Sunday, September 19, 2010

Whole lotta racin' goin' on

I mentioned in the last post I had raced a bunch but hadn't posted anything.

Couple reasons for that - work has been pretty hectic (even had to travel a bit, a rarity), home has been a little hectic (we're remodeling the front-yard among other things), and cycling-wise I'm building up to the grandaddy of them all - the Everest Challenge. Updating the blog...not really a priority. I don't even make it on Facebook much.

Anyway, I have been feeling slightly guilty about it among lots of other things not getting done though, and I made a major error in a road race today so I thought I would really quickly set down all the missing races with a special focus on things attempted, and lessons learned.

Herewith - the missing races, oldest to newest

o Patterson Pass RR (8th in 35+123)

My goal here was to be active, break up the field, and finish in the front group. I think I can climb, and I'd like to test that.

Lesson learned is that I can climb (that wasn't the hard part for me, and the group did split down to 10 or so) but the rollers after the smaller climb were a killer for me. I cracked off the pack there and had to chase back on. Was blown then and didn't make it up the climb. Kept chasing though, and learned that you will keep catching people if you don't give up. I think I caught three more and finished *just* behind the main group. I need more raw power.

Not too bad. B for climbing, D for raw power, A for tenacity.

- Dunnigan Hills RR (10th in P12)

Goal here was to get a result. No wind so I bet on a sprint. It was a sprint.

Lesson learned: my read of the weather and associated strategy is pretty good, however, my selection of wheel to follow left something to be desired. I was in the wrong spot and the sprint was hellishly dangerous. Top 10 was luck, as was staying upright. So, need to get closer to the front prior to sprints and pick better wheels.

A for weather / course research, D for finishing tactics

- Suisun Harbor Crits (weak in both 35+123 and P12)

Goal was to be active and get a result. I was expecting breakaways on this course.

Lesson learned: if you half-ass breakaways you'll burn all your matches like I did in the M35+123, and suck at the sprint. And the P12 won't magically be better.

This was an F all around really. All it was good for was a workout.

- University RR (24th in P12 but got girled by Katherine Matthis - go Katherine...) and

This is a very very tough climbing race that National level pros frequently turn up for. Goal here was to finish in the first significant group.

I'm not sure what happened here. Mentally I blew up - the legs were sorta okay but at some point I just couldn't do it anymore and gave up. It was really hard at the moment, but guys I know I can outclimb stayed in when I let the group go. I was disappointed. I finished the race and kept riding really good laptimes, for what should have been 24th but they DNPd me anyway, which is frustrating.

Lesson Learned: I'm not sure here - it's a lingering problem. Mental blowup while legs still have some juice? Was I tired? I just dunno. More raw power will always solve the problem, for sure.

D for tenacity, B for endurance

- Vacaville Crit (18th in P12 but beat all the pros in the race, because...they probably weren't trying very hard on the last lap since a break was away)

Goal here was to try to get a result even though I knew it would be hard. I expected a breakaway.

There were breakaways, and I surged off the front with them. Nothing I went with was sticking though (and yes, I pulled a bit). In the end I was with the main group and I thought there was a huge group up the road so I didn't fight hard in the sprint. My mistake, there weren't that many up the road and a good sprint would have been a good result.

Lesson learned: If you're not tactically aware enough to know how many are up the road, at least ask! Duh.

F for tactical awareness, B for activity

- CCCX Circuit Race Fall #2 P123 (2nd in P123)

Goal here was to be really active/attacking and try to win the thing. This is a race that is rolling hills (which suits me), and doesn't usually draw a strong crowd (which of course suits me) - so this is actually plausible.

I figured this would be a course with a breakaway because of the hills. The Clif team and the Metromint team each had a lot of representation. So I wanted to attack and draw out 1 Clif and 1 Metromint and anyone else that wanted to play. Tried once and got a lone rider, a Clif representative but he was hurting, and no Metromint. Let it die. Tried again and got same lone rider, Clif, Metromint, and a few others. This could work. Drilled it a bunch and we broke the pack - this was the winning move. Played some games near the end, and hesitated in the last part of the sprint, so I got a strong second but didn't take it. I'm happy with that and a little frustrated at the same time - I had the chance to win but didn't capitalize. Still, great result.

A for strategy, A for tenacity, B for sprinting

- Folsom TT (almost dead last in the P12)

Goal here was to pace myself correctly, and actually post a TT where I rode my threshold power, to see how that stacks up.

What actually happened is I went out way too hard, blew up a lot, couldn't really recover, and sucked all the way back to the finish. It was horrible and I was frustrated with myself - I don't practice TTs though so I guess this is what I get. Grr!

Lesson learned: to pace TTs correctly you either need a discipline I don't have apparently or you have to practice them so it's automatic. Apparently all the people that do well at them actually practice. I'll have to practice.

