Thursday, August 14, 2014

Racing - August 12, 2014, CCAP Tuesday Night Race, Bs, VW Drop Off and Field Sprint

Ah, Tuesday.

For me Tuesday has come to mean Tuesday Night Races at the Rent. This year CCAP has been holding the races. The main effect for me is that I can do the B race, now a Cat 3-4-5 race, instead of doing the A race, now primarily a P-1-2 race (but 3s do enter it).

Tuesdays have also come to mean "Junior goes to daycare in the morning". He loves it now, with all sorts of new stimuli present, slightly older kids, and all sorts of fun stuff to do. I can drop him off somewhat early in the morning, leaving me to do errands.

This Tuesday I brought our Golf TDI in for its 30k service. It's a "free" service if you will (I know, nothing is free, but we don't pay for anything when it's done). We knew that we got the car in August three years ago after we found out that the Missus was carrying Junior. Therefore we needed to get the car in sometime this month so we would get in under the "36k / 3 year" window for service.

I brought my bike and my computer so that I could either hang out and type away on the computer (if the service would take an hour or less) or so that I could ride home (longer than an hour service). When they told me that the service alone would take 90 minutes, plus two minor things I asked them to check, I kitted up and rode out.

First Ride

No gloves. One handed.

I realized I forgot my gloves. I'd washed them but I think they ended up in some shirt or something. At any rate they weren't in my helmet, not in my electronic stuff (SRM, phone), so whatever, I could still ride so I rode. I told myself I had to find them when I got back home.

I happened to be riding one handed when I looked down - I think I was checking back or seeing if my key was in my pocket or something. Anyway in normal situations the most stable one handed position is to hold the bars near the stem. This is because you exert less force on the bars, allowing the bike to track naturally on its own. It's safer in general. The only time this isn't the case is if there is extraordinary force on the front wheel, like you're in mud, or if you're carrying something that might get caught in the front wheel like a jacket or a gallon of milk.

1:28 track stand.

I did a track stand as usual at the light. The only thing was this was a big intersection with a lot of different lanes taking turns. The trackstand ended up being a minute 28 seconds long. I thought about putting a foot down a few times and each time I thought, "Oh, it'll be green soon." That went on for 88 seconds.

First truck, sort of.

Tuesday's races get canceled if it rains. The races are about fun and learning in a safe environment. It's not really ideal when it's raining so the consensus has been to cancel if it rains. That's all good but it makes for some anxious moments when the forecast doesn't cooperate.

This Tuesday it was supposed to start raining, but it was hard to tell exactly when it would start raining hard enough to cancel the race. I started feeling drops of water riding back from the dealer so I figured the race would get called. This meant that this would be my only ride of the day.

I followed the first truck, above, at a distance. I held a high, steady effort, starting with a peak 900w jump, the draft significant enough even 80-100 feet back. When the truck stopped at a light and started up again I was too gassed to go with it, even with the truck's plodding acceleration. When I drove to the dealer I shifted into second gear after the dump truck in front of me was already in 4th gear, so they accelerate a bit slowly when loaded.

My teammate Aaron pointed something out to me last week - if I'd been training a bit more I could have pulled and then gotten back into the race. Instead I got shelled. Here I realized the same thing - if I'd been training I could have jumped with the truck a second time.

Second truck.

A second truck passed me and I jumped on again. This was a bit harder, I hit 1000w, and I was already a bit gassed so I needed to stay closer. I tried not to draft "behind" but instead "to the side". It helps even being to the side and I really didn't want to get into any trouble.

Third truck.

The third truck couldn't pull away from me - he passed me as we got into town. Therefore we did the polite, "You first" "No, you first" "No, you first" while he got up to speed. I let him take the lead and followed, trying to stay to the side again. 1100w jump to get going and I lost him when I slowed for a red light that turned green as soon as I backed away from the truck.

Between Rides

I was so tired that afternoon that I struggled to handle Junior. In addition he didn't take his normal 2-2.5 hour nap - he woke up after 30 minutes and that was that. I kept waiting for him to fall back asleep but he was having none of it. When he's tired he's cranky (wait, who am I talking about?) and it made it hard for me to do anything. Finally I had to put him in his bed, as fussy as he was, and tell him that "Daddy really needs to get some things done to get ready to go see bikes."

Junior sat in his bed and quietly read his Cars books.

Normally we try to leave at 4:50 or 4:55 PM. The drive, through rush hour traffic, can be tough, and we sometimes arrive at the course almost an hour later. This leaves me a few minutes to get ready and line up and although I can do it I prefer 15 minutes to get to the line, not 3.

With my distractions and absolute fatigue I hadn't gotten totally packed. With the Missus helping we finally got going at about 5:15. I thought we might even miss the race, but the traffic gods seemed to smile on us as it seemed everyone was on vacation. We even said to each other that the traffic seemed awfully sparse. We got to the race in record time, meaning we barely had to wait in bumper to bumper traffic.

Of course I could feel a rain drop or two on my arms as I got ready.

