Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Racing - July 29, 2014, CCAP Tuesday Night Races, Bs

Approaching this race I'd had a short "block" of training, doing my April and May hours (14 total) in June (16 hours) and a bunch of of hours at the beginning of July. However I'd just ridden three times in the last two weeks, with two of those rides being shorter, slower, and admittedly less demanding rides. My one training ride was also pretty easy, trying to reintroduce my legs to the idea of pedaling.

I came into tonight's race with no expectations other than to enjoy the beautiful weather. With the temperatures in the mid 70s, with very low humidity, it felt like San Diego during my training camps. It was cool enough that I brought an uninsulated bottle to carry with me on the bike. As a precaution I also bought one of the heavily insulated Podium Ice bottles I prefer in warm weather.

With the Missus and Junior set up with their chairs and cooler I got ready to race. No warm up as I preferred to spend the time catching up with some of the folks, racers and not, at the venue. 

At the start.

For such a beautiful day the field seemed small. I figured there'd be 50 or more riders, but it was more like 30-35 riders. Regardless the field seemed a good size, big enough for shelter, small enough to let riders move around a bit.

Roll off, no neutral laps

We headed off with no neutral laps. Although the pace was fast it wasn't crazy fast, and the field settled into an uneasy truce. Expo usually had numerical superiority, and although we were short a number of regulars, we could still field a good half dozen riders. Two other teams usually had numbers, the Blues and the Yellows. The Blues were short today, I think fielding just one or two riders, and the Yellows had two. One of their two had soloed to a clear victory the last time I was there so he was obviously the one to mark.

Getting ready to rumble. Aaron is to my left, TJ in front.
Jon is in orange, and the rider in black gets a mention as well.

With the two main teams standing off everyone waited for the opening moves. Expo's strongest Cat 4s, looking to do well, were Aaron and Nick. The rest of us, including two Cat 3s, were really there to support their efforts.

Break up the road; Aaron in it.

When Aaron went up the road TJ and I marked moves. Jason, of Yellow, ended up at the front, took a pull, then looked to see why no one was pulling through.

Sorry Jason, no help from the two back here.

All he saw were two of Aaron's teammates. After a bit of waiting, maybe to see if Aaron would blow up, he went to the front and started pulling.


In fact I drifted back a bit to get more shelter because I was a bit exposed at the front.

Jason single handedly pulls the field back.

With Aaron solo off the front and Jason pretty much solo at the front of the field, it became a two man pursuit, one against the other. And as much as I am one of Aaron's supporters, Jason was going noticeably faster. The chasers always have that going for them - they just need to catch the break. The break has to go to the finish. Usually the chase can go much harder and that's why it's tough to win a race in a break.

In a few laps of steady, powerful riding Jason closed the gap.

Jason catching Aaron and co.

Aaron is just around the corner in the picture above, maybe 20 meters in front of Jason, 3 or 4 seconds. I lost focus for a bit, I was looking down a lot (so my helmet cam clip doesn't tell me much), and suddenly the race situation changed.

Another break goes, no Expo in it.
Note the very artistic yellow circle - that's where the break is in the picture.

Another break went, a perfect time really. The field was strung out, the probably-strongest guy had just pulled for a bunch of laps, Aaron had been off the front so he was a bit cooked, and everyone else had been hiding from the wind. Two riders took off. TJ didn't go, I didn't go (I didn't even know they went), and the two moved away with no Expo rider tagging along.

I tell Aaron who to mark before I go to the front.

With Aaron a bit tweaked from his efforts off the front and TJ suffering from all the jumping around to hold second wheel I realized that I needed to do some hard work. I took the opportunity to tell Aaron who to mark, then after his nod I rolled up to and past the front of the field.

Beginning the chase. Jon was pulling.

I circled the break in very artistic yellow. They weren't that far ahead, and my goal was to bring the whole field up, not to bridge myself up. Therefore I pulled steady and not that fast, trying not to gap off the field. Some gaps opened up regardless but overall the field was motivated to stay together so I kept going. After about half a lap I rolled up to the break, with Aaron just behind.

