I had the opportunity to do a ride (training race) that I love and I was going to do it. I wasn't going to try to go for any sprints but I was going to spin the legs (hard, as there really isn't much of an often) and get in a good ride. That would make it worth it. First sprint came up, Kuklis and Eric W leading it out. I started going right and Eric came out of his pedal and Kuklis took the 5 points and I took 3. I don't think I was coming around either of them either but Eric had to slow.
Oh yeah, I got 4th on the month and apparently that was worth $25 to saucon valley bikes, who knew?
The race blew up after the second sprint and there were groups everywhere. It was basically playing leap frog from group to group to avoid being dropped. A good portion of riders (some good ones too) got dropped and then rejoined. I think that was the hardest effort of the night. Again, one of those efforts you just hope will end and when it doesn't you hope again, and when you finally think, I am done, it slows. Breakaways came and went, I tried for a few sprints and got nothing and the night ended. I was happy to get out and I rode my bike at a race I love. Win. Win.
NITTANY CROSS SATURDAY 4/5
So here is mine...
I was first coming through lap one. I managed to just get out of the saddle and sprint and was alone. I had no idea what to do. Seriously. Do I just go fast and hope for the best, or do I wait for some help on this fast course. So I saw one other rider was close and we traded spots during the second lap. With three to go, one more guy bridged up and went alone on the flat section. At this point, I thought, I need to recover a little bit and to be honest I really didn't know how I was doing. My heart rate was around 190-191 and I thought that was a little high. Most of my training rides that have hurt were in the neighborhood of 185-186. Now I know heart rate doesn't mean everything, but it sometimes serves as you are going to blowjob guage.
Regardless, there was one guy maybe 10 seconds up the course and one guy that I was trading spots with. With two to go that was still holding and I thought, it was soon time to attempt to bridge up. I went once and again, kind of didn't know if I should go all the way and two guys were starting to join me. As they joined me I started to encourage them to work together and they both said yeah and literally as I did it, I slid out. Just that half second of lack of concentrating. Now I jumped on my bike was (would have been) right on their wheel until i realized my chain was off and it wouldn't shift back on. Far to the outside of the crankset. Putting on chain, 3-4 guys pass me. Curse words. Back on the bike. Now I am sitting closer to 8-9th and trying to regain some momentum.
I picked off one or two guys along the way and was closer to 6th at this point. With one to go, I just figured I had to just lay it all out. I wanted to get on the podium and there was a lot of work to do. I was 5th at one point and could see 2nd 3rd not too far off. With about a half lap to go I came through one of the last 3-4 major turns left and put too much weight on my front wheel and went down. Game over, 9th.
Couple of notes...
- If you would have told me I would have been 9th of 125, I would have said great.
- This wasn't bad luck, this was bad cross skills. I had a legitimate podium chance had I not gone down. I had more power on the flats and this course favored that.
- The guys who finished 2nd and 3rd were less than 10 seconds away at the finish. I just can't help but wonder if I had been with the guy who finished 2nd (the guy I was trading spots with for a lap).
- I looked later to see my average heart rate was 189 for the entire race and I was surprised to say, I wasn't bonked and realized I could/can go slightly harder.
- Had I been running a single ring up front I may have not dropped my chain off.
- I had learned a lot about myself riding and was excited for Sunday's race.
Amy (Greg's wife) was doing her first race, so Greg bought this...
And some pre-race suggestions to his wife..
NITTANY CROSS SUNDAY Day #2
My daughter got up at 615am and wanted breakfast so she helped me get ready for the day. She must have been foreshadowing for me with this pose (or maybe her hands were just too short for the sleeves).
I had a strategy, be first through the first half of the race and then attack on the back side of the course and stay away. Just go for it, if I bonked and lost, so it goes. I was going to give it a shot. I waited until the woods and then jumped hard. Through the back side of the course, I dove into the corner in front of a 3-4 guys and was first. I went for it again. Through lap 1 first. Through lap 2 still first. Through lap 3 still holding. Gap opened slightly and people started calling me sandbagger. I took it as a compliment. I had no idea what I was doing and just happen to train with some strong riders who usually drop me on cross rides.
Greg (and Joe) and I do a workout called Labadda or something, basically some short hard efforts, rest, hard effort, rest hard effort, and so on like 8-10 times, so every time I hit a section I could sprint, or go hard, I would (guess that's what you are suppose to go). Through the turn back through the finish line. Labadda. Past the mud, through a couple turns, and labadda. Rinse, repeat without blowing up. I felt good, my heart rate was around 189-190 and I still had plenty of reserve. Hurting but doable. I don't look again for a long time.
With 3 to go, I figured I had a legitimate chance at winning as my advantage was holding or growing (10-15 seconds) every time I glanced. Through the woods and I heard a relatively loud noise, and kept riding. Over the log, down, and then back up the slight rise, couldn't clip in, couldn't clip in, couldn't clip in, shifting down, couldn't clip in, shifting down again, ugh, still turning and finally in. Still had 5 seconds. Go go go. Open a gap through the back side. Over the barriers, down through the stones and couldn't clip in again. Losing another 5 seconds. Go go back through the start finish line. 2 to go, you got this, I am telling myself, keep focused.
Finally back over the log and struggling to clip in again. Second place is close. Trying to get up the hill. Same thing as before. Is something wrong with the pedal? Back in finally but now I am second with 1st right in front of me. 3 guys are chasing and aren't far back. I tell him lets work together. 2 are better than 1 and it's a fast course. He agrees. I take over on the flats and he takes over on the technical. I haven't looked at heart rate much at all this race, I will take a glance, 185, reserve is there and I am ready for final two laps. Could I win this thing? Past the barriers and I look down this time and see this...
One side the pedal retention is broken. Spin the pedal to other side and am now 3 seconds behind. One lap to go, okay, just need to get in the pedal two more times. You will catch I tell myself. Two more times, and I have a chance to win. And with the flatter sections ahead I can open a gap and keep it going into the barriers. Back into the log section, still behind 3-4 sections. SMACK. Cranks are spinning freely isn't good. Chain is broken, no way, it can't be, it's not, whew, but I am losing time, chain back on, (I even put a single ring on but thankfully it caught the chain kind of), forget all about pedal, can't clip in. I can see 3rd coming hard.
Oh no, come on. Go hard through the woods and on the flat section, and manage to get over the barriers and can't find pedal again. 3rd is right there. I jump up the hill and sprint through every section that has more than 10 yards of space. Come through the last turn and still ahead, to the stones, and out of the saddle and hold on for second.
Couple of notes:
- I want to say something stupid again, like I could have/should have won. But I didn't. I had some opportunities and even with the broken pedal I made mistakes with picking a line that broke my pedal earlier and then also knocked off my chain.
- I should have bunny hopped the log. I was a bit hesitant to do it, but I wish I would have. Watching the elite race made me believe in how much time it saved and it is something I should have tried one or twice just to get the confidence up. I even thought it to myself on the last lap I should do it but so it goes.
- I am hooked again. I am also learning a lot about my cycling abilities as I am not sure I thought I could do 191 for that long in a race and may be able to do more, and not that heart rate is everything, but it helped (is helping) for cross at least. I am under no delusions though, placing high a 4/5 race means I may finish in the top 50 in a 2/3/4.
My "heavy" steel bike that fits like a champ.