Monday, April 30, 2007

El Cajon Crit - 14th Place

Having done well at the Omnium and just completed my 10th mass start race (the minimum requirement for upgrade) I felt like it was time to move up to category 4. So about a week ago I applied for and received my upgrade. I'm now a category 4 racer! I don't really feel any different, but the tattoo they gave me makes me feel a lot more manly.

Sunday morning I headed out to El Cajon (about a 25 minute drive from my place) to ride in the world famous (just kidding) El Cajon Crit. As far as races go, it's one of your more unimaginative courses. Four 90 degree corners on wide downtown streets. You could pretty much pedal through all 4 corners, so it may as well have been a 40 minute drag race.

I headed into this race in the midst my two week Peak phase. The Barrio Logan Grand Prix is next Saturday. It's one of the races that I've targeted as an "A" race, so at this point of the season the goal is to ensure that everything builds towards next Saturday.

As such, I gave myself a personal goal for Sunday of seeing if I could break from the field and spend 15 minutes off the front. My reasoning being that anaerobic endurance is what I need most right now, I had a crit called out on my training plan for 4/29, and if so why not work like a dog and get something out of this thing.

The field wasn't too large, probably less than 50. While the course was scorchingly fast, it was also spiced up a bit with bot dots (small raised reflectors) all over the place. Basically any time you needed to cross a traffic lane or the center line you were going to need to cross a wall of bot dots. Yikes!

The race went pretty much the way most category 4 races do, no real breaks off the front and a few people going for the primes. For the first 10 minutes of the race I took things fairly easy, sitting back in about 25th and trying to keep things pretty smooth. About 20 minutes into the 40 minute race I was in second feeling pretty good. There had already been 2 or 3 primes to tire some of the stronger riders out. The guy who was in front of me clearly wasn't too strong and didn't really want to be there so I took off. We were just coming out of corner 3, so I got a good jump on the field. As I came down the front straight I had about 50 feet on the field, even better, the announcer called for a series point prime for the next lap winner (5 points in the CBR 10 race series), so I put my head down and got going on my intended 15 minutes of work.

I was able to build on my lead over the next half lap, to the point that the field gave up on trying to catch me for the prime. I crossed the line with about 100 feet on the field. From that point on it was simply a matter of trying to hold on for as long as possible. I got a little more than 1 more lap in before the field started to reel me in. It wasn't as long of a break as I'd hoped to pull off, but I was happy to get the series points and to spend 5 or so minutes off the front. Realistically, the speed of the course meant that you needed a couple other guys to work with if you were going to make a realistic break.

After my hard work at the front I settled into the pack and tried to get my breath back for the finish. The rest of the race was pretty uneventfull. I expected some other folks in my team to attack after I'd gotten caught but that didn't happen. I did have to avoid a crash in corner 3 that happened right in front of me. Coming into the last lap I was in 4th or 5th, I just wasn't able to hang on at the front all the way around. I crossed the line 14th.

The net on this race is that I didn't really show up even looking to finish in the top 5, I just wanted to build confidence that I could get away from the field and hold it. And even more so, I wanted to prove to myself that if the field caught me it wouldn't be the end of my day (i.e. that I'd be able to latch on to the end of the pack as they went by). All in all it was a fun day.

You can check out some photos here.

Monday, April 16, 2007

San Diego Omnium - 3rd Place Overall

This last week I competed in the San Diego Omnium. They call it an Omnium because the race is actually 3 different races that all build points towards an overall winner. Friday's event was a 8 mile time trial, Saturday's event was a 45 mile road race (with 3800 feet of climbing), and Sunday's event was a 40 minute criterium.

I’m happy to say that I was able to pull out 3rd overall in category 5.

Coming into this season I set 3 goals for myself:

1. Get promoted to category 4
2. Finish top 5 in at least 2 crits
3. Ride with the pack at the Omnium road race – last year’s road race was the first race I’d ever done. I got absolutely hammered, getting dropped at the start of the very first climb and having to work like a dog just to finish 2nd or 3rd to last.

This year I set my whole training program up to peak for the Omnium, such that I could do well in the road race. Unfortunately I’d set my schedule up according to last season’s race schedule. When the Omnium was moved forward, all of a sudden it was occurring in the last week of my 2nd build phase.

