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Race Report: Woody Rides Again

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Road Cycling ďIt is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.Ē -- Ernest Hemingway

Race Report: Woody Rides Again

Old 07-14-02, 02:57 PM
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Race Report: Woody Rides Again

Saturday, July 13 was the first race of 6 races I hope to ride in the next 7 weeks Ė 2 criteriums, 2 road, 2 XC. I hope my reports over the next several weeks will inspire others to consider racing, and entertain and inform some level.

By way of introduction, Iím 41 years old, husband, father of two, self-employed accountant, first-year Cat 5 road racer, and second-year, sport XC racer.

Saturdayís criterium, in Poughkeepsie, NY was a 16 lap (for Cat 5s), 1k/lap race held in downtown. The course was a rectangle with a steep climb between the first and second corners and continued more steeply around the second corner. The back straight was gradually down to corner three, which led into a descent to corner four and the main straight. During warm-ups it was obvious that corner four would be interesting as it fell at the bottom of the hill and made a 90-degree left turn. I did about 10 pre-race laps trying different lines at different speeds.

Sixteen Cat 5s lined up at the start representing all age groups. At the start I made it to corner one first, but was immediately surrounded on the hill. The climb was probably 80 meters long at a grade of 10% and turned upward for another 20 meters at probably 12%. The fastest riders set out and I clung to the back of the pack down the back straight. Things got sketchy as we approached the third corner, but we all made it around and started down. As I approached the fourth turn one guy was already piled into the hay bales and a second had cut the corner too tight and was locked up and heading for him. His rear wheel chirped loudly and he crossed right in front of me. I hit the brakes and my rear wheel stuttered as he passed in front. Guy two piled into guy one and their day was over. I had slowed considerably, but stayed upright. I looked up and found the lead pack accelerating away.

I took up the chase, which would last about 8 or 9 laps. Each time I came to the finishing straight I could see them a little farther ahead. Finally, I capitulated and accepted that I couldnít catch them. I took inventory and found two guys stuck on my rear wheel. I didnít know how long theyíd been there since I had been focusing on the chase. I slowed slightly and the second guy back came up to pull. I was grateful for the rest. He pulled for half a lap, then the other guy pulled for half a lap and I was in front again. I pulled for half a lap, but when I slid over to let them by nothing happened. They stayed on my wheel.

I was a little miffed, but pulled on for another lap or two. Finally, I had enough and sat up, took my hands of the bar, stopped pedaling, stretched and generally shut down. I was going about 15mph and turned around. There they were still in the drops (!) sucking my wheel.

The guy right behind me was local. He had friends and family all over the course shouting his name (Matt) and encouragement. He is forever remembered as Matt Wheelsucker.

I had no idea what to do, so I soldiered on with Matt Wheelsucker and some other guy sitting on. I decided to hammer the hill every time and, otherwise, take it easy around the course. They let this happen, and with two laps to go we were lapped by the lead group.

On the last lap I decided to lose them on the hill and try to hold them off until the finish. So I attacked the hill and successfully opened a small gap, but was caught by the third corner. I coasted through corner four and attacked again, but stayed in the saddle, all the while towing Matt Wheelsucker. I had successfully dropped the other guy. With 300 meters, or so, to go I started my sprint. I knew I was early, but I was already feeling the effort coming out of the last turn. Soon Matt Wheelsucker was alongside me. We were both out of the saddle doing our best Zabel/McEwen impression. I turned up the effort and negated his advantage for 50 meters, but ran out of steam before the finish and sat up.

We rode around the block together and I graciously shook his hand and congratulated him. He thanked my for playing leadout and complimented my sprint after pulling for him the whole race. I said nothing, but smiled and chalked this one up to experience.

Having someone sit on and getting caught behind a crash are parts of racing. I had good legs, hammered the climb every time, and sprinted adequately, so Iím generally pleased. I think I could have raced with the lead pack, if I had managed to stay with them, but you never know.

Final results: 6th of 13 finishers, one lap down. 2nd of 6 in 40+ age group. Matt Wheelsucker was not in my group, so the final sprint didnít affect my group placing. So, I came home with another Cat 5 race, a medal and some valuable experience.

