Sunday, July 28, 2013

Tour of the Valley 2013

PreTour of the Valley 2013.
pretty nice seeing dynamic up front leading the field
As I came into the road season this year and laid out my schedule, this was a race I came into the season to be peaking for and to place in the cat 4 field. The week before TOV was Mapletown RR this was a tune up race for me to see where my fitness is, as a I wasn't concerned with my finishing place I opted to help my teammate Jerry to secure his lead in the ABRA Road Race Series. As we had lined up to start the sky just started to open up and the rain was falling and the temp was in the mid 60's. This race felt really good for me, I was able to stay with the lead group of riders up until we crested one of the last climbs where I was unable to shift into my large chainring and spent too long trying to get it to. I lost contact with the group on the decent and the next several miles were on a false flat that tilted down, I was slowly losing ground on the group and was redlining myself to catch up, I was unable to pull back any ground. The last six miles I lost sight of the group and just set a steady tempo as not to get caught by anyone that was behind me. I cross the finish line very content that I felt that good and that without a mechanical I may have been able to hang with them up the final climb. About 25 yards after I cross the finish line I lean to the right to enter the parking lot and I could just feel the bike start to slide, next thing I know im on the ground, me and the bike scuffed up but nothing in too bad of shape.

TOV '13 TT
Didn't have clip on bars so
 had to go merckx style
The dreaded time trial, well at least for me. I'm not know for my individual riding efforts, so I came into this with extremely low expectations and looking to just do a personal best for a time trial. I do a warm up on the road since I forgotten my trainer to warm up on for the weekend, though not a big deal. I get to the line about 5 mins before my start time and just relax to keep myself from trying to start out too hard and get burned out for the second half. I figured in my head if I can finish within 18 mins over the 7 mile course id be content with that and would be one of my better TT. I start off and quickly get up to speed and settle into a rhythm, I got passed by my 30 second guy about 1/3rd of the way into the race though I kept him in sight to use as a rabbit to push myself but I eventually he slipped out of sight not long after the turn around. The second half I was giving in to my more realistic side, or some may call it a pessimistic side but I let the thoughts of realizing when my 1 minute guy passed me that no matter what kind of effort I put out in the TT I was unlikely to score points for the General Classification due to my lack of skill in this discipline and that I should hold back and save some matches for the road race the next day that was slightly better suited to my skills. I cross the line 31st out 36 in the TT at 18:09 just a few seconds off my own goal and over 2 minutes down from the winner, and almost a minute and a half to score points but it was still a personal best in a TT for me.
Don't look too gassed after 7.2 miles

The Road Race
I got to the venue just before the first races head off for the day more than 2 hours before my race starts. As i was laying out my stuff to start getting ready, i remember that my cadence sensor and heart rate strap had died during the time trial. I looked up where the nearest rite-aid was and took a short ride over to pick up new batteries, on my short ride I could feel the ride from the previous day even though I didn't go all out. I think back to Mapletown and try to figure why I did better there and kept thinking I stayed in the front. so thats what I did, I lined up towards the front and tried to hold it through the neutral roll out as thats where the crash was last year. My main goal was to just try to stay safe and to keep up with the lead group as long as possible. I sat in the group within the top 10 to 15 riders and took a couple of pulls, but focused on trying to stay in the group and to save energy. All was going well up until about 10 miles in, I recalled the king of the mountain climb being at mile 11. On a descent I made a jump to get to the front of the field on a downhill to lead in to the climb so if I faltered I could catch on to the back of the field. We made the left hand turn at the base of the climb and I was sitting in first and started to get into a rhythm. When 4 or 5 riders made a attack, after they went Jeff byer a west Pennsylvania racer, had came up and asked if I thought we should cover it, we agreed that 12 miles into a 54 mile race was to early for a break to work. Though as soon as we decided to let them have some space the field reacted and I started to drift back. By the time I reached the KOM line I was just dangling off the back by only a couple hundred feet and was with a small group and thought we could catch back on. Though as we kept going over the rollers I kept finding myself on the front doing most of the work trying to catch back on, because anytime id get off the front the pace would drop, and id see the field slip further away. 
Heading out for a second lap
I realized if I kept doing this I would burn myself out and sure enough about 5 miles of pushing it I popped and couldn't keep up with the group I was in. Not long after I got dropped I got picked up by a 2 man group and we rode together until Caleb Smith from pro mountain caught us(was surprised here I thought he was stronger than I was) it wasn't long till he saw some more riders in front of us and went off on his own. He made it half way across and stalled out, it took me and the other 2 guys awhile to catch him, only for him to repeat it not long after we had caught him. We then started working together as we finished the first lap. The second lap was pretty uneventful as Caleb repeated try to make solo efforts to catch other groups, the final time he went and after awhile I saw the group he was going after and I made a attack myself to try to catch him. We had eventually caught the small group that I was first with after getting dropped, about half way through lap 2. our little group made a sprint to the line, I went to stand up to up out more power but legs had nothing in them. I finished second in our little sprint and 24th out of 38 for the day. I once again learned how much I dislike the heat, I had wore my mesh skin suit from champ-sys, though I learned one thing on the day. If im going to wear the mesh skin suit on sunny days that I should apply sunscreen to my back.

