Tag: bike racing (Page 1 of 2)

A Learning Experience

So yesterday was my second race of the season and part of the CRCA Race Series. It was actually a race clinic that included a “mentored” race. Since I haven’t done a whole lot of road racing (lots of riding, not much racing) I thought the clinic would be a good experience to help learn and practice some tactics and reading the field. At least those were my expectations.

But first, let me back up and say I successfully set my alarm clock and got up on time to make it to the race! I wasn’t about to repeat last weeks error. I was all prepped and ready to go Friday night and was in bed nice and early. I got up a few minutes before my alarm and was out the door with plenty of time to spare. I had prepped my usual Skratch Labs hydration and nutrition and set up my oatmeal for the morning. It was supposed to be a cold morning so I got all my warmest gear together and brought 2 pairs of gloves. One pair of Specialized gloves that had light insulation and windstopper fabric and the other a pair of Castelli CW3.1 winter gloves. Along with this was some Castelli Nanoflex leg warmers, Nanoflex bibs,  Alpha jacket and my neck and toe thingies. I was good do go down to about 32F. I plan on doing a cold weather gear video in the future.

After eating, gearing up and putting the bike in the truck I was off to Central Park. It was a non-eventful ride and there is a surprising amount of free parking at 5:15am on a Saturday morning. I unloaded everything, put my kit on and headed into the park not exactly sure where I was going but I soon saw some other cyclists and followed their lead. Once at the muster point I collected my race numbers, pinned them on and proceeded to the area where the clinic was to be held.

Once everyone was gathered for the clinic, we received a short talk on safety, riding in a pack and some tactics discussion. Once that was over we were to get staged and then perform a neutral roll out where the mentors would give tips etc and then at a set point on the course they would blow the whistle and the race would be on. I for one was looking forward to this neutral roll out as I had zero warm up and my legs were certainly cold. However nothing ever goes to plan right and after we got staged they moved us off course again so the A racers could go by first and then we would follow. But that meant a lot of standing around and while my body was ok temp wise, my hands were starting to get cold. Since it was windy out I wore the windstopper gloves with the light insulation and left the heavier ones back at the truck. This was a mistake that I would soon pay for.

Finally the A racers go by and then we were told we had to wait for the B racers as well. More waiting… Eventually were were able to get back on course but this time we didn’t stage they just said go! We were up to 23mph in a half mile and the speeds just keep increasing from there. Well so much for that neutral warm up, ok I’ll deal. I was happily in the pack until we hit this downhill with a sweeping turn. Now mind you have have never been on the course, and it’s still a little dark out so I take it with caution and get shuffled to the back. That didn’t worry me too much as I was still in contact but this is where my glove choice reared its ugly head. The 30+mph speeds we hit just iced my fingers to the point it made it hard to shift and brake. This is not a distraction I need and I was just barely hanging on at this point. That’s when there was a crash inside the main bunch and I finally lost touch as I rode by a few riders on the ground. But that was the beginning of the end for me. My fingers were not getting warmer, I was trying to warm them up under my arms but that wasn’t working and the group was just pulling away from me. I managed to cobble out the first lap, I was about 2 minutes down at that point and decided to pull the plug. Had it not been for my frozen digits I would have toughed it out (and probably not be in the situation in the first place) and finished.

Not really the result I wanted and I certainly don’t like to quit but there was no way I was completing 2 more laps in that condition. But all is not lost, I took this as a learning experience and went out today, in similarly cold weather and tested my kit in case I’m ever faced with similar weather conditions. I used those thicker Castelli gloves, rode for 1.5hrs and didn’t have the slightest chill in my fingers. It’s great to have the gear, you just gotta know when to use it.

First race of 2018 was a BUST!


You know you’re getting an unfair advantage

Originally I was planning on racing a crit in RI, but the weather for the area looked iffy in the beginning of the week and I discovered the Castelli Cycling Series that is in Brooklyn, NY, which would be less distance to travel with the only obstacle being the time. The race is scheduled to start at 6:30am which means I would need to leave my house by 4:30am at the latest to get there in time to pick up my numbers, get my gear ready and do a warmup. I’m not particularly a morning person, but I get up at 5-5:15am each day for work, so waking up 1 hour earlier shouldn’t be an issue. As I always I would do my pre-race/ride prep the night before with everything packed by the door and my breakfast food items laid out the night before.

