Monday, August 27, 2012

Race Report: NJ State Crit

I've said this to friends before but I can't remember anything that happens during a race. Enevitably when dudes are standing around recounting the race to one another in the parking lot I have little to contribute.  Sometimes I make stuff up ("Oh, and then that three-legged reindeer wearing the cardigan sweater jumped out in front of the guy in the red kit!  That was a close one!"). But generally I just stand there and nod. It ends up being the opposite of a dream for me, where I remember more vivid details about it as the day goes on rather than losing memory as soon as it's over.

I say this both as a disclaimer for this and all future race reports and as an admission that I probably need to pay more attention during races.  In any case, I promise that the following has sound basis in fact but may be a complete and utter fabrication.

NJ State Criterium Race Report 2012 Cat 4

Norm and I decided to do this race after racing the same course last week in the NJ State 35+ Masters Crit which was fun and fast and neither of us had any expectations of winning. The 35+ fields usually have all the heavy hitters and to them I resemble a ball. There's a reason I'm a perennial Cat 4.  Actually there are a few reasons, not the least of which are the fact that I a) can't sprint and b) have the power profile of an anemic hamster. Nonetheless, the course is awesome and we thought we could make some magic happen: 1.2 mile loop. 8ish turns, a hill which means the course profile looks something like this:  v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^ 

We get there early. Do an easy warm up. Norm is very certainly hungover and possibly still slightly drunk from the MTB race our team hosted yesterday. I'm not feeling particularly fresh either, having ridden hard for a few days followed by an entire day of standing around drinking beers and riding the MTB.

We devise a simple plan as follows:  Norm is going to not do anything stupid like jumping on a break in the first lap. I am going to try to not crash and ruin my cyclocross season.

I count out about 50 starters.  Lots of Liberty guys, a few Marty's guys, and whole lot of whatever else.  We roll off the line and both stay in the top 10 for the first lap.  End of lap some Liberty guy jumps and quickly gains 10 seconds or so.  Norm immediately follows making quick work of the gap and the two of them have about 15-20 seconds on the main field.  We have done exactly 1 lap.  So far our simple plan is working amazing! Now Norm has said (and I now believe him) there is a strong correlation between how much he drinks the day before a race and how he does the next day so I figure he's and this other guy are going to put a pretty big dent in the field but, mind you, we are exactly three minutes into a 45 minute race.

I try my best to keep the dogs at bay but one little man can only do so much.  Lap 2 and 3 go by and they're still out there with maybe 10-15.  Lap 4 is when the shit happens. Marty's guy goes on the climb and takes another with him. Shortly thereafter I see Javier jump and I know it's now or never.  At that point I push the "Fabian Cancellara" button to engage the electric motor on my bike and chase for the whole damn lap, finally making contact just before the hill.  Now the break is 8 but quickly 1 guy pops off to make it 7: Norm and me, 2 Liberty, Marty's, 54 guy and Javier.

At this point I feel like utter hell. I'm at 185 on the Relative Hurtiness Factor (RHF) which can't last long. The legs are not having a good day.  I do my best to hide and recover. I take a few pulls and pretend that somehow it'll all just work out. It doesn't. I'm getting twinges of cramping at the steep pitch before the descent and realize it's a matter of time before I pop. Thankfully the pace slows with 3-4 to go but then the real fireworks start and all I've got left is a sparkler. Liberty guys (I think) jump on the hill before getting the "2 to go" sign and I snap. I dial it back up to "Houston We Have a Problem" on the RHF speed and valiantly try to chase back on to the now group of 6.  Again the pace slows and I'm just meters from latching on the the lead group but they crank it up again for the grand finale and I'm done.

I limp home for 7th.  It's all moot anyway because I can't sprint and would probably have been 7 of 7 in the break. 

 (note: Comic Sans is the proper font to use for ALL technical graphs and charts)

 Once you're out of sight of the main field it's over for them and in a course like this you're out of sight quickly.  I know this because I am usually sitting in that main field. I have constructed the following chart to illustrate:

As you see, real break happens on lap 4 and the lead increases by close to 10 seconds each successive lap. Last lap the field ramps it up and I die.  

Post Mortem:  
Our group of 7 had almost 2 minutes on the main group by the end.  We worked well together but in the end Norm pulled way too much and left nothing for himself at the end.  Maybe if I have a better day and could have helped more he saves a little extra for the sprint and things end up differently?  Who knows.  Just fun to finally be on the right end of the split.


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