Sunday, June 23, 2013

Racing - June 23, 2013 Keith Berger Crit Cat 3s

The Keith Berger Crit. This is a standard crit for me now. It has some significance to me at different levels. I met and raced against Keith Berger at Bethel. Back then he was "the guy in purple" because he wore a generic purple jersey. It didn't matter what he wore - he demolished the field, winning from breaks and winning field sprints. He quickly moved out of the 3s and therefore disappeared from my week to week race interactions. I might have seen him line up in a P123 race but I'd be at the back and he'd be at the front. I wouldn't call what I did "racing" and his Cat 2 status put him in different races or at different ends of the field if we were in the same race.

Another significant thing is that in 2011 the Missus was pregnant when we came to the race. We didn't know it at the time but Junior was already a tiny ball of cells. Although the race wasn't a resounding success for me (I sat up in the last lap of the P123 race) it wasn't bad either. The bonus was a short time later when we found out that Junior was on his way.

Nowadays the Keith Berger Crit is much closer to home. It makes it a home race, if you will, just like any race at New Britain and all the races at the Rent (@TuesdayTheRent). It's a quick jaunt down the highway and presto, we're at the race.

Today was supposed to be okay in the morning, like mid 70s, and warming up to the mid-80s by the midafternoon.


When we got there it was already in the 80s, and by the time my race finished it was 93 degrees (95 degrees after we got going).

Unfortunately I played it pretty close to the edge in terms of ice water and such. I was so confident in the 80 degree max forecast that I gave a precious bottle of ice water to a teammate (who, it turned out, suffered from heat exhaustion, so I'm glad he had some ice water). I even skipped installing the second bottle cage on my bike.

So Mister Unprepared started the race with one half full bottle of ice water in his pocket and one full bottle of ice water in the single bottle cage mounted to the frame. Not a lot for a 30 lap race (which was another thing - I didn't bother checking the race distance).

30 laps, 1 1/2 bottles, really hot... not good.

On the plus side we had a very solid team. Two of us had some legs - Mike and Jeff - and three of us had our life excuses - Chris, Rick, and myself. We all started out with the plan of no-plan: "Let's see how it goes". My thoughts ran along the lines of seeing if I could help Mike or Jeff. I held outside hopes on Chris and Rick, both of whom tend to understate their fitness and who try to make the most of a good situation.

Lining up for the start.

As I told the guys before the start, I've been good for 20-30 minutes in each of the races I'd done for the last few weeks. I feel great at the start, fantastic. At White Plains I started plotting how to approach the last lap just two laps into the race.

The problem is that this feeling of "good legs" goes flying out the window at about minute 20. From there it's a death march until I either get shelled or, infrequently, roll across the finish in the middle of the field.

My plan then was to go hard in the first 20 minutes or so, look for a prime or two, and then see how long I could last. This meant that when I saw a move go early in the race I tried to go with it.

Watching a move develop on the right side.

A guy in green and orange dieseled his way off the front. A CLR guy (they've been riding super strong recently) jumped across to him. A few more riders seemed to dwaddle off the front of the field so I went by to try to catch the train before it left the station.

Move is coalescing - I go.

The guy in green and orange just pulled like a locomotive, but we didn't have the speed to get that initial gap which is so important. Also the CLR guy on his wheel didn't want to pull and, honestly, I was rapidly running out of gas. I looked back a few turns later and the field was strung out on my wheel.

The counter after the field caught the move.

A slew of counter moves spelled the end of our little escapade and most of us sank into the field. I actually passed the green guy as he drifted back a bit more than me. The CLR guy... there were enough of them that I couldn't keep them straight.

A short time later a BANG and that familiar but sickening sound of metal on the ground.

A lap later the guy that pulled for that first move blew a tire.

The green orange guy had most of his tire off the rim, tube hanging out. He obviously had a massive tire failure. Unfortunately the guy that took the brunt of the hurt was a CLR rider, an unwitting accessory to the incident. I think I know who it was but I don't want to say because I don't know for sure. Whatever, I think he's a regular at Bethel and it was unpleasant seeing him on the ground.