Normally I'd race for my Cat 4 teammates but, believe it or not, the ones at the race had upgraded to Cat 3 by now. Therefore we were all Cat 3s (it's just that I was a Cat 3 a couple decades longer) and we didn't have a Cat 4 to work for. Heavy D pointed at me and told me, "Dude, tonight you're going to win. We're working for you."

He has a way of saying things such that you don't argue.

I didn't argue.

On to the race!

Race (aka Second Ride)

Start of the race. Heavy D is #959.
Note threatening cloud patterns.

When a race gets called for weather the officials will just ring the bell to end the race in a lap, if they have the time. Earlier this year they had to actually just stop it, the rain just dumped on us in less than a minute. However, with the rain drops falling sporadically I hoped that we'd get at least a bell when they called the race.

If I were to do well I'd have to race at the front.

I'd done this before, in the A race, a long time ago (2010?). We started off, it started to rain, I pushed every lap like it was the last lap, we got the bell a lap or two later, I led out the sprint, and I won. It's the only A race I ever won and I felt like (and still feel like) it wasn't a true win. Part of it were the numbers - in that sprint I barely broke 900w when I jumped and my sprint was something like 800w average. It wasn't a strong sprint per se but I jumped as early as I could because I knew that the others would be distracted by the wet roads and the general unpleasantness of racing in the rain. At any rate I was hoping that if it actually started to rain I could do something similar.

With the wind pretty strong and steady this meant doing a lot of work to stay up front. A bunch of the riders were interested in blowing apart the field so attacks went as soon as the two neutral laps ended. With a blown apart field it makes it easier for those up front to win if the race suddenly gets shortened to "one lap to go".

Guy in green.

I don't know who the guy in green was but he impressed me with his pack riding skills and relative fitness. I say relative because he didn't go and lap us six times (that would be crazy impressive) but he could do everything he needed to in the race. I point him out because I noticed his riding in the first lap or three.

Heavy D chasing.

Heavy D and Nick, my two Cat 3 teammates in the race, did a lot of work to bring back breaks. I am definitely not a break type of person, else the blog name would have been something other than "sprinter of the house" or "house sprinter". Heavy D and Nick, even without decades of experience racing, figured that out pretty quickly when they first raced with me. Therefore they set about keeping the field together.

The whole time I was thinking, "Okay, we might get the bell in two laps, better stay up here."

Drop of rain on the lens.
Someone off the front.

A couple times the pace eased as someone went. In the picture above someone is going off the front, it might have been Heavy D chasing someone. The important bit is the rain drop though - it was like Damocle's sword hanging over our heads.

Gap opening up.

Heavy D could only respond to so many attacks and eventually a group went clear. Fortunately for me it wasn't just me going for the win, other riders wanted to do well also. CCAP's Juniors were super active in the race, pulling like mad. A Bicycle Depot racer, JC, in his first crit, also took massive pulls, following the thought that "If I'm at the front then I probably won't crash".

Gap closed.

Between the Juniors and a couple older-than-18 racers one of the more threatening groups came back to the fold.

Attack on the left. JC to the right.

I moved up a bit too far when the pace eased, sitting in the wind to the right, when someone went up the left side. It was a big attack and I couldn't follow. I was gassed from following moves and couldn't muster up the energy to do a jump into the wind. Note the Bike Depot rider JC riding point.

Splintering front.
Guy in green finally brought it together.

More riders went and the whole idea of keeping it together started to fade a bit. I wasn't sure where Heavy D or Nick were but the race started getting out of reach for me. I certainly didn't have the gas to get going and it seemed like a lot of the field's strength were riding at or off the front. Although some riders came back one guy stayed out there, looking pretty strong.

Then Heavy D rolled up to me.

Heavy D in the house.

He pulled for a massive few laps, keeping the break in reign, a huge steady effort, just trying to keep the game alive for me. To put things in perspective I put in one of the hardest 10 minute efforts I've put down while in this race, while sitting in behind Heavy D. He was realistically putting down an additional 150-200 watts which is crazy.

I had to remember that he lapped the field solo and I was actually chasing once he got clear of the field.

He's strong.

He couldn't quite catch the break but he kept him within 50-100 meters, so 8-15 seconds, give or take. A big effort would close that but for now his massive multi-lap pull kept the sprint in play.

Too gassed to follow a followable move.

Unfortunately I was too far up so I was eating a lot of wind even sitting behind Heavy D. When a move went up the right - and it wasn't super hard, it was more like a hard surge - I couldn't respond.

Heavy D looked at them, looked at me, and got himself going again. You could see the thoughts running though his head.

"Dude, that's the move, go. Yo! That's the move! Go. Go? Can you go? Aw, dang it, now I gotta pull again."

Heavy D dragged me around another lap or so, brought me up to the group, and finally pulled off to seek shelter.

Left side attack.

The last attack of the race went just before the lap cards popped up at 5 to go. A solo move went, I was actually on his wheel, but I was so cooked I chose not to go with him. I eased and slotted in near the front while the other guy took off.

He got surprisingly far off the front, holding about 15 or even 20 seconds for a bit.

Heavy D to the rescue.

