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  1. #1
    Senior Member sounddevisor's Avatar
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    1st Race Report - Prospect Park Cat 5, March 23

    So - not technically my first race, but my first one back sine I stopped racing 25 years ago!

    Short version:
    Started too fast, got dropped on the first hill, had a nice (mostly) solo training ride after that.

    Verbose version:
    Got to the park plenty early so I would have a chance to warm up well, since a) it was frikkin' cold, and b) I'd been told the 5s would go out pretty fast from the start. Found the registration table, picked up my number, and decided I would wear my wind vest so I pinned the number on it. Went out to the road to do a warmup, felt pretty good (although it was frikkin' cold!) Partway through my warmup lap I discovered that the zipper on my wind vest was jammed. There are stretches of the course where there's a bit of wind, and I think about getting my sunglasses out of the car but it's still pretty dark, and I don't have clear lenses so they're going to have to go into my jersey pocket until the sun comes up, but I have my wind vest on so it's going to be hard to get them out mid-race, especially with gloves and numb fingers, so I decide not to get them.
    I finish my warmup just in time to go to the line. Standing on the line (getting colder and colder as the P123, 3/4, and Masters' fields go off before us) I start fiddling with the zipper, trying to unjam it. As the field two before us goes off, the whole zipper comes apart in my (freezing cold) hands - now I'm on the line with my wind vest flapping around open, number pinned to it. I manage to get the number unpinned and off the vest, and ask the guy next to me to help me pin it on - no way I am taking off my jersey to do it (did I mention it's frikkin' cold?) He's having trouble since he has heavy gloves on, but eventually one of the race volunteers comes over and gets it pinned for me.
    So now we're about to start, I'm standing on the line feeling kind of rattled, and my nice warmup is a distant memory. I can't feel my thumbs. I try to get myself calmed down and remember my plan - sit in the pack nice and easy, remember what it's like to be in a bike race, no heroics, just sit in. The whistle goes, we roll out, and the two guys next to me take off like it's a town-line sprint. So naturally I follow them, thinking that the rest of the pack is lining up behind and we'll get some sort of pace-line going pretty quick. I glance back and we have a 10 or 15 second gap. We start scorching up the hill, and I can feel things happening to my legs and lungs that just aren't good - I look down at my HRM and I'm way way over my threshold - this is less than 30 seconds into the race from a cold start. Predictably, most of the rest of the pack passes me by the top of the hill, and I am so blown that I can't even muster up a jump to get on the tail. A few other guys are getting shelled off the back, and I keep hoping that a few of us can get together and form a little grupetto and at least avoid getting lapped or something. Eventually I hook up with a couple of other guys and try to form some semblance of a group, but we can't seem to get any cooperation going - one guy is just too strong on the flats and keeps powering away, while I'm just trying to keep from seeing dark spots. He doesn't seem to get that if we work together we can go faster - and the truth is, he seems to be able to go faster than I can except for going up the hill. We ride together (as in, the same general stretch of road) for a couple of laps, but eventually on the back stretch with the headwind, I just can't stay on his wheel any longer, and he and another guy who has been riding with us roll off into the distance.
    I think about bailing, but dammit this is my first race, I'm at least gonna finish! So I put my head down and grind out a few more laps totally solo. Just as I'm finishing my 5th lap, the leaders of the 5s field come blazing up from behind for the finishing sprint, I hear the unmistakeable sound of contact and watch a nice crash develop about 20 yards in front of me. Amazing, I'm not even in the pack and I manage to get caught behind a crash! Luckily for me the pile-up stays small, and I am able to slow a little and get around it to the outside (I didn't see the aftermath, it looked to me like two or three guys went down but I don't think anyone was seriously hurt - I asked around afterward but nobody seemed to think it was a big deal.) I haul my aching legs (which oddly seem to have gained about 10 lbs. each since the start) up the hill and around the course one more time, and manage to finish just as another field, maybe the 3/4s, goes flying by on the line. I was on the outside, so I figure there's a good chance the judges didn't even record my number. I think about finding one of them just to make sure, then I figure, what's the point? I didn't place, I know I finished, I know I need to work on my sustained power - what more do I care about? So I put on some warmer clothes, waited around to watch an old friend finish in the middle of the P123 field, and then went home.

    Thanks, that is all.

  2. #2
    Peloton Dog patentcad's Avatar
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    It was friggin cold. My hands got cold in that race today with my ski gloves on and they never get cold.

    Next time remember Pcad's Bike Racing Motto: Nothing ventured, nothing lost.

