Monday, April 29, 2013

AAVC Spring Training Series + Willow Time Trial

Before I begin my tales of bike racing glory, I have a public service announcement:

This is a bottle of prune juice. It may appear innocuous. Do not be fooled! This is only for the sick. It should be sold in the pharmaceutical aisles, not the juice aisle! This bottle of juice can render a healthy person debilitated for a day or more!

We ended up with a bottle in our fridge because my wife thought it would help her regularity. She tried a tiny bit, but decided against drinking any more because it didn't suit her palate. Several days later, I found myself preparing dinner for one because my wife was at work. While warming up a frozen organic veggie pizza (real man's food, right?), I wanted something else besides water to drink with my meal. The prune juice beckoned. A simple three step mental process assured me this would be okay:
  1. I don't dislike the taste of prune juice.
  2. A small cup didn't affect my wife at all.
  3. Therefore, drinking the entire bottle will not affect me and it will be delicious.
Sound, right? Wrong. One and a half hours after dinner, I started experiencing great gastrointestinal distress. And it didn't stop for a good 18 hours. It was AWFUL! So much colon much pain...

Afterwards, I was curious about the the laxative compounds in prune juice and their pharmacodynamics. Naturally, I went to wikipedia. Shockingly, wikipedia describes prunes as a "mild" laxative! I have edited the entry, but I fear that the powerful prune lobby will change it back even before this blog post is up.

Consider yourself educated. If there is enough interest, I may start a 'Prune Truth' organization to combat the prune lobby... the bike racing!

After Barry Roubaix back on March 23rd, I tweaked my 2013 race calendar. It had me doing the Ann Arbor Velo Club Spring Training Series criteriums. These would be my first crit races ever! But, the AAVC STS Category 5 races (the lowest category for those new the racing) are designed to be a organized, safe, and informative way to try out crit racing. It did not disappoint! Lucas, from Develo Coaching, and other experienced racers held a one hour clinic before each of the four races, as well as a short post-race clinic. And the coaches sat in on the races (for tips, coaching, safety, and to pull riders that fall too far behind). Here's a brief synopsis of each race:

#1) So cold!!! Windy! My first crit! I was a bit nervous. There were around 30-35 riders. Only a small handful had previous crit racing experience. Brutal introduction to crit racing! The field broke up into a absolute mess pretty quickly. I never found a good wheel to follow and ended up on my own for most of the race. This wore me out! With three laps to go, I got lapped by the leaders. I didn't realized I was getting lapped so I was riding around the middle of the road. I got yelled at to "get the hell out of the way!!!!" Oops. But I still had a lot of fun! It was very exhilarating whipping around corners with riders on both sides of you!

#2) The second week went MUCH better! This time, I decided I'd ALWAYS follow someones wheel. And I would try to make sure no groups got away from me. It worked well. I was almost always drafting...and I followed every break that was more than one or two riders. When the bell rung for three laps to go, a group of 10-ish riders separated from the main group. I followed on the very back. Then the last lap, the 10 riders became around 6 or 7 half way around the course. I made my "move" late and couldn't catch the guys up front. But I finished 4th!

#3) Pretty much did the same thing as the second race. Hung on to backs of groups. If I detected a group of riders trying to get away, I'd move up and hang on the back of that group. This time, no groups really got away until the very last lap. 8 riders separated. I was the last. Once again, I made my move with half a lap to go. What I didn't realize because I was drafting behind a big guy was that three guys had made their move early. I was able to catch the 3rd guy in the last 30 meters during a uphill finish but couldn't catch the other two. But...3rd place!!! I was happy!

#4) A little misting rain but warm. The wet roads made me a little nervous. However, I really wanted to win this one. I decided to try some different things. First off, I started in the front row. When the whistle blew, I charged ahead to make sure we started out at a good pace. I quickly allowed myself to drift back until I could find a spot to squeeze in behind a wheel. Almost the entire field stuck together until the end this time...which was unusual compared to previous races. Two riders tried to get a way around the middle of the race, but they didn't get far. With three laps to go, I decided I needed to move way up for the sprint finish because I was way too far back. This is when I realized something. I have no idea how to move up!!!! There were no gaps, so no place to squeeze back in and follow a wheel! I didn't know what to do, which resulted in me doing nothing. With two laps to go, I decided I'd just move on up from where I was. I moved up to around 7th place, but there was no place for me to draft. I was fighting the wind by myself while other riders held the wheel in front of them. I'd just have to hope I had enough reserves relative to my competitors. I held my position until around a quarter lap to go. I made my move! I whipped around the last corner for the small uphill finish, passing the last couple riders! And I was able to hold off a hard charger right at the line! 1st place! Neat!!!!

But with success, there is failure. The day before that 1st place finish, I did the Willow Time Trial. It was a disaster! I was using my cyclocross bike. I didn't think it'd be a big deal. But when I arrived at the parking lot, I felt very very out of place!!! Lots of team tents, skin suits, trainers, time trial bikes, disc wheels, deep dish carbon, aero helmets, and aero shoe covers! I was clearly in over my head. I went to pump up my tires, but realized I left my pump at home. Doh. I've been riding this bike at around 85psi for the crits (for better cornering traction) I'd guess I was at maybe 80psi for the Willow Time Trial. I did the best I could, which was only good for 39 out of 46 riders in my group. This is where I learned that I need to improve my engine. Drafting to hide my lack of fitness is not going to work consistently. I need to start working out!

Oh yeah...that's the other thing. I stopped working out after Barry Roubaix. The five races listed above? Yup...those have been my only rides since Barry. BUT! That changes...TODAY! The weather is finally getting better. No more excuses!

My next two races are Cone-Azalia (May 5) and Tour de Frankenmuth (May 25). I will get destroyed in both. Hoping to be in better shape by the Festival of the Sun Criterium (June 22). In between, I'll be doing Michigan Mountain Mayhem (June 8)!

Fun summer of cycling!

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