I love the photo. You look good in gold.
I love the photo. You look good in gold.
Hi AzTR, sounds like total domination. Great job! Of course the Nevada folks won't let you race there again. ;)
Brilliant riding AZT........... simply brilliant.
As focused as you are with your training and race prep, it's gratifying to see that your efforts paid off.
Well Done! :beer:
I think the out-of-towners were welcomed in Vegas, because the fields were small, and we couldn't take any qualifications away. But it was clearly a case of the interlopers dominating, which maybe bruised some egos. As you can see, however, they were gracious hosts. The organizer's daughters helped with timing, and (thankfully!) handing out the medals:
After Sunday's races, Lightspeed said something about how that guy from yesterday was really strong. I said... "Um, yeah, you could say that." I tried to explain to him, but he's one of these guys who just doesn't get what the really fast guys are like. As Ex mentioned, he was unconvinced Ex would drop him up the hill. Doh! I'm sure had Ex worn his stripes, it wouln't have meant a thing to the guy. On the other hand, that attitude is maybe what keeps him as far up front as he does get.
Team VOS Practice Race Faster 2013-01-12
46 mile Intra-Squad Road Race on the Valley of the Sun Course
Mixed cat's; 23 starters
The team members participating were broken into four 6-person teams. I captained Team #1 (Blue swatches) and of course went overboard in the prep category by getting self-assessments, working out a strategy, modifying that after talking to Ex, and sending out a 5 page race packet to the team members. Unfortunately, our strongest racer had been fighting a sinus infection, it flared up Friday, and he didn't race. That didn't affect our tactics, since I already knew he was compromised, and we had agreed that, if he could race, he'd just sit in and see what he had left for the finish. As previously related, our goal was to get one of us the win, rather than collect team points, and we knew we needed to be aggressive to accomplish that. Basic strategy was for "Matt" to head off in the initial break, for "Chris" to counter if that break was caught, and for me to bridge if we didn't like our chances in the break. We also had a 'mini-train' finishing strategy for whomever was in the pack at the end.
It took longer than expected for a break to get away; early efforts were shut down. I chased one of them because there were just too many people in it, and I covered one when my guy was caught unawares, but those were all too tentative. The breakaway group would a little ahead and then start looking at each other. But, as frequently happens, the pack tires of responding and a few people get away. When that finally happened, I had both Matt and Cheryl (who was improvising) in the break. So we had the numbers, but it turned out that the break itself didn't look good. They didn't any real distance on the pack, even though we weren't chasing. Max lead was maybe a quarter mile or so, and it was shrinking as we started up the rise the first time. So I was worried, not about our chances within the break, but about the break's chances. They clearly needed someone to push them to put some speed on. So when a strong Cat2 (another captain) took off to bridge, the bells started ringing, and my instincts told me to go. So I went, and caught the break just after the other captain got there, just at the point where the steepest climb started. I kind of took control, telling everyone that, if we wanted to stay away, we needed to really pick up the pace. I went to the front on the climb and pushed the pace. Net result was an immediate whittling of the break down to 4: Three team captains, and a pretty strong guy from the team of our only Cat1 (sprinter who owns the shop). The break was now firmly established.
With each team represented, I liked the break's chances, and I liked my chances within the break. There was only one guy (the Cat2) I thought could maybe take me on the climb to the finish, which was set right at the peak of the climb, ahead of where it is set for VOS. In our training rides, he tends to fade (maybe because he chooses to) in the sprint efforts, so I felt I had a chance with him, and I felt I matched up well against the other two. We started working together, and the hierarchy of effort became apparent: Cat2, me, Green, Black Team captain. It wasn't long before the Black team captain was taking every other pull, and there was a big speed difference when either Cat2 or I were pulling. I thought a bit about dropping the two other guys, but wasn't sure Cat2 felt the same, and decided not to try until later. Hard to say what would have happened if we did, but the pack was closing as we came around for the second time up the hill, and I was thinking "who the hell decided to chase?", when we had each team represented. As we started the rise, we were told the lead was down to only 30 seconds. The two slower guys fell off, and as the gap narrowed as we hit the steepest part, Cat2 surged ahead. I was in no man's land, and opted to rejoin the pack, feeling confident we would chase down Cat2 pretty quickly, as it's hard for a solo rider to stay away on a downhill... too much speed advantage for the pack.
