Monday, November 05, 2012

Harbin Park - Cincy 3 day 3

By the third day of racing, I was pretty tired. Still, one more big race and then plenty of time to rest.

Harbin Park is the oldest Cyclocross race around. This course had less climbing than in the past, but still not a flat venue. The start almost immediately dumps you into a pair of off camber sections, then a long climbing sections snaking around a field to the finish. An uphill sand pit, with more twisty climbs and some downhills, with one run up (barrier forces the dismount) before the downhill sand pit. Snake around to the screaming downhill, rise into the woods, before twisting back to the off camber sections.

Even with the rain on Saturday, the course was pretty dry. The downhill and the woods were a little greasy, but not real bad, and there was only a 20m section that could be really considered muddy. I decided to run 28psi in the tires to split the difference between Friday and Saturday.

I had a fourth row start again, with the plan to just get through the off camber sections and then go for broke. I got a good start, and through the off-cambers in about 20th place. Climbing reasonably, though others were passing me. I rode the uphill sand even with the runners, and then pulled away as they remounted. I was fine until the run up, when I had some serious leg pain getting over the TALL barriers. On the bike it was fine, off the bike it was not, so the goal was to run as little as possible.

The race was going fine, I wasn't going to win, but I was holding somewhere in the top 30 places or so, when I hit the off cambers at the end of lap 2, and I rolled the rear tire. I did not go down, the bike just stopped. Off the bike, roll the tire back into place, and remount for the ride to the pits. I did not have far to go, but I did have to run the second off camber section so I didn't roll the tire again.

Into the pits, I first had to find my spare wheels, then swap it out.... it took forever, and I was loosing places like crazy. I got a push back onto the course as I was shifting back to the correct gear, and again off in pursuit of places.

I was pretty much at the back of the field by this point, and I made back four or five places pretty quickly. Then into the hard slog to get over some big gaps. I should have had 3 laps to work, and made about three more. I caught a group of three heading into the finish, and got around one and was going for the other two as the officials pulled us all. I guess we were about a minute and a half in front of the leaders coming through and they didn't want to have us clogging the course for another 8 minutes or so. Scheduling and all.

Disappointed with 54th overall, 29th for the age group. I figure without the rolled tire, I'd have come in the top 20 in the age group. There was a large "group" that finished between 52 and 54 minutes that I think I would have been in (based on who I was chasing at the time). Overall, I'll mark the two "not best" days with the one good day as a learning experience. In the past my days have gone similar but for fitness reasons, this year it was equipment choice/setup reasons. Looking forward to next year.

Kings CX - Cincy 3 day 2

Day 2 of the Cincy 3. A flat course with only 1 set of double climbs (camel humps), a run up, and a single set of barriers and a cool flyover. Derek and I did a number of laps on the pre-ride that indicated big ring everything except the climbs after the camel hump, which were ridable. It was cool, but supposed to be dry...

Sprinkles started about an hour before race time, another pre-ride lap showed some slick spots. I should have dropped my tire pressure, but left things at 30psi for the race. More rain started, nothing crazy hard, but totally changed the lines and feel of the course.

A lot of guys missed their call ups, so I got a third row start position. Got a good start, getting through the first technical section in the top 20. Bike was driving well through the off-camber turns, and right before the run up, in a totally benign section fo the course, the front wheel went out, and I was down. I ducked expecting to get completely run over by 10 to 20 guys that were right behind me... no damage to speak of, up and I did the run up and jumped back on the bike, only to find my chain was off... stop, get the drive train working (another 10 spots!) and I'm off again.

Clean through the camel hump, I rode the first climb, and ran the second because of traffic. And it's time to start picking off places that I had lost. So, I'm sitting somewhere about 50th, in a small group and decide to make some passes. I got a little aggressive through a long straight section heading inot a quick succession of turns, get by the group open a small gap and drop it in a greasy section around the last tree... sliding across the whole course, I boxed up the guys behind me. The guy on my wheel is standing on my bike! As soon as he's off I pull it out remount and again the chain is off... get of, straighten out the bike, and I've lost another 10 spots or so...  One and a half laps in and I start thinking about how to get through the course clean. I'm being very careful around the corners, and taking no chances. I'll save it for tomorrow and riding at about a tempo pace.

