Wednesday, August 21, 2013

SRS Knoxville - back to bike racing

Continuing the trend of being terribly unfocused this year, I signed up for another Crit / Road Race, this time with SRS. I want to try to get as many races in as I can, I really feel like it's the best (only) way to increase my skills in dedicated bike racing. I also want to have my 10 start/finishes so that I can move to a Cat4 when I am ready. Anyways, on to the races.

Saturday - Criterium (7/15)

On the far left in the Red/white. Getting last minute instructions.

The crit race was quite a bit different from every one I've done in the past. Basically a NASCAR course (except with right turns instead of lefts) with one Cat5 climb(!) at the very beginning. Our race was 35 minutes + 5 laps, with an intermediate prime lap.  I had decided beforehand to race the prime lap and let the chips fall for the rest of the race. We line up and I'm immediately scolded for holding on to the fencing...foot down...right right. There are two other Knoxvelo riders in the CAT5's, and so I expect we've got a shot. The race goes about how you would expect for the first few laps, with everyone together figuring out what lines are best and who's feeling good. At one point I move up to the front to speak with the other Knoxvelo rider (also named Chris) and ask how he's feeling. He's noncommittal and so I back off. As we come around the start line again the bell rings for the prime lap and so I make my move, taking the steep climb in the big ring and putting a sizable gap between everyone except myself and Chris who jumped on. I spend most of my matchbook making sure we have no challengers but Chris jumps me in the final corner and takes the prime without a response from me. I try to catch his wheel but know I've burned myself out, so I sit up and spin the hill again and wait to be swallowed by the field. I am swallowed by relief when I hear the "5 laps to go" on the microphone, I am yo-yo'ing off the back of the pack at this point, suffering up every time we climb and trying to keep contact the rest of the way back down. At 2 laps to go I notice the rider in front of me has fallen off the group and I'm unable (and unwilling) to try to bridge back up. We unremarkably stick together the last two laps and finish a few seconds off the back.  Chris was able to keep the gap created on the prime lap and went on to win the race. (and get moved to CAT4 seeing that he won the prime lap and the finish.) I was a bit bummed out at my finish... I had hoped to be stronger at the end, but I worked too hard too early.

Looking sort of like I have some idea what I'm doing... although I don't :)

After my race I was ready to watch my friend Jimmy race the CAT4's, but his day was worse than mine. He started with gravel in his cleat, preventing him from clipping in at the start. Then after catching back on, he flatted on the third lap. Not the greatest day for the good guys.

Jimmy had a rough day too. His kit is also awesomely hideous.

Sunday - Road Race (4/24)

I wake up and I hurt. That Crit really took a lot out of me. For the first (but not the last) time that day I consider not racing. I get some food and coffee and start feeling a bit better. I decide to go see what I have left in the legs.

The road race was a 10 mile course that we would be doing laps (4) on. I did not have a chance to preview the course, so going in I knew I was at a disadvantage. CAT5's started late in the day, and by the time I arrived most of the other races were either finishing or well under way. As I am getting my things out of the car I start hearing the horror stories. The men's Pro/1/2 race is littered with DNF's from crashes. The women (Pro/1/2) decided to cut their race to two laps due to the danger. Rain in the morning had caused the roads under the canopy cover to stay wet, and the leaves/grass on the road had become like Ice on an already fairly technical course. One of the Pro men said one turn wrecked close to 20 guys.  I see Jerome and he tells me I may want to consider not racing.

A start to a rainy day. This kid in the front was crushing it all weekend!

I consider it for a few minutes, but... Fortune favors fools. My goal goes from "try to do well" to "finish rubber side down."  We end up having to wait 30-40 minutes for some of the other groups to finish, and as we line up for the start it begins sprinkling and then full on raining. We have a bit of a gentleman's agreement to take it easy the first lap and get a feel for the course.

I immediately fall towards the back of the pack. I'm not feeling great AND my sunglasses are limiting my vision. I should have RAIN'X'd them beforehand... now I'm choosing between taking them off and being partially blind. I decide that getting crap thrown up in my eyes is too big a risk and for the remainder of the race suck it up and make the best out of it. Only two guys go down in our race, and neither of them are hurt. On the second lap we split the group in half and continue at our steady pace. On the last part of the third lap one rider makes a jump. Nobody responds and he claws a solid minute and a half lead over us. I'm not exactly feeling great, so I'm just happy to still be in contact with the pack. As it turns out, that's pretty much the sentiment across the board, so we stay together and never pull him back below a minute. We turn onto the final straightaway pretty much all together as we have been all day.

I think this was the start of lap 3. I was trying really hard not to lose contact.

At 500m the road becomes open (both lanes) and the attack starts. I jump behind the first two men out and we pull a good lead. The second pull comes behind us just as the road pitches to the finish. At the last (50m?) corner to the line I'm pushed outside by the first guy that jumped fading... another guy takes the inside of the corner and manages to just out sprint me for 3rd place.  (with the same finish time...sigh)

Digging to hold onto 4th... I am so dead on this last incline.


Nonetheless, the goal was to finish... then the goal was to finish with the group... so 4th place was much better than I expected. I was very happy I decided to race. I learned a lot and actually had a pretty good day on a tough day. Sadly I still haven't gone above 900 watts in my sprints. I really need to work on my final kick if I want to beat some of these guys on the line. Oh well, I'm a triathlete, not a cyclist :)

My socks and gloves make a perfect line to show how dirty I am.

So that was SRS weekend, another venture (dabbling) in bike racing. This weekend will be my (probably) last triathlon this year, Storm the Fort in Kingston TN. (An Olympic) After that it will be time to learn how to properly run.

Thanks so much for checking out the blog. It means a lot.

- Christopher Morelock

1 comment:

  1. I've been enjoying reading about your adventures dabbling in bike racing. You are such a strong cyclist and it shows! Looking forward to reading about more bike racing adventures, as well as your future running race adventures