Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Racing - East Hartford 5/19

Although we had a frost scare last night (I even took in our flowers), the day turned out awesome - almost 70 degrees, a powerful sun that let me work in a short sleeve shirt.

This meant, among other things, that the Tuesday Night Race at Rentschler Field would finally take place.

During my lunch break I dragged my bike out of the basement, packed some gear, and staged everything in the still-cool garage. Then, about 20 minutes early, I cut out of work, rushed home, collected the missus and my bike stuff, and off we went.

About 10 minutes away I realized I left all my race wheels in the still-cool garage. But, hey, it's a training race, so I'd just have to deal with heavy, box section, 32 spoke wheels. What a rough life, right?

We got to the Rent and, man, it was breezy. I thought only Bethel had weather pattern anomalies, but obviously Rentschler Field does too. Instead of funneling all the area's wind down a valley, the Field is smack dab in the middle of a huge cleared flat area, a place where they used to be able to handle 747s on their runways. I guess wind swirls around it or something.

So, yeah, it was windy.

But with the nice weather, there were a lot of racers out there.

I needed to get some blood flowing through my legs - they still felt wobbly after my spontaneous 5k run on Sunday - and I quickly dressed and got on the bike. The wind sapped any will to do efforts so I toodled around for a while.

I did do one thing - to avoid any accidental un-clips, I cranked the tension down on the pedals. Much, much better.

We got going, and after a lap or two of nothing, guys started going. And then someone on a Cervelo just ripped us apart. This guy lapped the field (where I sat) twice, the powerful chase group once.

By himself.

When the chase first went I looked across the field, just like everyone else. Later, I realized the folly of this act, and pointed it out to one of the guys that understands how I race.

"You know, I look across the course at the break, like everyone else, but there's only one difference. I can't do anything about it. Like, what, I'm gonna go bridge? Who am I kidding?"

I actually did think about bridging for a lap, but by the time I got up to some reasonable spot in the field (like not the very back), the break had gained another quarter lap. A bit far for me, I thought, so I gave up the idea of bridging.

I drifted back in the field.

I started looking at my watch, wondering how long 45 minutes would take. Then, finally, I saw the guy start fumbling with the lap card thing, so I started moving up. Next lap - 5 to go.

I tried to move up discretely, a bit dizzy or something because I came close to making contact on both my left and right side. Contact avoided, I kept trying to move up.

Things got tighter as the laps started counting down, and I had no clue what to do for the sprint. The wind felt vicious everywhere, and I had to keep moving left and right to find shelter on each successive section of course. I didn't know if I could go from a long way out or if I should do a short sprint. I simply couldn't get a read on the wind, but I knew it'd kill me if I got stuck in it.

So I just kept my options open in the last couple laps of the race. Something always seems to pop up - it's just a matter of having the legs to seize the opportunity.

Heh. Seize the opportunity.


With about 3/4 of a lap to go, I saw my opening. A guy surged up the outside, no one on his wheel. I rectified the latter statement, quickly jumping up to speed and tucking in behind him. He made a couple moves to get near the front of the field, then, with someone yelling at him to go, he went.

I went too, trying to stay to his right, where I could get shelter on the crosswind mainstretch. We were both too late to catch the guy who won the field sprint. But, with some riding reminiscent of the track, I surged in the saddle, spinning up some speed, then stood up as I slammed the bike into a higher gear.

I almost caught the guy who won the sprint, but, of course, we were sprinting for something like 9th place, having been lapped at least once by a bunch of guys. It was all good, though, as I wanted to see how I sprinted after a couple days at the track.

Answer? Decent. Not great.

Afterwards I talked a bit with RTC, and he made an interesting comment, something like, "It's amazing what adrenaline will do."

I thought about it for a moment. I realized, whether it's a good thing or not, that I had no adrenaline rush in the last two laps. I had a main task (sprint well) with a bunch of sub-tasks (move up, jump at the right time, etc). I simply did what I needed to do, but with no special feelings.

In the past I'd have proclaimed myself "burnt out", but now, with a bit of thought, I think it's more that, in a twenty or so rider field, I feel comfortable. I trusted the guys and gals that were racing, and I was okay making whatever moves I made. They came automatically, without much thought.

I think it's like playing the violin in a recital. When you pick a piece to play, you pick one that is so easy that it's almost boring. Then, in the actual recital, you feel less stressed because at least one thing, the technical part of playing the violin, is a non-factor. Now you just have to deal with playing in front of a crowd, on a stage, etc etc.

I'm pretty sure I get adrenaline rushes in other races - Bethel, Nutmeg, for sure. But in other ones, it's gotten to the rote stage, to the recital stage. It doesn't mean it's easy physically, but the field maneuvers feel normal. Fun, yes, for sure. Exciting, sort of. Scary, no. Fear, none.

Okay, I've felt some fear in some races, but usually they're the biggies and I get nervous that some sketchy riding could take me out.

Hm. Something to think about.

In the meantime, tomorrow is track day. And I'm tired. Time for bed.


Rishabh Phukan said...

Nice seeing you out there.

I feel that adrenaline will also help you focus in on task sometimes. That might have been you taking in a more 'mellow high'.

I'm hoping I don't have to work sunday afternoon, so that I can go race the hartford crit. I find out tomorrow and I'll promptly register then.

I'm hoping I can be there. I need to get my race legs back. I've been feeling much stronger in training lately, but this last week (finals week) made me feel like I lost a good chunk of my fitness.

Have fun on the track tomorrow!


Rishabh Phukan said...

Also, cervelo guy was nuts.

He put ~2 secs on the field every lap.


Mike said...

All systems go for this Tuesday, how big was the 4/5 field?

Aki said...

Hocam - Tuesday or Wednesday? Track?

4/5 field on Tuesday was pretty big for the Rent - maybe 20-25 riders? Ditto the A race. Big enough for shelter, that's for sure.

Mike said...


We'll talk track at worlds on Tuesday. I keep forgetting to check this comment thingy.

Aki said...

Okay, cool. Both it is.