Tag Archives: racing

Racing season over

As of last Monday, the road racing season is completely over for me for the year. As I did last year, I went back to Jamestown, RI to race in the Jamestown Classic. This year the weather was a lot better than last year and I felt a lot more confident having had some races under my belt. The pace was a little faster but I felt a lot more comfortable hanging in with the pack, but unfortunately, didn't manage to turn it into any results as I fell back a little bit on the final climb and didn't manage to make up the few seconds rounding the corner. Thus, I ended up finishing seven seconds back. But was still a good finish basically with the front of the pack.

That down, I sent in my request to move up to a Cat4 for next season which was approved. And while I'm looking forward to next season and races that start a little bit later in the day, I'm also glad that it's now to sort of the down time. Over the weekend, I rode with Quad on Saturday and did a bit of sweeping and just taking it easy. Then, on Sunday I went out with some of the MIT team to catch some of the 'cross race in Canton and also to just get some riding in. Both days, I rode without my heart rate monitor and just had fun. Especially when we climbed to the weather observatory in Blue Hills ;)

Probably will do a few more weeks of just taking it easy and just making sure I have fun. And then, I'll probably be starting to do some actual base training and get a reasonable overall training plan to maximize how well I do next season, especially given how early the collegiate season starts.

MIT Racing Skills Clinic

One thing that I've told myself I'm going to try to take more advantage of than I did in the spring is some of the other things that MIT has to offer. This includes trying to make a point of going to some random lectures on random topics (… that seem interesting) but also doing some riding with the MIT cycling club/team. I went on a few of the Intercollegiate Ice Cream rides over the summer and the people seemed nice enough. So I went to the first meeting of the semester on Monday and decided that I am going to do some collegiate racing for MIT in the spring. I figure that a) it's a good chance to get some more riding in b) a good chance to meet some more people from different parts of MIT than I usually interact with as an SDM-er and c) the MIT racing team is good. Very very good. As in, nationals champion good.

Anyway, the first skills clinic of the year was held yesterday so I went down for it. Not a lot of mileage put in, but a good workout. And lots of good work. The MIT team is coached by Nicole Freedman and it's pretty obvious even after one skills clinic that one thing that has helped the team succeed is a good coach. The first skills clinic was a lot of fun — some things to help focus on relaxing (somewhat ironic, yes), some skills drills and then some “getting comfortable riding really really close to someone”. The latter culminated in a fun game of Death Bike. Yes, Death Bike is as much fun as it sounds and I'll have to be sure not to miss the first skills clinic next year so that I can do it again ;-) Looking forward to the future clinics as I think they'll be very helpful to me in getting to be a better rider and racer.

Today brought rain and quite a bit of it, so I didn't get out for a ride and have instead spent the day working either on stuff for work or on stuff for school. While I would have liked to have gotten a ride in, at least I can be glad that I was productive and thus feel better if I take some time for a ride on a day with better weather :-)

Bow Road Race, 3 August 2008

Yesterday was the Bow Road Race, also known as the Central NH Road Race. I was wanting to get out and do another race again and wasn't really feeling in the mood to go to Wells Ave (… again) and so tried to get together some other people from the Quad team to go up and do it. The email met with moderate success and we ended up with a total of five Cat 5s, but they split the field by age group and so there were 3 in the 35+ Cat 5 field and then only myself and another guy in the Cat 5 under 35 field.

I got up early early early in the morning and got ready to head down to meet my ride. I grabbed a light and threw it on my bike as it was still not quite light, but once I was out the door, it actually seemed like it would have been light enough without. There was a light mist in the air and so I was wondering how much this was going to parallel the other non-Wells races I've done this year where it either rained right before or during the race. But we got on the road and as we made our way up I93, the sun started to come out and it looked like we might just have a nice day for a bike race.

We got to the starting point, registered and got ready to go. Managed to get in an almost decent warmup even, although I avoided attacking too much of the climbing while warming up just to sort of save my energy. I also was trying to work out some sort of muscle knot that I had gotten in my thigh on the drive up. We went to the start line and I positioned myself near the front with Matthew right with me. This was when we learned that the start was neutral for the first mile up the hill. Figured okay and then we were on our way. Once the pace car saw us and actually started, it kept a slow and unsteady pace up the hill. He'd go, then he'd slow down, causing the same sort of things through the entire field. Ugh.

Finally, we hit the top of the first hill and the pace car sped up and the field began to move. I kept with, trying not to push too hard but also doing what I could to stay with the group. And I succeeded for a little bit, but after one of the hills, I dropped off the back of the front end. I was determined not to let that discourage me, though, and so continued on. Not long after, I caught up with a few more stragglers and attempted to organize the group to work together. This was almost successful, but not quite. We'd work together and then hit a downhill and one of the guys would go bombing down the hill, forcing everyone to scramble to keep up. So when we were halfway around the second lap, the entire thing started to fall apart with pretty consistent attacking. I just didn't have it in my legs to keep up with that through the hills and fell back.

The rest of the race was pretty much a time trial effort. I had a couple of brief periods of working with another person, and it really helped a lot when Tyler (who was in the 35+ race) caught me right before the KOM hill and gave me some encouraging words, helping me to at least not feel that I was entirely in No Man's Land and thus a much-needed-by-then boost of confidence.

I ended up finishing about 18 minutes behind the leader, averaging 17.6 and about 4 minutes ahead of Matthew. Overall, a third of the field had dropped out (13 of the 39). So while the results weren't what I had gone in wanting to get, I still feel somewhat successful. And I didn't have the problem of over-wariness when descending in a group like I did at Lake Auburn earlier in the season. But if I'm going to do Bow (or races like it) next year, I definitely need to spend more time out climbing longer and steeper hills. The GPS said like 3500 feet of climbing over the 32-ish miles for the course. So ~ 150% of the climbing of the usual Quad ride in about 50% of the distance. It was definitely enough climbing that I felt it for a good chunk of the day. The course, though, was great even with that. Very very well marked with signage before every turn, a marshall at every turn stopping traffic and ensuring you went the right way and nice roads. So even with the amount of climbing and pain involved, I do think I'll look at doing it again next year.

