Tuesday, January 15, 2013

One Down (late edition)

The first in the winter short track series is in the books... the virtual books.  Results were posted up yesterday.  I already knew my results of course, but now they are up for public consumption.  One VERY cool feature of the results is that they are posted in three ways.  Broken down by laps, team names, and lap times.  Very fun to look through/anguish over.

So how did my race go?  Good and not so good.

"posing" for a picture on the first lap

The good...  I started off the front and went into the single track toward the front (probably about 6th or so) in a field of 25.  Coming through the start/finish after lap one I was in 4th.  It was a slow slide/yo-yo from there.  The singletrack was tight and didn't allow for much passing, so it was mostly coasting behind a rider (and enjoying the time to rest), and then climbing out and onto the gravel road.  There was a grass section added that totally sapped whatever "speed" you might have had on the front end of the gravel grind... through the grass, a short up with a sharp switchback before meeting back up with some gravel.  This section at least provided some respite as it was a slight downhill back to the original gravel road.  As this was a "surprise" addition, the transition back to the original gravel road was loose as all hell with no defined lines.  So speed had to be checked and lines experimented with.  I determined a wider approach was best to allow for the most speed carried and put me in a pretty decent position to drop the hammer back up to the parking lot.

And drop the hammer I did.  I actually felt guilty by my performance in this section of the course.  Each lap it seemed that I was able to repass most anyone who passed me in the grass section once we got back to the gravel road.  I felt like I was riding like a roadie... slower on the first section of climb and grass, and super fast on the second half of the gravel.... but such is the design of the course.

I felt pretty strong for the first half of the race.  A group squeaked by on the third lap (I think) and the field ahead of us started becoming a bigger factor as we were working out way through.  Getting stuck behind the "wrong" rider through the singletrack could prove fatal.

The not so good...  With two laps left I was losing gas when it came to the first section of the gravel road, and I had to pull to the side to let faster riders go.  Luckily, by now there weren't that many behind me and I was in a group that I was able to let go in the grass, and catch again in the climb to the parking lot.  So I still had hope to at least take the lead of my little group.  As the call came out that it would be our last lap I was wondering if I could pull it out after the singletrack.

As I hit the boulder before the gravel I knew I didn't have it in my legs.  I slowly worked up to the grass.  A rider passed me heading into the grass and I noticed he was spinning out in his granny ring.  I looked down and I was nowhere near granny and wondered if my downfall had been in not effectively using my gears....  it was too late to really examine that aspect of the race now... I did drop a gear or two to hang on him through the grass and as soon as tires hit gravel I got on it.  There were two riders a few seconds ahead and now strategy flooded my head....

I knew I could hit it and catch them before the parking lot, but would that leave me nothing for the final sprint??  Did they have anything left for a final sprint??  Would catching them now give me a better chance??  All this thinking left my body in limbo.  I didn't put it all out there on the gravel and I halved the gap before hitting the parking lot.

As they cleared the final turn they hit it in an all out drag race with each other.  I put my head down and gave it all I had.  I knew at this point I wasn't catching them but I wanted to put in my best to hold onto them at the finish.

I ended up 1.5 seconds behind the two in front of me.

After the race I rode up to one of the riders finishing in front of me and congratulated him on a good race and thanked him for keeping me going.  We had been going back and forth through most of the race.  For whatever reason I had picked him as the rider to not let get away.  So anytime I saw him get by I made sure he didn't get far.  He also had a cheering section out on the course.  They were camped in the grass for the most part and it was a great indicator for myself as to how far I was ahead of him, the times I was leading him, as they would rattle the cowbell and yell for him when he entered the grass.

Overall, I'm feeling good about the series.  My fitness will (hopefully) only improve throughout the series and I won't fade as early or as hard.  I can rely more on bike handling skills and speed/finesse through the singletrack to recover and really work the climb and gravel/grass.  And now with the results of the first race I can start looking at who I should pick next to battle to the finish... hopefully I can find myself climbing through the ranks before the end of the series.

I think I mentioned it before, but I don't know if I made a formal announcement... but I am racing for a team(which you can see over there in the left column), which has already paid off.  I'm racing on team Velo 16 Blood Sweat Gears - based out for Blood Sweat Gears Cycle & Skate shop in Denver, NC.  While warming up for my race I noticed a bit of brake drag on my front wheel... having a team (tent, bike stand, and all) there made the necessary adjustment an easy one.  I'm still getting to know the guys as I was only officially added just last week.  I had to wear a jersey from last year for the race, and let's just say it was a tad snug.  Hopefully I'll get this years kit sooner then later.

crossing the finish
What else is new for this years racing... I got a "new haircut" for the series.  Sorry for the late post, but I wanted to wait to get the pictures from my brother before posting.

Less facial hair equals faster rider??

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