The field neutralized itself on its own, racing just a lap until we all passed by the crash scene and the rider was still down. At that point racing become secondary to the fate of the rider on the deck. CLR went to the front to set a steady tempo, even when the bell rang for a prime. No one sprinted and the officials neutralized the prime.

Until the officials neutralized the race the CLR guys neutralized it.

I felt pleasantly surprised to see the solidarity among the racers. The guy on the ground was getting proper attention so we just eased. It wasn't easy for me, mind you, but it was definitely a step down in terms of throttle.

Red flagged race.

The officials neutralized the race, making official what we had collectively already done. We all stopped on the shade side of the road, a couple guys topped off their bottles (me included, when a teammate David came by with ice water), and we waited. The officials didn't seem super absorbed in damage control so I felt the rider's injuries were "normal", if you will.

We got started with two alleged neutral laps before the racing started showing 20 to go. After one neutral lap they rang the bell. There was a schedule to try and keep so we got down to racing quickly. The neutral lap was good though - everyone could sort of get back into it, no racing from the gun on legs that got a bit cold.

CLR's Nutmeg State Champ

The race winning break went, although we didn't know it at the time. At some point I'd said to Mike and Chris that I was working for Jeff. They nodded their agreement and so it was. Rick had suffered heat exhaustion at this point and had dropped out of the race. Some ice water, some hanging out in the shade with his wife and very young son, and he seemed to be okay.

Jeff launching, trying to get across to the break.

Jeff didn't know that we'd all decided to work for him and at some point, with Mike driving the field trying to keep the break within shouting distance, Jeff launched. He attracted one other rider and together they tried to ride away from the field. Unfortunately after a lap they hadn't gotten the gap and the two slid back into the field.

Crash. Riders at all sorts of lean angles.

If the crash split the race into two parts (and created the first defining moment) then the second defining moment was the crash in Turn Two. The field was all together, riding at a reasonable pace (not insanely fast, not stupid slow), and suddenly sliding metal and carbon fiber.

Riders went around the crash in both directions. As I rolled by I couldn't help but notice a bare carbon rim on the back of one of the two bikes.

Culprit: rolled tire off that back wheel.

A rolled tire.

It doesn't matter how the tire rolled, it's just a bad thing. In fact it's against the rules. Luckily only one other rider went down and it wasn't really bad because we weren't going that fast. I mean, okay, I'm sure it wasn't pleasant for the unfortunate victim (the tire roller doesn't count) but still, no ambulance call and such.

After the crash there were huge gaps in the field. Huge. Like Grand Canyon huge.

Gaps after the rolled tire crash. I'm about to pull through.
Note position in the lane. Zipcar guy holds basically a straight line.

I followed two guys, a Zipcar and another guy. The Zipcar guy was fading so the other guy went right. He wasn't going that fast so I went left and started yet another diesel pull. I'd been doing this to close gaps here and there because my legs lacked the snap to go fast whenever.

I drew up to and past the Zipcar guy, trying to hold station in the middle of the lane, when suddenly the Zipcar guy started hollering.

"Watch your line!"

His hollering turned to gibberish as he tried to retain control of his bike. The guy to his right was now to my right - he'd just slammed the door shut on the hapless Zipcar guy.

Pulling through.

The guy to my right moved over a few feet, squeezing the guy between us.
Note I'm almost on the yellow line now. I've moved over a few feet even after clearing the Zipcar guy.

I told him to pull when he pulled through. I suppose I should have said something about holding your line. Whatever, I moved over to the left to give the guy room, in case he wanted to come over more. He got on my wheel and I set about closing the gap to the CLR guy ahead of us.

Ironically Mike was pulling the CLR guy. I didn't realize he was there until they went through a turn - that's when I realized there was an Expo in front of the CLR guy. If I hadn't pulled so hard I think a bunch of riders would have been out of contention. As it was I inadvertently brought a bunch of competitors back to Mike.

Many of the riders sat up - the announcer said that half the field had given up. I'm wondering now if there was a crash back there. A friend in the race said there were four crashes and I only saw two. If there was one when the guy came across the Zipcar guy's wheel then that would make sense.

I found myself in trouble, desperate trouble. I worked super hard to bridge the gap after the crash, watched others fly past me, and hung on for dear life. Then I was done, dead legs, mid field.

I'm exploded and gapped.

