Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Race your own race

Sunday my plan was to NOT go hard off the front.  That clearly hadn't been working for me as I haven't been able to hold out that pace for the entire race.  Not only couldn't I hold out the pace, my performance would inevitably deteriorate and I would just end up giving up spots.  So new game plan, go mid-pack off the start and let other riders guide me.

What I mean by that is allow for there to be racers in front of me.  What I mean by that in plain English: don't feel the need to blow by everyone as soon as you see them!!  With that sort of mindset I never allowed myself to recover... hence the blowing up and performance suck.

At the start the rider in front of me (with toe clips) couldn't get onto his pedal and completely stalled.  The problem being: we were packed in there at the start and I was right on his wheel... so it felt like right off the start I was stuck in a track stand.  Got around him and put it down but ended up towards the end as we entered the singletrack.  Remember yesterday when I talked about the 10%?  As the pack slowed for the funnel to the singletrack one racer behind me decided he didn't have to wait.  I saw him out of my peripherals making a late move as everyone else was slowing and thought "dick."  I didn't like it, but I was going to have to allow him in front of me as we were weaving through the parking barriers and into the singletrack.  I guess that spot wasn't good enough for him and he went into the track beside another rider.  Which startled the other rider (because who the hell makes a move like that, off the start, off the back of the pack??) and he verbalized some sort of question... like... "what the fuck?"  The "fast" rider said nothing and kept pushing - almost sending the rider in front of me into a tree.  Mind you we were RIGHT behind him through the singletrack so nothing was accomplished with the move... (Sub-goal of the race - beat that douche)*

Following the pack through the singletrack was slow.... now I remember what I liked going off the front.  But as soon as we hit the gravel I was ready to go - BUT I had to contain myself.  I allowed myself a quick pass of 2-3 riders but held back and settled in behind the next group as we went through the grass section.  Typically I would have just put it down and worked by everyone in that group... but that would have left me sucking wind going through the parking lot and just losing spots back.  As we got through the start/finish I had passed two of the riders and was on the wheel of another.  This was my race.  Catching up to riders in the singletrack, following them through the grass, and passing up the gravel road/parking lot before entering the singletrack again.

On my last lap I passed what I thought would be my final rider in the grass.  I made a clear call and as I passed him I told him to not give up, keep on me.  I turned onto the gravel road for the last push and heard someone coming up fast - had he really regained that much energy (felt like I had dropped him instantly in the grass)?  It was the third place rider in the class below me - side story.  On the second to last lap I knew the lead rider would be coming... I was behind a group of three in the singletrack and as we were working the small up to the boulder (right before you kick onto the gravel road might I add) the lead came up behind yelling he was the leader and for me to let him pass.  Fair enough, but where would he like to pass??  There was no place for me to pull over and continue riding, so I yelled to him that the gravel road was just ahead (if I was alone maybe I would have paused for him, but being I was in a battle with the riders in front of me, I wasn't going to stop my race for him).  As we cleared the boulder and were getting the road the riders in front yelled back asking him which side he wanted and we shifted for him and he passed.  The rider in second came up a few seconds later calling his pass clearly and executing cleanly.**

Ok, back to it... so third place had just passed me moving!!  I tried to jump on his wheel but couldn't grab - but I kept my pace up because I saw that there was another rider ahead who looked like he was struggling.  I couldn't tell if he was in my class or not but I was gaining on him.  Problem being is that the third place racer reached him first, spooked him, and he took off before I could get close enough to challenge him.  He was in my class... ah well.

Although my finish wasn't spectacular, or even out of the range of where I have been finishing (15th out of 25) my lap times were MUCH better.  Destroyed my times from last race - but I was ill so that isn't hard...  I probably felt strongest in the first race of the series, and comparing those times I was still faster per lap in Sunday's race.

Race #4

Race #1

Clearly I had a faster first lap going off the front - but I fell way off on each lap thereafter.  If I can get a better pack start, keep my lap times around/under 4:50 then hopefully I can be looking at breaking into the top 10.  Either way, I was happy with my performance Sunday.  One thing to remember, race your own race.  I can't recover from an off the front start - so I need to battle through the field.  Which I like, gives me a goal through each lap - someone to reel in.  So much easier than racing with no one in front of you.

* After the race I was talking with the racer who got cut off.  He said he approached our super fast friend (who we both placed higher than) asking why he felt the need for such a move.  His first response was to ask if he wanted to throw down... WOW.  Then he offered an explanation, "that's why we have insurance!"  Sure, so we can make jackass moves without a second thought.  It's cool if someone breaks a collar bone or leg - we have insurance!!  The racers only "real" reason for making his move was to "be where he was supposed to be" in the race... sure.  Well, looks like the back is where he was supposed to be...

** I was talking with another racer after the race and I mentioned the leader coming through on our second to last lap.  He mentioned how the leader had reached him before he came to me at the boulder, yelling for a pass.  They reached a spot in the singletrack where there was just enough room for the leader to try to make a move - which he did.  But his pass wasn't clean and he hit the racer's front wheel with his rear, almost sending him off the trail.  I get it, you want to be able to lap racers, and pass slower guys (hey, I get to pass people too!!) but you've got to make smart moves.  Yeah it can suck to be stuck behind someone on a section you know you can clear faster... but that is racing.  If you want unobstructed hot laps, ride while everyone else is at work.

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