    Only kidding. At least you tried to get in the break. The only reason I don't do that now is I've been doing this long enough and I know I'd wind up like you did today. In your case you wound up in a small group off the front almost by accident. The last time I did that in Prospect the breakaway stuck, but I was an experienced racer and the move I went with included some of the better vets racers in the mid-1990's NY peloton - and I knew that. It was still hard to hang in a 7 man group, but I did and we did stay away. The likelihood of such success with a bunch of Cat 5's is very slim, as you learned today.

    Come back next week and sit in for a race, see how that feels.
    Last edited by patentcad; 03-23-08 at 03:51 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member sounddevisor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by patentcad View Post
    It was friggin cold. My hands got cold in that race today with my ski gloves on and they never get cold.
    See, if Pcad (of the marathon snow rides in the Hudson Valley) says it was cold, then I know it was cold!
    Pcad, did it seem like the wind picked up as the race went on? Or was that just because of the 10 lbs. my legs seemed to gain? Or was it because I got so numb I just didn't feel the cold anymore?

    Quote Originally Posted by patentcad View Post
    At least you tried to get in the break.
    Hmm, it sounds so much nicer when you put it that way - as though I had some sort of intention, as opposed to letting adrenaline over-rule my higher brain function.

    Quote Originally Posted by patentcad View Post
    Come back next week and sit in for a race, see how that feels.
    Yeah, that's what I'll do - maybe now that I got the first-race jitters out of the way I'll be able to stick to the pre-race game plan!

  4. #4
    Peloton Dog patentcad's Avatar
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    Don't worry, you'll lose those pre-race jitters after the first crash/trip to the ER. Only kidding, Prospect is a fairly safe course, even for the 5's.

    As for the wind in Prospect, there was a 15-20mph headwind on the stretch from the bottom of the descent until the little climb (about a mile) and it sucked for the entire race. It was a bit windier on laps 4-6, that was about halfway through the race, so I think the answer is yes, it did get tougher after the start for a while. By the last lap or two the wind had abated somewhat. But it was a factor all day.

  5. #5
    部門ニ/自転車オタク NomadVW's Avatar
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    "" for the win.
    Envision, Energize, Enable

  6. #6
    . botto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NomadVW View Post
    "" for the win.
    correct.

  7. #7
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    Welcome back! I came back last season. Sounds like you did some good perceived exertion calibration there. I'll bet you won't be burying yourself on the first hill next time

    Good fight for the finish too.

  8. #8
    going roundy round wanders's Avatar
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    Nice report. My vote for best line - I can feel things happening to my legs and lungs that just aren't good.
    Quote Originally Posted by CastIron View Post
    Damn.

  9. #9
    Senior Member sounddevisor's Avatar
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    Waterrockets - thanks, that's what I'm going to tell people when they asked how my race went: "Oh, I was just calibrating my PE, I'l race for real next week."

    And Wanders, thanks, I commend your appreciation of fine literature!

    NomadVW, sorry for the run-on formatting - I did try to use a <cr>, but is there a way to get paragraphs to auto-indent? Or is there some key command I need to hunt down?

    Botto, thanks for chiming in.

  10. #10
    Peloton Dog patentcad's Avatar
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    Here's my take on pre-race jitters: I raced enough in the 1990's that I lost them. They haven't returned. Now I don't get them because of that previous experience, and also because (and I kid you not) I figure if I crash in the race it really means the end to my immediate suffering, so it may well be a blessing. So I'm not too fearful of that either. Plus it takes enough energy to just do the race. I can't waste any worrying about the stupid event before the whistle even blows. Maybe a 6:30AM pre-dawn start is simply too friggin early on these cold 'Spring' (what a joke that is, it hasn't been above 38F yet) mornings for me to get worked up about anything.

    Frankly it sucks so bad that early (particularly in the cold) that I look forward to the start of the race so I can actually start riding my stupid bicycle instead of standing around shivering in the NYC Parks Dept. darkness. Once that happens the fun starts. And I always feel good after the race. So I'm eager to get the race going, not nervous about it.

    As for the vets field being safer, it generally is smoother. But you see mental lapses in pro pelotons, and it happens at every level, that's bike racing. Today I came close to touching wheels tempoing up the little upgrade in Prospect because I was pretty tired, I was going into slight lactic acid overload, and I did a rare space-out on the bike. I avoided a crash, but I was lucky, I crossed wheels where I didn't intend to and it startled me. It would have been a slo-mo, uphill 15mph crash anyway, but that's where they happen sometimes. I never do that, but I did today, and that's what can happen. Like I said, so far 4 vets races (110 miles of racing) and zero point zero crashes in any of the events. That's pretty damn good. But you have to watch for bonehead moves (like the guys riding me into the jogger's lane cones because they felt compelled to cut the inside lane off for no apparent reason) and the mental lapses of other tired racers, even in a smooth 2/3 or vets race.
    Last edited by patentcad; 03-23-08 at 07:10 PM.

