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.