Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Racing - 2014 Circuit Francis J Clarke

Today for some reason I was a bit more relaxed than on other weeks. I think part of it was the staff - the race was going really smoothly and I felt like things were under control. No craziness, no weirdness. Regular problems I can handle, the weird ones stress me.

The bike, ready for battle.
Custom Tsunami frame with a custom Steelman Bikes stem.

I brought T-shirts to the race. I bought too many, I think, since we need to sell almost 200 shirts to break even. The girls at registration did their best but I think I'll have a separate post on the t-shirts this week.

Anyway I wanted to take a picture of the bike with the t-shirt and there it is.

Some trackstand battles between the Series leader and his teammate.

I wasn't the only one feeling a bit better in the warm sun. The Cat 3-4 Series Leader was horsing around a bit, doing a track stand battle in the waiting area by Turn One. I left before someone dabbed so I don't know who won. It showed the team's spirit and camaraderie though, and helped demonstrate their tightly knit team. They've been super impressive each week they've raced and they definitely deserve the overall lead.

Rolling to the start.

Today we got a moto ref "on a trial basis" if you will. They have to do some races for practice so this was this moto's practice. It was so good that I think the federation should do a free moto for a field or two for all promoters, to give them an idea of what a moto can do for them.

Junior wants a hug before I race.

Before I got to the line I looked for the Missus and Junior. I'd spent a bit of time with them before (maybe that's why I was less stressed) and I knew that Junior was getting to the end of his tether. The Missus would leave with him before the end of my race so I wanted to say bye before the start. Junior wanted to hold me so I gave him a hug and said bye softly.

Following an early counter move.

The guy to the left will win the race, I think the guy up the road gets second, and the guy in blue, near the yellow line, third. If I could have looked even 30 seconds into the future I'd have killed myself to stay on the wheels.

Normally I sit in and such but today I felt a bit of energy in my legs. I got to the front and decided to fly the colors a bit.

I ended up pulling for a short bit.

When I say "a short bit" I really mean a short bit. I pulled a little, pulled off, but no one wanted to pull through. So I pulled sort of slowly until someone finally decided to go around, aka sort of attack. That brought a bunch of riders around me and I could get back in.

I'm still standing.

I had the legs to stay near the front for a lap or two more and then I did my customary slide to the tail of the field.

The Series Leader noticed me and commented that it was nice to see me out here. He's the nicest guy, a tribute to his team, a great spokesman for the sport of cycling, but he's so strong he didn't realize that I've been out here racing "against" him, just I've never actually ridden next to him because I'm always way back.

I grinned to myself after that comment because that's about when I went backward.

Waving to Junior.

I wanted to wave to Junior while on the bike. It's hard to pick out a particular rider in a field and I wanted to help him out. On one of the slower laps I took the chance and waved.

He was looking at me with total concentration, furrowed brow. I could tell his brain was working in overdrive, trying to figure out what was going on. He doesn't filter things like we do so he'll pick out a logo on a wall of product. His non-filtering works against him when he's trying to pick out dad in a field of cyclists - I think he has to look at every rider, at least every rider that has red on him.

Random lap, moto ref to the left.

The moto ref tooted the moto's horn a couple times. Regardless the racers were much more careful about the yellow line. I really liked it, having the moto ref looking after us.

Random lap, close.

I chose this picture because the rider close to me was moving ever so slowly to the right. I wasn't sure if it was intentional but I realized it was when he got really close. This was the closest I got to someone in the whole race. A non-incident.

During the race four guys eventually went clear. One guy blew and got dropped - the other three lapped the field. In the field many of us had no idea until the spectators started yelling, "They're right behind you!" The dropped guy time trialed ahead of us, trying to get his 4th place.

A lap later two Sixcycle guys went to the front, towing another NY rider with them, the third break racer. We'd gotten lapped.

With all the Sixcycle guys streaming by, with other guys jumping on their wheel, I had no idea how many lapped us. Maybe 4, maybe 6? I assumed it was 6 and that all the points were gone. This settled me mentally as I could focus on doing a sprint with no pressure.

