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First Race - a lesson in self loathing(tm)

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First Race - a lesson in self loathing(tm)

Old 05-10-08, 04:33 PM
  #1  
BarryJo
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First Race - a lesson in self loathing(tm)

Seeing Chipcom's post a couple week's ago motivated me to enter my first race this weekend, a 24 mile 35+ 4/5 road race. The course wasn't terribly difficult, a steep uphill start, flat, another short uphill climb and then things settled into mostly rolling terrain with a steep down hill in the middle. 3 laps for a total of 24 miles.
I had ridden the course with some friends a few weeks earlier so I kinda knew what to expect. I figured I could suffer through the couple of short steep climbs and hang with the rest of the pack through the other 7 miles. The only thing about the course that made me nervous was a steep downhill stretch which is where I thought the problems would be (wrong!).
Before I go into the race, I should mention that I'm used to riding a fairly fast group ride with some good riders who know what they are doing. I naively went into this race thinking the riders would ride in a similar manner to our Tuesday night ride (another mistake on my part). I was not prepared for all the sudden slowdowns and riders who could not or would not hold a straight line.
After five miles of this I started getting nervous so I moved to the front, did a long pull and decided to break with another guy for 2 miles (huge mistake!). That break lasted about 4 minutes and massive amounts of energy before gettnig swallowed up by the pack just before we were taking the sharp right turn going back up the first steep climb.
This is where things got ugly. I watched as guy in front of me turned his head to the left and I saw the whole thing coming in slow motion - his bike drifted to the left, I hit my brakes and then I heard the sound of a bunch of bikes crashing. I was fortunate to stop before the carnage, but the front took off and the back was able to get around and take off while 5 of us had to stop and unclip, before starting from 0 to get back up the hill. By then the race was over for us. We worked to chase, caught a bunch of guys, but finished well off the lead.
Lessons learned:
1. Ride near the front where there's less chance of getting caught in sudden slowdowns/ stoppage
2. Don't be an idiot! It's wasted energy in a 4/5 race doing long pulls in the front, better to save them for the last few miles assuming you have people to work with you. And breakaways don't work in a 4/5 race, at least not in the first 2/3rds of the race
3. Ride on the outside of the fast downhills, away from all the skittish riders (you can always cross the yellow line if it means avoiding a crash)
4. RELAX as much as you can and enjoy it!

All in all though, even though I was dropped bad it was a BLAST! I can't wait to get out there and do it all over again!
JohnB
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Old 05-10-08, 04:43 PM
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Nice report and congrats on your first race, lots of room for improvement.
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Old 05-10-08, 05:43 PM
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seeing that your from MA and given the course description it sounds like "sterling"?
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Old 05-10-08, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by whtmtnpeddla View Post
seeing that your from MA and given the course description it sounds like "sterling"?
Yup!

It was great seeing all the different teams that came from NC, NJ, NY, CT. I honestly didn't expect it to attract so many riders. And regardless of what people think about roadies beign a bunch of elitest jerks, everyone I met today was very friendly, full of advice (especially when they found out this was my first race), and inviting to join them in their local group rides.

Now I need to find another race to do. Sunapee is next week, but I dont think I'm ready for that yet.
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Old 05-10-08, 08:32 PM
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congrats on finishing your first race. that big dead turkey right on the side of the road was nice wasnt it!! give sunapee a try it will be good for you fitness at the very least.
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Old 05-11-08, 04:37 AM
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Sounds cool. Great report. Keep'em coming!
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Old 05-11-08, 08:15 AM
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Congrats on finishing your first race!

I had the same problem with sketchy riders, but it wasn't unexpected. You pretty much cannot trust anyone whom you haven't had experience riding/racing with before.

I guess our 'bet' is pretty much a wash, since we both ended up OTB.
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Old 05-11-08, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by chipcom View Post
Congrats on finishing your first race!

