Wednesday, June 21, 2017

BPTS17 #5: 2nd! Make a plan, stick to the plan

Another 20-lap counter-clockwise slog around Bryan Park? Sure, why not.

Last week I threw away a win. I saw a gap open in front of me, I didn't jump through it, and I paid the price by getting squeezed in the final turn.

It ate at me all week.

If I saw that gap again, I was going. I ran through the process over and over again: defend the inside up the back straight, get near the front, let someone go way too far inside approaching the bend, jump around them and power out of the final turn.

I got to the point where mentally performing the process could reliably cause my heart rate to jump about 30bpm. I had a plan, and I felt I could execute it.

And then the board said '20' again. Blerg. My legs were feeling wooden and stiff from a way-too-hard solo ride on Sunday, so I figured I'd just sit in and wait to see where I could be at the end. The race had other ideas, though.

I never grid on the front. Every time I do, I end up running point for a couple laps and pay for it later. Last night was no different: first to clip in is first sucker in the wind, but hey: I wasn't trying to bridge up on lap 1, so it was something.

The only team with numbers threw an early attack which everyone ignored, and I was starting to cycle back through the group when the first prime bell rang. With still-decent positioning, I figured 'why not' and glued myself to 2nd wheel, letting them pull me up the back straight. One fell off, and it was down to two. I put down a finishing sprint on lap 3 to claim the first prime and promptly assumed my race was just done.

I managed to catch back on and tried to set up a teammate for the next prime, but the jump was too early and he waved it off. Again, as the group was absorbing me, another break tried to get away. A quick jump and a refusal to work, and the pack was back together after a couple laps.

With 7 laps to go, I pulled back through to the leaders and waited for the final prime lap, ready to drag my teammate off again. The bell rang, the pace quickened, and on the back straight I made my play, which would prove a practice run for my final lap. But nobody followed. And I mean nobody. Rounding the turn for home, I looked back to see the group barely pedaling. I cruised across start/finish at 17mph with the field far adrift to claim the 3rd prime.

Seems everybody was already thinking about the final lap.

But then with 5 laps to go, the strong guys started throwing random furtive attacks. Nothing strong enough to stick. I found my way to the inside line and camped about 10th until the final bell, letting foolishness happen elsewhere, but ready to defend any action.

And coming up the back straight for the final time, last week's scenario repeated itself, down to the players. A paceline right, a knot trying to form on the outside, and 2 of us inside. The guy in front starts his wild yawing sprint way too soon, and as I'm about to move around him, another guy moves into our lane. No worries: still room to execute.

The Wild Sprinter goes through the turn so wildly that the right-side paceline backs off just enough to make a hole, and promptly runs out of gas. It's game on for the two of us on the inside line, but I hit a bump and destabilized the bike just long enough for him to get on power first.

With a 2 bike-length lead, he charged up the straight. I started to just so slightly reel him in before running out of time, but we were well clear of anything behind.

The finish was enough to move me into 5th place overall in the series, and my teammate was able to hold on for 7th, putting him in 6th place overall. We have a big points deficit to the top 3, but they're not out of sight yet.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

BPTS17 #4: 20 laps and 7th

I'm doing a charity ride this month, trying to log 750 miles for the Great Cycle Challenge (sponsor me here and help me put an end to children's cancer!), and it's having some interesting impacts on my cycling overall. I'm way ahead of schedule with miles, having crossed 500 on the 13th, and I'll be over 560 by the end of the day. The challenge is half-way done, and I'm not feeling too beat up.

It's partially because the first few days of the month I just rode like a lunatic at full crank and nearly hurt myself. I had to back it down, while still honoring my commitments to the racing season.

So I started doing some experimentation with managing heart-rate, managing power, sacrificing climbs, managing my pedaling efficiency, and I'm at a point where I can ride about 50 miles just about every day without consequence.

Figuring out how to add racing to that was a little nerve-wracking.

I commuted to work on Tuesday on the race bike, being very careful not to throw down and only taking speed where it required no effort. I managed my heart and legs as well as I could, but when I rolled up to the start line, I already had 40 miles under me. And 51 the day before. In fact, I hadn't been off the bike in 5 days. It was Richmond swampy hot, and I wasn't expecting much.

Then they announced we would do 5 extra laps.

The race was fairly uneventful and predictable for the first 8 laps or so. I found a teammate's wheel and glued myself to it. A gap opened in front of me while I had a head of steam, and foolishly I rode to the front, pacing the group for about 2 laps. When I came off, the bell rang, and 3 riders made a strong break. Dammit.

That break stayed away for way too long. I took 3 or 4 laps to gather myself and work back toward the front again, then launched a hard attack to bridge up. The gap was bigger than it looked, and only one other rider chased. Neither of us made it across, but I was told it woke the group up, and when the final prime bell rang, they FINALLY started working and closed the gap.

On the last lap I got pinched to the inside, where I definitely did not want to be for the final turn, and though I saw a gap large enough to jump through for a shot at glory, I held back, thinking I'd blow up from the day's miles and efforts and just ruin somebody else's race.

The guy in front of me let off a little bit into the turn, the guys to my right squeezed in hard, and I dropped from the 2nd row to about 17th in the turn. Go time. Not expecting much from the effort, and watching the leaders roll away from me, I hit the gas with everything I could muster.

And they started coming back. All of them. In that short 15 second sprint, I got back 10 positions and was just about side-by-side with two more as we crossed the line.

Looking at the numbers later, I'd put down a 900W seated sprint that peaked at 1400W. After 56 miles in the saddle, and in ~90-degree heat. Holy. Crap.

So what did I learn last night? If there's an opportunity, go for it. Take the jump. Run the risk of running out of gas, because there's no shot at a win if you don't.

I wanna slow down

Today is Alastair's last day of elementary school. What the hell happened?