The TOV Crit
I get to the race 4 hours before my race so I can eat, and walk around the course to get an idea as to what im going to do. I have some left over pizza and I start to walk around the course. This was going to be another hot day on the bike and I had already drank a a bottle of water and had my others were half frozen, for the race I opted for a bottle of drink mix and a bottle of water to cool off during the race. I wished the people I know good luck before they start their races and went to start getting ready myself. With two races to go until my race I go and get a pre-ride on the course to get a ideal what it was like. It was a 4 corner downtown crit, though the turns and the side streets were wider than what ive raced before and that would be beneficial for me. Now the back straight was very rough and and had one traffic island and several large holes. The final straight was going to be interesting, as you came out of turn 4 there was a traffic island and on the right was parking spots that the curb came back in to the course; and and the second traffic island the left side was closed for construction, then about 100m to the finish. Since I had forgotten my trainer I join other riders in warming up next to the course on a short loop.
Keeping Safe
We lined up, I ended up lining up at the back due to getting there a bit late. We set off and everyone is a bit jittery the first few laps but everyone stays up right. I managed to hit the large hole for a manhole cover, the first time was jarring and was a bit concerning, though the second time I hit I flowed through it. About half way though several riders went for a prime coming down the back straight, as we came through turn 4 I wanted to stretch my legs and see how they were feeling. I managed to catch all but the lead guy for the prime he had several bike lengths ahead. As I cross the line I think to myself ill see how fast I could take the first 2 turns and when I looked back over my shoulder half-way down the back straight I had a pretty sizable gap on the field. A solo attack isn't something I felt comfortable with that far into the race, so I sit up and let the field catch me. About 2/3rd into the race I see a couple of riders get squirrelly, and suddenly I start to see rider go down, I start to go wider and wider as I saw more riders going down. After that I forced myself up towards the front to keep myself safe. The final few laps a lot of people were jockeying for position for the final sprint, I kept making an effort to get to the front. The second to last lap there was a prime and again a few riders went for it, though the group didn't really react, and left them out front. Going through turn 4 I was sitting 5th wheel or so and was getting ready to sprint until the guy leading it out just sat up and suddenly everyone went around I was too late to react to the move to be at the front but managed to finish 7th out 30 some riders. So all in all as the weekend went on my races got better and better, not what I came into the season hoping to.
Sprint finished

I would like to thank Honey Stinger for keeping me fueled all weekend, Pro Gold Lubricants for keeping my bike running smooth all weekend, and Kenda Tires for keeping me upright all weekend and providing confidence in my bike. Also would like to thank Fred Jordan and Mike Briggs for being out there all weekend taking awesome pictures, that I used in this blog.