Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Racing - August 23, 2011 @TuesdayTheRent

Ah, yes, Tuesday Night Worlds.

I think that my thoughts of the Rent are along the lines of childbirth for women - the women say that they don't remember the pain. For me, in my memory, the Rent is about blasting around the course, bridging gaps, attacking, and doing a good sprint.

It's not about clinging on the back of the field while guys take strong but steady pulls at the front, long past my 20 minute expiration date, and finally getting ignomiously sawed off the back.

The reality is that, unlike my fond (selective) memories, I regularly get shelled here at the Rent.

Like totally shelled.


Off the back.


It's a tough thing, this whole racing scene. I know, maybe a little too well, my strengths and weaknesses. I'm not good at steady state stuff. You know in the Tour you watch an "easy" sprint stage and break gets 10 minutes and the commentators start talking about, "Oh, they can pull back, as a rule, a minute every 10 kilometers."

Yeah, well, when you go real fast like that, real steady like, for 100 km (to bring back a 10 minute break), well, that there's some serious riding.

Ironically, as a sprinter that would benefit from a field sprint, it's the kind of riding I can't handle.

Me, the sprinter, can't hang on wheels when it's steady fast like that, so when a team drills it at the front, like CCNS did last week, I struggle and slip and slide down that slope until zzzzzzip I fall off the back. It took about 10 minutes of fast, steady riding to kill me last time.

For this week I hoped that there'd be no steady racing. I wanted a choppy pace, attack, chase, sit, attack, chase, sit. I can handle that, digging each time for another book of matches, another $20 bill from the racing legs cash machine, looking for anything, but if I know it'll ease again, well, heck, if I have to I'll pretend to have found something.

Part of this involved some preparation - I planned on getting a decent warm up, one where I have to recover from efforts. Twiddling around doesn't do it.

A few weeks ago I started the race, blew up, got dropped, twiddled around for a few laps, then jumped back in. It seemed awfully manageable the second time around and I hung in there until the bell, sitting up to let the real racers sprint it out. Afterward I'd queried SOC if the pace had slackened in the last 10 laps.

It hadn't.

I decided that I should warm up harder, blow up, recover, and then I'd be okay for the races.

Rolling out to the other part of the complex, I saw several racers loitering just past Turn One, a few bikes laying on the ground nearby. Loitering racers usually means a crash, especially with bikes on the ground, and this was no exception.

A racer lay in pain (eventually I'd learn it was a broken ankle), some road rash on the elbow. I stopped, tried to help, supported the leg while another racer wrapped ice pack stuff around said ankle, then helped the racer into the car (which is a sportier version of my car, which reminds me I have to post about that).

A preview.

By the time we finished all this it was just a few laps to go for the B race. With no warm-up time left, I did a couple jumps, visited the portapotties, admired the wall inside, then lined up.

I tried not to do anything stupid like I did once before, but I didn't want to get caught unawares either. The CCNS boys were there in force, some unfamiliar ones in the kit.

I noticed one had the pelvic cradle bumps (in the lower back). The only time I see bumps like that is when I watch pro cycling DVDs and the camera's behind the break.

Normal people have dimples where the pelvic cradle gets attached to the skin, the skin having to reach inward past extraneous fat to get to the bone. Fit racers, on the other hand, have two bumps there because they're so fit the pelvic bones stick out of their torso.

I noted this at about the same time I heard one of the regular CCNS guys holler back to him, "Ah, just wait until you see us go."

Hey, look, I now had a plan! Wait till CCNS goes and try my hardest to go with them.

Simple enough.

I sat in, waiting for the move. Things got a bit blurry there, especially since I forgot to clear the ContourHD memory of my super long training ride the day before; this meant I ran out of memory only halfway through the race.

Anyway CCNS launched the move, something like five Cat 1s were up there, I couldn't go, and that was the race.

When we hit 5 to go I knew I could finish in the group. The leaders had declined to lap us, hanging back a bit, so the group could sprint for 8th or so without interfering with the break. I started to move up a bit, slicing and dicing. I forgot what it's like, the excitement, the little moves and countermoves and stuff.

At two to go I decided that I didn't want to pressure myself to try and win the field sprint. This meant I really had only one other choice - help out SOC for the finish. Just before we hit the bell I rolled past him, giving him the Leadout Look.

He glanced over, deciphered the look, and swung onto my wheel.

I drilled it, on the left side, rolling past our teammate (multiple Rent winner Todd B), and into the first turn.

No racer on the ground any more, just an early apex, a hammering lead rider, and SOC right behind me.

I kept driving, the legs not quite so magical as last year, but significantly better than the past couple months. I saw Shovel up ahead, a guy from the BikeForum world. He had one rider for company, saw us behind, and drilled it.

We flew past his former break partner. Shovel kept the pace high enough that he got around the last turn before I really got on his wheel. I rolled up to his right - he left a lane to his left, leaving us in a weird situation.

If I went left of Shovel but blew before I cleared him, I'd box in SOC.

If I went right, there'd always be a lane to my right. SOC could, if necessary, go to Shovel's left.

I went right.

Just before SOC went left, the bumpy CCNS guy rocketed through the gap.

I rolled even with Shovel, sat up, and swore under my breath. I didn't sense anyone to my right so SOC was between me and Shovel, boxed in.

I couldn't move too much because the odds were against me - if I moved right I might be moving into SOC's way, who would then go more right, making things worse for the guys inevitably trying to get by on the right.

If I moved right and SOC blasted through the gap between Shovel and me, Shovel may move to his right to clear the stream of racers flying up the left side.

So on and so forth.

In the end Shovel and I ended up riding side by side, exploded, the rest of the race leaving us behind. No one fell, no one swore. It ended up okay.

I talked a bit with another BikeForums rider (they seemed to be coming to the Rent a bit more frequently), giving a bit of friendly advice based on some observations I made during the race.

Then, with darkness rapidly falling, the Missus and I set out for dinner with the Mr and Mrs SOC. I felt a lot better, like I could actually race. I hung in through some of the harder bits, did some efforts when it was a bit slower, and basically acted more like a bike racer than not.

Better, yes. Not great. Just better.

I'll take better.

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