The pack came by as we crested, and I realized it had been splintered by the effort to catch us on the climb, and there were now maybe 10 people left. My guy "Chris" did exactly as he had been asked to do, and counter-attacked. Black Captain (the Cat1 sprinter) took off with him. I had just recovered enough to reattach to the back of the pack as it responded to the counter. We were up to about 30mph, and that's when bad stuff happened. The guy I refer to as the Incredible Hulk (major power TT guy) was behind our talented but somewhat erratic kid. That was a bad combo: big momentum not so agile guy behind someone "light and giggly". When they stood to respond, there was a bad front wheel touch. Hulk went down hard, and his bike went airborne to the left. "Dave" from the break hit him before he rolled off into the bushes, and Dave went went down. The bike went over one guy but hit the guy ahead of me, who ended up almost sideways in front of me as I tried to escape to the left. I drove into and over him, and have an image burned into my brain of my front wheel hitting his head as tried to cover up. I heard a big crunch, and then found myself able to stop, upright, 30 yards further along.
I yelled "It's bad!" to the guys ahead, put my bike down and ran back to the guy, yelling "Are you okay? Are you okay? I ran over your head!" He was together enough to respond with an ironic "Yeah, I noticed." Besides ruining a bunch of new clothes, he is fine. Whew. Hulk has a stitched up knee, but all in all, it could have been much worse. But it took two of my team out of the race: Cheryl, who stopped as she came up the crash, and me, as I had a broken spoke. We ere so far behind at the point I didn't even try to see if there was a wheel I could use, opting instead to go ride back in the car and be with Hulk. Matt had flatted and was also out. That left us with only two people in the hunt for points.
So from post race reports, the way it played out was that my guy and the sprinter caught Cat2, and due to the crash, there was nobody close enough to threaten them. But my guy wasn't as savvy as the sprinter, and he pulled him around to the finish. He was trying to wear him down and drop him, but the pace wasn't nearly enough to do that, so the net result was the sprinter first, my guy second, and Cat2 third. We were one place off from our goal, and, with only 2 members scoring, last in the team points. All in all, second is a very good result for us.
Personally, I rode strong, and believe I made the right decision to bridge to the break. It was an instinctive reaction, but one based on constant assessment of how the race was unfolding. My strengths relative to many of my teammates now seem to be (a) speed, and (b) the ability to recover and keep putting in the efforts when I need to. The big challenge for me, as the season officially starts next week, is to figure out how best to use my strengths and actually win a race.
Oh, and I was kind of pissed post race when I learned that our Cat1 sprinter (eventual winner) pulled the pack for over a half hour, narrowing the gap dramatically even though he had a strong player in the break. But he says he was only trying to keep us close, and others then closed it up.
C'est la vie.
Great report, great read, AzT. I'm glad you and the others involved in that shunt are okay. You've developed into the rider you want to be, that's easy to see. I'm proud of you! You said something else that rang with me, as well - you "recover quickly". I do too, now - and I think we can thank Ex, for that.
Here's to a great upcoming season, my friend!
Great day AZTR!!! You have really developed as a racer. It's good there were no significant injuries. A few years ago my head got run over in the State Masters RR and the tire burns on the helmet are still there.
Hi AzTR, sounds like you did well for yourself and for your team. :)
I hate hearing about crashes in training races. They are bad enough in real races. :(
AJ, you're still using a helmet that got run over? :eek:
I'm glad you dodged a bullet AZT. It's too early for that.
Good report. You're lucky to be on a team that puts those kinds of events together.
Not So Underground Criterium 2013-01-19
.8 mile; 4 turn rectangle; 18' of rise on front stretch; headwind on back straight
Cat 2-3-4; ~40 starters
Plan was to be aggressive and see if I could get in a break with whomever went from "Team Winded" which includes some fast college age guys I know. I did that, briefly, but we were caught, and I had faded back when the next attack (Landis Trek guys) went, which was more serious, putting 5 guys off the front. It became a hard chase. I would be up, and then back, up and then back as we worked to reel them in. But with the race averaging 27.4mph (hella fast for that course!) I ended up gapped off the back, and decided to take myself out and save a bit for the next race.
M50+; ~30 starters
Plan was once again to try and create a break. I went once, didn't get any help, and with the pack closing I faded back to rejoin. Teammate went soon after, got one guy with him, and they stayed away until the last lap. That meant I was just trying to stay close to the front and watch. As we came around to start the last lap, the pack was closing despite not going all that fast up the front straight rise. So I went around left and arrived at the front just as the front guys moved to close the remaining gap to my teammate. I was on the wheel of the guy (last year's 50+ champion as a teammate) that had done most of the work chasing them down. He faded as another guy took off, so I jumped as well, and broke away from the pack clean, extending it as we rounded turn 1. I pushed hard through turn 2, but was fading as I caught the other guy on the back straight. Before turn 3, I was swarmed... massively. I tried to gain some ground through turn 4 and in the sprint, but finished way back in the pack. The best sprinter in the group (last years 55+ champion) won in a close one.
