11 February 2006

2006 Apple Pie Criterium

Results: 21/75
Teammates: David Porter
Conditions:chilly and foggy. Used knee warmers, arm warmers, cap and a jersey on top, still felt pretty cold but the warmup was bearable in a vest. During my warmup laps my glasses were covered in condensation on the outside and the inside of the lenses. The course was moist from the morning dew and fog but I was able to motor through the corners during the warmup on 100 psi without issue.
The heart rate data is intermittent so I just smoothed that for display here - the strap was a little loose on me. I had to rush at the start of the first race back to my car to put it on. Used Vittoria EVO clincher on the front and Michelin Pro Race 2 on the back.

Free snacks and drinks supplied by the promoter.

The chief referee asked for folks who had done the course before to lead us through the first two corners neutral. This was well intentioned but we probably would have required a skills course first to make the field safer. She did ask if this was anyone's first race and no one raised their hand. (I found out later several people were ashamed to admit this...) This course has a 300 meter finish straight with the line about 50 meters from the end with a 90 degree right hander that narrows a bit with a concrete divider, followed by a 90 degree right hander into a sweeping left and then another 90 degree right hander followed very shortly by a 90 degree right hander into a long meandering straight into the final 90 degree right hander. What typically happens here is that riders take lines during slower laps that lead to lots of riders with momentum to take them outside during faster laps trying to use the same outside, edge of the road line so they have to brake or hit the curbs. These riders bump and sometimes go down. Then on the meandering straight before the finish, the pack slows as no one wants to lead it out for nothing and the pack bunches up here, too. This happens when there are only 25-40 people in the field so it was much worse with the bigger field. I started the race in the middle of the pack and watched so many people changing their lines abruptly in the middle of corners that I lost count of who I should be avoiding. I started passing these people but at one point I was close to the front and really did not want to spend this much energy early so drifted to the back. By the halfway point there were three close calls with people bumping handlebars and leaning on each other for support near front of the pack. We got the signal that no more free laps would be given for mechanicals. Some guys were letting their front wheels overlap other riders wheels and this caused the first of three separate accidents. On the meandering stretch quite a few riders went down but there was room to pass on the right so the pack stayed together. Then on the finish straight with four or five laps to go as a chain reaction collision from midroad to the far left forced me to brake and come to a complete halt. This is the explanation for the drop in speed to zero near the end of the race. Another rider started the effort to bridge back up for half a lap and I took over from there and was able to catch back on by the start of the next lap. This left me a whole lap to rest for the final lap. I tried moving up but it wasn't safe to do so until the meandering straight. Here I jumped hard and immediately had to coast because I could see a problem ahead with the domino effect of rider after rider falling down, one particularly hard, on the middle of the road, spreading to the far left. I aimed for the open road but one rider panicked and locked up both wheels and slowed me down enough that a straggler from the accident out of control of his bike careened to the far right so I had to slow for him, too. Finally the road opened up but the lead riders were a good 50 meters up the road. I think in the last one minute I got four or five sprint efforts in due to all the rapid changes in pack composition and speed. A couple of riders were signed up for the 35+ 4/5 but backed out after the seriousness of the accidents ( possibly one broken hip and one broken elbow) and said "that was my first crit and I'm never doing another one"...

I think this is the most I have ever used my brakes in a criterium - the smell of melting brake pads was a common occurrence even with the moisture and cool temperature.

Postscript - reading another racer's report that he was in a crash because he did not anticipate the braking by the only five riders in front of them so he ran into them. Folks should probably eave a bigger cushion for safety when the road is wet as the yo-yo effect is magnified and to account for riders who do not ride in the rain very much and slow down more than is necessary.

P: 177 W
S: 24.9
H: ~150 (strap kept slipping - probably closer to 170
C: 77
T: 41:55

Had about an hour to recharge and watch the LGBRC juniors rock the house. Thanks for the pie, fellas. Gene was signed up but I did not seem him, perhaps he was sick like Jun. The sun finally came out so we got a dry course. Either due to the dryer course or the conservativeness of the old guys this race was notably safer. This time I stayed mid pack for most of the race. I did not think I had tried that hard during the first race (but the sprint workout in the last minute was much harder than I thought it was) so I wanted to try something different. So I forced myself to wait patiently until the last couple of laps. As with the first race, during the meandering straight, the right side was wide open for folks who wanted to burn a match and get to the front. At one point I felt a slight twinge in my calves - I should have used this as a signal to try the advice Stan Urban gave me to water them down but I forgot. There was not a way to get to the front and be lazy at the same time for the last five laps - no free ride here. On the next to last lap the pace slowed and gave me deja vu of the slowing during the prior race and the ensuing accident. I really wanted the race to be faster so it would be safer, plus laps only took about two minutes and I have been doing quite a bit of shorter intervals so this would fit in nicely. I jumped hard to get up to the front on the meandering straightaway. When I looked back I had about ten meters so I figured what the heck? As I motored through the last corner and down the finish straight my calves starting cramping up. Doh. I tried soft pedaling for a bit but it was no good so I led the pack through the first corner and the next straight and begged off and let the guys behind me know I was cramping. Jason was right behind me so that was cool. There was a slight hesitation here but still about twenty guys passed me through the next three corners. I recovered enough to hold that position but that was pretty much the end of the race for me. I was told there was a crash far behind me in the last corner when I was leading the pack. This was weird because I made sure to exit the corner with plenty of room to the left so the natural drift of the pack would be able to fill that safely. I also have to remember to hydrate better on two crit days - this happened to me last year and I can't believe I forgot to do a better job after the first crit. Oh well, the apple pie shared by BB and the other LGBRC juniors was delicious.
35+ 4/5
Results: 26/~60
Teammates: none
Friendly rivals: Jason D from slowtwitch.com forums, John C and Raymond from EMC

