Can't Catch A Break

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Superweek is done

I'm done with Superweek too. I guess it's been over for a few days now. My interest was fading towards the end. Personally, it was a terrible series for me. Here is a selected list of race outcomes that I experienced in the 3s this year:

Flatted out, DNF
Unaware of rubbing brake, OTB, DNF
Ate wrong lunch with much dairy, lack of fitness, OTB, DNF
Went for track wheel prime, narrowly lost, OTB, DNF
Crash, DNF
Crash, DNF
Difficulty breathing due to previous crash, DNF
17th place

Pretty horrible all around. I'm out two helmets and one carbon frame. I've gained $25. (minus $300 for registration) There was an astounding amount of crashing going on in the 3s during the whole series. I can't wait until I can race masters.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Back. Not quite back yet.

My bike is ready for more action. I needed new bar tape, new shifter cable, (that's a new one) and everything re-adjusted and tightened. Incidentally, I also got new wheels, because the carbon tubulars are dead.

I'm not so ready. But I'm getting closer. My limiting factor is my back right now. Switching between standing and sitting is a little uncomfortable. (like on a couch; I haven't been on a bike yet) Also, I've had a weird phenomenon going on with my sneezes. The few times over the past few days I've felt a sneeze coming on, I knew it was going to hurt. I'd do the sharp inhale and brace for impact. It never came. Like my body could sense how much it was about to suck and canceled the sneeze. I guess it's progress that a few minutes ago I just completed my first unaborted sneeze since Sunday. That's something.

I'm hoping to race Thursday, but I'm not ruling out tomorrow at Whitnall.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

I've mellowed.

Sorry to the dude I hit, whoever you are.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfs55TB9srg
http://flickr.com/photos/margaretandjeff/sets/72157606284078252/

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Some public service announcements

I've removed the original post. It was posted as soon as I got home, and definitely does not represent how I feel.

Guilty parties shouldn't point fingers.

I hope everyone heals up fast.

I've got a PSA for myself: Goal #1 in bike racing is the safety of all of the riders.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Ripon

One of my favorite things about bike racing is that almost everybody loses. Oh boy, you can tell this is going to be a good one. Compared to most sports where half the participants win, the vast majority are losers in bicycle racing. Everyone comes out and tries as hard as they possibly can, and most fail. And there was plenty of losing to go around at Ripon.

The course was shorted from 1.6 to 0.6 miles. And even though we were on time, for no reason that I could determine, the 3 race was shortened from 35 to 20 miles. The new course was a real bear, with climbs out of 3 out of 4 corners.

It was a family affair, with the whole crew out to spectate, and my brother entering his first USAC criterium.

He finished OTB, but at least he finished.

That race was the closest I've ever come to riding-induced vomiting. I could taste it. I deviated from my standard strictly PBJ pre-race diet. Last time I do that. Also I had my heavy wheels, because the good ones are broken, and possibly dead. Blah blah excuses. I got tons of them. But the important thing is I had fun. As long as we keep our sense of perspective about the whole thing and realize it's all in fun, everybody goes home happy.

Gotcha! Just kidding!

The import thing is I tried and failed abjectly. And it's delightful.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Humboldt Park

I was all like "This is hard". I quit. Then I saw that I broke a spoke and my brake was rubbing hard.

Saving it for tommorrow.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

A flat and a check

And superweek has begun. Three of us drove down to Chi from the Ill Mill. We had an Endeavour team car for the weekend. It's a Honda Element from a sponsoring dealership with magnets on it that say Endeavour Cycling Team Car.

Blue Island:
We had four riders in Saturday's Race in Blue Island. From the start it was clear that it would be a different caliber of race from a run-of-the-mill WCA race. Despite being almost twice as long as most crits in the rest of the calendar, competition for positions was fierce from lap one. It was a long rectangular course with a little broken pavement and some slightly dusty corners. Four guys got away halfway through the race. Endeavour's Chris Arndt tried to bridge but could not make it go.

