Le Tour Time

6 Jul

So I’ve tried to watch the Tour de France every morning, if for no other time than while I’m eating breakfast.  Here on Mountain time I can see live coverage from 6:30 AM till around 10 AM.  I haven’t watched as much on the weekdays thus far, but still have two weeks to go.  I did catch the end of Stage 6 this morning, and saw both a pretty big crash that took down a lot of riders, as well as an exciting sprint finish, won by Peter Sagan (his third victory so far!).  Check out the video from NBC, and how he comes from so far back. He’s celebrated in pretty goofy fashion so far, but sure seems to get the job done in crunch time.  By comparison, I sprinted a few sets Thursday evening, and could manage what felt like 8 or so seconds of sustained effort.  It’s a long way to France!  Kidding, I only want to chase my racing fantasies in the U.S.;  I hope to actually go watch the TdF in person in the near future!

I was going to write more since it’s been awhile, but I’ve left this post sitting around all day and it’s in danger of becoming very dated.  Racing at the Sonic Boom Crit tomorrow in Louisville, so I’ll have more to say after that.  Hopefully the rain tonight will keep things cool over the weekend, bringing some much-needed relief to the Front Range!

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Race Report – City Park Crit

6 Jun

After a couple of weeks without a race, I was back at it on Sunday, racing again with my teammate Benten in the Men’s 4/5 race at City Park.  As I mentioned in the last post, this course is technical with the turns through the roundabouts, plus an almost 120 degree turn.  We both went out on Thursday to check it out, and I went back Friday morning to have a few more laps.  I had a better feel for the course after that, but definitely was not up to race speed yet.

Taking off

Sunday morning came way too early, but I warmed up more since I could just ride to the race, about 3 miles from our place.  As usual, the pace was fast from the start, but I thought I did a better job hanging on through the first couple of laps, and definitely felt in better shape and/or did not tire quickly.  I hope the former had more impact, because otherwise I probably could have ridden even harder.  I’ve felt that I’ve started every race too slowly, and this time I still did not have a handle on the cornering at those speeds (20-25 mph).  I’m certain that drifted out too wide on the second roundabout (the largest one), putting me in a worse position coming out of the corner, hanging out in the gutter by myself.  I felt much more comfortable by the third lap, and I benefit from seeing the lines that other riders take through the corner.  I often doubt how fast I can corner until I see others do it, and never more than in this case.  A dude from the Men 35+ Cat 4’s taped some of his race later in the day and posted it here, so you can get a perspective of what we all saw and went through.  He also points out the key features of the course on the first lap, so one can see how we had to ride it.

Around twenty minutes in I had fallen off the main group, but had joined in on a rag-tag group of stragglers to ease the work.  The three of us rode together until the lead group lapped us, breaking us up as we all went through a turn together.  After that, I eventually rejoined one of the riders, and we rode the rest of the race together.

Headed into the last roundabout (I’m in the middle)

From a results standpoint, I don’t need to get into any specifics, but I’ll say the race was a valuable experience, and I still had fun.  I actually felt ready to race this course again, and I’m sure I could move up and definitely hang longer.  This crit was also 45 minutes which had more than doubled the length of the previous two I raced this year, and I felt much better through this one.  Each week provides a building block in some form, and this one was all about bike handling, cornering, and positioning.  While I have a lot to work on still, I know these are things that will improve with practice.  I also have fewer worries now about my fitness, and I know I’m getting closer to a level where I can hang with the pack, at least for longer periods of time.  This too, will continue to improve as long as I build in adequate rest and recovery.

Leaving the second roundabout (I’m on the front now)

Oh yeah, Benten finished first out of us 5’s, and second overall in the race!  I was glad he had a successful day, even though I did absolutely nothing to help him out.  We will probably race a few more times together this season, and I would like to stay in the main group headed into the final laps.  For now, I’ll keep adding to my experience, turn by turn, corner by corner.

The lead group through the second roundabout (Benten in 2nd position)

Month of May

31 May

After not writing anything for a month, seeing I still had blog readers daily surprised me.  Well done, and way to stick with it for those that did!
Before May completely disappears (which it already has on Eastern Time)  I thought I would recap of the month.
A month removed from my crash, all the scabs have healed.  Looks like I’ll have a few scars for a while, but I’ll take the additional character, I guess.
I only raced once in May, at Wheels of Thunder, a 1.6 mile crit by Arapahoe Community Park held on frigid morning.  The group stay together for the first three laps, and I was happy with the pace and staying with the group.  As we started the fourth lap, the leaders turned up the pace.  The move caught me off-guard, though I totally should have expected it, and I didn’t follow. If I had picked up my pace right then, I could have hung on a little longer, at least part of the fourth lap.  As it was, I rode the last 2 laps by myself, staying ahead of any rider still behind me. I finished 14th out of 17th, which was my highest place to date.  More importantly though, I actually still felt good and wanted the race to continue. Until now, I’ve felt relief when finishing a race, happy to have an actual break and be able to breathe slowly enough to sip some water!  This felt like a turning point for me, and certainly a new level of comfort with this cycling experience.

Round and round the roundabouts in City Park.

Over the month, I have ridden with the group for longer stretches before falling off, and have recovered more quickly.  With that, I thought maybe I should enter another race, the City Park Crit.  I’ll be getting after it on Sunday morning at 7:50 in the AM, so another early start.  I rode the 0.8 mile course this evening, and the race should provide some “interesting” action.  By interesting, I mean continually taking high-speed turns.  I haven’t raced a course like this before, and I’ll admit my comfort level is not as high as I would like it with the turns.  I’m hoping to ride it again tomorrow to improve my feel for it.  Look for a recap either later this weekend or next week, hopefully (or sometime before July!).

Happy start to June, and here’s to another great weekend!

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