Saturday, July 28, 2012

Racing - 2012 New London Crit

Not much for me to say here. In 2010 I had a fantastic for me race here, with a good solid finish after a intimidating introduction to the race. I didn't know there was a hill to the finish and I almost came off the back a few times early on. As the race progressed I realized I had settled into the "high uncomfortable zone" where I could maintain such a pace for a long time but it'd hurt every minute.

Of course as the laps wound down the pain went away, and although I got balked at the narrow acute last turn (the guy in front of me fell over), I still did a good sprint.

Two years and 20 pounds later I had only modest aspirations. I hoped that I'd make the finish and if I did I felt that I'd have a good sprint (because usually when I finish a course that has a downhill on it I have a good sprint).

Like 2010 the day threatened rain, but the Missus, Junior, and I trooped down for the early-to-us race regardless. It didn't seem all that bad out and we were looking forward to seeing some of our friends there.

With the normal delays in getting out of the house, I decided that 30 minutes would be enough for getting there, getting registered, and doing any warm up. I had fresh legs, my last ride having been my reasonably successful Tuesday Night race. I didn't spin my legs or anything the day before but I figured what the heck, it's just a bike race.

Of course we had a little less time when we arrived. I got my bike ready, registered, got my number, pinned it on, did a warm up lap, and that was that. Everything took a bit longer though - my valve adapter unscrewed my tire's valve so I had to fiddle with that, I forgot my wallet so I had to log into my USAC account with my phone to show them my license info, and I did kind of a crappy job pinning my number.

Still, though, the lack of warmup wasn't out of the ordinary for me, and in fact it was about what I wanted to do.

We did a lap in memoriam then started off the race. I thought we'd have the memoriam lap, a parade lap, then the start, so I tooled around the course at the back for the memoriam lap. When they started the race at the end of it I found myself a bit out of position.

The race strung out immediately and I realized that yes, 20 more pounds makes a difference going up that little hill. I was carrying an extra bike up the hill every lap. I was okay for a lap or two but then the rest of the course started playing its role.

With a left, right, left, long left, right, left, and hard left, there were a LOT of turns, and the group stayed single or double file most of the way. Usually I love these kinds of courses because it emphasizes handling and tactical skills, but today it hurt me. I couldn't find a good spot to recover so I made one - I'd go a bit easier two turns before the downhill, let myself get gapped before the left into the downhill, coast/recover down the hill, then start pedaling to try and exit the turn fast and reattach to the back of the field.

I did this okay but some miscalculations, some inattentiveness, and suddenly I was deep in the red just reattaching.

After a few laps of fish flopping around I gave in to the inevitable and eased.

The announcer was saying "You need to stay in the race! We need the footage!" Accurate unfortunately - I don't really post clips of me getting shelled - they're not that interesting and the only real lesson I can teach from them is to be stronger than I am if you want to stay in the race.

I rode around until the field almost lapped me then, expecting to get pulled, I did a sprint up to the line.

I got pulled but I managed to do a reasonable sprint to close my "workout".

I joined the Missus, unable to breath or sit or do anything quite right. I felt totally spent. We watched the finish of the race and I went to get the camera to take pictures of the finish. I jammed my jersey into the bib part of my bib shorts, threw the helmet on my head, jumped on the bike, and started rolling down to the last turn.

Thump thump thump thump.

I looked down. I could see a bit of tire over the edge of the very wide Stinger 6 rims.


I kept rolling but this didn't feel right.

I stopped and pressed the tire.




Well that could help explain my poor performance. Or not. But I'll use it as an excuse.

Teammate and friend SOC did fine, hanging in and doing a good sprint.

SOC in the final turn of the final lap.
I like the bouncing chain.

Then with rain threatening we quickly packed up and headed out. It started to rain a bit as we headed out to a nearby restaurant (the Missus used to live around here). It poured while we ate, then basically stopped. We drove home in relatively dry weather but the threatening clouds made me drive a bit faster.

"I don't know if we're racing into the rain or in front of it but those clouds look really threatening."

It ended up we raced ahead of the rain. We unpacked the car in record time, got inside, and then the torrential downpour started. We'd never seen the road flooded like this, to the point I went and took a picture of cars going through the big puddles.

 Minivan through puddle.

The spray after.

An hour later it was okay again.

I'll be reinstalling the valve on the tire and hope that's what caused the flat. If not I have 4 spares to choose from and glue one on.

No Rent next week so my next race will be the Rent in two weeks. Till then...

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