Race Report - Wood Dale Criterium. 66 degrees, 17mph winds, 45 minutes plus 2 laps (about 23 1/2 miles), 38 riders, average speed 27.9 mph, max speed 49 mph, average heart rate 169 bpm, max heart rate 192 bpm. And the debut of the bike-cam...
So I'll tell the race story with 3 short videos. The first is the start. I got to the line late and lined up in the second row. I prefer front row, but you can't always predict rider behavior and my front line preference wrestles with my need to keep moving and staying warmed up as near to start time as possible.
As the video shows, I clipped in quickly and in a small gear accelerated into the lead and then let the usual one or two (one in this case) riders pass me to stretch things out and, on occasion, get rid of some chaff in the back.
(Video 1 - a good start)
I settled into the mid rear of the pack and the cross winds took their expected toll and the race broke up into pieces time and time again. I began to get nervous about a breakaway with about 15 minutes remaining and decided to bridge up to a small chase group in hopes of making it to the lead breakaway.
- #1 Rule of bridging is to know how far you can go.
- #2 Rule is to put most of your efforts into the tailwind section where you can make the most headway with the windfall of a burst of acceleration having 'legs' and momentum being sustained.
In this particular example, I had about a 5 second gap to bridge and I used the slingshot effect of the draft of the pack, and accelerated hard on the right side of the pack in the 'wind shade' of their draft, then set up for a high speed corner and ultimately coasted right into the back of the breakaway. The whole effort took only about 15 seconds, but it hurt quite a bit. I suck at bridging.
(Video - How to bridge a gap)
Finally, the race began to enter its final laps and the wind took its toll: in the final 10 laps a series of breakaways had again split off. The video rejoins the race with only a lap and half to go on this 4 corner square course: 6 corners left to be exact. At this point I'm in the back of the main field - about 20 of us - then there is breakaway of 7 riders not far off that we catch as they ring the bell, and then farther out is another small breakaway of 3 that shatters apart on the last lap and I ultimately ride ride into them. Finally, totally unseen is a break of 5 riders that stayed away.
As the 2 minutes in the video unfolds, I'm biding my time in the field. I'm capable of bridging to the next small breakaway, but sense that the guys up front will do the work. I dodge around in the wind shadows, never seeing anything but draft until we catch them just prior to the bell (and corresponding yellow line) and then I shoot up the inside in a carefully timed move to slot into about 8th place w/ three-quarters of a lap to go.
One guy goes off at this point, but I bide my time and ride the wheels of a couple different horses - a big Mack guy and then another rider up the inside until we head into the last two rounded corners where I slot inside, then outside, and then back inside, coming off the corner in second position, and then I put my head down and put on the afterburners. (The slow frame rate puts this all into a bit of slo-mo, but I can assure you we were moving - we never went below 31mph during this whole video)
I had a lot of wattage in me and put my head down and as I streaked toward the line at about 38mph, I actually caught one of the breakaway riders, and just missed passing the second one, swooping around them prior to rounding the corner after the finish.
(Video: How to win criterium field sprint)
This, generally, is how I race. I guess it looks fairly straightforward, but it takes quite a bit of experience to know when to move, and more importantly, when to wait. Overall, I was pleased. My sprint, it seems, is back...