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Monday, June 22, 2009

Tales from Winghaven....

I did this race last year and made the mistake of popping a couple Tylenol PM's the night before. Propably not the smartest thing to do, needless to say, it was a hot miserable day which ended up with me getting shot off the back of the peleton with about three laps to go. I ended up riding with another rider for the last couple of laps. Yesterday, I actually got some sleep and the legs seemed to feel pretty good. I thought if they were having the KOM, actually more of a hill competition, I'd go for it. It was going to be a tall order though since this was an NRC race and a CAT 2/3, instead of just 3's. They announced 93 entries for the race. It turned out to be a bigger field then even the pro,1's field. As for the team, we were going to try to get somebody in a break and try to control, which is propably what every other team was going to try. After about 10 minutes on the trainer I headed over to the team tent only to be delayed. While waiting myself and a couple teammates took a warm-up lap.

After waiting around it was finally time to line it up and I got a front row spot. At this point they told us we were now doing 10 instead of the 12 laps of the 2.74 mile course, and there there would be no KOM competition. Well, there went my plan for the race. It was actually a good decision because once we got going I could tell my legs were not as good as I thought they would be. I don't know if that was from the heat(mid 90's plus humidity), doing 45 miles in the heat a couple days prior, or just the fast pace of the race. Either way I'll chalk it up to a combination of all three. Once the gun went off I stayed towards the front for the first two laps, but soon found myself fading towards the middle of the pack. On the second or third lap I went around athe first round-about and heard the awful sounds of metal hitting pavement. It turned out it was just behind me and caused several riders to come to a complete stop including a teammate. Those riders were not able to bridge back on because of the blistering pace, especially having to go up the climb with zero momentum to take you through. As the race went on I found myself getting delirious from the heat. I took two bottles of accelerade and another with water. I should've taken two with water because I went through every bit of it just to cool myself down.

The team was not able to sustain anything and soon everyone was in a big group ride. Any breaks that went off were quickly covered. The heat was enough to contend with let alone trying to stay off the front. All pre-race planning was out the window at that point and the task was now to get our sprinters to the front. With a couple laps to go the pace grew and on the last lap coming down the 40mph decent there was another crash on the 90 degree left hander. I took the inside and didn't even know or hear the crash. It took out two teammates, one being our sprinter and a buddy from another team, also a sprinter. I ended up doing my own impression of a sprinter and sprinted to the uphill finish. I narrowly avoided one guy tumbling to the ground. He apparently crashed by himself from sprinting too hard, weird. Glad that the race was over I crossed the line in 28th.

The race afterwards was the Pro, Cat 1 race. I envy the guys who finished that race, hell, even for the guys that didn't. It was even hotter then our race and almost three times as long. I stayed and took lessons from Brian Jenson who put on an impressive one man show of how to go on a break. He ended up finishing second, but impressive nonetheless.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ste. Gen RR

My goal in this race was to try to get a decent finish (top 10) and stay in the lead group since my fitness hasn't been there after a long break over the winter. I could tell my fitness has been coming around and yesterday was a good guage. I also made a big move about a week ago to go with compact cranks for hilly road races to give me a little more low end for climbing. In the end I actually increased my top end also by going with an 11-25 cassette instead of my 12-25 so it was a win win situation. As for a team, we hadn't really talked about anything special and we were more or less in survival mode and wait and see what transpires. Ron is usually our strongest rider so if we could help him we would.

Early on Denny went on a break by himself. I thought it was a little early, but his lead grew to the point he was out of sight. Not bad I thought, so I decided to go to the front and try to slow things down a bit. Myself and Ron were up there and accomplished this for a few miles, but soon Bigshark and Momentum were starting to chase. We just sat third or fourth wheel. I could tell we were going to catch them so I asked Ron if he was going to counter, but he said no. We did catch them and then soon after the KOM came. I managed to make it up in the top 15-20 guys safely in the field. After the KOM everyone was back together and Denny asked me about his rear wheel. I told him it looked a little low, and that he may want to get a wheel from the wheel truck. A few other guys told him the same thing.

