Monday, May 17, 2010

Chess on two legs! Chippewa Creek 2010

A broken finger five weeks ago put my spring racing plans into the dumpster, so my first race of the year ends up being the fabled Chippewa Creek Road Race. Special thanks to the Chagrin River Cycling team for bring this race back to the area, and all the volunteer work to allow us to pretend to be kids again.

Things went right for me for a change too. On Saturday's ride, my shifting went to crap. So it seemed finally time to replace the chain and get things working for the race the next day. As I was adjusting everything, the rear der cable broke... explaining the poor shifting. Usually that would happen during the race.

Since I hadn't raced, and I know how the 1/2/3 race would have gone on this course, I decided to do the Masters race. Spin had Derik, John Bodell and myself. We also had one Spin Multi team member... sorry, I don't remember the name though. With no confidence yet, my plan was to lay myself out for the team. Whatever work I could do, and have some fun turning the pedal in anger... not saying I had no anger for the last 5 weeks, just that I wasn't doing it during a race.

About 40 in the field with the usual teams. Bike Authority, StarkVelo and MVC. I hadn't seen Glacial Energy before.

The first lap started out moving, while I tried to remember how to pedal in the field. Blah! This is going to be crazy unless we shed a bunch of these guys soon. I was also a little tentative about getting taken out, so the first lap was good to get those thoughts out of my head.

First time up the hill was quick enough to cut the field down a bit. A portion regrouped at the top, but the reshuffling got me closer to the front. Going through the rollers, the first move got up the road. Derik was there with a Bike Authority and a Stark. They got some space, giving me time to get up to the front 10, while Stark and Bike Authority tried to control the pace.

The move did not last long, as the other teams swarmed around the block. In short order, Chris Riccardi from Bike Authority went and one of the stronger single guys jumped up to him. I figured it was my turn to mark the move, so when a StarkVelo jumped to bridge, I went with him. As we connected to the tother two, I went straight to the front, and tried to help establish the move. Before we got to the descent, we were joined by Gorman from Orrvile, and an MVC rider. Someone said "We've got all the teams", and we started working to open the gap. I could not see much happening behind us, so we were away with 6 with 4 of the 6 laps to race.

Reasonably "easy" up the hill so we made it across together, but I could tell my climbing legs were a little sluggish. I had plenty on the rollers, so I would lead and fade the hill, and work the rest of the course.

Rudy bridged off the second time up the hill and connected in the roller section. Break of seven, and I'm pretty sure we'll stay away now. The problem is there's two from Bike Authority, and 5 singles. So the tactics will now be slightly different, and the work ethic may be compromised.

Next lap, another guy makes the bridge, and for a while I think he's from MVC, so there would be two BA and two MVC... when Rudy rolls off the front, I let the MVC guy do most of the work to bring him back, and jump a wheel to let the next guy finish it off. Turns out the last guy to join was from Glacial Energy. 8 away with 7 teams represented.

My strategy now is to get over the hill and not loose contact. I'm counting down the laps. I'll work if I need to, but I'm not going to bury myself, and get popped to help someone else finish with the field. Each time up the hill, I end up closing a slightly larger gap at the top. I probably could have sprinted for the prime on lap 3... since it seemed that no one remembered, or figure out, that the bell was rung as we went by a lap earlier. When we crossed for the 4th lap prime, I more concerned that I would be able to stick with the group.

That was the race. 8 guys going for 6 paying spots. Surprisingly little happened on the last lap. Rudy did a bunch of work pulling, and I thought for sure someone would attack... I guess if I had an ounce of confidence, I should have gone. I knew I needed to get away from these guys that were climbing better than I was to have a chance at the win or even at making one of the 6 spots. My excuse is it was my first race of the year. Instead I sat in waiting, and moving if anyone looked like they would jump. They didn't.

So we rolled to the last climb all together. Uphill sprint it will be then. I had been climbing in the 39 all race, but decided to stay in the 53 this time, knowing it would get fast soon. I gave it everything I thought I had, and I was still 200m back as Rudy crossed the line. I ended up 8th out of the 8, and am totally pleased with that.

I think Derik rolled across in 11th or 12th.

Of note, it didn't really seem like we worked well together in the break, and it didn't really seem hard. So maybe it is just as hard to get away as it is to sit in. Drew Bercaw's dad was hollering splits the last two laps for us. I didn't hear the time gap the first time, but we had 1:26 on the field with a lap and a half to go, and I hear we were up to 1:45 by the finish. So we must have done something right to keep the gap opening that much.. the 1/2/3 field may have slowed the masters field when they got caught. I'm just glad 1/2/3s didn't catch us, cause that would have screwed our race up a bit. Their finish was within that time gap. Close enough they'd have overtaken us in another lap.

My legs felt no pain on this mornings ride. Maybe my climbing problems were all mental. Time to do more hill repeats... and more races.