Posted by: Travis | January 31, 2010

Race Report: Early Bird Crit Series Week 5 (Fremont, CA 1/31/2010)

Sitting in, surfing wheels

I’ll just start by saying that i played today’s race like a total dumb ass. Bike racers talk about having ‘matches’. You can define a ‘match’ several different ways, but basically it’s a hard effort. You only have a few matches to burn in a given race so you have to use them wisely, at a time when they will be most effective. Today i burned up my whole match book on a single futile attack and subsequent pull that didn’t do a damn thing to benefit my team or myself. Bummer.

We rolled up as usual. This was the final race of the Early Bird Crit series (the only race where actual results are recorded), so that, combined with really nice weather after two weeks of rain, meant that a fair amount of people showed up to race. Our team for this week was a collection of the usual suspects from previous weeks (James, Jorge, Matt, William, and myself). As i mentioned the weather was really nice (sunny, temps in the mid to high 50’s), though it was a bit windier than it had been in previous weeks. The course is basically a square with 4 corners, the 4th of which is a more gentle sweeping turn. The straight between turns 1 and 2 was cross wind (wind coming from the side or at an angle), while the section between corners 4 and 1 was mostly head wind.

I got in a fairly decent warm up and made my way over to the start. Watched the finish of the P/1/2/3 race and then lined up for the start of the cat 4 race. Things got off to a nice start and i spent the first few laps surfing wheels, moving around in the group, taking note of sketchy people to avoid, and seeing what the wind was like (so that i could avoid it later). Despite not feeling all that great, about half way through the race i started getting restless. While i should have used that energy to move up to the front and stay there until my team needed me, i opted to keep moving around. Maybe move up to the front up the side of the group on one straight, then drift back, then move back up.

With 4 laps to go, on the straight between turns 2 and 3, i motored up the side of the group on the straight on my way up to the front, but as i got up to the front, the group slowed down. I realized that i had a teammate (Jorge) up the road about 50 yards so i just kept going until i got up to him. Once i got there, he was toast after spending some time in a break, so i kept going. Entering turn 4 i realized that the field had caught back up to me and i was now pulling the group. So in essence, i went out and brought my own teammate back. Really bad move.

I figured i was on the front, so i might has well do some work, so i continued doing 450 watts (that’s a whole lot) until we went back through the start/finish. I flicked my elbow and tried to pull off, but no one came around me to pull through. Finally, totally exhausted, i sat up and moved way over to the right to let the field go by. It took just about everything i had to jump back onto the back as they went by.

Barely hanging on

At this point, Rachel is scolding me as we go by for being the very last guy in the group (notice in the picture that there is a ton of space in the picture behind me, but no one in it). Everyone watching is standing in turn 1, so it looks to them like i rolled through near the front on the previous lap, and now i’m at the back, probably because i’m about to get popped. They have no idea about the pull i just took.

I thought about just pulling out, but with as many DNFs as i got last year, i realized that getting a DNF in the first ‘real’ race of the 2010 season was not an option. So for two laps i hung on for dear life trying to both hang on and recover.

Matt, away in a 2 man break

Unfortunately, during that time, my teammate Matt was away in a break and needed the team to get on the front and ‘block’ (disrupt the pace of the chase) for him and the success of his break. The general consensus of the people watching was that Matt’s break had a good chance of success, provided we all jump on the front and block for him. Unfortunately, at a time when i should have used a match to get up to the front and help a teammate, my matchbook was burned to a damn crisp and i was in the back unaware that i even had a teammate in a break.

After 2 laps of sitting in the back, i was recovered enough to start making my way up through the group. When the pace picked up during the last half lap, i didn’t have anything left so i just hung on for dear life rolling in at the back of the group around 55th place.

My result indicates that i had trouble even hanging on in this race, which isn’t even close to being the case. I would be totally okay with 55th if i used everything i had to help a teammate, but instead it was a meaningless and worthless premature ejaculation (sorry, but the metaphor is too perfect to pass up). There are a few big lessons learned today. First off, even if you are feeling great, be patient and wait until the time is right to strike, and then do it with everything you’ve got. Whether that is on an attack, in a break, getting your teammate up to the front, leading out a sprint, or lifting the pace to an uncomfortable level for the guys in the back, be patient. Second, if the chances of a break going away early and staying away are virtually nill, it’s okay to noodle around the group for the first part of the race, but once we get to the point where we might be seeing fireworks, i should be riding up near the front and staying there. Third, communicate with your teammates. It’s only January, and we’ve already had some good moments, but we’ve had some really bone headed ones too. Consistency is lacking. I’m sure that as the season goes on and we get more and more comfortable racing with each other, that that will come around, but we need to work on it.

In conclusion, it’s not a DNF, but i’m still not thrilled with how things went today. The fitness was there, my tactics were just extraordinarily stupid. Now i’ve got 3 weeks to sit in the corner and think about what i’ve done.

Upcoming Races:

  • Sunday, Feb 21 – Ronde van Brisbeen (if i’m feeling up to it after skiing on Saturday)
  • Saturday, Feb 27 – Snelling Road Race


  1. That happens to lots of guys…I’ve heard. Not me, understand. But lots of OTHER guys. 😉

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