Sunday, May 27, 2012

Melon City

The three of us decided to race twice today in the Masters 30+, and the Cat 3 race. It was my first time racing in masters and I really didn't know what to expect. I have always heard that masters racing is very tough, especially for someone who isn't a Cat 1. We were slotted for 14 laps on a 1 mile circuit with only one real turn, a long fast downhill, a LARGE speed bump at the bottom of said hill, a long tough drag up a hill, and a 180 degree turn at the top and about 150 meters to the finish line.

I didn't feel like the race was too tough until a rider attacked up the long drag uphill. I followed the attack and had to work very hard trying to get back on terms with the break. The only thing I hope I ended up doing was keeping things together enough for my teammates Jason and Eric to stay in the race. But once we hit the hill again it was all gone, there was nothing left. I looked over my shoulder as rider blasted past me hoping that there were enough riders that I could catch the back on the pack and hold on, but it was not to be. I decided that I wasn't going to quit and just settled in for the last few laps. It sucked but quitting was not an option today. I was really pretty upset about being dropped. I didn't think that the race had been that hard until it was and that was it. I felt better when I fellow St Louisan told me there were ex-pro racers in the race that put it to us.

Getting ready for the last race I did just about nothing. The last two races I had tried to make sure I warmed up really well so my legs were ready for the efforts. But there was something I remembered from Steve Tilford that when it is warm, warming up is just wasting energy and could cause you to over heat, a problem that I have, and had just the day before. So instead I just road around in some circle to keep the blood in my legs moving and stayed as cool as possible. It seemed to work pretty well.

The Cat 3 race was much bigger than the masters, and it was longer at 18 laps. I had no expectations and only hoped to finish the race. The 3s races this weekend are filled with very young and strong Jr. races. I think this is great! I wish we had more of these kids in the St Louis area to keep the sport going. They are fast as hell but they handle a bike like a noodle. They are all over the place and are very nervous around others. I don't know what their coaches teach them, but they need to work some bike skill work into their workouts. A 16 year old who can go that fast, and push themselves as deep as some of them can, is like giving a Ferrari the the same kid. They can't handle it. It also may help to let these kids ride whatever gearing they want. I read over and over again how low impact riding a bike is, and the only reason I have ever heard is USAC doesn't want to wear out knees. In my experience with knee problems, and I have had a few good ones, this is not a problem at all as long as a kid is fit on a bike properly. Trying to pedal at 130 rpm and going 30+ miles per hour is hard, and causes these kids to wobble all over the place.

Anyways these kids made the race a little more interesting with there sudden movements, and the easy by which they scare. It is kinda funny.

The race was pretty fast, and nothing really got a chance to get away till just a few laps to go. One of the problems with the field chasing the 2 man break down was one of the larger teams in the race, a Jr team decided to sit up even though they had no one in the break. This should be pretty easy for them to know they need to chase. But if their coach, or coaches is only coaching them on being motors with no brains they may not know. Or they race as individuals and not as a team, whatever, the break didn't make it. As we neared the last lap I knew I was in a bad spot, too far back and I was going to either use a match to move up, get lucky to move up, or wind my way between other riders, which isn't too safe while flying downhill at 40+mph. So I hoped to get lucky as I also knew trying to get to the front, or stay at the front going up the final hill might put me out of the spint anyways. Going into the last lap however, my teammate Jason Wulff made a great move up the left side of the road before turn one and put himself in the top 10 at least. It was awesome to watch his pure power shooting him up the side. Then again as we ascended the final hill Jason again showed his great power moving up into better position for the sprint. I didn't go all out up the climb hoping I would be able to sprint once at the top. However this lost me quite a few places and that was it for me. I'm not sure if this was what I needed to try, or if going all out was the way to go? Eric Finks was one of the riders that made up some places on my going up the final climb. It looked like he would be able to get into a good slot for the sprint but was boxed in and then rounding the final 180 turn he hit the curb and went down. Luckily he landed mostly in the grass and compared to his last crash he came out pretty well.

We hung around to watch the men's Pro1/2 race and wow, I have no idea how they do it. First a rider from Bissell Nuvo broke away and had up to a 40 second lead on the field for maybe 25% of the race. Then riders bridged to him, attacked him, and tried to break him, but this rider was able to go time after time and stayed with the front. Finally however the field was able to gobble up that break, but the race was far from over. with somewhere near 150 riders, it was extremely tough for anyone at the back of the field. The slowing into corners, and accelerations out, made every corner a sprint for these guys. Consequently there was a large percentage that were not able to finish the race. I heard it was something like 60%.

There was attack after attack but no one was able to hold on till about 5 laps to go a strong break took off with about 6 riders in it. A lap later one rider, again from Bissell Nuvo attacked this group and had a large gap quickly. I don't know how one does something like this. I would think these guys have to be hurting and then they decide they want to hurt ten times worse. That is the difference between them and me, for now. So this rider was able to hold of the chase group of 5, a rider in between the break and the pack, and the pack. It was amazing to watch and you could see his his amazing power as he hammered on the pedels as he climbed the course's hill.

One of the great things I saw in the last race was the Gateway Harley U23 team and their obvious improvement over last year. These are young, but very strong guys that race against us and it is great to see them really catching their stride.

Tomorrow we are headed to the last race in the weekend's series, in Rock Island. This is a pan flat, like seriously flat 8 corner course. It is fast, technical, and fast....o yeah and fast. We are planning on racing two races again, but the master's race is immediately after the 3 race so we will have to see how that works out. Updates to come.

 This is the bottom of the long, 30-45 sec climb, it hurts.

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