Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Bike Racing and Travel

Last Thursday I was able to participate in my first bike race since...well, since the last one.  The aforementioned last one was - what felt like - a long time ago.  Marking my third attempt at racing around on two [skinny] tires this year, the first night of the Crossroads Classic was in Mocksville, NC.  The course was short and very, very fast.  The start/finish straight was a slight rise and fall (with the line being at the "crest"), into a fast and narrow bottlenecking right turn.  That road was all downhill to another fast, right turn with ample room into a flat road with - you guessed it - another right hand turn at the end of it. Post Turn 3 was all uphill into an uphill right hander to the start/finish area.

It would make a very fast course with positioning being important (admittedly, as it always is in a crit). I watched the Cat 4 race where Ross handled himself well, narrowly missing out on a crash in turn 1 on the penultimate lap.

The Cat 3 race started and - as usual - I didn't really know anyone in particular to "watch out" for.  I tried to get near the front off the start but unfortunately was not able to. I spent the next couple of laps somewhere in the middle of the pack, having to sprint out of each turn.  This would be a sucky way to race so I attacked from the middle on the climb after a few laps and ended up off the front for the start/finish road.  I ended up being off the front for a lap or two, which wasn't really my intention.

Turn 2, thanks Ross the Boss for the pic
Eventually I got swallowed back up again but tried to remain near the front now that I could choose my position a bit better.  Being on the front or near it allows you to ride the course MUCH smoother as you don't have to yo-yo off the back through and around and after the turns.  A steadier effort is always better, especially for a triathlete.  I was noticing that on this particular course I was able to make up quite a bit of distance on the turns if someone got ahead of me so it felt good to have that confidence. 

More of the race went by uneventfully and then we got to "3 laps to go" remaining.  We went through that lap and then with two laps to go the pace picked up a little bit.  On the uphill stretch I attacked and got off the front again for the start/finish line but this was responded to quickly but my goal was ultimately to get through those first two turns in the top 3-5 spots.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) I ended up being in the front spot through those two turns on the final lap.  I was able to navigate it safely and put my head down on the back stretch  and resolved to just stay at tempo/threshold on the front.  Unfortunately somebody decided this would be a good time to go sprinting past and brushed my shoulder when they did so.  I was very frustrated with a move like that because they had an entire road and had no need to cut it that close at ~35 mph (I was probably going  25ish).  I didn't feel like contesting a sprint that was full of guys like that (plus, I was tired) so I got to the finish line having been passed quite a bit in the last 400m.  

A good workout and a good week of biking. I don't get too many opportunities to race bikes anymore given that it frequently conflicts with the triathlon season's goals so it was fun to do a night race (by the last 10 laps it was basically dark with only street lights...a little sketchy) and get in a good second bike ride of the day (yes, that's another excuse for ya). 

I also took a quick trip home to New Orleans this weekend.  I haven't been home since Christmas and haven't seen a couple of my brothers since then so it was a nice opportunity to fly home and have everyone be there.  The chances of this happening with any frequency are certainly diminishing as we all get older...

Travis taking a drink. No this wasn't staged, at all..

Sailing back into the harbor after a boating dinner