Regardless, I knew I’d done some hard days in the hills this spring (did the Omnium road race course on my own in March, spent a few Sundays going up Mount Palomar, etc.), I’m about 30 pounds lighter than last year, and at least 50% stronger. So I still felt like I could achieve my goal of riding with the pack.

Friday's time trial went fairly well. It was the first official time trial I'd done. I was able to average around 25 mph for the race (a little slower than I thought I could do), but was able to pick up 4th place in my category.

Saturday's road race was just as hard as I expected it to be. I worked my ass off and was able to stick with the pack up the hills. One of the lessons I learned last year during this race was that nutrition is just as important on this ride as fitness. So this time out I had lots of fluids (laced with some dextrose) and my trusty banana/honey sandwich. My parents came down for this weekend and so they manned the feed zone, handing me water bottles at the end of the first 22 mile lap.

I was able to take in somewhere around 1000 calories during the ride, so I knew I wasn’t going to bonk this time.

In the end I stuck with the fastest riders on the climbs and ended up finishing about 30 seconds behind the eventual winner, which was good for 11th place. This result left me 4th overall after two events.

During Sunday's race I really wanted to try to win the two point primes so that I could try to jump up to second overall. Unfortunately I did a poor job of trying to keep on the wheels of the two guys who were right around me in the points and they were able to beat me to the line for both the primes. I finished 5th in each prime, which gave me 2 more points; however, the guys I was competing with had a net gain of 4 or 5 points each.

This left me knowing that there was a guy who started the day 5 points behind me and now was probably 1 point back. I knew that I couldn’t let him finish in front of me again.

As we got down to 5 laps, things took off as they always do. The guy who was in second overall tried to break from the field. With 3 to go he had been caught. With 1 lap to go I had the two guys I was worried about right in front of me. This time I was committed to making sure I stayed right on their wheels. As we came around the final corner I was right at the front and started to hammer on it for the line. Unfortunately I didn’t have the legs to take the outright victory (I got 4th), but I was able to keep the two guys I was worried about behind me.

In the end I was able to move up one spot in the overall and get the 3rd spot on the podium.

I want to thank everyone who made this weekend’s success possible. My team-mates did a lot to help control the crit race. My parents coming down from Vancouver was a real nice treat (it was especially nice to give them something to cheer about).

Pictures from the weekend

Official results from the race.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Injury Update

It's now Wednesday and I'm slowly starting to feel better.

Tuesday night I wanted to get out on the bike and see how I felt. I didn't really have any expectations for the ride, I didn't even know if I'd be able to extend my right arm enough to get it up to the handlebars. I pretty quickly realized that I could indeed ride my bike fairly well. It hurt a fair bit if I ever needed to lift my right arm off the bars, pull on the bars or balance myself while out of the saddle. In the end I was able to complete the entire route of my 3 hour endurance ride pretty close to the time I normally do it in. So there was definitely a ray of sunshine with regard to my ability to race the Omnium.

This evening I headed down to Fiesta Island with my time trial bike to do some practicing for Friday's Omnium time trial. I felt pretty strong. I still can't pull too hard on the handlebars, but I'm definitely getting better. I was able to average close to 25 mph for 8 miles, so things seem to be in pretty good order.

I'd really like to be able to come close to 26 or 26.5 mph on Friday morning. 27 mph ought to be good enough for first in category 5 (I base this on past Fiesta Island TT results - race is typically run at 7am), 26.5 may even get it done. We'll see how it turns out. It was pretty windy this evening, it typically isn't too windy in the mornings around here. The difference in conditions should be good for at least .5 mph, maybe a little more. So if I can push myself even 5% harder than I did this evening I should be pretty close.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Ontario Race 2 - Smash up Derby

Well, coming off the disappointing result of Del Mar on the previous day I was stoked to race hard and bring home a top 5 at Ontario.

