering he has nothing to compare it to.

There are a few stories to go with this... like when an aunt asks my wife if artists pencils really should be that expensive, and what makes them different than the old No. 2.

Anyway, last night doing the 21min workout at Area 51, I can now quantify the difference the bike makes. I rode the Surly on the same workout I've done previously on the Steelman.

Same start as the previous 3 times... I felt great. The only difference was the tire and bike selection. Coming up on time, I noticed I was behind where I was last week... well behind. At the interval end, I'm guessing it's almost 1K difference over 21minutes. It's got to be close to a minute of effort.... all because of bike and wheel/tire selection. Too bad I didn't run the same wheels as before also.

I'll be glad to get back on the Steelman now... just so I don't take it for granted anymore.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cap City #1 Pics!

My son took shots on Saturday... I've posted them for fun. It's his first assignment as the team photog... since none of the others showed up.

Infirmary Mound Photos

Notice a bias in the shots? Seems to be a lot of orange and blue.... I know it was easy to catch shots of me since I was alone for all but 2 minutes... still, he did a pretty nice job. Now to learn about digital zoom.

Enjoy!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cap City #1.

It's the first big cyclocross race of the season. Spin had some issues with the Wednesday night series... and it was canceled. So that threw a new wrench in the training plans. This was the girls weekend in Columbus, so my son and I got to go to the Columbus Cap City race. He was the team photographer for the day, and I get to race. Here's how it went:

Thurs Night: Mounted the Michelin muds on the Ksyrium elites for race day. Figured I'd take three wheel sets. Muds, Grifo Challenge Tubies, and Ritchey Speedmax.

Fri: Front mud is flat. Can only fit 2 wheel sets... 3 wheels actually. Spare rear for trainer, and one spare set in the vehicle, one set on the bike. Leave the speedmax behind.

Get to hotel and pump up the tubies to take the bike to the room. I ended up doing about 15min on the spin bike, while trying to make this trip at least some fun for my son... who only gets to hang with dad over the two days while everyone else gets to have the planned fun.

Sat: Front tub is totally flat. Find a shop to see if I can pick up some latex to plug the leak. No luck, though the wrench does find the thorn that causes the flat, we decide to leave it in for now.

Get to the venue with an hour to spare. The front tub is totally flat. Looks like I only have a spare rear today. Replace the front tube in the muds so I can race.

Do the uphill half the course warm up before the B race starts, still have to see the single track part. It's relentless course with lots of grass climbs, and some single track. It's all up and then all down with some nice loops and a double entry pit. Sit on the trainer for a bit of warm up then hop on the course (still during the race) to see the rest of the course.

I'm getting into the barriers real nice and smooth, but my remount is pretty hard. I've got to get that dialed a bit more. It seems that I'm jumping to high, and moving to much side to side... so the rear wheel kind of scrunches and scrubs on landing.

Besides the course profile (see the HRM data), features include a single barrier at the bottom of 20m climb to the line. Most people are running this. Another steep 30m run up out of the single track. I guess it's ridable if you have the gear and a clear shot at it. I didn't have the gear. A double barrier after a gravel climb, near the other pit entry. A set of 3 nice off camber up and downs that were real fun when the approach was right... the last was tough to maintain momentum on. Then a down hill sweeping turn that directed you very close to a picnic table (that would be fixed to the ground, steel picnic table) right before the single barrier start finish.

23 A racers including MANY super fast guys. Before I lined up I was thinking top 10.... At the line, I'm second row behind Sean Adams. Bad, BAD choice. At the whistle... we're 10-15 back before he's clipped in. Then I realize this is a DOWNHILL start.... straight to the single track. The organizers could have done so much better starting us on the other side of the pit heading up hill.... jockey for position, I'm on the right side of the field as we go across 2 drainage pipe crossings, the pipes packed in gravel which is not buried. I unweight the rear as we cross the first one, but by the time I enter the single track I know I've got a flat. less than 500m into the race... and I'm flat.

If this was the front, I'd have gone home right then. With the rear, I continue to ride the single track, telling everyone to just get by me... I'm flat. At the run up exit to the single track, I'm the last guy in the field. I try to ride the flat on the grass a bit... but this is a clincher. So I pick the bike up and start running/walking. Then all the ladies (they started a minute back) pass me. I do my best to stay out of the way.

I'm behind everyone. Some guy says "shouldn't you be riding the bike". Thanks for the encouragement. Do a sloppy rear tire change... I do shift the gear into the twelve to get the wheel in and out well, but I neglect to reshift it up... so when I remount on a hill I'm grinding way to big a gear, loosing even more time. As I'm coming out of the pit, the leaders are now a half lap ahead of me... oh look! I never started my HRM.

I try to now just catch as many as I can. One women, a few more, then one guy. Then I get lapped with 5 to go.... out of 9 (I did 8). That totally killed my motivation. It's been a 2 minute race, and now I'm doing a 60+ minute training ride.

Women are doing 45 minutes. I catch all but 2, which I may have been able to catch as well as maybe one or two more guys... if I could have gotten myself motivated to push through everything. Once I wasn't in last place, I just did a hard $20 workout. I was lapped by maybe 10 guys...


HRM data shows the profile... though I started the timer shortly after the place I thought the race should have started. I also missed the start and all my running data. Green lines are elevation, blue are speed, red are the heart rate.

Not the way I wanted to start my cross season. Things I did right are much smaller than the things that I did wrong. Though outside factors also were a part, a big part was my response to them. Seems like DRAMA is my story this year... maybe it's me.

Ask me about the rest of this story sometime. I've only written the low drama part so far...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Euphoria Cross #1 9/3/08

It's HERE!!!!!! It's cross season now. No more road racing (not entirely by choice), time to get into the real season.

