Monday, May 21, 2012

Crit, Crit, and another Crit?

Why do so many crits?  Because I can?  Because it is good training?  More endurance for a 3 day stage race?

After this weekend I am questioning my reasoning for doing so many criteriums in a weekend.  This weekend it was 3 crits (technically one was a circuit race) and last weekend it was 4 crits.  No stellar performances from either weekend.

I won't go into much detail but I was actually happy with my riding in Des Moines 2 weekend ago.  On a flat 1.5 circuit race, I was able to stay with the pack 'till the end.  When it came to the sprint I finish down the result list.  With half a lap to go, I was way out position.   I had a lot of work to do to even think about a sprint finish.  I was able to get into position but the legs were not primed for a sprint.

Later that Saturday, I competed in the Cat 1/2/3 race, same course for 75 minutes.  It was fast and fun.  Once the race started all the fatigue I thought I had, from the previous race, went away.  It was like a whole new day.  At the end if the race, I was with the bunch for a big field sprint. Just looking to get around the corner safely.     No legs or nerves to sprint, with plenty of people easily riding past.  I didn't stand up to attack the sprint.

Sunday, it was a hilly crit and again 2 crits that day.  Well, the crit had only one major hill.  I pulled the plug halfway through the Cat 3/4 which was the first race.  The second race the Cat 2's Masters got off the front and I was by myself.  I am actually happy with this race.  I kept plugging away like I was the lead rider being chased by the pack.  Eventually, a couple other riders bridged to me and only one of them could hang onto my wheel.  He was able to get the better of me on the uphill sprint by a wheel.  In the end he was the only Cat 3 to beat me in the Master's race everyone else was a Cat 2.

This past weekend.  Happy to be with the pack but not able to finish strong.   I did the masters race at 1:15pm Saturday.  I had thoughts of not doing this race but talked myself into it.  More training and a better chance of doing well by doing this race.  Also, I had planned to not go hard and save myself for the main event, the 3s race.  The race started fast.  Everyone was together until the first prime.  That is where the first bunch got away.  On the next sprint Brady got away.  I expected that.  So I spent the next couple laps trying to bridge up to Brady.  My first attack was hard an fast.  I got away for awhile but was reeled by the chase group.  I had one last hard effort to hang with the pack.  Recovered, I tried to get away.  This time more of a sustained effort.  I stayed there for a few laps.  I felt the speed was good and I like being on the front out of trouble. Two laps to go, I had one last dig to do something.  I should have talked to Kevin Murry because he was on the front of the group about to do something.  I went flying by and signaled for him to delay the "Murry Fury".  There was no getting away from the group. I dropped off an finished outside the bunch sprint.

The next race was the Cat 1/2/3 race combined.  I was hoping for a 3 only race.  Got off to a good start at the whistle.  I was right in the mix hanging out with the pack.  I was hanging tough until a wreck happened in front of me.  I could write a whole blog on this but the memories of my last high speed crash went through my head.  Luckily I was close to the grassy center median.  I missed hitting anyone.  Then looked back to see others crashing from behind.  Robert Greigg and Jon Vondracek suffered the most damage to their bodys.  Found out later that John V. broke his shoulder blade and some ribs.  Robert G had a type 1 shoulder seperation.  All painful stuff.  My bike was ok.  My right brake lever was pushed in but otherwise fine.  I was with the main pack nearly to the end but through some in attention got out the draft.  I had no motivation to get back onto the group.

Sunday, another combined 1/2/3 race.  Pioneers park GP, which has a hill that usually seperates who is strong and who is not so strong.  I seemed to climb the hill pretty well.  It was hard work yet I was able to get recovered before the next time up it.   Last lap,  I hit the bottom of the hill in good position on the outside of the turn.  The hill is less steep on the left side but more exposed to the wind.  I was hoping that someone else in front of me would take the same line.  Not much help there.  Granted there were about 8 people up the road so wee were sprinting for 9th..  With good speed to the top, I let off the gas as the hill flattened.    I let at least 2 other riders easily pass me. 

Wow a little more race description that I thought I had in me.  Maybe some analysis next blog

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Joe Martin Stage Race

 Had a fun weekend racing with my teammates and other Nebraskan riders.

The previous 2 years I have done cat 3 but this year I raced in the Mens Master's A race which includes categories 1 thru 4. When your a cat 3 it is a toss up on which group to race with. You can ride with Masters A or your Category. Matt O'Donnell signed up for the Master's A so I thought I would give it a shot too.

In the time trial, I was just looking to impove my time. I am riding better this year but I didn't think I could improve 2 minutes to crack the top 10 riders. The goal was simple - ride hard ride fast for 2.5 miles uphill. Last year, a lot of other riders passed me. Talk about de-motivating. This year was different..I didnt catch my 30sec guy but didn't get passed either. Looking at the TT results I was close the slowest time of all the riders. Bummer! On the bright side my time was ~:45sec faster.

The road race I faired better. Like the previous years, the first time I hit "the wall" I didn't have the strength to stay with the leaders. This "wall" is a stretch of road on a 15% grade and I'm guessing about 400meters in length. It is like a huge kidney punch. It can knock you to your knees all by itself or soften you up for the next hill to take you down. Luckily I was not the only one that fell off the lead group. Initially there were 3 riders with me but the group grew in size to about 10 riders. Including Matt O'Donnell from team Kaos. This was the chase group. I felt like one of the stronger riders with this group. I tried several times to go with a break or get one going. I couldn't get away. Sometimes, I got on the front to do some long hard pulls. The group stayed right behind me. Matt told me to get off the front because I was giving the rest a free ride.

With 5k to go there were a couple attempts to break away to the finish. They were brought back. The action started a good 1k to go with the finish visible in the distance. I was on the front just keeping tempo and waiting. If someone attacked, I rode hard to get on his wheel. Then I would grab a quick rest in the slipstream. After a couple more short lived attacks came a stong effort from a OKC rider. He was on the other side of the road. It was so strong and close to the finish... I thought this is the one to get a good result from the bunch sprint. Inside the finish line barracades (barracades - thats so pro), someone else got a good jump. There was no way I could catch him. I resigned myself to second. Then another guy edged me out for second so I got 3rd. I 'll take it.  Note: Even though we were the chase group, we finished the road race faster than the lead group of Cat 3s.

The crit was a hard battle too. I was looking to hang on to the group. The one obstacle to that was a short punchy hill. The finish line was right on top of this hill. The rest of the course was mostly downhill with a slightly uphill section leading to the finish line hill. The game plan was work hard on the hill to stay with the group and recover as much as possible the rest of the course. The first 10minutes were torture. I was still in the group but remember hearing 23minutes to go. 23minute?? I thought that I wasn't going to survive this. I don't know when but they switched from time to counting down the laps to go. In my mental state, 6 laps to go was easier to swallow. Down to 2 laps and having a hard time staying with the group. I was thinking to myself - "come on you can do anything for 5 minutes, sometimes twice" The speed was much higher now. Just one more hill to survive then I would be with the group on the final lap. I did it!!! I was already happy with myself. Then I heard Jordan Ross yell for me to move up. It was the perfect time for me to do it too. On the downhill section, there was a gap growing just behind the top 5 riders. I powered to make that gap before the left hand turn at the bottom. The group took the two bottom turns into the slight uphill section. I was able to get a good draft before the final climb. I climbed that hill on shear adrenaline and finished the crit 11th. I am good with that too!!