Next week is Northampton Cycle Clubís Tour of the Hilltowns in western Massachusetts. Itís 60 miles with two long climbs. Iím tentative for it right now, but itís on the things-to-do list.

Woody
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Old 07-15-02, 06:06 AM
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your account is awesome. i want to do that someday soon. i am 37 and need another productive year or two. what was the overall milage and mph or any other stat you kept?! when was the last time you raced before this one? do you have a bike that is different from your everyday bike (for accidents and almost accidents you have)
congrats. sounds like a blast.
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Old 07-15-02, 09:53 AM
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Nice report, Woody! Matt Wheelsucker needs to get a life! But, it's good you felt well while you were out there.
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Old 07-15-02, 10:29 AM
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Good account Glad to hear that crashing bit early on didn't phaze you (or take you down). And you had your own race even if you couldn't close up on the pack. Too bad the other fellows didn't want to work with you. I bet you're already devising strategies for dropping wheelsuckers in the future

If you could get behind them, maybe you could rest a little, slide back 10 meters or so, and then accelerate hard and slingshot through their draft, right where they're resigning themselves to downshifting for the hill... harder for them to muster up an acceleration when they're already decelerating and dropping gears. But it sounds like they were looking for a tow.
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Old 07-15-02, 10:43 AM
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woody,
good ride, i can see your enjoying your bike ride,oscar
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"Racso", the well oiled machine;)
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Old 07-29-02, 06:53 AM
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Disclosure. . . The following report is from a MTB XC race.

Sunday's NORBA race was held at Killington Mountain, Vermont. This was my second year racing at Killington. I placed 5th out of 13 finishers in the beginner/40+ class last year.

This year I'm racing in the sport class.

I arrived an hour before the pros and experts were to start, which gave me just enough time to do a quick pre-ride. The course was virtually identical to last year's, but the refresher helped a lot. After the pre-ride I nestled into the grassy slope to watch the pros do their thing. My race was almost 3 hours away.

A half-hour before the start time I did a light warm-up and reported to staging. I guess there were about 10 guys in my group. Overall, I'd say the numbers were down from last year (this is true nationally, as well).

From the start I led to the top of the first climb, rather easily, too. I was surprised and even hopeful, but when the course entered the woods a couple of guys caught up and got me rattled. I was all over the singletrack and I think I hit every rock and root on the trail. I was downright awful. Three guys riding my sorry butt passed at the first opening, but I held a fourth off for another 1/2 lap.

The 3rd climb is short, but steep and I saw the 4 guys who passed me pushing up the climb. Encouraged, I pushed on and rode the climb and made up half of the deficit. I finished the first lap down by a minute, maybe two, I'd guess.

On the top of the first climb of the 2nd lap I rode into the fog. It was a very cool sensation, but everything started getting ugly for me from that point. First, my glasses started fogging badly. Soon the rains came and failed to wash the fog from my glasses. It only made things worse. My singletrack riding slowed considerably and mud started to make things slippery. Oh, and that stupid angled root. . . it put me down hard. A regular over-the-bars faceplant. I took inventory, got passed by another guy and continued on, in a dazed demoralized state of mind. I couldn't see, I was covered in mud and my singletrack riding was ragged and sketchy.

Then mercifully my chain broke and my day was over. No, I didn't bring a chain tool since a broken chain in a 90 minute race means last place. The chain pulled apart at a connecting pin. I picked up the chain and walked to the officials table to register my DNF.

This is my first mechanical and my first DNF in two years of racing. Though disappointed, I took it in stride.

Friday I'll be at the Empire State Games master road race - 58 miles.
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Old 08-04-02, 11:21 PM
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Friday, August 2, New York State Empire State Games - Master 35+ Road Race, Cazenovia (south of Syracuse), NY. 58 miles.

This was my first road race after finishing two criteriums this summer. I entered for the experience, since as a Cat 5 in an open, uncatagorized race I didn't stand a chance.