I blew just after I caught on so I sat up, intending to stop. The two man break rolled away again, an unintended result of my sitting up at Turn One. By Turn Two the fragmented field looked… fragmented.

After a lap I'm blown, this is at Turn Two after four riders have passed me.

Aaron blew by, followed by Jason, marked by TJ, and one other rider. I was going so slow, they were going so fast, I figured that was it. A few length gap, then more riders, more gaps, more riders.

Doubting if I can stay in the race.

As the rest of the group streamed by I stayed on the hoods, effectively signaling my intent to drop out of the race. It took so long for the fragmented field to roll by that I followed the last three riders into Turn Three. I got good protection from the wind (from the left at first, then from the right, necessitating a tricky move from the right to the left) and hoped the field would collectively ease.

They did and I groveled for about three laps before deciding that I shouldn't give up, that I should keep going. I didn't realize that Aaron had gotten away from the field along with the Yellow that had been in the break I chased down then let go. The effect of TJ and Jason at the front, blocking, meant that the field eased a bit.

Then two very strong, very fit riders took responsibility for the chase. They traded pulls for ten minutes, keeping the field strung out.

Aaron and another are gone. Two guys pulling the field along.

After a few laps of everyone staying in the same order I realized that this is what it must be like in the pros, when there's a break, there are a few riders pulling the field, and the rest of the field is just waiting. The riders pulling are doing so for a reason, and the riders waiting have nothing to do except stay on the wheel in front of them.

A side effect of this is that you get to learn all the idiosyncrasies of the rider in front of you, and, in a crosswind, the rider in front of them.

In my case I happened to be behind an ERRACE rider Michelle, and she was on a Biker's Edge rider. I watched how they dealt with the final straight "left-right" wind, how they cornered, how they accelerated. You learn more about a rider in this kind of environment than you can in pretty much any other environment - with multiple laps around the same circuit, with wind hitting you from all directions, it's a telling exam.

Initially, before I relaxed in my spot, I'd been trying to edge in front of Michelle and even the Biker's Edge rider. However I realized that there was no point to it so I just settled behind the two. Likewise whoever was behind me settled down as well.

TEN minutes later, riders in the same order.
Rider in blue was one of two pulling for those ten minutes.
If you look at the other riders you might think the two above pictures were taken 20 seconds apart.

I did make one mistake, I think it was during this time - I cleared a nostril to my left. In fact I cleared my right side much earlier but there had been a rider to my left so I decided to wait until it was clear to do the left side. I figured this was the time. I moved to the left a bit just after Turn One to give myself room. However the rider behind me moved left also. I didn't check, didn't signal, and when I "cleared" I heard a surprised (and probably disgusted) yelp. So apologies again, after the apologies I muttered at the time. It was my fault, my bad. Next time I'll check first.

At any rate one of the two riders finally got disgusted with the lack of help (or he got tired) and drifted back into the field. This broke the "Tour de France chase" spell and riders started moving up and around and stuff.

The lap cards came out (they count down the last 5 laps only), more shuffling, and soon it was one to go.

I'd drifted back a lot to find Nick but he wasn't around. Ends up he flatted out, ironically running over a safety pin. TJ wasn't looking very fresh - he'd been sitting in the top five for probably the entire race, covering everything for Expo. I looked around for a rider to help while still trying to maintain some generically good position. It's no good to offer to help someone but then not be able to help them.

Jason is to my front left.

At the bell I was in fine position, although really any position would have been fine in the smaller field. There were a couple riders I'd want to avoid - mainly ones that acted hesitant in the turns or one that switched lines pretty abruptly - but otherwise any wheel was a good one.

I also gambled on a long move from Jason. He's incredibly strong and fit and I expected him to win the sprint from the front. Anyone that beat him would have to be vigilant and have a jump left after following Jason for a good 200-300 meters.