I felt totally wasted, unable to move. Of course my body was automatically trying to recover so while I was busy letting people pass me my heart rate was dropping, my legs recovering, and when I looked up I realized that, okay, I'm not totally blown.

I put my head down and ground the big gear back up to speed. Curiously I found that my legs weren't cramping at all today. I pushed big gears, could keep pushing, and somehow my bike kept going. I just couldn't go fast, that was the limiter.

I persevere and claw my way back on (this is before I'm "on").

I had much higher speed going into the turn, and combined with the fact that I didn't have to take others into consideration it meant that I could corner at full speed. This got me back on the back of the group.

Unfortunately the guy in front of me started to disintegrate just as I got on his wheel. I knew it was inevitable but for whatever reason I waited until he sat up a bit before I moved over. He was waving his hand in the "pass me, I'm done" fashion as I rode past.

Of course 100 meters later I need to close another gap.

This gap hurt me but it felt much smaller than the prior gap. I pushed hard again, big gear, just rolling it, and managed to get back on.

With that clawing back on move I realized that, okay, I may make it to the finish. I had no sprint left in my legs, no jump, not even now, but I knew I could make one more diesel type grinding effort.

(As a sprinter you learn real quick your ration of jumps and sprints, and, as you lose your sprint, you start getting a ration of the slower, longer burning "diesel" moves.)

I decided I'd do a 100% effort on the last lap. I figured Jeff would get into reasonable position - he is really good at doing that - but I could get him into great position. If nothing else I could ride next to him and give him some shelter, or I could get on his wheel and force others to pass one more rider before they could pass Jeff.

I rallied on the backstretch - I knew I had just one shot. Luckily the pace wasn't insane so I could move from pretty far back of the field.

Last lap, back stretch, Jeff in the red, as I cleared the Lump.

I got around the "Lump" that forms just behind the head of the field and immediately spotted Jeff about 7th wheel. I figured I might be able to get past the front of the field before the 3rd turn so I ground my way past a couple more guys, eased in a bit, and hollered a very curt, "Jeff!"

He saw, I checked to see that someone moved, and someone did, I hoped Jeff was there, and then I tried to drive it home. 

Unfortunately in my decrepit state I had no speed. I only managed to pass the leadout guy after he blew up so I was third going into the third turn (where, apparently, the leadout guy went straight, taking someone with him). The guy on my wheel, a seemingly less experienced racer, couldn't stay on my wheel (I couldn't see back there but he'd been cornering a bit wobbly before so I figure that trend continued) and so we had a slight gap going into the second last stretch. I had stopped pedaling, waiting for the wave of riders to engulf me, but when no wave hit me I had to try and close the gap.

Last lap, just before last turn.

We went into the last turn, my legs like wood. I had no sprint for sure, no jump, and now I had no diesel. I had absolutely nothing left. I pedaled squares and triangles for a few seconds and then a bunch of guys flew by me.

Jeff was one of the first ones. I don't know how he did in the sprint (we never really bothered figuring that out) but he was second I think, maybe third. That was good enough for me.

Overall the race went well. I went in thinking I'd race for 20 minutes in 75 degree temperatures. Instead I raced for over an hour in 80-93 degree temperatures, used everything I had in my legs, and helped a teammate even when I was at the end of my tether.

As a bonus a young rider I know did just his second race in the Juniors. He approached me, with his parents, at Bethel this year, with a few questions, and things grew from there. I've been trying to help him with a solid approach to racing, trying to give him some guidance to see him through the very tough times that most young Juniors face. He's shown a sense of humor about the whole thing, like when he wryly reported that he got lapped "about 15 times" in his first race (it was way fewer than that). In today's Keith Berger race he did well, working with a chase group, behind the "older" racers, and finished with a good sprint.

Although it's good when I can do okay in a race, it's a bit more rewarding to accomplish something as a team. It's fun to work together with other riders, even if it's not for a race winning thing. If, by working together, we can elevate one rider above their solo potential, then we've accomplished something. If I hadn't closed a gap, if Mike hadn't closed a gap, if Chris hadn't closed a gap, would the field have had the same sprint it did? It's hard to say, but the fact remains that we all worked hard so that one of us, Jeff in this case, could try and optimize his performance.

