21 March, 2010

Snow and Racing

Saturday we woke up to a beautiful scene surrounding our house. Scraped some more snow before the rising temps made it any heavier. Here are some shots...

Here's our driveway...

Sunday's race day. I met Kenny L. at his place in Westminster and we rolled 19 miles to the Niwot to race a crit. We're all sporting our new kits and we actually have 5 people flying the Natural Grocers colors for our event. The sponsors said it was okay to sit on the back-as long as you don't work with them-for a reconnoiter/warm-up for our event. As we were rolling at the back, I noticed that this group was going faster than our group two weeks ago. I was already warmed up from our 19 mile ride to the event and this effort was stressing my legs even though was I was motorpacing off them. Before I peeled off, two people crashed on the straightaway on my left. The guy who crashed had his head down pedaling furiously and ran his front tire into the guy's rear tire who was in front of him. He literally crashed himself out of the race. Oops.

When our event went off it was our goal to have one of us in a lead group and the rest to chase or block. Does it suffice to say I was fighting a head cold all this week (didn't think so)? The first go 'round was Kenny busting a move with another rider to establish a break/lead. He was ready to settle in but his break away companion sat up. While their lead was growing though our other teammate Rich soloed for a bridge while Joel, Rob, and I blocked. Blocking's a difficult job to accomplish if groups of riders surge on either side of the peloton regardless of the leading edge (us) kinda easing off the pace. Joel's a beast blocking when the pack surges and he kinda jams his way to the front, keeps the leaders in sight that waste calories chasing but he doesn't join in the chase. This kinda of eases the anxiety to chase from the the people behind him. When Rich finally caught Kenny for the purpose of making it a two-man Natural Grocer's time trial, the rest of the peloton caught them and it's back to one big group. When the peloton decided to chase Rich and Kenny (even with our attempts to block) it made for one of the fastest lap times for our race. Another group kinda surged and had a gap, this time Rich went and we settled mid to front pack again and nobody in that break wanted to work and we formed one big group again after we caught 'em. For team tactics, you never chase down a teammate that's why it's important to keep your eyes open to see who goes. When I say big group, I'm guessing there were 50 or so of us.
Before the 5 to go sign, there was a flurry of attacks off the front to keep people honest and as soon as we caught like the 3rd or 4th attempt, Kenny busts an inside move before a big right hand sweeper, leans the bike like a moto, and he's off! I see him go and I ride the gutter on the inside to get to the front to block and that effort's cooking my ass. Needless to say, we attempt the block but by this time the peloton's a freight train where passing is almost impossible. You get out in front and the wind'll cook you. Kenny stays off for maybe a third of a lap and the peloton catches him. He eases back and settles in midpack. When it's five to go we surge for three laps hard. On lap four the pace goes up another level; on lap five I'm digging in my 12 and forcing as many watts as possible from my already wasted legs. I mean I'm in my biggest gear, with people surrounding me and I'm working hard to stay in the draft. This last lap effort splinters the group into an hour glass and as we're hammering in the last straight away I see Kenny out of the saddle standing up, not pedaling and I knew he had the worst case scenario of a crit racer-cramping on both legs. I keep my position in the northern end of the hour glass and I see Joel three rows ahead of me, Rob one position ahead of me, and Rich doing an impression of Mario Cipollini advancing towards the finish line. This effort was so intense for my lack of intense legs my hip flexors were even starting to cramp. Ugh! Joel did this race on his 'cross bike even! Look out pack once he gets his road bike back. Pretty honest effort, seems like everybody is like Tantalus, where the grapevine (fitness) is just an arm's length away. Race number two? Done. It was fast and not so furious. In my cold stupor, somewhere in the middle of the race, I remember there was in hole in the space/time continuum and I swear I thought the whole pack was in slow motion. I remember, as my perception, looking around like I was sightseeing, at people's faces to see their physical exertion and scoping out their rides just out of curiosity. It was kinda surreal. It reminded me of a Terry Gilliam scene from Monty Python.

On the way to Kenny's joint, Kenny was gracious enough to wait for my bonked-self. Ouch and thanks I guess.

It's a good way to start the season though...

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