Monday, June 30, 2008

Reston: attacking from the back

I've always enjoyed doing the Reston Crit and this year didn't disappoint. Thanks to Evolution, the organizers, the road guards and JoeJ for another great day of racing.

I'm not sure how many Cat 4's started but there weren't that many when we finished. I must say I really think the Cat 4 races this year are really fast, much faster than last years. Seems like the mentality is to hammer the start of the race and drop as many riders as you can. This is a lot more fun, than sitting in a giant pack and then have a huge, cluster F pack sprint.

After suffering through the first 10 minutes of what seemed like a never ending sprint, I couldn't believe we still had 50 mins of racing. Riders were popping left and right every lap. My conditioning is coming back but I still wasn't sure what I'd have left at the end. My goal was to stay out of trouble, maintain contact with the lead pack, surf the back, and then attack with whatever I had left towards the end of the race.

Throughout the race, as riders popped off the back, I would sprint around them to get back into the slipstream. I would let small gaps form leading into turns 3, 4 and 5 so that I could roll through these turns without having to hit the brakes, which I would have to do if I was riding right on someone's wheel. A couple times, I misjudged and had to work pretty hard to get back into the slipstream after exiting turn #5. Towards the end of the race, the head wind coming out of turn #5 was picking up.

The pace stayed pretty high for about 40 minutes or so. With about 15 laps to go, the pace started slowing up along the start/finish stretch. I was waiting for attacks to occur with the slower pace, but no one was going. I wanted to let an attack go, and then counter attack when it was caught. Nothing happening. So with 11 or so to go, I attacked hard on the start/finish stretch and got maybe a 10 sec gap. I soloed for 2 laps and got caught. I sat back in to recover for a couple of laps. The pace stayed slow. With 4 laps to go, I attacked again on the start/finish stretch and got a good gap. It started drizzling and I was hoping that this would slow the pack down and allow me to stay away. But, unfortunately just before the bell lap, I got caught. But this time, I was completely spent, I really didn't have anything left so I drifted back and rolled in after the pack sprint.

Not sure where I placed. Felt a lot better than I did at the TdW, but still not in the form I had before the crash.

There were 4 crashes and I, fortunately, wasn't involved in any of them. The first one happened on the first turn of the first lap. WTF? The second and third occured after exiting turn #5. The cones leading into this turn definitely made the corner safer by preventing riders from dive bombing on the inside. Jose Nunez got caught up in one of these crashes, and it looked like he sustained a shoulder injury. I hope its not bad, he's a great guy to race against. The fourth crash occured on the stretch just before the start/finish line.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Delusions of Grandeur Smashed by the Harsh HOT Facts of Reality

Before I go off about my view of the TdW, I want to send out some serious props to the organizers, JoeJ and all the volunteers that kept us safe. This was truly a great weekend of racing, I hope we'll be seeing this for many years to come.

I'd also like to congratulate Brigham Lumm for his first place in the GC in the Cat4 and Kevin Young for his first place in the Cat3 GC. Dudes, that's awesome.

I'd also like to say that some of you dudes (like Jorge, JoseN, KyleJ, SteveK, GregF, StephenW. LanceL) are getting super strong. What the F have you been doing the past month and a half to get so strong? Jorge, where the hell did you get the strength to stay away for 4 laps in the crit? Its a lot of fun racing with you all or I should really say "it was a lot of fun racing behind you this weekend".

Tour de Washington was to be my first weekend racing since the May 3rd Poolesville crash.

Since the crash, I'd been riding the training in the basement doing long intervals of 10, 15, 20 and 60 min intervals just about every day. As I got closer to getting back on the road, I started doing shorter, higher intensity efforts of 30 sec and 1 min. What I was to find out this weekend was that riding in the a 65F basement did not in any way prepare me for 95-100F outside temps.

The week before TdW I was able to get out on the road for the Thrasher ride. I could definitely feel that my legs were not responding like they would before the crash. Although, I only got back on the road for 4 rides before TdW, I was really looking forward to the weekend since I think these courses really suit my riding style.

