Posted by: Travis | June 8, 2009

Race Wrap Up: 2 Wheel Racing Crit (Rohnert Park, CA 6/7/2009)

I’m finding new and different ways to rack up DNF’s (Did Not Finish). Today i actually felt really good, despite the fact that after checking in, my race number vanished into thin air and the hour i was planning on spending trying out a long warm up routine, was spent wondering around trying to get a new number. Actual warm up time was reduced to about 15 minutes, which was certainly not ideal.

The course was a very technical course without many straight aways and a number of s-turns and other strange turns that made the racing a little bit nervous. I got in one lap on the course before the race started, but still wasn’t comfortable with the course so i spent the first 2 laps sitting about mid pack waiting for the group to get comfortable on the course and allowing my legs to loosen up a bit. Around the 3rd lap we had set into a pace of around 28mph but my legs were feeling really good, so i started to make my way up to the front. By the end of the lap i was sitting top 5 in a 75 man field and feeling really good.

After about 2 laps of being up near the front we were going around an s-turn a few hundred meters before the start/finish area. I was sitting on the inside and the guy next to me suddenly cut in, bumped my shoulders and handlebars, and pinched me into the gutter. Having your wheel 4 inches from the curb at 30mph is no fun so i unclipped my left foot and was forced to come to a complete stop. By the time i got my foot back in the pedal the field had passed and i was sprinting to catch up with a 50 meter gap. I chased for a lap and was able to maintain that 50m gap most of the lap but just didn’t have enough to make a final push and jump back on the back. I pulled out on the next lap, and on that very same lap there was a crash in the exact same spot where i got pinched.

That i paid a decent amount of money in entry fees, got up at 6am, and drove an hour and a half to this race, only to have some jack ass who wasn’t paying attention end my day is maddening. That the last time i felt this good at a race was in January is just salt in the wound. At the same time, that i even felt okay during the race is a huge improvement from my last few races.

So what did i do differently? Conventional wisdom is that for a race on Sunday, you should take it easy the week before, probably not riding at all Thursday and Friday, then on Saturday you should go out on a short ride with a few short efforts, but for the most part keeping it pretty easy, leaving yourself fresh for the race. I have routinely found that for my last few races i have felt better the day after the race than the day of the race.

Saturday, i decided to go to a track workout at Hellyer Velodrome in San Jose. From 8:30 to 11:30, about 20 of us rode around on a track on fixed gear bikes following the instructions of the guys running the sessions. It was a blast. We did a drill where we rolled around the track in a paceline and then once every lap the front 3 people in the paceline break off and do a 200m sprint for the line, then jump back onto the back of the paceline. Next we split into 2 groups that rode in packs around the track opposite each other. Once a lap the front three riders would go off the front and work together to bridge up to the other group.

Finally were split up into 3 groups (A, B, C) by ability level for a scratch race. As this was my first time to the track, they put me in the B group (the A group was for guys who are regulars at the track). A scratch race is very simple. You decide on a number of laps (in our case 8), and the person that crosses the line first after that many laps wins. I led out the first lap and then dropped back to 3rd wheel where i stayed until the last lap. As soon as we crossed the line going into the last lap Ben (track regular who rode all three races as a bit of a facilitator) took off and i jumped on his wheel. I was still uncomfortable sprinting out of the saddle on the 20 degree banked turns, so i stayed seated and tried to spin it up and come around him, but couldn’t quite do it. Ben beat me by about half a bike length.

I’m definitely hooked on track cycling though. They usually do races on week nights, but i have to finish 2 more clinics before i can go race. This looks like it could be a lot of fun though. I wish i had discovered track cycling earlier.

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