Sunday, September 28, 2008

Oh yeah, 5 Star.

My last race of the '08 Triathlon season was FIRM's 5 star triathlon in Douglas, MA. If this sprint went really well I'd continue on and do Firm-Man the following week in Naragansett. But, I'd have to feel pretty sharp for my plans to change.

Rainy Boog camping the night before didn't offer the best night's sleep. But it was nice to see dry, albeit cloudy, skies when I got up at seven for the very civilized nine o'clock race start. The swim course looked awesomely short, the bike course had a couple steep pitches that took me by surprise, (mainly because I didn't pre-drive the whole course) and the run was up on the way out and down on the way back.
After doing a slew of Olympic distances races I was kind of taken aback at how short the swim and the run was. And with the run being an out and back it was nice to go by people on the home stretch (as opposed to be slogging along by my lonesome).

I hit the swim hard and tried to get out of the water as fast as humanly possible. Which turns out is a minute slower than the lead swimmer... A minute slower over a 5:25 swim course. 20% slower... That's just not a good.
But it turned out that there was only one person ahead of me and I reeled him in on the bike. I could see him on the straight stretches and was scanning transition for him as I made my way to the rack. Just at the last second I saw him....sitting down....tying his shoes. In an effort to heckle I asked a volunteer girl,"Is that guy tying his shoes?"
Needless to say my transition was significantly faster and it was a good thing he gained a minute during the swim because he let that bird fly like a homing pigeon on the eve of the Battle of Valmy.
But I didn't stay ahead of young buck for very long. He and his safety-pinned race number caught up to me just before the end of the first mile, and he stepped it up on the steepest pitch and opened a little gap.
Probably the best part of the day was right before we reached the turn around when a small dog came bombing out of the bushes and proceeded to nip and bark at the buck's sock clad heals. (yeah he was wearing socks too) Oh that made me laugh. The dog, not the socks. The dog was on it for a while. A good 10/15 seconds.
Uh, I finished second.
I got some more HEED (mandarin orange this time)
And I got another medal with the spinney part in the middle.
Tri season is over and it's already time to think about what's going to happen next year.

Monday, September 22, 2008

That was Hard

It's kind of a running joke at work. But I think Donny Precourt started it, and Geo made it thrive. But we all tend to say it when the going gets....well tricky at least. Tricky'll qualify for a "This is hard". i.e. being forty up on shaky staging and trying to hammer in that last nail that's down the rake just a little too far.
Any way I digress from the hard Cross race.

But first, the less hard Cyclocross race.

When I was looking at Cross races to do this past weekend the Velo-Cross course looked promising. A few forced dismounts, some questionable ridding parts, lots of turns in the woods, not a ton of wide open tarmac. Sounds like fun. Plus you get to start and finish on the Velodome. Which, by the way I had no idea how this was going to work. I had imagined a wooden semi-indoor setup with big banked walls that went all kinds of high up. Were we going to do a loop on the parkay and then slip out through some tunnel in the middle of the infield? Oh the illusions. I was only slightly disappointed (and brought back down to earth) when I arrive to see a paved oval with moderately banked turns that was more of a pit in the ground than a collusium of cycling colossus. But it was still cool.
The course was cool too. Barriers on the infield (sans tunnel...sad), around the "dome" on to a rideable uphill burm, woods road, a fun downhill that was fast and then jam/lockup the breaks and let everyone for miles around know that your front brake squeals bad.... it just won't go away...into a tight rideable hairpin, down over fun bridge, some more hairpins through the woods, gravely field like section with some more turns, including this stupid turn with some barrels that pretty much required coming to a complete stop to go around...stupid turn...forced dismount up a little knoll and back to the infield....

On to the race.
I thought I was being all slick and in the know getting to the start 15 min early, putting my bike on the line and finishing my stretching from there. And it worked out 'till the gun went off and I then realized that people go REALLY hard off the start. Like stupid hard as if the race is going to be won on the first my being on the start was all for not and I got caught in some mega mayhem. But honestly that's where the raceing is pretty fun. Passing people, running around, into and over people, making the move, putting down the hammer out of a turn. I got my fair share of that on Saturday.
I picked my way through the field and saw that some buck was pretty far off the front and seemed like 2nd would be the place to shoot for. Turns out young buck went out like a jack rabbit and started to implode on him self. (as well as dropping a chain a few times going over the barriers) Once I caught him he tried to jump on my wheel, but I made him pull for a few more seconds of misery before spitting him out the back. I think I caught him with three laps to go. I cranked one to unsure the lead. Let up a little on the 2nd, and cooled down on the third/last/bell lap. That was fun. Plus I won 50 bucks. That was fun too.