I drove the course the night before the race, which was, basically, 3 laps of rolling terrain puctuated by a 5 mile, 700 ft. climb to the finish line. Even from my car I could tell the climb would be brutal and the determining factor in the race. Several steep sections, which I estimated were 10-15%, were separated by the occaisional flat.

Overall, about 200 riders lined up for the open and various masters divisions, men and women.

My field numbered 29. The pace started slowly, which was welcome, and I sat comfortably in the pack for the first several miles. Having NYS troopers and volunteers at every intersection keeping traffic at bay was awesome. The roads weren't closed, though, so we had to stay right, and let the occaisional car pass now and then.

About half-way through the first lap there was a 90-degree right-hand corner at the bottom of a hill. I totally misjudged my speed, took a bad line, and skidded across the corner nearly going into the ditch. I stayed upright, but watched the entire field go by. The corner was at the bottom of the short, smart climb and I was left at the bottom with no momentum. I forced my way up the hill and put on my TT shoes to catch the pack. It took a couple of miles, but I finally hitched on. It was probably the best moment of the race for me.

Soon enough we came to the bottom of the big climb. Guys jumped out of the saddle and things got hot. I put my 12-27 cassette on right before the race, and I was glad I did. Even so, I was still hitting stratospheric heart rates as I struggled to maintain contact. About half-way up I settled into a more comfortable rhythm and watched the pack pull away. I was dropped.

At the top I was slightly nauseous, demoralized and hot, and considered bailing. However, after the previous weekend's broken chain at Killington, I didn't want to quit two weekends in a row. My son gave me a fresh bottle as I crossed the line at the end for the first lap and I continued alone for lap 2.

The remainder of the race consisted of lonely miles with the occaisional small group thrown in. The midsummer heat really cranked up by lap 3 and dehydration was a worry. I stopped with another guy and refilled my water bottle from a friendly hose held by a young boy. It probably saved me.

The 3rd trip up the climb finished me off properly. I collapsed under some trees with the rest of the field and my son brought me a cold Coke and bottle of water. It took 30 minutes to compose myself enough to stand.

Results. . . Well, 20th out of 23 finishers. 29 started. 30 minutes off the winning time. Clearly, I have work to do, endurance to build, and strength to gain. My average speed was 17 mph.

When you start racing every time out is a learning experience. I neglected to eat during the ride (though I had 2 Cliff bars with me), which, I expect, contributed to my 3rd lap fade. I should have had, at least, one more water bottle ready and recognized earlier that I'd need it. I need to get tougher mentally when things aren't going my way. Though I was dropped on the climb, I dropped all the guys I was riding with on the 2nd and 3rd laps on the climb. I couldn't climb with the fast guys, but I feel like I'm on the right track.

In two weeks I'll be at Mt. Snow, VT for the NORBA Nationals.
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Old 08-04-02, 11:35 PM
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So you did a power slide on your road bike and kept it up?! Right on! Did your rear wheel take any damage from that? Impressive that you reeled in the pack... I bet that setback cost you a lot of the energy you were lacking later. I've done that after falling back in hopes of towing a friend back to the pack, and it sure isn't easy!

For your NORBA race, here's a couple of my tips: start at the edge of the group and you'll have the option of moving up the side if you don't mind running over a little junk here and there. If you're coming to a climb where people typically shift to their granny gears, leave a little space cushion and watch for a way around them if their chain jams or falls off when they try the shift, so you don't necessarily share their sudden loss of momentum. Good luck, I look forward to hearing how it goes!
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Old 08-05-02, 12:00 AM
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Wow...very nice

I'm 18..I've been doing a lot of training and hopefully I can start doing some racing next year in Toronto!
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Old 08-05-02, 07:43 AM
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Originally posted by mechBgon
So you did a power slide on your road bike and kept it up?! Right on! Did your rear wheel take any damage from that
Any time you flirt with road rash and win, you must consider yourself lucky. I won this one, and kept things up, which I attribute to hours on northeast singletrack with my MTB.

The rear tire is fine, no flat spots.
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Old 08-05-02, 11:33 AM
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WoodyUpstate
Interesting account please keep us undated. You should have tried the ole "shake and bake" on wheelsucker.

Ride Safe....Dudley
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