Sunday, April 17, 2011

Racing - 2011 ArcEnCiel Crit M35+


The bad news is that my legs aren't sore. My lungs were a bit raw, not from the strong winds, but from the strong pace set by what would be the winning break. My Arc En Ciel Crit at Ninigret Park ended after just 20 minutes of racing.

With Mark McCormack, former USPro champion, lining up for the race looking very sleek compared to a few years ago, the pace promised to be a real humdinger. The super gusty winds, strong enough to throw spectators off balance, made the threat much more real.

Other racers took to the line too. I knew a few, like Zane's early season strong man Eric M. Steve A from up north, a former Carpe Diem Racing teammate, came down with a few Onion River Racing teammates.

I didn't know the others, like Peter V, who passed me as the winning break coalesced. With his distinctive form (and slimmer form than recent memory - is he training with McCormack?), I realized I was slipping back while the race headed forward.

After a lame attempt to keep the break in check, trailing by maybe 30 meters, I exploded. Less than four minutes into the race and that was that.

The field went by in dribs and drabs, gaps everywhere from the hotted up pace. The main field split into two quickly, leaving the main group and the second group.

I, of course, was in the second group.

Then the second group split again.

Again I was in the wrong half of the split, unable to do anything.

In the fourth group on the road, with a powerful break remorselessly zipping around the course, it was only a matter of time before the whistle blew.

And that ended my race officially, one that already ended when first I fell off the break, ended again when the group split unfavorably, and ended yet again when the group split yet again.

I suppose the good way of looking at it is that I got to do 4 races.

The bad part of the good way of looking at it is that I got shelled by three of them. The fourth was just too slow to keep going.

My teammate SOC had an awesome race in the 3-4s (link). It didn't look good at first, to be honest, but it ended pretty spectacularly (and in a good way). I'll let him tell the story himself.

The day for me set off some alarm bells. I was relatively unfit, among the worst of the day as I was in the last group. I need to lose weight, train more, and be more focused when it comes to race day. The Missus actually pulled the virtual alarm lever on my racing because it's something that the affected (me) wouldn't notice for a little while longer.

Lessons I learned today.

First, I have to have my own food, just like Kenda Girl had hers, and the pros I saw at Tour of PA had theirs. Navone Studios spoiled me with always-available food, great food, and out on my own I floundered a bit. The Missus and I brainstormed a bit and thought of ways I ate last year. We'll try and replicate that this year.

Second, my weight gain (12-14 lbs) from last season is really hurting me. I have a month break until my next race (ironically at Ninigret Park again). I'll use that time to try and lean myself out, get some serious miles in, and basically do my January training in April.

Third, I need to get word out on how to race when you're dropped. A few sub-lessons there.

A - I got frustrated today by guys who'd let gaps open but were strong enough to twiddle the pedals 15 feet off the wheel. They didn't try and close the gap, forcing others to go, tiring everyone out collectively.

B - when in a vicious crosswind, you have two ways of riding. If you're in the break or the chase, you ride to break the others' legs. Ride everyone in the gutter so they have to work superhard to stay on your wheel, deny them shelter, and kill them.

But if you're in the third group or further back, you need to survive. You have to pretend it's a team time trial, not the lead echelon in Ghent Wevelgem. Don't try and kill those trying to help you survive. If the wind is from the right, stay in the right gutter when you pull. You'll give 10 other riders shelter, 10 riders that can pull hard once you pull off.

It's survival, people. Who cares if you kill the guys in the 4th group? All you do is get pulled quicker. Every lap we were on the left gutter, strung out, no shelter anywhere. This is the kind of thing that must have driven Joe Parkin crazy (I'm reading Dog in A Hat again) when he raced in the US.

Finally, if someone in your "we're trying to survive group" is pulling, stay on their wheel. Close the gap, even if it hurts a bit. You need more speed to get back to the next group. You need someone willing to pour their guts out onto the road, and when you have such a sucker, use them to the utmost.

When I pulled hard in the group (after finally getting some legs back), people let me go. I closed a big portion of the gap to the next group, but when I eased, no one was there. I'd have been happier if the group attacked me and shelled me right then and there, if that meant the group bridged.

Ultimately the fourth and third groups got pulled only a couple laps apart, so the point is kind of moot. And, really, I should have been in the second group. The first... probably unrealistic, holding 300 watts for the whole race (as a non-Voigt, I can barely do that for a few minutes). The second group, I'm guessing I could have hidden there at 220-230 watts, which, technically, I should be able to do for about 45-50 minutes.

I never have, no, but I should be around there, at least right now.

So, with a light dinner, some organization in preparation for tomorrow's food and ride, I'm off to bed.

But before I sign off, here's the number from today. Pins, lots of them for the wind, 8 from the promoter's box, the rest from my gear bag.

We'll see you there May 15th.

Pins, and a lot of them. Need more pins.

A crazy forecast.


Murat Altinbasak said...

Dude the chase group right behind the break cost me 3.75w/kg (normalized, with zeroes) for 50 minutes. You really need to be 4 w/kg to hold a wheel in that break.. It's only April!

Anonymous said...

Do you think the fourth was blocking?

Aki said...

MA - I'm trying to get to 3.0 w/kg, which is decent for me (3.5 is a dream, 4.0 is close to untouchable). I'm closer to 2.7 w/kg right now.

Anon - I don't think the 4th group was blocking. No one looked happy to be pulled, and, at that point, well behind the first two groups (the first with all but one place, the second with the remaining place), catching the third group wouldn't have been too hard. They were just a straight away; the second group was most of a lap away.

It's one thing to block to keep the field away from the chase or a break. It's another to keep the 2nd off the back group from catching the 1st off the back group.

I figure there were riders who simply couldn't contribute, like me. It took me about 4-5 laps to gather enough reserves to take one short pull. The crosswind sections zapped me every time.

When I went with the first move (the winning break) they lined up across that same straight. It was much, much easier than when I was guttered in the field. I got shelled from the break in the tailwind section - even sheltered I was tweaked, and without shelter in the tailwind, I was done.

Shaver said...

i think the answer to all of your problems is more safety pins.