I noticed my rear bottle cage was loose. I tossed my front half empty bottle and swapped the the other bottle to the front cage. Messing with that nonsense immediately cost me half the field. I was able to move back up eventually, but it was costing me. With two to go, someone took a weird line through the back stretch, leading the pack through some debris. I flatted. Damn. I tried to gently coast down on the inside before the corner. I almost took out teammate James Pradun who thought I was swinging out to bring him to the front. And that was it for me.

James went on to win the field sprint for 5th overall. And Endeavour's Chris Arndt took 9th overall. The field averaged 26mph. And the break had half a lap.

Photos

Meanwhile, it's dawning on me that I have a flat tubular and no spare wheel for the next day. I didn't bring spare wheels down because the races have neutral support, but they won't cover you if you show up with a flat tire. Luckily teammate Nick Newton was coming down the next day with a spare Ksyrium Campy 10s wheel.

Ryan Law and I watched the delayed Tour coverage in our hotel room and went to sleep.

Olympia Fields:
Sunday was Olympia Fields. This course had some sketchy elements. The asphalt was an inch lower than the cement gutters. All the way around. Turn 3, in addition to the lips of death, was sharp, narrow, dusty, and at the fastest point on the half mile course. Turn 1 had a raised manhole cover on the inside.

On lap one, someone came screaming up the inside to turn 3 and fishtailed into the corner. Nice. That would set the tone for the day.

I started in the back of the 70 rider field and it took me half the race to make any progress moving up, even though it seemed like I was constantly passing riders. The acceleration out of turn 3 at the back was tremendous. Eventually I made it up, and the announcer even called me out one lap. Riders were still fighting for positions every lap, but now I was able to stay toward the front. The pack was frequently came through turn 1 too wide. At one point, I had to hop the gutter lip and ride up the curb to keep it upright. In that case, it was my fault for taking that line through the corner. But it would prove to be a foreshadowing of things to come. I heard there's a video floating around somewhere. I'm going to track that down for you, my loyal readers.

With 3 laps to go, the carnage started. Apparently everyone realized it was their last chance and simultaneously tried to move to the front. In the same place at turn 1, someone to the outside went wide, and rather than going off the course, sharply corrected. I would never swerve that sharply in a race unless it's to avoid a collision, because it's likely to cause one. Which is exactly what happened. Next lap. A rider two in front of me slightly left went down. Touched a wheel perhaps. Chris Arndt got caught and flipped. His rear wheel flipped up seemingly right in front of my face before his whole bike conveniently veered to the left. That cost me a few spots. Final lap. Single file in turn 3. The guy in front of me clipped a pedal hard, but managed to stay up. He lost a lot of speed in the process, and I was still stuck behind him. I sprinted and managed to salvage a spot in the money. 17th.

Tomasz Boba soloed off the front with 12 to go for the win. Once again James Pradun won the field sprint, and is now tied for the overall points lead.

There was another crash after the line. Someone got pushed into a barrier. Casualties from the race included a broken arm, collarbone, some guy hit a pole, plenty of road rash.

No one liked this course.

In P/1/2 news they actually had a conference to discuss cancelling the event. In the end, they did not, but offered refunds to riders that did not like the course. Over 100 riders covered almost half the 0.5 mile course. We didn't stay to see the exciting conclusion, but after two days of racing, Rock was controlling all the jerseys.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Superweek is underway

Quick update from the weekend race hotel headquarters:

I flatted out of the race yesterday with a lap and a half to go.

Super weak.

And I saw the Rock Racing Escalade. More later.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

And then there are the good days

I'm back from my one day vacation. I'm rejuvenated. (juvenated before, lost it, and then juvenated again. rejuvenated.)

Nothing like a performance enhancing red bull to get things moving. I got my race bike back from the shop. The wheels are true, and the cracked carbon is all covered in epoxy.

Awesome.

