Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Racing - July 5, 2011 @TuesdayTheRent

I'd skipped riding for a bit, taking a break from the bike from the Ninigret race until tonight, a six day break. I was hoping that the rest and recovery would make me stronger, because, as you may well know, that's what rest and recovery do.

They make you stronger.

Of course the umpteen (15? 20?) spare ribs I had at my Dad's probably didn't help much, although it probably satisfied any protein deficiencies my body might have had prior to the weekend.

I did have a properly lazy time, hanging out with my Dad, the brothers, their wives, all the kids, and, of course, the Missus.

I got to show off some of the clips that I'd done to the other brother, the one from Shovel Full of Dirt (in high school) and Tunnel of Love, aka ToL (now).

I'm not giving you a link to the site of ToL but you can add the numbers 666 to the name of the band fully spelled out and go from there. I should point out that if you view that site from work you'll be fired, and if you view it in front of kids you will be arrested.

Anyway, where was I?

Right, I was sharing clips. I'm particularly proud of the URT clip I made, with my CT brother featured prominently in it. My Maine brother hadn't seen it so he got to see that. And a bunch of my bike clips. It's fun sharing them because, first off, I like the clips, and second, it's their music.

Since they wrote and rehearsed and performed the music, for them it's almost a chore. But for me, I get to enjoy the end product without seeing all the stuff that went into it.

In that way I'm lucky, so in return I wanted my Maine bro to check out the clips (and not see what went into them).

With that stuff psyching me up for racing, I returned home on Monday the 4th. I had enough time to either ride my bike or fix my downtube cable stop.

After consulting with my fatigue level I decided that stationary activities would work better for me than active ones.

I'd fix the bike.

I set up my trusty Blackburn workstand (no longer made so I won't bother with a link, but it's featured in this post) behind my red car in the garage, sheltered from the sun. I had some mosquito repellant too, but if I recall correctly they weren't biting too much.

I'd been riding and racing with the front derailleur cable in place, just the downtube stop had come off. It's epoxied on - the tubes are too thin to weld that much stuff there - and the epoxy failed.

I disconnected the cable, pulled it through the full length teflon housing (with some difficulty due to the squashed cable end), and pulled the cable and housing out of the stop.

That's when I noticed a stray Nokon segment in the stop.

Incredibly, when I built the bike, I lost track of a segment. The downtube stop was deep enough that I didn't realize a segment sat in the shadows.

When I put the cable/housing into the stop, the cable had to go around the extra segment, making about a 3 or 4 mm detour in the space of about 2 mm.

No wonder the shifting was never quite 100%.

I suspect that all this stress contributed to the failed epoxy thing, because the other side is fine and it's been in use just as long.

Anyway, since I had some 2 ton epoxy left from the 3T fork bit where you glue a sleeve into the steerer tube, and it's black (the color of my bike), I decided I'd use some more of that stuff and glue the stop back onto the downtube.

I also had some emery cloth, convenient for sanding off epoxy, paint, and anything else that was there. With two shiny sides, the stop and the downtube, I mixed up the epoxy, spread it on both sides, and slapped the cable stop in place.

Then, because it takes 24 hours to fully set, I left the bike alone.

Tuesday I packed the bike in the car (the Missus decided to leave the bike alone in the stand), threw in two pairs of wheels (race and spare), my gear, and we set off to the Rent.

Still a bit fatigued from the weekend, having gained weight from the food, I wasn't in the best of racing spirits. I wanted to go though. I could make some efforts, work on my longer-than-a-sprint bits, and try and replicate what I did last year. You know what I mean - I wanted to get better.

I realized that at the Keith Berger Crit that I'd been afraid to make moves, that I had a hard time recovering from standard little efforts. Therefore I needed to work on being more aggressive, make some efforts with no regard to tactics, and then force my body to figure out what to do.

I had to get my bike ready, of course. The cable still dangled, and the Missus had pointed at it with a worried look on her face.

"What are you going to do with that?"