Last lap, I'm battling two other guys. Who are gingerly taking things off the bike, and riding about my pace on the bike. I decide I'll put in an effort to dispatch these guys. Do the run up hard, still cautious on the turns. Take the camel hump as always, I ride the first one, and shift to ride the second. The shift is a little goofy, so I dismount half way up and run the rest. Remount, and ride the downhill when my pedals start going around on their own! I'm on a fixed gear heading downhill! Not wanting to rip off the rear derailleur, I get my feet off the pedals, and try to get to the bottom of the hill before sorting the chains... I don't make it.. slide out, and have to again sort out the chain.

Lost the two places, but not by much, so I push the pace on the straights... and bring them back. I make an agressive pass on the second to last straight, and then push the last up hill straight to the finish. The other guys had different ideas, and both get by me well before the line. Blah! 63rd place out of about 80. 32nd in my age group. Not what I was hoping for.

In hindsight (and under advice) I should have run the tires at about 25psi. So a learning experience for sure. I'm still a beginner on tubular tire pressure. If I could have saved the first and second falls, I'd have been less tentative in the remainder of the race and been able to pull out a better result. The third issue had to do with tweaking the derailleur in the first two falls. Still, one more day of racing to go, so I was going to treat it like the tie breaker.

Dark Horse Stampede - Cincy 3 day 1

Considering how much rain we've had in Cleveland, the first day of the Cincy 3 weekend was beautiful. Sunny skies, mid 50s and the course was dry in Covington KY. This is the second time I've been to this course, and the third time at the Cincy 3 weekend. I raced the Cat 2/3 45+ races for 3 consecutive days.

Covington is a hilly course, A slight downhill start, into a down and up turn, before sweeping into the amphitheater bowl for the first time. Down and Up, and UP towards the barriers, then down a paved hill into the first pass of the pits. Up hill grind back to the bowl and a screaming down hill, then a punchy climb before descending to the four log barriers. I could hop two for sure, three maybe, but holding your momentum for all four was to chancy for me. Then another long up hill grind before descending back to the pits, and a paved climb to the finishing straight.

Fourth row call up meant I'd play it cool until it strings out, then go to work at driving the twisty bits, and hoping my climbing legs showed up. I had intended on running the 12-27, but the tire on that wheel was not hooking up... I've had problems with the tread on it, and it is time to replace the tire now for sure. Instead I ran the backup wheel with the 25 cassette. Not optimal but doable. 30psi in the tires worked out alright for me today.

The start went as expected, I was in the front 20 or so into the first section. A pretty uneventful race, as I guess a good result should be. I was turning well, and climbing OK. I would pass guys on the twisty bits, and loose a place or two here and there on the different climbing slogs. I ended up picking up three places on the last lap as guys were totally blown. Every time I passed one, he'd completely disappear behind me. I caught the last guy on the up hill climb, and he didn't even try to sprint to the line.

I finished in 22nd overall, 12th place in the age group. In hindsight, I may have made a couple more spots with a 27. I used the small ring on everything except the paved descent, and a little more climbing gear would have been nice.

Tow more reports to go, as it was a BIG race weekend.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Track Scratch (Race) Fever

I've been hearing about the Cleveland Velodrome probably since the idea was first hatched. I've watched the progress, and seen the building online. On August 27th, my daughter and I went to the grand opening. Not expecting to have an "open ride", I did not bring anything to ride in... my daughter, being the brighter of the pair, did. So she was on the track in short order... since then, we took the 101 course together, and I've been riding there at least once a week in September and October. Lots of laps, lots of paceline practice.

Last night, the weather was wonderful, and I expected a rather large turn out. I'm guessing there were between 20 and 25 riders out for the regular Thursday night "Happy Hour Night". As I was getting suited up, Brett said he was going to get us racing tonight.

We got in a reasonable warm up, though I spent a good deal of time talking instead of riding. At about 6, Brett cleared the track for a 10 lap scratch race. The idea is riders start in the rail, at the top of the track on the finish straight. Official starts the race, we got 2 neutral laps, then 10 racing laps. Mass starts on the track!

