April 27, 2010

GVCC Bloomfield road race report

So I finally bit the bullet a few weeks ago and renewed my Cat5 USCF license that I previously held in 2006. I figure if I am not doing a full Ironman this year, I might as well work on my weakness and get the cycling speed where it should be! As an added bonus and push to make me do this, the only bike that is functional right now is "The Tank" or the first racing bike I got after getting serious in multisport. She's a Trek 1500 from circa 2005 and is equipped with the latest and greatest shimano 105 components and a carbon fork and seatpost. I don't have a picture, but she's a beauty (note the sarcasm!) I'll try to get one up soonish...

But April 18th, noted my return to road cycling racing. I had dabbled into road racing before in 2004, I ventured out to Ithaca, NY on my birthday to partake in the Jersey Hill Circuit Race after watching the Tour de France for a few months and thinking I was hot stuff. I immediately got dropped from the main pack on the first hill and it was rather embarrassing. (Notice in the results, I'm 3rd from last....) Same thing happened at the GVCC Spring Classic at Perinton in 2005 and I stopped bike racing for a few years after that because I thought I couldn't keep up with anyone.
Fast forward to 2010 and I've done a few triathlons, gotten a whole lot more comfortable on the bike. I've learned how to properly carry speed thru turns and uphills too. I'm feeling good. So I renewed my license and looked at a racing schedule for the year. First up was a spring warm up of the GVCC Bloomfield Road race. My goal for the race was a top 5 finish in my category race and I thought I might be up for the challenge. Times from previous years weren't too bad and I thought I could do well.
All week it had been nice weather and sunny and 60 degrees during the day, I wake up race morning and it's about 40 with a wind chill of 30 and rainy. Not so ideal conditions for a bike race. I threw on all the warm and winproof clothing I had and prepared to be cold and wet for this ride. I checked in at Bloomfield Elementary School and saw soem familiar faces of Doug Mauro, Jochen Hoppert, and the Hoad.
I went out for the warm up and 5 minutes in, my toes were wet. My hands were cold, just not wet yet, I had a nice new pair of Manzella windstopper gloves on as per recommendation of a friend and they definitely worked wonders! I warmed up for about 20 minutes and felt ready. They staged us at the school and there were about 20 of us for the race piled behind a pace car. It was still raining pretty good at the start and we rolled out for the "neutral roll out" uphill and over routes 5+20.
We hit the intersection that the race started and people were getting squirrelly even before then. Cat 5 is reserved for those folks that don’t have enough race experience to race a higher category, so the bike handling skills can be shaky. We rolled thru the first loop and I looked around and our field was drastically cut down to about 10 riders. There was a large decent on the first loop and a sharp 90 degree right hander at the bottom of it and I let most folks go in front of me and then pedaled to catch up to the tail end of the pack once the turn was over just to be safe. Loop one was done and we hit some good rollers on this course (there were not too many flat sections on it at all) our field was thinned down from 10 to about 8 and then quickly to 5 riders with about 8 miles to go after a good set of rollers. I was surprised because that was me in years prior. :o) I recall saying something like, “Okay guys, we finish and here’s our podium” and we rode on The 5 of us had like 8 miles to go and this one dude in an Ommegang jersey launched off the front on an uphill and no one chased him down. I was hanging on the back just drafting and not doing too much work so I was unable to cover his move. He got about 300-400m on us and stayed there. No one wanted to chase him down and I was trying to get people to go after him, as I didn't want to give up the race.

I came to the front of our little pack and started sprinting towards him, I was closing at 300m, then 200m, then my legs got a little tired and I flicked my arm to have someone else pull and no one came around…This was weird, so I sat up and soft-pedaled, no one came around...so after 10 seconds of reprieve, I attacked again hoping to drop the guys hanging off my wheel and bridge up to the Ommegang attacker. He apparently didn't think he could stay out ahead and started to fade and sit up and we caught him (In retrospect I pulled everyone up to him) and everyone soft pedaled to catch their breath and rest for the finish with about 1.5 miles to go.
So with a little over a mile to go, we were all bunched back together for the final sprint. I knew that there was one more roller and a right hander and then go up to where the finish was. In a recon mission down there a few weeks prior, I was told the finish was a sharp right hander and up a dead end street. (Turns out it was not, but that’s totally my fault for not knowing the course)

We rounded the final corner (apparently) and three guys got a jump up a hill and me and another guy were still in the small chain ring so got caught with our pants down. The other guy was a little ahead of me and I caught back up to him and blew by him as I wanted prime position on the last turn before the uphill dead end street finish. (or so I thought) Now, we were about 800m to the tent and as I watched up the road the finishing 3 riders crest by the tent and NOT take the right turn, I thought to myself, that's weird and at that moment the guy behind me sling shotted and LAUNCHED around me and I jumped to react, but he was already in front of me. I looked down and heard a "beep beep" and apparently that was the finish. I didn't even sprint hard because it was too late. So that was the exciting finish of my first bike race of the year.
On a positive note though, I medaled and got onto the tail end of the podium which was what I initially wanted to do anyway. I’m researching more and more races now and am always open to more bike races that I might not be aware of, so it you know of any, please let me know! It’s wicked fun and if you don’t crash, it’s mighty enjoyable :o) hahaha. Many thanks to Laura and Ian for braving the wind and cold rain to watch me race and snap the action shots above!! Thanks guys!!!

I ended up racing the Muddy Sneaker 20k this past weekend, but don’t have time to write up a report just yet. I’ll get that one up as soon as I can. Until then though, keep on the roads or on the trails, stay outdoors and I’ll see you all getting the miles in. Cheers.

1 comment:

Tim said...

Oops, The race used to finish up that secondary hill. My bad. But what's wrong with your small ring on the final hill? That's a steep climb although not very long so I know you should have a similar gear ratio even in your small ring to match their big ring since they would be far up their cluster. Okay, so I didn't even race and I am throwing out advice after giving you bad finish info. My bad again. But you did already cross the finish line on your first loop to know where it was. Just sayin'.
Good race man, you have the legs to beat any of those guys and strategy will come with more races. Heck, I can barley hold your back wheel these days and that's only if you choose not to drop me.