"Don't worry."

I wrapped the cable around the top tube and put a pump strap around the end. Now my top tube resembled a black and blue candy cane, but, hey, whatever.

I lined up with our perpetual first lap attacker, teammate David H, at the front of the group. Just before we started he suddenly picked up his bike and scampered back about 10 feet.

"Don't want to start at the front," he explained from way back there.

I checked my arms. I think my deodorant was working. Maybe it wasn't me.

It might have been the case that he didn't want to attack right away.

Well, then, if he doesn't want to go hard, I'll go hard.

The casual roll out started, a guy to my left, in grey, looked at me. I looked at him.

He accelerated.

I accelerated.

He kept accelerating.

I slammed the pedals hard.

Hey, wanna race?

I didn't bother looking over anymore. I dove into the first turn at speed (over 33 mph according to the SRM), kept going out of the saddle until Turn Two, then immediately settled into the Cane Creek bars.

About to drop into the CC bars, but out of the saddle.
Speed bleeding off, less than 33 mph now.

I came off the CC bars for the third turn, then dropped back into them as soon as I could.

One of the dads was out there with a camera so I figured, what the heck, photo op. The field would be on my wheel shortly so I might as well milk the opportunity.

I hammered down the main straight in the CC bars, went to the drops for the first turn, looked back...

Holy smokes.

I had a gap.

I couldn't tell if they were working, but whatever, I had a gap.

I remembered the time I took off at Oyster Bay, built a 20 second lead in a couple laps, then sat up because I thought I'd explode before I could do another 6 laps at speed. It took the field a lap to catch me while I soft pedaled, and I reintegrated at the front of the field. I got fourth in the race, but I always wonder if I could have made it work had I kept going.

Here was a similar situation, albeit different in a bunch of significant ways.

First, I had attacked about 55 minutes from the finish, not 6 laps like at Oyster Bay.

Second, I can't race with a bunch of these guys normally, i.e. I don't dominate the field when these guys race with me. At Oyster Bay I shared pulls for the first four laps of the race, going so hard my leadout man got shelled. I drilled it if we weren't going over 30 mph. Oops.

Third, that Oyster Bay race was in 1992, in the best year of my cycling life, where any speed starting with "twenty-" was slow. This was 19 years later, and any speed starting with "thirty-" is really fast.

So, with some tempering thoughts, I backed off the gas a lot. If I was going to instigate a break, I didn't want it to drop me as it formed.

I took it mellow the next lap, my legs rolling the gear, not punching it. The wind noise died down from a roar to a whimper. My average speed went from a touch under 30 mph to a touch over 23 mph.

I still stayed in the CC bars, trying to be aero, trying to maintain some kind of decent speed, willing my heart rate to drop just a bit.

I approached the start/finish for the second time alone, the longest solo move I've made in, oh, I don't know, like 19 years.

The bell rang.



They'd wake up back there, a cold soda (or beer) dangling in front of a hot and thirsty peloton.

I thought about my options.

I could go all out and try and win the prime. No matter what the result of the lap I'd be totally done, expelled from the field.

Or I could keep going "easy", let the prime hunters go, and try and reintegrate with the sane racers in teh group.

I forgot about Oyster Bay (literally) and decided to go for the long haul. None of this "go for the prime and drop out", which is what I should have done.

My average speed dropped to a touch over 21 mph.

A CCNS guy blasted by me, bridging my hard earned gap in about a zillionth of a second.

My break had ended, at an average speed of about 25 mph flat.

As I hit the third turn the rest of the field zipped by me, almost as fast. I desperately clung onto wheels, my body screaming in protest.

I made it to the backstretch before I let a gap go, and a few guys, mainly teammates, filled it immediately.

That only bought me about 200 meters because before we got through to the start/finish line, I let another gap go.

Again, others closed the gap, mainly teammates, one even telling me to "Jump, jump, jump!", but I was cooked, totally wasted.