Telling Jon to get on my wheel.

As we rounded Turn One I pulled up even with Jon, the guy that was chasing when I put in my big move. He's one of the riders really learning in the B races. He's impressed me both on and off the bike - he seems pretty savvy, he is generally a super aware rider, and he isn't afraid of working, and off the bike he's always been gracious and kind and polite. Sort of spur of the moment I decided that it would be fun to give him a massive leadout.

I looked over, told him to get on my wheel.

Just as the words were sinking in a slowing rider came back to us. I went right, Jon had to go left because he was already to the left of the slowing rider's wheel.

And then that was it, we were in two different lanes, separated by a line of riders.

Parallel moving up, Jon to my left.

I went up the right side, basically on my own, while Jon followed TJ following Jason who had made the expected early move. Jon got caught in traffic so that was that. Now it was down to seeing if I could get back up to Jason and get him before the line, even though I'd been in the wind much more than I preferred.

Going to the right.

Coming out of Turn Three Jason had a pretty good gap to three riders, with me sitting just behind them. As one started to fade I went right, on the protected side. I gambled on being able to move back to the left, for shelter. I knew that shelter would be worth 20 or 30 or 40 meters at the line and therefore it was worth getting shelter for a bit and sacrificing position.

Now committed to the right.

However TJ blew trying to follow Jason and he naturally tried to get closer to anyone sprinting up to him. This side-by-side made it a bit wide for me to dive left - if it was just one rider then I'd have moved left, I had the room - I'd have ended up in TJ's spot. With two riders it would have been a super sketchy and dangerous move.

Therefore I stayed right, knowing I'd be feeling the full brunt of the wind.

Stuck right.

Sure enough the wind hit me hard, zapping my sprint right out of my legs. I thought for a moment that I could get around the rider in black and then pass Jason on his sheltered left.

Blowing up right.

The problem was I couldn't pass the rider in black and I promptly blew up. I was out of the race and I knew it so I checked to make sure I was clear and moved out of the sprint lane. Ends up the rider in black caught and passed Jason, winning the field sprint, so he did a great sprint. If you look at the pictures he's pretty much never on a wheel so he did a massive solo sprint.

After a cool down lap I rolled over to Aaron, who, with his sunglasses, had an unreadable look on his face. He and another guy had finished ahead of us in the break but I hadn't heard one way or another if he won or not. He didn't look crushed, like he got second, but then again second wasn't bad either, so maybe he was happy to have stayed away.

Aaron won.

"You win?"

Remind me not to play cards with Aaron.

With that out of the way he couldn't help but grin a lot more. He was very thankful, he knew that me pulling back the break helped set up the race's outcome. At the same time he made the race as well, doing the first attack, forcing Jason to pull for a number of laps, then going again before Jason could go with him. Overall a very strong race for Aaron, very astute, very fit, and one that made me proud. TJ was great also, marking everyone so well. It's exhausting doing that - I can't do it - and he still managed to be at the front in the sprint.

Next time it'd be nice to work on sprint stuff. It's harder to stay away in the "real" races. All too often they end in field sprints and to prepare for that requires some "field work", if you will. You can't do field work when you're not in the field.

Next time.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Promoting - EVEN Hotel Fun Ride, July 17, 2014

(Disclaimer: I was paid to help with the ride and I stayed for free at the hotel. On the other hand I was not asked or required to post anything about my experiences with the ride or hotel.)

As I posted earlier I'd been asked to help run a fun ride to help publicize the opening of a new hotel in Norwalk, the EVEN Hotel. Since the hotel sat in an area I knew pretty well, since I enjoy working with  riders of all abilities, and since I felt it a personal challenge to do a good job, I thought it'd be a good fit.

One of the benefits was that I could stay at the hotel the night before the ride. I totally forgot to take pictures of the very futuristic lobby area so those will have to wait until I visit the hotel again, but the rooms were very nice for a $120-130/night room. I stayed in a more expensive sister hotel, by chance, before the White Plains Crit, and I thought the EVEN Hotel was a better value.

