Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Leland Pavement/Gravel Extravaganza

What’s a Kermesse and why is there one taking place in a nice little town like Leland, anyway?

I signed up for this race partly as a favor to
Rob to put more red and black kits on the line. I registered for my USAC license just so I could register for this race. And I registered about 20 minutes before the Cat 5’s filled. You’re welcome, boss.

I signed up for this race partly as a motivator of my own. It seems that everyone around is starting to race (or started racing in the last year or two). The training they are doing was leaving me in the dust. I needed something to kick me out the door and get real miles before April or I’d forever be dropped. So let’s do this thing already.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky for the race, but gone were the unusual April 60 to 70 degree days with which we’d been spoiled. A steady strong NNW wind was in effect across empty Spring farmland. 50 riders started the Cat 5 race. The four of us in Psimet kit rolled out near the front. I hung out in the left line to keep out of the wind for the first part of the circuit.

As we turned north, riders started getting buffeted around by the wind and some were finding themselves in the grass. Pavement is good.

The race hit the first gravel section and things just went wonky. People got tentative and there was a lot of survival mode happening. I admit I felt a bit of gravel trepidation on that first go round. I just planted myself in the saddle and pushed a bigger gear to keep steady. I saw a few riders go down, but I kept it upright and stayed in line. That trepidation about getting into the looser stuff cost me before the long section ended. I saw the BH boys fly by on the left. A minute later I see Arron and Matt do the same. I should have jumped out there and tagged along.

By the time we saw the
Lion of Flanders snapping high in the breeze signaling the resuming of pavement, I was still in sight of the first and second groups. I could see Matt and Arron chasing. I could have buried myself to catch them, but I know that would have been worthless. I would have been completely gassed and been dropped, anyway. So I just turned the pedals best I could and soldiered on to the southbound gravel and picked off a few riders along the way.

The southbound gravel sections were much easier to handle than the northbound. More compact surface and a blessed tailwind to assist. By the second lap I started working with a guy from Spider Monkey to handle the crosswind and eventually we caught up with a few other riders, one each from Half Acre, WDT, and Joe’s Cycles. Working together helped make the second and third circuits easier to handle. I need to throw a big shout out to Jason of WDT for basically pulling the rest of us through the last 2/3 of the final lap. I wish I could have done more up there.

We came across the line 16th through 20th out of 40 who finished.

Again, no good shots of me to be found, but here’s one that happened just behind me on the first gravel. Matt and Arron going by like nothing’s wrong.

(photo credit: John Firak: link)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

GDVC Mad Town Crit Action

While the bulk of the Psimet Racing Team was downstate on Saturday to race Hillsboro-Roubaix, I snuck north of the cheese curtain to Madison to ride my first crits on Sunday. I learned a bit, held on for the most part, and most importantly kept the rubber on the road.

The course was in a business park and maybe a half mile around, maybe a touch more. Two of the corners were downhill, the finish was a little uphill. We had the whole width to work with. During the 5's I was on the inside taking corners pretty tight the whole way around. 20 minutes of go go go for those youngsters. I was finding out where I was falling back and where it was easiest to make up lots of ground. At one point midway a kid in front of me was moving up on the inside and for no reason cut back into the pack. I saw a wheel get clipped, but wasn't sure if anyone went down. I kept on going and yelled at the kid. I think somebody crashed, but by the time we came back around it had been cleared or they were back on the bike.

With two laps to go I somehow got shuffled up to the front and was pissed that I basically pulling up the end straight to the bell. I let up a little. I should have just punched it and taken off. Instead I got shuffled to the back and wound up pretty much the last rider on the lead group 20th place out of 47 or so starters. Alright for the first 20 minutes of racing, I guess.

The Masters 4/5 was 35 minutes long and I was in there with Matt from Bicycle Heaven, who had just finished taking the 4’s with a nice come from behind sprint. I worked the outside lines more in this race and found that carrying more speed there helped me to get a free pull up the little hills that followed the downhill corners. A couple of times I almost fell off the back, but latched back on to keep with the lead group.

At a few points Matt was chatting with me about the pace of this one versus the pace of the 5’s. That I was able to chat back to him hopefully meant I was doing something right and not completely going full tilt halfway through the race. With 4 laps to go Matt let me know the pace was about to ratchet up a few notches. He was right, but staying in the draft made it tolerable.

I fell off a bit with two corners to go as the afterburners were lit by the more experienced riders. I had the final corner pretty much to myself and took it pretty conservatively / wide. As I was right in the middle of it I saw the guy in front of me start getting squirrelly and then his front wheel went sideways. I darted as far to the right as I could and remember yelling “OH S***!!” but missing him. I saw him go down and then from the corner of my eye caught another rider plowing into the down rider. I did not look back and kept going for the line. All I could think was if I did that someone might be behind me. No good in looking backwards at that point.

After the finish (23rd in this one) I saw a rider in a familiar kit roll up on my left. It was our old buddy Dave from Fond du Lac. Hadn’t seen him in a few years and it was good to know he missed the incident.

Was hoping I’d get in some of the
Peloton-Pix shots, but I couldn’t find any action shots.

This Saturday’s the
Leland gravel fest. That’s going to hurt.