Monday, July 13, 2009

I Like Racing Bikes

As the title of this blog suggests, I find racing and riding hard quite cathartic. I haven't raced in a while due to a number of factors, but I decided to wimp out on the Powow Triathlon and go to a local criterium instead.

The Attleboro crit is a fun fast affair, with a reasonably technical course, a small hill, and a very fast corner heading into the line, exactly 1km. They've had it pretty much consistently for about 20 years I think. I know I raced it for the first time in about '96.

I signed up for the 35+ and 45 +. The 45s went off first, and were separated by the cat 5 race so I had some recovery. It was a great field, 53 riders, with some big names, including Solobreak.

It started off fast, quite a bit faster than any 45+ race I've done. Good thing though, I started at the back and was almost taken out in the first 100 feet twice by two guys struggling to get into their pedals and wobbling all over.

I followed the pace for the first 5-6 laps, and felt comfortable. People started going off the front, and I was content to let them ride. I just stayed with the chases. With 11 laps to go out of 30, a bell rang for a prime. I thought this would be a launching pad for a break, and I was feeling good enough to get into one. Sure enough, a few guys latched onto the people going for the prime.

Oopsie - the bell rings again for a back to back! Since I was in about 5th wheel I held the spot. Coming into the line through the fast corner the leader sat up, and I decided to go for it. I jumped, blasted past on the left, and went to drop it into my 12 for the final push.

nothing happened.

It wasn't dropping down. I just kept hammering, spinning my 13 for all I had, when a guy from celtic cycles just rolled by me, taking the prime by a wheel.


So I sat in after that, trying to see if a barrel tweak could get it to drop down. No luck. It just sat on the 13 and rattled. Then it dawned on me, This wheel set, Mavic gel330 sew-ups with a campy cassette, sits a bit more to the right in the dropouts. When I use these wheels I have to remember to tweak barrel and the stop screw.

OK , now I know, if I want to place I have to get out front early and make people pass me. No problem. I had been moving up the hill and passing on the insides of the corners all day. I'm content to sit in. A small break had formed at the front, and Solobreak was doing a great job reeling them in. He has one of the best sprinters in new england on his team, so it's worth it for him to work. I actually have another one of the best sprinters in new england on my team as well, but I hadn't seen him the whole race. He's typically quite active, so I didn't know if he was going to play or not. it was too late in the race to drift back and find out.

We head into the bell lap. I know I have to be on the right to move up on the inside all the way up and down the hill.

I need to get to the right.
blocked in.
blocked in.
dammit, the hill is coming up quick, people passing on the right, doing exactly what I need to do.

shit. I roll up the hill at the back of the field. No point in me going from here, not being stuck in my 13. I let the field roll away. I see solo pulled off to the right, obviously completely spent.

Nice work, solo, I couldn't have done that.

Come to find out, my sprinter teammate went for the win and got 2nd. Solo's sprinter got blocked in, and finished near the back.

Funny how bike races work out like that.

The 35+ wasn't as fast as the 45s believe it or not. Of course, I had no intention of doing anything in the race, so maybe it's just that I wasn't try as hard. Still, the first 3-4 laps of the 45s were single file, the first few of the 35s were all bunched up.

A break with three good riders from three good teams got away about 1/2 way through, and it stuck. Sunapee, CCB, and Fuji blocked for their guys. There was alot of activity from the teams that missed the break - gearworks and corner cycle, so the pace was kept high and the break never got more the 30 seconds, but with 6 guys blocking it wasn't coming back. The last few laps were quite fast, and since I had fixed my derailleur I was able to drop into the 12 for a reasonable finish - reasonable in that I was able to sprint and didn't watch the action from behind.

35+ - 17th out of 56, 48 minutes, about 27 mph
45+ - DFL, didn't even get listed, but the field did 40 minutes, avg about 28 mph

So I didn't place at all, but I had fun. I felt good. Again as the title of the blog implies, it did wonders for my attitude.

This week is the WMSR. Should be fun!

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