Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Racing - 2014 Bethel CDR Gold Race

So the race.

The race posts are different from the promoter post mainly because I do so little relating to race prep compared to the promoting stuff. After last Sunday's race I couldn't get on the bike, for fatigue and time commitment reasons, until Thursday. I managed an hour that day, almost an hour and a half on Friday, and then that was it.

Thursday I was cramping pretty quickly - it seems like if I don't ride for a day or three then I cramp pretty quickly and pretty easily. Friday I felt a lot better, a lot more fluid. I thought to myself that I'd want to ride Saturday if possible but it just didn't happen.

Saturday evening and Sunday morning also factor in heavily with the race bit. Saturday I'm unable to do much until 2:30-3:00 PM, when I can hand off Junior to the Missus. For me it meant running around with the Expedition and the trailer. I stay at my dad's overnight, a 30 minute drive from the course, but I didn't get there until about 8 PM, maybe later. My normal 5-6 PM dinner would hold until 8-ish. I logged on to check for last minute emails and such (there are always a few) and called it a night.

Basically I didn't ride Saturday and I didn't fuel quite right.

One odd thing that's happened in the last week or so is that I've had this incredible craving for Coke. I'll drink it every now and then but to have this craving is really unusual. I had a liter with dinner and brought another liter to the race (that was all I bought). Even with the liter of Coke I could barely stay awake enough to get settled in bed.

Sunday morning I was out of the house by about 5:30, hit up the local Dunkin' Donuts for a couple egg sandwiches and a coffee, ate one sandwich on the way to the course. I ate the other sandwich at about 9:30, after the initial craziness of setting up dissipated. I managed to drink about half my coffee I think.

After that I didn't eat.

At about 1:25 PM, when I was changing, a gel popped out of my gear bag. I tossed a bunch in there and had been consuming them as emergency rations, sort of like right then. I quickly downed it, looked for another, failed to find one, and kept dressing.

At 1:30 PM the race started.

I felt so lightheaded the top of my head felt tingly, and not in a good way. I was woozy, I felt really weak when I pushed on the pedals, and I figured I'd be dropping out in a bit.

As a last resort I went to my teammate Joel who had a few things in his pockets. I saw a phone in the middle pocket but something like a gel or a bar in his right one. A bit desperate I asked him if he had a gel or a bar.

"I got a gel."
"Can I have it?"
"Sure, let me get it out of my pocket."

20 seconds later, after navigating around his wind vest, he held out a gel.

It took me three laps to get 2/3 of it down. My hands weren't working right, the wind blew my bike around, and I generally felt like garbage.

After I took the gel my legs started feeling a bit better, like they were full instead of empty.

I decided that this might work.

It's kind of funny what I hear at the back of the field. Guys talk pretty openly about their plans, and although I can't hear a lot of it, it's still kind of humorous when they turn, see me, and lower their voices. I always think that they could tell me exactly when they planned on attacking, exactly what kind of effort they'd be putting down, what their breakaway goals were, and it still wouldn't make a difference. If I can't hang with them then it simply doesn't matter.

At any rate the Devil's Gear guys, Matt and Jeff (on this day), seemed to be semi-keen on being near the front, but at that moment they were talking at the back of the field, directly in front of me.

So after we saw 3 to go, when I saw the two guys start rolling up, I decided to tag along.

Jump on the Devil's Gear train

It wasn't a major move but it was one of those freebie type things, one where you can move up without worrying about getting boxed in or whatever. You just follow the others and hope that the lead rider gets through the gaps okay. Mentally it's not stressful, not like if you try to move up yourself.

Train eased on the right.

At some point the group eased pretty hard on the right. I could see it about to happen so I moved a touch to the left, and as the group really eased I rolled by the Devil's Gear guys.

Approaching 2 to go.

As we climbed the finishing hill to the 2 to go mark, they rolled by me again. With so many riders in front of me I decided to save the moving up bit for another lap.

Approaching the bell.

I was still buried on the hill approaching the bell but I rolled sort of hard, followed the Pawling guys up the middle, and found myself at least within shouting distance from the front.

Sixcycle at the front just after the bell.

