Yesterday marked my long ride ever, coming in at approximately 139 miles as a part of the Rapha Gentlemen’s Race. We headed out to the beach (Lincoln City) on Friday evening and stayed in a suite at the Inn at Spanish Head thanks to team president Jim who served as sugar daddy for the evening. [...]
Archive for June, 2009
I came into Friday not really sure if I was racing either the Swan Island Criterium Saturday or the Salem Fairview circuit race Sunday, much less both. But both it was, and I’m glad I did.
As a newly minted cat 3 I’m not particularly worried about getting top results immediately. Instead, I’m much more focused on working for the team and making some other teams take note of my number. I think that might be happening, as after yesterday I had several riders from other teams recognize me today.
First up, Swan Island. It’s a short criterium course about 1 kilometer long with two 90 degree corners and a gradual 180. Our race was 45 minutes plus two laps. I came into the race wanting to take a prime and then work for another teammate in the final sprint. The race started off fast and fairly early on I figured out that they seemed to be calling primes out every other lap. As such, I decided to attack off the front of the race on a non-prime lap and then hold on for two laps to take the prime. The first time I did this I caught another rider up the road and we worked together for a lap, and then he fell off my pace. I got caught by another rider that had attacked off the front and ended up getting worked over as he sat my wheel and came around me in the sprint. I knew this was going to happen, and tried in vain to shake him off my wheel.
A few laps later I went again, this time coming into a prime lap just before we got to the finish line. I was making an educated guess that it would be a prime lap and was happy to hear the bell as we came through the finish line. This time I managed to get away, catch the one rider up the road and promptly pass him, and stay away for the rest of the lap to take the prime. I now have $25 to spend at Quiznos!
After winning the prime I rested up and then got back to the front to make sure things stayed together for Robin in the final sprint. I chased down a few attacks and found myself a good spot near the front. With just over one lap to go, Ironclad (another team) brought a leadout train to the front of four riders.
Note: It’s important for this recap to understand what a leadout train is. Basically, at the end of a race the pace will intensify and speed up drastically as everyone tries to make their way to the front of the race to position for the sprint. A lead out train is a team that lines up several riders in front of their sprinter they want to win. They get the pace extremely high at the front of the race so that no one can come around them. The lead rider of the train goes until he starts to lose speed and then peels off for the next rider to continue the high pace. If it’s done correctly, the last rider will peel off just as the sprint is beginning giving their team’s sprinter perfect positioning and a clear shot at the win.
If it’s done correctly being the key part of that last sentence. Ironclad brought enough guys to the front and coming through the finish with one lap to go I had Robin sitting in perfect position – 4 ironclad riders, myself, and then Robin. You can see the lineup in this photo (I’m hiding behind rider #4, you can see my helmet).
Anyway, so things were fine and dandy and my plan was to come around the leadout train just before the last corner to give Robin his own leadout into the sprint. Things went wrong when Ironclad’s lead rider never peeled off and the pace started to die down at the front. A huge swarm of riders came around them to the right side, and I tried to go around them to the left. As I started to pass them, they moved left and forced me straight into a sewer grate on the side of the road. I made quite a scene of bunny hopping the grate as my back wheel came down on the far lip of the grate and I half-bumped the Ironclad rider next to me. I managed to sprint back up to near the front of the race, but at that point I’d burned my last match trying to get to the front and had nothing left to give a leadout. Robin managed to still take 4th, which was great.
Salem Fairview Circuit Race took place today (in Salem, not surprisingly). It’s a 1.9 mile course with a gradual rolling uphill and downhill, followed by a flat section (with a tailwind today) into the finish. The race was 50 minutes plus one lap. We had a great turnout from Team Oregon, and I had 9 teammates in the race. My plan was to attack and attack some more in order to make things interesting at the front. That’s pretty much exactly what I managed to do. Swan Island was all about attacking wisely and then recovering. Today was more about attacking with reckless abandon and throwing the whole “recovery” thing out the window.
