Monday, May 5, 2014

A real blog title, and some races I didn't want to relive through blog posts

Since I started chronicling my cycling adventures, I have struggled with a good blog title. I've changed it a number of times and it has never been particularly creative. I think I finally have a good one, it even has a story. After the most recent thursday night Driveway Series race, my teammate Ian Dille semi-jokingly remarked that he thinks he needs faster wheels for the Driveway. I immediately asked if he was using latex tubes to which he said something along the lines of, 'I guess I should'. And I remarked without hesitation 'That's 6 watts.' Everyone around kinda chuckled, and my teammate Jake noted "That's gonna be on your tombstone bro. Underneath your name it's gonna say 'That's 6 watts.'" The statement accentuates both my passion for cycling (some might call it an obsession), and care for the technical intricacies of the sport. Put simply, I'm a cycling nerd. In a sport which tends to involve a lot of romanticism, this can often make me 'that guy (freak) who likes numbers'. Thus, my blog title. Very little romanticism here.

About that bike racing stuff: I haven't stopped doing it I just haven't written a blog post about it all yet. Sharing and writing blog posts about races is a fun and exciting experience when everything goes well. Who doesn't want to share with the world about how awesome they are? I have been decidedly un-awesome early on this season. Through a combo of tactical blunders, illness, flat tires, and simply not being fit enough, I have been able to get none of the results I have wanted yet this year (although it is looking up). Since my last post I have raced at Fayetteville, Corsicana, and Joe Martin. I'll break each one down very briefly.

Fayetteville Stage Race (Texas)
I went into the this one really excited to do it for the first time. One of Texas' premiere stage race, with a nice long TT and two hard road races. Traditionally, in the 2's at least, decided by the TT. Something I tend to be good at. This year it was very rainy affair (as were most of the spring races), and with rain at Fayetteville come flats. I raced in the 2/3, and was hoping to get my first top result (spoiler alert, that didn't happen). We (Super Squadra) started with 4 guys in the race, in the first 10 miles of the race Alec and Connor flatted out leaving Jake and myself in the race. It changed plans quite a bit. Coming into our last lap of the race, Jake and I were talking about plans for the finale when 2 bikes in front of us someone went down for no reason (grabbed a fist full of brakes when brakes where unnecessary on a very slick turn). I went left and Jake went right. I chased like hell and was one of the very few to make it back to the group. Jake apparently ran into the grass and a fence and never made it back. I was pretty tanked after chasing back on and just hunk onto the field for the last lap, moved up a bit to make sure gaps didn't open on the finishing section and came in 18th. There was a time trial later that day which I was looking forward to, test of pure fitness and skill against the clock. I forgot about another important factor in this TT, fatigue. I had lots of it, I fell 20w (230w, instead of 250w) short of the power I had planned on as a target. When you start the TT and have no bliss period, just pain, you know it will be long.I finished 21st on the day, well behind where I wanted to be, and maintained 18th. My goals then readjusted, finish the next day, aim for top 15. That didn't happen, third race in 24 hours and I simply had no legs left. We turned left into a tailwind and people hit the accelerator in our extremely diminished group (20 guys, maybe) and I was off the back for a 4th time, and not coming back. I was absolutely tanked, and cold (it was raining).

After Fayetteville, I got sick (perhaps had to do with my bad performance). Corsicana came as I was starting to swing up from that. On the drive up there, Dave noted that I still sounded awful and should take the TT and crit easy the first day so I could be strong the second day (road race which would most likely decide the overall). I did just that on the TT, just shy of 10 minute TT at just under 20 minute power. Still got a decent time though landing me 19th in the P12 which made me very happy.

Going into the crit (second of three stages) I had an assortment of technical bike issues, turned out my derailleur cable was fraying in the shifter (took it all apart when I got home), and at one point hit a pothole on course which jarred my wheel lose and significantly rubbed my brake (I realized this was happening after the race when I could hear it, when I opened my brake my power went down 30w at the same speed . At one point my shifter cassette combo had worked like a 14-21 seven speed cassette got up to a 13-23 before the race started.  Was nervous about it all race but never caused problems. My technical abilities did. I was constantly moving up when it was hard because I kept losing spaces when i should have been moving up (when it was easy). Got stuck behind the same guy that kept opening gaps. It was a mess. Supposedly I finished 8 seconds behind the field, I thought that was BS as there was no gaps I could see, but that was the GC finding. I sat in the same place rolling into the RR with teammates in 4th and 6th.

Then the road race, it was super windy. Was going to be a hard race, which WOULD split up. I was as careful as I know how to be with position and when things started to get really hard into the headwind I was sitting about 10th wheel right at the end of the echelon on the front. Then I saw Grant, up ahead of me, fall back with a flat. He was sitting 4th overall so I automatically peeled off to give him my wheel. Gave him my wheel told him to take off and that I would catch up.  I got a wheel from the wheel truck which was adequate to get me home but not to seriously try and race on (woo hoo armadillo tires and thornproof tubes, that's not six watts. More like 30.). I really wanted to finish and rode a solid tempo for another lap (out of 4) rolling through the second time I was 25 minutes off the field/leaders though. I was on pace to be lapped on a 21 mile loop. Which besides being embarrassing would have left me as a DNF due to time cut anyways. I packed it in, disappointing that I couldn't have done more in the RR and it played out the way it did, but happy with what I was able to do in the earlier races despite some adversity.

Joe Martin Stage Race
At the beginning of the year, I had outlined this as one of my big races of the year. Coming into it, I knew I wasn't where I had wanted to be fitness wise (power not high enough for weight), but hopeful about what I could do. In the first 2.5 mile uphill TT, I hit a personal best power for 10 minutes, but weight has also gone up a lot since March. Power up, weight up more. Not the time I had hoped for here (10:18 instead of the 9:30 I had been hoping for at one point). The next stage was a 110 mile road race with a long climb coming from mile 73 to 84 with multiple ramps with flat sections in between. 6%... flat... 6%.... flat. I positioned myself well throughout the early section of the stage, ate, drank. All things I have been historically bad at and have cost me races, I did them because that wasn't going to be why I failed on this big stage. I made it over the early rises feeling pretty confident, strong within the group. Just before we hit the big climb things started to go wrong though. We had turned into a tailwind and were on a wide highway with no shade on a warm day. After the first two rises on the climb I was done, cooked. I went back from group to group to group. I simply had nothing left in my legs, felt hot. I had to stop up top as my stoaoch just seized up, my stomach had shut down, hamstrings were cramping. After a couple minutes I started soft pedalling and then finally could push the pedals after about 20 minutes. I barely made time cut, finishing over 30 minutes back. I couldn't come back from it the next day either, despite my best intentions, eating, drinking ect.... I just flopped. I had nothing from the go and got dropped on the first hill.

I learned a lot from Joe Martin, I positioned myself well did all that right, but I think hydration coming into the weekend was off. Since starting at Starbucks, I have not drank as much water. Partially because of the job, we aren't allowed to have drinks on the floor and work was where I drank the most at my previous job. I think this sort of chronic dehydration coming into the race lead to both my overheating and bonking (can't store glycogen without water!!!). In addition, I simply don't think I had enough miles/hours in the legs in the couple of month previous to handle the hard back to back to back days. I can correct for both of these issues and come back stronger.

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