Sunday, March 16, 2008

Echelons are beautiful

So what do you get when you mix 100 cyclists up with a 25-30mph wind
during a 50 mile road race?

Well, among other things, you get 40mph on the tailwind parts :-)

On the headwind we were giving it most of what we had and doing around 16mph. Humbling.

But the crosswinds, now there's the trick. If everyone is fighting the
same crosswind, like if the whole pack decided to look for draft at the
same time and we all ended up on one side of the road right on the edge,
we'd all be going pretty slow.

This is what most people do, though I have no idea why. It causes
massive amounts of aerobic (anaerobic?) pain in the legs as you try to
stay with the group, your wheels are in the gutter and gravel, one gust of wind can
blow you off the road... it just sucks.

But you know what you can do instead? Echelon!

All you've got to do is go the same speed, but slowly move into the wind
to the other side of the road. If you're vocal about it, maybe slap your
hip and point out in a diagonal line where people should line up, then
you get a nice line of guys working together and after you rotate
around, you can actually get some draft. Oh, sweet draft.

Given how much I suck at punching through the wind (confirmed with the
time trial yesterday) the echelon was key for me today in the Bariani
road race
.

My only goal was to finish with the lead group. I didn't know what place
that was going to be, but I did not want to crack out of the lead group.
With crosswinds, that means *before* the crosswind section, you need to
be in the top-10 or so, because when that first echelon forms, you HAVE
to be in it, or you're going to be in idiot-land, riding the gutter and
suffering like a dog. OK, I actually ended up there twice, and it was
awful. I wanted nothing more to quit both those times and very nearly
came unglued.

Well, I made it in the front group at the end. We started with 100 (or
nearly 100), and by the end of the race, there were two people off the
front in a breakaway, and then a little group of 7. I got 9th, and
sometimes even when you're not at full strength, just knowing where to
put your bike is enough to get 91 other folks out your way...

One more cat 2 upgrade point, brings the total to 20. If I could get some
strength to match the results, I'd be in good shape!


There was one hill in this race, and it was short, but I felt good enough
on it that I should be okay at Copperopolis next weekend. Last year in
the 4s (one category down) I got 3rd. Will I have any luck in the 3s?

We'll see...

5 comments:

runjoelrun said...

Glad to hear your quest is close to being finished. I just hope that you'll upgrade the day after that 25th point.

Lots of fun in p1/2 races.

Mike Hardy said...

I'll go when I'm ready and not a moment before :-)

Honestly, if I got the power back to where it was at the end of last year, I'd probably go then. Or after Madera (if that was after I got the points with the power)

But if I'm putting out power like I am now, it's all tactics getting me the points - seriously - and I think the P12 field would expose me as a charlatan pretty quickly.

I need to know that I can hang in order to be motivated, and I need to be motivated in order to train - I know how I work and it's either a virtuous circle or a horribly destructive one for me, and I need to make sure I stay on the virtuous side...

tcarole said...

what's the deal with the line breaks???

Mike Hardy said...

I do most of my posting by email, and their email digester does funky things with the line breaks

I post that way because it's FAST though, and if I cleaned them up it'd kind of ruin it

So you get funky line breaks.

Still reading it aren't ya?? Doesn't seem to matter then ;-)

L. Christmas said...

Good job Mike! Way to get fast again. See you at poo one of these nights.
Lloyd