Friday, September 24, 2010

I love racing

This week I completed my second go at the D Flite at Rocky Mountain Raceway's criterium. I went into it with the goal of staying with the lead group and not getting stuck out in the wind. I'm happy to say I accomplished both. I was able to stay with the leaders every time there was a selection, which really wasn't much. I think I finished around 11th or 12th out of 20 or so, so we never did drop that many. I made a really sweet move on the back side of the last lap, going from the back of the pack with maybe one person behind me up to 3rd wheel coming around the last turn. The pace picked up and I stayed with the wheel in front of me... only to discover that he wasn't moving fast enough as the bunch swarmed around us. I don't know if there was a gap between where I finished and where the winner was, but I don't think there was.

These last two races have been so fun for me. I just love riding with a group, but even moreso in a race. I love the dance as everyone jockeys for position, the way the group ebbs and flows as it goes around corners and the order gets reshuffled. I love the subtle moves and differences in pace that it takes to move up from the back of the pack to near the front, and yet staying out of the wind the whole time. I love the challenge of not getting dropped as I take the slightly wrong line out of a turn, the 5 second sprint to get back on the wheel in front of me. I love the education I get as I realize what a sprint is like and know that I'm not ready for one. Yet I love that I'm able to hang with the guys that have been racing all season when I've just started.

Sigh. I love racing.

Monday, September 13, 2010

My weekday rides usually consist of a lunchtime jaunt up City Creek Canyon. The canyon is open to cyclists on odd-numbered days between Memorial Day and October 1st. The rest of the year you can ride it everyday if you so choose. It's a gorgeous place to ride, and just enough of a climb to keep your legs remembering what it feels like to work a little.

My boss and his wife often ride the canyon at lunchtime as well, so I like to give them a head start and I see if I can catch them before the usual turnaround point at the water treatment facility. Most times I'm able to if I give my boss about a 10 minute head start. Today they got a little bit more of a head start because I had left my sunglasses on my desk, and had to head back up to my office in all my spandex glory to retrieve them. Long story short, I caught them both just before the turnaround point, and managed to PR the climb from my office by 5 seconds.

I'm sure I'll write more about City Creek in the future... It's a favorite ride of mine and about the only one I'll do at lunchtime.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Rocky Mtn Raceway Crit - race report

Well a Tuesday night finally opened up and I was able to go race the Rocky Mountain Raceway Criterium series. Unfortunately, this late in the season they're not assigning any numbers, so I didn't get to get an official result, and it seemed that there was some confusion as to the finishing order, but I'm pretty sure I know where I finished. More on that in a second.

I loaded up the bikes (Yes, bikes -- all 3 kids had to bring their bikes too) on the rack and got to the raceway as the A's and B's were still cruising at breakneck speed. I signed in with a buddy of mine that I talked into doing the race just this morning. I was able to take a couple of warm up sprints up and down the straightaway (which is about 1/2 mile long). It wasn't the warm up that I wanted, but it would have to do, as soon they were calling the C and D flites to the line.

I lined up on the outside in the second row. I didn't get a good count, but I'm estimating there were 18 or so in our flite. As soon as the start was given, the guy I was behind went to the front and I found myself in second position going a lot slower than I anticipated the first lap would be. I had conveniently forgotten my speedometer, so I have no idea how fast we were actually going, but it wasn't very fast at all and I had to resist the temptation to go to the front and pick things up. We were riding 2 across for the entire first lap at a leisurely pace. As we hit the first corner in the second lap, one guy decided to give it a go on the inside and the group accelerated, not giving him any room. I went from 2nd to 4th wheel as we merged to single file.

The wind was out of the south, but I didn't really notice it as I was staying in the pack pretty well most of the time. I stayed near the front in 2nd, 3rd, or 4th position for a couple of laps as the pace increased each time as someone else from the back half would give it a go on the first corner. That was right where I wanted to be. At one point I took the first corner too tightly and found myself on the front of the pack, pulling for about half a lap (about 75 seconds). That was completely and totally unintentional, but alas, there I was. I figured I'd make this an easy lap for the group and kind of soft pedaled, but the group was happy to just sit on, so I led. Just before the final turn I peeled off and jumped on the back of the lead group, now in 8th or so. As we roared down the straightaway, the pace really started to pick up, and when we hit turn 1 again, the group split for good, losing about half the riders off the back, including my one and only "teammate" buddy. I stayed with the lead group for another lap or two, when I got caught taking the first corner too wide putting myself into the headwind, and the 8 riders I was with took off, never to be caught again.

So there I was, out in the wind, all alone, where I would remain for the rest of the race. 2 laps later I heard the "Two laps to go" announcement made just for me, as there was no one in front or behind me. I watched the lead group enter turn 1 about 15 seconds ahead and counted 9 riders, so I knew I was in 10th. With a lap and a half to go, I passed two ladies, one that had fallen from the lead group, and one that I had passed before but she had caught on to the back of C flite and made up some ground (big no no). When C flite went by me, I asked to make sure I wasn't getting lapped and saw her on the back, at that point she knew she was caught and dropped off and let them go. I stayed ahead of those two gals and finished in what I am pretty sure was 9th place, all alone, lapping two guys who had blown off the back of the back group just before the line.

All in all, it was extremely fun, very challenging, and somewhat painful. I can't wait to do it again!