Thursday, August 28, 2008

Racing - The Last 2008 Tuesday Night Race

So I discovered why so many people asked me about my racing at East Hartford when I got there for the last race of the series, August 26, at least the ones that weren't there when I was there.

Apparently there was one race where I soloed for most of the race at 50 kph. Here is a picture of me launching said "solo":

Rounding Turn One at full cry.

What's funny is that some very good riders were asking me about my racing at the Tuesday night races - I have a feeling they sort of believed that I really did solo for most of the race, getting caught with about 2 to go.

Of course the reality was a bit different. I bridged to a break in half of a half mile lap, exploded, went off the back, got lapped, and dropped out when I became unstable.

But, most importantly, in my half lap bridge, someone took a good picture of me. It's a big rule in racing. If you make an effort someone needs to take a picture of said effort.

You gotta look good.

I do like the "50 kph solo break" description better than my "reality bites" description, to be honest.

Just goes to show that you shouldn't believe everything you read on the internet.

Anyway, the last of the races came and I decided I wanted to do another motorpacing type of effort. I'd try and get near the front when I could, not blow myself up, but definitely push myself to the edge.

My diet has been horrible with the move and with work. It's been largely focused on Dunkin Donuts coffee and their various bread type products - egg sandwiches on bagels, muffins, and lots of donuts, supplemented by peanut M&Ms at work. Last week my legs were crampy from the get go, so this week, about an hour before the race started, I bought 10 quarts of Gatorade, trail mix, Rock Star, and a candy bar. I drank one and a half quarts of Gatorade, ate half the trail mix, and drank the Rock Star, all before starting the race. It must have worked because I didn't bonk and I didn't feel a hint of a cramp.

I felt bad because there were two times where I got too far up front and ended up pulling off when I was second wheel. Once was when the group was going really fast, under pressure, chasing something. I was second wheel and started to lose it. I couldn't even move up next to said wheel to drop off the next rider, and before I gapped off too much (it was maybe 2 feet and growing), I swung off to get a few breaths of recovery. I was hoping my heart rate would drop in a few seconds, letting me back on, and that's exactly what happened. About six guys went by and I got back in, comfortably in pain once again. But the guy who had to close the gap wasn't very happy. So, to him, I apologize.

The other was when I got towards the front and the guy in front of me attacked - I didn't budge and guys had to maneuver all over to get around me. I wasn't about to go jumping after someone and a lot of other guys didn't budge, but usually the guy on the attacker's wheel should go with the attacker. It's easy, it might dissuade the attacker, and the wheel is essentially handed to you on a platter. But I didn't go.

As it was I was deep in the hurt bucket with about 5 minutes of the 40 minutes left to go (we'd do five laps after the 40 minutes was up). It was strung out, I kept sliding backwards, and I made huge efforts to move up when I felt it prudent (using the wind, corners, and my strengths), just so I could use those spots to slide back again.

When the race folks yelled "Five to go!" suddenly the field turned the Race Switch to "Off" and we fanned out for a bit. It got going again within a turn or two, and I found myself in difficulty once again. I thought (too much) about whether to move up or not, and with the short laps winding down quickly, and a committed leadout train from one team in particular, I kept putting off my move up effort.

For once though the field had stayed together so there was no break that lapped us. We were all fighting for the race. You'd think this would have motivated me but I held back. I'd had some odd premonitions of fighting too hard for the race and getting hurt, so I decided against fighting too hard for the race. Make sense?

At the bell I realized it was sort of late to move up. I'd been going around the outside nicely on the last turn, gaining almost five miles an hour and about that many spots, but that would put me into the wind, so I took a conservative line, stayed on wheels, and started the sprint about 20 back. I guess this was pretty much at the back of the field, but it was what it was.

Once again there was a non-sprint - five guys separated themselves from the rest of the group (probably due to leadout guys exploding and leaving a gap), and said rest of field meandered towards the line. The inside (and sheltered side) opened up inexplicably so I rolled into it and did a half hearted jump to clear a couple clumps of guys. I got clear of the field, coasted to clear the jutting curb (it requires a minute turn), did another pedal stroke or two, and kind of soft pedaled to the line, checking over my shoulder to make sure I wasn't going to get passed. Although in most cases I'd have kept going to the line, the coast bit made the sprint less fun so I decided I'd just pedal enough to make it to the line.

Mission accomplished (i.e. I got in a motorpace type workout without getting dropped), we headed out to dinner. SOC won again, and I got sixth, so we could feel good about ourselves.

SOC and I talked bike stuff, the missus and Mrs SOC talked other stuff, then we all talked a bit about pet projects and such. Finally, when the staff were busy cleaning up around us, we left the fine dining establishment and went our way home.

Not sure of my next race but I'm hoping it's sooner than later. The track won't happen until September at the earliest but I have some decent motorpace type form and I want to get more of it before the year ends.


mattio said...

Hey, I saw your mention of being willing to trade your weights for track gear, and how you need a front wheel, so I just wanted to let you know that you can always toss a bolt-on skewer into any old road wheel and nobody will blink if you take it to the track.

Aki said...

yep, I'm actually looking to get my Specialized Trispoke going - I had a track axle for it somewhere but I can't find it at the moment. I also have an old Mavic track/road hub (the inside of the axle is threaded for a bolt, and you can use an M6? bolt on either end to make it a light "bolt on" set). But track gear - cogs, lockrings, chainrings, any aero wheels, those are all things I'd like to have.

mattio said...

tell me about it! i'm trying to restrain myself from scouring ebay for old zipp 440s in the off season.

i haven't noticed mavics that take skewers or nuts. that's cool!

Aki said...

heh I am going to be lacing up an old 440 to a Campy NR/SR front hub from back in the day - 24H no less. This will be my "aero" front wheel, but, now that I think of it, it could be a track front wheel too. Hm.... btw I already have one cog, chainring, etc, but having extras would always help. I also have a nice track bar I need to install. Now to just find the time to get to the track...

mattio said...

what's the tooth count on your current cog and chainring, and what are you looking to acquire? i can definitely ask around. i don't have much extra gear to offer, but i definitely know people who do, and can ask around.

Aki said...

Oh wow. I have a 51x15, the road width (not the super wide track/bmx size). I'm looking for anything else, plus the 51 is a very cheap thin ring which I ended up drilling out so it's extra flexy now :) If I was to make a dream list, 50T and a 49T. But I'm so inexperienced I think it'll be fine.

130 bcd. I have a nice lockring for my rear wheel (Superbe). I'm set otherwise, building or recovering (from a friend) front wheels (aero and really aero).

I'm also getting a new post (zero setback), putting on a proper seat + bar (not some leftovers tossed on so I can sit on the bike).