And I think I'm likely to do something next weekend, probably Wells Ave unless something better shows up that I'm not seeing right now. And in all likelihood, there's I think only one or so non-Wells races with a cat 5 field left this season (other than Jamestown).

Leaden legs, weekend, etc

Last week was again a (relatively) light riding week between the storms that were rolling through the area as well as wanting to take part in the various SDM business trip activities. So I was pretty glad that the weather for the weekend looked pretty good. So woke up on Saturday morning and went out on the Quad ride. Although I was hanging just fine, my legs felt somewhat leaden. Figured it was mostly an effect of a light few weeks of riding and made it more of a point to spin rather than hammer in the big gear. Then, Kara and I headed down to her parents' as her dad's birthday was last week — ended up running a couple of errands and also having dinner before heading back home.

Yesterday, woke up and again headed out on the Quad ride. A group was planning to do Westford and Groton, so went out with them. Luckily, legs were feeling quite a bit better and so the longer ride felt less strenuous. Definitely think that things are “back” and so I'm looking forward to doing a race this weekend, although I need to decide if I'm going to head up to New Hampshire for the Bow Road Race or just do Wells Ave. Each has their upsides. Oh well, as long as I figure it out by the end of the week, I'm good. Then, I spent some time tidying up the house and just lazing about playing video games before settling in and trying to knock out the majority of the Systems Engineering homework which is due in the morning. Mostly succeeded, although I need to go over it and make sure it looks okay this evening.

Today is an in the office day and I biked in. Legs started out a little sluggish, but warmed up pretty quick. I think that the sluggishness might just have even been the whole “being on the heavy bike” after riding the nice bike all weekend and also adding to that, carrying in a bit more than I usually do in the pannier.

The day has been fairly productive, although some things haven't been where I've wanted them to be. But one by one getting some of the things taken care of for the Fedora 10 Alpha. For various reasons, the whole non-blocking freeze seems to not work so well. But so it goes. Also fixed up some kernel things for rawhide and have also been trying to make things work a bit nicer on a new piece of hardware. But more on that later.

Myles Standish State Park Road Race

I headed down to Plymouth today to take part in the Myles Standish State Park Road Race as my first race of the season following up on racing last fall in Jamestown, RI. Kara and I picked up Kate and John on our way down to help keep things a bit more exciting. A stop at Starbucks in West Medford and we were on our way. Made reasonable time on the way down, though the park was a bit further from the highway than we expected so we didn't get there as early as I would have liked.

Took my bike off the rack and managed to have my first slight mis-step of the day. In the process of pulling the bike off, I somehow managed to snap the plastic for my speed sensor — oh well, I can go by feel mostly. Then, I went to top off the tires and the valve of the rear tube blew out. Not the way I wanted to start things out. Changed the tube out without any problems. I do think that I'm done with the Conti tubes, though — this makes two of them that I've had valve related problems with. Between this and getting down a little late, I ended up not having as much time as I really kind of wanted for warming up. Did a quick warm-up around the parking lot just to mostly make sure everything was feeling good with the bike and with my legs. Then, we started staging. Where we sat on the line for the better part of 20 minutes. Which would have been great for getting warmed up.

In the Cat 5 under 35 field, there were about 25 people. From Quad, there was myself and Kenton. Given that we're both relatively new, we had a pretty simple plan for the race — “try to stay with the pack, if we fall off, try to work together”. As we started off, the pack got going at a pretty good clip, especially considering some of the potholes and upheavals in the pavement. But we managed to stick with the pack for a couple of miles. And then, someone decided to pick things up even more. I was pretty much at my limit and ended up falling back a bit as did a number of other people including Kenton. Of those that had fallen off, there were about five of us and at first, we did an okay job of working together, although everyone did pulls that were too long. As we got through the first lap (~ 5.25 miles), two of the five fell off the back including Kenton. I stuck on the wheels in front of me, though, and the three of us kept going for another lap or so. Then, one of the guys took off leaving just myself and one other guy. This was pretty much my “pack” until the last two miles when another two guys caught up to us and helped to get us energized again. Coming across to the finish, I managed to pull out the tiny bit I had left to keep from being passed by both of the two who had caught us.

I ended up in 18th with a time of 1:00:06 which I was pretty happy with for a course that totaled somewhere between 20 and 21 miles. And I managed to both have fun and learn some things for future races. Things to keep in mind for the future, even if they're a little obvious

  • Leave more time for warming up. Yeah, I had to deal with some unfortunate bits, but leave time for those. My legs hurt for too much of the first lap of the circuit because I hadn't had a good warm up.

  • Try to stay together better to work as a team better. And alternately (or better, in addition), try to get better cooperation with whoever else has fallen off the back. The latter sort of worked, but there was some lack of understanding on working together (I had a nice wheel, the guy I was riding with kept not drafting)
  • If you lose the pack, it's really hard to catch back up. I didn't see them again.
  • Come up with a more consistent training schedule so that I can be stronger and more consistent in a race.
  • Racing is fun!

Kara took a lot of good pictures of the race as well — link to come later once they're up. We then stuck around for the women's race (since Kate was in it) and thus also watched the 3 and 4 men's races. Kate probably had the best day of the Quadies coming in 6th in the women's race, which had 11 riders. The Quad riders in the Cat 4 race also were looking good. All in all, a good showing for Quad and a fun day for me. Now to figure out what race I'm going to do next…