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DrPete's Weekend of Crits, Chapter 1--250 meters of destiny

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DrPete's Weekend of Crits, Chapter 1--250 meters of destiny

Old 08-26-06, 08:50 AM
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DrPete's Weekend of Crits, Chapter 1--250 meters of destiny

It was a beautiful morning in DC. Fresh air, nice and cool... great day for a race.

I got up and ate some breakfast at 5, washed down with water and accelerade. Heading out the door at 6, I grabbed my usual double shot of espresso.

I get to the race, the Davis Phinney Crit in Chantilly, VA, register, and start warming up. Legs feel good. I mean really good. The course is 1.2 miles in a D-shape around a new-looking conference center/industrial park, so it's a divided 4-lane road with silky smooth pavement. Perfect. There's an uphill to a left out of the start, followed by some mild rollers in the D-portion of the lap, followed by a tight left that leads into a 250m very gradual uphill to the start/finish. Nice course--very fast, and one where I can use my bike handling to get into a good spot for the finishing sprint.

Staging time rolls around, and some tri geek shows up with a short-sleeved jersey and aero bars. So they send the guy to go get his aero bars taken off and get something with sleeves. While we're waiting/cooling down, the head official says they'll be cutting a lap off because of the late start. OK, no biggie. 11 laps instead of 12. They flip the lap card, and once tri guy shows up sans aero bars and wearing a brown cotton T-shirt, we're off.

So I'm sitting in, enjoying a nice saturday morning spin, chatting it up with the guys at the front of the pack. Then I start scanning for squirrels. Much to my dismay, I see one who I know all too well--he almost took me out at a training crit a couple months ago. Old guy, very jittery on the bike, always overlapping and bumping wheels with guys. I didn't want to pull and I sure as hell didn't want to buddy up with the squirrel, so I fall back a little bit to give him some crashing room. A couple laps later another guy unclips from his pedal on the uphill to the start/finish line and takes himself out. That's gotta hurt.

4 laps to go and I'm feeling great. I looked down at my HRM for a sec in the rollers and saw that my HR was in zone 1-2 sitting in the paceline. God, my legs feel good. I start working my way up the pack, and to my joy I see that the squirrel has gone OTB. I spend the next couple laps working up to the top 5, and with 2 to go I'm sitting pretty. The next lap I come around and I'm pushing hard up the hill to stay with the top 5-6 guys. Turn #1 and I'm sitting in 3rd. Perfect. I fully expect these guys to peel off, but they just keep pulling. I'm starting to feel really, really good.

I come to the final left before the finish, and then it happens. My last pedal stroke before the turn, I push it just hard enough to pick up a little speed. I lean in hard, cutting to the inside of my 2 leadout men and gain about a wheel on them coming out of the turn. I'm well inside of them. I look up the road and see a wide-open road to the finish. 250 meters of destiny. Are you there, Jan? It's time. Here we go. You've done it all perfectly, Pete. It's time to win.

I accelerate, and the 2 guys give chase. I think I'm in my 53/15 at this point. I feel my cadence slow into the hill, and I click up another gear and sprint with every ounce of my being, determined to keep them off my wheel. And it worked. Holy hell, did it work. With less than 100m to go I've got a gap that's insurmountable, and I'm sprinting like I've never sprinted before. The Jan is with me. I'm crushing some souls! My leadout guys are trying, but one of them groans out loud and can't keep up. Not only have I crushed some souls, but they're wailing! Thank you, Der Jan, Thank you! I dial it up even harder and feel a euphoria that I've never felt on my bike.

10m to go, and I'm charging to the line with a HUGE gap, ready to throw up my victory salute. And then I hear it.

This can't be right. What the hell? IT'S THE BELL. Euphoria gone.

Oh yes, my friends, it's the bell. As it turns out, our friendly neighborhood race organizers decided that since we were making such good time, they were going to add the lap back on that they took off. So, when I passed with 2 to go, all was well. When I came around the next time and was vying for position, what I failed to see was that the "2" card was still up. They had added a stinkin' lap.

