Friday, July 30, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Homer: Default? The two sweetest words in the English language! De-FAULT! De-FAULT! De-FAULT!
NASA Assistant: [clubs Homer with a police sap]
NASA Guy: Where'd you get that thing?
NASA Assistant: Sent away.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Back on track, sorta.
Stage three is a time trial. That means aero bikes, funny hats and making an attempt to cram a whole day’s worth of energy into twenty minutes of hyperactivity.
I have been sitting one place off of the Lanterne Rouge in this race and have needed to climb my way back up, so I came in determined to do exactly this. Pain? Forget it. Legs not responding? Screw ‘em. Just “think” fast and ignore the numerous loud sirens blaring in your brain telling you to FRIGGIN STOP!
That was the plan, anyway.
After two hard days I figured I shouldn’t expect much from the tired legs, but all the rest of the hammerheads in this stacked M40 field should be under the same conditions, so they will be slower too, right?
Yeah. Jonny Bold was slower than last season. Ten seconds slower. “Only” 28.7 mph @ 18:39. Oh, I can do that in my sleep. Seriously. I can do that while dreaming.
In reality I can do just around 26mph on the best of days in a TT. This was not the best of days. 250 feet of climbing over 8.9 miles and a killer headwind. I managed right around 24 mph even for 31st place out of 42 remaining riders. 22:10
That should be enough to move me up a few spots on GC!
Well, no. I remain in 41st place on time. But my power was pretty fair for the third day of racing, only down maybe 6 watts from target. I am somewhat gratified with that.
Pete crushed it. 20:32 for 13th place. Only his third time ever riding his new TT bike. Go!
One day left.
Eff this effin’ hill.
I am a pretty good climber. Really. Put me on a long mountain pass and I do just fine, thank you.
But stick me on some short nut-kicker of 15% where everybody stands and mashes and I have to push 500w or something and it’s a great way to really hurt me. Like a 2x4 in the side of the head hurt.
Now make me do it twelve times as part of a 500’ ascent. Really good way to hurt me.
Lap one seemed perfect, nice grades for about a mile and a half. I am putting myself in ideal position as we climb and then BANG. We go around a slight bend and I see the wall. Frak. I stand up and mash it, cresting the thing at around fourth wheel. Good.
Not good. The finish line is after the crest where you come around this right-hand bend and right afterward is yet another 15% nutkicker. I shot my wad keeping up with these animals on the first one. This is not a good sign for the next five laps. Especially because every lap is a bell lap.
I hang on. At the summit I am mid-pack and settle back in.
Most of lap two is uneventful, save the Keystone Kops highjinks when we get passed by the juniors. They neutralize us. We wait for the busted-up junior field to pass. We start racing again. We pass most of the stragglers again. Then we slow down because nobody’s attacking and the juniors pass us again. We then shoot by them on hills. You get the idea.
Second time up the wall and I get gapped a bit. I end up behind the caravan and take a few deep breaths and push hard to get a bit of a draft from the SRAM car. Finally I catch him and relax a bit. I come around him and surf the cars until I can sprint back to the riders ahead. Better.
At this point there is a fast descent. It occurs after the final climb which is about a mile after the summit of the main climb. Once you crest that hill, it’s all downhill until you get to a short run-in to the first corner. I always use this spot to make up time, since I have the crazy descender gene and have no problem at all with riding a bicycle at motorcycle speeds. It is astounding how many big heavy guys I go past and end up pretty close to the front for the corner. The rest of lap two is pretty uneventful.
Third time up the wall was the last time, at least for me. This time I was so far back that the caravan was out of reach. I found a few other peloton rejects and we formed a small “survival group”. I wouldn’t call it racing, or even a “chase group”. It was a “let’s just try to get to the end of this race without falling down” group. We figured it would be impossible to miss the time cut since we stayed in contact for half the race.
Each successive ascent of the wall was done in a progressively smaller gear until I was in my total bailout gear that I almost never use in a race. I look at the powermeter and realize…..
“dang, this IS a steep wall”
you know what?
EFF this Effin’ hill.