I attacked immediately from the start of the race and ended up going the first three laps plus a bit solo off the front (nearly 6 miles). I was caught by two riders that bridged up to me – a Hutchs team rider and teammate Robin. We stayed away off the front for another two laps, during which time I won a prime uncontested ($10 plus a coffee table book and t-shirt today). As soon as we got caught I got myself back to the front and one lap later I was attacking off the front of the race again. This one didn’t stick. I attacked again. Didn’t stick. Then I chased another attack, but couldn’t get clear of the pack. After spending nearly the first half of the race off the front, I was digging deep, but I refused to stop attacking. Anytime I got near the front of the race I mustered whatever I could get out of my legs and attacked again. I think all told I ended up attacking or chasing at the front 8-9 times in 12 laps. I’d pretty much blown myself up with two laps to go and just struggled to hang on going up the climb. The last lap I actually fell off the pace on the climb and had to give it everything I had left just to get back into the pack on the descent. I came into the finish towards the back of the field, but we did have a teammate take 2nd.
I had a blast trying to kick my butt as much as I possibly could, and I don’t think I’ve ever been as spent after an hour long race as I was today. I got back to the car with my legs shaking and mild dizziness. And I’ve now won 3 primes in my last 3 short-course races I’ve done!
Check out our team at the race today:
Stage 1 – 70 mile road race
Okay, this road race shouldn’t be too hard. It’s only 70 miles and the first 20 are completely flat. This will be nothing compared to the 100 mile last stage. Sweet, police-escorted roll out of town! I’m sitting too far back in the pack, but that’s okay, I’ve got another 18 miles of flats to go before anything interesting will happen. I’m still sitting towards the back, but we’ve got 10 miles to go and we’re going 30MPH. It would be wise to sit in and conserve. Pace yourself. Plenty of time to move up. Okay, we’re about to hit the rolling hills leading up to the big one. There’s a little uphill, I think I’ll move up. top 20. Now I like where I’m at. Why do those clouds ahead look so dark? Nah, it wouldn’t rain… What the!? What’s with the downpour? I’m soaked. The rain stings. I can’t see. I should take my glasses off. I still can’t see and now I have rain in my eyes. I can’t tell if it’s raining or if that’s road spray. Nope, still raining. Oh, I have a good joke to tell the guy next to me: “So this must be the swim leg of the triathlon.” I thought it was funny. No response. Head down – trudge on.
Hmm… the slight grade leading up to the real climb is beginning, as are the attacks. I think I’ll sit up front and find a good wheel, but let some others do some chasing for a while. This pack is hungry. They’re not letting anything get away. My heart rate is getting high, but my legs feel good. There goes an attack, I think I’ll follow! Okay, everyone else followed as well. Uh oh, now we’re at the base of the real climb and I’m not recovered from that attack. Pain. Hold on. My heart rate is 198. The climb is getting steeper. We’re flying up this hill. My heart rate is stil 198. Can I hold that without cracking? Where is Pat? Gah, my heart rate is 197, but somehow I’m not dying off yet. Where on Earth is the top!? Oh, there it is. Whew, made it.
What’s this? We’re not letting up on the descent? Okay then… I’m spinning out my 53×12. I wish I had that 11 tooth cog in the back. Tucking deep trying to hold on. Can’t lose that wheel… why is my heart rate 190 on this rolling descent? Is 52 MPH really necessary guys? At least it looks like I’ve made the lead group of 20 or so out of the 90 that started. Oh no, that’s a rim on the ground. Front flat. We’re flying downhill. Hold it straight! Come around me guys, hurry! Okay, made it into the gravel. Front flat on a descent, that’s a new one. Quick change and I’m chasing to get back up there, right? Wait, where’s the wheel car? Seriously, where is it? There goes a chase group flying by. And another. This is rediculous. Goodbye GC chances. Okay, there’s the car. I need a front! No, a front! Yes, just a front. Gah, that had to have lost me 5 minutes. Must chase like crazy to not lose more time. I caught a chase group. Let’s work guys. No? Okay, goodbye then. Hey, I caught another chase group? Not working either? Then I’ll attack you too. Okay, finishing straight, I wonder how far back I am. Coming in alone. That was almost a great race. 4:56 back for 56th place? That’s about what I expected.