- Folsom Crit (5th of a ton of P12 people, 50+)

Goal here was to be active to try to get in a move, and podium, why not? It was a course that suited me and I felt great.

I was active but the pack wasn't even letting serious gaps form. I pulled a couple times but there were literally so many strong folks from different teams that the pack never let anything gap at all, and the course was featureless. So I switched to field sprint mode. The sprint was pretty good, but right at the very very end I didn't give it full gas, and I got passed by two people. That's always upsetting.

Lesson learned: sprint right to the line every time, every muscle fiber

A for tactics, including the sprint, D for tenacity

- Folsom Circuit Race (17th out of 50+ P12)

Goal was to be active and get a result again (same goal but really this is most P12 racing for crits and circuit races). The course had two 180s and a short hill before the final 180, which then had a single-file corner followed by maybe 200m to the line, which meant the hill was the deciding moment.

I started to cramp near the end so I didn't have many bullets left and I decided to conserve up the final hill not realizing how important it was until *after* the race, so I came in a humdrum place instead of doing well. Got 15th in the full Folsom Omnium though which was good for $25.

Lesson Learned: Even if I don't pre-walk a course and really think about it, I really need to think about how the final lap will play out so I'm prepared.

D for tactics, C for endurance

- Mt Tam Hill climb (13th in the P12)

Goal: to pace myself correctly and climb quickly, duh

This is just starting at the bottom of Mt Tam and climbing to the top, with a bunch of the strongest cyclists in the state. Not much strategy to it except not to blow up at any point so you have to slow down to recover. I blew up a little at the start, but rode sensibly very quickly so it wasn't too bad. Right near the top of the hardest climbing section though I let a group I was in go because I didn't *know* we were nearly done climbing otherwise I would have held on. That was 5 places, easy.

Lesson Learned: no course knowledge usually means a bad result. Oh, and more raw power is always good. Or not weighing anything

I was frustrated with myself for not being tenacious and I needed a longer workout so I climbed it one more time even though it was blowing heavy drippy wet fog. I was nearly as fast the second time as the first time.

B for raw power-to-weight (hey, nearly top 10 in the P12...), F for course knowledge and tenacity

Finally, the race I just did this morning:

- Henleyville RR (6th out of 15? P12)

Goal: to get in the winning break, and hopefully sprint for a podium.

This was a flat 75-mile road race with no wind, but historically there is a breakaway here so I was counting on that and wanted to stay active. I do well in breaks with 5ish people though as longer rest intervals are more important to me (since I have less raw power than most). I got in the winning move and it had 9 folks for a while, so I was happy with that.

The breakaway kept whittling down but it never really eased up, which led to a problem - my food strategy was horrible. I haven't done a long race in so long I basically just blew it. I didn't have enough food I could eat while working hard and with 10 miles to go I started to bonk. No cramping at least, but this is where the real attacks were starting. With just a couple miles to go I finally bonked completely and just hung on to finish with the group shooting for 5th/6th/7th. I got 6th but maybe could have gotten 5th. Either way, my highest road race placing in the P12 ever despite a huge tactical error.

Lesson learned: food strategy, duh. And don't hesitate in the sprint.

There you have it. Lots of races, I accumulated a few more P12 points and earned some money. I had a bunch of fun, and learned quite a bit.

Recap on the lessons learned (primarily for me later):

- don't hesitate in sprints
- work on raw power
- food strategy!
- know your course
- really think how the last lap will play out, where do you need to be in front?
- sprint to the finish
- stay tactically aware or ask for help
- pick the right wheels in sprints

Seems like basic stuff, but it is hard to get right when you're at your limit. By writing them down here I'll hopefully remember it better and keep moving up the rankings


1 comment:

teresa said...

My responses are written since you're not here (because you just left for Mammoth Lakes for the Everest Challenge an hour ago) for me to give these to you in person.

1. I love that you keep all this information about each race. Not because I care particularly about bicycle racing. I am more interested in the documentation and, following that, the follow-up of critical observation and analysis of the data. And you do that very well.

2. I wouldn't call it "remodeling". I'd call it "kind of fixing."

3. I don't think you were fair with yourself with the Suisun crit. Maybe you deserved a D-, but a total fail would mean you didn't even get a work out. And you got a work out. So, no Fs there.

4. Vacaville crit, yeah. If you could have asked (and gotten some useful info as a result), but didn't, that IS a fail. But not like I'm judging because, in that I see myself, metaphorically. Sometimes, I want to ask something and I don't and later regret it. In all sorts of situations, has nothing in particular to do with cycling. Reminds me to try harder - put myself out there more. It's risky, but there's a reward with that risk too. See? Cycling can just be a metaphor for life in general.

5. Holy SHIT, you race a lot.

6. And... you rock for sharing this part of your life with the rest of us (including those of us who barely understand what you're talking about.)