Even more interesting is to try and guide someone on their own foray into racing. It's tough because I can't do anything for them once they start the race. I'm sort of helpless watching from the sidelines, hollering something here and there but otherwise unable to do much. I have to let them try it on their own, let them experience the disappointment and ecstasy that come with racing.

It's tough because I know that as a new father this is something that I will be experiencing for the rest of my life, with a huge emphasis in the next 5 or 10 or 15 years. It'll be interesting, that's for sure.

(Note: I don't identify most people fully for privacy reasons, except pros and such. I won't identify kids - it's why I call Junior Junior - for the same reason. I have a feeling I'll be writing about the young rider more but since I already christened RTC as Young Rider I need to think of a different name.)

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Event Services - 2013 White Plains Crit

I'm saying "Event Services" because I wasn't the promoter of the White Plains Crit, and in fact I'm in awe of the guys Joe and Craig that made the race come together last year. They provided a course, a window of time, officials, and all that. My part was to turn their race plan into some kind of reality. All they needed was to have some way of turning those BikeReg registrations into a start list to get the races going. That meant registration services.

They also needed a way to score the races, to be able to pick out numbers of a field sprinting across a finish line. That meant finish line services.

Luckily, through Carpe Diem Racing, I can do both things - we do them for the Bethel Spring Series. Fortunately I get a lot of "practice" sessions or shakedown sessions as it were - the first week of Bethel we had camera issues in the first few races of the day but after that things went super well. For White Plains we'd bring the same set up and do it all over again.

The day started on Saturday for me. Due to some scheduling things I wasn't able to get the Expedition down to our base camp for White Plains until Saturday night. Due to some overwhelming fatigue I stopped at a rest stop to rest a bit. After a bit of shut eye, which failed miserably, I got out the laptop to respond to a flurry of email questions (which made my phone ding like mad).

Mobile office.
The pile of clothing is from the Nutmeg State Games Crit which was earlier in the day.
Note that it's still light outside.

After handling most of the emails and hitting up the bathrooms I got going again. I still felt a bit tired so I focused hard on driving well. Inevitably my mind started playing tricks on me.

Was that really a set of headlights on my side of I-95?

Nah, couldn't be. I'm just tired.

Well it really does look like they're on my side.

Snap out of it man.

Or not.

Oh snap. It really is a car facing the wrong way.
Picture from the dash cam (DroidX running DailyRoads)

I made it to the base camp without incident. We hooked up the trailer at that point, checked the wiring (it all worked - brakes, turn signals, and lights), and rearranged the load a bit so we had two usable passenger seats in the Expedition. The two staff members that I was taking to the race would sit in the Expedition with me.

By the time we were all done I was wired and completely unable to sleep. I'd be up until almost 1 AM. With two alarms on my phone, set for 4:00 and 4:15, I was a bit worried that I'd oversleep. A long time ago I did some experiments with sleeping and I found that I could snap awake after two hours, four hours, and any time after six hours. On the other hand if I woke up an hour or three hours after falling asleep I was completely out of it. I didn't do any more studying of my sleep phenomena but I figured it had to be my REM sleep patterns. A body doesn't do well if woken up from REM sleep and my REM must happen at one and three hours.

Or something like that.

At any rate with shut eye at about 12:45 AM or so it meant that my wake up would come at a very bad three hour time frame.

Then I heard knocking.

"What time did you want to wake up?"
"What time did you want to wake up?"
"4..... what time is it?"

I snapped awake. Thinking back on the whole thing it makes sense. Four hours, fine. Three hours, when my phone went off, not fine.

Speaking of which... I checked my phone. It had been alarming for 45 minutes, its battery almost dead. So much for the phone alarm.

We quickly got ready and headed out, a bit late but still in a manageable state. This marked my first time ever driving with a trailer. It seemed pretty natural - the Expedition is a nice solid tow vehicle and the trailer is only about 2000 pounds. It made for a nice introduction to driving with a trailer. I didn't hit any parked cars, lamp posts, or even a curb.

This year registration was just across the street from the where we'd stick the camera trailer, and when I say "just across the street" I mean it was across a closed off street, a cross street, not part of the course. We could meander back and forth at will.

Much, much, much better than last year.

