Archive for the ‘road race’ Category

Mt Hamilton Classic Road Race

Posted: June 6, 2011 in road race

Not a whole lot to say about this race. I got shelled right from the get go. ~2 minutes in, I began thinking that they weren’t going to hold the pace for long, by 5 minutes in, I started to slide back one at a time, by 8 minutes in, I was thinking that they would surely ease up any time now. By 9 minutes in, I was off the back and the field was quickly disappearing. OUCH! I just went into TT mode rode the rest of the race out. I must say, that although the climb hurt like hell, it was very enjoyable, if that makes any sense. The descent was fun too.

Even though I hadn’t trained for the race and was planning on using it to kick start my build towards the Patterson Pass RR, which I did, I never expected to get crushed so bad.  Oh well, live and learn. I did catch and pass two members of my group through the day to come home a disappointing 40th. Also, it was nice driving to the start and racing, albeit for 9 minutes, with two of my teammates.

Ahhh….Snelling.

Posted: March 1, 2011 in road race

Or…I thrashed myself about until my muscles quit and all I got was this super awesome picture.

Takin' it to 'em at the start of lap 2

Better than a t-shirt any day!

All of the fear and loathing over the weather situation was for naught as it was a crisp, sunny, and beautiful day in lovely Snelling California for the 2011 edition of the Snelling Road Race. The course was in fine shape, only 1 patch of water the whole way across the road, which wasn’t a hazard, some sand in the corners and a few easily avoidable sandbars and puddles sprinkled throughout the course, perfect conditions for my first crack at this historic race.

A small break of 3 went away just after the turn off of Keyes on the first lap. The riders were from Third Pillar, Dolce Vita, and Bicycles Plus. After some furious chasing and passing 2 fields in the first half lap, we brought back the rider from Third Pillar. By the end of the first lap, we had limited the damage to ~20 sec back from the remaining 2 in the break. That’s when the blocking began in earnest. Each of the members of the break had ONE teammate in the chase group that whittled to ~20 by the end of the race. Those boys blocked, threw faint attacks, sat on attacks, etc,  and made the rest of us look like total douche bags. As per usual, only ~5 of us were willing to work to bring back the break. Even so, we were making progress, we’d cut the deficit in about half, then we were neutralized. The break then got up to ~40 sec and as we really began to chase in earnest, cutting it in half again, we were neutralized again, in a downwind section. The P/1/2s took forever to pass us as we were not helping our own situation. After that, the break was up to 1 min+ and the onus to chase was off for the majority of the group.

I spent most of the third lap unsuccessfully encouraging the pack to chase and break up the blocking efforts that were going on. One of the things I don’t understand is why these so called bike racers that were in the field were willing to settle for third place. I don’t know about them, but I didn’t give up essentially a whole day of my life to drive out to BFE and race in who knows what kind of weather on a course that has some of the shittiest pavement in California for third place. Don’t get me wrong, I have no illusions, I will not win many races in my mid-pack, Cat 4, geezer racing career, but when I race, I race to win. Anyway, my efforts were unrewarded as the break stayed away for the rest of the race.

On the last lap, I began to notice that I was starting to get cramps in my left quad. I popped an electrolyte tablet, slammed some sports drink, ate some GU, and went into survival mode. Getting out of the saddle was very painful, but I wasn’t cramping while I was in the saddle, so I just would work my way to the front, and when we got to a climb, I would pack slide, rinse, lather, repeat. By the last section of rough pavement, two things were going on. One, we were 5 wide at the front of the pack, bad juju. Two, I knew that my quad was going to lock up on the sprint. I decided to attack through the rough patch with ~1km to go. This would at the very least string the bunch out, and with any luck, I’d be able to get a gap and salvage a decent finish. When I jumped, they were on me like white on rice, but the bunch did string out and we were safe through the last corner. When I began my sprint, to my surprise, BOTH of my quads locked up! I was swarmed, but I still passed one rider at the line for 14th place (I think).

I was disappointed in this result because I estimated that there were only 4 or 5 racers who may have been stronger than me in the group, but I know that I have a pretty strong sprint, so I figured if everything went perfect, a top 5 was not out of the question. In the race, overall, I was satisfied, as I gave everything I had, I raced to win, I was a leader in the peloton, and I beat the guy who beat me at the Early Bird Crit last month (dropped on the last lap). Tactically, I was disappointed that I didn’t recognize everything the blockers were doing earlier as I think we could have been more affective at disrupting their disruptions. Plus, I think I should have spent more time communicating and making deals at the back of the pack. Beefs: Tri Valley Velo, 4 guys in the pack; you had 1 hard effort as a team after the break went away, and you let your strongest rider on the front until he blew up and then you all went back to picking you noses in the back of pack. WTF? Work!