Unfortunately, because of the hustle and bustle before an event, even a short one, I was up until 2 AM working - riding part of the course with some of the folks, marking the course, then making more arrows and driving the whole course again (and putting arrows in whatever places necessary). This means I never turned on the TV, I didn't get to explore the room, and so I could only go by face value - what I saw was what I got.

TV, modern plugs, and efficient use of space.

You can see my laptop at the bottom of the picture above. I eventually had a laminator and a printer going as well. What I didn't realize is that I could have fit virtually all of it on the fold-down desk that has the words "uber-efficiency" on it. The laminator would have needed to go on the shelf where the orange water bottle sits but still, it would have worked out.

I didn't open the desk until just before I left.

Shucks. I could have used that space. It's a standing desk also, meant for use while standing, not while sitting. Awesome. I might have even turned on the TV had I been working at standing level.

Yoga mat, foam roller, some other stuff, plus wipes.

I didn't touch any of the stuff above. The floor looks like bamboo but I don't know what it is. For all I know it might be rubberized tile or something.

The door to the bathroom. Or the tracks for the top of it anyway.

I loved the rolling wall door thing.

The "backlit" mirror is cool, I really dug the indirect light.

The indirect light actually let me see my face without blinding me. I want at least one for the house.

EO stuff in the shower.

EO is one of the brands in the hotel that is a stand alone brand. They provided all the soaps and fragrance type stuff.

We need to redo our 20-ish year old shower and bathtub in the house. This looks nice and sweet.

The sink was functionally nice.
I thought Junior would love to play with the water coming out of the faucet.

I liked the open clean look. Also the hardware (Kohler, based on the logos) moved smoothly and easily. I want similar stuff in our house.

The ride is on the schedule!

Across from the elevators there's an event calendar type thing. The fun ride was on there! It legitimized the ride to me.

There is a pedaling theme here.

No, we didn't use this bike on the fun ride. The first hill would have been tough, although we could have brought a LOT of refreshments with us.

Optional conference room.

This was part of the grand opening stuff they set up.

The ride itself was basically a corporate fun ride. The marketing rider was a guy by the name of Matthew, he was my contact. He'd be riding and making sure the folks had a good time. I'd be another ride leader. This left us with two ride leader vacancies.

The hotel is next door to Podium, a cycling/training facility that sponsors a local USAC team. They sent over one rider, Mike H, who also ended up one of the ride leaders. I know Mike from when he first started racing, going through the Bethel Spring Series clinics a couple years ago. He's now a Cat 3 and a good solid racer, on and off the bike.

One of my long time friends and a long time helper at the Bethel Spring Series, David B, lives in the area. He also agreed to help out with the ride and joined us as the fourth ride leader.

On the morning of the ride I was up at 5 AM, after a few hours of sleep, and went to get the rental bikes checked over. Matthew and David would do minor fit adjustments (saddle height mainly) while I made sure the bikes were okay. When the first couple quick release skewers practically fell open in my hands I realized that the bikes weren't 100%. Shifting seemed off on a few bikes, and most of the bikes needed substantial air added to the tires. This meant a bit more work than expected (Matthew was told the bikes would be 100% when delivered).

The rental fleet ranged from a pretty new CAAD10/105 to mountain bikes that dated back to the early 90s. I actually smiled when I saw some of the bikes because I remembered selling the purple and pink two tone Specialized Hardrocks back in the day. It was in surprisingly good shape, as were the other bikes from that era. One promising bike, a Cannondale 2.8 Ultegra road bike, unfortunately had dry rotted tires and was unrideable. We used every single bike except the dry rotted tire Cannondale and two kids bikes. I think there were a couple people left behind because of the lack of bikes, which totally shocked me because I think they'd gotten something like 28-29 bikes.

