Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Racing - June 4, 2013 @TuesdayTheRent

Today ended up a bit off kilter. Junior normally goes to daycare at about 12:45 PM, which really means about 1:00 PM because inevitably something happens and it takes a bit of time to get out the door. Today was unusual because Junior's 8 or 9 AM nap started at 12 noon. At 12:45 he was sound asleep, and at 1:20 PM I called the daycare and let them know that we'd be a bit late.

Of course he woke up about 5 minutes later and off we went.

I had two types of tasks to do today before the race. First I had to get my bike in race shape. Second I wanted to get the Expedition sort of pre-prepped for the trip down to the White Plains Crit on Sunday. I'll be working registration and the photo finish along with three of the crew that normally helps me at Bethel. I wanted to pre-load the Expedition partially so I don't forget anything but partially to see how it'll all fit. The Expedition part went fine.

The bike was quick too, but there were a number of things I wanted to do. First I had to fix the chain - after Limerock's disaster, where my chain was jumping in every gear, I found that a link had twisted. I didn't take a picture of it then but I did today.

Twisted link. DA chain.

I replaced the chain with a KMC XL10S or something like that - some extra light 10s chain. I bought it on a lark but when I went looking for another trusty Dura Ace chain in the basement (I bought a bunch of them) I realized that I'd used them all already. The KMC, which I really avoided using, was the only one left. Remarkably it's a bit lighter than the outgoing DA chain. I think the difference is about 50g but I don't know, it's enough to feel lighter though.

KMC chain on the bike.

KMC chain. Note hollow pins and cut out side plates.

Whatever, the important part is that there's no twisted link in the chain. The bike shifts a bit slowly so I need to check to make sure there isn't any excessive friction in the cable/housing. If it's not that then the KMC chain is a bit more flexible than the DA - I'll have to adjust the derailleur to get the pulley even closer to the cogs than they are now.

Next I had discovered that my headset was loose. I tightened it up.

A third thing was that I wanted to redo the tape on the downtube. I slapped three pieces of tape on the downtube to hold my SRM cable but it looked horrible. I simply rearranged the tape so it lined up at the top of the tube. Now it's actually a bit hard to see the tape.

Note there's some tape running along the top of the downtube.

A fourth thing was that the bottle cage was a bit loose. I try not to overtighten bottle cages on aluminum frames because the threaded part in the frame are inevitably made with rivnuts. Those strip if you overtighten the bolt. I was a bit too conservative with the torque so the cage got loose. I tightened it up.

The fifth and final thing was that the bolts on the Thomson post are a bit off in length. Instead of two 25mm bolts I need a 40mm and a 20mm, due to the somewhat steep seat tube angle on the Tsunami (75.5 degrees). I replaced the rear bolt for now, skipping the front as it's okay (5mm too long isn't a problem, at least not right now).

The bike, as raced.

With the weather absolutely ideal - 75 degrees, relatively dry at 35% humidity, blue skies, some clouds - I brought the tall Stingers, the Stinger 9 rear and the Stinger 7 front. I had the Stinger 6 front as a spare and the Bastogne rear for the roof rack. I've watched a bike float around in the rack with a carbon rear wheel in place - 75 mph winds can really move a bike around - so I prefer to put a short height aluminum wheel on the bike when it's up on the roof.

I headed out to Rentschler Field a bit behind schedule. I got caught in unexpected traffic - I checked the Verizon Navigator for traffic (in Navigator go to Layers and the first one is traffic - green is good, red is bad) and listened to the radio. Unfortunately something just happened (a car ran into a school bus pretty hard) so traffic slowed to a crawl.

I decided I should call the Missus, who went and picked up Junior and who would meet me at the race. Before I could dial the phone rang.

"Hey, you're 9 cars in front of me on the ramp!"

I looked in the mirror. I saw the Golf with the cool Enkei rims. Heh.

"Hey, I see you!"

No stress - we were early so we had plenty of time, and neither of us would worry about the other in terms of "where are they" kind of thing.

Junior was a bit groggy at first.

The race itself was interesting. I heard through the grapevine (i.e. Facebook) that local hero Ben Wolfe would be at the race. He signed with Jelly Belly Pro Cycling this year, the only pro team that I've seen outside of a race. They impressed me with their professionalism when I met them so I was really happy to see Wolfe sign with them.

A local kid Austin also showed up - he's the current Junior National Crit champ. Fast. Strong.

Some Clif Bar guys showed up too, one regular age racer with two Juniors in tow. I didn't realize the regular age racer was former US Pro RR champ Frank McCormack.

I did a couple laps on the other side of the stadium for warm up and then headed to the most popular spot before a race - the portapotty. Ben and some of his crew were there - he was talking about there being some good guys at the race tonight.

I laughed to myself. Ben was the good guy at the race tonight - he was the only actual pro there. If he says there are some good guys there then there were some really good guys there.

Fitness-wise I wasn't sure about my form. I mean, I know it's bad, but I was hoping to push through some wall today, progress a bit.

Part of this was mental - isn't it always - hence the aggressive wheel selection. With big powerful pros and high level Cat 1s in the race it'd be fast, really fast, and aero would trump everything.

I managed to hold my own for a bit. I really enjoyed the race itself. I felt I made several minor mistakes, mainly with cornering lines relative to others, but everyone was so fluent at pack handling that none of my mistakes made any waves.

In fact I found myself in much closer quarters than normal. I think two factors really pushed this. The first was the high pace - everyone needed shelter because when some top domestic talent hits the front it really hurts. The second was that everyone in the race knew how to race. No real sketchiness, no big bobbles, just good, hard, solid, steady speed.

For me it was just a little too good, a little too hard, a little too solid, and a little too steady.

After 20 minutes of relentless effort my heart rate had inched up into the "I can't really focus really well" zone. I was making more mistakes, I was starting to have difficulty with cornering because I had a hard time seeing the corners clearly, and I started getting really uncomfortable.

In a different race I might have kept pushing, but today it wasn't worth it. After two laps deep in the red I called it quits and sat up.

I knew I had pushed hard when I had absolutely no desire to jump back in, and in fact I never tried.

I got distracted a bit too. Teammate Joel hit the deck in the third turn. He'd gotten further than me because he fell shortly after the field lapped me yet again. I helped him deal with some of the road rash using my own experiences. If you ever get road rash check out the written post and the one with pictures.

The finish.

After the race I went to congratulate Ben on his pro contract. I only know him from seeing him at races and at CCNS, but I never got to properly congratulate him. I'm really happy for him for his success, just like I'm happy for Austin who won Nationals.

As they were getting ready to pack up Ben turned a bit. I noticed something - he used a LOT of pins. Well, maybe not as many as some others, but more than the minimum of four.

"Hey, can I take a picture of your number?"

Ben obliged.

This is a pro pin job. Because a pro pinned it.

The pro showing off his pro pin job.
A pro! Incredible. So awesome.

I've gotten some good humored flak related to my high-pin-count pin jobs. I usually use at least 6 and on "big" days have used as many as 18 or more. To see a pro use a bunch of pins vilified me.

Today I brought my own pins after last Sunday when I ran out of the treasure hunt pins in the car (the ones in the various door pockets left over from other races). I grabbed a few out of the box - 13 to be exact.

Since I didn't want to leave any pins laying around I used all 13.

Cat 3 pin job.

It takes more than pins to go fast. I have the pace for 20 minutes - that seems to be the magic number before I pop. If I can increase that number I'll be okay. For now, though, it is what it is.

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