Friday, June 03, 2016

Racing - CCAP Tuesday Night Criterium, May 31, 2016

May 31, 2016 was my first race of 2016.

Not only that, it was literally my first ride outside.

I've been riding, it's just that I've been riding the trainer "not so seriously" since last summer. I have to say that it was weird to go out and see 92 degrees on the thermometer for my first race. I usually have a race routine down by the end of May but not this year. I scrambled for a couple days to get everything together. I checked the race wheels, put the rack on the car, gathered my tool box stuff, first aid bin, tracked down bottles, a cooler, freeze packs for the cooler, my kit, gloves, camera, all sorts of stuff.

My bike has a few significant changes compared to 2015. First, it's the black bike, a bike I haven't raced since I think 2013 or 2012. It has an older style Campy Ergo lever, they're a bit worn, so the bike shifts a little less crisply than the red bike. Second, I've been experimenting with a 2 cm longer position, so the bars are 2 cm further away from the saddle compared to the red bike. The black bike also has older crit-bend bars and I'm not that keen on the drops. My FSA bars are much better on the drops. Third, I have 170 mm crankarms on the bike. I am trying those out as well, versus the 175 mm cranks that have served me so well in my good years since 2004 (best seasons being '05, '06, '10, '15). I used 170s two years, 2008 and 2011, both seasons being pretty unsuccessful.

I also had two worries about race day itself. First, I hoped that with all my preparation that my bike would be okay. I checked and double checked stuff but without a shakedown ride I wouldn't be sure that my bike would be 100% until I got on the thing. Second, I hoped that I'd be okay on the bike. My last outside ride was August 4, 2015, when I did my last race for the year, a Tuesday Night crit. I don't think I did a report although in the end I led out a teammate in the A race.

With all the extra stuff I needed to do before the race the field was lined up before I had my number pinned on. I was definitely a bit rusty on the whole race day thing, unable to think clearly enough to just take my jersey off and pin the number. Realistically it would have been very quick, but instead I fidgeted with my SRM and helmet and who knows what else while the Missus pinned me up.

Field lined up. They were there for at least a minute before I got there.

Fortunately the race hadn't left before I lined up. The bike felt pretty stiff steering-wise and I wasn't really comfortable with my directional control on the bike.

It was when I started off that I realized my bottle of water was still in the cooler at our race base. Therefore...

Retrieving my bottle during the second neutral lap.
Note the field on the road.

On the second neutral lap I stopped to grab the bottle. My dad, the Missus, and Junior are all sitting in a row.

I didn't see this in my focus on getting my bottle - Junior reaching out to touch my bike.

I feel bad because with all the stuff happening the one thing I don't want to do is ignore Junior. However, here, while I'm busy sticking the bottle into my cage, Junior is about to reach out to touch my bike. I didn't realize this at all.

I rolled out, the group was going a nice 12 or 15 mph, and I linked up at about Turn 3 on the course, the last turn.

Sitting in the field.

During the race I realized that in my winter experimenting with stems I'd ended up with a tight headset. On the trainer it doesn't show at all and I didn't really notice it in my wobbly pedaling to the registration desk. No warm up either so no chance for me to notice it then. However, once under way, it was painfully apparent to me that my headset was too tight. It made the bike hard to steer subtly, resulting in me swerving back and forth. It wasn't a lot, I wasn't swerving feet at a time, but it was definitely not ideal. So my apologies for any swerving I did out there.

In the last group, which was about to disintegrate.

As the race went on I realized something else - I didn't have the ability to rev the engine like normal. I could plod along at a steady pace but when riders made efforts I really couldn't move.

As one rider said to me after the race, I'm starting like it's March, but everyone else is 2-3 months into their season. I guess that this means that I'm better when everyone is worse, meaning I do better in the spring races when everyone collectively is doing worse. The better everyone gets the worse I do. I felt super rusty out there.

Rider after rider went off the front, forming groups, coming back, all sorts of stuff. It was actually pretty interesting from a tactical point of view. I could only watch from the back of the field.

When I was in the third group, and, really, the fourth since teammate Jeff had started a bridging move to the second group, I decided I should see how it'd go if I tried to bridge. Rev the engine, so to speak.

It didn't go well.

I mean, okay, I did a reasonable effort, but my jump was weak, my sustained power wasn't all that great. The longer reach didn't seem to hurt me but the shorter cranks... I'm seriously considering going back to the 175s.

At any rate I blew up pretty hard after my effort and sat up. My race was done, at least in the group.

Blowing up after doing a little bridge move.

I pedaled slowly, for the next 15 or 20 minutes, after racing for all of 30 minutes. Realistically our neutral laps were faster than what I was doing at this point.

On one lap Xander, ever the nice person, kindly pointed out the gap to the next group behind. I could barely get out of the saddle, forget about pedaling faster, but I like that that's how he was thinking.

Xander giving me a time gap.

I decided that I'd do another effort at 2 to go, to get baseline sprint numbers. I wanted to see what my peak, 5s, 10s, and, possibly, 20s numbers were on the bike as it was right there - 170s, longer reach, etc. I decided to jump into the crosswind on the backstretch and not necessarily go to the line. The cross-headwind after Turn 3 didn't seem so bad so I ended up going a bit further than I expected.

End of race (time) sprint.
I sprinted on the 2-laps-to-go lap, but I was lapped several times by then.

Sprint numbers?
Peak: 1064w
5s: 1014w
10s: 979w
20s: 801w
30s: 608w

I guess I took it relatively easy on the jump because it's a solid 200w lower than I'd expect in the same situation. My 10s is also lower by about 100-150w and my 20s about 100w lower. My 30s is about on par so I think I went easier but longer. I have a feeling that with 175s my peak would be higher but I'm not sure.

In comparison my best ever numbers were 500w higher for peak, about 300w higher for 10s, and a whopping 350w higher for 20s. I haven't seen those numbers in a while though, not since 2010-ish.

When I rolled up to our base camp after the race Junior spotted me and yelled out and ran over. That was nice.

Junior sees me.

So going forward the plan is to get the red bike rolling again, meaning replacing the BB30 bearings and retaping the bars. It has the newer Campy lever shape, the FSA Compact bars, and my normal reach. I'll stay with the 170s on that for a bit but if things really seem sour I'll move back to the 175s.

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