Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Racing - 2013 Ris Van Bethel

So the race...

Unusually I hadn't been eating much during the day, staying busy doing other things. It started in the morning when I used one then another leaf blower, doing the clinic, changing, and then doing more promoter stuff. This included marshal type stuff, dealing with various issues as they popped up, more marshal stuff, and then of course more miscellaneous issues.

I felt not-so-great at about noon, my stomach complaining vigorously. This persuaded me not to gobble down some extra food. Eventually this hurt me when the race was ending at about 2 PM. At 1 PM, race start time, I felt fine. My legs worked much better than they did the prior week. I had teammates looking out for my interests as well as our current points holder Bryan - we both sprint so our team tried to hold things together. We lost two teammates early on, one to a flat tire (no wheels in the pits), another exploding spectacularly after covering three hard moves at the start of the race.

It was almost an hour later when things started going pear shaped for me. We still had Bryan, we still had a bunch of other guys, but for me... well things started a bit of a downward slide.

Coming up on 5 laps to go

You can see I'm at the pointy end of the race. I raced like I meant it. I didn't want to sit at the back until 2 to go, move up hard, and see what happened. I felt the need to surf the front for a bit. Those of you that know me know that racing "from the front" is really unusual for me. I usually race like this when I'm really, really nervous or when I feel really, really strong. I wasn't nervous and I wasn't feeling all that strong but my legs definitely felt better relative to the prior week. I moved up really just to get a feel for what was going on up front.

Then suddenly I got dizzy and light headed. My legs went empty in about 30 seconds. I briefly considered stopping, it was that bad. I pushed a bit, discovered my legs kept going, so I kept going. I felt miserable though. Although I was slightly overdressed for the warm-ish conditions I was suddenly bathed in a cold sweat, my face suddenly drenched with beads of sweat. I felt hungry, dizzy, empty. My arms were trembling a bit.

I had bonked.

I had one teammate absolutely dedicated to helping me out, Lance. He'd spent the day marshaling, rode the race in my service, and then promptly went back out marshaling again. In the race he came looking for me, giving me shelter when I needed it. In a couple instances he sheltered me from the slight right side crosswind on the first stretch; another time he moved up on the hill, towing me up with him.

Well Lance tried to shelter me as I faded but even he couldn't help me. I slid back into the field and then to the back. I was sitting last wheel before I knew it.

Bell Lap (the front of the field is at the tent at the left)

Coming up on the bell I was pretty much at the back of the field. I tried to move up a bit on the hill just before the bell, passing maybe 10 riders. It wasn't a big move and in fact it was one of those "moves" that elicits a sideways look and a "Really?" kind of response.


It taxed me though so it was a big move for me, but in the scheme of things it wasn't a big move. I still had 50 or 60 racers in front of me.

The backstretch was still a bit congested. I needed to douse the field with Mucinex to loosen everything up.

End of backstretch on last lap

At the picture above we had about 400-450 meters of racing left and I can't even start to guess how many riders were in front of me. We had a short "wooded" stretch (the bit I shoveled at the end of Saturday's shoveling adventure), the glass building, then the hill. I have no idea how far back I was but it was pretty far. At this point I was starting to give up hope.

But, you know, things could turn around. We weren't going fast. If I had a jump.... well something good could happen.

Then one guy, to my left in the black in the picture above, let me through a gap. It opened up a world of possibilities. I knew I had no sprint left but I thought that I might be able to use the wind to get some kind of a respectable place.

Bottom of hill, last lap, about 200 meters after the picture above.

As we rounded the bottom of the hill I still had some hope. I mean, okay, I didn't think I was going to win, but in this kind of position, if I had a good sprint left, I could do maybe a 4th or 5th place. Usually the winners sprint away from the field, gapping them slightly, but I could sweep up many of the others.

Unfortunately when I jumped nothing happened. My normal max power at Bethel is 1100-1200 watts. I'm happy if I can hit 1100 watts peak and hold about 1000 watts for 18 seconds, the normal length of my sprint (as I discovered after getting a power meter i.e. a cyclocomputer that has downloadable time-stamped data). A great sprint for me is 1200-1250w peak and 1100 watts for 18 seconds. My 20 second power drops off quickly because for whatever reason I've never gone for 20 seconds all out, it's always 18 or 19 seconds. Figure, though, that my 20 second power is about 950-1050 watts in a good race sprint.

(I can exceed both those numbers by about 250-300 watts in training but I'm not fighting for position or surfing the front of a field before I sprint when I do a sprint in training. Therefore I can do a sprint with some "localized" recovery, meaning I go easy before I sprint. My best ever numbers came at the end of 4 and 5 hour training rides so I was fatigued overall but I still had some good power left in my legs.)

Today it was... not so much. 901 watts peak and by 20 seconds I was down to 520 watts, so about half of my normal sprint power. I never knew what bonking would do to a sprint but now I know - peak power down by 20%, sustained sprint down by closer to 50%. That's serious business.

I'd seen the possibility of a huge move. If I had legs it would have been huge, and I mean race winning huge.

I had no legs though so although I jumped when I had to I didn't go anywhere. I watched riders close the big hole, filling it, ending all possibilities.

Coming up on the line for the finish.

The line could not have seemed further away. I was happy to sit behind my teammate Jeff and roll up to the line. I didn't even throw my bike at the line - I was convinced there had to be 20-25 racers ahead of me.

I stopped at Turn One, turned around, and headed back to the registration area.

I found out later that I managed a 13th place. I'll have to see if my no-bike-throw cost me a place or two. It's not important in the race or anything but it's good for me to know if my carelessness in my concentration cost me a place or two.

Teammate Bryan picked up some more points, keeping him in there a bit. The winners pick up a lot of points but a few points now could make all the difference at the end.

For me it was a much better race than last week. I averaged 155 watts for the race, higher than the 139 watts that I held last week until I got shelled. It's a bit short of the 160-180 watts I can hold in a race and still sprint (if I do 200 watts I can't sprint anymore). But a big improvement nonetheless.

Hopefully things get a bit better next week. I'll eat more during the day. I'll try to avoid doing a few hours of hard labor the day before. And I'll see if I can't get to sleep a little earlier.

We'll see.

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