Monday, April 27, 2009

RATL 2 -25.4.09

Ahh.... shoot. Here's the story.

I showed up later than I wanted and got about 10 minutes of warm up before the master's race. Tom Humphrey, Brian Limkemann and Mike Vega joined me from the team, and we even had a little time to communicate before the race.

It looked like about 30 or so at the line including a bunch of MVC and Stark and some Lake Effect. They again started the women's race first, which is silly because we catch them within the first lap, but whatever.

For the first 6 or 7 laps, I was working hard to get a warmup... which wasn't hard since the field was moving. Attacks going off, gaps opening and closing typical race start stuff. It was nice to see Tom and Brian working near the front, since my legs were not feeling it at that point, and I was hoping to have something if the attacked happened with about 5 to go like last week.

At one point, I felt Tom give me a hand to the tail end of the field...and when I looked back, there was no one else behind me. It looked like we had hacked off a big chunk already.

The first prime was rung, and the TriTech guy took it again. The pace heated up shortly thereafter, and through the parking lot a group of 8 rolled off the front. Tom was working on bringing it back with TriTech on his wheel, another guy, Dick Brink and me. Dick was telling the guys in front of him to pull through or the group was gone... no one flinched. I half thought about going to help Tom, but instead, attacked hard before the bridge in an attempt to get up to the front group. It's nice to know that Tom and Brian could now sit in and recover from their efforts until the something new happened.

No one followed, and I closed the 50+ meter gap before the finish line. OK, now I can recover until my turn to pull. Except the guy two in front of me blew hard and a gap opened. Matt Turi from Stark was on his wheel, and he couldn't get across either and told me to go around. F@($&@ was all I could say as I went to close the next gap. I made that one also.... I'm just glad my legs showed up for those efforts. Matt made it up shortly afterward and we were away with 8.

Matt Turi and John Lowery from Stark, John Lorson and another Orrville, Sal Ponzio from MVC, Rudy Sroka from Lake Effect, and Tom Frueh from Carbon/Columbus/Every One and Their Brother Racing, and me. A well represented break of really good riders... This was the move to be in. Everyone started working, and we were away.

Matt lasted a lap or two before we were down to 7. Cool, break of 7 for 7 paying spots. I just need to make it to the finish and I'm in. Prime lap for a Chipotle Burrito. I am NOT sprinting for a freakin' burrito! I just want to make the finish with this move. Lorson jumps and gets it, hangs off the front for a little bit, and we're back together rotating through again.

I keep hearing cheering for me through the parking lot. That's encouragement. With about 7 to go, I realize there are 3 john's in the break. So those yells might not be for me. HA! My only thought is to NOT get dropped from the break, since I would have to work harder on my own than I will to stick with the break. And I very well may be able to get better than 7th in a sprint.

We're lapping parts of the field and with 6 to go, and they ring another $10 prime. Through the parking lot, Lowry and Lorson lead with Sal and then me. As we exit the lot, they slow slightly, obviously thinking about the prime sprint. I assume the games will start shortly since Rudy and Sal will not want to take Frueh to the line for a sprint. So I'm going to just follow wheels, and work for the finish.

As we make the sweeping turn toward the bridge things get fuzzy. Lowry and Lorson, are in the front, and Sal starts hollering at them for something. It's the kind of holler you know is NOT going to end well... either Sal will avoid something bad, or there will be a wreck holler. Then Sal touches wheels with one of the guys in front.... wobbles, and goes down. I was already in the slow motion planning stage, I need to do my best cross/crash avoidance now!

Sal falls away from the rider in front, right in front of me, I steer between him and his bike. My front wheel passes within inches of his helmet, as his bike is sliding to my right.... I tried to then hop over his front wheel... but I think I was too busy avoiding Sal... I hit the wheel, and somehow find myself sitting on the ground face the way I had just come.

SH!T!!! Sal does not look good at all! Rudy is also on the ground to my (now) right side. My bike is in pieces on the left. Another rider (I think) is almost immediately with Sal helping him. So I can just get my bearings. My fork is broken... damn, I'm not getting back into the race now! Rudy asks if I'm alright, and... I am. He gets up and goes for the ambulance. I just sit there for a few minutes. Sal starts moving more and talking, though it's obvious that he is not doing well. A spectator gets to us, then a park ranger. I figure I can head back and get cleaned up since I'm not going to be helping anyone now. So I grab my bike parts and walk to the car.

I'm pretty disappointed though very lucky. I ended up with some extremely minor scraps and a slightly sore wrist. Nothing compared to Rudy and Sal, even if my bike ended up the worst for it. Rudy broke his arm and is in a cast, out for 6 weeks. Sal spent a couple days in the hospital, with broken ribs and more. I could have raced on Sunday, if I had another race ready bike. Instead I did 3.5 hours training on the road riding my cross bike... so I have much to be thankful for.

I have no idea if the fourth guy went down, or just stopped to help or what happened. He was with Sal REALLY fast and didn't seem to be at all hurt himself. I don't even know what shirt he was wearing. It kind of points to the fallibility of eye witnesses. My focus was on getting through the event without crashing, and I at least avoided injury. After that, I have details, but they may not be important to what happened at all.

Aside from the wreck, my biggest disappointment is not being able to talk to the guys in the break afterward. It's the first time I made a break like that, and I wanted tips on how we rode. Should I have been doing something different? What's the break protocol? Those types of things. The break consisted of some really good racers, and I wouldn't expect that kind of incident with these guys. But a moment of inattention I guess is all it takes. I'm super happy that I made the bridge to the break, and how that part all worked out. I think I did things correctly, and hope my decisions through the crash didn't effect the guys behind me in any way.