Most of the riders were casual, although a few were what I'd call enthusiasts, mainly on mountain bikes. If they were serious about cycling they hid it well - no one except David, Mike and myself used cycling shorts and no one had cycling shoes. About half were unfamiliar with modern bikes, so the integrated shifters threw them off on the road bikes, and even the flat bar bikes had unfamiliar controls.

On the other hand everyone was super enthusiastic about the ride. It might have been the culmination of three years of work to get this hotel concept off the ground (the Norwalk EVEN Hotel is the first one), but whatever the reason there were a lot of smiles, a bit of nervousness, and a lot of energy just begging to be unleashed.

About half the group before the ride. Mike and David are to the left.

When I plotted the course I realized that the only way out from the hotel would involve a steep hill. It was short but still, it was steep, and I wasn't sure how people would do on sneakers on regular pedals. I also had to find a way to get back over the same ridge to get back to the hotel.

Therefore the ride had a sort of theme built into it. It started with a tough beginning, rolled along with some enjoyable mid stuff, had a final test, then ended with a fast and fun descent back to the hotel. I compared it to a movie - the opening exciting scene, the regular stuff in the middle, the part where you think the good guys have to struggle, and the final triumph.

Someone removed a number of arrows between about 1 AM and 7 AM so we had to regroup a bit more than planned at the beginning, but overall the ride went well. No one got hurt, no one fell over, and everyone made it back to the hotel in one piece.

I didn't have any expectations at all because I hadn't met pretty much any of these people before this morning. Therefore I didn't know what to expect, how they would respond to adversity (aka "hills"), and just their attitudes in general. Overall I was pleasantly surprised - the folks were all very nice, thoughtful, cheerful, and, importantly, enthusiastic. I was particularly impressed with the determination of the riders when it came to tackling the hills.

I told at least one rider how to shift into lower gears on the first hill, and thanks to modern cassette ramp technology (and properly adjusted drivetrains) everyone got into their lower gears for the first hill and we were up and over that fine.

Explaining how to shift on the first hill.

Some rolling terrain followed and that went by quickly. The hills really challenged everyone, me included, but the flat and downhill stuff everyone loved.

I'm not sure who but someone wanted video and photographs so every now and then a vehicle would pass us with guys holding cameras leaning out of various windows and sunroofs. I felt very conscious of the cameras. I think most of the footage with me starts with the camera on my back while I'm yelling, "Car back, wow this guy is close, move right, oh, hey, it's you guys again."

I hope they got some good footage. My helmet cam battery died (I seem to have issues with one of the three batteries I have and I had the wrong one in the Contour I used) so I don't have footage of most of the ride. The footage I did have seemed to be shot over everyone's heads. For races I aim the camera sort of high since I ride much of the time with my head hung low. I guess in fun rides, especially ones that I'm leading, I tend to keep my head up much more than I do in races.

Before the ride I had helped fit one rider to probably the nicest bike out there, a CAAD10 with 105, probably a year old and with virtually no miles on it. The rider came up to me on the second hill, the hardest one of the ride, and very calmly told me that the gearing felt a bit high. The calmness really struck me because it was an absolutely critical point of the hill, one where even I was wary of toppling off the bike. Even though there was an undertone of worry the way the rider talked to me really impressed me because I'd expect most people to be yelling in panic at that point.

At any rate I glanced down and the poor rider was in the small-small, a 34x11 or so. For the steep hill - I'd use a 39x25 given the choice - it was an enormous gear, especially considering the non-cyclist nature of the rider and the sneakers and platform pedals.

"Push the big lever in on the right side. That will get you into lower gears."

The rider reached and found the smaller lever, the one that would ultimately put the bike in the 11T.

"The other big lever," I continued.

The rider grabbed the main lever and the chain quickly moved across the cassette.

"Is that better?" I asked.

The rider nodded.

I looked up. I'd slowed down to help this rider and now I saw that two riders were sprinting to the very top. We needed to turn right, there was an arrow there, but I wasn't sure if they'd see it.

