Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dateline: 20:45, 17 June 2009

Yep, at the Mass Pike rest stop again.

This time, though, I didn't need any help bringing down my average speed. I think I've seen all of the "reconstruction" of the highways between Hartford and Boston. A long stretch on 93, a shorter one on 90 (Mass Pike), both times the highway down to one lane. A line of asphalt-laden trucks lines the closed lanes on 93, each one adding a few more yards of highway to the paver-thing.

I think it would take only a couple of those trucks to resurface NEV and take it up to something like 28 degrees banking.

I couldn't tell what was happening on the Pike - seemed like they were looking at a bridge or something.

Related to truck things, I passed a Freightliner Hybrid on the way to the track. I should have taken a picture since I can't find one quickly on the Web. It was a big red sleeper with two huge white boxes just behind the cab. Combined they would be about as big as a portapotty on its side, but they were actually two boxes. So a portapotty cut in half. The truck had all sorts of signs like "Experimental Vehicle", "Not for commercial use", and things like that.

Okay, why this obsession with trucks?

Other than calculating how many trucks it would take to haul a small 3,000 ton shipment of supplies - I read this in one of my tank tactics books, and, if they were 18 wheelers carrying 21 tons each, it would be 150 trucks, 60 feet long, so over a mile of trucks - what do trucks have to do with NEV?

I need to be a truck. Say "I need to be a truck."

I need to be able to truck along, do 26 or 27 second laps, lap after lap. It's critical for almost all the events on the track, Match Sprint and Chariot Race excluded. Diesel-like power, steady, smooth, endless and unrelenting.

All that I am not.

Let me explain.

See, I can't go fast for more than, oh, 1.5 laps. That's a problem when most races last more than that, especially when a bunch of them involve riding on your own for part of the distance.

We did a pursuit today, 3000 meters, and I'd pretty much get caught by every single guy out there. Meaning I'd be at least 30 seconds (one slow lap - a fast lap is about 25-26 seconds) behind. I did a 5 minute time, maybe 20 or 30 seconds more than that, for 9 laps. So 35-40 second laps. Other B racers got down to 4:01, so at least 2 laps better than me. Pretty much all of them were doing 27-30 second laps.

I'm just glad I didn't have a time trial set-up, because that would have been triply embarassing. As it was the initial cheers turned into sympathetic "Go, go, go!" type of things. And in a pursuit you can't just sit up. As one guy (the owner of Cycle-Loft, turns out) said to me, "I like the Australian Pursuit because you can stop at any time." The Individual Pursuit doesn't give you that option - you just go until you finish, no matter how pitiful your pedal stroke looks 2/3 of the way in.

Just because I went slow doesn't mean I didn't suffer. I rediscovered the taste of blood in my mouth, the result of breathing really hard and, apparently, bursting some of the air sacs in my lungs. I guess I rarely exert myself to that level because I can't remember the last time I had that metallic taste on my tongue.

Anyway, I figure I won the "Most Potential" award in the Pursuit.

We also did an Australian Pursuit, which is kind of like a free-for-all Pursuit. All the riders start spread out around the track and whoever gets caught is out.

I started well (I can accelerate), caught one guy, sat on his wheel for, oh, a millisecond, then thought I was about to get caught so I went blowing by him. Then, about half a lap later, I exploded.

Two guys streamed by me and I was out. No taste of blood, just numb legs.

Finally, we did a Keirin, complete with motorcycle (!!). We lined up, all being held, and the guy with the moto cruised by us. We all jumped and got on the moto's wheel. I decided I'd be crafty and move back a bit, so when guys started to nudge their way in, I'd let them. Then I'd just jump around everyone on the last lap.

Big mistake.

After 4.5 laps the moto pulled off, and the next 1.5 laps was balls to the wall sprinting.

The pace got so high I couldn't comfortably control the bike. I found myself going up the banking a bit, a good 5-8 feet, and after two of those turns I sat up. My big gear, which I thought would be an advantage, didn't make a difference. Since I couldn't keep the bike down on the racing line, it didn't matter what gear I had under me. Plus I was spinning the stupid gear so fast I couldn't accelerate if I wanted to.

This meant two things:
1. I have to learn how to stay on the racing line at high speeds.
2. When I sprint on my own, I'm not going that fast.
And when I do another Keirin, I'll fight for the 2nd or 3rd position.

The second realization above kind of depressed me because I thought I could sprint fast.

This stemmed from the very deceiving Scratch Race, the first race of the day every time we race at NEV. It's a simple, straight-forward race - first across the line wins. And tonight, with about 17 minutes left on the Nutmeg State Games tape, I had the helmet cam on.

Pressure on. I decided I'd tape only this race, since the Pursuit would be boring, the Australian Pursuit same, and I didn't think we'd do any other races. I decided I'd race selfishly to see if I could do well.

With some horsepower turned off (because they were saving it for the pursuit?), the group stayed intact for the whole 12 laps.

Good for me.

I closed a tiny gap at the beginning, when we were all joking around, but as the pace picked up, the group strung out. Brian, of last week's fame, went to the front and kept surging. The first one caught me completely off guard as I had to close a gap all of a sudden. Then he kept accelerating again and again, really ramping up the pace. But when he finally turned it off, no one wanted to continue the effort.

I found myself rotating to the front and I took a miniscule pull, trying to conserve my legs. Weak, I know, but I know that if I pulled even half a lap more, I'd have been cooked. And I had that camera so I had to put on a good show.

I tucked back in semi in front, but realized I'd blow pretty quickly up there and drifted back a couple more spots.

Then, as the laps wound down, I found myself second or third wheel. I flared out just a bit, moving up on the banking, protecting my forward lane. See, if someone rode up next to me, I wouldn't be able to move right to pass the guy in front. So I moved right in anticipation of needing that lane.

We hit the bell and guys started moving up and around me on the banking. I think I moved up just a touch more, trying to get myself some bike-rocking room.

Then, as we hit the backstretch, I jumped as hard as I freakin' could jump.

I drilled it to the line, even getting out of the saddle on the short main stretch.

A BF member Hocam, who'd made his first trip to the track, kind of indicated that the first jump had done the job. He was also surprised at how I'd made a, to quote a certain Miguel, "renaissance". He said I looked like I was suffering during the race (I was), but that in the last lap I suddenly had a big sprint (I did).

I felt good that I lived up to those famous words.

Now to work on the truck-stuff.


Anonymous said...

There are a whole lot of hybrid delivery trucks here in DC - Pepsi, Coke, Deer Park, etc. Those aren't semi trucks though.

Aki said...

I think I've noticed just one hybrid UPS truck (delivery one, not the big ones). Other than that, nada. I have to think that all that downhill energy has potential to be tapped - we don't have runaway ramps on highways for nothing. I just don't know how it'd be done. I think hydraulic pressure has potential (they get up to 20k psi in F1 systems), ditto some kind of heat driven device (again, some kind of pressure thing like a steam tank) but I wouldn't have a clue on execution. Mechanical energy, not electrical (meaning generating electricity may not be the best idea unless you could charge the battery quickly, like a truck one in a minute or five). If I did I'd be in a different field of work :)