Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's like shootin' pool

I drove down to my my teams race on staurday, the Stafford Springs Raceway Cyclonauts Criterium. I hadn't committed to race. I had spoke with my captain and president, and let them know I would defer to working the race instead of racing if they needed me. As it ended up, my captain insisted that I race the 45+, and signed me up for the 3/4 event as well.

The early morning rain had cleared by the time I arrived. The sun had come out, and though the air was cool it was good racing weather. Lining up for the 45+ were almost 50 riders. This was to be the first criterium on the new Scott CR1, so I was a little on edge about it. The speedway circuit isn't exactly technical, but at least we had the benefit of a little chicane on one end of the 1/2 mile oval, (right after the finish line) to help break things up, otherwise it would have been _really_ boring. This speedway is in great shape. The pavement is good all the way around,, the shoulders are smooth and level with the track, and there are no speed bumps on the inside like at Star speedway where BOB has their points race. Even if you roll into the grass here, it's firm enough for you to keep your speed and nudge your way back onto the track.

Eric Marro of BOB went from the gun. He went out for about ten of 40 laps by himself, never getting more than 15 seconds. As he was brought back a group of 4 with my teammate mike malone went off for maybe another ten laps or so, again not getting very far. After that break came back, Mark Thompson (sunapee) rolled off the front, and established a decent gap pretty quickly. A few laps later Bill sawyer (gearworks) made a move as well. I was moving to the front at the time, and bill popped right out in front of me and gave it the gas. I stayed with him, and we very quickly put ten seconds on the field. we traded pulls for a couple laps before another group of three bridged up to us, containing craig harrison (sunapee), marro, and mike bernard (gearworks). We started working the break, and, except for harrison who was blocking for thompson, we managed to put together a decent gap on the field. Thompson stayed out in front, maybe 10-15 seconds, and if not for harrisons efforts we may have caught him.

But, we didn't. The field wasn't too intent on chasing, and the break was motivated enough to stay away. With three laps to go, somehow eric pierce (bethel) managed to escape the field and bridge up to us. He must have really put the hammer down for less than two laps, because he came up very suddenly. He got to the front with two to go, and Marro yelled at him that harrison was blocking. Pierce was strong enough to haul us all the way around again for an entire lap. I knew we would stay away at that point, so I had already taken a rest lap with three to go, and got another free lap on two to go. Coming out of the chicane I was in a really good spot - last in line. Just as we got back on the oval, Marro was in 4th spot with harrison on his wheel, and he jumped way to the outside. I'm not sure where my head was at right then, but it sure wasn't paying attention to the race. It took me more than a few pedal strokes to make up my mind, and by then the sprint had started. I had to close a 3/4 length gap left by the marro/harrison move, and just made it onto bernards wheel when we came into the finishing straight - too late. I managed to move up alongside bernard, and I could see pierce to my left, we were all within a wheel of each other. I'm sure I was less than a bike length behind harrison who took the sprint.

It's frustrating, humiliating, and demoralizing to finish last in a break, especially when it was set up so perfect for me. I'm quite ambivalent about my performance. I'm quite happy that I helped establish a successful break since that doesn't happen very often - like ever, and I thought I played it pretty well right up to the finish. I was on my limit for most of the break, and if there was more power with us I may not have been able to stay in, but, there wasn't, and I did. Still, after 20+ years of bike racing you'd think I would learn to be more attentive to attacks with 500 meters to go.

It's just like shooting pool. I know how to do it. I know how I should strike the cue to hit the target ball at what angle, using the proper english to leave the cue set up for the next shot, I can tell you what I want to do, and tell you how to do it. the problem is with actually _doing_ it. I know where I need to be when setting up for a sprint, and when I should make my move. But when I'm in the line and my HR is at 99%, the process doesn't always follow through.

Well, tonight are the tuesday night fights, and saturday I'm supposed to do the rye beach duathlon. At least in the duathlon I won't have to worry about setting up for a sprint finish.


Raineman said...

As the son often said in the sit-com Grand: "Dont' Think."

As Nike once said "Just do it."

solobreak said...

Don't be so sure about Rye. The second run there is a dogfight. You will be in good shape coming off the bike. But traditionally there are a lot of riders who *somehow* come off the bike all together. Call them "grouppo Bigelow" or something. Anyhow, the run doubles back on itself, so they get a good look at how far ahead you are. You could end up sprinting...

Sadly, I don't think I've been running enough (read: not at all) to defend my title at Rye this year. I think you can take it though.

solobreak said...

"after 20+ years of bike racing you'd think I would learn to be more attentive to attacks with 500 meters to go"

Hell, I can't believe after 15 years of watching Marro, you didn't know that he was going to jump first.

zanne said...

oh dude. this post had me at rye beach duathlon. i knew you were in new england - assumed it was mass. i spent almost every single summer of my life in rye beach - do you live nearby? we're headed back east this summer & while not going to rye, we'll be visiting my husbands' family in North Andover -we might be looking for a club or team ride or something to latch onto one night ...

I like the shootin' pool analogy. my coach has got the same sort of analogy for attacks: like shooting hoops. give it a try, if you miss, you miss. try it again. although i don't think that analogy works for the finish line attack. I have to say though, that it's comforting to a new racer to hear that a veteran racer has some of the same sorts of frustrations - always feel ok after hearing about teammates' with far more experience who sometimes make the same sorts of mistakes. Think that's what I love about cycling & racing so much - there is always something to learn. ... and at least you were last in the break & helped to stick the break ... I'm looking forward to that day!

Il Bruce said...

Rye? Did someone say rye?


Only rye I am interested in.

zencycle said...

Blogger solobreak said...
Hell, I can't believe after 15 years of watching Marro, you didn't know that he was going to jump first.

I did know, I said I fucked it up.