I had the same problem with sketchy riders, but it wasn't unexpected. You pretty much cannot trust anyone whom you haven't had experience riding/racing with before.

I guess our 'bet' is pretty much a wash, since we both ended up OTB.
Thanks again Chipcom for getting me off my ass to do this race!
And congratulations on your race too!
For me I accomplished my goal of finishing a race without coming in last and without crashing. I learned a lot (mostly that I still have a LONG way to go and a lot more to learn, if only I were 23 instead of 43!)).

Yeah, the bet's a wash except that I will pay for a BF membership to keep the loving going

Keep up your training, I look forward to reading more race reports from you later on this season!
JB
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Old 05-11-08, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by whtmtnpeddla View Post
congrats on finishing your first race. that big dead turkey right on the side of the road was nice wasnt it!! give sunapee a try it will be good for you fitness at the very least.
After finishing yesterday's race, I was serioulsy considering this race even though I know the 46 miles of hilly terrain would near kill me. But the wife has other plans for me next weekend, like taking care of all the stuff around the house that gets neglected once the bike comes out
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Old 05-11-08, 09:37 AM
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Good job! A couple of things:

1. Breakaways sometimes do work in the early part of a 4/5 race, especially if it's short. Yes, it's rare. If the people who go away are strong and the terrain is challenging, it might stick. In my third mass-start race ever, I attacked at mile three or four on a fifteen mile, very hilly course. I crashed out a few miles later, but the eight or so guys that eventually formed the front group stayed away. In a much more recent, 49 mile race, the 16 or so guys that got the gap at maybe 25 miles (more a front group than a true breakaway) stayed away. You can usually tell pretty early on whether the person or people who have made the break have the strength to stay away. If they do, you'd better hope the group is willing to work. Personally, I would only go with an early break if I was feeling strong and more than one other guy came with me. And if the other riders you're with aren't working as hard as you think they need to make it stick or otherwise seem weak, sit up. Don't waste energy on a break that's doomed to failure if you can help it.

2. A crash like that can happen anywhere in the bunch, even at the front. Yes, it's easier to avoid up there, but I wouldn't kill myself trying to hang onto a position at the front. Climb at the front of the group if it's a reasonable effort. Don't waste energy because someone might crash. Stuff happens, but if you wear yourself out hanging onto a position during the race, you're going to lose places at the end. Move up when it's important.
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Old 05-12-08, 07:34 AM
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Hey BarryJo...I was in that race....my second ever having done the Sturbridge Rd Race a couple weeks ago.....

What were you sporting? I was in neon yellow long sleeve jersey on red Specialized....

There was an early break of 3 the first time up the hill that seemed to be steadily moving away as we continued the rolling section...I bridged up to them thinking we could perhaps stay away....came back together about half way down the descent.

I heard the crash behind me going up the hill the second time...Didn't seem to shrink the group much, sorry you were caught out. Group mostly stayed together for the rest of the race. I never had much of a sprint in any sport, so figured I should try something from further out. Took a dig as we came under the highway on the last lap...got a small gap...saw 57kph....joined by one guy, but shortly before the short climb into town we were absorbed by the pack...ended up finishing at the back of the main bunch.

Was pleased to have offered some animation for the race, although a different strategy would have seen a higher place....I had plenty of fun, and will look for some other races close to home for the rest of the summer.
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Old 05-12-08, 08:16 AM
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I love these race reports. Guys talking about all the mistakes they made, getting dropped and generally feeling foolish and then, in the next breathe, talking about how stoked they are for the next race.

Great stuff OP. You rode, attacked, avoided a crash and chased. Think of all the experience you gained in a single race.

Keep showing up. Good luck at the next one.
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Old 05-12-08, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by MarkSch View Post
Hey BarryJo...I was in that race....my second ever having done the Sturbridge Rd Race a couple weeks ago.....

What were you sporting? I was in neon yellow long sleeve jersey on red Specialized....