This is going to be a busy year. Mostly because Spin Bike Shop is sponsoring an 8 race Euphoria Cyclocross Series Wednesday nights near the airport. It's also sponsored by Euphoria Fitness (no link that I can find yet), as they own the land (strict series only use was announced).


View Larger Map

The course is on all those trails you see that are not streets, with a long paved section along Emerald Parkway to connect it all. Lot's of sandy gravel mix, with some nice terrain, and a bit of single track. Just enough roots to make it interesting, though there were flats.

I arrived late, since I didn't have a nice map like the one I included.... so I had enough time to ride a small section.. enough to know that 30-35 psi in my tubies was not going to work in this race. So I went to the van and pumped up some more, got a little more of the course in view, and was the last one to line up. I don't know the exact count, but I'd guess there were close to 50 in the A and B race. The A race had about 30 with some pretty fast boys turning up. Ernesto, Brent Evans, Matt Weeks... a bunch of the spin guys.

I felt guilty getting to the line last, and going straight to the front of the field... so I started near the back. Some announcements, and we're off pretty close to the 6:15 start time. Got to get it off on time in order to finish in the light. 9 laps for the As and 6 for the Bs.

We get about 100m to the gravel stuff and a gap opens up almost immediately with about 10-12 guys riding away from my group before the first set of barriers. The lead guys dismount almost stacks him into the first board, he's going way faster than he can run... but he does manage to stay upright. I think I better get past these guys and see what I can do to get to the next set. It's all training especially with a bad start position.

It takes most of the lap to get to the front, and since I haven't seen the whole course yet, I screw up the winding trees before the pavement. It slows me down, and the guy that almost stacked it gives a bit of a shout about my cutting the course. I assure him I'll get it right from now on. I hit the pavement, and drill it to open the gap... I'm away. So begins the solitary part of the race.

For the remainder of the race, I'm trying to figure out lines get used to my tires and how they drift, and get the barriers clean. The group settles in pretty quickly with Ernesto off the front. Matt, Brent and a couple others in chase. Zak, Greg and Brad from Spin are spread out behind them. Then there are 2 Spin multisport team guys and Gary working behind me. I may be missing some places.... but that was the race I saw.

I was doing fine for the first 20 minutes. Brent flatted, and went off course for a bike change. He managed that and still stayed in front of me. But he gave me another target to follow up front. Especially when he flatted the second time, and I was able to pass him making a wheel change.

At about 20min one of the multi guys caught me. It's probably the longest I've had my heart rate that high since last cross season. So I figured it was time to start conserving a little, but keep him close. I managed to bring the guy back on the smooth stuff, but he was opening on me a little in the woods. I had him on the single barrier, but dropped my chain and had to manually replace it... letting Gary get me also.

I followed Gary around for about a lap, when he slid out on a corner.... I heard his fall, and backed off so I wouldn't run him over. Then I encouraged him to stay with me as I came by. It didn't really work as he went down pretty hard, and had to do a little bike work along the way. On toward the next guy again. I just tried to keep it going, the guy was coming back slowly. With three to go, I figured I had plenty of time. I closed and came around him as we headed into the single track. That was the last I saw of him... I think he flatted shortly after I went by him.

With 2 to go, I started looking at who was next up the road. Greg, then Brad. I don't know if Greg saw me until we got to the pavement with nearly one to go. He was close enough. I just need to ride hard and clean and I thought I could get him. He probably was thinking the same thing... "if I'm not careful, John will catch me".

With one to go, I was getting the feel for the course. I was feeling confident and hoped I could use it to my advantage now. I didn't see Greg, but knew he couldn't be that far ahead. Then through the woods, I tried a different line... and slid my back tire out at the same place Gary went down. ARGHH! I got back up fast enough, but my knee took a but of a scrape. Now I was sure Greg was gone. Not much race left to go, just get moving again. As I hit the twisty trees, I could see Greg had 200m or more, but Gary was also gaining with the other Multi Spin guy. No great worry, I just punched it on the pavement to maintain my place.

It was cool to see Gary sprinting it out with the Multi Spin... I still don't know who took that. I figure I was somewhere around 10th. Matt won after Ernesto flatted while WELL off the front. Good thing for me cause he probably would have been close to lapping me. Matt's group was at least a half lap ahead of me if not more.

Rick and Tim also raced As, way to man up there. I'm just hoping I wasn't the guy that cause Rick's start troubles. Dan, Sadie and Anna did the B race, and MattO took pics... cause he doesn't think he can race a mountain bike in cross... we tried to convince him that he's wrong. I'm hoping I didn't forget anyone.

Overall it was a great turn out for a fun race. I'd probably like the course more if it was wet. The gravel and roots took out a lot of tires. Which certainly helped me, since I started poorly and I didn't flat. Next week we were promised a totally different course, and looking at the area, it offers a lot of options. I'm hoping for rain too.

Hats off to Spin for doing the work to run this event. With these, I'll have close to 20 cross races this year. I'm going to need to figure out how I'll find time to write about all these things.

Here we go... I can only get faster.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Valley City Road Race - 8/23/08

Been pretty busy, so I'm behind in posting this report.

Valley City is my teams race, so I'm obliged to volunteer to marshal. It's a pretty labor intensive course, since there are so many intersections, but it's super fun to race, and Linda does a great job coordinating everyone to ensure a safe fun event.

Every year it seems to be questionable if any of the volunteers can get coverage for their posts so they can jump in and race. I personally think it's nice to have the sponsoring team jersey in the fields. This year, I think we covered everything except the women's race. One racer in each field was about the best we could do though.

I raced in the Master's 45+ with the rest of the 19 strong field. The only numbers there were 3 MVC, 3 Echelon and 2 Pista Elite . Everyone else was racing alone.