Postscript: Results are finally posted and I can't believe I did better in the 4/5 race in spite of the bridging effort. I lost 25 places in one lap in the 35+ 4/5 race, doh.

04 February 2006

CCCX Fort Ord Circuit Race Feb 4, 2006

Field: 35+ 4/5 around 20/35
Teammates: None
East Garrison, Fort Ord

P: 184
NP: 246
IF:1.015(I think I need to adjust my FTP up a bit from 245)
S: 21.7
H: 176
T: 1:00:59
D: 22.0 miles
Used the bike with 50/34 in the front and 12/25 in the back with an AC 420 wheel with Michelin 2 Pro race tires in front and a Ritchey WCS tire in back. Supposedly the Michelin has among the best rolling resistance of any clincher and the Ritchey is among the worst with about 15-30 watts difference with just one wheel - I had neglected in my pre-race prep to change the tire and my other good wheel had an 11/23 cassette so the easiest thing to do was just use this wheel with the Ritchey tire. I had run out of good race tires and did not feel like swapping the good tires around. I considered using the bike with 53/39 in front but thought I might need the little gear to spin up the steep bumps. Compared to cyclocross racing, road racing requires one to wake up pretty dang early, the alternating drizzly and overcast skies had me considering turning around by Watsonville. On the plus side one doesn't have to spend more time cleaning up the bike than racing. It was pretty chilly so I had to wear knee warmers,arm warmers, and a cap. At the line I tried to avoid the bad habit of leading the pack around for the first lap so I managed to keep myself in check for half a lap. It took a few laps to sort things out and get used to the dynamics of the pack, plus it rained intermittently after the first lap, making things a bit exciting. The finish was on a long shallow grade and the short descent afterwards was followed by a sharp right. It was usually easy to goof off in back and catch up right here or the following dip, because the rise afterwards was so sharp that the people drafting and not in first had to brake to avoid hitting the people in front and no one really pushed the pace after the rise. A 150 dogleg right followed this rise with a really long descent with a 30 degree turn into a long slight rise and a wide 180 turn with another long gradual descent followed by a 90 left, very short rise, semi corkscrew descent, sharp short hill, right turn onto the finish straight. We had both lanes except on the long descent where cones marked off some serious potholes. Even after the first laps some not so smart folks insisted on attempting to pass without enough speed to make it past everyone before we got to the cones on the long descent. Then some other folks countersteered really heavily into the *30* degree turn. It was possible to use momentum from the downhill here to pass everyone or in the following descent after the 180. I think we did 8 1/2 laps( start was right before the slight rise and 180 turn). After the first two laps I just concentrated on staying with the pack through the areas I had to pedal hard, the rise before the start finish, tempo on the finish, pretty much sprint on the sharp hill, and sprint like mad to get into the draft on the big downhill. There were a couple of wrecks, one in the 150 dogleg where two riders went too hot and took each other out wide and got back in the race, and on the last lap up the sharp rise a rider went off course and managed to get back on course. I stayed with the pack until the last time up the finish area and just could not manage to hang on there. I could see the small pack dangling in front of me but didn't have the lungs/legs to catch back up so no sprint today. But I was happy with almost finishing with the group this early in the year on a hilly course. I spoke with one fellow and he said a rider was off the front solo for three laps and he could not close the gap by himself and came in second.
Afterwards, explored the roads around Fort Ord and managed to get lost and do parts of the Sea Otter XC (it rained the prior day so the sandy stuff was pretty firm) and the Sea Otter Road Race a couple of times ( the hard part on Barloy ).

Postscript: I just got this book :
and was struck by one of the examples where a coach details analyzing race files to determine why someone was getting dropped. In that case the rider's cadence was going low with a wattage the rider probably could maintain. So they switched the rider's gearing around to a 12-27 cassette instead of the 11-23 and now the rider can keep up with their body's preferred cadence. After being stumped on why I got dropped on the penultimate lap I might have an answer - I may have downshifted too much or attempted to use the gears that worked for me on prior laps and forced myself to use too high of a cadence on a critical section of the course, causing me to lose contact with the field, as the wattage was well within what I had done on prior laps. Of course there's no knowing if I could have kept up with a higher gear but next time...