"I need to get back up there. Will you be okay?"
"Yes, now it's fine. Thanks!"

I gathered myself and sprinted up the hill like it was the finish of a race. I managed to get to the top as the other rider made the turn.


As we got to the end the riders relaxed. With the second tough hill out of the way they felt like they'd accomplished something and I could see the smiles broadening. After the short drop down the last descent we rolled into the hotel parking lot, cameras recording the moment for posterity. Some folks cheered for us, like we'd done a big ride.

And in a way it was.

For me it was an 11 mile ride, not much at all in the scheme of things. But for them the ride represented just a bit more than that. It had been a three year journey for the hotel folks to get the EVEN Hotel off the ground, from inception to grand opening, and now they were going to see the fruits of their labor. I think that the ride triumph symbolized that, and that's why I saw such big smiles.

Of course it could be that they just had fun riding bikes again.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Racing - 2014 New Britain Crit, M45 and Cat 3s

My bike, resting.

Podium Ice bottle, no longer a rarity with the new version coming out soon.

I think I have an 11-23 for the cassette.
Nokon housing.

My one light thing - a carbon railed SLR.

Thanks to teammate Heavy D, who grabbed my camera after the M45 race, I have some pictures of me on the bike. This is unusual since normally I'm the one taking pictures with it. Coincidentally my helmet cam failed to stay powered on so I don't have any video. Therefore the pictures Heavy D took are the ones I'll use to narrate the Cat 3 race.

At the start.

I preach about long finger gloves. They save your finger tips on the off chance that you hit the deck and slide on your fingers. It doesn't happen all the time but it's happened to me. I'd rather not repeat that experience so I wear long finger gloves all the time, even training rides in the summer. I sometimes forget them and since it's not a critical thing like a helmet I'll still go for a ride. However you'll almost always find me wearing long finger gloves.

I use a RoadID. I have a heart thing so if I'm unconscious and someone hooks up an EKG thing to me, it'll look like I'm having a heart attack. Since I don't want anyone to do anything to me to try and "fix" my heart, I wear the RoadID. I carry a copy of my EKG in my wallet as well, per my doctor's recommendation.

They've been a generous and steady supporter of local bike racing for literally decades.

I'm starting again with this bike. Note Outdoor Sports Center, sponsor of the Bethel Spring Series.

I race for that club.


First the M45+. I don't have pictures at all so it'll all be words. I lined up with no warm up, per my Strava. I was running a bit slower than I thought and I didn't feel the need to warm up anyway.

We started off fine, some attacks early on. We had pretty strong winds, with a very strong cross-headwind on the main stretch. I expected a break to go because of that so I figured that I'd go after any bigger move that started rolling away from the field.

One big move went (I think) but I figured it would come back. It did.

Then another, bigger move went. This had a good 10 riders or so, and there were a number of break member teammates in the field. A few of us had missed the move but the chase seemed a bit half hearted. I made a dig, accelerated a bit more than I wanted, and decided to follow through with it. I rolled up to the break within half a lap, connecting on the backstretch. I felt okay, not totally redlined, and I figured that if the break kept at this pace I'd be okay.

Behind me the field seemed strung out but not any more motivated than before. In front of me the break started to splinter, with the front half separating from the rear. Over the top of the hill my chain inexplicably dropped off the big ring, not quite going into the small ring. I must have been in the 53x23, meaning in the big-big, and either stutter pedaled or something to unhook the chain.

I lost a few feet getting the chain back up to the big ring, looked back, and sat up.

By the time we hit the main stretch the field had caught the break. I was definitely working harder than not but I didn't feel in trouble. The field, already a bit stressed, split again, I think under the impetus of some of the stronger riders.

Unbeknownst to me there was an ex-pro in the field, Kurt Begeman, who used to be the resident pro at the velodrome in New Hampshire. Had I known he was in the field I'd have kept track of him, but I didn't so I didn't.