Lap 1: Echelon sets the pace. Interesting tactics... we were not going super hard, but one of the Pista guys wanted to lead through every corner. He'd race up from the back to be on the front, then fall back once we were through. There was one move where Echelon released a guy off the front, and one unattached rider jumped over to him. I was just starting to think about doing something, when Rudy from Lake Effect came to the front and pulled that back.

Lap 2: There are three hills on the course right before the start/finish. The most significant is a steep little rise that ends at 500m to the line. Then we hit the rising, windy part of the course. As we came through here, Rudy and Sal from MVC got off the front with 2 other guys. The rest of the field was sitting at about 100m, and I'm thinking "there goes the race", when Dick from RGF says it outloud. No one moves, so he decides to bridge... I'm on his wheel when he ramps up, so I go with that. We make it across partly because of our effort, and mostly because the other 2 guys with Rudy and Sal don't want to work. I got to the group and went straight to the front to try to work... that was the intent. Instead I ended up behind Sal and Rudy as they were getting organized.

It's interesting how Master's racing works. Sal pulled off, Rudy pulled off, I pulled through.... and then nothing. Everyone is hiding. Sal decided to take off, and he goes alone. Rudy ends up pulling in an attempt to being him back, I pull through... and then Rudy has to work again. No one else is interested. Sal gets at least 500m, and MVC is working to interupt any chase effort. We may get 3 guys pulling through, but they always let and MVC into the line, which effectively breaks up the chase.

Lap 3: nothing much new here until we're on the down hill side of the course, and Rudy gets a gap with the remaining 2 MVC guys. Rudy is doing the work... and I'm behind 3 guys... and the second wheel is sitting in not working. So, I yell "pull through", the guy does nothing... and I again yell (with feeling) "PULL THROUGH". Still nothing, so I jump and say... "if you guys are not going to work, this race will be over." and I work to bring the three back. I like to think my eloquence convinced them to work, because we did get some pulls and bring them back. I do know the truth is that even though Sal had gotten out of sight (probably had at least 2 minutes for that to be true), the 2 MVC would not work with Rudy. They could have sown up the net three spots by working, but they weren't interested in that.

On return, the field of 10 to 12 remaining returned to soft pulls. We still had the three echelon, but they weren't very interested in working.... or were totally gased. I'm not sure which. It was getting me more and more frustrated.

Lap 4: No change really, Sal was long gone, and I was watching my heart rate sit in the Saturday morning group ride range. As we made the turn toward the back side, I decided I had enough, and tried an attack. Well, it may not have been the best place to do it, I probably should have been attacking much earlier so I would have had a chance to get away. Either way, I enlisted Rudy's help in this one, and tried to get us both away. We had a bit of a gap, but everyone was still to fresh, and this was the easier part of the course... and I was dying sitting on Rudy's wheel. First one guy got across, then the field caught us. I went straight to the back and almost off, as others continued to try to get away. Fortunately, I was able to limit the damage... with a little help from Dick, I was still in.

At some point, while I was still recovering, one of the Echalon guys got a gap... that seemed to stick. We were putzing again, so the gap grew. With 2 turns to go, Rudy jumps, I decided I'm not in any shape to chase... so if no one else does, I won't either. He managed to catch the Echalon and get hime for 2nd.

Now the field is riding for fourth. We make the base of the last climb together, and we race. I crest 4th in the field and am killing it to catch the front three. Nothing doing. This last 500 is a brutal false flat after a nasty steep climb, and my HR is hitting my max.... I'm seeing stars. Then I see the 200m to go sign... and I give up.

My brain totally screwed me. My thinking went something like this.
"No way am I going to close that gap... it's getting bigger."
"I've got a pretty big gap behind me, I'll just take 7th."
"I've worked hard enough this race already."

Then I got passed.... NOW my legs are already convinced they are done.... and I'm screaming at my brain for shutting everything down 200m to early... and I got passed by 2 more. So, I ended up 10th.

I love this course, I love the way it's run (aside from my own bias, I mean). I am becoming less than thrilled with master's racing, but I have all winter to forget about that part, and just race cross.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Worlds Again.

Another night at the worlds last night.

Following a few weeks away to recover from a bit of a high speed fall... if you run speedplay pedals, check your cleats if they are older than a year. Mine were over 4 years old.... in that time, the plate that holds the spring in place had worn thin. Thin enough that when I jumped for a sprint, the plate broke, and the ensueing instability sent me to the ground... quickly... while moving at 25 to 30 per. Ouch. I think crashing off road is much less tramatic than on road. Pavement is more abrasive.

But that was a month ago, so I'm back to racing... with new cleats.

At the warm up everyone was talking about the two DLP pros that stopped in on their way to Downer's. Usual suspects were there sans the PM train. Numbers in Torrelli (Hey two were there), Lake Effect, RGF, SPIN. Rick, Tom and I made up the SBR side. It must be getting close to cross season, since Jeff Craft was out, and Cameron and Shawn were both starting to ask me if I'm ready.

Short story We raced fast, I felt pretty good.

I was supposed to sit in and follow wheels, looking for leg speed. I mostly did that, though I jumped across a gap to join a break when the field sat up... of course since I could jump the gap, so could a lot of others, and that split went no where. I was near the front for a while, so I pulled through.... a couple of times before getting back into the field. The next split worked differently... that was probably the lap that Rick recorded at 28per.

It drives me nuts when the break goes, and everyone stops. Last night it felt like literal stop.... my HR dropped into low zone 3, so I got up front and pulled for some threshold work. I will say that the break went with good representation, 1 DLP, 3 Lake Effects, both Torrellis, at least 1 RGF and a couple of Spin riders. But then everyone else just stops. We could see the front group about a half kilometer up the road. SBR was probably the largest team without representation, so it was kind of our responsibility to work. Really, though... without taking anything away from our guys, it's not like we're a threat to bring this break back without some serious help. Tom got to the front and pulled us along for a while, then I did some, Chris from BioWheels did some work. But everyone else seemed pretty pleased to just watch the split go.

