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Monday, June 01, 2009

Once a crit-monkey, always a crit-monkey I guess. Race report #1?

Growing up in 70's and 80's in Detroit, if you wanted to race bicycles you had two choices; crits or the Dorais Velodeome. The latter is a post unto it's own, but suffice it to say, prior to racing on it one often had to pull weeds growing up through the cracks. Road races were almost unheard of and mountain biking didn't take really take hold until the late 80's. Crit's were it. It's actually the only racing I really did until I became a "dirtie" ( my roommate/roadie/trackie nickname for me). I didn't loathe them then as I do now simply because I didn't know any better. I was a crit monkey simply from ignorance. I still cant' read a road race for shit. A crit on the other hand, I seem to have cold. One would not know this from looking at my reg. stats...

05/26/2008 - SugarCRM Memorial Day Criterium - Criterium - Cat 4/5 - Master - 45-99
DNS Thomas Hoeffel1640300:00.00
Kaiser Permanente/Team Oakland

05/27/2006 - Livermore Criterium/Northern Calif/Nevada Jr Crite - Criterium - - 35-99
21 Thomas Hoeffel16403
902Cylcesports/Trumer Pils

02/11/2006 - Apple Pie Criterum - Criterium - Master - Master 1 - 35-99
3 Thomas Hoeffel16403
378Cycle Sports

09/28/2002 - Presidio Classic - Criterium - Master - 30-99
DNF Thomas Hoeffel16403

Yep. that's 4 crits (5 including saturday) in 7 years! But back in my late teens/early 20's, I use to do that in a month. Even funnier is that one is a DNS (sick) and the other was a DNF due to a timely (4 to go) and merciful flat on that god awful Presidio course. In short, once upon a time, I did a LOT of crits and tactics, or lack there of, really haven't changed all that much.

So why do I keep registering for these things? Stupidity? Boredom? Sun spots? I gave myself over to the cross gods long ago. But the cross season is short ergo the "off season" is long. It's hard to keep motivated. At least that's the thesis I'm sticking with for how I came to find myself at this poorly attended crit on Saturday.

Ok. OK. Enough already..Here's the race report.

It's windy as hell. Crazy windy. There are only 15 of us on the line. I know none of them. The former is a miracle in and of itself given that bay area masters fields fill up within a week of posting, no matter how lame the event. The fact I dont' know anyone is not that suprising. Heck, I dont' even recognize my own teammate. Apparently, the Venn diagram of crit and cross sets has a much smaller intersection than even I imagined. At first I thought the small field was a good thing. The headwind changed my mind. To start things off, I opted for some drama. As I was ramping up to do some higher intensity pieces just before the start, my cleat adapter pulled off. There was my cleat firmly attached to the sidi adapter plate which was in turn, firmly connected to the pedal, not my shoe! Miraculously, one screw remained in the adapter plate, held in by plastic mashed from walking. The others were orphaned on the road. Mild panic. I had seen my friend Cheetah earlier, rolling around the course watching his protoges race. Maybe I could swap pedals/shoes? At that very moment, I watched him drive away in the distance. Shit! End mild panic. Begin genuine panic. I rush back to the truck, grab my toolbag and rummage....nothin'. Double Shit. I tighten down the one remaining screw. Yeah, that'll hold....not. Suddenly, I actually come up with a sane thought! Rob a 2nd screw from the other shoe (which still has all three)! I do some quick jumps to make sure everything stays put, then roll to the line. I nod to same-jersey-guy and off we go.

The course is a *new* painfully short, near perfect 1 km square. I miss the old course.

We are set to do a mind numbing 35 laps.
After just 3 laps, 2 riders jump clear. I snicker. A lap later, I'm asked by another rider, lets call him Vlad, if I want to bridge up with him. I must appear fit or something. I tell him "I still need to get a few laps in my legs, besides, they're not going anywhere". A moment later, my teammate jumps away and Vlad decides to go with him. Hmmm. There's still a lot of racing to do and that headwind is nasty. I play the dutiful teammate and sit on everyone's wheel. No one's going to bridge w/o dragging me along. As predicted though, that little chase begins to come apart and the two early birds aren't making much progress. I figure as soon as we catch same-jersey and Vlad, I'll counter. I try to give same-jersey a heads-up when I go, but he doesn't or can't join in. I draw 3 others out including Vlad, and we bridge. There's now 6 in the break. I figured this would stick and sure enough it did (we ended up lapping the field, such as it was). I did some recon on a prime and SUPRISE!, realized I was the weakest sprinter, but not the weakest rider. I start to take stock of the break. There's Vlad, Red Bull, Chewbacca, Kermit, Mr never-pull-into-the-wind,( lets, just call him Jerk) and me. My only chance at a decent placing is to whittle things down. Jerk is really pissing me off early in the break. He feigns work and takes pretend pulls, but he looks to be a strong sprinter. I quietly vow to see he doesn't win. As we establish a good gap, we settle into the monotony. The wind is really taking it's toll on me though. Down wind we soft-pedal at 28MPH. Into the wind it's a struggle to push 19. We do this ad naseum until Kermit and Red Bull get bored and jump with about 15 to go. It's a good strong move and they get a gap, but a two laps later, Kermit looks to be pedaling squares. I figure there's no way Red Bull can go it alone so I wait. I try and get Vlads attention and mention my plan. Of all the others, he's rolling the smoothest. If the two of us can get away, I think we can make it stick. I up the pace, hoping to reel the others in w/about 10 to go. With 9 to go, we catch. I look back at Vlad and think he sees me. I jump and get a gap, I put in one more big effort into the wind, but look to find Jerk on my wheel instead of Vlad! I pull off and he doesn't come around. Game over. No way am I towing this guy clear. I can feel my hamstring beginning to cramp. If I stand up to jump again, they'll seize so I just sit and dig. I try a 2nd half hearted jump, but it goes no where as well. I just dont' have the legs...and for some reason, I'm the one being marked. I find this amusing. If they only knew the state I'm in. It actually makes me laugh out loud. With half a lap to go, Red Bull puts in a BIG effort, I get his wheel, but my legs snap off and fall into the gutter as a result. Everyone goes by. C'est la vie. I go back find my legs, but some kids have already run off, using them as light sabers. My hamstrings start to seize so bad I'm not sure I can drive home. WTF? Wattage wise, the race was hardly news worthy, but I soon realize 'fit' does not equal 'crit fit'. Those efforts out of the corners and into that wind have destroyed my hams. Vlad and I chat afterwards. He agrees the plan would have worked, but he hadn't really caught everything I was try to say because of the wind.
So I'm barely able to walk and got zip to show for it. Vlad got 3rd?

On the plus side, I did read the race to a tee.

But simply knowing is not enough. Much to my chagrin, you need some legs to pull it off.

Oh, and the Jerk got nada!.

1 comment:

MORGAN said...

I like the light sabers part. :-)