  11. #11
    部門ニ/自転車オタク NomadVW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sounddevisor View Post
    NomadVW, sorry for the run-on formatting - I did try to use a <cr>, but is there a way to get paragraphs to auto-indent? Or is there some key command I need to hunt down?
    Typically just the second <cr> is good enough to give the eyes a break even without the indenting. Good report though. Look forward to seeing the progress from week to week!
    Envision, Energize, Enable

  12. #12
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by patentcad View Post
    Today I came close to touching wheels tempoing up the little upgrade in Prospect because I was pretty tired, I was going into slight lactic acid overload, and I did a rare space-out on the bike. I avoided a crash, but I was lucky, I crossed wheels where I didn't intend to and it startled me.
    Yeah, that stuff will wake you up. I had my wheel swept by a sudden overreaction at Pace Bend. The nice thing about Masters is that there doesn't have to be a crash when this happens. Everyone stayed calm, I got my wheel on the right side of his wheel, and nobody even cussed, let alone crashed.

    Though, there are those times when there's nothing you can do.

    I had a lapse like yours at Lago Vista (racing with Racer_Ex), and missed a turn coming up. Next thing I know, the whole field starts turning, and I'm on the inside. I countersteer like I mean it, front tire actually slides a little (rough and ugly start to the turn), then I'm cornering, and didn't even get 6" off my line. <whew -- lucky>

    I swear, if these incidents had happened in the 4s, the ambulance would have been there.

  13. #13
    Peloton Dog patentcad's Avatar
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    >>The nice thing about Masters is that there doesn't have to be a crash when this happens. Everyone stayed calm, I got my wheel on the right side of his wheel, and nobody even cussed, let alone crashed.

    I swear, if these incidents had happened in the 4s, the ambulance would have been there.<<

    That's precisely the difference with the vets. **** does happen, but experienced racers are much less likely to panic, reactions are much better, crashes are frequently avoided because of that, and there is no yelling. I didn't yell at any of the pinheads who cut me off today, I just noted who they were and knew to expect that from them or avoid them. Everybody in the 35+ has a wife, kids, a mortgage and a job (mostly they do) and the majority have raced for 5-10+ years, many at a fairly high level. It really is a pleasure to ride with those guys. I never lose sight of the fact that anything can happen, but I feel as safe as you can possibly be in a mass start race riding with the vets.

    Angry yelling in my races is very rare. For example, today a guy cuts me off (somebody cut him off a bit), I yelled 'whoa!' because I was startled, and I rode right up to the guy, put my hand on his jersey and apologized for the outburst, and he immediately said, 'No, OK, it was my fault' - that's more typical.

  14. #14
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    Yep, that's about what I've seen here too. "My bad." "No worries."

  15. #15
    Senior Member sounddevisor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by patentcad View Post
    Here's my take on pre-race jitters: I raced enough in the 1990's that I lost them. They haven't returned. Now I don't get them because of that previous experience, and also because (and I kid you not) I figure if I crash in the race it really means the end to my immediate suffering, so it may well be a blessing. So I'm not too fearful of that either. Plus it takes enough energy to just do the race. I can't waste any worrying about the stupid event before the whistle even blows. Maybe a 6:30AM pre-dawn start is simply too friggin early on these cold 'Spring' (what a joke that is, it hasn't been above 38F yet) mornings for me to get worked up about anything.
    Yeah, I hear you - I think my jitters were really just because it had been so long since I did a race, I had sort of forgotten what it was going to be like. I'm pretty sure I got that out of the way today, next time I can get down to the business of (re)learning how to race smarter.

    It's good to hear that the vets are somewhat less crash-prone. One of the reasons I stopped racing back in the 80's was because of a few pretty scary crashes I had - all involving cars, and none during races, but it was enough to make me start thinking about what it would feel like to hit the pavement every time I'd be flying down a hill or through a corner. Now, with 25 years' worth of brain-cell-loss under my belt, the memories have grown hazy enough that I'm ready to give it another try! That said, I'm looking forward to getting out of the 5s and moving into the Masters field, where, as you point out, people are a little more... sane?

  16. #16
    Peloton Dog patentcad's Avatar
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    >>That said, I'm looking forward to getting out of the 5s and moving into the Masters field, where, as you point out, people are a little more... sane?<<

    Safe. Not sane. Nobody who races bicycles is particularly 'sane'.

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