Finish line camera on the trailer.

Another view. They actually put water in the hollow barriers.
Note spare generator.

The other side of the camera.
Jonathan is up on the trailer, David standing on the ground.

The view from the camera barriers, to the left.
Expedition in front of Muscle Maker Grill, where we had registration.

The very busy Amrita guy set up shop right there too. Gluten free, vegan energy bars. He came to Bethel to hand out product as well.

The course view of the camera.

Registration reminded me of Belgium. It's a food place, after all, and all the chairs were pushed to the sides. Technically this reminded me of the changing area, a place, usually a bar, designated as a changing area for racers. Apparently in Belgium it's a big no-no to change in your car. I think the "get naked" part is the bit they frown on.

The only thing missing was 200 half naked racers, 200 support people (including girlfriends, wives, fathers, mothers, and whoever else you might think would ever be involved in bike racing), little tubs of hot water, towels, and a lot of talking and yelling. Interestingly enough although it may be illegal to change in your car there's nothing wrong with walking around naked in a packed-like-sardines "changing area".

A little more civilized in terms of racers getting ready to race.

The registration area.
Both those Cokes are mine.

When I raced in Belgium the registration table had a bunch of stations (if you will), one spot where you paid, one spot where they typed (using a typewriter!) your name on a sheet (apparently used for betting - you shouldn't bet on me unless there's a short type of bet), and then a spot where you pick up your number. I don't remember the exact order but it was something like that.

Oh and the whole time everyone was smoking.

For us it was a bit more straightforward. No smoking first of all. Pre-registered? Go left. Not pre-registered? Go right.

The day went well. We set up a bit slower than I expected, got going, handled the initial rush, and then things calmed down. It wasn't for lack of racers - there were a LOT of racers, more than any Bethel Spring Series. That's awesome for a crit in its second year.

The finish line camera also worked well. There were a few close sprints but on review they weren't that close.

At the end of the racing we were already packing up. The streets had to be cleared and open by 2 PM so we were scrambling after a 1:15 PM finish. We were putting the last of the stuff in the Expedition when the first bit of traffic rolled by.

Totally wired I drove back, my two helpers in the Expedition with me. We got to base camp, unhooked the trailer, parked it, and, after transferring some stuff from the trailer to the Expedition, I headed home.

A long, long day but a great success. Everything ran smoothly, except for my 4:45 AM wake up time, and things went well.

As "just" Event Services I didn't have to deal with anything other than registration and the finish line camera. I had total confidence in those two parts because they'd been working flawlessly at Bethel by the end of the first week of the Series. With nothing else to stress about, like traffic control and such, it really reduced any stress I felt.

It made for a great day.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Racing - June 8, 2013 Nutmeg State Games Cat 3

Saturday would be yet another Nutmeg State Games for me. I've had successes there but I've also gotten totally shelled. I wasn't sure how things would go for me this year. With very sporadic training my fitness has been all over the place, mainly on the "poor" side, and I have yet to feel good in a race. On the other hand I started getting some of those racing sensations back in the Tuesday night races at @TuesdayTheRent.

I figured out that the red bike, with 170 cranks, wants me to stand a bit more when accelerating. It's a bit different from the black bike, with 175s, which seems to work better when I just grind a huge gear up to speed.

Once I realized that my riding seemed to get a bit better. On the trainer I still can't stand properly (my homemade rocking trainer is still at the welder's place) so I focus on standing and rocking the bike when I train outside. With a few rides outside, plus the TuesdayTheRent races, I've started to feel a bit better on the bike.

For Nutmeg this year I headed down separately from the Missus (and Junior). I had the Expedition, the new race promotion vehicle, loaded to the gills with stuff for Sunday's White Plains race. Therefore the Missus and Junior came down in our Jetta Sportswagen (JSW), a bit ahead of me in the Expedition.

I got there with plenty of time, got the various tires pumped up. With conditions pretty good - it was warm, sunny, and not that windy - I decided to use the deep wheels, the Stinger 7/9 combo. That put 75mm of rim up front and 90mm of rim in the back, both with the SCT profile - wide rims with rounded peaks.

Big fat fast wheels.

I saw the SRAM neutral support car there so I didn't bother pumping up other wheels.