It was a busy week for us dealing with furniture removals and deliveries and I almost didn’t make the cut off for the online registration. I thought registration ended at 5pm on Thursday so when I looked at my watch and saw it was past 7pm my heart sank and I thought I missed the deadline. To my surprise, either I mis-remembered the deadline or it was extended but I had until midnight to register which I promptly did. Things seemed to be going well at this point and I was relieved that I wasn’t going to miss out on a race weekend.

Friday was a quiet day at work and I was excited about the race on Saturday. I was telling some of my co-workers about it; we have some casual cyclists and others that just like to hear about my cycling endeavors – or at least they seem to. In any case, I left work at 3pm with my evening planned. I wanted to get home, do a quick spin on Zwift to loosen up the legs, get my bike set up for the race, pack my gear, eat at 6pm, get to bed around 8pm and then wake up at 4am. That was until my wife called me shortly after 3pm and said we had no power in the house.

I get home shortly before 4pm and we still have no power. This puts a slight damper on things but I do my best to stick to my plan. I pack my gear, get my bike set up, but with no power I can’t spin on the KICKR so I leave it on the trainer. Power is expected to be back at 6pm so I’ll spin after that and then put it by the front door. The biggest issue we were facing is with no power we cannot cook dinner so we head out to Whole Foods hoping I can find something close to the chicken and rice we were planning on. I ended up settling on some fluffy fish and white rice. While we were there we received noticed that the power had come back on so we headed home with our dinners.

Now by the time we get home, eat and clean up it’s about 8pm. I quickly hop on the trainer, do one lap around Zwift for about 20 minutes and call it good. Bike comes off the trainer, back wheel goes on, I do a quick equipment check and put it by the front door with the rest of my gear. I take a quick shower, I prepare my bottles of Skratch for pre/race/post so all I need to do is add water in the morning. And for those of you who are counting they consisted of: 1 bottle of Sport mix to sip on the ride to the race (along with my coffee!), 1 bottle for Sport mix for race & 1 bottle of Sport Recovery for after the race. I also threw in a bag of Sport Energy chews for during the race just in case, and 2 Anytime Energy bars; one for the ride down in case I was still hungry and one for the ride home to go with my recovery drink. Keep in mind it is a short race, and I may not need all those bottles or bars depending on how the race goes and how hard I work, but I’d rather have them then not. I then got my breakfast all ready… since I would only have about 2-2.5hrs before the race, and it’s not a long race, I went with Natures Path instant oatmeal which I would top off with some maple syrup – and then supplement with a Skratch Anytime bar if needed.

With all that out of the way, I sit down and fart around with my Garmin for a bit, get my Virb camera set up on the bike and then watch a little TV. My 8pm bedtime went right out the window and by the time I rolled in the bedroom it was closer to 10pm. Here is where I made my biggest mistake, I forgot to set my alarm clock! I normally have a pretty good internal clock and wake up 9 times out of 10 before my alarm goes off. I remember getting up once in the middle of the night and noticing that it was 2:45 and saying to myself “oh good, 1 more hour of sleep”.  Unfortunately that 1 hour turned into 2 and I woke up at 5am!

This seriously put me behind the 8 ball. Registration pickup closes at 6:20 and Google says it’s going to take 1:15 to get there. You do the math, I need to get moving! I quickly make my coffee, oatmeal and get dressed. I typically wear my kit minus the jersey to the event starts. I just throw on sweats over it and then put jersey on at even after I pin my numbers on. It saves time and I don’t need to worry about forgetting something like a sock. Even with my planning I still don’t get out of the house and on the road until 5:20. My timing would be perfect if I woke up on time but now I’m seriously behind and Waze says will not arrive until 6:35am. UGH! I’m not about to give up however and know that those times can change and with it being so early I could potentially shave a lot of time off.

To make a long story short, I didn’t make it. I got to the park at 6:29 and then had to drive around for a parking spot. I came all this way I figured I might as well watch some of the race. It looked well organized, lots of racers and a very professional set up. I didn’t stay for too long but I did see a couple of laps and wished I was in the mix.

