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Old 05-12-07, 06:29 PM   #1
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Mount St. Mary's University Crit-- DrPete rids himself of the crash monkey

Well, first and foremost, after my spell of bad luck and crashing, I finished this race upright, like a normal person. So, if nothing else, I at least managed to shake that monkey off my back.

However, it wasn't until today's race that I realized the hit my confidence has taken. As EventServices would say, I still don't know how to win a bike race, and today I really, REALLY didn't know how to win a bike race.

This race was way up in northern MD, over an hour from home for me. This resulted in a paltry turnout from my usually rollin' deep team, but I was happy to see Clifton, aged 50 but pretty damn fast, in my race. The course was 1.08 km long, with a gradual uphill and a sweeping right leading to a 40-foot "kicker," then a gentle descent into a rough but wide 90-degree right, and a fast false flat/slight descent to a gradual uphill finish.

So, knowing that starting position was going to be important, I got to the line early, but people were still taking warmup laps. I figured "meh, I'll take one more too." Of course, I find 40 guys lined up when I come around the next time.

The course itself was actually more challenging than it had been billed. The group bunched up a bit on the hill but then got strung back out on the descent and into the hard turn, only to bunch back up. Clifton and I both were uncertain about how we were feeling, but with 10 laps to go we're both feeling pretty good, and the course/pace have whittled the pack down from 65 to around 35. We're both sitting pretty in the top 10, and we're thinking strategy. We decide that a 1-man leadout isn't much so we'll just sprint on our own.

Unfortunately, the prime bell rings with 3 laps to go, and the pace quickens. On this lap I let a gap open up that I thought wouldn't last over the hill, and learn that I was wrong. I end up having to chase all the way to the 90, at which point I bomb through the turn with no brakes and find myself back on the pack, even picking up a couple spots. On the next 2 laps I just can't make a move. I tried on the hill and there was nowhere to go. I tried in the 90 and took it a little wide, almost ending up in the dirt and losing some more ground. I hammer to get back into it and my legs are screaming. The bell lap slowed things down a bit, but I still found myself hanging on the back with nowhere to go. I try to make a move in the turn to no avail. I hammer it out and pick up a few more places to finish mid-pack. I learned that any short steep hill is bad when you climb it 32 times.

I really don't know how to win a race. The legs were there, but the brain was not. Maybe it's the jet lag and large amount of drinking I did while I was off the bike and out of town. Maybe it was just bad luck. But mainly, I think that my confidence really took a hit from my "2 races, 2 crashes" streak.

It was too little too late for today, but by the end of the race I was back to making aggressive moves and getting my bike handling back, so I feel like my brain recovered a bit. We'll see what happens at the Greenbelt race on Wed and the next crit on Sunday... I'm going to a wedding in FL on saturday afternoon and flying back early on Sunday, so it'll be a time crunch to make it to the race...

Props to *new* guy for a top 10 finish today... While my legs felt good, his clearly felt better.
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Old 05-12-07, 07:24 PM   #2
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Great report, Pete! Thanks for sharing.

My team had a couple guys riding in the Senior V. One guy is a new racer (Jeff) and he got lapped and yanked. The other, according to Jeff, finished 3rd (Tim).
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Old 05-12-07, 07:28 PM   #3
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Great report, Pete! Thanks for sharing.

My team had a couple guys riding in the Senior V. One guy is a new racer (Jeff) and he got lapped and yanked. The other, according to Jeff, finished 3rd (Tim).
That's a 3rd place to be proud of. It was a lot tougher than it was billed.

Are you coming to Greenbelt this week?
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Old 05-12-07, 07:31 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by DrPete
That's a 3rd place to be proud of. It was a lot tougher than it was billed.

Are you coming to Greenbelt this week?
Yessir! And we might have a couple more team mates in the "C" race field for a total of 5.

Are you on road duty again?
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Old 05-12-07, 07:33 PM   #5
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Are you on road duty again?
Nope... I actually get to race this time.
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Old 05-12-07, 07:36 PM   #6
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Nope... I actually get to race this time.
Cool! I guess you're doing the "B", right?

I'll see you there. By your race, I'll be sitting on the mossy hill, cheering.
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Old 05-12-07, 07:38 PM   #7
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Cool! I guess you're doing the "B", right?