I got to the race in plenty of time, got registered and got in a good warm-up. I was feeling really good going into this one. We had about 8 guys from our team in the 60ish man field, so we had a really good presence. This race was on the grand prix course, which is about a 1.5 mile lap or something (relatively long compared to other crit courses)

With about 10 minutes gone in the race there was a series point prime on the line for the winner of the lap. With about 1/3 of a lap to go, the pace was pretty slow, so I took off and tried to see if I could get a good jump on everyone. Unfortunately I came up about 75 yards short. Even still, it was nice to hammer it and see who the guys who had the legs were.

For the rest of the race I tried to take it fairly easy and ride in the middle of the pack.

With 2 or 3 laps to go our team was looking really good. We were all near the front. We were chasing down the breaks and keeping things in check. With about half a lap to go I was somewhere in the top 10 or 15, nicely placed on the outside of the peloton, and had my team in tow behind me. We were in a great position to lead someone out to victory. As soon as we came around the final corner we were ready to hammer it.

Unfortunately that corner never came. Just before we got there some jackass junior decided that he needed to get to the outside of the pack, so he veered to his right taking out me and everyone around me. We were going about 27 miles an hour at the time. Bikes and bodies were flying trough the air. It all happened so fast that I never even knew what happened to me. All I really knew for sure was that I was going to crash. Based upon my bruises I believe I went over my handlebars and somehow somersaulted up to my feet. As soon as I was up I had bikes crashing into the back of me and people were laid out all over the side of the road. As the pictures demonstrate, the number of people racing to the line for the final time was pretty small.

There were at least 20 people taken out by this one guy's stupidity. Because my team-mates were all behind me at the time, the crash took a particularly big toll on our group. Two of my team-mates were pretty seriously injured, both getting hauled out by ambulance. One broke his arm in two places and required surgery in order to set his arm back in place. The other was mostly shaken up. As for me, I sprained my shoulder really badly. It's now Tuesday and I'm finally able to use my right arm a bit. I still don't have anything close to my normal range of motion however.

As you can see in the final picture, my bike was just as big a victim as I was in this crash. It's needed a new rim for the front wheel, a truing of the rear wheel, new bar tape, re-alignment of shift/brake levers and a thorough inspection of the frame. A couple hundred bucks at least when you add all the labor into the picture.

I'm not too sure whether I'll be racing the Omnium this weekend or not. At this point I'm fairly optimistic; however, I won't know for sure until I get back on my bike again. I'm picking it up from B&L this afternoon so I may try to head out for a short ride and see how I feel.

Photos from Ontario Crit 2


Del Mar Crit 3 - 39th Place

Well, my fun with wheel issues continued on this day.

I came into this weekend's two races feeling like I was in prime form to get a top 5. It didn't really workout that way on this day.

Because this was the 3rd race in the Del Mar Crit series, and because one of our SDBC guys (Doug Krutil) was in the top 10 in series points; our goal for the day was to try to get Doug across the line first. Along the way we wanted to ensure that he didn't have to work any harder than necessary and even try to get him some of the series point primes if we could (a prime is a race within the race - the race director will ring a bell and announce what the leader on the next lap wins. The prize could be some series points, merchandise, etc.). So my personal goal for the race was to work really hard, get in a great workout, work for Doug and try to be right there at the end.

Today's race was a 50 minute affair, so it was a little longer than we normally go. It also had 3 very sharp corners and 2 long straight aways, so it was fairly technical.

I started out feeling quite strong and with about 15 minutes gone the call went out for a series point prime. I was near the front with Doug so he and I took off and I led him out for most of the lap. With about 3/4 of the home straight to go he pulled out from behind me and sprinted for the line. Unfortunately he wasn't strong enough to win it.

I spent most of the rest of the race working hard at the front of the field for a lap or two, then dropping back and catching my breath at the back for a few laps and then working back to the front. Repeating this for 50 minutes takes a lot out of you, that's for sure.

When it came down to the end of the race I wasn't too near the front. I at least thought that I would be able to power past some folks and get into the top 20, but no matter how hard I worked I only seemed to be going backwards. During the first quarter of the cool down lap I looked down at my rear tire and it was near flat. Further inspection revealed a slow leak that was likely the reason that I was so slow the last couple laps.

No worries though, I raced really hard, felt very strong, led some laps and we did lead one of our guys out for a prime win (just not Doug).