I hear the bell and realize all too quickly what happened. I let up and wait for the pack, knowing that I'm going to need to sit in for any hope of a decent finish now. I look down at the HRM and see 193, 99.5% of max. *****. I drop to the middle ring to raise my cadence and try to recover as best I can. The pack catches me in the uphill left after the line, and I try to sprint out of the corner but the legs are cooked. I just can't hang. I take a deep breath and head back for the big ring, well aware of the lap of agony that awaits me. HR is 180. I start pushing hard, and I'm at the back of the pack. I keep drifting back for a while, and now I'm 30-40m back. Dammit, Pete, time to go. I check the suitcase of courage for another box of matches and there are none. I dig deep and chase the back of the pack like I haven't done since my first race.

Then it happens--big crash in the lead pack. I see 7-8 guys go down pretty hard, bikes flying all over the place. I find myself kinda happy I wasn't IN the back of the pack but rather chasing it. I make it around the big crash and keep chasing, giving it everything I have left into the final corner. I'm actually in the pack as we round the corner. Those 250m of destiny don't look so damn poetic anymore.

I shake out the suitcase of courage and find some used underwear, a washcloth, and a travel toothbrush. This is not good. I sprnt with all my might but can't hang with the pack anymore, but at least I do end up lapping Brown T-shirt Aero Bar Boy right before the finish.

I finished 23rd, just at the back of the pack. I count my blessings for surviving that last lap and remaining somewhat competitive, and for keeping the rubber side down, because this race had seen some carnage.

The lessons learned:

1. I can sprint a hell of a lot harder than I've given myself credit for. I discovered a killer instinct and a tolerance for pain in those 250m that I really hadn't discovered.

2. ALWAYS LOOK AT THE LAP CARDS.

3. Sometimes you get screwed at bike races and there's nothing you can do. I'd heard this one plenty of times, but now I've experienced it.

So now it's off to the pool to sip some endurox, relax, and recover for tomorrow. If anything can be said about today's debacle, it's that I discovered a whole new level that I don't think I'd reached before, and I'm ready to use it tomorrow. I feel a drive and determination for tomorrow's crit that only a 23rd place finisher can feel.

And I'll be listening carefully for the bell.
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Old 08-26-06, 11:54 AM
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Damn Pete, I was reading this thinking "hell yeah, i bet he's glad he didnt cat up, he's about to crack one finally!!!!"

I did the same a few years ago for a prime with less than 5 to go, I thought It was the bell lap, not only did I finish at the back of the bunch, I missed the prime by less than half a wheel.
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Old 08-26-06, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Smoothie104
Damn Pete, I was reading this thinking "hell yeah, i bet he's glad he didnt cat up, he's abuout to crack one finally!!!!"
Exactly what I was thinking right before that bell rang.

I was told I wasn't the first, and I wouldn't be the last.... I'm glad they weren't just consoling me.
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Old 08-26-06, 01:07 PM
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hey, if you didn't go all out like that you would have had a pretty average race. don't worry about the placing...23rd is basically the same as 15th or 8th or whatever. the key is that you tried something you hadn't before and it almost paid off big time. you learned that you CAN sprint and drop people, that'll give you a healthy does of confidence next time.
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Old 08-26-06, 02:08 PM
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Damn!!!

Damn!!! Pete I was crushing souls with you on that report.
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Old 08-26-06, 02:46 PM
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PETE! That sucks! I was reading this with a big smile on my face until you heard the bell. Good luck tomorrow.
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Old 08-27-06, 12:01 AM
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Holy Crap DrPete. You had me right there with ya. I loved this report.

Yep, we are only allowed 1 book of matches per race and no matter how hard I try, I can't light the same match twice.
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Old 08-27-06, 01:44 AM
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Don't they ring a bell?
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Old 08-27-06, 04:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Vinokurtov
Don't they ring a bell?
They do, but I was in the middle of the pack trying to make a move when I came through on what I thought was the bell lap, so I wasn't paying attention. I made the faulty assumption that the lap cards would keep counting down every lap...