As far as my cramps were concerned, I was well hydrated as I drank ~2x what I normally drink in the same length training ride, in addition, I had been taking in plenty of calories, both from my sports drink as well as GU. I may have not had enough salt, that’s something I need to analyze, but I think the real kicker was the amount of anaerobic intervals that I did during the race. At this stage of the season, my body was not quite ready to handle the load.

Review of the race, the rough pavement is not that bad, the little rollers are just long enough, steep enough, and require enough effort to make you curse yourself for giving up needle point all those years ago to be ridiculed by every bumpkin in a pickup south of the Mason Dixon Line. I liked the finish, though it was uphill. Too bad I cramped or I could have gotten some real nice power numbers to look at.

8 Weeks

Posted: August 9, 2010 in road race

8 Weeks. That’s how long it has been since I thought of anything else other than the Patterson Pass Road Race. Every pedal turn, every sprint, every climb, every weight lifted, every dessert skipped, every pound lost… PPRR was there. Why would a self professed track enduro racer/road sprinter have the idiotic idea to do one of the toughest, hilliest, windiest road races on the NCNCA calendar? Because it’s in my back yard, because it’s the main geographic feature the my regular Monday ride,  because I wanted to try and support a teammate who is one of those sickly climber types, but mostly because it is one of the toughest, hilliest, windiest road races on the NCNCA calendar. Shortly after I committed myself to untold pain and suffering that is Patterson, I was lamenting my poor decision to do the race to the multi-talented and super awesome Shelley Evans at the Testarossa Velodrome Challenge where her sage advice was, “just put in the work and you’ll do fine.”

So I got busy putting in the work. I went 2 on 1 off. That is 2 balls out efforts on Monday and Tuesday. Active Recovery on Wednesday, then balls out Thursday and Friday again. Throw in a handful of long rides some Sundays off and the work was put in.

In those 8 weeks I climbed that hill 13 times. What’s the best way to climb it? Go easy at the bottom then progressively harder as you approach the top? Or is it, go hard at the bottom, easy in the middle, then hard at the top? Where are the critical areas where I typically lose time? What is the best way to get through them? Where can I gain time? Questions, questions, questions. Well, I found out the right way to do it. I even made it over the thing a couple of times to hook up with the A group on Monday before the descent, though, I never could beat the ultimate super-domestique Ken Hernandez to the top.

What to say about Ken? No reason to do it other than his own satisfaction, but of the 13 times I went up the hill Ken was there pacing me 11 of them. He even turned around to come and pace me after I had a flat, 10 miles earlier. What an awesome teammate!

Going into the race I felt strong and rested, and I was riding better than ever. I got to the race early bound to not waste any nervous energy this time, unlike Modesto. Pinned on my number and did my warmup, which was harder than usual, but worked well. There were goats heads everywhere in the parking area so I checked the tires. Upon inspection, 10 minutes before the start,I noticed that my sidewall had split during my warmup. I thought my race was going to be over before it began. Panic began to set in when seemingly no one had a spare tire. Where was my spare wheel? It was at home since there were no follow vehicles.  Then I was asked, by Ken, if I had a boot. Lightbulb! Tire booted, inflated to 85psi and I was ready to line up. When I got to the Start line, I was ~40th out of 48 in line. Not good. I wanted to be much further up. Crap! As we started, it was evident that I was going to have trouble moving up until the climb started to take its toll. Unfortunately, when the big split occurred, I needed to thread myself through a few riders and by the time I was in position, the main group was already too far up the road for me to catch on the remaining part of the climb. I figured that a good many of those would blow up eventually, and I would catch them on the 2nd lap. After I crested the hill, I made it my mission to catch the moto-ref, which I did.  Then my mission was to catch and pass people one at a time and “race” my power meter. I passed a few guys on the descent. Coming towards the bottom, I came upon a Webcor rider who was descending awfully slow. I shouted out to him and he responded with something that sounded like “gsdfhgatjqahahadhgadg.” It turned out that he was a pretty good climber but deathly afraid of going fast downhill.

After he caught me on the Flynn climb, I gave him some pointers and hoped that he would shake his fear. We caught a couple more guys and came to the start/finish line as a group of 4. I had done most of the work up to that point and the other riders in the group seemed to be weaker than me, so I made it my mission to win my group of 4. After the 2nd time up Patterson, beating the other 3 was assured since the only one left was descent boy. I blew him off and then just went into TT mode trying to catch up with the P/1/2s who were dropping off the back and cruising in. I was really disappointed that I hadn’t been catching any people in my race, but I was heartened that I was catching people (mostly M35+ Cat 4s). As I was beginning to approach the Midway climb, I noticed a bunch of riders strung out on the climb, where I hadn’t seen them earlier. I figured that if I could catch and pass one person in my field, then all of the work that I had put in “racing” my power meter would be worth it. I was ready to put in a massive effort on the climb and then, at the base, a rancher starts to drive this massive bull and cow across the road. The bull stopped right smack dab in the middle of the road and stared at me. I wish I would have thought to pull out my cell phone and snap a picture. That would have been better than any trophy or t-shirt.  After clipping back in, the adrenaline had faded and I just went up the climb at a reasonable pace. Then, I bombed the descent, passed a half dozen people, most of whom didn’t have race numbers, and I did pass a member of my field. Yay for me! Actually, I passed 2 members of my field, but I realized it while the 2nd one was sprinting past me at the line. My sprint never really got started and his sprint was impeded by none other than Ken Hernandez, who was turning his car around at the finish line after a long day working registration. Thanks Ken. I ended up 30th out of 48.

