2012 Race Reports 1 – 4: It has been a while since I posted a race report – hopefully this season will see more racing and more writing: both are things I find joy in.
So far the season has progressed in a predictable sprinter fashion:
- Race one (April): dropped, shelled
- Race two (Early May): last place, exploded
- Race three (Late May): 10th Place, purging
- Race four (Mid June): 2nd Place, surging
As a general rule spring racing sucks for the sprinter. First, the roadies have been at it all winter, bundled up in smart wool splashing for hours on end through the slush or languishing through interval workouts on the trainer or doing group trainer workouts or “trainer racing” - whatever that is.
The unvarnished lungs of the sprinter are further shredded by the cold air and winds that rake the early season courses. My first two races were noted by 15 – 20 mph crosswinds that created massive echelons and I found myself constantly riding in gravel by the curb or through puddles near the grass for much of the race. I lasted only half the first race, quickly shelled when gaps opened up. I managed to finish the second race, but exploded during the sprint setup, coasting through the last 300m having already lit my match. Race 3 saw some suffering, but I had a bit left at the end (despite the 98 degree temps) and a decent field sprint finish landed me 3rd in the pack and 10th overall.
Race Four: Wonder Lake Criterium, Masters 1/2/3 30+. Distance ~18 miles (timed: 40 minutes) Temp 88 degrees. Wind = light. Avg pace 25.2mph, Sprint finish max speed 37.8mph
My second visit to the Wonder Lake Criterium was held in lieu of heading all the way to Waukesha, WI, to race on a ToAD (Tour of America’s Dairyland) course that I hate.
I faced some of the usual pre-race challenges spending too much time relaxing over breakfast and not wanting to depart from my family. I finally hit the road without a great deal of buffer time to change, register, and warmup. Proudly though, I thought of pumping up my tires and oiling my chain before piling in the car. I couldn’t find lube, but I did find the pump and proceeded to quickly break off the presta valve of my front wheel. I checked the pressure w/ my thumb and it wasn’t terrible – probably 50 pounds – so I grabbed a spare tube and figured I change it at the race, assuming I arrived in time.
Sure enough the back roads to northern Illinois were slow going, and the 32 mile drive took an hour and fifteen minutes leaving me 30 minutes to register, pin on #’s, change and warmup.
Wonder Lake is a pretty little lake like the one I grew up on in West Bloomfield, and the smell of lake water & exhaust combined with the sun dappling off small green waves had me nostalgic for Walnut Lake, water skiing, swimming and… bike racing.
No time to change the tube, so I just lined up with the rest of the masters 1/2/3 field and listened to the race instructions. The course was the same as 2 years ago – 1.3 miles around with two long straightaways, one along the lakeside, the other up a small hill then running parallel. A long 4 corner crit, but with narrow roads, and some small changes in elevation. I never noticed the low pressure in the front...
The masters were feeling the sun and scenery and the first lap was luxurious – averaging just over 20mph. Then the attacks came and speeds in excess of 30mph down the straights were common. However, the few times I was on the rivet, things slowed down and I recovered. With a lap and half to go a lone rider snapped off the front, but no one chased. With one lap to go, I moved up to about 6th wheel assuming there would be a surge on the backstretch. Our lone rider was within reach, but with a 100m gap. Finally just prior to turn 3, the inevitable surge heaved out left and I joined a wheel slinging out right and moved up to 5th with 600m and 1 turn to go.
The pace held up front and we headed down a slight incline in view of the lake. The downhill created opportunity for the riders behind to encroach and I could feel but not see the jockeying behind me. I held my spot and exited the final corner with 400m to go in 5th spot, the lone breakaway still 75m out front.
The next 200m headed downhill and the speed increased and the leadout rider faded and the sprint was on, downhill into a slight headwind. I prefer not to sprint until <150m to go, but the inertia of the downhill was important so the 3 of us spread wide w/ 300m to go and for a moment we were 3 abreast screaming into the wind at 38mph w/ 150m to go. However, I had the slingshot from the later move and surged by the other two riders, suddenly closing on the breakaway rider. With 100m to go I was sure I would be second to the breakaway rider, until a sudden surge from behind by another rider who perfectly surfed our 3 abreast draft and shot around me and closed on the lead rider.
Coming to the line the breakaway rider and surging sprinter faded and I was able to regain 2nd position by passing the breakaway artist while closing the gap on the winner.
A 350m sprint is a really long way for me and when I crossed the line it was with a feeling of every circuit in my body on fire with the agony of lactic acid. As I drifted around the backside and the flames diminished and the embers remained I wondered if this kind of effort had any effect on the cardiovascular system – whether it could clear the cobwebs – or unhealthy deposits of the winter – from the circulatory system.
I circled around the start finish and was apprised of a protest regarding race #s (duplicates) that would take a while to resolve, so I warmed down by riding around the lake dodging in and out of spurs and cul-de-sacs to traverse the lake properties. I found myself wallowing in nostalgia for my lake-bound-youth: boats towing skiers, ramshackle homes with outboard motors mounted to plywood in driveways, the occasional massive home at odds with the cottage feel of the neighborhood, but all around the recognition that summer is for being outdoors – hunting frogs, swimming, skiing, bonfires, riding bikes, ding-dong-ditchit. Upon returning home I immediately commenced a search for lake properties.