2 to go.

Two weeks ago I had a good sprint, partially because I started in good position. I decided that I'd try to replicate that effort. Joel, my teammate to the front right of me, was looking to move me up so I stuck on his wheel.

I moved to the left only to toss my bottle, which I hadn't touched all race. I've started without a bottle only to want a sip of water, but I'm going to toss my bottle earlier if I don't drink from it early on.

Bell lap.

We hadn't gained much position and Joel had spent a bit of time (and energy) sitting in the wind. When things shifted around I had to get to the right to shelter from the front-left headwind on the critical backstretch. Joel, stuck on the left side, ended up stranded.

Backstretch, last lap.
About 550 meters to go, maybe 600.

I've moved more to the right to get shelter. I believe Joel's wheel is just on the yellow line in that shot. I saw the opening to the right but thought someone would come blasting up the side so I decided not to take it.

Still open to the right so I go.
About 400 meters to go.

Of course, 100 meters later, the hole was still there. Maybe I was at the back of the field, I don't know, but I went right and quickly scooted up to a Jordan racer in a white kit, black shorts.

Now shifting to the left a bit.
About 300 meters to go.

I moved to the left a touch, expecting a squeeze to the right, but no squeeze so now I had a lot of room. Again there was a gap to the right but I was hesitant to fill it, holding position instead. This is a tad under 300 meters to go.

The right opens up. The Jordan guy is now to my left.
About 250 meters to go.

The Jordan guy moved left while I still eyed the right side. I wasn't sure what would happen but the left side looked like they were going. I didn't want to risk getting boxed in on the right so I stayed middle.

The Jordan guy moves left, I do too.
Just over 200 meters to go.

When the Jordan guy moved left I did also. The Rockstar Games guy to the left was my outside lane wall - I couldn't move left through him so he defined the left border, the Jordan was a variable, the right curb was my right wall. The middle was good so that's where I went, following the Jordan guy.

The right side jams up.
About 200 meters.

Then the right side jammed up. I don't know if someone blew or what but suddenly the guys came backward. I shifted left to avoid the guy coming back at me, then shifted left a bit more as he tried to get around those in front of him.

Sprint starts to open.
100 meters? 125 meters?

I finally got some space and start to go. Of course It was still a bit crowded, with riders going forward and others coming back.

Sprint jams up.
15-20 meters.

Here a big Sixcycle guy is going backward, one of the two Sixcycle guys that lapped the field, and he's winning the race. His teammate, on the same lap as me, is on his last legs and slowing hard. I'm boxed in and have to wait for the lane to open up. I end up going to the right the Sixcycle guy on the same lap as me and to the left of the guy with the red swoosh on his shorts.

Yeah, there's no hole there but it opens up.

At the line.

Sixcycle to my left, Red Swoosh to my right. I sort of nosed the bike forward but I had very little momentum since I never really sprinted. It was one of those habitual things, a little poke forward with the bars, nothing dramatic.

Relative shot.

I'm glad I nosed the bike forward because I just barely nosed out the Jordan guy at the line. It was only for 9th place, so 5th in the field, but still, ever bit helps. Another 10 meters and I would have gained a few more feet.

In the sprint I went at 700 watts peak (as the right got blocked), eased, went at 900 watts peak (as I got some real estate), eased, then 950 watts (still in the real estate), eased really hard dropping to 0 watts and 5 mph, then did 700w peak and trailed off to the line (snaking between the two riders and then throwing the bike. We never got going, maxing out at about 33 mph, crossing the line at about 23 mph.

I did a cool down lap, very unusual for me, mainly because I was blocked from going to the left to get back to the trailer. Then I  stopped, chatted a bit with the guy that got 4th - he finished just in front of the field - and then headed over to the trailer. My race was done, now it was time to get to work.

One more race here and then it's on to the rest of the season. Yay.

No comments: