Sunday, June 17, 2007
The cycling season has another four months remaining, so it's just Spring that ends on Thursday and it will be the first Thursday in a while that I won't be racing. Rehearsals for A Skull in Connemara begin tomorrow.
My AT&T Crit performance was a little disappointing, but I am not discouraged. There were originally two Cat 5 races scheduled. The 30-minute race scheduled for 7:30 am was combined with my race at 8:15 am. The rain had stopped, but the course remained wet. The saving grace was that the more water that ended up on me meant less on the road. From the start it was a half block to (left) turn #1 and we all approached the turn gingerly and, to my surprise, no one fell. After the turn, we sprinted up the slight incline two blocks, then slowed for (left) turn #2. At least one person took it too wide and managed to stop before the curb. Keeping in mind, with Cat 5s it could be somebody's first race, so I'm particular leery of riders I don't know or who aren't clearly in control. Turn # 3 is the easiest, allowing for a wide approach and a wide exit. The main pack doesn't seem to understand this, takes it narrow, slows down, then sprints back out. Right before turn #4, two steel plates cover the ideal turn line, so we avoid that, but then it's impossible to avoid the two manhole covers in the approach and another manhole cover 12 inches from the inside of the corner. You either take the closest line, or if that's obstructed by other riders, you have to take it wide, but the turn is from a four-line road into a two lane road and curbs abound. Then it's a sprint again.
So the race consisted of the series Sprint, Slow, Turn, Sprint, Slow, Turn, Sprint, Slow, Turn &c &c. I'm strong enough now to stay within the draft of a pack ( i.e. "suck wheel"), but I can't keep up with the leaders, so after about 15 minutes of this, I fall out. At least two people have taken spills (one got right back in) and the refs are pulling people getting lapped. I wasn't pulled, but probably only because they knew me and perhaps they knew that I am very experienced in getting lapped and equally experienced at staying out of the way. So I finished, I think about two laps behind the lead pack and 1-1/2 laps behind the second pack. Later that day I was asked if it was fun. It was fun, but more in a "satisfying" way than an "enjoying the experience" way. Happily for subsequent racers, the course remained dry the rest of the day.
What was fun in an "enjoying the experience" way was watching races while volunteering as a corner marshal. Most fun was when I was at turn #1 during the pro race last night. Fans were crowded around and I had to keep people from crossing on the far side of a blind corner. When the racers came by, it wasn't a puff of wind, it was a breeze that lasted several seconds after they passed. They were flying! I could hear the prime announcement and watch them pick up the pace. I had my stopwatch with me and I could track the speed of each lap and the gap between the break away and the main pack. When the pack wasn't passing, I was letting people cross and pouncing on anyone who attempted right before the pack arrived. It was all very thrilling to watch.
I showed up this morning at The Driveway to volunteer and the day was a washout. The pro race had less than 20, and I think half of them were still hungover from a night of partying. The combination of following the Downtown Crit, Father's Day and a risky weather forecast contributed to the problem and my race was canceled. David James showed up, so we took the opportunity to just ride the course. I probably wasn't ready to race, anyway, having spent the entire previous day either racing or on my feet, so I was happier just to be able to go on a ride with a teammate.
Last week I stripped my carbon/steel frame and "added lightness" to it with a brand-new group I bought on eBay, and transfered the old group to another steel frame of identical geometry (another eBay purchase). So my racing bike was sweeter than ever for these races. I'll be sporting the new cherry-red Lemond for training rides and living-room-trainer rides. I plan on spending the rest of this evening completing its assembly. I'll have four bikes (the others are a fixie and a touring/commuting bike), so I'll be shipping my son's bike to him in Upstate NY to free up some room.
I'll see what training I can get in. Saturdays from 10am - 2 pm I'll be in rehearsals, so my big weekly ride will likely be Sunday mornings. I plan on a "bumper crop" racing season in September/October.