Posted by: Travis | February 14, 2011

Early Bird Criterium Week #5

Race: Early Bird Criterium Week #5, E4
Location: Fremont, CA
Date: February 13, 2011
Result: 38th (of 48)
Course: 1.4 mile rectangular shaped course. Three 90 degree turns, one sweeper (all rights).
Weather: Cool (low 60′s), light wind
Teammates: Steve (15th), Matt (21st), Jon (32nd), Amin (DNF)

Before the race the team went on a warm-up ride together. Nothing fancy, just a loop around a local park/natural preserve that has a decent bike trail.

We went into the race with a predetermined plan. In the first 2/3rds of the race, we were to stay near the front, chase down threatening (groups with big numbers or particularly strong riders) attacks, and ride as a team. With 3 laps to go we were to line up in a particular order and hold top 10-15 positions. In the final 1/2 lap we were to launch a lead-out train for our designated sprinter, Matt.

The first 5-6 laps the five of us (Steve, Matt, Amin, Jon, Me) rode somewhat near each other, but not really as a unit, mainly just getting warmed back up and feeling out the group. That early in the race, it was no big deal.

For the middle 5-6 laps we did a better job of trying to be near each other and communicating. At one point Steve, Amin, and i did some work to bring back a break of 3-4.

With about 7 laps to go a homeless guy wandered onto the course with a bike packed full of stuff. We didn’t see him as he was just around a corner, so the field had to split and go around him without much notice. Some how, some way, there was not a crash. I’m still not quite sure how everyone walked away from that situation unscathed. Needless to say, i’ve never seen that before. Luckily, Rachel got a picture from a distance.

Homeless guy on the course!

When the lap cards came out (i think at 6 to go) we made a strong effort to all get lined up together. The front guy (Jon) was sitting maybe 20th wheel. We shuffled around a bit to get into the right order according to the plan (Jon, Amin, Travis, and Matt, with Steve moving around some). Steve and i started to telling Jon and Amin to move up. At this point were were all lined up, talking, and riding together as a unit.
With 3 to go i was ecstatic. We were all lined up, riding really well, staying out of the wind. I was feeling rested, wasn’t having to do much work at all, and started to get really excited about the finish. Going around turn 4 and through the start/finish with 3 to go, we made a push up the outside to try and get Jon into a top 5-7 slot. As we rolled by on the left, the peloton slowed down and got wide. We had to squeeze back over the double yellow lines to avoid hitting the median in the setup for turn 1. Amin and Jon found themselves on the front when the pack slowed down. We told them to get off the front. John immediately sat up and fell back. Amin was on the very front of the group and slowed down, but no one would come around him. Coming out of turn 1, Amin pulled off the front to the right while a few guys were trying to come around on the right, a bunch of guys weren’t expecting him to pull off, several people overreacted and swerved, causing the people behind them to to grab a handful of brake.

Then the set up into turn 2 was all wrong and a bunch of different lines were taken through the turn, along with another almost crash. Through these two back-to-back sequences we all got split up (the AV guys, not the field). I personally lost a bunch of places, so i tried to move up on the outside between turns 2 and 3, which was exposed to the crosswind. At this point the whole field was pretty spooked and almost all of the subsequent corners were a mess. It seemed like every time i made up spots on a straight away, i’d lose them right back in the corners by guys taking goofy lines. Going into the last lap i was able to get up to the top 15 or so near Matt, but i expended so much effort trying to get up to him that i wasn’t able to get in front of him and wasn’t able to do anything to help lead him out.

At that point i knew i didn’t have anything left in the tank to sprint, so i let the sprinters go up the road and rolled through in 38th place.

Though the result isn’t great, it only tells part of the story (mainly, the last 3 laps). What happened up until that point was awesome and a joy to be a part of.

Yesterday was the most comfortable i’ve been this year sitting in the group, totally boxed in with nowhere to go. The problem i’ve had in previous weeks of finding a good spot in the group and holding it didn’t pop up once yesterday. Given that i felt great with 3 laps to go, and that i slashed a minute of my personal best climb up Old La Honda (a local benchmark climb that is a good indicator of your lactate threshold) on Saturday, i’m willing to chalk up last weekend’s racing debacles to fatigue at the end of a hard 3 week training block. With a rest week in my legs i’m feeling much, much better.

The race i’ve been planning my training around since mid-October (Snelling Road Race) is coming up in 2 weeks. I’m not planning on racing next weekend, but i’ll organize a big ride with the team next Saturday, do a hard but short ride mid week, a pre-race ride the day before, and hopefully be good to put in a really good ride. Right now things are looking good!

Race Stats
Time: 41:55
Distance: 17.837 Miles
Work: 550 kJ
Normalized Power: 243 Watts
Max Power: 1058 Watts
Avg Speed: 25.5 mph
Max Speed: 30.9 mph



  1. Nice blog. I’m glad you got a shot of the homeless guy. I thought it was just my oxygen deprived brain during the race. Good luck at Snelling. See you there, Christian

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