Tuesday, May 31, 2011

KY State Championships and Men's Health Awareness Crits

Four criteriums in two days... that was the plan. After missing a full week of training due to flood watch at work just two weeks prior, fitness wasn't quite top notch, but was certainly coming around. There were a few goals going into the weekend including getting enough points or at least finishing well enough to warrant an upgrade from Category 4 to 3 and winning the State Championship Cat 4 Criterium.

Kentucky State Cat 4 Crit Champion
Saturday Coach and I rolled to Frankfort nice and early, drove all the way around town to get to the backside of the course for parking and set up with Duane and other Louisville folks just before the finish line. Typical pizza (Clifton's) consumption followed by a warm-up on the trainer and a couple laps on the course and I was set to go in the 4/5 race. I got a second row start behind the army of McDonald's racers, we got our orders from the Chief Referee and we were off. A handful of people went off the front, but I never saw a combination that I liked so I did my share of the work to bring them back, but no more and never attempted to jump across solo. I felt like I managed the race to perfection - staying in the front five to eight riders, taking more pulls in the tailwind than in the headwind, getting the line I wanted in the turns, etc. UNTIL THE LAST TWO LAPS! I set up around fifth wheel with two to go, and fell to about eighth as we got the bell, no big deal. Then setting up for turn three I found myself on the outside with no hole to get through. I didn't panic, but did fall another 3-4 spots and was then setup for turn four on the outside which allowed me to accelerate even before the turn and come out swinging. I had 5 bike lengths to make up in about 200m - no small order, but I stood up, saw a hole through the eleven guys standing between me and the line and tried to rip the cranks off! I edged a Hoosier Climber guy by less than a wheel at the line for the Cat 4 Kentucky State Crit Title!

The 3/4 race was faster from the gun and for the first half of the race I could really feel the effort I left in the sprint just a couple hours before. Attacks stayed away for laps at a time, but they all came back. By the end of the race I had recovered and worked my way back near the front. I remembered what I'd been taught, that you have to make it hurt for the last five laps just to be there for the sprint and did just that! I was in the mix when we got the bell for the second race in a day! I set up on Tim Hargrave's wheel across the line, knowing he'd be there at the finish only to get chopped going into turn one and lose his wheel. I got back on the gas, but had slid to mid teens pretty quickly and came out of turn four with way too much ground to make up and with far less snap/power in the legs from the previous effort. I finished 12th and though I wanted more, I had conquered criteriums!

The smallest part of The Three Ring Circus - aka my little buddy
Sunday Christine and I loaded up with the three ring circus at just past dawn thirty to head to Richmond. Since the race was sponsored in part by McDonalds, we felt obliged to enjoy their breakfast on the road. I had the big breakfast with pancakes combo in preparation for another double and before we knew it, we were driving backwards on the course to set up at the start finish. (The Voice of the Ville, aka The Mouth of the South, aka ???  is the matriarch of the Three Ring Circus and was announcing for the race)

Showing my hand with 1 TO GO!
The 4/5 race was smaller than the day before, but the course had a nice little hill that strung out the field pretty quickly. A McDonalds guy and a Scholar's Inn Bakehouse guy went off the front at some point and while I couldn't figure out the the SIB "A" player was, my bet was on the other McD's guy and let the break have some room. Sure enough, they got chased down and a prime was announced so I went for it, stayed seated but thought there might be a chance of rolling off the front from there with a couple guys. No such luck, the field came back together and I got ready for a field sprint. THEN, before we got the bell I noticed the McD's guy (Michael) had been on the front for a lap or so and looked gassed so between turns three and four I made a pretty ballsy move and attacked on the last uphill of the lap. I knew if I didn't open a gap, I could recover on the downhill and turns one and two but as I got the bell (last lap) I had a few bike lengths. I had showed my hand, now it was time to play it to the end so I buried my head and nearly puked on the backstretch but made the final turn with plenty of room to put my hands in the air and enjoy a victory!
4/5 Solo WIN!

4/5 Podium

The 3/4 race was MUCH harder from the whistle. There were laps where I wanted to pull the plug, but it was all about training today and once a couple of Bakehouse guys got away, their team mates blocked well and there wasn't much I could do on my own. McDonalds also had a guy a half lap up and weren't chasing so the two Bakehouse guys lapped the field and then the race was on again. Tim H and another guy were off the front of the group and after missing that move I figured I was racing for 6th. Honestly, I was ok with that since it was my second solo race of the day on a tough course. Then, with about five laps to go, Bakehouse starts chasing hard, bringing the other two guys back - SWEET! They were trying to set up their other guys for the other money spots. The break of two was caught with two to go and suddenly we were racing for fourth. I found a spot in the middle of the Bakehouse train, pretty much alongside Tim H coming out of turn four and won the drag race for the line to take THIRD! Wait, the math doesn't work???? Joel (McD's) had flatted with just a couple laps to go while solo and tried to chase back on the field.