So, I'm on the front, and Stephan from RGF comes up to work. I pull off, and there is a big gap... so I jump in that and pull again. Then come off as Stephan pulls through again. This goes on for about a lap. Weird. No one really wants to work. The race is over with about 10 up the road. So Stephan attacks! What! I guess I don't understand how this race REALLY is supposed to work.

Eventually the pace settles again, and a bunch of guys that had come off the field, rejoin to get their workouts in. Then I guess Dave from RGF decided he wanted to get back into the race. So the RGF guys go to the front and we're moving again. I'm on Derrick's wheel when the first few start going, and we're right behind the train through the start-finish. Humming along, Dave is pulling going into turn 2, with Derrick and then me. It's looking like Derrick won't pull through.

I like turn two when I'm near the front. I can rail that thing, and come out really fast... faster than most guys I guess because I've gapped guys sitting on my wheel through there in the past. So I'm third wheel through the turn, and it's obvious Dave wants off the front as he goes to the right curb, but Derrick is NOT budging. So I pull through on the left... I guess Dave was getting upset, and he started to pull off left then, too. I yell as I go by, and pull, but no one is on my wheel. What a mess. I wonder if there is a good way for me to pull through that corner?

Anyway. I back off a bit to let the field back on...as the other DLP pro jumps! OY!! I dig hard to get the wheel, and I'm there but I'm am not staying here! The gap opens and there is nothing I can do. I try to get the next guy to go.. but it's a Lake Effect and they won't.

Dave yells something about how can I let that wheel go, as he goes to close the gap. Sorry, I did what I could. We eventually bring the guy back, but I'm done doing any work for multiple reasons. I'm supposed to be sitting in, remember? If RGF doesn't want anyone to get away, then they'll have to do the work for it.

Dave was getting pretty upset about the race tactics. Spin riders were attacking the field, Lake Effect was actively blocking, and RGF I think was kind of almost trying to get a chase going. Tom was working occasionally, Chris was a stud doing his part, but I was done with that. Eventually, Dave sat up and pulled into the parking lot amid another rash of screaming. I guess he decided to race another day.

The field was then content to move, but not to quickly. My HR was where I wanted it to be. The DLP guy tried to get away a couple more times, without success, and it ended in a sprint. Someone won the race I'm sure. I was sitting absolute last wheel coming into final turns, behind Bob Martin from RGF. If he went, I'd have gone with him... but he he's a snake through the field. I ramped up, but it was more fun sitting in watching how some guys bounce around in the field to get 10th in a field sprint for 10th place. I'm sure someone won the field sprint too. I rolled across the line somewhere pretty far back in the field.... I was entertained.

Another day at the races complete. 4 weeks until my first Cross race!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Worlds Zipp night.

Similar to last year, the Zipp Demo night brought out everyone to try some tasty Zipp wheels. There were probably 50-60 in the A field. Lots of normal B racers were out to see if upgrade in wheels would be enough to hang in the A field. Fun right there.

So Dave, Tom, Gary and I were joined by Rick, who was shamed into racing the A's by the promoter... and I added my two cents as well. We still had a large contingent of B riders and an equally large field. It seems the chance to ride high zoot brought out LOTS of folks I hadn't seen this year... not that I've been at them all, just saying.

Lots of fast guys, we took off from the gun with a 1 point prime. Dave and Brian from Lake Effect went off the front. We gave them the space... then the Paul Marting train started to work, I thought they were doomed. They held on though, with Dave leading out and taking the point. Score one for SBR.

Pretty much from here on out, it was kill it, sit up... repeat... for the next 10 laps. Lots of primes, merch and otherwise. Lots of cars... and we lapped the Bs at least 3 times. I was getting pretty frustrated closing gaps that were opening in front of me, then having the field sit up... and that would let the same guys that I just closed gaps around get in front of me again. Urgh!!!

At about 13 or so to go, Paul decides it's time and takes off with Andy Moskal (RGF) and Rudy (LakeEffect). Tris (Team Columbus) goes to the front and hauls us around for 2 or 3 laps, that cut the field down considerably. Tom got up there and was also doing work... and I was pleased that we continued to race even when the first three spots were gone. Too often I've seen a break go and the field just gives up. I guess that with two spots remaining, no one was ready to just sit up.

I was also pleased we still had the full team in the group to the finish. There was a few shots that each of us took, and a few times I was dangling at the back of the field. If I'm thinking I'd rather go home now, I was sure the thought was in a lot of other guys.

At 5 to go, I was watching the RGF train start to come together... so I latched onto what I figured would be the end of it. We still had 25 to 30 in the field, so it was tough to stay on the wheel I wanted. I got back to the spot, but at 2 to go was again taken off...then found Dan Quinlin's wheel, and figured I'd hang onto that. Maybe not my best choice if he didn't sprint, but if he took and early dig it might pull me into a good position.

We were still pretty far back, until 400m when the field ramped up... then 200 we were flying though the field... at 150 Andy Clarke (RGF) came off his lead out and swung onto the yellow... as Dan cut inside. My line was a bit more erratic, so I lost some speed there but still came through 10th in the field. Not bad, but I don't think I opened everything up. Some more learning to do on whose wheel, and how to negotiate that final 1K.

Still a nice showing by the team. Work was done by all, and we have verification that Rick should be in the As ... (there's some love!) I ended up with an average of 27.1 which is a bit higher than El Presidente says, so it's probably somewhere between us... or his includes the neutral and cool down and mine doesn't. I'm not sure. My sprint speed was at 35.1 so that's also promising since I don't feel I used everything... if I can get a clearer line, and open that up some more maybe get up there.

Back again next week for another shot... hopefully.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Raccoon Rally MTB 2008

Rest and recovery from the road race was the program for Sunday. Since it had rained pretty much through the road race... the sun came out almost as we cross the finish line. I still knew the cross country course would be pretty muddy. Then the skies really opened up at about 8:00 on Saturday... and it poured for the next two hours.