Next step is to get a bike together. I've got to replace my fork, and rebuild my race wheels. I might be able to put together my old bike for this weekend. Still some inventory to do.

Speedy recovery wishes to Sal and Rudy. I've only heard about their injuries on the other blogs. I'm just looking forward to seeing them back in the field... and maybe having another go at getting in the break with them.

Monday, April 20, 2009

RATL 1 - 18.4.09

Hey, it's racing season again! This is the first race with my new team, Spin Cycling Team, so excitement was high.

Over the off season, I've managed to put together some training and keep my weight reasonable, but with no intensity yet. I had NO idea how the first Race at the Lakes would go.

I could not make Sunday's Cover Bridge race, so my intent was to do a double, Master's race, then the 1.2.3 race immediately following. I figured it'd jump start my legs.

I lined up with about 30 45+ and 5 35+. It's good to see those numbers, it seems most of the 35+ guys were saving it for the 1.2.3 race. MVC had the numbers, with at least 5. Lake Effect and Stark both had 3, the rest were singles and doubles. The downside was I only had one other team mate, and I didn't even see John until 2 laps in, so our race planning was low.

Typical first race, handling skills were a bit low for the first few laps. I had one guy decide the didn't want to be next to the field in the wind, so he dove in right in front of me... that reminds me to stay near the front!

The race was pretty mundane after that. I tried to go with a couple of moves that got brought back pretty quickly. Nothing was really getting away, mostly because Lake Effect had Nate on the front pulling for nearly the whole race. That is not an exaggeration either.

At 8 to go, they rang a $10 prime, and the whole field ramped up. I must have forgotten how to fight for position, since I was about 12 back heading into the hill. I was third wheel as Phil tried to lead Jim out for MVC. We started up the right side as a TriTech guy shot up the left. He was quick on the uphill sprint, and ended up nabbing it easily.

With 5 to go, Dick Brink (RGF) wound up his attack through the parking lot. Followed shortly by Sal from MVC. I knew that was the move... since they got about 200m in less than half a lap. The MVC guys were talking about blocking, and that would NOT have been good. So I jumped out on the hill hoping to get across.

Unfortunately, I only brought Phil from MVC with me. Great, he won't help me get up there. I was still hoping that MVC would keep the block and we could at least get away for 3 and 4 place, but I guess I haven't put in that much training. I lasted about a lap and a half before getting pulled back. The good news is that the gap to Sal and Dick didn't go up while I attempted the bridge. The bad news is it didn't go down either.

As Nate came by, he said something about "Let's go get them"... I pretty much just laughed... and went back into the field for a bit of rest.

Next time up the hill, I looked back and realized two things. The field had shrunk... and I was at the back.

With 2 to go, the rang a second field prime. This time I was a bit further back, as the TriTech guy spun a crazy gear to get over the top for the second time.

As we came through for the prime, they ring the last lap bell. Dick and Sal are still off the front, so those two places are taken. I wound up what I had left and got in about 11th in the field. It's kind of hard to sprint for the place after I laid it all out to get into the break. Oh well. Props to Sal for the win and Dick for second. I think John Bodell got fifth overall, but I'm not 100% sure.

Since it was so much fun in the Master's, committed to the 1.2.3 race. I think mostly because I was disappointed in how the Master's race went. Shot a gu and lined up.

We had Mike Vega, Tom Keller and Brian Limkemann in the field... still no prerace plan that I knew of... Tom may have had a plan, but probably knew I wasn't going to be much help.

First thing I noticed about the big race.... there is no neutral start. We were off from the whistle, and I was already moving backwards. At the end of the first lap, I was on the back... and working to not get gapped. By the end of the second lap, it was clear... I was 20m off and NOT going to see the field again. So what else to do... keep going. I paid for this race, I'm going to get the training... kind of like a gym membership... or cyclocross once the field opens up. I wasn't the only one off the back, but I think I was the first. Pretty much expected that with how much I did in my first race though.

Three laps on my own doing tempo work before the lead group caught me. I let that go then jumped on the tail of the field. I stuck with that for a lap and a half but came off when they accelerated through the parking lot. Nothing left in the legs, but I still kept going.

This time, I sat up for some recovery. They came around soon enough, and I jumped on the back. Lasted another lap, and came off with a couple others. We kind of grouped together and I ended up pulling the downhill section, but when tried to pull off the front, the other two didn't want to work. I made the turn into the parking lot and an Elves racer pretty much attacked... well, that's what it looked like to me. I couldn't follow, and the other guy was gapped also. I managed to pull myself back to the second, and then haul him back to the Elves guy... then I just wanted to sit on as long as possible. It wasn't long. They rode away from me next time through the parking lot.

So, I got caught again, and jump on the back being three laps down. The race is only about half over... and I'm on the back with Tony Marut who was now one lap down, and another guy that jumped back in after a flat. I told them I was now three down, so do not get behind me. I made it half a lap this time, and they were both behind me through the parking lot... I waved them through... and I was done. Heading toward four laps down, I spun another 2 laps cool down, and since I had nothing left to drink, I called it a day.

The first race I have ever dropped out of... yay. But it's good training. Looking for better results next week. Still, I raced my bike, worked hard, and tried something to get a result. It didn't work, but it was a good day to be racing. Let the season begin!