From my tail gunning position I thought the break had come back but it had actually increased its lead so quickly it was around my reference corner (the last one). When I looked it wasn't there so I mentally relaxed. A few laps later I saw that they were actually really far in front, a good 30 seconds or so.

I made another dig, hoping to bring some guys with me, but no luck. Everyone let me blow up out there and a lap later I came back.

Going into the final lap I figured I'd go for the sprint (of course). I actually debated whether I should just sit up and save my legs for the 3s. Ultimately I decided to sprint because I couldn't possibly know what would happen in the 3s. I might crash or flat or get shelled or something because that's what bike racing is all about.

Carpe Diem, right?

Seize the Day, or seize the moment.

An ex-Cat 2 (or 1?), Martin, went really early, gapping off the field I think going clear just before the last turn. My friend (and long time Bethel Spring Series helper) David B sat on his wheel. If they won, so be it, I didn't want to chase them myself.

Another guy followed and I immediately jumped on his wheel. We rounded the last turn and I looked up at Martin and David. They were probably 15-20 meters ahead, a closable gap in the sprint. I knew the powerful headwind would really slow my sprint so I went as soon as I thought I could get to the line.

I thought I'd left it late as it was a big gap to Martin and David, but I think the wind really shattered them. I got past both of them to get 15th. In the Tour that might be good but here at New Britain, not so much.

I'd used up a bunch of water, the day was getting warmer, and I had another race in 2 hours. I realized that I'd made an error in my race supplies - I should have brought more water and some food. Instead I ate a bar, drank some of the precious ice water, and waited. Junior wanted to play and stuff so we played and stuff. Heavy D collected my camera to take pictures of the Cat 4 race. I was hot.

Cat 3

Strava here.

Unusually I'm near the front. Cat 3s.

I didn't intend to line up near the front, I just rolled up whenever and there were more people than I expected in the field. Naturally since I lined up with at least one rider behind me I screwed up my clip in. I apologized to the rider that had to pass me as I clipped in and we were under way.

The Stingers in action.

My teammate Heavy D took control of my camera, with the 55-200 zoom, and snapped away. He'd try to cheer us on while taking pictures. You can tell when he was cheering because there's a whole lot of pavement and grass. The laps where he wasn't cheering there's a bunch of cyclists in the frame. The above picture is one of the in-between ones.

This is interesting. Note the gaps between wheels and such.
Cat 3 race so we're all reasonably experienced.

Keep in mind that the wind really socks us hard from the front left after this turn. Tactically speaking then it would make perfect sense to be shielded to the wind side, i.e. to the front left. This means riders should be exiting the turn behind and to the right of the rider in front of them, giving them optimal protection immediately.

The picture above doesn't show much of that.

Now note the tight formation, center screen.

The crafty guys at the back of the field are a bit better. You can see we're in our own mini-echelon. The rider in orange, the rider  with the white helmet, they're in the wind for no reason whatsoever, using enormous amounts of energy and gaining nothing.

Another picture of the tight formation.

We're overlapped to the right because the wind is hitting us from the left. The two riders in front of me have multiple national titles between them and both are former Olympians for other countries. I'm not so good but at least I know what's up.

A shot of the "kick over the top" pedal stroke I have.
Here the wind wasn't as powerful so being close wasn't as important.

I don't have long legs, as evident in this picture, but I run 175mm cranks. It just works better for me, now that I've lost a lot of leg speed. 25 years ago I was using 167.5mm cranks, and in about 1995 I started using 170s. Over the 2003-2004 winter I started using 175s. I thought 170s would be faster so I tried to go back to them in 2008 and then again in 2011. I tried for most of a season each time, starting sometime in the prior fall (typically Oct/Nov to July/Aug). Both times I went back to the 175s and immediately had better results. It wasn't the power, which I found didn't change much at all, it was how that power translated into fatigue and results. The 175s just work better for me.