As we were driving back from dinner, the discussion was indicating that I probably would not see Dave at the start line in the morning. I got back to the tent, found I had set it up in the most perfect spot for a dry night.. did a little cleanup and was asleep by about 9:00... woke at 7 for a good rest... then proceeded to screw up my race day prep.

The bike was fine, but I ate to much at breakfast, and on the line was contemplating what it would feel like to puke while hitting the single track. No worries though, I was off the back within the first 500m, and watched the group ride away as we got to the woods.... so my race last exactly 5 minutes. I didn't stop, but I was caught by the first sport riders at 14 minutes. Let's not say sandbaggers, since it did take them 12 minutes to make up the 2 minute head start I had.

I figure I was about in last place in the expert field by the time I hit the first climbs on Snow Snake. My head or my heart were not really in the race, so I was just screwing around. chatting up the sport riders I was with. The course was pretty muddy, and my tires were not really hooking up on the steepest stuff, so there was a bit of hike a bike, but no worse than some of my earliest attempts. I could have stopped to let some air out... but I figured might as well shoot for last place and still try to be respectable.

I don't remember last years times, but I exited Snow Snake at about 50 minutes. I had estimated a 3 hour ride, with the wet, so this wasn't terrible. I trade places with a couple of sport guys noticing they would catch me on the climbs, but I would roll the flats and drops better than them. So I started to try to race them to keep my concentration.

Near the last climbing section before descending to start lap two, I was caught by a single speed and a female sport rider. The woman easily got by me on the climb, but I closed to her pretty quick on the descents that followed. I didn't find a good place to get around her until another guy caught us, and we both passed right before the gnarly switchbacks down the ski slope. I followed the other guy down, carefully picking my way through it and started lap two at about 1:50. I had started to worry about getting lapped if I didn't get through by 1:30, but I had made it safely through despite my first estimates. I was also feeling much better, even without puking.

The second lap is the long steady grind back to the top of the mountain. It's pretty much a constant grade, made all the more fun this year by the stream of water that flowed down the incline mostly on the trail. Reminded me a lot of some of the Wild 100 trails on the second year we did that one. I was often thinking of the tea creek like mud we encountered on the day.

A short way up the climb, the woman passed me again... and I thought "I can go that fast", so I jumped on her wheel and let her do the pace making. I stayed within 50m or so, until we got about 3/4 of the way up when it seemed she slowed down. No one else responded to her, so she effectively paced me back up at least 3 places. I was extremely gracious when I came around her, and hoped to return the favor by pacing her the remainder of the climb, but she continued at her own pace.

I decided now that I was in front of some expert guys, I should probably race my bike now. So big ring the flats and descents.... and just get over the climbs. Mud had turned my triple ring into a double, and though I would have liked one or two more gears, I made do. No one passed me, though I caught no one until I was back on the sport loop. One guy was a short way behind me... I pulled away from him pretty easily. I also caught one more on the switchbacks right before the finish.

I rolled in at 3:05... which was pretty close to my estimate... but 50minutes behind the winners. Ross Clark from Solon, finished second in 2:15... almost no different from his time last year. Very interesting.

Not what I wanted, though I guess a biological is better than a mechanical. Maybe I'll get everything right for this set of races someday. There are so many ways I can screw this weekend up, I'm sure I can find a new set next year.

Raccoon Rally Road 2008

I've been a bit busy lately, so I haven't blogged about the two Westlakes I've done since my last post... first one the field split in a very weird way. I was on the wrong side of the split... with nowhere near enough firepower not represented to get back up... though I tried to bridge when the bridging was happening. I let a wheel go at the wrong time. Funny thing about the worlds.... once the field splits. The second group decides they don't want to race. We got lapped.

Last week, the worlds were strange in a different way. It must be because of master's natz this week. I sat in riding tempo the whole 25 laps without doing anything. Sitting in beautiful position 10th wheel on the back of the RGF lead out train in the last half lap... I hit the pavement funny and blew my tire... race over, but good speed work.

So... I did a couple of bike races over the weekend in Western New York. The Raccoon Rally was a big target for the year, road race on Saturday, mountain bike race on Sunday. Cool scene all weekend.

Regulars, Dave, Tom K and I were joined this year by Pete S., Matt O., Gary B., and Mike L. Dave had preridden the first climb on Friday and was able to brief the new comers. At the start the sky was threatening, but it was dry. They have historically combined the masters, and the 3/4 races together, which leads to a really large field. There were 38 finishers in the 3/4 race, and 18 masters... but if it doesn't look like folks that dnf dring the first lap were listed at all.

So 60+ roll off the line together under protests for splitting the field were ignored. At mile three the rain started... and it came down.

I've had no success with this race since I've moved to the 3/4 field. The first year, I came off at the top of the first climb with bad team tactics that made my poor positioning hurt even worse. Last year, I came off in the same spot, only in the second lap and did a person TT to make it to the finish with only getting passed by one female rider. So the goal was to get to the finish with the field. I'm confident enough with my sprint to use it if I was in the place to do so, or help Tom, who has consistently done well in this race. I figure if I saved it for the sprint, he would somehow be on my wheel... he's very good at being on my wheel for any sprint... including last week's Westlake.

The first climb was pretty calm and there was no real danger, I figure the rain effectively neutralized the field. We set a reasonable pace, but were over the top with most of the field intact. On the descent it was all together, so I started giving the new guys tips for where the next climb would start.

I decided here my glasses were doing more harm than good, and stuffed them in my pocket for safe keeping. I also was very conscious of fueling this time. The plan was to shoot a gu on each of the three descents.... not including the last one since I didn't expect to have time.