Hmm, I never saw Pat in one of those chase groups. That’s not good. Someone just told me he thought he saw one of my teammates down. That’s really not good. I suppose I’ll ride back to the staging area and hope he shows up. Hmm, my rear wheel feels soft. It would appear that my rear wheel is going flat as well – you know – just to rub it in. At least I made it back to the staging area before it was completely flat. Now where is Pat? It’s been a while. Oh, there he is. Yes, he has indeed crashed. Some shredded tires and road rash, looks to be okay, but he had it a lot worse than I did today. Good thing it was raining – it makes for much more bouncing and skidding off pavement rather than dragging and grinding.
Stage 2 – 11 mile individual time trial
Okay, so yesterday didn’t go as planned. At least there’s not a ton of pressure to do well today since I’m already a ways down in GC. Still, I’ll go out there and give it what I’ve got and see if I can make up some time on everybody close to me time-wise overall. I’m within striking distance of 30th GC.
Seat holder has got me. Please don’t drop me, that would be lame. Clipped in. Deep breaths. 5 seconds. GO! Okay, nice sprint up to speed. The legs are feeling good. Come on heart rate, get up there! What is this? why can’t my heart rate get above 179? I can’t breathe but my legs have so much more! I’ll get out of the saddle and sprint to see if I can get my heart rate higher. Nope. Gah, it’s been 4 miles. There’s the turnaround, and my 30 second guy is only 8 seconds ahead. I think I counted that right. At least I’ll be beating somebody today! Okay, my heart rate is up to 185. A little better. I’d be happy if it was 193. I just can’t get to the deep power in my legs. But hey, I just passed my 30 second guy! So I knew I had a nice tailwind on the way out, but this headwind is brutal! I feel like I’m barely moving. I’m still doing 22 somehow. Two miles to go. Hang in there. Start ramping the intensity – you can hold it. I said START RAMPING THE INTENSITY! Okay, there is no more intensity to be ramped today. Ugh, my 30 second guy just re-passed me. I can’t let him get too far away. There’s the finish. I only let 30 second guy get 5 seconds ahead of me. Ow, that was not particularly successful. I’m wheezing like crazy right now, and my legs are barely sore. 25:12… not too bad, over 25MPH average… that should be good enough for… 57TH!? Ugh. At least I’m now 53rd in GC. Moving on up.
Stage 3 – downtown criterium
Well, I’m not particularly a criterium racer, but what the heck, I had fun in the crit at Cherry Blossom, and I can do the same here. Good start, I’m clipped in quick, let’s go. BAD START! The only two guys in front of me are failing miserably at getting clipped in. Going around. Sorry guy to the left I just cut off, but I can’t be dropped before the race started. Sprinting. Sprinting. Well this sucks. I’m sitting in the back of an 80 person field. There’s the accordian effect. It’s way too hard to race back here. Must move up NOW! But where? Into the headwind, I suppose. Okay, moved up a bit. And a bit more. Well, it’s been six laps but at least I’m now near the front to help Derek. He’s our guy today. Hey look, an attack – I’ll chase! Chase chase chase! That was fun, now recover. Hey Derek, I’m here! Oh, and by the way I can tell you’re already way better at holding your position in a crit than I am. You’ve probably figured that out as well, since one lap I’m 10 riders in front of you, and the next I’m 10 riders behind you. Into the finishing straight headwind. Hey look, the riders in front of me are flying up the side of the pack. The guy in front of me just pulled off at the front. That’s it, I’m going. ATTAAAAAACK! Don’t look back, keep going. It’s been like 3 corners and I’m still sprinting – I’d better have a gap by now. Okay, I do – and a pretty nice one at that. I’ve got at least a few seconds lead. Coming up on one lap off the front through the finish line. Hey, the announcer just said my name! I won a prime? Keep digging, you’re not caught yet. Another half a lap and I’m still away. No one is trying to bridge to me, but they are slowly starting to reel me in. Better sit up and rest. That was fun. Hey look at that, I’m back at the back of the race. At least it only took a few laps to move up. Again. Hi Derek! Derek, what are you doing? WOW, you seriously just sprinted from 40 riders back to nip that prime at the line. That was awesome. Two laps to go. That came about quick. The rider next to me just lost traction and is sliding into me in the corner. Oh no, I’m going down! Hmm, I’m stil upright. Snap back to reality. I’ve lost my position up front. Try to move back up. So is everyone else. There’s the finish, I’m way back. Oh well.