I remain in the basement on GC.
Friday, July 2, 2010
So close. So far.
Fitchburg Stage 1.
This thing is a 3.2 mile circuit race with a “moderate” climb section on each lap. “Moderate” in this case means something other than what you might expect (and what I expected and what Pete expected as well)
Think about the steepest stupid bunch of stair-steps all lined up in a row, one after another. When we walked the course in the morning the only thing we could say was “geez, this IS a steep hill”. Steep mashers like that tend to be my nemesis, although Pete does well with them.
We all line up and start the race at a surprisingly civil pace. I know this because, as usual, it takes me forever to clip in and I end up in the back again. However, this is thankfully no big deal, since I am able to freely move around in the pack. By the lead-in to the wall on lap one I am in a comfortable mid-pack position.
The Wall. We stand up and mash this damn thing as hard as humanly possible. I filter to the back of the pack, wondering how the heck some of these guys get their strength… EPO? Wheaties? Live baby flesh? Shark brains?
It’s going to be a long day.
When we reach the top (I’m still on board the train but pretty much in the caboose at this point) I notice Pete is standing on the curb holding his bike up. Could he have flatted? No. No way. He would have ridden the flat into the pit and got a spare. Crashed? No. He would have still been on the floor since we were all in the same field at that point. I roll by. Not liking this.
This race is made even more difficult by a long section immediately following the wall which is a very slight upward grade into the wind. As long as you hold the wheel in front of you, you should be just fine. I do this for the next three laps, but lap five was my undoing.
I held on for the climb and slotted back in to the back of the pack as I had been doing, but this time the guys in the front must have put the hammers to it since the pack was strung out going into the wind. Big gusts, stronger wind, and I am stuck behind a little split. Two other riders get popped off the back with me. The moto comes around. I shout at him “No!” He doesn’t listen. The car comes around. I don’t shout but try my damndest to get a draft from him. No dice. He speeds up and nearly puts his car right into the back of the peloton, clearly seeing what I am doing and denying me the chance to get any help. This goes on for most of the lap until I am literally gasping for air and have to give up the chase. I let them go.
Soul = crushed.
I mentally beat on myself for half a lap while thinking about all the things I would rather be doing than suffering here in Offthebackistan. This is pretty typical and usually happens for a few minutes until I settle in to TT mode. I try to remind myself that I don’t have to go super hard, since it’s a virtual guarantee that I will make the time cut, with only three laps to go.
Then a rider “joins” me. He came up on me fast and went right by at such a tempo that I figured he must have had a flat or something. There’s no way this guy would get dropped, unless he can’t climb to save his life. I jump on his wheel. He doesn’t even acknowledge my presence and just keeps hammering. I figure he’s insane. We are not going to catch back on so what is the point of mortgaging your fitness for tomorrow just saving a few minutes on GC? Whatever.
We get to the hill and he climbs like a beast. He must have flatted. This guy did not belong OTB. I settle back down into semi-TT mode and complete my final two laps to finish somewhere in the basement, down maybe four minutes or something.
As it turned out , Pete was out there all that time behind me. He got a bike change from the SRAM guys and it took a few minutes to put his pedals on. He had asked the ref if he was going to miss the time cut if he waited for the pack to come around and the ref seemed to think it was possible.
Of course, it’s not possible, since one lap is only a ninth of the time and the time cut would be a fifth, but the official must have forgotten this. Pete therefore did an unannounced 40km TT. Kind of like my day one at Killington.
After the race, he figured his bike was trashed. I saw it. The rear derailleur was jammed into the cassette and the chain was all wrapped up in the wheel. I figured his limit screws were set wrong for the low end and he threw the chain off the cassette. I talked him into going with me to the big bike shop nearby before getting too upset about trashing the frame. Sure enough, the mechanic at the bike shop was able to straighten out the derailleur hanger and replace the mech and cable. Bike works great now…
And a lot cheaper than a new frame.
On the agenda: Eat, sleep. Eat some more. Sleep. Dream about eating. Eat.
Tomorrow: Big race with roads that have the word ”mountain” in them.