Heavy D, watching from the back of the group (he was helping some of the Juniors and newer riders back there), realized that I needed him one more time. He went to the front, yelling at me to stay put, and started hammering again. I stayed further back, for more shelter, and watched him do his stuff. In this mano-a-mano pursuit he seemed to be stronger but it was touch and go for a few laps. Heavy D closed the gap a bit but before he could close it completely he finally blew and pulled off.

Three Juniors - Tom, Nick, and one other CCAP rider, along with the Bike Depot rider JC (remember he was in his first ever crit) and a Cycling Concepts rider, all took turns pulling hard. This kept the solo rider in check.

Finally, with about 2 to go, the gap stood at only a few seconds and the break rider sat up.

Bell lap.

At the bell another Junior, Jon, went rocketing up the road. ERRACE, the blue/red/yellow team, tried to get a leadout going, while a few of us waited just behind.

Turn One, last lap. Guy in green was up here.

I'd spent so much time nervous about the race getting called in a lap or two that I spent most of the race near the front. Therefore I didn't have to do anything to move up - I was already basically in place.

Turn Two, last lap.

At Turn Two it started to fragment. Someone made a big move, countered by two others.

Turn Three, last lap.

At the last turn, Turn Three, I was sitting fourth wheel but it wasn't tight at all. There were little gaps and guys were choosing their own lines. I was hoping that the guy in green didn't have a monster sprint because the gap behind him would spell the end of my race if he did.

Just about to jump. The first two riders just jumped in this picture.

I could have sworn I jumped through a gap but the image is pretty clear - there was no gap since there was no left side rider. Yes, there was a rider to my left, but he was clear of me and slightly behind my cranks.

I jumped hard, aiming to go through the gap to the left of the lead two riders. Big enough gap and no one in the way.

After a few seconds I checked my six (meaning behind me) by looking down.

No one on my wheel.

Check my six.

I went for a bit, about 10 seconds, checking a couple times, and decided to do a broader check. I eased and looked back, right and left.

No one was on my wheel.

I soft pedaled to the line, another 11 seconds.

No one passed me.

175 bpm, after the line.

Sprints happen so quickly that your heart rate climbs for a bit after the sprint. I'd peak at 178 bpm before my heart rate started to drop.

I apologized to the official for sprinting. I'd told her at the beginning of the Series that I wouldn't go for wins in the B race - it didn't seem fair - but she smiled and said that it was okay, it was fun to watch. Plus, as I realized later, my Cat 4 teammates in the race had upgraded to Cat 3, so we were all 3s.

I figured that it some way it wouldn't hurt to actually race so as to "legitimize" any advice I might have given out. For those who keep track of numbers I averaged about 170 watts for the race. I did a jump at 1185w, sprinted for 10 seconds averaging 964w, and did about 15 efforts that broke 600w (three of those were 1000w, 1100w, and the final 1185w jump).

After the race I hung out with Junior. He came running to me, arms extended - how could I not hang out with him? I managed to change, ate a burger and a hot dog (courtesy of ERRACE's BBQ night), and fiddled with an Expo Junior's bike (Jack). It needed a pretty aggressive derailleur adjustment (it got tweaked earlier that night). It was the first time I'd ridden a bike other than mine in a long, long time. SRAM shifters, even. I admit I rode it a couple times without a helmet until finally a light scolding and an offered helmet made me realize that, yeah, I need to set an example.

I'd forgotten my camera so no pictures from me.

With Jack's bike much better, with Junior starting to melt down (remember, he only napped half an hour during the day), we had to get going.

Pin job.

Although the day had started pretty poorly it all got better from the moment we all climbed into the car to head out to the race. I commented to the Missus when we were got home how lucky I am for what I have around me. She's very understanding, even when I'm stressed. Junior is also really understanding, he really, really wants to be good. He knows when I'm serious and he's good about being good when I'm serious about it (and I don't pull that very often, else it's no longer a "serious" thing).


Chris Adams said...

Very very cool - congrats on the well-deserved win!

F16F22 said...

Aki, nice to see you've still "got it"! Congrats. I hope your schedule allows you to put up another video or two from the season.

Aki said...

Thanks. I have mixed feelings about the win because the Bs really ought to be an experience for the 4s and 5s, not a race for the 3s to duke it out. However if the 3s are duking it out, and if the Expo riders involved are all 3s, then there's no point in not duking it out.

btw the Trek rider was Esteban and I didn't realize it, so that's pretty bad. At least he's a good rider and I recognized that.

Mike Pida said...

Hi Aki,

As always, I love reading about your exploits.

Do you have any idea yet if the Spring series will happen either at Bethel or somewhere else?

I am hoping you can pull it off!


Aki said...

Thanks for the kind words. As far as Bethel goes I had a number of discussions with the town, before, during, and after the 2014 Series. They were very supportive of the Series but the reality is that the traffic volume has increased exponentially after the park was zoned for retail in 2009 or 2010. So the answer is that no, the Series will not take place at Bethel in 2015. I'm working on an alternate venue, will have more idea of how viable it is in a month minimum, more like two months. It's a bit further north, 35 minutes more driving if a racer goes to Bethel via I-84 from the south. I'll be sure to post info etc as things solidify either way.