As the second lap came I started to feel a cramp coming in my right leg so I kept drinking and eating. I only brought three bottles and started to worry about having enough. A few miles into the second lap I looked back and noticed that we hadn't really dropped anybody, at least that's what it seemed like to me. It started to worry me because my initial thought was that I was in bad shape and everybody else was doing just fine. A few other guys took off one by one and nobody chased them down. At this point there was three or four guys up the road with Bigshark controlling the peleton. The field was getting a little antsy, but nobody wanted to chase down the break. After the first climb on the second lap I finally saw Jeff and Jeremy who I hadn't seen all race. Two more guys got away, and then another group of about seven went. I grabbed the last wheel on that train, but then really felt the cramps and backed off and got back in the peleton. That break was then quickly caught. Finally we got to the KOM and my legs felt fine. I spun up the hill in good position. Yielding looked really good and had about 20 yards on me. We reorganized and dropped more riders and were down to about 15-20 for the run into the finish. I got into a sweet spot up the final hill to the finish. The pace picked up until about 200m to go and Aaron Rauls/Ghisallo made a dash. It was sprint on and I passed two riders. With the five from the break, I got 10th out of the sprint for 15th place. In hindsight, I was feeling pretty good at the time and thought about attacking in the last uphill to the finish. I decided to play it safe though and stayed with our group. I'm not sure where everybody else finished. In the end I went through three bottles(two accelerade, one water), 5 GU's, granola bar, and a banana. I never did completely cramp.

I achieved my goal of staying in the lead group, which ended up being the second group after letting a break go. It wasn't a top 10, but in the company I was in for the finish I'll take it. It was certainly a weird race as nobody got organised to chase down the initial break including us. We had five guys in the peleton and could have had a good shot had we kept Ron up there. Next to Bigshark and The Hub I think we had the most guys besides maybe Trek and Gateway.

This has to rate up there in favorite races and Ste. Genevieve was a great host city with excellent facilities. Todd did another great job organizing this race. The course had a little bit of everything, climbs, rollers, and fast sections. I did this race two years ago and remembered it killed me. I had bad memories of the climbs. I had put in a lot of miles(50 then 20) the two days prior to that race thinking that was what I needed and I paid for it. This year I kept my riding to a minimum prior to the race and while it was still a hard race it wasn't as hard as I remembered.

Winghaven is up this weekend and will be another true test as it will be a CAT 2/3 race. The way it works out is that I'll have five days off prior to this race and I'll have to do all I can to stay off the bike, at the very least keep the miles to a minimum.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

State RR prep.....

Well, I haven't really been doing anything really special. I haven't had a season I can feel good about so far. The almost seven month break I took last year from complete riding propably hurt me more then it helped. It put me behind the eight ball for all the early spring races and am only now feeling my fitness and form coming together. My ideal weight is right around 135 and I'm now a few pounds shy of that. My eating out at work and sweet tooth just get me in too much trouble.

This race has a little bit of climbing to it, while it's no Hermann, it'll still have some. I've known a few guys that have actually been using compact cranks and been doing just fine on them. After some thought I decided to go ahead and try them. The idea is to eventually build two bikes, a climbing bike and a crit bike.

While I have no grandioso plans of winning the State race, my main goal will be to stay in the main group until the finish. It'll be good to see how my form is coming along. I imagine with all the climbs in this race it will be a race of attrition.

I got a good deal on some Campy UT cranks and put them on last week and did two rides with them. They felt fine on the Ghisallo training ride, I was first on the Ossenfort climb, but then dropped the chain shifting the front derailleur and pedaling too fast. I guess I learned a lesson there. I didn't feel I was too undergeared, exept when trying to bridge after dropping the chain. I also felt fine on the hammerfest back. The Tuesday crit was a different story though. I did feel a little undergeared at times and I've also learned I've got to spin a lot more then I'm used to. It also takes a few shifts to find just the right gear too. Because of this, accelerations made it harder to keep up. I don't think I'll always keep these on my bike, but also think I could get used to them and use them in a crit if I had to. Hopefully after Sundays race I'll have good news to report about these cranks.