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.

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