Monday, April 16, 2012

Myles Standish Road Race Report

I never even meant to do this race.  After Hopbrook, I was all like "alrighty, let's get down to business and train well for 3 weeks in the hope of being less embarrassing at the Fat Tire Classic."  And I did!  You could tentatively call what I started doing a "block," if you were one of those people.

Obviously that lasted until I realized that there was a bike race I could fit into my schedule, because playing bikes is way awesomer than training bikes.

Especially when it's a mere 25 mile road race with 20 cat 3s in it.  None of this riding-in-the-pack for hours BS, this was going to be an hour of action!  Or something.  Anyway, it seemed fun.  So off I went, with Steve, RMM and geewhits as gas money.  On the way down, RMM regaled us with tales of getting Curley'ed in a past edition of this race, and filling our heads with lies like "the break will go on the first lap, so you have to cover everything."  As you might imagine, #iwasexcite.

On to the racing.

The race started and sure enough, Bill Kenney attacked.  Someone bridged.  RMM told me "that's not the break."  I sat, secure in the knowledge that RMM would never lie to me.  Not 30 seconds later, he went flying across the gap to "not the break." Well then.

Sufficiently panicked, I jump on the next bridge attempt, which turned into a string-out-the-field attempt, which turned into everyone riding together again, and me realizing that riding kinda-hard in the woods for 3 hours has shockingly little to do with going anaerobic on a road bike.

At this point (2 miles in) I would typical start hiding in the field and do nothing until the sprint.  Unfortunately, with only 20 dudes and a firm crosswind, there was nowhere to hide!  So I had to pay attention, and stuff.

Because of the small field, we all knew that a 4-5 man break would be really dangerous, so every time a move got started, EVERYONE tried to jump on it once it got 2-3 guys in it, and as a result the only thing that stuck in the first half of the race was Oscar from Ride Studio going clear solo.  We left him hanging out there for over a lap He stuck it for over a lap, but eventually we reeled him back in.

The very-predictable counterattack went right away, but everyone wanted a piece of THAT, of course, so it went nowhere.  And then, somehow, not only had Oscar hung onto the acceleration, but he rode back up to the front and attacked again.

RMM and I joked about how, if nothing else, he would get the Most Aggressive Rider jersey for tomorrow's stage.

This attack didn't work, either, nor did all the other small moves that followed it.  On lap 4 (out of 5) Steve took off, and just like Oscar's previous solo moves we all kinda looked around and said "meh."   And there he went.

Oscar hadn't been off the front for like, 5 or even 10 minutes at this point, so obviously he was the guy who rode across the gap once Steve had been out there for a while.

Apparently Oscar is in way better shape than me right now.  Luckily, road racing doesn't directly measure fitness.

So Steve and Oscar stayed off the front into the final lap, but never far enough away to be scary.  In fact, they we bridge-ably close, as two more guys proved with about 4 miles to go.

Our chase remain close but disorganized.

Steve got shelled by the break, indicating that it was becoming "business time."

We surged a little, and I counted the break at 11 seconds going into the main climb on the loop, 2.5 miles from the finish.

The break shelled Oscar on the climb, which gave me the fodder to heckle his RSC teammates about contributing to the chase.  I have learned from my sensei, RMM, that heckling other teams for not working is the most satisfying part of cat 3 racing.

The RSC guys cringed but they knew I was right.  Unfortunately, Jay decided to attack, instead of just nicely ramping up the pace, so we rocketed briefly up to 30 mph, brought the break down to 5 seconds, and started looking at each other again.

No one wanted do that last bucket of work to guarantee the catch, now that we were within 1.5 miles of the finish. I think most of us knew we only had one more big effort left (I know I did) and I had no intention of doing it so someone else could win. Thus.... break chicken.

We pick up the action with about a mile to go.   Do you know how FAR a mile is?  Because my brain sure doesn't.  I felt like the finish was just over the top of the hill at this point:


If you're not interesting in 2 minutes of video, well, Scott Glowa (CB) launched on the hill, Nevin Rallis (Bikeman) tried to go with him and I burned my entire matchbook trying to get on that wheel.  Nevin and I were rolling up on Scott as we came of of the last turn... and I was ready to make one final effort... except we were still 35 seconds from the finish line and everyone else was about to slingshot off of me.

Combine that with Nevin and I hooking elbows a second later, and I GAVE.  UP.