So I basically got my ass whupped twice, two different ways. I feel great though. I know I can finish near the front of the 50+ pack, and don't need to prove that. So I went for the win, when my teammate was caught, and just couldn't stay ahead of the "raging peloton". Good decision I think, I just didn't have enough left to make it work this time. Chasing 20yo Cat 2's can take it out of you, but I consider it great training to race with the faster groups.
Tomorrow I'm doing a Cat 4 race, then M55+ (starting with the 45+) after a bit of a break.
Great work, AzT! You've arrived! You're going to have a great season.
Have fun tomorrow.
Good stuff. I found your teammate's aggro anecdote amusing/disappointing. Care to relay it here? Were you a witness?
Nice work AZT.
Hi AzTR, first race of the season in January? I'd say, good show. I'm sure your coach has told you, you can't win them all. :) Sounds like some good experience and lessons and you stayed upright.
Nice day AZTR. When you are happy it was a good day.
"And at least you didn't throw you bike. Good job."? If so, not sure what he was alluding to. I know there was some disappointment, but I didn't see anyone go off the deep end.
On the results note, teammates won two races: the 1-2-3 (there was no 1-2), and the 60+. In the 1-2-3, our 15yo Cat3 came out of the pack to win the sprint by almost a bike length, and our 60+ stayed with the pack, and was up enough at the end to be the first 60+. 2 of the 3 podiums in the 50+ were 55+ guys. The winning sprinter is a real force. He'll be influencing tactics all year.
Guess it was his FB comment, which I somehow missed. Missed the incident as well, even though I was near the final turn chatting with someone just before the race ended. I most have left to spin my legs just before it occurred. This is from our LBS owner:
Funny day at the bike races. Mis-shifted in the 35/45 race and lost a photo finish by inches. Had nothing for the 1/2 race. Here's where it gets interesting: in the 2/3/4 race, some kid overshoots the last corner and crashes. That's a bummer, but he gets up, crosses the line, and proceeds to throw a temper tantrum smashing his bike to the ground 2 times. All of us seeing this say "what an idiot - if his bike wasn't broken before it is now". Then he comes by us and throws his bike in the rocks near us. I go look to see what damage he did to it and probably repeat to myself that he's an idiot. 10 minutes later, some out of shape person with anger issues comes up and says "were one of you guys saying something about my son in law?". I say, "yes, that was me and he was an idiot for throwing a tantrum and destroying his bike further". This is where overweight father in law decides he hasn't fought since high school and wants his butt kicked. He exclaims "you said that in front of his wife and it's his only bike and you better (insert lots of profanity). I said "well, that makes him even dumber if that's the only bike owns". Adrenaline flowing now. Father in law smartly decides to walk away yelling more profanity at me. Wow, it's just a bike race people and if my wife or friends saw me act like that, I hope they would pull me aside and confront me properly!
Avondale Criterium #1 2013-01-20
Cat4; 35 starters
Plan was to try and not destroy myself for this one, as I was focused more on the second race of the day. But then the whistle blew. There was some lackluster attacking, but then I saw a guy OTF close enough, and I bridged up to him. We worked together, and stayed away 4-5 laps, during which I averaged ~40w above FTP. We were caught and I spent a fair amount of time in the pack, then launched solo with a bit over a lap to go. Averaged 110w above FTP, and 29mph for the last lap, but was caught just before the final turn, and swarmed... again. Finished at the back of the pack. Won a $25 prime during the break, and decided to start a tradition of presenting my winnings to TallWife. She said "Thank you very much" and tucked it away. :-)
M45/55+; 24/12 starters
With this being a combined 45/55 field, I didn't have thoughts of trying to break away, and this time I stuck to the plan. It was hard enough just trying to stay near the front and keep track of the guys I was most concerned with. Having been aggressive in the other races, I wanted to see how I faired staying with the pack to the sprint. It was crowded, and it was fast (26.5mph average). Every time I was pushed back, I would find a place to get closer to the front. As things heated up in the final 2, I moved up aggressively and was in a decent inside position coming through the final "D" turn. The outside adds too much distance, and I had remembered (and paid attention to it during the race) what last year's 50+ champion teammate had said about that sprint, that it always opened on the inside. I had to slow briefly once, but it did open up and I gave it what I had, which wasn't that much. I finished 7th in 55+; 17th overall - a wheel behind last year's 50+ champ.
Assessing the weekend, I want to work even more on my final kick. I've trained it up, and it's better - I just need more.
But, in the only metric that really counts, the score is:
AzTallRider - 4 races
Cleave - 3 races
RacerEx - 3 races
Good job, Azt. I'm surprised it took you so long to figure out who gets the winnings.