That prime I won? $50! It’s all about the Grants, baby! That just doesn’t have the same ring to it. 30somethingth. A shame that my best race so far is in my worst discipline. But that was a ton of fun. Tomorrow will be epic.
Stage 4 – up a big hill
THIS WASN’T WHAT I MEANT WHEN I SAID EPIC! Why, rain, why? And it’s cold too! 100 miles? This is going to be miserable beyond miserable. Buck up, Adam. You can do this. I’m not giving you any other option. You’ll be cold and suffer and prove you’re more badass than anyone else. Finishing this stage today will be harder than winning it would be on a normal-weather day. I think I’ll make a joke to Candi – “We’re riding out there and straight up the finishing climb, right?” Haha, good one. Better go get changed. Announcement in the parking lot. “You’re riding out there and straight up the finishing climb.” Huh? Wha? …um, okay. I wasn’t THAT serious. I think she was already thinking about doing that anyway, right? Well, I guess we’re doing 20 miles of hypothermia today instead of 100. Except now it’s going to be that much faster and hurt that much more. Let’s go.
It’s been a mile and I’m already soaked. My feet are going numb. I can’t wait for the climb simply because it might present an opportunity to get warm. CRASH! That rider next to me has hit a bike on the ground and is going down. He’s falling right into me. Only brushed me. Still upright. There’s a bike sliding right into my path. The bike just hit my front wheel. I’m still upright. How? Whew, made it – have to sprint to get back onto the pack. The base of the climb is just ahead, and I feel bad for the bunch of riders that just got stuck behind that pileup. Here’s the base of the climb. I need to move up or I’m going to get gapped off when some of these slower riders can’t hold the pace. Top 15. Now I’m in a good spot. Pain cave.
This is a long climb. I’m losing track of time, but we’re still going uphill. I can’t feel my feet. Legs are getting tingly. There’s the 3K marker. The pace is high, but I’m holding it so far. We’re coming up on 1K. About 20 of us left. Nonononono don’t lose that wheel in front of you. Don’t do it! You can hold on. Drat, lost it. Look at that, stupid, you’re still pretty much keeping up with them, but now you’re gapped off and won’t be getting back on. Go go go! Sprint! Beat PSU guy! Okay, you finished probably less than a minute back of the lead pack. Maybe even less than 30 seconds. That’ll work for today. Hello, warm car!
/Still waiting on Stage 4 & overall GC results.
…is what this weekend is going to be. Epic, but brutal.
But first, some less painful news. I volunteered at the Cirque du Cycling race on Mississippi, which happens to be less than a mile from my place. Fun race, big crowds, great atmosphere.
The race course lined with people
Banner hanging crew
Zach doing barrier takedown after the race
After a long day, I had a much needed margarita at Por Que No.
Oh, and I managed to get in a 60 mile ride with the team earlier in the day.
- I finally have the title to my car after a month of mailing paperwork back and forth.
- I’ve gotten into A Thousand Splendid Suns and have been reading in the hammock the last several days.
- I broke a personal record for amount of pasta made tonight. This weighs probably 10 pounds and will last me for several days easily:
Anyway, things will be getting interesting as of this Thursday. After a quick car oil change in the morning, Pat and I are carpooling out to Baker City for the Elkhorn Classic Stage Race.
This will easily be the hardest weekend of racing I’ve ever done, and I’m stoked.
Stage 1 is about 75 miles and includes 3 good sized climbs that gain close to 1000 feet elevation each.
Stage 2 is an 11 mile individual time trial – out up 400 feet elevation gain and then back downhill.
Stage 3 is a downtown criterium in Baker City.
This is the stage I’ve mentioned before -105 miles, two good sized intermediate climbs and then the 6 mile finishing climb up 2500 feet.
All this, and the base elevation in Baker city is 3500 feet.
And I’m racing the cat 3s.
I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.
Justin La Vigne put together a video from his handlebar-mounted camera at Mount Tabor on Wednesday. Check it out – I’m in it quite a bit. This was confirmation that my race wheels do indeed look pretty sweet when rolling.
