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 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!