And now I have to live with that for a week.  Dammit!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Hopbrook Dam Race Report

It used to be that I did better at Hopbrook every year, but now that I'm in the twilight of my career (was that a joke?  I'm not sure either) I seem to always find myself behind the fitness curve come April.  This year's mild winter was especially bad for that, as I spent most of March trying to get healthy and patch my ego back together after the Birkie.  Meanwhile, everyone else was out DRILLING IT.  So I figured I would just go ahead and avoid Hopbrook, and buy 3 more weeks of secret training before I had to face the Pro/1 music.

BUT THEN I REMEMBERED BIKES ARE TOTALLY SWEET!  Hmm.

Christin was planning on skipping Hopbrook so I was like, yo, that's cool, I don't want to go either.  But then she was like, "wanna go race Hopbrook?" and my heart did a little flip and I was like YESYESYESYESYESBIKES, so I guess I really did want to go.

No amount of wanting to ride fast will make you ride fast (well, ride fast for 2 hours...), so I knew it would be bad, but whatever.  MTB racing!  I missed you!  Reverse holeshots and jerseys full of half-eaten gels, let's do this!  It's been 5 weeks since I lined up for an Elite race I shouldn't be in, so I'm due anyway.

The course was the same as always, except drier, so it was extra pedaly, aka exact the reality check I needed.  The first three minutes I felt totally fine.  Then we went into a little mud hole, I tried to crank out of it, and WHAM my back wheel comes out of the dropout.  Ah yes, now I remember this happening about a billion times last year, because my dropout is slippery and my hand strength is feeble.  I frantically jammed my wheel back in the dropout, closed the skewer with the fury of a man watching himself slide into last place, and  rode off.

After a short while I caught a dude, and transferred the mantle of "last" onto him.  The rest of the lap was dedicated to chasing down not one but TWO more dudes, while discovering that the top half of my cassette no longer shifted.   Hmm, that's weird, it worked all winter...

At the end of lap one I was deep into the out-of-shape cave, having been passed by the leading 19-29 Cat 1s already (ugh) and totally unable to shake the two guys from my category I had earlier passed, back when I was "enthused."  The day had all the makings of a descent into sadness.  Thank God sadness is the spice of blog posts...

The lack of desire in my legs caused the blood to start flowing to my brain again.  My brain realized that if I my cassette wasn't shifting worth beans, it was probably because I jammed the wheel in the dropout crooked when I was freaking out.  And if it's crooked it in the dropout, the cassette isn't lined up right, nor is the brake.

NOR IS THE BRAKE!

For the first time ever, I can say "I rode like my brakes were dragging" and it's true.  I hopped off the bike and gave the back wheel a test spin... it made just over a revolution before stopping.  Oh, Colin.  You idiot.

Obviously a dragging brake is worth 12 minutes, so I surely would have been 2nd in the race if not for that.

But it really did feel better once I recentered the wheel.  And instead of getting SMOKED by the next 19-29 dude to pass me, I only got mildly dusted.  And then matched his pace!  And then...ever so slowly... over the next hour... clawed my way back to him.

The Coppola Photography guy/girl were there taking some really nice shots.  Am I allowed to borrow this for my blog?  And why are my wheels so big?  So many questions.

Epic battles with racers you had a 2-minute head start on?  Hey, I'll take what I can get.

So I spent most of the last lap riding my legs off 10 seconds behind some dude who knew I wasn't in his category and probably wasn't trying that hard.  But, with a mile or so to go, I closed the gap and my caremeter was shockingly high.  Oh, April racing.  So much trying!

I came around him just before the last road second and assumed he would disappear, because that's what happens to people you can't see in a bike race.  I rode hard on the road and hard on the trail and hit the final climb... only to look back and find out he was still there, now joined by Alec Petro, who was catching me from the 6-minutes-back 40+ field.

This development gave me PRIDE LEGS and I rode ludicrously hard to hold them off until the final descent, at which point all shenanigans were paused so we did not kill the expert woman we were lapping.  No places actually hung in the balance, so it was all good.

The results showed me five seconds behind the next Pro/1 guy, which was not as good.  But worrying about placing 17th instead of 18th is not pro, right?  What if I mention it on my blog?  Would that be ok?  Hope so.

Here I am being totally not upset at how badly I did.  Like I said, my brakes were rubbing.

Watch more video of Root 66 #1 Hop Brook Dam on cyclingdirt.org

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