Sunday, July 12, 2009

Union Vale Road Race

Things didn't quite go like I was hoping today. For starters a much stronger field showed up for the Cat. 4/5 race than the Housatonic Hills. Most of these guys come from NYC since it was only 1.5 hours away. Also, Kissena and NYVelocity each brought huge teams (looking at the confirmed list shows that NYVelocity brought 10 men), making it harder for us little guys who are a team of one.

The second problem was I ran too much drink mix in my water. By the middle of the second lap I was starting to get some mean stomach cramps. Fortunately there were neutral water bottles in the feed zone. I was able to grab one and by the end of the third lap I was starting to feel better. Another lesson learned. I won't be repeating that mistake again on the Nightmare.

Now for the actual race. It was 44 miles along a circuit of about 14 miles and 900 feet of climbing per lap. On the last lap we had a finishing climb that gained 600 feet in 1.5 miles at an average of around 18%.

The first lap was at a nice pace, as I thought it would be with the distance to be covered. From the beginning of the second it was game on. A flurry of doomed attacks went of the front. Most of the time though it was Kissena or NYVelocity guys, so their teams (understandably) were not helping in pulling the breaks back. We averaged a brutal pace of 21mph over the course of entire race until we hit the bottom of the final climb. On a course like this, that pace hurts - A LOT.

Since I knew I was having trouble sticking with the strong men up the climbs I would go to the front at the very beginning and slowly slide back so that by the top I was in the middle of the main group of 40 riders. The tactic worked well as I was able to stay between 5th and 10th wheel most of the race. I used the knowledge gained from Housatonic and hardly did any work on the front and this probably saved my race. By the finishing climb I was well positioned at the front of the group.

I knew I wouldn't be able to hang with the top guys on the climb. I simply rode my pace up the hill. It was hard as guys were going around me with the lead group but I knew if I played my cards right I would be able to catch most of them as they burned out further up the climb. The tactic worked and I was able to climb a good 15 or 20 places up between the halfway point of the climb and the top/finish line.

It just wasn't my day today with the field that showed up. I managed to get 17th out of 75. Not bad, but not a top ten. Although it wasn't what I was hoping for I am still happy with it. The field that showed up was really strong so simply the fact that I was able to stay up front all day until the very end makes me feel good. My first race of the season I was getting shelled at mile 10, but now I can stick with the big boys until the very end.

After today's race I still have high hopes of doing well at the Green Mountain race. Even though it's a 4/5 race, most of the fast 4's will probably be doing the cat. 4 only race leaving us a newbies to fight it out in the cat. 4/5.

By the way, Nightmare is less than 30 days away!

Captain Crunch


No One Line said...

Hey dude, this is mattio from Kissena. You rode a good race, obviously strong at the front, but you were headbangin' quite a bit - doing work when you didn't need to (I sat comfy on your wheel when you chased down a teammate after the descent, starting lap 2). Patience is a virtue in some of these races.

There are always ways to take advantage of larger teams' strategies, as well as ways to figure out what's not going to work. In these low-cat races, breakaways rarely stick. I bridged up to my teammate's break with 1.5 laps left just to keep it threatening, but didn't really think that they would stay away even though they were out of sight.

Anyway, good job. You played a lot of the race right - staying at the front, out of trouble, and keeping an eye on what was happening with the race.

Captain Crunch said...

Thanks for the suggestions. I'm learning more every race. After Union Vale I realize that breaks are almost never going to stay away - so I'm glad another racer thinks the same.


No One Line said...

...and then the one race where you sit back, thinking that someone is gonna pull the break back, guess what happens?

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I got my name from a friend while playing a video game a long time ago and it just stuck. As if you couldn't tell from the picture I am a huge cycling nut, always looking for something harder.