Although technically I was okay sitting at this part of the course, at the top of the hill, I needed to stretch my legs out a bit. As the second race of the day my legs were getting fatigued. I also ran out of water so that didn't help on this hot and humid day.

Coasting and stretching. I'm pressing my right thigh against the left side of the saddle.

I'm coasting here, trying to stretch my legs out a bit. The standing at the top of the hill helped but I still needed to do something, my legs felt really blocked and fatigued.

Last wheel in the field, suffering.

I'm last wheel here and not very close to the next rider. This was in the first curve and the trees break up the wind. Still, though, I should be a bit closer.

This picture, more than the earlier ones, shows that I really need to lose weight. No muscle definition - my body fat is in the 25% range, give or take. I'm realistically 20 pounds heavier than I could be, than I was in 2010, and in 2010 I still wasn't really cut/defined. Someone calculated my lean body mass is in the 130s so 10% body fat would put me in the 140s. It'd be nice to be in the 150s again.

More suffering.

We're exiting the tree area I think and I'm closer to the wheels. However I'm still suffering, still at my limit.

My ContourHD didn't work in the Masters race so I removed it for the Cat 3s. You can see the mount on the helmet. No camera though.

Also you'll note that I have no SRM. I forgot it at home.

I ran out of water pretty early in the race, saving a few sips "just in case". At about 10 to go I started thinking about stopping. It was hot, there was a break up the road, and I wasn't recovering at all.

Then, at 8 laps to go, the sun disappeared behind some clouds. It was still bright, mind you, but the sun wasn't beating down on us. I could feel my body start to shed some of that excess heat, finally getting ahead of the recover curve. I hoped that the sun would stay hidden, and it did, at least until it was too late to cook me again.

Sprinting for 13th. I was 12th when I sat up, my wheel just in front of that tall rider to my right.
I would have sworn up and down that there were 20 riders ahead of me.

I was so far back going into the sprint that I really didn't feel like sprinting. On the other hand I'd worked so hard just to get to the finish that I decided to give it a go, even as I saw riders 10-20 feet in front of me sitting up.

I didn't have a good jump and my legs were twinging even as I jumped but I kept going. The pedals turned really slowly, no 105 rpm sprint like last time. I know when I'm not sprinting well because my butt gets lower and lower, and that's what was happening in this sprint. At some point I started to pass a tall, skinny rider, the archetypal non-sprinter, and my legs told me I was done.

I sat up and the other guy passed me back. I saw three guys at the line within passing distance, including the tall guy, but at best I might have gotten past those. No way I could have caught anyone further up.

Ends up I was 13th so if I'd done a reasonable sprint I probably could have gotten 10th. No better though, especially based on the fact that I really couldn't move up in the last lap. If I was so blown that I couldn't move up then I was really on edge in the race itself.

The good thing is that I finished the races disappointed in the Masters to have missed the break and disappointed in the 3s to have screwed up the finish. Previously I'd have been psyched just to finish. I'd bumped up my training in June to 16 hours, double that of May, and more than April and May combined. In July I've already done 10 hours and we're only halfway through the month.

Note the last day's bar in July is taller than any day except that tall day in late January.

Incredibly, with the EVEN Hotel recon ride later that day, this would be the longest day of the year for me since January, and in fact it was the second longest day of the year on the bike period.

With that my next big day is the EVEN Hotel Fun Ride coming up on Thursday morning.

No Tuesday Night CCAP Race tonight due to the thunder, lightning, flood watch, and all that. I even got an emergency broadcast message on my phone. Tomorrow I'm heading down to the EVEN Hotel thing. This weekend is booked solid with family stuff. Next Tuesday there's no race - I may try to figure out a way to do the Wednesday Night race at Ninigret, which is withering on the vine. Hm, they're off next week also. I guess my next race will be Limerock on the 27th? M40 and Cat 3.

Well, I guess that's okay. One way of looking at it is that I'll have time to train a bit. Imagine that.