So, race 1 was about 7 guys. Dick Brink rolled off the front after the neutral, and I jumped after him about a lap later. I couldn't figure out how to pull through after being gassed on bridging the jump and we were brought back in short order. The best offensive move is to attack as the break is brought back, and Dave Bartels did. While the rest of us looked at each other he built up a nice lead... I did try to pull, but was still recovering. Weston left the chase to late, and Dave easily won the first race.

Race 2: We waited around a bit before going again. This time there may have been 10 of us. Somewhat different tactics, but again Dave jumped with maybe 7 to go, everyone else looked around. I think we picked up the chase but the gap was set. I did sacrifice myself in a long hard pull, and rolled in at the back of the field. Getting off the front was interesting as I pulled off and guys are going around me both above and below.

Race 3: Much faster this time, because it was getting dark. Dave must have sat this one out. Thom Dominic got off the front early, and I ended up third wheel behind Dave Chernosky and Weston. This time, they jumped earlier and I was ready. Ramped up the speed nicely. As we came by Thom it was evident he was not going to follow. I couldn't hold the wheel for the length left, and that was how it finished Dave, Weston, Me.

After each race, we chatted the tactics, trying to figure out this track race thing. Different levels of fitness effects the strategy. You want to know who will/can follow who, so you are ready when someone starts the serious move. Knowing that Dave B can hold those long efforts, we might be a little less willing to give him the early jump.

I'll say it is a totally different level of concentration. You can't grab brakes to slow yourself down, and neither can anyone else. The level of communication necessary is much higher than a road race, and the craziness of being in the field is a new level of "wow". In a way, it was like the first time I jumped in the A field at Westlake, a bit scary because of everyone else around you going fast, and also because you don't want to be "that guy" that screws it up.

Last night was probably the end of the season for me. I won't make it this week because of the 'cross schedule in Cincy, and with the time change looming, I think the day job will interfere with any track time. It's been fun though, and we're looking forward to next season.

Monday, October 22, 2012

State of Ohio Master's 50-54 Cyclocross Champion!

So, I am a BAD blogger. I have excuses! Lots of them, just like everyone. Work changes, family is growing up, sending my son off to college, and training. I've also been sending all race reports to the team. So I am keeping up some sort of bargain. However, this one I HAVE to get out there.

I've been racing cyclocross since the beginning of September. After a "terrible" first race in Elyria, I have had some rather nice results. 18th at a stacked Wendy Park, and 8th at a MUDDY Euclid race. I've also been on the track at least once a week. I might write about that later, though Brian Batke does a better job than I can at this point.

So I had a good day Saturday at the Ohio State Cyclocross Championship race near Columbus. 

We got there with enough time to get in about 5 laps on the course before the start. Since we weren't allowed on the course during races, I had plenty of time to dial in the bike, tire pressure and plan of attack before my race. It was a driver's course with lots of turns, and a few longer power sections. There were only a couple of really technical spots, one muddy 180 turn that I decided to run after watching Ernesto run it in the single speed race, and the other was a tricky off camber that you could avoid by taking a longer line that straightened it out but took a little longer. I did the off-camber ride, carefully, though I may have lost a little time on that on a few laps.

I age up in Cross this year, so I raced with Derek and John Bodell from Spin. Derek and I both got descent starts considering we had a third row position, because they lined up the field by registration order, grouped by ages. So the whole 45-49 field was in front of the 50-54s. We ended up going through the first turn in about 12th, then spent the next half lap working through the remainder of the field. By then the first four spots were gone. Derek and I were leading a group of 6 of us, then there was gap to everyone else. I was nearly certain that we were the only ones from our field left in the front two groups. But figured we would work hard to make sure.

Shortly after the first lap, I passed Derek and attacked hard while he blocked the remaining 4 guys that had latched onto us. Eventually, Rudy and two Biowheels guys got around him and made their way up to me. Rudy passed me on a long straight section, and I held on through that, but lost his wheel around the next turn. I fought like crazy to stay with the three of them, and even got aggressive in the turns with the last guy to keep it together.

After about three laps, Emilio (who worked the pit for me) assured me I was in the lead of the 50+ field. No idea how he knew, but Derek was about 30 seconds behind, with Jeff Craft between us.  Joe Pollato was sitting fourth about 30 seconds up on the 4 of us. Emilio's news must have made me loose the plot for a moment, because I let the three go shortly after that. They actually caught Joe, and duked it out for 4-7th. I managed to hold the gap to Jeff constant, Derek held onto his gap to Jeff. I'm pretty sure the gap to 11th was HUGE.

Once I lost Rudy and the Biowheels guys, I was on auto-pilot. With the exception of having to fight for some corners with some of the lap riders, the last 3 laps were pretty uneventful. I knew I was slowing down, but it didn't look like Jeff was really gaining anything on me. I kept the pressure up, and rolled in alone pretty sure I had the age group, and super happy with 8th overall and Derek in 10th. I checked with the Biowheels guys to be sure that they were both in the 45-49, and that was it!
Saturday was my first podium ceremony, and it was amazing sharing it with Derek. State of Ohio Master's 50-54 Cyclocross champion... sounds pretty nice. A very nice addition to a very successful season of master's racing. I guess I'll have to return to defend this now.

Next up isBrett's Halloween Race Weekend, then it's off to the Cincinnati Cincy 3. I love this time of year.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

RATL Recap

Spring has sprung, and the annual RATL series has now come and gone. The Team Spin Masters races represented well throughout the series. Here are race summaries for each week of the series:

Week 1: Cold and wet. I hate 40* and rain for training, probably the only weather I don't like, however that was what we had for this race. We had Tom Humphrey, Derek Wilford, Tom Keller, Jeff Kompa and John Ehrlinger in the field of 23 masters, only 4 of these in the 35-44 age bracket. With some numbers, I figured I could be a little agressive, so I covered moves, and accelerated up the climb a few times to hurt some legs. Tom Humphrey soon joined in (even though he questioned being able to finish) and we marked the front. Tom lead it out for the first prime, and though I tried hard, I could not get over the wheel to win it. A few more attempts, and with the race half way done, Jim Gilmore from Lake Effect rolled off the front. Tom jumped across, and it looks good for our team. The rest of us marked moves, though mostly Lake Effect set a comfortable tempo for everyone. The wet and cold had an effect. With 8 to go, the gap looked comfortable. With 5 to go, it was questionable if they would go the distance, however, it opened back up, and with two to go it was clear the race was for third place. Heading up the climb the last time, Derek lined out the field to (slightly) control the sketchiness. Tom Humphrey took the WIN!!! Keller ended up fourth in the 45+ with Jeff in 7th and Derek and I rolled in near the back of the field.

Week 2: Cold again, but at least it was dry. Derek Wilford, Tom Keller, Jeff Kompa and John Ehrlinger again. 25 in the field, with 9 youngsters this week. I again played the agressive role. Lake Effect was also agressive, and we tried a few moves. It was quickly apparent to me, that I had left my legs at home. The team worked well with Tom, Jeff and Derek covering for me. I tried in the first prime again, and this time Carbon's Tom Frueh left me way off his wheel. I pulled the field over the top, when Derek went clear with Rudy from Lake Effect. Jeff went with Chris Riccardi to bridge across, they made it, though the effort cost Jeff. He came back to the field after a lap or two. Into protect mode, we covered most of the moves until late in the race. A group of three got away without us, then another group of three again without us. I attempted a bridge, was brought back, then Tom got across. The third group was swallowed again before the finish. We ended up with Derek taking third, Jeff in 7th and Tom in 10th.

Week 3: Finally some better weather. Derek, Tom, Jeff, John and Pete Scacheri joined the field of 38, 12 of these in the 35-45 field. The goal was again to be agressive, since we had numbers. Pete and I patrolled the front, but nothing was getting far this week. Derek, Pete and I all tried to get away with varying levels of success. With 6 to go, I got off the front with Lake Effects Glimore hoping for a repeat of week one. I tried to roll that away from the field, but Jim was completely cooked and really couldn't help much. We stayed away for almost a lap, when a small group caught us including Derek and some big guns from the field. I thought that may be the race, but they sat up and we were reabsorbed. I attacked again with two to go, got a gap for a half lap before things came back together again for the final sprint. In the end Tom took 4th, Jeff was 5th, Derek 6th, and I was 10th with Pete taking 10th in the 35+ field.