Tonight’s race at Tabor was a blast – and my first cat 3 race. It’s a field that will challenge me, but at the same time I think I’m definitely at the level I need to be at to be competitive.
The race was 9 laps long, which ends up being about 10 miles – and it’s over before you know it has begun. The first time I noticed the lap board coming through the finish line was with 5 laps to go, and the second was with one lap to go. We averaged 23mph for the race, which is really fast given the constant up and down. When the race is that short, every time up the climb is fast.
As far as the actual race goes, I spent much of the time figuring out the best lines to take, where to position myself, and where good places to attack might be. I chased a small breakaway attempt up the climb on the third lap, and I tended towards the left side of the road – so much so that I ended up in the gravel twice when riders next to me moved over.
The final lap was pretty chaotic. At the sharp corner at the top of the climb, (teammate) Justin was nearly forced outside into the gate on the side of the road, and I was riding to his left. I hit the brakes and had to reaccelerate hard down the hill to get back decently positioned. Everyone sat up and slowed a bit more than I expected, and at the bottom of the course leading up to the finishing climb I found myself too close to the front of the field for my liking. I decided to be stupid (while thinking repeatedly in my head “this is stupid!”) and ramped my pace hard at the bottom of the finishing climb. I had come around my teammates just before the base of the climb and I was really hoping one of them was on my wheel and I could provide a leadout. Not so much, turns out I gave a bunch of non-teammates a leadout instead. I started to die off pretty quickly on the climb (a little earlier than I was expecting – lots of lactic acid stored up in my legs from sprinting up the hill 8 times already) and went from the front of the pack to the very back of the pack in the last 300 meters of the race. Fun times.
Here’s a great photo from Heidi Swift of the 3 field coming up the bottom section of the climb. I’m way over on the right. Like I said, I was favoring the left side of the road.
I think I might skip Tabor next week in favor of being well-rested for Elkhorn, my biggest race remaining for the year. Then again, it’s such a short, fast race it might be good to open up my legs before Elkhorn begins on Friday.
The team headed down to Salem yesterday for a ride with our Salem team members. The ride was planned to be over 100 miles with lots of climbing – perfect to test my legs for the 105 mile stage the last day of Elkhorn stage race that is quickly approaching.
This was the longest ride I’ve done this year, and is probably in my top 5 distance-wise ever. The stats:
108 miles, 7200 feet of elevation gain, over 5000 calories burned, average speed 18MPH, 6 hours of ride time, 5 Clif bars, 1 PB & J sandwich, 5 water bottles, 1 snickers bar.
It was a great ride – battling some winds and a massive 16 mile stretch consisting primarily of climbing. I felt good on the hills as is becoming the usual this year, and I pushed it up several of the bigger climbs even though we were only 40 miles into the ride and had a long way to go. About mile 80 I was suffering pretty badly to hang in with the groups on the flats, but as of mile 90 I was recovering much better and I actually had some jump left in my legs on the smaller climbs near the end of the ride. I felt much better at the end of the ride than I did between miles 70-85.
The ride gave me confidence that at the very least I’ll be able to hang in there at Elkhorn, which will be my first big Cat 3 race coming up in two weeks.
Also to note:
Much of Oregon had a wicked thunder/hail/wind storm tear through Thursday afternoon. I only caught the north end of the storm, but still got to see some strong winds and 15 minutes of downpour. I like extreme weather.
I watched Hancock. That movie could not underwhelm more if it tried. The plotline skips around and abandons its original thesis, fails to provide meaningful background to charachters, and leaves you thinking it was trying to teach a lesson, but you’re not sure what the lesson is. And Will Smith is my favorite actor, but he just didn’t have it this time.
I’ll be racing Mt. Tabor this Wednesday. Up and down an extinct volcano a bunch of times in a group going as hard as you can until you win, or puke, or both. Sounds like it suits me much better than racing at PIR.
I’m volunteering at the Circe du Cycling criterium on Mississippi next Saturday. It’s only about a mile from my place, which is handy. Its a day filled with events intended to draw a crowd, which it does. The race consists of only two different category races – a Cat 1/2 race and a Cat 3 race. I could race, but its a course notorious for spectacular crashing. This makes for great spectating, but not the best racing unless you really like criteriums or road rash.