Epilogue: I really have mixed feelings about my performance. I trained hard and well, I stuck to my plan and learned a lot. I raced hard, but I thought I would have done better than 30th. I guess I just need to chalk this one up to a good race with a poor result. Incidentally, the spot where the bull stopped in the middle of the road was the same place that I was stopped earlier in the year on a training ride by a horse that had gotten out of its field. I think that the rancher needs to hire some better help or buy some smarter animals. Thanks to Gordon, Frank, and Andrew for flying the VSRT colors with me, Zaf and Scott for doing feedzone for us and Dean for coming out to cheer. Special thanks to my wife and daughter who not only put up with me for the last 8 weeks, but came out to cheer anyway. Then there’s Ken. Thanks man, for everything!

Modesto Road Race

Posted: May 20, 2010 in road race

Advice and Experience.

It’s what we all need from time to time; if it’s good or not depends; whether we follow or learn from it is up to us. The Modesto Road Race was my first road race so I didn’t really know what to expect. What I did know was that it was 7 laps on a 9 mile, dead flat course. I also knew that the last time I road that far, was 6 months ago, and it wasn’t anywhere near “race pace.”

The first bits of advice that I used was “have a plan.—Larry Nolan”, “Stay in the top 1/3 of the peloton—Paul Sherwen and Phil Liggett”, ”Race your strength.—Ken Hernandez”, and “You must meter your effort…unless you’re Ron Callison.—Andy McIlroy.” So my plan was to hang towards the front of pack, none of this silly attacking stuff that I like to do in crits and track races, and wait for the sprint at the end.

“Don’t waste energy—Many”: I didn’t do a very good job of this. I expended a ton of nervous energy worrying about if I had enough bottles, food, sleep, and training, was I eating enough, was I drinking enough, was my heart rate too high for no reason, etc. It took me several laps to get rid of all of that. “Water follows salt.—Pat Dempsey” I did not have enough salt in my system. Twenty minutes into a 3 hour race, my bladder was full. I popped an electrolyte pill, ~ 2 hours in, same thing. I didn’t need to use the facilities until ~2 hours after the race. This made a huge difference.

The pace of the race was a peaceful ride in the country with a couple of intervals thrown in for 6 of the 7 laps. Business picked up on the last lap as someone soloed off the front with ~8 miles to go. With ~ 6 miles to go, there was an acceleration at the front of the field with ~5 riders which caused a small gap to open up, no big deal until I saw that one of the potential breakaway members had a teammate trying to bridge. 2 teammates in a 6 man break with 6 miles to go is too dangerous when you don’t know the competition, so I jumped and chased it down. It was a good thing that I did because it turned out there were some strong riders in the group. That chase put me in good position for the rest of the race, near the front. The only problem was, I was a bit too close to the front. I ended up 2nd wheel with ~3 miles to go, but when the person on the front pulled off, I simply followed him, to his visual dismay. Unfortunately for VSRT, Gordon, who was on my wheel, didn’t follow me and was left on the front for ~2 miles. When he would speed up, so would the rest of the group, when he would slow down, so would the rest. Finally, with ~1 mile to go Gordon got off the front. Meanwhile, I was busily trying to get to the right hand side of the road and find a good wheel, which I did. I knew the TMT rider, because we attacked together during the Wente Crit.

I also knew he was a good wheel because I had seen that he was racing a lot from results posted at USA Cycling. With ~1 mile to go, I could see Gordon lined up on the left hand side of the road with ~5-7 riders in front of him. At this point, I thought I was screwed because the road in front of me was totally clogged with racers. Then with ~1 km to go, someone attacked, blew up, and pulled to the right side of the road. That caused just enough confusion ahead that a gap opened up and TMT guy and I went through to the front. As we came around the last turn TMT guy hesitated just a bit, which unfortunately caused me to have to brake check, costing some momentum. Just as I stood up for the sprint, someone pulled a spoke out of their rear wheel. It made an awful racket, but to his credit he kept sprinting and finished 5th. I lost TMT guy’s draft due to the brake check. He went on to finish 2nd. I couldn’t pass Mr. Broken Spoke and ended up 6th, scoring myself a t-shirt. Gordon passed a bunch of guys to finish 8th. If I wouldn’t have had to brake check? Maybe I would have finished on the podium, or maybe I would have ended up in the ditch picking gravel and cow shit out of my body, who knows, but it sure was a fun day.