Monday, November 08, 2010

Racing for Fun

The plan for last weekend was to head to Maine, take it easy and do some low stress racing, just for the fun of. What better way to boost the suffering morale and motivation than by racing? The Porky Gulch Classic was the target, a three stage race consisting of a Saturday morning two mile Prologue time-trial up the first part of the Mount Washington auto-route. The second stage, Saturday afternoon, was a criterium within StoryLand in Jackson, NH. The final stage was a cyclocross race at Great Glen on Sunday.

All in all it was a good weekend with dry but cool in the low 40's on Saturday and down right cold with temps in the high 20's early on Sunday. No snow but some flurried and temps barely breaking freezing on Sunday. We were joined at our place in Maine for the weekend by our friends and teammates Scott and ML. Saturday after racing we hit the Wildcat Inn and Tavern for some food and drinks along with another teammate David and then we all hung out Saturday night came. That was clearly the highlight of the weekend.

As for the racing, the time-trial is brutal. It was also cold and windy so warm-up was almost non-existent. My plan was to start easy and warm into it. I started easy but the grade proved to be too much to ever feel comfortable seated after the first half mile or so, even with "nice and low" cyclocross gearing. Cathy started 30 seconds ahead of me and I gave what encouragement I could mumble as I passed her. ML was taking pictures at mile 1 so I nodded to her. I finished with a time in the 16's judging from my glimpse at the HRM lap after I crossed the finish. I'd caught three people and a fourth had sprinted me back for the finish, good for him. The winner, who started last, had passed me before the half way point. Wow, I suck. We had packed bags with spare clothing as you ride back down the mountain for this event, and the organizers had shuttled them to the finish. After we all finished we bundled up and proceeded down. Scott and I decided it would be a good cool-down to ride to Storyland in Jackson from Great Glen as it is "all downhill". Short story, it isn't. Still a good ride.

After grabbing some food and drink back in Jackson, we went back to Storyland to catch some of David's race. He was doing awesome and really racing well but rolled a tire on a sharp corner and the bead let go on his clincher, spilling the tube out into the open with a loud explosion. Fortunately this was on the final lap so he walked it in for the finish. Tough luck. I also took a look at the results from the time-trial and noted that they listed me finishing with a time that was quite a bit off what I had been thinking I saw as I crossed the finish, just about a minute in fact, which had me back in 5th spot. That's depressing but I had no way to double-check until I downloaded the data from my HRM.

Scott, Cathy and I all raced together a little over an hour later. The race started with Scott sprinting for the hole-shot only to drop his chain from his recently discovered wholly worn-out big-ring, almost wrecking. He recovered and charged to the front in an adrenaline fueled attack. We basically took turns attacking for the first 4 laps or so and even though the core group was still intact, we were making progress. I'd gone to the front and hit as hard as I could and was coming around the really tight hairpin when I started pedaling a little too soon and caught the pedal. This hopped the back-end around a good 90 degrees and had me looking at oncoming traffic. I righted the bike and started to pedal, after apologizing for my stupidity, only to have the tube bulge out from the displaced tire bead and explode violently. It then tangled itself in the cassette, derailleur and brake, in order to emphasize the point. I got to the side, waved goodbye to everyone and started untangling the mess, pulling the tube out and re-seating the tire so I could run and push the bike out. There is nothing fun about running 2/3 of a lap on an ultra tight, twisty basically paved cross course, but I did. In the meantime I was lapped by everyone. Because this was low-key, I didn't have spare wheels which meant I changed the flat, back at the van, which was in the far end of the lot, of course. During this time I was lapped again but got out shortly after they passed. I made up a couple spots so was only lapped once by Cathy and one other guy. Not the result I was looking for but I did finish and fared better than the poor fellow that stacked and broke a hip. Scott did awesome and narrowly missed the win, finishing in second place. We changed and packed and headed for Moat's for some food and beers. We got to Moat's only to find them closed for a private function. WTF! Back to Jackson and the Wildcat Inn, which was fine.

Saturday night I downloaded my data and sure enough, they had me listed as 1 minute slower than I should have been. Scott verified that his time was roughly correct based on his data though. No big deal as I'd thought the guys ahead of me were way ahead and the minute would not have changed my overall placing, especially after the crappy result in the crit. However, Sunday morning when after we signed in I looked at the results again and noticed that the minute would have put me in 3rd for the time-trial, not 5th. Crap, maybe I should say something as I'm sure it will be an obvious math mistake, based on the typical issues found with our weekly time-trial series reporting.

In honesty, my motivation was low. The cyclocross course was a little on the bland side but from the pre-ride on the SS bike I felt that I could spin/coast enough for the downhill road sections and the uphill grunts were tough but I could manage them. ML was out on course early on her way to domination of the women's beginner field. I never heard anything on the results timeing check so had nothing to loose and opted for the novelty of my Cannondale CAAD9 Single Speed (SS) bike vs. the geared Ridley X-Fire race bike. The Cannondale runs a BB30 bottom-bracket and I found a small group of guys out West that are making a really nice eccentric bottom-bracket (EBB) for the BB30's. This allows you to tension the chain at the BB using normal dropouts, and wheels. The Cannondale is a really nice rig and this also fixed a minor issue I had with the geometry, namely the BB height was lower than my Ridley X-Fire.

As the race started we quickly formed groups with three of us in a pack at the front. I felt comfortable and could struggle to hang on the fast road sections. On the second lap I was sitting 2nd and the leader scrubbed speed into an ultra steep up, which hosed me for riding and forced me to dismount and run, awkwardly. A gap formed which I killed myself to close on the fast down sloped road section. This proved my demise and 3rd place passed me and powered away as I spun 140rpm to try and catch. The gap to 2nd eventually went out too far when I pulled out of my pedal on that same uphill grunt and had to dismount, awkwardly, catching my bars in the course rope. From there I rode the final laps solo, for 3rd. Scott won the sprint for 4th and Cathy did excellent as well, turning in the best female time of the day and the weekend.

So, all in all a full weekend but not exactly the motivational outcome I was hoping for. Initial thought is that maybe in times like these where one is looking to recharge, a weekend of fun rides rather than races may be the hot setup. I awoke Monday morning to a runny nose and the onset of a short lived, mild cold; it's cold and flu season after-all. Between the rain showers during the day, and in the dark and rain this evening, I worked on the leaves in the yard. I'm on the verge of claiming victory on that front, so I got that going for me, which is nice.

SIDE NOTE: Apparently there is no hiding from Colin and his results crawler, even at an unsanctioned fun event. This race showed up and of course and counted negatively against my average. Wonder when Wednesday night cross practice is going to start showing up? Do we need to start racing under assumed names? If so I think I shall be called Buck Naked :)

1 comment:

Buck said...

buck naked is taken... it's been my porn name for years.