I started my ride just as the red bull was really kicking in. After the warmup, I did my prescribed 30 minute effort. Train your weaknesses they say. I've been doing a lot of 20 and 30 minute work. Even though I'm still relatively weak for these durations, it's fun to do them on oft-traveled bike routes. Most people aren't really doing hard efforts, so you just cruise past people with a 10mph speed differential.

Awesome.

After I cooled down from that, I unleashed a sprint just for fun. I haven't measured one in a couple of months. Because I've been training my weaknesses. And I don't race with a computer. Anyway, in one try, I increased my best 5 second effort by over 150 watts.

Awesome.

And I was paranoid that I was losing strength with all this long training. Then I saw a comparitively fast looking guy. Ususally on training rides, I'm able to pretty much ignore everybody else. But I was on the home stretch with no further particular plan, so I chased him down. When I passed him, he sped up. It was on. Definitely not a race, but fun. He hung on my wheel for a mile or two. I rode on. I had a gap. I rode on. He was gone.

Awesome.

CSG wants help picking out a bike.

Awesome.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I'm exhausted.

I'm not sore. I just have no energy. I abandoned my training program of the day less than one minute in. I am not feeling it.

Tomorrow was supposed to be a rest day anyway, so maybe I'll just swap days. Or take an extra rest day.

Soon I'll blog about oatmeal.

And my cracked race bike's all epoxied up and ready to go. I'll pick up that ghetto fabulous beast tomorrow. That's going to be so pro looking.

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Whitewater

Two races this weekend and neither of them were crits. That's a rarity. First up:

Whitewater road race:
Nine 5.5 mile laps. One moderate climb, one small climb, some nasty pavement, and a very quick downhill tailwind to the start-finish. The 1/2 race was scheduled to start at 4:00, and my race, the 3s, was to start at 4:05. They were both late, but somehow there was significantly less than 5 minutes between us. We caught them at the beginning of lap 2, and thenceforth there was much shifting around. One popular trick from both fields when they were behind was to sprint past the other field just before a corner in the hopes that the pack would get stuck behind the other pack.

We rode around some more. I don't know when, but in the middle of the race a break got away that I must have thought were 1/2 guys. I knew my teammate Jason would try to go during the last lap. He tried to go at the beginning of the climb, but the pack was on him. I got on his wheel and before the top, he went again. I did not respond. That meant anyone who wanted to go with him had to match his acceleration plus come around me and close the gap. Three did it.

Their group wasn't going very fast, but neither was mine. If you're not too concerned about your own result, it can be fun to frustrate a chase effort. And that's what I did. Always second wheel, never pulling through. Adding to my mistaken impression that they were in the lead was the pace car staying just in front of the group.

Then we came down the hill and sprinted. A get a grip guy edged me out at the line. I thought I had 6th, but only then did I hear about the original break of 4. So, 10th.

Recovery:
After the race, HipCycler (the biggest name in Milwaukee radio) invited me to his lavish estate for a recovery Rolling Rock. And a bratwurst. Or 3. We traded stories about the race. He'd done the masters 4/5 earlier in the day. I watched the fireworks from the vintage boat on the lake. It turns out that's the only way to really watch them. Except maybe a helicopter, but that's probably just disappointing.

Whitewater time trial:
The only races I can really compete in are the ones where I can hide from the wind behind stronger people so I don't have to work so hard. Or when the weather is so bad that everyone else abandons. This wasn't really like that. But that doesn't stop me from doing them.

I got moderately aero. Aero bars, skin suit, shoe covers. No aero helmet. I removed the bottle cages, which is when I discovered that my frame is cracked. I'm not sure what to do about that. I still raced it anyway, but that's something that will have to be addressed somehow before superweek. (next week?!)

There's not much to write about the actual race. 11.8 miles of rolling hills and high wind. It was my first race of the season with any kind of computer. I got passed once. I passed once. Here's a graph of some data. No power though. :( I didn't stay for results.

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