Posted by: Travis | January 21, 2009

Race Wrap Up – Fremont Early Bird Crit (Week 3) – 1/18/2009

I did the Early Bird Crit again last Sunday. It was the third week out of five.

After week two i thought i had everything figured out. That week i showed up not feeling my best and just sat in the group conserving my energy until the last lap, where i made up as much ground as i could and finished a respectable 15th or so out of 40.

This week didn’t go so well. When i realized that i left my jersey at home as i started getting dressed for the clinic, i should have realized that it was going to be a bad day and just gone home. Instead Rachel offered to run home and grab it while i stayed and watched the clinic. The clinic was okay. Better than previous weeks, but still not really the instruction i need.

I lined up with the other cat5’s at the start and we got split into three groups of about 30 people each. I put myself toward the front of the 2nd group, intended to be guys that are moderately experienced (between 2 and 5 races). Then the guy putting the race together announced that there weren’t enough mentors for three fields and we were forced to reconfigure into two. Since i was at the front of the middle group, this left me in the back of the first group, the experienced racers. So not only was a racing with guys more experienced than i, but i was starting in the back, which is not where you want to be in a crit. As the speed shoots up to 25mph or so, you’re forced to sprint off the line just to catch up. To make matters worse i had trouble clipping into my pedal. So i started the race having to expend quite a bit of energy just trying to catch up.

I was able to hang and work my way up in the group for about 20 minutes (the race is 40 minutes), but i never really felt very good. Every time i came out of a corner and was forced to get out of the saddle and sprint, my legs and lungs burned more than they should have.

I also found myself thinking too much. Rather than just follow the wheel in front of me into a corner at high speed as i should have, i kept questioning the people in front of me and the line they were taking through the turn. This caused me to start worrying about hitting a pedal on the ground as i tried to pedal through a corner, which in turn caused me to brake and trim speed before entering a corner, meaning i had even more ground to make up upon exiting the corner.

All this was just too much work and i started to get tired and fade to the back of the group, where the slowing down before a corner and speeding up out of it gets worse thanks to the yo-yo or accordion effect. Basically its harder to ride in the back than near the front.

I got dropped and sat up with another guy. We decided to rest and jump on when the next group came around. As soon as the other group came within view we spun up to speed so that catching on wouldn’t require too much effort. The only problem was that we overestimated how fast the group was going at it took them almost a whole lap to catch us. This whole thing ended up turning into a 1 lap break away, which is the least energy efficient way to ride a race.

I was able to hang on to that group for a few more minutes but started to fade again. As i was sitting on the back deciding if it was worth it to put forth the huge effort to catch back on, i realized that i also forgot my inhaler at home. Not that putting in that kind of effort would have triggered an asthma attack (i haven’t had a sports induced attack in 5 years), but there was a slight chance, and in the end i wasn’t willing to risk it to get a decent result in a race.

So yet another lesson learned: make a race list and pack the race bag the night before.

We did get some good pictures though. Freddie Rodriguez was back again this week and won the pro race on a break away with 2 other guys. As they approached the line he didn’t even have to get out of the saddle and sprint to win. With 200m left he just put it into another gear and powered past them, winning easily.

Hopefully next week i’ll be able to put together a better performance and not hurt my chances any further by being a bone head.

On Monday i took the holiday and went riding with some guys that i met through our softball team at Stanford. We did 50 miles starting in Palo Alto, over the Santa Cruz Mountains to the coast, north on HWY 1 for a few miles, then back over the Santa Cruz Mountains and down into Palo Alto. Certainly not the easiest 50 mile ride you could draw up. Very few flat sections, pretty constant up and down. But good grief was it a gorgeous ride. I was planning on taking a camera and getting some pictures, but considering it was about 40 degrees when we started and 75 when we got back, and we were going 50 miles over mountains, i needed all the pocket space i had for clothes and food. When the Tour of California comes through in a few weeks, they’ll be riding on many of the same roads we did on the stage that goes from Sausalito to Santa Cruz. Rachel turned down the offer because she hadn’t been on her bike in 2 months or so, but i’m determined to get her to do this ride sometime this summer.

The next two Sundays i’ll be doing weeks 4 and 5 of the Early Bird Crits, but the next Sunday (February 8), i’ll be doing a race in Napa called the Cherry Pie Crit. Though i’ll be doing the beginner race, a group of guys from one of my favorite pro teams, Garmin-Slipstream, are signed up to do the race as a warm up for the Tour of California, which starts a week later. Some people are speculating that there may be a few more pro teams who show up and do it as their first race of the season.

That’s about it for now. As always, thanks for reading.

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