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Saturday, February 23, 2008

First road race complete!

Well, I would like to tell you how I placed. Unfortunately, I can't. Welcome to category 5 racing. No one really cares about recording finishes because it doesn't mean anything... except to the people racing.

Best I can tell I placed in the top 10 to top 15. It was disappointing because I wanted to do better and also because I KNOW I could have done more physically, but made some mistakes mentally.

I got there with plenty of time. Jimmy Helms took me out on the course to give me some pointers on warming up. We spent some time spinning and then some big ring work. Jimmy then headed toward the line and I decided to do a slow ride around the course to check out the tracks, etc.

I finished and then went over to take a nature break. When I came out, I saw some riders gathering at the start line. I figured it was the group before us. However, when I got up there I realized it was mine!

I hoped in to the middle of the pack in order to avoid getting stuck in the back. No sooner had I got my glasses on and they started the race. Here we go.

The front went off pretty fast. My thought was, "Whoa now!" There was Jimmy way up ahead of me. My first goal was just to work my way up to Jimmy. Then I was going to attempt to stay in the top 15 or so and ride it out.

I was working for that goal and made my way to the top 10 and thought I was maintaining it. However, after we finished the first lap, I realized that I was about 20 back. How did that happen?

As I started into the second lap, I realized the reason why was because as you hook into a group, other groups will ease around you and while you pass a few of them others stay ahead of you. I then began to adjust my approach to see if I could change that.

What I did was to attempt to go from one group to another. If I felt I was getting too close to the front, I would fade back and then do the same again. I finished the second lap in the front 10 of the group I was with.

The only odd thing was that there was a really big guy who went off the front on the first lap. He was so big (my guess was he was 6' 4" and about 280) that everyone in the group figured he would crack. We were fighting for position amongst ourselves and ignoring him.

Going into the final lap I wanted to make sure that I was near the front so that as accelerations began around the first turn I would be there and no gap would form. Check.

Then I chose a rider that I thought would be a solid chance for getting win. I marked him and stayed with him as we worked in the group. Then he pulled a fast one on me and went hard to the front. I ended up halfway through the final lap on the front row.

I went to the white line and planted myself in hopes that the group would come around. We did settle into a group as we rounded the turn that would lead us to the train track. At this point I was still in the top ten of the group, but the breakaway rider was still out there!

Over the track things picked up just a little. Just before we went into "the dip" someone went down just behind me. My first thought was, "Whew, I'm glad that I was up here!" My second thought was, "I hope that wasn't Jimmy!"

I stayed with the top five as we went into the dip and then the guy I was marking hooked up with a rider he knew and I got shut out of the line. I lost a position or two as I tried to work back in.

As we moved up the incline that would bring us to the fire station, other riders started to form lines and move toward the front. I began trying to maintain or advance my position. This is when things got tricky.

We reached the fire station and I knew people were going to go for it. The majority of the riders in the group sprint were to my right. I had one rider to my left who was overlapping my front wheel. He kept moving to the right and then back to the left.

Several times I thought of moving up between the two riders in front of me, but then the gap would close just enough to make it dicey. I then thought about slowing and going around the left side of the rider to my left. I knew that would be a dangerous move for the riders behind me.

Finally, the rider to the right started to advance and I was able to give it some gas. Unfortunately, by that time I was able to unwind it, we were at the line. Not able to really take in everyone in the group around me, I had no idea what my place would be.

I know that the big guy crossed the line first. Then a second rider made a move away from the pack for second. The third and fourth place riders were at the front of the group I was in.

Then it was over. It was a challenge and was fun, but somewhat anti-climatic. I felt like I was in a big blob with no personality. When fighting for sprints on the Hour of Power, there is that fun of hashing it out and friendly trash talking with your friends. Here you just crossed the line and that was it.

That probably changes as you begin to participate more. If you moved in the race circuit long enough, you probably would end up with the same response with the riders around you. I'm sure the Cat. 5 race had something to with it as well.

I'm leaning toward doing next Saturday's race. It would be interesting to test some of the things I learned today. I'll let you know what I decide...


Monday, February 18, 2008

Planning for Saturday

Saturday is the opening of the 2008 Greenville Spring Series. My plan is to race in the Cat 5 35+ race. I'm encouraged by the progress I have made over the winter and I've appreciated the many people who have gotten behind me to cheer me on.

Here is how I plan to approach this week.

Saturday 2/16 -- A solid hard ride with the Sunshine boys.
Sunday 2/17 -- Off the bike
Monday 2/18 -- An hour plus of spinning
Tuesday 2/19 -- Intervals at Cleveland Park for 20+ miles
Wednesday 2/20 -- An hour plus of spinning
Thursday 2/21 -- Off the bike
Friday 2/22 -- An easy to moderate ride
Saturday 2/23 -- Race!

Anyone have any suggestions that would make the week a better one for preparation? I have some limitations due to time. I would like for the ride on Tuesday to be longer, but daylight won't allow it. I'm open to suggestions -- especially ones concerning nourishment.

See you on Saturday!