So needless to say I’m a bit disappointed, mostly in myself for making such a silly mistake.  I had everything already, was going to make a video on the race and all that went out the window. It just seemed to start on Friday afternoon when we lost power that making it to the race wasn’t going to be easy. At least I didn’t just give up and roll back into bed and I know better for next time.

Now I think I will punish myself by climbing Alpe d’Huez…errr… Alpe du Zwift…

My first DNF

Well it was bound to happen at some point, so no point in hiding it.

I arrived at the PCX course much earlier this week to get in some warm up laps and I was feeling pretty good, even though I ate it on a soft corner right in front of someone. I was going about 3/4 race pace and trying to try out some new lines (not to mention we were racing the course backwards today so everything was different) and I washed out on this one uphill corner and bit the dust. No harm done, just a dropped chain. I finished the lap and did a couple of more w/o incident and I felt good when we were ready to start.

The whistle went off and I was hanging with the main group fighting for position around the narrow corners all the way up until the first barriers. I had a great dismount, cleared both barriers, remounted and then missed clipping in, my foot slipped and I sort of threw off my trajectory, I recovered as best I could, finally got my foot clipped in but now I was behind the lead group and probably let 2 people go by me during my mishap. I fought back to the group and caught them on this really narrow twisty section through the trees.

While I was making my way through the trees, I went wide on one corner and someone came  on my outside, so I went to squeeze on his inside and I guess he thought he was going to fall because he pushed me with his hand and I almost ended up in a tree. He apologized but I had to unclip to prevent getting up close and personal with some bark. I somehow managed to say in front of him at least down the back straight but then he overtook me on this slight uphill. No worries, I stayed on his wheel until the steepest part of the course when I got into some soft stuff and fishtailed up the hill and hand to run it for a bit. Not quite sure what happened but I was riding the same line I warmed up with and had no issues. I get back on and now really have to chase to catch up which seemed futile.

I was holding my own on lap 2 when I got to the barriers again. I went to dismount and I was still carrying too much speed and just took the bike to the ground. I was going full gas trying to catch up and got sloppy. I picked myself up, crossed the barriers gingerly and got back on the bike. I’ll well behind at this point as another couple of people passed me and I’m pretty sure I was in last place. No matter, I remounted and kept going.

Then I hit the stairs. My heart is beating through my chest at this point, I dismount, run up the stairs, shuffle my bike around the course, remount and… go over my handlebars. I really have no idea what happened, the remount is on a slight downhill so that played a part but not sure what I did. I managed to say on my feet as I jumped over the bars as the bike endo’d but it wasn’t pretty. I think the bike is ok, other than pulling some grass out of the levers and bar plugs.

I tried to race back on as hard as I could but I just felt so cooked at this point and I was getting sloppy. I got lapped just before the start/finish line and I called it quits as I rolled over the line to complete lap 2. I felt like I was going to hurt myself if I stayed out there and I wasn’t really having a ton of fun at this point.

Needless to say, I still learned a lot – like what not to do! Basically I panicked and over extended myself and got sloppy. I really need more practice on the course at race pace, warmups are ok, I can usually ride them flawless, but make me have to chase and I make mistakes a plenty.

PCX Race #2

Last night was my second CX race. Due to travel and other life circumstances I had not been on my bike, any bike, in a week. I was hoping to arrive a bit early and get some good warm up laps in but that didn’t happen either and I had a whole 3 minutes of warm up and I paid the price. My first lap was ok, I was in the last 3rd of the field but then the side stitches hit a little ways into lap 2 and I had to drop my pace for a bit to recover. I held my position for the most part until the lower back pain kicked in on the next lap. I still don’t think I have my tire pressure dialed in and I’m taking a beating over the course. Once that pain kicked in my power was off and I was just riding around. I did manage holding off getting lapped until lap 3 this week, but ultimately I would be 3 laps down by the end but still not last place. I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad as over half the field got lapped at least once. It was some fast competition out there.

I’m still learning, this certainly isn’t like road riding and not riding for a week certainly didn’t help. I think my aerobic engine went into shock. I’m traveling again and wont be back to my bike until Monday but hopefully I can get one or two rides in before the next race to make sure I’m more prepared.  Oh and I need to leave 1/2hr earlier so I can get some proper warm up laps in.

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