Oh well, it's 6:15 on Sunday and I'm loading up the car to head for today's race in Baltimore... report to follow, of course. The Jan is still passed out, but hopefully he'll be up by start time.
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Old 08-27-06, 05:22 AM
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First, it was stupid to hold up a whole race for a dork that does not know the rules.

Second, since they did hold up the race for the aero dork, it's worse to change the rules mid-stream.

I'da been REALLY pissed....
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Old 08-27-06, 06:03 AM
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Man that blows. Ya know maybe I am off base but personally I would *****. If they are gonna make a decision like taking a lap off before the race, they should keep it off, not add it back during the race.

Lame,

Good luck in Ballmer today.

-D
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Old 08-27-06, 07:28 AM
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Great report, I was right there with ya. I can't believe that happened. Well good luck today.
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Old 08-27-06, 07:44 AM
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Nice report Dr. Agree with the posts on holding up the race for the sleeveless tri dork. I was going to race this one but the field quickly hit it's limit (50). I should have followed up like you did to get in the race.
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Old 08-27-06, 11:10 AM
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Bummer.

A while ago I posted to you about the 3 keys to winning being "fitness", "tactics", and "luck", and that you can't control the 3rd one.

Looks like "luck" (the bad kind) took you down on this one.

Hope you make up for it today.

Bob
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Old 08-27-06, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by ryanrasband
Pete you should have been paying attention! I am learning that among riders of similar capabilities its the little things that make the difference. That sucks Pete! I feel your pain brother! But the other riders noticed....
Do you prefer the crits or a road race? I want to start on the crits because there are so few rr's. What is the appeal of the crits? They seem d a n g e r o u s ! They have some training crits on sunday down in san luis obispo that I want to attend. Do you have any suggestions on preparing for these???
Some other riders noticed, but there was definitely a good-sized group that was going hard for the line...

I actually like crits because 1. I'm a big guy and don't climb very well, 2. Coming from a mountain biking background I'm learning that I'm a better bike handler than most, and 3. I find them more interesting/exciting. That combination makes the crit a format where I'm reasonably competitive. Until you read my next race report, at least...
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Old 08-27-06, 01:15 PM
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Come on Pete!
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Old 08-27-06, 01:20 PM
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DrPete...

I like how you are working your positioning during the race. with about 5-6 laps to go you start to gradually work your way up near the front. with a lap to go you are in there near the front...but not at the front. Those guys always fade during the sprint...opening the door for the guys in a good position.

I used to watch a guy down here in the southeast who would sit near the back for nearly the entire crit..just pedaling along and sipping water from his bottle. As the race neared the finish you would see him up closer to the front every time the group came around to the start/finish. He was almost always top 3 at the line.

He was a pro, 1-2...so you could get away with riding in the back because they are all pretty strong riders, and there wasn't alot of riders dropping off the back when the pace was fast. Not as many crashed back there either.

You sound as if your cat 5 apprenticeship is nearly complete. Perhaps a Cat 4 upgrade in in the immediate future?

I like the crits to go really fast for the first 3-4 laps. When I'm race fit(not now) I like to go up front and hammer for a few laps to create a more select group. I like to see a lot of riders eliminated right at the start....then settle in and relax through the middle of the race. near the 1/4th of the crit I'll start moving up a little like you are doing, but never at the front taking any wind if I can help it.

That said...my condition isn't that good right now, so survival would be the goal currently. I hope to be more animated in 2007 when I start racing again. Got to work hard this winter.

Keep up the good work!
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Old 08-27-06, 02:23 PM
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Aw man....I thought you were gonna win this one....
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Old 08-27-06, 03:05 PM
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Dr. Pete,

Great report. It made for an exciting read! Sorry about the mishap --sounds like the organizers need to be a little more organized...
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Old 08-27-06, 05:23 PM
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Ooof.

Thats unfortunate. Lesson learned though
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