Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Racing - July 2, 2013 @TuesdayTheRent

The Rent has been rained out a bunch of times, including last week. It's hard to explain just how quickly these storms can roll in, especially in sight-line-limited Connecticut. Last week we headed out there (in separate cars, so the Missus could take Junior home immediately after the race for his bedtime), arriving at the Rent at about 6 PM. Although I kitted up and everything my teammate Jeff, the weather guru, pointed out some threatening clouds nearby and headed our way, making me stop in my tracks. When the clouds got pretty close I hurried back to the car, put the bike away, changed, and the storm hit.

6:29 PM June 25 (the A race starts at 6:50 PM).
The Missus is packing up the Jetta Sportswagen (JSW). I'm standing outside the Golf.

At this point I had just rolled back to the car, grabbed the camera, and tried to take a picture of the rain falling in the distance. This doesn't look all that impressive so I must have missed or something.

I packed up the bike in the Golf, got in the car, changed, and then the drops started falling.


7 minutes later.

Note that the Missus is gone.
Due to my lack of experience with the camera I missed a lot of shots of heavier rain - this was done on manual focus. My prior shots show the drops of water on the car windows really well but not much else.

It's a bummer when it's canceled because I really like racing here, even if I'm out of shape and all that. Part of the Rent's appeal is that I can work as hard as I want, drop off, and get back in. It's like racing rehearsal. I can play through the whole piece if I want but I can also work on sections at a time.

Obviously I try to hang on as long as possible first. If I can get to the end then that's a triumph in itself. If not then I take a few laps to let my heart rate drop (typically within a single slow lap), the lactic acid to subside (typically in two to three slow laps), and then I rejoin a non-competitive group. It's not right to join in the break so I'll join the main group or, if there's enough of a group off the back, I'll join them.

Depending on my goals I'll do one of two things. My standard mode is to hang on at the back of the group, try to keep all the "in contention" racers in front of me, and if I'm in trouble I'll try to offer some work before I drop off again.

There's a secondary mode, one that takes full advantage of the "training race" status of the Rent. When I rejoin I work as hard as I can, see how long I last after I pull off, and repeat. It's more like intervals, a solid hard effort followed by an attempt at some above-threshold pace.

This week I decided that since I suffer when I have to work I should work.

Within 5 minutes of the start I was in trouble. I felt good enough to jump out of a few corners, out of the saddle, to stay on wheels, but then an attack shattered the front of the group. The field split in two as it tried to claw its way back, and when I made a big-to-me effort to close a miniscule gap I blew myself up.

I tried to keep going but I'd totally blown up. My heart rate (I peeked at the SRM) was a bit low so I don't know what was going on but whatever, I couldn't continue so I eased up.

When the break came around I actually said "holy smokes" out loud - it was a three man break consisting of three Expo riders, Dave H, Todd B, and Stan L. They looked powerful and smooth and they flew by me.

The break, in serious mode.

The small field had coalesced into two groups, the "main group" and about five riders just tailing off. I decided that I'd join the tailed off group and try to bring them up to the main group. It took me a couple more laps before I could jump back in but I gave it a good shot, pulling for much of a lap. I swung off just before the headwind, sort of inadvertently, and the small group gave up everything I'd just gained.
The next time I could jump in I pulled into the headwind and crosswind sections but to no avail. They were losing ground and at some point when I jumped in the three Expo guys lapped us.

Dave H pedaling one legged. Todd in front, Stan just behind.

When Dave rode by pedaling with just one leg I realized the break had eased up a bit. To make the race a bit more interesting they eased for a couple laps, let the others join, and started racing again.

For me I checked the SRM time - I'd been riding about 27 minutes when I got shelled, about 20 minutes of it being the "warm up", meaning me soft pedaling around other parts of the Rentschler Field parking lot. When the time got up to about an hour I knew I was done. I heard a bell ringing for a prime, decided that that was my cue, and did a sprint to the line.

I hadn't even gotten to 5 laps to go, even with my multiple rest laps. The group had coalesced, then, with two to go, blew apart again. Dave, Todd, and Stan finished essentially solo, in that order. I was watching from the sidelines by then.

For now I know that I don't have major speed. My "sprint" barely broke 30 mph, yet in the middle of the race I'd hit over 33 mph while in the field. My old leadout speed, from a few years ago, was 35 mph. That's when I led out, not when someone led me out, although the speeds were the same either way.

My fitness is obviously lower than it's been in a few years and my weight is higher. The two combined make for some difficult racing. I'm already thinking of 2014 so racing for me this summer will be about fun and experience, not much else.

Now for a short lead up in preparation for the July 7th New Britain Crit.

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