Three podiums in two days and an upgrade to Cat 3. I'd call that a mighty fine weekend!

Cat 3/4 Field Sprint for Third (Photo By: Jerrell Goodpaster)

Other things worth mentioning:
  •  One of the three ring circus members won his first ever bike race.

  • Coach took second in the Masters and seventh in the 1/2/3 race.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fat and Skinny Tire Festival (Part 2 - CRIT)

To read part one first, click here.

Saturday night it was time to pay my dues. Rachel and Erik were headed to dinner with the promoter and sponsors and I was keeping their 2yr old and 4 yr old with pizza at the hotel. While this had potential to be a nightmare for some, it turned out to be quite pleasant. Their kids are well behaved and I didn't even have to change a dirty diaper since the little one started falling asleep between the bed and the wall within half an hour of R&E leaving. The rest of the evening was spent with Papa John's pizza and cartoons on tv... until I realized Adult Swim had been on for about five minutes while I was on the phone. Oops, King of the Hill won't scar him too badly!
Elmo and Friends (Photo by Rachel F)
Sunday morning brought wet pavement, but only cloudy skies for a couple hours. When time came to warm up, the rain started and the temperature was dropping. After a half hearted spin on a borrowed trainer (rollers suck if they're wet!) I finished getting dressed including Winston's Brand Manbrocation, an undershirt, arm warmers, and wool socks. The course was basically two corners and a big bend or a "D" shape. The kicker - part of the course is on an island and you cross a bridge going into turn one and coming out of turn two.
Holeshot (Photo from Kevin Miles)

I wanted no part of any crashes going into the first turn or any of the turns for that matter, so I played like a CX race and took the holeshot and held the lead for a lap or so, then only went as deep as third wheel for several laps. The cold weather suited my body (like cross) so I made a few attempts at going solo or taking one guy with me but each time the field would string it out to bring me back. I guess that's what I get for winning Saturday. Around the midpoint of the race, Whitney attacked and opened a ten second gap. I decided not to chase since we were both Louisvillians without teammates but to let him go and maybe try to jump across later. He quickly built a half lap lead at which point I knew I couldn't get across solo and have anything left to out sprint him, so I conceded the win and marked everything for a field sprint.

Staying near the front (Photo from Kevin Miles)
With one to go I went to the front for the turns, then settled third wheel for the U and jumped out of the turn to take my second field sprint in two days, only this time for second place. Kudos to David Whitney of TwinSpires for a great solo effort! Another decent pay day fun day in the books...

Oh - in case I forgot to mention - race conditions were 46 F and raining! But thanks to the Alderfer's and the Racing for Riley team, it was still a great weekend of racing! I'll be back next year!

Fat and Skinny Tire Festival (Part 1 - RR)

This year it was all about the skinny tires for me, but that's the theme for 2011, not just Winona Lake. After enjoying the festival this year, I think I'll try for the triple next year (XC, Road, Crit in two days)!

We arrived Friday evening to cloudy skies but no rain, checked in and Rachel got all dolled up at the hotel. I was travelling with Erik, Rachel and their two kids under the condition that I babysit Saturday evening (poor kids - right?). After a four plus hour car ride, I wanted to stretch my legs so on the bike and out the door I went for a spin south of town, and back into downtown where Rachel was announcing. I got changed and enjoyed a form of pizza at Mad Anthony's as well as a slide show and welcoming festivities.

The mountain bike races were Saturday morning, so we got to sleep in and still get another spin in before heading out for Erik's start around noon. I was registered for the Cat 4 road race Saturday and crit on Sunday and looking for upgrade points. My start was about 2 hours after Erik's so I arranged for wheel return (thanks Barb!) and got warmed up only to learn that two Louisville women had gone down in a pretty nasty crash, one of which got transported by ambulance to the hospital. Amanda had a broken collarbone and some road rash on the brow, but we'll say all in all she was pretty lucky!