Sunday was a different story.
I'm new to this whole USACycling thing and think having to petition/ask to move through the ranks is annoying and a nuisance. I mean I am glad that sandbaggers are made to move up. But if you want to race up a level shouldn't you be able to? What I'm getting at is that my entrance to the cat 3 race was a little questionable....I'll leave it at that.
Any who. the course at Suckerbrook seemed like a roadie's little playground. Only two forced dismounts and lots of wideopen flattish terrain. Some turns, but nothing to make or brake you. There was a sandpit, but that was just an opportunity to trash your bike and get lots of grit in your overly lubricated chain.
Plus it was hot....and hard.

So my plan du jour was to not get on the start line first, shoot for DFL and see how far up the field I could work my self. (turns out it's pretty far, albeit I don't think I was every DFL, it was too exciting when everyone goes off so fast) But it did seem to make sense that getting out ahead of the mayhem may make it extra hard for a lap or two, but then you can cruise without getting caught up in the slinky turns and falls etc. I ended up ridding with a decent sized group of guys that I'm gonna call the chase, or 'B' pack. There seemed to be 5 guys up front who were opening things up a bit. Two really together and then a couple more stringers. Interestingly for me, my friend Positive Self Thought was not affable, and so I tried to figure out what spot I had a realistic shot a securing, (which I will learn is a mistake) I'm pretty sure I was looking to hold a reign onto 6th place, but wait it gets intersting (sort of).

Or course 6th would have been more attainable if I hadn't slided/skided out twice. Each time I was just starting to pull away from the 'B' group but alas got back up and found my self chewing the tread of some inferior rider. (I think the lesson here is that it pays to be just a little reserved in the sketchy corners...that or I need to spend my time on a Mtn bike/work on my technical skills...which I thought might be a strong suit) Any who,
I was battling it up for sixth, when, on the bell lap, fourth and fifth place were dropping fast. My legs were getting pretty tired and my brain was all kinds of confused. It's seldom in a triathlon that I have to think about tactics or when I can use the last of my fuel or make a move to gain a spot. I was kind of just thinking, "Okay, last lap, lets bring it on in. We'll just kind of cruise behind this joe for a while and then maybe make a move at the end. Huh. Wait. No. I need to go hard this whole lap and try and pass him. Dude, go, Go!"

We passed fourth and fifth during this kind of sketchy woods section on the back stretch. At this point I was seventh and sucking wheel right behind this dude from Claremont Cycles (or something) who happened to finish behind me on Saturday, and what's up with that? So we were bombing along in all kinds of flailing manner. I made the stupid mistake of thinking these two dudes were so toasted that they wouldn't even be able to hold our wheels. (they did) I also made the stupid mistake of not passing the dude ahead of me when I could have. I like to believe that if I had I would have stayed ahead due to the decel and accel out of turns, but who knows. Any way Claremont dude was pulling away and over my shoulder I was feeling comfortable about my lead into the last 300 yards. Until Bucky Behind me came at me fast and I had to put in a sprint that would have made Robbie McEwen proud. I haven't been that close to puking in a long time. Dude, I felt ill. I was in fifth but, seriously not liking life.
Such a fun change from Tris. Read; bye bye two hours of racing by your self.
Fifth is cool, plus being top three and in the money might have been kind of awkward.

Trying to figure out how the top two were a minute up on us. I think being out of the fray from the start was key. But then again, no one would have yelled "Whoa! Rider down and out!" when I ate it on the off-camber hairpin. That was hard.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Couple a Races, No Race, Chili

Oh man I was so excited to give a go at the Half-Iron and call it a Tri season. But Hanna had her way and the Narragansett emergency personal lost their nerves and said they couldn't provide enough support. Yeah they said this on Friday....Friday. After a smidge of rain last night it was a beautiful day today. But alas the race got rescheduled. Man that sucked.
I'm debating whether or not to do race it in two weeks. I'm pretty ready to put the goggles away for awhile. But I do really want to do a Half. But there are other races that I want to do. (Cyclocross, Crew, Duathlons, Half and Full marathons)
The kicker is that Kim Webster was trying to get me to do the Pumpkinman Half because of prize money. I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't have been in the running for the cash, but at least I would have raced today.

I signed up for Hyannis 2, but wasn't going to race it. Friday evening I had half a mind to rush down and race on Saturday morning. And I'm glad I didn't. Rich Havens had to cancel that race too, at the last minute. Which is kind of blessing in disguise for me: I get a free pass for a Time Out Productions race next year.

My conselation prize to no race this weekend was a beaufitul ride today. Again I can't believe how steep (and long) it is heading out of Williamsville up into West Dover. From Dover I went up 100 to 30 and into Londonderry, then down 103 to 121 and through Windham back to 30 through Newfane to Indian Love Call. Except for 30 North from Jamaica to Rawsonville there was very little traffic today. Even when I was on 30 south from Townshend. It was a nice change.