I didn't warm up much, I think I did a few loops with my teammate Mike, but otherwise it wasn't much. We didn't have much of a plan, although Mike seemed willing to contribute to any team effort. I admitted to him that I had no aspirations - if I could finish the race then that would be a huge triumph. Therefore I couldn't ask Mike to work for me, and, honestly, I had very little to give if Mike was in any kind of shape to do something.

He is more of a break kind of rider - he places somewhat regularly in small breaks in collegiate racing - so I told him if he could get off the front I'd try and help out. I also thought to myself if that if Mike needed help launching up to a break I could help him escape the field, sort of what I did with SOC at Ninigret last year.

We lined up and saw two more teammates but it was too late to say anything to them.

Lining up - I sat in the shade until the last minute.

As the race got under way I felt surprisingly good. I mean, okay, I didn't have to hold myself back, but I was easily able to hang on, even when things got a bit stretched out.

Check out the "UR" rider - it's an "Unattached Rider" kit.
I love it!

At some point four guys got away. They held a lead of about 15 seconds for a few laps, but then with something like 15 various teammates blocking for them in the field the gap went up to over 30 seconds. With that the race seemed over - no one could break the stranglehold the teammates had at the front of the field.

Somehow the break reduced to three. I don't know if someone got shelled, if someone crashed, what, but one lap there were four, another lap three.

A few guys tried moves, some driving it with everyone in tow, others going clear but unable to get anywhere. I thought about launching Mike and started moving up but just as I got near the front, near Mike, he launched himself out of the field. Without help, and with a field steadily moving, he came back a short time later.

I tried a move myself a couple laps later, trying to instigate the field into some action.

About to launch.

The field steadily and unhurriedly brought me back. I can just hear them now.

"Don't worry, he'll bring himself back to the field."

That's how it works for me so all they had to do was hold a steady pace.

While I was off the front (however briefly) I got to pass the Missus and Junior near the start/finish area. I took the opportunity to ask if there was anyone from Connecticut (in the break).

"Is there anyone from Connecticut?" I hollered.

The Missus didn't know and tried to holler back.

One spectator caught my eye.

"I'm from Connecticut!" he yelled out.

Okay, well, not exactly what I was looking for.

RoadID on my wrist, looking back while off the front.

I knew at least one guy was from Massachusetts. I knew another was probably from Connecticut. I had to assume the third was also from Connecticut. That left just one spot in the field.

Mike realized that I wasn't just hanging in there and asked if I wanted him to chase a bit. I said yes, mainly because I felt as good as I've felt all year. It wasn't 2010 good but it was better than, say, 2012, or even 2011.

Mike obliged and went to the front a few times but the blocking was too much and it was hard to get the field to maintain any kind of pace. A Junior from Farm Team really cranked the screws on the field - I think he pulled for at least two laps, at a super hard pace, stringing out the field, but again, with no follow through the field just bunched up as soon as he sat up.

At four to go we had the only crash I know of from the race. One guy, in a white kit, had seemed a bit iffy during the race - he moved around a bit too much, didn't look, and, it seems, doesn't know how to bump. A rider in blue bumped him a bit and instead of bumping back the rider in the white kit let himself get pushed all the way to the curb. He promptly fell over.

Rider in blue bumps rider in white.

It wasn't Blue's fault - the right side of the field veered to the left and the rider in blue happened to be caught out. The two were close anyway but when the rider in white moved left he didn't know how to react to the bump. The rider in blue had to lean into the rider in white. If things had worked out the rider in white would have simply leaned left, righting the rider in blue. Instead the rider in white didn't lean back and fell over.

Rider in White can't hold line and veers right.

Rider in white goes down as does a few others.

I fill the gap immediately.

We started the last few laps. My legs were still okay but the riding got a bit more aggressive in the field. I didn't mind the jostling - it's actually fun - but it kept me from moving up as much as maybe I should have moved up.

Bell lap. Note lap cards to the right.

With a lap to go I wasn't in great position but I thought I could do a 2010 kind of move and blast up through the field as the group started to fragment. Unfortunately that didn't happen - to do a 2010 kind of move I needed 2010 kind of legs and I don't have those right now.

Approaching the last turn.

