Monday, March 26, 2007
Monday, March 19, 2007
Season opener. First Cat 3 race.
This weekend's race piggy-backed on the Univ. of Maryland collegiate race weekend. A sixty minute crit over this course:
All in all a pretty hairy course. You can't tell from the map, but turn one was really awkward. The curbs didn't allow for a wide, sweeping turn. I saw one wreck in each of the three races I watched or was in. The backside of the course (the road up to the S-curve) featured a pretty descent climb. The S-curve itself allowed for no mobility at all, and it was so tight that there was an awful lot of pedal scraping. The downhill section from the S-curve to the final turn was narrow and potholed.
Temps were in the mid 40s with a pretty ferocious wind—I’m guessing around 20mph, with gusts a bit stronger. The wind was blowing in the direction of the downhill.
I was parked and warming up right next to the course, so I watched the two previous fields (Cat 5 & Cat 4) get blown apart, both by the wind and hill, into unrecognizable fragments. In the Cat 5 field they didn’t pull anybody, and I didn’t see more than three riders grouped together at any time. The Cat 4 field did better for a while, but there were a lot of stragglers. The referee started pulling people and midway through less than half the starters remained. In the end the main pack was whittled down to probably less than 10 riders.
Our field started off with a crash in the first corner. I was right behind the wreck, but was fortunately able to clip out and keep from falling when someone slammed into my leg from behind. It took a couple of seconds to get around the carnage, then it was chase, chase, chase right from the get-go.
So the first three laps were spent chasing. Luckily the field was already getting pretty strung out so I could hop from wheel to wheel until I was back towards the main clump of riders in the front. I’m pretty sure we were shelling riders right from the beginning (there were 59 starters).
After a few laps at the back of the pack, having to sprint my guts out after some of the tight corners, I decided I had to move up or I was going to get all worn out just hanging on. Luckily things were starting to calm down a bit by this point, so on the hill I just swung out to the side and moved right on up to the front. I spent the next five laps or so amongst the top five riders or so, and it was SO much easier. I think the pace dipped a bit, but also not having to sprint out of all the corners was saving a lot of energy.
The attacks were coming pretty fast and furious on the backside hill. Sometimes one or two riders would get away, but they’d always get swallowed back in within a couple of laps. I attacked a few times too…hoping to get a group of five or six off the front with which to work. It was hard to see what was happening behind me, but I think we succeeded a few times, though eventually things would come back together. Through all this, though, I stayed right there amongst the race protagonists.
There were three primes. I pulled off the second. On the prime lap I attacked on the backside, let a guy pass me at the top of the hill, then just stayed on his wheel through the sketchy S-turn and down the hill. He sprinted out of the final turn and it was a simple matter to merely slip past him a few yards before the line. The prize? A little saddle bag:
On the second to last lap I attacked again on the hill hoping one or two guys would come with and we could put some distance on the rest of the group before the finish. Even though I led everyone up and over the hill at a pretty blistering pace, most were able to keep up and when the attacks came on the last lap I didn’t have quite enough to hold my position. I finished 10th.
at 7:44 AM
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
That's what I wore riding today, shorts and short sleeves and I wasn't even a tiny bit pushing it. Today was totally warm and it felt fantastic.
Even now, at 11pm, it's still 56 degrees outside. Tomorrow it will be even warmer.
Then a storm comes through and the temperature tanks--38 degrees forecast as the the high for Saturday. What a bummer.
at 9:53 PM
Saturday, March 10, 2007
I can't remember if it was online or in the print edition of VeloNews, but I was recently reading about Saul Raisin, his return to health, and something about his return to form.
On form, Raisin recently reported that he pulled off 30 minutes of riding at an average of 400 watts; averaging 415 for 15 minutes.
I can't do that. Not even close.
My 30 minute TT power average is probably around 325 watts, give or take a few. Imagine training hard for a season and realizing a solid five percent increase in power output over a 30 minute TT. That would be a considerable improvement. But that considerable improvement would only raise my 30 minute TT output to around 341 watts, still a long, long way off Raisin's mark.
And he probably weighs 30-40 lbs less than me too.
That's why I am not (or never could have been) a professional bicycle racer.
at 8:07 PM
Friday, March 9, 2007
Here is a list of things I've felt are post-worthy, but because the content of the posts would be greatly enhanced by pictures, and I've been too lazy to take pictures, I haven't made the posts.
(1) A few days ago I got a new saddle. One of those sexy little sella italia SLR numbers. (I'll let you know how it goes.)
(2) I bought a torque wrench. This move was immediately motivated by wanting to replace my current Ultegra crankset & BB with a new SRAM Rival crankset & BB (sitting in its package in my basement collecting dust). I understand that getting the tension just right on these new-fangled integrated bottom brackets is critical, thus the necessity of getting a torque wrench prior to installation. Also, my over-cranking the seatpost binder in the past likely contributed to this, an experience I'd rather not repeat when I get a new carbon seatpost.
Anyway, owning a torque wrench is pretty cool. If you're suffering from a mild sense of unmanliness, I recommend purchasing a torque wrench. It's a quick cure.
(3) As mentioned above, I thick I gotta replace the hard-as-a-rock aluminum seatpost I'm currently riding. That seatpost coupled with my super stiff compact aluminum frame is just too much for my tender arse. However, since I just put on the new saddle, I want to ride a bit with that change alone--isolating variables to get a better sense of how I feel about the changes.
See, all items whose discussion would have been significantly enhanced by a photo or two.
at 1:33 PM