I felt OK on the neutral roll out, but, man, soon as we made the left onto the loop, the pace picked up really fast. What a jolt to the system. About half way through the first lap, the heat was killing me and my mind was already saying "how are you going to finish? you've got more laps". The rest of the race I was in survival mode. I tried to conserve energy riding wheels, and bridging up when I sensed the rider in front starting to fade. A couple times I almost got dropped doing this, but I viewed these efforts as getting back into race shape. Lots of riders were popping as we crested the hills and couldn't sustain the effort as the pace picked up. With about 2 or 3 laps to go, I saw Kyle almost in front of me, and I yelled at him "Kyle, what the hell are you doing at the back?" The second to last lap I thought was really fast, and riders were popping off the back, and I wasn't sure if I had enough left for one more lap. On the last lap someone dropped a water bottle through one of the really fast sweeping right hand bends. It was rolling in the middle so I went left, but as I was getting close the bottle started rolling back into my path, and I had to bail into the grass and onto a driveway. By the time I got back on the road, the pack was long gone. I TT'd it the rest of the way. Came in 38th.

Did the 20K TT is 31:38 for 19th. Earning me 3pts for the weekend. Waahoo.

I walked the course before the race, and the downhill right hander and the 120degree turn looked pretty nasty. I lined up in the front row, something I normally don't do. I decided since I was in the front, I was going to go as hard as I could from the gun and see how I faired going through those two turns solo. I jumped to about a 5 sec gap and eventhough I was solo, I didn't take either of the turns very well. I almost slide out on the 120 degree turn, and this definitely shock my confidence. I sat up a bit and the pack caught me. I drifted to the back and just rode the back, bridging up when gaps formed. The heat was getting to me, but I didn't feel as bad as I did on the RR. My legs felt good and strong, I just wasn't able to get my HR down. With 10 to go, I overcooked the 120 degree turn, my rear wheel slide out from under me and I almost crashed in the fence. By the time I got myself back together, the pack was about half way up the hill. For a second I was ready to bag it, but I dug deep and sprinted up the hill as hard as I could, when I rounded the corner the pack was about 5 secs ahead, and my mind just said stop. I was so fried. I dumped the rest of the water I had on my head, coasted the rest of the lap and pulled out. This is the first race, I've ever pulled myself out of.

Next race, RESTON.
I hope to redeem myself.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Back on the Road

Finally, my shoulder ligaments are stronger and my bike is fixed, so I hit the road today for the first solo ride since the Poolesville crash.

I went for a quick spin last week but the handling of my bike was a bit off, and when I got home I found a big crack in the fork. Pretty pissed at myself for not more thoroughly going over the bike for damage after the crash. I spent this week waiting for a new fork to arrive and then repair time. Finally got it back today.

Not sure how much riding the trainer everyday for 90+ mins doing 10, 15, 20 and 60 min intervals over the past month and a half actually helped cuz my legs felt like shit today. I tried spinning up Mass, and could barely keep my legs turning. Going up Anglers and GF Park was just as painful. I can normally speed up these climbs but being off the bike has really set me back.

I'm not feeling too optimistic about Tour de Washington next weekend. I have the next 4 days to get a good rythm going and get my legs back. OR, it's going to be the Tour de Pain.

Here' s to wishful thinking and regaining some form very quickly.

Monday, June 2, 2008

I'm still alive, shoulder ligaments healing

Update for all my faithful readers.

I can't believe how long its been since my last posting. Not much happening on the race scene since I'm still waiting for my torn AC shoulder ligaments to heal enough to get back on the bike. I saw the orthopedic last Tuesday, and he'd like me to wait two more weeks before getting back outside. This will be 6 weeks from the crash and ample time for the ligaments to get strong enough to sustain another fall (just in case I go down again. god forbid)

I've been riding the Tacx swing trainer in the basement everyday for 90+ mins. A typical workouts consists of 10min spin to warm up and then steadily increase the wattage for 5 mins, followed by a 5 min slow spin. I then do two 20min intervals as high a wattage as I can do without popping. (about 10 min recover in between intervals). Depending on how I feel, I'll usually do another 10 min interval of microburts: 15 sec full on, 45 sec recovery, 15 sec full on, 45 sec recovery..... Finally, I do a 10 min cool down.

We'll see what kind of shape I'm in when I get back on the road.

So, my first races back are slated for the Tour of Washington.