I'll see you there. By your race, I'll be sitting on the mossy hill, cheering.
Yup, B's for me. I'll just be trying to mix things up, because as I already mentioned I have yet to learn how to win a race.
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Old 05-12-07, 07:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrPete
I really don't know how to win a race
Not to be disagreeable or anything but what percentage of competitive cyclist can claim to have won a Cat4 race? I'm guessing it's not a very high percentage. Even most of the guys who upgrade from 4 to 3 don't actually ever win a Cat4 race.

Winning is hard.

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Old 05-12-07, 07:40 PM   #9
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Yup, B's for me. I'll just be trying to mix things up, because as I already mentioned I have yet to learn how to win a race.
Ya know what? It might be worth my while, during the cool down lap, to stop at the hill and get a seat there to watch the attacks during the "B" and "A" races. What do you think?
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Old 05-12-07, 07:43 PM   #10
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Ya know what? It might be worth my while, during the cool down lap, to stop at the hill and get a seat there to watch the attacks during the "B" and "A" races. What do you think?
Yeah, there's good watching to be had all along the hill, and as you go further down you might see more of the actual dynamics rather than watching the now-broken-away riders pass the line.
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Old 05-12-07, 07:44 PM   #11
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Not to be disagreeable or anything but what percentage of competitive cyclist can claim to have won a Cat4 race? I'm guessing it's not a very high percentage. Even most of the guys who upgrade from 4 to 3 don't actually ever win a Cat4 race.

Winning is hard.

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That's a good point, Steve, but it doesn't mean I don't want to learn how.
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Old 05-12-07, 07:44 PM   #12
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Yeah, there's good watching to be had all along the hill, and as you go further down you might see more of the actual dynamics rather than watching the now-broken-away riders pass the line.
Yup! I think that I'll do that.

See you there.
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Old 05-12-07, 07:47 PM   #13
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That's a good point, Steve, but it doesn't mean I don't want to learn how.
I'm right there with ya, dude.

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Old 05-12-07, 08:26 PM   #14
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I know share your frustration to some extent Pete. It will come though. We are still so new to this and there are so many seasoned 4s to compete with. That and there is luck to deal with too. Congrats on finishing.
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Old 05-12-07, 09:15 PM   #15
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I must have missed your post about the second crash? Since you're racing, you must have come out OK, but I do understand how the jitters can make you hesitate when you should be acting. Having been there, I can say it only took two races for the instinct to come back - not that I've won anything.

Congrats on getting the monkey off your back.
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Old 05-12-07, 09:18 PM   #16
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I must have missed your post about the second crash? Since you're racing, you must have come out OK, but I do understand how the jitters can make you hesitate when you should be acting. Having been there, I can say it only took two races for the instinct to come back - not that I've won anything.

Congrats on getting the monkey off your back.
Yeah, the second wasn't an actual crash--I was avoiding a crash and trashed my rear wheel in the process. Not sure if it was the 30mph sideways skid or if someone hit me from behind, but my race was over either way...
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Old 05-12-07, 09:23 PM   #17
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I felt like I was there with the detailed description. Great race report!
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Old 05-12-07, 09:28 PM   #18
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You'll get it. It's a huge indicator of your form just that you get to think about strategy in a fast race. Many racers are doing nothing but trying to figure out how not to get dropped. Your motor is fine, and you're just figuring out the driver part. That's a great place to be, and you should totally go for the Cat 4 win.
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Old 05-12-07, 09:36 PM   #19
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^^^ As per usual, thanks for the perspective and sage advice. I like that angle.
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Old 05-13-07, 12:05 AM   #20
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You got your MOJO back!

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Old 05-13-07, 05:55 AM   #21
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I've learned that getting one's Mojo BACK in bike racing is just as important a skill as actually using it. There are a lot of things that can take your Mojo away in this sport...
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Old 05-13-07, 05:58 AM   #22
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true dat.
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Old 05-13-07, 06:49 PM   #23
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Can't wait to see you boys at Greenbelt this week. Although it is supposed to rain
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Old 05-13-07, 10:39 PM   #24
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awww man please dont rain
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Old 05-13-07, 11:21 PM   #25
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My season was the same as you are describing last year. I had two crashes that really messed with my head. I think it is just one of those things where you really have to learn tactics. Some riders have a more natural talent at understanding it, while I really have to concentrate and study what I do wrong every race. Either way, it is fun. At least I know I'm not alone with 4/5 riders who are struggling with that. Keep the race reports coming Dr. Pete...I enjoy hearing them! I can't wait to race but with my new bike on order I can't until it gets here...its killing me!
~Nick
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