I rolled around a while, did one sprint (I seem to want to do one sprint when I get dropped), then decided to stop.

The Missus had an amused look on her face.

"What was that?"
"I don't know."

Ends up that she called my race perfectly. When I attacked, a teammate Joel that had just done the B-race turned to her and asked.

"What's he doing?"

"I don't know," she answered, "but you can ask him in six laps when he stops."

He looked at her. She looked back at him, grinning, ever the realist.

A few more than six laps later (since I insisted on doing that sprint on my own), I was back in the fold.

She told me that it was pretty funny and pretty predictable. She'd watched me go all out on that first lap, then keep my head down, my form melting, the pedals going slower and slower.

"When that CCNS guy passed you it looked like you were going 2 miles an hour."

I glumly agreed.

She could predict the outcome, as could anyone that knows me well.

"Wait for it... wait for it..."


"Yep, he just exploded."

So I hung out and watched the race. I talked a bit with Joel, who seemed absolutely confused at why I'd try such a move. I had no real explanation because I had no idea why I'd made the move either.

I did think of one excuse - someone asked on BikeForums how much power it would take to time trial at 25 mph. And another guy questioned my statement that I can't go 25 mph for much more than a minute.

Well, I'll share the results. I don't have power numbers since the pick up or crank battery went south on me, but I do have the speeds and heart rate.

I went 25.0 mph for 3:03 minutes on a dead flat course (it used to be a runway for Pratt & Whitney), exploding myself spectacularly in the process. I averaged about 156 bpm, hitting a peak of 161 bpm. I'd hit an average of 159 bpm before I got totally shelled.

I guess I can go 25 mph for longer than a minute, but not much longer. And if my ftp is anywhere near right, I probably averaged about 250-300 watts for those 3 minutes. I think I can do 290 for 5 minutes, but that really hurts, and I had to have done over 1000 watts making the first move, so my system would have been preloaded pretty dramatically.

Whatever, I was tired and the race still went on.

SOC and Todd both made the break of the day (these Rents are like the flat stages in the Tour). When they lapped the field it got interesting. Suddenly most of them had teammates, most of them savvy enough to work with each other, and we watched three, maybe four teams try and work the sprint in their favor.

CCNS (of course) were limited by their low numbers. CVC had a few guys, Horst had a couple, Central Wheel had one or two (and the Savvy Guy was the one that was in the break), but Expo had a lot of guys. With guys like Cliff (a Cat 3) and the extremely strong Joe T (a 4, but he rode me off his wheel leading me out), the field really didn't have a chance.

At the bell Joe was at the front, Cliff just behind, then SOC and Todd, a four man leadout with absolutely committed leadout men.

This, folks, is what racing is all about. Teammates throwing down for one another, sprinters stacked up, and a hungry field waiting to pounce if there are any mistakes.

Joe swung off, his monster pull done.

Cliff hit the front, drilling it, trying to deliver his two steeds to the third turn at the front.

But then Aidan, the CCNS rider in the break, made a huge move up the side. Uncharacteristic of him, actually going for a win, but when he tries, he tries hard.

His speed actually made me cry out in alarm, and he blasted by the field going into the third turn.

Cliff, his turn done, let the two sprinters go as they exited the turn. SOC jumped out of the turn to get to Aidan, Todd glued to his wheel.

And as Aidan faded, Todd went, going clear of everyone else. SOC sprinted to the line for second, with the rest of the group following.

The finish. Todd at the right, then SOC, then Max (the promoter).

Wow. Incredible team work followed through by great sprints. After all the regular congrats and such, I rolled back to the car. Although disappointed with my own race, the racing was interesting overall. I got some ideas on what I need to do, got some thoughts on what I can do to accomplish them.

But for now it'd be time for dinner with some friends, conversation, and then the drive home.

Bike ready to be packed up.
Essentials: Cooler full of ice cold water, Podium Ice and Chill bottles, spare wheels.

Yes, it's a Bethel number, not a StickyBack Number though.

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