Monday, March 28, 2011

Training races

I always have a hard time really believing that a race is actually purely a training race. But this year, with some REALLY big races on the calendar, the little local races really can't at all detract from training for the focus events. Last weekend's TBC was supposed to be a tune-up for Redlands (next weekend!! Woop!!), but was big enough to have results listed on Canadian Cyclist & Pedal (can I please put after my race result "was just treating this as a training race"? ;) ). Of course, I say that, but really, how much difference would a full taper and no taper make, you know?

Road-trippin', Lockie-style: beans and canned fish

So this past weekend, I drove up to Phoenix for a pair of crits. Real "local race" situations, where they were impressed I drove *all the way* from Tucson (under 2 hours). Even still, 25 or so guys lined up for the San Tan Pro/1/2 race. I was flying solo this weekend, so I had my hands full covering attacks. There were 3 or 4 teams there with a number of guys on them, and they certainly worked like teams - it was non-stop attacking. This was my first crit experience in the US...not including the Race Day DVD I've watched a bunch of times. :) I thought to myself, I can't keep this up...maybe I should just try to go with every second attack.

Of course, the very next attack stuck. Crap! I could tell almost straight away the peleton was going to let it go...we weren't hitting it to chase them down, and the break had the right mix of big teams represented. Another racer attacked to bridge, and I knew that was a big chance to catch the break. But by the time I maneuvered out of the pack to give chase, he was too far away. I gave it everything, solo in no-man's-land for 2 or 3 laps, before I started losing ground to the break, before sitting up to wait for the peleton.

The rest of the race was pretty frustrating. I could tell I was seriously out-gunned for a sprint finish by all the big butts on the guys I was following in the peleton, and the only bigger team not represented in the break didn't appear very motivated to pull them back. I attacked a few times, but was always pulled back. Finally with 3 laps to go, I got away with 3 other guys. One of the guys got dropped, leaving two guys to crush me like a bug in the final 200m and out of the cash.

LESSON 1 of the weekend: You SHOULD cover every break. Suck it up, princess. If you're hurting, other people probably are, too.

That night I stayed in a one-and-a-half star hotel - not a terrible thing by itself, except that there was a problem with the online booking, and the last room they had was a smoking room. Mmmm...stale ash smell. To top it off, I forgot to clean out my car before bed, and was welcomed to a sardine-and-banana-smelling car in the morning!

For, Sunday's Honeywell Hungry Dog crit, I was determined to not let a single break go without H&R BLOCK representation (that'd be me). Unfortunately the wide streets and open corners made it effectively a donut-shaped course, so very high speed and hard for breaks to succeed. It was good experience for positioning, but tactics-wise, not so exciting. I was second wheel when the '5 laps to go' announcement was made, and the guy in front of me attacked. Being another solo rider, I figured a) 'hey, why not support the underdog and let him roll away' and b) that the big teams would roll him up anyway. 4 laps later, he was still off and clearly going to take the win! I launched with everyone before the last corner, but couldn't match the guns of, oh, about 20 guys.

LESSON 2 of the weekend: if you're not a sprinter, don't wait for the last 200m. Attack! If you blow up or get caught, at least you gave yourself a chance.

Threw down another sardine-and-banana post-race recovery snack, did a cool down spin, then drove back to Tucson.

Disclaimer: I built the Race Day link using Amazon Affiliates. I figure if everyone who reads this blog buys 7 copies of the DVD, I'll make what I used to get paid for an hour's work! ;)

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