I was, what, like 20 back? It's hard to count but it was a decent amount, a good 20-30 yards. Sixcycle had at least one guy in the break (it was two I found out later), and the six breakaways dangled precariously in front of us.

I figured it was a really low chance of catching the break unless some team did a massive leadout. For example, a Cliff leadout, like the one he did in 2010, probably would have bridged much of the distance, and I'd have been reasonably confident of sprinting into the remnants of the break.

Alas no one went, the pace remained somewhat normal, and I prayed the break would muddle about and slow down. With two Sixcycle guys in the break that wouldn't happen but I didn't know that.

Couple guys gap field with 2/3 lap to go.

The front of the field was so uncommitted that when Sixcycle gapped off a couple riders no one really did anything.

Mass confusion on the back stretch.

The Sixcycle guys in the field sort of blew up on their own, putting all of us wheel suckers in disarray. I tried to navigate through the mess, always pushing for openings, try to read the flow of the pack.

Sixcycle to the left going backwards, to the right easing.
I decide to go right.

As Joel opened up on the left side (really early), the left side actually stalled. With the yellow line, with the wind from the front left, and with plenty of room to the right, I went right.

Following BWolf as it gets dicey to the right.

I ended up on BWolf's wheel. He's a long time racer, very solid, and doesn't mess around in the sprints. He is a great wheel to follow because he almost never blows up. Therefore I sat there at 300m to go, hoping he had some legs.

Howling wind but open to the left.

As we rounded the bend to the right the wind really socked us hard on the left. I was actually shocked at how hard the wind hit me. If this was a video game and I had a bar of "sprint strength left" then the bar was rapidly shrinking. I was using up my sprint just to maintain formation with the guys around me.

I wanted to go right to get shelter but I also needed to keep a lane open so I could sprint. If I went right I'd be close to boxed in, between the pink bootie Sixcycle guy and BWolf.

Therefore I had to stay left so I'd have an open lane.

And if I stayed left I'd be in the wind.

And if I was in the wind then I had to go before my legs blew.

Tight right, everyone eased, I went left.

Then in a heartbeat things changed. The right side swerved a bit. I didn't see what happened but the result for me was that the Sixcycle guy almost touched BWolf. The Sixcycle guy stalled, BWolf stalled, and I launched.

Going to the left curb.
Break is ahead.

I went to the left curb because I knew I was clear left. If I got to the left curb then I'd have a lane all the way to the line.

Break wins the race.

In front of me I could see the break finishing. With no one committed to the chase the break had pulled off another win.

Around me, though, I didn't see anyone. I inadvertently moved a bit to the right, then more so when I looked back.

No bike throw today.
Finish line camera still.

Unusually I didn't throw my bike. The places were up the road, yes, but my move to the left, in the wind, had apparently gapped off everyone.

The trailer.

I turned left to the trailer, our refuge from the wind, instead of doing a cool down lap.

The tow vehicle and the bike.

Then I took a portrait shot of the Tsunami. I don't know what it is but the last two weeks it's been great. I felt great in the sprint last week, I felt great in the sprint this week. The power numbers are low but it seems that relative to the others it's not bad. Maybe everyone is a bit off this spring in terms of power.

The last two weeks I've been running the Stinger 6s, not the 7/9 pair. It's a bit lighter, okay, but not substantially so. I've run the 6s primarily because of the wind. It's nice because I only have a few races on the front tire, ditto the rear, because I stopped using them early in the Bethel Spring Series last year. Now they're my main wheels again.

The Steelman custom stem is working well. I don't notice it in the drops since the drops are simply in the right place. The tops are definitely lower, ditto the hoods, but it's fine. But the lower drops, compared to when I had the -20 degree stem, the lower drops are incredible. Super stable under full power out of the saddle.

I got in the Expedition and changed. I accidentally called the race the Tour de Kirche on Strava but the ride itself is right of course. You can see that the last few laps the race really slowed, before doing a fast final lap. Sixcycle had controlled the front well, and with a couple other teams represented in the break, no one committed to the chase. With laps rolling by 6 or 7 seconds slower than normal the break built up enough of a lead that the sprint didn't catch them. It was only 6 or 7 seconds to the back of the break, another few to the front, and that represents just two laps of moderately hard pulling.

Ah well. Next week, right?

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