Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fall Fling Stage #2 - Redemption

OK...so crits are my thing. The Wood Dale course is great. Fast, short and relatively flat.

Got there early enough. Little P and Nana were on board to provide support. MJH2 and RR were there from the team. Parked next to RJBTrek as well. Some great riders in our group...we're the "old men".

Much colder. Little P was in jacket and looking very "fall-ish". MJH2 gave Little P a cowbell he got at a race. Awesome. Seriously awesome. That bell combined with the fact that we were right next to Ohare (within a couple of miles of one of the plants I helped shut down) with planes coming over every 30 seconds meant he was in heaven. The bicycle racing thing was just some icing on top of the cake (right now aham is thinking, "did that say cake? I love me some cake. I could do with some cake right now.")

With it taking so long for my engine to get running yesterday I knew I needed a good warmup. Doing some pre-laps a couple of things stood out:
  1. Turn 2 was going to be a killer for a lot of guys that can't handle their rig. It was a downhill 90degree - off camber that was going to be wicked fast. One of those corners that I love.
  2. There was a wicked tailwind right after that corner along relatively flat terrain. = F'n FAST.
  3. The sweeping uphill was into the wind and just steep enough that everyone would be hurting, but no one was going to clear from the field on it.
  4. The rolling front straight was going to be where someone would go - still hard and right after the hill when everyone will be looking to recover.
  5. This was going to be hard and fast.

I knew I should hit the trainer, but I just hate doing that. So...I just kept riding laps making sure I was pushing that hill hard to work up a sweat and get the lungs taxed.

Even doing that we lined up early enough that I was cold when we started. Total suck. We ended up 1 and 2 again right off the start. It was fast and furious. People were shelled right off the start.

It took me about 3-4 laps to really get warmed up. I floated around 4-8th position mostly. There are really some squirrelly guys in that group. I found myself yelling a lot. Not like me. I yelled at a few guys to hold their lines. We started lapping guys when we were only about 3-4 laps in. It was unreal. A lot of the lapped traffic was riding all over.

If you don't know this already I'll chime in...if you are thinking of racing you will get passed. Not only that but you will be lapped if you are doing a crit. WHEN you get dropped (fall off the back - definitions for GL Runner) form the pack then immediately start creating an awareness of what is going on behind you. The pack will catch you quicker that you ever thought possible - remember...10-20 of the strongest guys sharing pulls and able to recover out of the wind will always greatly outpace the single weaker rider trying to TT (Time Trial - ride hard alone GL Runner...) their way along.

So WHEN you find yourself in this situation....MOVE TO THE OUTSIDE! Take the wide outside line on every turn. Here's the thing...you're dropped and you're not coming back alone. You are not doing anyone a favor by taking an inside line around a turn and you WILL get in the way.

Passing lapped traffic when your on the limit is like playing a high speed version of frogger. To make it better the guy getting passed is usually not as sure with handling, and still hasn't figured out how to look over their shoulder without swerving. So we start yelling, they turn, swerve, more yelling, they freak, sometimes hit brakes....good times...

I yelled a lot. It was good. I was an a-hole, but I was feeling good.

I was right about the read of the course. One of the Spider Monkey (EDIT: TATI not Spider Monkey) crew (god they all look like they're 12 or 13. I know they're early 20's.) hit the gas right after the hill. No one chased. None of us really could. Well I think we could have, but we decided not to.

After that we just kept it pegged. I was right about the corners. I carried the nasty corner faster than even I thought I could. I had to be careful about pedal strikes (GL - hitting the pedal on the ground as you corner because you are leaning over so far) 2 times. Those of us who could carry the corner well seemed to fade as the tempo maxed on the back. While those that didn't carry the corner would pound it hard on the following straight.

The hill was bad after a while, but they guys were really taking it easy at times. I ended up flying to the front one lap because everyone slowed down and I didn't feel like slowing on and losing that speed my pain had just purchased.

Before I knew it I was thinking to myself along the back "how many laps has it been?" I was afraid I had missed the bell (you can't hear anything when your heart is beating in your ears". So I resolved to pay attention across the line. I was about 6th wheel coming across when I noticed that the lap counter said "1" and could actually hear a bell.

From then it was like a time warp. I think I had visions. The surge came. I knew it would. It hurt. It was enough that I left a small gap going into 1. This fredly spiderman swung around and cut me off in the turn. Bad. Dude should have held his line. I couldn't even yell. I had not yell left.

I carried the fast corner, but had no gas to hold on down the back. They only had a small gap, but I knew I couldn't hold up the hill and into the sprint. I sat up on the main stretch. I even rode no-handed before realizing that would be frowned on and that they wouldn't be able to read my number on the line.

I finished well. I did much better than I think I ever have during a crit. I could have gone longer - assuming everyone else would have been hurting just as much.

The lone guy off the front stayed away. Impressive. I came in 10th. So only 8 guys in the main pack got away from me (I don't count the flyer who beat everyone). Thirty-some started (34 or so).

Stage 3 is a 10 mile TT (can I get a "hell yes!") and then we have another crit in Wood Dale. I am ready. I am feeling good. I have 10 or 11 points in the series. I might get in the top 10 overall because a lot of guys won't do all of the events and I think I can do a top 10 for the crit.

Fun. Too bad this is September.

Saw Alien2 yesterday and today. He's riding well. Got 10th yesterday. Not looking forward to today's race. He's racing with the 1s and 2s. Scored separate, but how would you like to ride in packs with some of the fastest guys in the area....no thank you....

4 comments:

aham23 said...

very cool. congrats. love the detailed write up too. later.

J/tati said...

Nice report. Just one correction: the rider off the front was not from Spider Monkey. It was my teammate Brian Hague, who rides for Team TATI. (We also have orange uniforms.) He ended up winning the crit by a quarter lap.

He also won the road race by a pretty big gap.

Great racing so far at Fall Fling!

Psimet said...

Yeah I caught the TATI deal on the results when I looked. You guys just always looked like the Spider Monkeys team. Kits are too similar....or I'm too old.

J/tati said...

We had orange first! But alas, the uniforms do look somewhat similar.

It's subtle, but their orange is lighter than ours, and they also have orange shorts, whereas our team wears black knickers and somewhat crazy socks and arm warmers. Also: our entire kit is wool. And for the most part, they are the stronger and certainly far more experienced team.