Second climb is more difficult but thankfully shorter than the first. The pace was a bit hotter, especially when we hit the steep part. I was well placed, and conscious of my position as the field split. In fact... I looked back and watched it happen a few riders behind me.

The pace didn't slacken as we got closer to the summit, and I fell off the back maybe 1 or 2 K from the summit. There were a few other guys that came off like me, and we kept the field within 200 meters or so individually. As we hit the summit, I caught the next guy up the road, and we started to work to get back on. I was sure that I could close the gap, and got some more help from an unattached rider with a set of Zipps that finished the job for the 4 of us. I'm pretty sure the exact same thing happened last year... it very well could have been the same guy.

As I caught the group, I came through and swear I saw all 7 SBR in the field. I was wrong, as Gary and Mike somehow missed the split and were behind us. Mike flatted out shortly after the split... so we were down to 5. My mistake here was not to go directly to the front and work the pace to help keep others from reattaching. Word is Dave tried to organize the group, but got no interest... and is not enough of a seargent to force the issue.

So... we took an easy descent... except it was pouring down in buckets, and the rain was really stinging as it hit my face... I was regretting putting my glasses away, but didn't dare take my hand off the bars to grab them. Meanwhile, Gary was working like crazy behind us to get back onto the main field, and he made it right as we went through the start line. Unfortunately so did about 10 or so others, and the field was up to about 30-40 again.

Second lap, After working to catch back on, I guess Gary came off again on the climb to the finish... so at the top of the first climb (second time) We were again down to 5 SBR. I managed to put my glasses back on, for the descent, so I was ready for some bombing.

As we descended, I started to figure out a strategy. With 5 in the field, there was only one other team that looked to have serious numbers. We had been conserving the whole race, so I thought one good attack at the base of the last descent may split the field again. I figured Pete had the best time trial experience, so I asked him if he'd give it a go. I had enough time to also talk to Dave... and he agreed. If Pete got brought back, I figured one other attack, then save it for the finish.

Second climb, I'm fine, feeling alright... the other team is driving the pace. My HR is in a descent zone. As we hit the steep part the field slowed, but I had a clear line up the right so I was able to carry my speed and moved to about 10th wheel.... then the pace picked up... but mine didn't. As the gap opened, I looked at my HR, and said NO WAY! I was sitting in a low z4, so I have to be able to close this.... don't know why, but the legs would not respond to me at all. I'm off the back with no reason I can point to with 1.5 miles to go to the summit. DAMN!

I can see the group right ahead... and I maintain the gap at about 200-300 meters. There is one guy behind me. I know if I could have stayed on in that one instant, I'd have made it. I just worked to hold the gap. I saw the field at the summit, but then they were gone. The guy behind me caught me and we started to work together. I'm spun out in my 53/11 with my hr in z3... and the field is no where to be seen. We both chased hard... but when we passed the camp store there was no sign of the field... so I sat up to fight another day.

Turns out we were fighting for 11the and 12th place in the 3/4 race. I finished 21st overall. This is still my best finished yet at this event, though I'm still disappointed in the result.

The team did a stellar job to get 4 into the front group. Tom again did fantastic to pull out 2nd place, even though he attacked the field when Pete couldn't. In fact everyone attacked the field on the final run except for Pete, which is fine, since Pete got 4th, Dave got 6th, and Matt got 9th. Gary soldiered on to finish right behind me in 13th to round out the SBR team.

Nice job team.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Westlake 5/13/08

I did the Worlds last night. Dave, Tom, Gary and I raced the A race, everyone else was in the SBR race, I mean the Bs. Seriously, it's like half the field of 30 was in Orange and Blue. It's nice to see everyone out.

Word is there were about 40 in the A field including the usual strong teams. RGF, LakeEffect and Spin had big numbers, Torrelli and Inferno had 3, and Paul Martin was there...

Here's how it went. We raced our bikes until a small break went early with Dave. Dave won a prime, and the break was brought back. We went fast again. Small gaps opened and were closed by lots of people.

For the most part, I was sitting in... as were all the big guns except for the Torrelli duo. I tried to watch what they were doing, just in case something interesting developed. But it was pretty thick.

The Inferno guys were riding around telling people how to ride their bikes. Well not everyone, just the guys they thought needed to be told. With a field of 40, and everyone waiting for Paul to do his thing, there was not much room for movement. So Cameron from RGF attacked across the yellow (in an area where everyone goes left of center) and that got quite the reaction from people. Yelling and cussing, and I'm sure Cameron will take every one of those words (and threats) to heart next time he thinks it's time to go.

The race very quickly went into the Paul Martin Zone (PMZ) for Westlake. Small guys go off the front.... and everyone watches, all the big guys stay at the back waiting for Paul. Small guys bring it back. More small guys go, repeat.

Eventually the right combo of small guys go, and no one works. (Read Spin on this night) So the small guys break gets a sizable gap, and everyone complains that the small guys teams (represented in the break) are not racing, but blocking the field... like those guys are going to pull their own back. I know it happens frequently, but don't complain when it doesn't. At least they were keeping us moving at that pace.... if they sat up we'd be going slower.

The PMZ is when no other team will work, represented or not, because they know Paul will put in a two lap pull at about 30+ per, and bring the break back. Then another group will go, and we'll repeat this. Everyone races against Paul. Sure it's fun to sit on while he lines the group out, but it's also extremely weird. Last week, those breaks would have been shut down early by other teams, because the big guys that want the points weren't represented. In the PMZ, Paul decides when they get closed down.

Anyway, I tried to get into a few moves. I had a line on a split, and tried to close it down with an Inferno on my wheel. I looked for him to come around and help, but he decided to attack me instead. So we both came back in short order. Nice. The second one, I was second row with Paul, and made a comment about how everyone is waiting for him to do the work. Then I decided forget that, and jumped to bridge. I was making headway alone, but noticed the break was kind of putzing along in a disjointed rotation... and the field was also keeping my gap constant... so I figured it was doomed, and nixed my continued effort.