Winona RR Start Line (Photo by John Eric Hawkins)

Once those races wrapped up, it was time to clear the mind and hit the line. I lead it out for a bit, then sat back and evaluated the competition. We were racing four, seven mile laps and I knew Louisville's David Whitney would be strong as well as a couple other familiar faces. I quickly picked out the welder's in the group as people half heartedly tried to escape and just after finishing the first lap David and I tried an escape but didn't get far so we rejoined the field. It was more of a "test the waters" than a true attempt at freedom. A couple other guys tried to go away solo, but never got more than a handful of seconds, I was always confident I could jump across the gap if they really looked threatening. In lap three of four, David attacked hard and caught me a bit off guard. I stayed with the field for a minute or so before realizing they weren't chasing so I dropped back and then attacked and joined up with Whitney. We traded pulls for a few minutes slowly pulling away, but not killing ourselves quite yet until one of the officials pulled along side telling us the 5's were coming and to neutralize. They were riding one less lap than us and were nearing their finish, that's fine, but what about our gap? Yeah, the official just ignored it and let the field catch back on. Ah well.

Two turns after being passed by the 5's, the road is blocked by... you guessed it! A crash, in a straight stretch of slightly uphill pavement. So again, we stopped and waited about a minute for the road to clear (one guy was in the ditch and got hauled to the hospital for cracked vertebrae) and we were off for our last 9 miles of racing. At this point I decided to wait for a field sprint, knowing the welders were still near the front and had just gotten two recovery sessions. The last lap was fairly boring, very few attacks mostly a little cat and mouse for the last few miles with everyone on edge waiting for an attack that never happened. Whitney hung himself out on the front for a good part of the last mile and went into the last turn (250m) on the front. I had fought to keep my fifth wheel spot, and expected someone to jump around Whitney immediately and open up the sprint. It didn't happen and I was still coasting, so click, click, stand and off I went. The rest was downhill for 70 or so meters followed by a slight rise to the finishing arch. I put my head down, and stood on the pedals to the line to take the WIN! I have no idea how close it was, I was told a few bike lengths, but I wasn't going to sit up to celebrate until I saw finish line under my front wheel.

Not a bad pay day for a day of play! Part two including paying my gas money via babysitting a 2 and 4 year old and Sunday's criterium to follow soon.... CLICK HERE

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

TNW: KFEC Style - Take Two

This week was round two of hot laps at KFEC in place of the traditional Tuesday Night Worlds route. The format was similar to the first outing, but some details changed including avoiding Eastern Pkwy as much as possible and utilizing lower traffic roads leading through Audubon Park. We kept the two set format, but instead of four laps, we did six laps each set for about 33 minute sets.

Mist was intermittently falling during my ride to the start at the former Cycler's Cafe, but there were already a dozen people waiting at ten til six. Low and behold, Brad Swope shows up, the man I've never ever seen out with more than a few clouds in the sky!! The crowd kept growing and people kept looking around hoping that someone would make the call to go home. That was not to be, as we rolled out with about thirty people, none wanting to be outdone by the rest for riding in shit conditions.
The route to KFEC in red with the route back to Seneca in green.
The first set was hard from the get go with attacks flying until Swope and a Clarksville guy got a solid gap. After a lap I tried to make a solo bridge, but only got about half way across before the headwind section sent me back to the pack. Eventually the break was caught and John Grant and another Roadhouse guy got away for good. I squeaked out a decent sprint, but not timed well enough to catch Rolf for third.

The two sets are highlighted. Avg speeds: 24.9mph and 24.5mph
The second set wasn't quite as fast, especially once Mitchell and Grant got away. The precipitation changed from a mist to a steady pissing rain paired with some wind out of the NNW. Kevin had comments on my poorly timed tactics, and I've got plenty to learn, but with no chance of bridging solo across a 30 second gap, sticking to a strong wheel and setting up for the sprint for third seemed to be the best option.

The ride home got cold, but most of us enjoyed the idea that this weather might return for CX season this fall!

Monday, May 16, 2011

My first gold star as a Junior Ride Captain

A few weeks ago, the mighty Ohio River swelled out of it's banks and onto our routine Tuesday Night Worlds training course so I made a suggestion to the great purplerides that we all take to the circuit of KFEC. As it turns out, some others have been using the roads as well and many very much enjoyed the low traffic practice race simulation including John May, who granted me, "a gold star in your junior ride captain sticker book"

This week we're going to do it again... with a few changes in response to input from both old and young guys! (Thanks for the help guys!)

The to and fro route will change slightly to stay off Eastern Pkwy, but the format will tentatively be two sets of six laps. If the group is overly large we may split into an A and a B group and shorten the B's to 5 lap sets. Also depending on time the second set can be reduced by a couple laps. The "start/finish" will be under the pedestrian bridge and we'll try to stay in the two left most lanes so that any cars may pass safely.

Here's the route from the inaugural TNW: KFEC Style if you'd like to take a peak.
Map (mileage is a bit off since I started from home) 
This week's route will go through Audubon Park instead of across Eastern Pkwy.
The highlighted portions are two four-lap sets with some max speed info.