Thursday, February 27, 2014

Big Picture life stuff, Off-Season, and first races of the season.

Big Picture Stuff
I've had a number of people ask as I post and reach out to me about being in Texas still. I never really made a proclamation to the world, but I decided at the end of last school year to take a year off from school. I was enrolled in school, but not focused on my classes or school, not enjoying those aspects of what I was doing at all or the direction I was headed with them. I considered a bunch of different options with changing my major, changing schools, and ultimately decided to take time off from school for a year to think things through. I thought about where I wanted to spend that time for a while, I applied to jobs in various places around the US but ultimately decided staying home was best. Great riding weather, support of family, a great cycling community. By the end of the summer I knew I didn't want to go back to Rochester, I am now officially withdrawn. I plan on staying in state to finish up my undergraduate studies.... now onto the bike stuff.

After a strong late season last year (which I posted plenty of blog posts about), I got my cat 2 upgrade, and was given the great opportunity of joining local awesome amateur team Super Squadra as a part of their 'Super JETS' (Super Junior Espoir Team Squadra). I had reached out to Dave around mid-summer, with far fetched dreams of making it happen, and alas dreams became reality. It is a great opportunity for me to race with and learn from some of the best riders in the state (these guys have more national titles than I have years racing bikes). I look forward to growing smarter and stronger with the team over the next couple of years. I also decided to start working with a coach for my training. I had, for the last season been self-coached and had great results. This certainly made the decision hard for me (if it ain't broke don't fix it right?). Ultimately though, with the right coach to hand things off to (Pat McCarty), I get on objective third party who can keep me from second guessing everything I do and help me with the mental part of racing I have always struggled with. Thus far I have been happy with the coaching and the feedback on race tactics, strategy and mental approaches has been helpful and will, I believe, be a huge part of success yet to come.

First weekend of the racing
I opened up my race season during the first weekend of February, at the Tour of New Braunfels. A small circuit and a road race. The crit on the first day was full of jitters, and tension being the first race of the season for most. It was my first start in a P12 field, and it was CRASH FILLED. Early on I started sliding backwards in the field, falling away from any sketchy behavior. After about 5 minutes I was reminded that I should be up front racing my bike, and moved up as quickly as I could. I followed a couple of attacks, fell back into the field. MAYBE 20 minutes into the race guy two wheels in front of me locked up his brakes, as did the guy in front of me... so on so forth. I didn't hit the guy in front of me but the guys behind me ran straight into me. Luckily I got a foot down  and didn't crash myself but my race was over.

The next days road race was on the same course as a TT I had started, gotten about 500m into and then crashed and flipped over a guardrail in November. Starting in a different place though and SUPER windy. Early on I worked my way from the middle where I had gotten stuck from the start due to some pedal fobbling, to the front. By the time I got there one of my teammates, Steven Wheeler had gone off the front straight into a STRONG headwind. I started doing the pack shuffle, move up, get pushed back, move up, get pushed back. As we got close to the corner which I had crashed on, the roads were getting damp and I started getting tentative again. Finally we crossed it, it was no big deal but I was near the back of the field in a twisty section with a tailwind. No bueno. I yo-yoed a bit off the back, a bunch of people got dropped. I wasn't one of them at the end of the road I got right back up to the front, where I was informed by Dave that I needed to either get up to the lead group or keep their lead in check. We were headed towards a headwind section, it wasn't a good place to attack but the front was soft-pedaling so we organized up front to keep a tempo going. There was lots of poor blocking tactics going on, which left huge gaps in the rotation and knowing my job was to sacrifice myself I filled a gap as soon as I saw it. At times giving me essentially 0 rest between pulls. I exploded by the end of the headwind section. It was hard, I wished I had positioned myself better earlier so I could have either been in the move or wasted less energy chasing back onto the group over and over. First time learning that position is more imperative than ever in the twos. Next up were Walburg and Pace Bend with cat 2 only fields (which have already happened I just need to make a write up about them)

Team bike: Scott Foil HMX Frameset, Mavic 80mm race wheels, Shimano Ultegra groupset, PRO bars and stem

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