Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Purtle Tond

sorry, had to do it. I don't know what popped that spoonerism into my head the other day, but now it won't go away. Hopefully I've perverted your mnemonic as well.

Turtle Pond was my first race - training or otherwise - since last 'cross season. I had no teammates though I had a number of friends there. As I noted in my last blogpost, I was dubious of my good performance on the BOB tuesday ride because the numbers didn't indicate a good effort, even though I finished a good 30 seconds ahead of anyone else.

Boring-reiteration-of-the-course-that-you've-read-on-ten-other-blogs-by-now: An 11+ mile circuit with one climb of note and a few other damaging rollers. There are 4 corners, with two on the north end of the course and two on the south end (more on that later). Mostly decent roads. We did 5 laps.

Even though I was using this race as more of a test than approaching it with a goal, I didn't race very intelligently. The hill is one of those climbs that is only as hard as the race. If you were just out riding it really wouldn't be much of a climb unless you were hammering, which is exactly what the leaders did every lap. It's about 1Km and maybe 5% pitch at one point but ~3% average. I was climbing it in my 39x16, so it clearly isn't much of a hill.

On the first lap it was controlled so I did it in my big ring. Not too hard, but I knew if I was going to be able to respond to any moves I was going to have to do it every time after that in my small ring. A break materialized on the subsequent downhill, and got a good gap right away. Other attempts to go off the front were chased and shut down by the cyclemania boys, who did an excellent job of controlling the race.

The mistake I made on the hill was sitting too far back in the field at the bottom of the climb each lap, then having to try and hammer to get to the front around the slower riders - just a case of not thinking about the race on my part. I know better than that and it caused me to spend a lot of unnecessary energy during the race. For some stupid reason I kept forgetting that the attacks were materializing on the hill, so my effort to get to the front, from the back, meant I had to climb faster than the leaders.

Don't try that at home, boys and girls.

Essentially, on laps 2, 3, and 4, I ended up barely getting onto the lead group before the bottom of the hill after the climb, and it was only with help from other riders that were chasing back on as well. The efforts pretty much toasted me for any other subsequent attempts at working. So on the last lap I started the climb at the front and didn't have much of a problem staying with the leaders (though it was still hard). There were still three riders off the front by then, and on the rollers before that (on lap 4) another group of two had gotten away so the race was essentially gone. They were paying 3 deep and five were away. Nothing left to race for but glory.

The southernmost point of the course course takes a sharp right onto a narrow road from a fast section, then takes another right 1/4 mile later on a slight downhill. It's far enough from the finish (5 miles) that getting through the corners first isn't important. For some reason, a lot of guys think it _does_ make a difference so they fly into them thinking they're in a crit or something. On every lap I had guys coming inside as I was setting up for the corner. If we were in a crit I would have shut them down hard, but hey, this wasn't the time or place for that type of riding, so as long as they didn't start crowding me I was fine.

I went on a little flyer with about 1 mile before the turns to avoid any problems. The fact that I hadn't spent energy chasing from the bottom of the hill left me feeling pretty decent at that point (QED for riding the hill from the front of the field). One guy went with me. It wasn't an attempt to breakaway, just to be safe. I had concerns about it because it was dicey before that and I could sense the tension increasing in the pack, so I decided to make the move. The guy that went with me pulled up and said "I'm not sure this is going to work", and I replied, "I just want to get through these corners up here". Next thing I know this dude is coming up on my right just before the first right hand turn, and I'm thinking "wow, this dude is gonna take that corner pretty tight". So I feather the brakes to scrub off a bit of speed and fade in behind the dude,

and he goes fucking straight.

I'm anticipating him taking a right, so I almost clip his real wheel, which would have taken me down. I yelled "DOOOOOD!!!", take the corner, accelerate out, look back and see half the goddam field going straight with the rest of the pack trying to make the tight 90 degree corner. Seriously, we had taken that corner 4 fucking times already. Not only that but the field for the most part saw me take the corner ahead of them. Even if they forgot about the turn that should have reminded them, and they should have realized the other dude went off the course. I started drilling it through that section to the next corner, and made it through that one first as well.

As I came out of the second corner, the field was on me. The confusion with the first turn obviously set off some alarm bells and people started hammering. I looked back and it was single file. It had stretched out enough that the guy the went off the front with me had actually latched onto the back of the field. If I had a gap I probably would have kept going, not that anything would have come of it, but it is bike racing.

I just kept on eye on the front after that. The last turn is about 2 miles from the finish, with a little bit of a climb and a fast descent that bottoms out 200 yards before the finish then leads into a slight incline. There wasn't a lot of urgency by this point since all the money was up the road so I didn't have any trouble picking out a spot and holding it about 5th in line. Coming into the final stretch I popped out to the right and started wrapping it up. Another rider popped out right when I was coming along side him and almost forced me off the road. I swerved a bit and had to re-accelerate, but went by the rest of the riders, coming up in his draft. He held it winning the field sprint for 6th and I managed 2nd in the field sprint for 7th over all.

I'm sure there would have been a more serious contest in the sprint if there was still money on the line, but I'm still happy with getting 2nd in a field sprint. It still looks good on a 'resume'.

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