Week 4: Slight change up in our master's field, Jeff and I were joined by John Bodell and Matt Bockbrader, who had just completed the Cat 4 race. 23 in the 45+ and 15 in the 35+. With a different make up, I figured I would play it a bit more conservatively, though we planned to get onto anything dangerous looking. Lake Effect had some numbers, and Stark brought out a pretty large 35+ representation. So as long as they were both in, we had to cover. Lap 2 Lake Effect sent someone, and he held out for a couple of laps. Then Stark sent one for a lap. We patrolled. Matt was a stud, covering moves, though nothing with numbers got very far. Finally with 8 to go, I figured it was time to start the end game. I attacked hard up the hill, hoping to bring some teams out, instead I was alone. Stark brought it back before we got to the parking lot. Next time up the hill, Frueh and Rudy attacked up the hill, and took a Stark with them. Jeff was ready, and jumped across. And that was the race. Jeff worked the break, and ended up taking third. I patrolled the front, and stuck in there for 7th, with John coming in with the field. I don't know where Matt finished yet, though his work was a huge help.

Overall, we had a very successful Masters campaign, with most of 45+  finishes in the top 10, a podium nearly every week and one win (Congrats Mr. President!). I'm looking forward to more agressive Masters racing over the remainder of the year.

Monday, March 26, 2012

I'm back... Mid-Ohio

Back into the thick of things, I went to race the Mid-Ohio race course on Sunday. My hope was to get some "good sensations" in the legs, and perhaps remember what it feels like to suffer. The mild winter means I have been out quite a bit, so I was optimistic, hoping not to go here.

So Dave, Pete, Scott and I drove together and met Jason, Joe and Aussie for our 7 Spin. The field had 19 including the regulars, well those that did not do Barry-Roubaix the previous day. RGF had four, including Braumberger, Baldesare and Pendalbury. Batke and Weeks from Carbon assorted others.

I felt pretty good. Rolled out reasonable, and when a move went through the corners on the second lap, I was in position to follow. I guess I dug pretty deep and the counters went from the bigger guys... I was found lacking. Off the back by the end of lap two. I chased for two laps, again optimisism of getting back was crushed before the cat 4-5 field caught up to me. I attached to the back end and figured I'd practice riding in a group for the remainder.

After a lap with them, we pulled in Proppe from Lake Effect, and I chatted with him for a lap, mutually deciding to drop off the B field, and rejoin the A group. To ensure that we could hang onto the end as they came by we stopped at the top of the course to wait.

The lead group of 4 came by with Jason shortly after that, then the second group at 30 seconds with Aussie and Joe... and after another minute, the remainder. John and I jumped in, and I reported the situation to Dave... who already knew that and was deciding it was time to chase the second group back since it seemed Aussie was not having a good day and might be able to use some help. Three Spin and smatterings left in this group, the pace picked up immediately.

The good news is I did end up sticking with this group for another three laps before becoming dislodged on the hill and again not able to chase back on. I ended up racing against getting lapped again with two to go, and then pulling back the end of the B field, and getting around them in the last lap.

Not pleased with the result, though I guess it is the first time I've been out seriously since last August. A little bit more conservative racing, and I should have been able to stick it out a bit longer, though it appears I have some work to do to stay with the 123 fields.

The field ended up nearly bringing the second group back, at about 200m by the finish. The team ended up with Jason in third and I think Joe ended up fifth.

Good training though, on a fun course. Now I just need to do some work to REALLY get back.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Playing with the new blogger interface, I figure it's a good time to repost a photo of the new ride. With the snow we've been getting. I've been spending some quality time with the X-Fire... on the rollers. I may have to find some trails behind the house to see how this handles off road, even if that means a snowy off-road.