With 5 to go it was all together, and we started getting some primes in quick succession. 1 point, 2 point then 3 points. With 2 to go it was all together, so I was thinking bunch sprint, or PM attack. I worked it into the top 10 with 1 to go, and Paul and an Inferno took off. I was on Rudy's wheel, as he jumped with Derrick, and an RGF I think? Anyway, there were Paul and Inferno, then us 4 and we had a nice gap, with half a lap to go.

So I thought this could be it, but I look back and Batke (who had already flatted out of the race) was pulling Ray and the rest of the field back up to us. OK, if it wasn't him I guess someone else may have done the work, but come on.

So, we're caught with 600 to go, and I go from 6th, to 10th to 20th in short order... with 300 to go, I find Tom K on my wheel, so I give it everything for 100m, then pull off and coast in.

High point of the night was Dave getting 2 primes and riding the breaks really well. I got in some more training, and did a good bit of work. The other high point is watch Paul pull at 30per, and sit up for 20seconds when the break comes back, then go again... because he can. I ended up with an average of 26.8 from the start to finish. No wonder my legs were complaining on the stairs today.

Fun, fun. Maybe I'll repeat this again next week.

Monday, May 12, 2008

RATL 4 - 5/10/2008

Last RATL of the year. I missed number three, but the weather for 4 was fantastic, sunny and 60. Not spring classics, so I was surprised that we only had 12 in the master's field. 4 MVC, 3 LakeEffect, Jeff Braumberger from Inferno, me and 3 other singles. We were slated for 15 laps. Nuetral to the start finish.... first time I've heard that.

The first few laps were mostly spent jumping on wheels. Braumberger took a couple of digs, as did Rudy (LakeEffect) and Ponzio (MVC), but it all stayed together. The only interesting one was when Ponizo jumped through the start finish, I got on his wheel with Derrick on mine. When Sal pulled off, I kind of hesitated cause it looked like we were still all together, but Derrick told me to go. By the time Derrick pulled through it was all back though.

With 10 or 11 to go, Rudy jumped through the start finish, and no one followed. I thought about it, but looked at everyone else instead. Racing defensively at that point, Rudy was away. MVC was content to let him go, 2 of the singles started to work some at the front, I'd pull through, but if MVC was not committed to bring it back, neither was SBR, the army of one... me. So my pulls were short. Eventually, an MVC would come to the front and work for a while, then fade back, and the other 2 singles would be back at the front.... then another MVC would do some work...With no real commitment our speed went down.... it was a comfortable, tempo pace.

With 6 to go, I was pulling through the parking lot when Ponzio jumped... I half jumped to go with, but being on the front already, I decided to let someone else do the work. I expected LE or Braumberger to go, but neither of them did. Sal was away.

We kept Sal in sight, but he had about 100m as we approached 5 to go. I decided I would jump on the hill and take my chances... but the offical started ringing the bell for a field prime, so I changed my mind. If I jumped then, I expected everyone to jump with me to go for the $10.

It was calm for the lap, and Sal extended his lead to 200m or more. I figured if anyone jumped for the prime, I would go with and try to grab the prime... but win or loose, I was going keep going. At 200m, Larry Pandy (MVC) jumped and got a slight gap. I jumped after him, got his wheel, then came around taking him by a wheel at the line, then just dug in, head down I was going. We had a good gap on the prime, so when Larry sat up, I was away.

I expected Derrick or Braumberger to come with or jump after me... or maybe the other MVC sprinter, but I was alone. OK, 4 laps I just went all out. HR was in solid zone 5 for the first lap. I tried to back off a bit, but keep my pace up... it didn't really effect my HR much, but it was a thought. 3 to go, I had 500m or more. 2 to go I was out of sight for the entire lap, and Ponzio was about 500m up the road. I sprinted up the hill with 1 to go just to ensure I stayed away. Still expected Braumberger to attack the field. But he was just taking it easy to prep for the 123 race.

So I got third, and beat the field by at least 30seconds, if not a minute. Rudy was 15sec from lapping the field when he won the race, probably 2 to 2.5 minutes up on me.

This is the first time I've gotten away from the field ever. First break, and I did it solo. Of course, they let me go... but I'm still very pleased with this result. It turns out that they awarded the Prime to Sal, who was not really in the field when they rang the bell but was close enough I guess. The $10 doesn't really matter, it was a good place to attack, so I did. That was the real goal for me.

It does make me think about Master's racing style. Do I race defensively, trying to key off big names? "I'm only going to go if Braumberger goes!" Sounds weird especially when I don't know if Jeff is racing this race for the win, or to warm up for the 123 race.... which he did today. I don't think I was only racing like this, but it certainly could happen.

It also points to how the Master's race tends to be about "star power". I've done three Master's races.... splits are nullified instantly if the riders in are strong and could possibly go all the way together. If they are nobodies, they are given space enough to fry... and if Rudy or Jeff goes alone with enough of a jump, everyone says "I can't get that!" or "I'll go when someone else jumps on it."

The next few weekends are light, so I'll get into some more Westlakes. Then I'm looking to the MVC races the first two weekends in June. Time to race in the 3 fields though, and see how the other half lives.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Westlake 5/6/08

First Westlake of the year. Dave, Chris, Tom and I were in the A race. There were about 200 SBR in the B race.

Dave and Chris went to the front during the roll out. I talked to Tom, who said he was going to play it quiet for the first third to half the race, I figured, I'd work that part, take it easy while Tom did his stuff, then come back for the finish and see how that would go.

At the start, RGF went, as the bell rang for the first prime. About 5 guys went with, including Dave, so I rode tempo on the front, leaving the gap to let them work. It worked out nicely as Dave took the prime.