There was an early break of 3 the first time up the hill that seemed to be steadily moving away as we continued the rolling section...I bridged up to them thinking we could perhaps stay away....came back together about half way down the descent.

I heard the crash behind me going up the hill the second time...Didn't seem to shrink the group much, sorry you were caught out. Group mostly stayed together for the rest of the race. I never had much of a sprint in any sport, so figured I should try something from further out. Took a dig as we came under the highway on the last lap...got a small gap...saw 57kph....joined by one guy, but shortly before the short climb into town we were absorbed by the pack...ended up finishing at the back of the main bunch.

Was pleased to have offered some animation for the race, although a different strategy would have seen a higher place....I had plenty of fun, and will look for some other races close to home for the rest of the summer.
Hi Mark
I rode in an unassuming white PI top and black PI shorts. My bike was an unassuming red/ silver 07 Caad9. I didn't want to stand out as a target for the other riders, as it turned out I didn't have to worry much about that
My only moment of glory came as we were rolling along Rt 12, I took off to the front as we went under the bridges before coming into town, I ended up in the front for about 1/2 mile, which was about a 1/4 mile too long - my stratagy was to get to the outside before taking the sharp right to go up the hill. But the pull took too much out out of me, I ended up getting swallowed up by the pack and then the crash happened.
I'm sure I saw you somewhere along the way - truth is I wasn't paying much attention to what people were wearing, I was more trying to keep an eye up the road trying to anticipate the quick drops in speed.
That's a long sprint from the bridges into town and then to have the uphill finish. Too bad it didn't work out for you, but it's good you took a chance.
There aren't much races coming up. Sunapee this weekend and then I think Monson in June. I haven't looked beyond June yet.
Good luck with the rest of the season, PM me if you're doing any other local races and I'll try and meet up with you.
John
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Old 05-12-08, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
I love these race reports. Guys talking about all the mistakes they made, getting dropped and generally feeling foolish and then, in the next breathe, talking about how stoked they are for the next race.

Great stuff OP. You rode, attacked, avoided a crash and chased. Think of all the experience you gained in a single race.

Keep showing up. Good luck at the next one.
Thanks Bob! I actually pulled a couple of nuggets of racing wisdom from your blog, some from MyShavedLegs blog, and a whole bunch of great stuff from CDR's blog (I didn't think I was ready for some of the stuff in CAT3phenom's blog). And of course all the great stuff posted in here. I will admit to having to work on my "suffering in a race" look, that will come with time!

And to your point - as dumb as I felt after the race for what I know were stupid mistakes and not finishing higher, it's definately something that gets in you, and I can't wait to do it again!
JB
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Old 05-12-08, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by BarryJo View Post
This is where things got ugly. I watched as guy in front of me turned his head to the left and I saw the whole thing coming in slow motion - his bike drifted to the left, I hit my brakes and then I heard the sound of a bunch of bikes crashing.

So was it him cutting you off and you braking to avoid him that caused the crash?
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Old 05-13-08, 06:08 AM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
So was it him cutting you off and you braking to avoid him that caused the crash?
No, if that were the case I would have been too embarrased to have posted my report the crash did happened in front of me.... I was lucky to be able to stop and unclip before falling over (which suprised me that I had the reflexes, usually with a quck stop I fall - in which case I definately would have taken more people out). As far as I know it was only a few bikes in front of me involved, most in the back had time to react and move around it.
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Old 05-13-08, 11:51 AM
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Good job finishing your first race. You are an inspiration!
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Old 05-13-08, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnKScott View Post
Good job finishing your first race. You are an inspiration!
I wouldn't go that far...... Chipcom on the other hand, now there's a souce of inspiration for us all!

Does he really look like that disgusting playboy photo in his profile? God bless his wife and kids if he does!
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Old 05-13-08, 05:18 PM
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i was in that race too (just in the >35) ...i hated that corner coming into the first hill..
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