Tuesday, March 15, 2011

First of the year (and second)

First race(s), that is.

I've been on the bike a few times this year. I've even managed to ride outside a few times too. Most of it has been this stuff though....

So last weekend put an end to all that. Time to pull the race bike off the rollers. No more watching movies and typing. No more pushing my heavy beater up snowy dirty hills.

DF and I drove out to Connecticut meet the famous CarpeDiemRacing and try our hands at the Bethel Circuit. Both to do two crits, we thought it would be a good idea to get a full day of racing in, even with it being so early in the season. With Battenkill on the horizon, I felt that getting as much race time in was key.

The circuit is not selective at all. It's 8/10 of a mile, has one hill of about 45 feet, and one corner (immediately following the hill and Start/Finish line.

Race 1, cat 4:

I really don't know how many racers there were but it seemed somewhere in the 70 range. I lined up close to the front, got a good clip-in and was off. I spent a little time near the front, getting a feel for the course and the way people were riding. The wind was pretty bad this day. It hit you pretty much head-on for the entire back stretch of the course (which made for a fairly slow race speed on average, but also made it very difficult for riders to get away).

I had a sense that nothing was going to get away and tested this a few times when I was close to the front, not really taking pulls but doing just enough work to keep us somewhat close, then pretending to run out of gas. Sure enough, this compelled the riders behind me to all jump into the gap and pull back the breakaways. When not doing this, I was fairly certain that tailgunning would be safe in this race, so I sat in the back.

I figured I had one shot at doing something in this race and that was to wait until six to go, give a surge up the hill, and then another one at five to go, and see if it could get a few riders to play along and get a small gap on the field.

Everything went according to plan except for the other riders. My attacks just didn't produce enough distance to really make anything happen other than towing the field along, once we got up the hill it would just go single-file and I'd find myself uselessly pulling a long line of riders. It did make me look tougher than I was for one picture though:

(I think the yellow thing is getting old. It's way too much like having a giant target on you that says "Hey everybody! I'm attacking! Look at me! Hey! Come follow me!!")

So with my attack fail, I kind of sat in after that and just tried to stay safe while the crazies got crazier toward the end. The (I can't believe I am saying this) typical cat 4 sprint crash happened in front of me, with riders sprinting for 30th place or whatever. I just rode around them and soft-pedaled over the line for an amazing back-of-the-pack-finish. CDR only posts the top 20. I was not among them.

Apres-race I watched DF race in the Open Women's field and do some damage to the field at the front, and then a few laps of the M45+ race.

Race 2, cat 3/4:

This one was the largest field of the day. I think 88 started. I am certain that 88 did not finish. DF was in the field. I was in the field. Shovelhead, Bostongarden and Homebrew from the cycling forums were all in the field. I didn't have a whole lot of snap so I just felt that I should try to hang tough as long as possible. This was not terribly difficult to do as long as I favored the outside lane. The inside lane was pretty much the reverse lane. As long as you stayed on the outside and were willing to take some wind, you could get pretty close to the front. Shooting up the middle wasn't always the best place to be either, since it was hit-or-miss depending on who you were behind.

I did this for most of the race until the lights finally went out with 2 to go. I held on until the last lap though, crossing the line pretty much in the back of the field again, sigh.

I am happy though. I did two hard crits on my first day of racing in 2011, even was part of the action in the first race for a bit, and finished in the pack. Here's to a strong season. I've got nowhere to go but up!

After the races were done we all went to the latest iteration of Frank Pepe's Pizza in Danbury. (the original one is still in New Haven) ....


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Sun Came Out...


and there was much rejoicing.

This was my second ride this year. Ride meaning "out of doors" and not "rollers". No "rollerposting". No "trainerposting". No "intervals". No nothing.

(well.. I did try to keep it in Z2 the whole time, but I chose one of the hilliest routes around so that was tough, exceeding 100'/mile by a fair bit)

The initial 2.5 mile descent had the unwelcome effect of making my face completely numb, but after that things began to come back alive again.


And here's the first little rest stop. I'm telling you.. California has nothing on our beautiful vistas! Just look at that gravel. Those greys! That dirty snow! This stuff has to be
experienced to believe.

As if that weren't enough.....

Just dig the striking color in this one!

And some jerk from the Jerkstore got in the way of the camera:

And, finally, Le Piece de Resistance, Vincent Hill.. A singularly unimpressive picture of an extremely impressive hill. (why is it that photographs never reveal anything about how steep a hill really is?)

I took the shot after climbing halfway up the hill to the little flat section. That top ridge part maxes out at over 20%. ouch.

ugly? boring? bland you say?

(wellllll let me just say, for the sake of those who haven't yet found out that I have spent the past three months riding inside)

I was in hog heaven on this ride. The Pyrenees in July wouldn't have made me happier to be outside on my bicycle.