Monday, May 20, 2013

Racing - 2013 CT Masters Crit M40+ Cat 1-4

This report is basically a joke because I made only a couple laps before a seat post bolt broke.

Before anyone starts asking what brand post to bad mouth I should point out that the nut that holds the seat down (aka me) changed the bolts from the perfectly good stock ones to some aftermarket titanium ones. Therefore the seat post manufacturer, Thomson, has nothing to do with the breaking bolt.

It has to do with me changing something that didn't need to be changed.

One lesson re-learned today - don't change something that isn't broken.

I re-learned another lesson today - always bring spares and back ups to a race.

The Missus asked if I was going to bring the black Tsunami to the race. I've recently made the red Tsunami my primary race bike, to the point that I haven't ridden the black bike in almost two months. I need to get the bike to the shop to get the headtube faced and the BB30 reamed to spec, but I haven't done that yet.

I also want to finalize my bar/stem configuration. The red bike is close but no cigar so until I figure out the red bike I don't want to make the same less-than-complete changes to the black bike.

So, when the Missus asked me if I was going to bring the black bike, I said no.

I mean, look, it was raining, it'd have to spend the whole trip on the roof rack, then sit out in the pits in the rain during the race, then ride the rack back in the rain.

Even after I thought about having a spare bike, complete with things like, well, an unbroken seat post bolt, I decided that, no, it wouldn't be worth the trouble.

So we left with just one bike on the roof, three pairs of wheels for said bike. I had my clinchers, the only aluminum braking surface wheelset I regularly use, plus two carbon sets ("primary" and "spare").


At the venue I decided to go conservative and kit out the bike with the aluminum clinchers. I figured that the aero benefit of the carbon wheels would be outweighed by the fact that I hadn't ridden in the rain on those wheels in a while. I also dressed aggressively, going with no shoe covers and summer long finger gloves despite the 55 degree rainy conditions.

A Bethel Spring Series (new-to-the-scene) racer struck up a conversation with me, asking about equipment. He showed me his bike, outfitted very close to mine, and I gave him some thoughts on how I'd upgrade his bike. That made me look around and realized that, wait, I could keep the aluminum front wheel and use a carbon rear wheel.

Plus the Stinger 9 had a Vittoria wet weather tire mounted to it, and I wanted to see how that worked in the wet.

I headed back to the car and switched the rear wheel.

I ran into another Bethel Spring Series racer, this one a long time friend and one of the staff of the BSS. He pointed out that it was pretty cold out there, once the water got through whatever layers you had on. In particular he questioned my aggressive choice of gloves and footwear. The wind vest was fine, but my hands and feet...

I did a lap out there and realized that, yeah, he was right. I switched to winter gloves (water and wind proof) and put on some ancient Cannondale water/wind socks. I think I wore them just once or twice before, and I've been hauling them around in my gear bag for about 20 years.

I felt better immediately, my feet toasty with no chilly water or air hitting them, my hands also toasty due to the lack of chilly water and air.


The miserable weather, combined with all sorts of conflicting events, meant that all of maybe 12 racers lined up for the M40+ race.

Almost the whole field.

This didn't bode well for me - without incredible fitness I rely on being able to sit in the protected field. 12 riders didn't really constitute a "field" so I'd be exposed to the wind much more than normal. In such a situation I expected a couple of the strong guys to take off, leaving behind the rest of the riders.

For some reason the sprinklers were going full bore.

Someone said that "Sprinter Della Casa" was here.

I replied that, with such a small field, a break would win the race.

Someone else countered that the small field already counted as a "break".

With that the race started.

I last raced here in the rain in 2010 in really sketchy conditions. Ironically it was the "All Weather" tires that caused the problems at the time, slipping and sliding everywhere. This time my bike felt fine. I had the same front wheel on but this time with Maxxis ReFuse tires, my heavy training tires. They felt really grippy to my fingers even in the showroom and in the wet they worked great. I ran 80 psi in them, just because. I've run as low as 55 psi and as high as 105 psi, but for me 80 to 95 psi is okay, and I prefer to run a bit higher if I know I'm going to be cornering hard.

The rear Vittoria was great too. I'd automatically pumped up the tire to 120 psi, the pressure I normally run in my 23 mm tubulars. I had left putting on the rear wheel a bit late so I just left it like that and decided today would be an experimental day. To my pleasant surprise the Vittoria rear tire worked extremely well, even at the high pressure.

With both tires gripping nicely I even experimented with riding over the yellow line in the first turn, at the top of the hill, and even going into the last turn.

I felt much more secure on the bike on this wet day, compared with the race from 2010.

I couldn't sit directly on a wheel due to the spray and the fact that it took a half second for the brakes to start working, even if I was just feathering the brakes. This meant sitting slightly to one side and a bit further back than ideal for wind protection, which in turn meant I'd be working harder than normal.

Sitting off to the side to avoid spray.

Nevertheless I felt pretty good. The cool, wet conditions reduced my poison ivy craziness, the soothing chill driving away the insane itchiness on my arms, torso, legs, neck, etc.

All this happened in just two laps.

Then, on the backstretch, as I started getting warmed up, I heard a pop and I fell a bit forward on the bike.

My saddle had just dropped down.

I knew exactly what had happened before I looked.

Looking down when my bike popped and my saddle dropped.

I'd found some Ti bolts for the Thomson posts I use on my bike. At $14.95 for a set I figured it was harmless fun. Unfortunately I heard some creaking after I installed them and I realized that something with them must be bad. I kept putting off replacing the Ti bolts.

I couldn't put it off any more. One had just snapped.

There was a wheels in, wheels out pit.

My spare bike was at home though.

This meant my race was done just as it had started.

I coasted and soft pedaled to the start/finish area, where the Missus and Junior waited under a tent. I couldn't go too fast because I didn't want to drop my saddle. I knew the Missus could see me across the course so she'd know that although something went wrong she'd also know that I wasn't hurt.

I rolled up to the tent and stopped, explained what happened. The irony of me changing out the bolts and then deciding to leave the spare bike behind. I even had the original seat post bolts in my gear bag in the car (but they weren't in the pits so I couldn't go get them, fix the post, and get back in the race).

Ah well.

Junior took a while to realize that the weird looking bike racer with a helmet on was his Pops.

Then he smiled, his arms and legs kicking a bit in excitement.

All was good.

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