At this point I had to get around the field to the right. Unfortunately I didn't have the legs to do it - no speed meant no moving up.

As the sprint started I had a lot of room to make up.

At the line I barely got into the second wave. The first wave is ahead of me.

So the race ended a bit anticlimactically - I came around the last turn buried in the field, never truly jumped or sprinted, passed a few guys, and finished deep in the field. Later I'd see that I finished 19th.

The Missus, Junior, and I headed out for dinner. I'd be heading south to the Carpe Diem Racing White Plains Crit base camp (located about 35 minutes from the course) while the Missus and Junior headed back home. The race had gone pretty well. I lasted the race, I could do some slicing and dicing in the field, but I didn't have a sprint for the finish.

Tomorrow would be White Plains. Earlier I gave myself 10 minutes in that race. Now I harbored thoughts of finishing it.

Aerodynamic pin job.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Racing - June 4, 2013 @TuesdayTheRent

Today ended up a bit off kilter. Junior normally goes to daycare at about 12:45 PM, which really means about 1:00 PM because inevitably something happens and it takes a bit of time to get out the door. Today was unusual because Junior's 8 or 9 AM nap started at 12 noon. At 12:45 he was sound asleep, and at 1:20 PM I called the daycare and let them know that we'd be a bit late.

Of course he woke up about 5 minutes later and off we went.

I had two types of tasks to do today before the race. First I had to get my bike in race shape. Second I wanted to get the Expedition sort of pre-prepped for the trip down to the White Plains Crit on Sunday. I'll be working registration and the photo finish along with three of the crew that normally helps me at Bethel. I wanted to pre-load the Expedition partially so I don't forget anything but partially to see how it'll all fit. The Expedition part went fine.

The bike was quick too, but there were a number of things I wanted to do. First I had to fix the chain - after Limerock's disaster, where my chain was jumping in every gear, I found that a link had twisted. I didn't take a picture of it then but I did today.

Twisted link. DA chain.

I replaced the chain with a KMC XL10S or something like that - some extra light 10s chain. I bought it on a lark but when I went looking for another trusty Dura Ace chain in the basement (I bought a bunch of them) I realized that I'd used them all already. The KMC, which I really avoided using, was the only one left. Remarkably it's a bit lighter than the outgoing DA chain. I think the difference is about 50g but I don't know, it's enough to feel lighter though.

KMC chain on the bike.

KMC chain. Note hollow pins and cut out side plates.

Whatever, the important part is that there's no twisted link in the chain. The bike shifts a bit slowly so I need to check to make sure there isn't any excessive friction in the cable/housing. If it's not that then the KMC chain is a bit more flexible than the DA - I'll have to adjust the derailleur to get the pulley even closer to the cogs than they are now.

Next I had discovered that my headset was loose. I tightened it up.

A third thing was that I wanted to redo the tape on the downtube. I slapped three pieces of tape on the downtube to hold my SRM cable but it looked horrible. I simply rearranged the tape so it lined up at the top of the tube. Now it's actually a bit hard to see the tape.

Note there's some tape running along the top of the downtube.

A fourth thing was that the bottle cage was a bit loose. I try not to overtighten bottle cages on aluminum frames because the threaded part in the frame are inevitably made with rivnuts. Those strip if you overtighten the bolt. I was a bit too conservative with the torque so the cage got loose. I tightened it up.

The fifth and final thing was that the bolts on the Thomson post are a bit off in length. Instead of two 25mm bolts I need a 40mm and a 20mm, due to the somewhat steep seat tube angle on the Tsunami (75.5 degrees). I replaced the rear bolt for now, skipping the front as it's okay (5mm too long isn't a problem, at least not right now).

The bike, as raced.

With the weather absolutely ideal - 75 degrees, relatively dry at 35% humidity, blue skies, some clouds - I brought the tall Stingers, the Stinger 9 rear and the Stinger 7 front. I had the Stinger 6 front as a spare and the Bastogne rear for the roof rack. I've watched a bike float around in the rack with a carbon rear wheel in place - 75 mph winds can really move a bike around - so I prefer to put a short height aluminum wheel on the bike when it's up on the roof.