We settled in for a while. I worked hard covering moves, but couldn't get into anything significant. Chris did get into one, that got off the front for a prime that he won also. By then I had done enough work that I decided to sit in for a bit at about lap 4. A few laps later a break went with Rudy, Batke and 2 RGFs. It took us about half a lap to see the break, and another half to decide we need to work to bring it back. So all 4 SBR went to the front and worked.

We pulled for at least 2 laps, with no help. The break was coming back, but way to slowly for us. Then Spin (also not in the break) started to "Pull" through... which felt a lot more like attacking since they would shoot out of the field at 2-3 miles per hour faster than we were going... and it happened multiple times with different riders. We continued to work though now the work was less organized... and we tried to convince Spin to work with us instead of against us.

We did pretty well to hold the break close at about 400-500m, but couldn't finish especially when we ran out of guys and RGF and Lake Effect started the blocking technique. We weren't organized enough to keep them out of the paceline. It wasn't long before the work caught up to me. I had to sit in and recover, cause it was really hurting. I would still move up, but my legs were fading fasts.

Eventually the gap to the break came down more, probably in part because they had been out there alone so long, and partly because people started to attack our field in earnest. Chris got himself into a few the moves. The last one, Tris from Torrelli jumped and Tom was all over it. Of course the field followed, since most of them had been doing nothing all night. Tris and Tom made it across, but the field didn't slow and the break was closed down.

We caught the break with 1/2 lap to go.... then the accelerations started again. I was contemplating getting into the sprint when the field accelerated again, I stayed with through the S turn... but my whole body went super tight. I felt like a towel being wrung out.... so without much choice, being off the back, I sat up and rolled the last half lap alone.

Overall the team rode great. Dave picked up the first point prime. Tom was smart as usual, made it to the break, though that same move also doomed the break. Chris rode fantastic getting into a few moves, got another point prime and finished in the top 10. I did a ton of work and hopefully took some pressure off the team. I felt good for most of the race, and count it as good training.. which is what Tuesday nights are supposed to be.

Props to Gary for jumping in the B break, and jumping out of that for the V. We can use those legs in the A races now.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

RATL #2 2008

Week two of the series. The threat of rain reduced the field sizes a bit. SBR still had larges numbers, and improved on last weeks performances. Since I write late, I'm sure everyone has seen those reports.

I lined up with 12 other Master's racers for the 45+ race, half the size of last week. The field had 5 MVC. Rudy and Derrick representing Lake Effect, and Ed Delgros had a friend in his colors. The rest of us were on our own, though I think Braumberger counts for at least 4 by himself.

At the gun Delgros sets the pace for the first three laps (I'm not kidding). Then Jeff gives a few pushes up the hill to soften things up a bit. Being I missed the break last week, I was being very attentive to moves. The goal this week was to be at the front of the race... whatever that looked like. So, I was anticipating the next attack to be the one that would split the field.

The next two times up the hill, I was ready for it, but it didn't come. Then the bell for the first prime was rung. I half contemplated getting into the mix for the $5 prime, but then decided that Jeff would probably push right over the top after the prime... and sure enough. Delgros and and MVC fought it out, with Delgros on top, then Jeff went, and Rudy and I were right on that move. MVC and Delgros looked a bit surprised by it, but recovered as 8 of the 12 remaining guys took off.

I tried to be active, without working. The split still had Braumberger, 3 MVC and 2 Lake Effects, Delgros and I. We didn't really work this as a break, instead Delgros recovered and went back to the front. Braumberger started to just camp out at the back... my guess was to conserve for his second race.

I was feeling pretty comfortable, and still was waiting for another split. Rudy tried an attack through the parking lot, that I was all over. I pulled through, but we had no space... Larry from MVC took off alone, and was brought back. Jeff collected the next prime with no split. And the laps continued by.

Five to go, I'm feeling good. I certainly can beat at least two of these guys, if not more, as long as I stay with the group. With four to go, Sal from MVC takes off alone and gains a few hundred meters on the group. So we go to work again. Getting close to the end of the race, I knew we wouldn't let him get away, so I figured I'd help the chase... and did my share, pulling through the end of the parking lot to the sweeping curve before the hill. Delgros pulled through as I got onto the back of the group.

As we hit the hill, Jeff decided we were close enough so he goes and finished the catch... unfortunately for me, I'm 10m off the back at the top. It;s probably the most frustrating thing in the world to be 10m off the back of the group, being driven by the strongest guy on the field, and he's looking back over his shoulder to see what damage is being done.

I wasn't the only one off the back, Larry had come out before I did and was about 20-30m behind me. I kept the gap constant on the hill and into the parking lot... but could not close it. The headwind in the lot opened it up a bit, and I was about 20m back as we hit the hill with 2 to go... and Larry caught me back by the top.

The 6 money spots were all ahead of us, So we started to work together.... and still the gap stayed at about 20-30m... With one to go, it opened again as Derrick put in a beautiful attack on the other 5. Totally setting up Rudy, very nice and I've got a front row seat to see the action.

As Larry and I climb the hill, he suggests the group will slow to play the sprint games... Not with Derrick off the front though. Jeff jumps the gap to Derrick in the parking lot and goes by like Derrick is standing still. The group reforms, we're still 50m back... and Larry is opening a gap on me.

I see the sprint for money start knowing Larry and I are out of it... Larry's gap opens considerably, before I decide I will sprint for seventh... the hill helps out, though Larry is working, I'm able to close that gap, and get at least a half bike by the line.

Rudy got the group for second, MVC came in third and fifth, with Delgros coming in between. Derrick got a nice sixth place for his efforts.

I'm still pleased with this result. Room for improvement, maybe I could have stayed on if I hadn't pulled when Sal was off the front. Still, my honor is intact since I'd rather work and get dropped that sit in and sprint for a place that others did the work for. A nice effort for the day. I'll be back next week for more fun.