Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Central Coast CA
Bikes: 2011 Prius Three, Specialized Venge, Felt B16, Look 566, Giant TCXW
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Here's another one. Not from me, but from one of my team mates. Good stuff!
I'm going to try not to add insult to injury to this email, but after 2 race reports about finish lines coming to early I have to say something. This is more about the art of winning than the science of fitness. Dean Knudsen is a master at this. The man has no cyclocomputer and rides a bike I'd be embarrassed to be seen on...and does not own a watt meter....but always seems to find himself in the right break or on the right side of a sprint. When Dean recounts a race that went wrong it's more along the lines of where was that one critical moment where he slipped up tactically, rather than discuss how the race happened to him. Remember, no matter how hard the course is, there is always someone who still managed to win..and most of the time it's not the strongest guy! Learn from the winner.
As far as mileage being wrong in races, it happens all the time, especially in velo promo promoted races...as well as timed criteriums being wildly shorter than advertised. I've been caught out more often by the 5 lap card coming out too early than not finding the finish banner.
In a criterium, I always use the first couple laps to study the course. You've obviously got to pay attention to the dynamics of the race, but I study every corner & crack in the road. If you're in a break, it could be critical to know the course as the line through a corner is different at full flight solo then in the main bunch. I've ruined a couple break attempts in the past by over-baking a turn and having to hit the brakes. If you're at race site early enough, watch the previous race and take note of where the sprint happens. Where is the wind-up? Do the banners narrow causing a rider to get squeezed out on the left or right side? Is the course technical enough to support a solo break away? Is there a nasty crack in the road in the last corner that typically causes a last lap crash (cats hill)?
My general rule of thumb is most breakaways in the first half of a criterium won't last. Don't chase everything down unless you have enough teammates in the race and are well organized. Let the break slip away and pay close attention to the time gap. Bridge to it if looks good, but for chrisakes don't drag the bunch with you. Bridge attempts must always be a slight surprise...never in the top 5 riders where everyone can see you. In the last half of a crit, this is when break attempts matter. Pay very close attention, as the field is often caught sleeping as they begin to think about a bunch sprint.
This one seems obvious...but always take note of how many riders are up the road. A lot of races have been won when the field chases down 2 riders, not realizing one guy slipped away from the break while it was out of sight. If you don't know, ask someone...
In a road race, use that first lap to find the finish banner....I know watching all the moves is critical, but use part of your consciousness to take a mental video of the course. As soon a you see the banner, recall some significant landmarks with a few miles to go. Almost all NorCal races pass under the banner if not once but multiple times. Just the same as a criterium, use the previous laps to either figure out where the sprint may start or a sneaky place to make a late attack. Madera stage race is coming to this weekend...I can't tell you how many attacks I've seen on the last lap on the first roller that were caught right at the finish line, timed to perfection..including mine.
Racer Ex..."Don't know if the shop is under new ownership. If not feel free to shoplift stuff and break bottles in his parking lot."