I headed out to Rentschler Field a bit behind schedule. I got caught in unexpected traffic - I checked the Verizon Navigator for traffic (in Navigator go to Layers and the first one is traffic - green is good, red is bad) and listened to the radio. Unfortunately something just happened (a car ran into a school bus pretty hard) so traffic slowed to a crawl.

I decided I should call the Missus, who went and picked up Junior and who would meet me at the race. Before I could dial the phone rang.

"Hey, you're 9 cars in front of me on the ramp!"

I looked in the mirror. I saw the Golf with the cool Enkei rims. Heh.

"Hey, I see you!"

No stress - we were early so we had plenty of time, and neither of us would worry about the other in terms of "where are they" kind of thing.

Junior was a bit groggy at first.

The race itself was interesting. I heard through the grapevine (i.e. Facebook) that local hero Ben Wolfe would be at the race. He signed with Jelly Belly Pro Cycling this year, the only pro team that I've seen outside of a race. They impressed me with their professionalism when I met them so I was really happy to see Wolfe sign with them.

A local kid Austin also showed up - he's the current Junior National Crit champ. Fast. Strong.

Some Clif Bar guys showed up too, one regular age racer with two Juniors in tow. I didn't realize the regular age racer was former US Pro RR champ Frank McCormack.

I did a couple laps on the other side of the stadium for warm up and then headed to the most popular spot before a race - the portapotty. Ben and some of his crew were there - he was talking about there being some good guys at the race tonight.

I laughed to myself. Ben was the good guy at the race tonight - he was the only actual pro there. If he says there are some good guys there then there were some really good guys there.

Fitness-wise I wasn't sure about my form. I mean, I know it's bad, but I was hoping to push through some wall today, progress a bit.

Part of this was mental - isn't it always - hence the aggressive wheel selection. With big powerful pros and high level Cat 1s in the race it'd be fast, really fast, and aero would trump everything.

I managed to hold my own for a bit. I really enjoyed the race itself. I felt I made several minor mistakes, mainly with cornering lines relative to others, but everyone was so fluent at pack handling that none of my mistakes made any waves.

In fact I found myself in much closer quarters than normal. I think two factors really pushed this. The first was the high pace - everyone needed shelter because when some top domestic talent hits the front it really hurts. The second was that everyone in the race knew how to race. No real sketchiness, no big bobbles, just good, hard, solid, steady speed.

For me it was just a little too good, a little too hard, a little too solid, and a little too steady.

After 20 minutes of relentless effort my heart rate had inched up into the "I can't really focus really well" zone. I was making more mistakes, I was starting to have difficulty with cornering because I had a hard time seeing the corners clearly, and I started getting really uncomfortable.

In a different race I might have kept pushing, but today it wasn't worth it. After two laps deep in the red I called it quits and sat up.

I knew I had pushed hard when I had absolutely no desire to jump back in, and in fact I never tried.

I got distracted a bit too. Teammate Joel hit the deck in the third turn. He'd gotten further than me because he fell shortly after the field lapped me yet again. I helped him deal with some of the road rash using my own experiences. If you ever get road rash check out the written post and the one with pictures.

The finish.

After the race I went to congratulate Ben on his pro contract. I only know him from seeing him at races and at CCNS, but I never got to properly congratulate him. I'm really happy for him for his success, just like I'm happy for Austin who won Nationals.

As they were getting ready to pack up Ben turned a bit. I noticed something - he used a LOT of pins. Well, maybe not as many as some others, but more than the minimum of four.

"Hey, can I take a picture of your number?"

Ben obliged.

This is a pro pin job. Because a pro pinned it.

The pro showing off his pro pin job.
A pro! Incredible. So awesome.

I've gotten some good humored flak related to my high-pin-count pin jobs. I usually use at least 6 and on "big" days have used as many as 18 or more. To see a pro use a bunch of pins vilified me.

Today I brought my own pins after last Sunday when I ran out of the treasure hunt pins in the car (the ones in the various door pockets left over from other races). I grabbed a few out of the box - 13 to be exact.

Since I didn't want to leave any pins laying around I used all 13.

Cat 3 pin job.

It takes more than pins to go fast. I have the pace for 20 minutes - that seems to be the magic number before I pop. If I can increase that number I'll be okay. For now, though, it is what it is.