Sunday, March 8, 2009

Aero wheels don't make you fast, legs do..

This weekend was the Santa Barbara crit and road race. I had been looking forward to this since the MTB race there last fall. So by 3 PM Friday we were on the freeway headed down. In true collegiate bike style we fit five bikes, four extra wheels, five riders and countless bags into one Subaru.

We agreed to do burritos earlier rather than later and stopped in Soledad. The road trip was off to a good start. Last weekend I had a total of zero burritos because I rode with Jim and, well he hasn't fully embraced California yet.

We ate and headed on our way. The car seemed to be running fine, until smoke started coming out from under the hood. Fortunately Jesse, the car's owner, is an engineer and knows about cars. The radiator tube had broken and they did their best to patch it.

That worked for a whole three miles and then we stopped again. Things weren't looking good. We drove another mile or two and then stopped again. I called 411 and we got in touch with Wayne from Napa Auto Parts. He delivered a new cable and anti-freeze and we got back on the road.

Finally, we arrived at Jacob's parents' house in La Mesa. Ahh. Jacob's parents are most gracious and they didn't disappoint. We arrived to fresh baked cookies. I jumped in the hot tub and then
went to bed.

Saturday came bright and early and we headed to the crit course near UCSB. The collegiate one was at 9:40 and then the USCF Cat 4 one at 2:10. I warmed up quickly and headed to the start.

The race began uneventful enough. There were a couple breaks but nothing that looked like it would stick. I stayed in the draft through most of the first half. I wanted to save myself for later on in the race. The race was scheduled for 45 minutes so when I heard the cowbell 30 minutes into it I figured it was the last prime. We did one more lap and I stayed in the draft. We took the last turn and everyone started sprinting so I got out of the saddle. We crossed the finish line and everyone slowed down. What?

"What's going on?" I asked.
"That's it, dude!" someone replied.

Lesson #1: Always check the lap cards.

I had been watching my computer and didn't once look at the lap cards. The race had ended without me even knowing it. I was pretty upset but happy to have a second race. I went over to Jim for a bit of coaching.

"I want you to stop racing so defensively" he said and I knew exactly what he meant.
"You need to be in the top ten guys the whole time. You go out there knowing you're one of the strongest guys and you race like that. Get pissed." This was exactly what I needed to hear. I had been sitting in the draft far too long. I cooled down and talked with Hunter a bit as we rode over to Isla Vista.

Before the second race I made sure to put in my 45 minutes of warmup with a good, hard 10 minutes of effort thrown in. When the race came I was ready. After the whistle blew I got clipped in quickly and was on the front. I went hard for a lap and then let some others pull. I made an effort to stay near the front though. I kept thinking of this interview I read where the guy said "if you're not moving up you're moving back."

The race was a lot quicker than the collegiate one, plus I was working harder. Near the half-way point there was a prime and a guy went off the front. I went with him and a few came with me. We stayed away until the last turn and the wind hit. So much for the break.

I continued to try to stay near the front. I ended the race in the pack but had fallen back too far to sprint.

Lesson #2: Stay in the top 10 guys. And no, you can't change it to top 20 midway through the race.

Afterwards I cooled down and then watched the Pro/1/2/3 race featuring PROs! Oh and I got to meet Kim Anderson from the women's Columbia-High Road team. She was super nice. We talked about the Women's crit in Santa Rosa for the Tour of California until she caught me staring at her frame. It was a Scott Addict!

Justin Williams was there.

After that we headed back to Jacob's parents' house. I jumped in the hot tub and then we headed down to the beach.

Sunday I woke up at 6 and we headed out to the road course. Somewhere along the way Rob's clutch went out. We chugged along at 25 mph the rest of the way. Luke and I changed into our kits in the back seat.

We ended up getting there with 30 minutes to spare. The B's race was 40 miles so there was plenty of time to warm up.

First lap was slow with a few weak attacks that died on their own. Second lap was pretty slow as well. The course was really nice. Rollers, a small hill, few cars. Third lap the pace quickened but not too bad. I think this is when the winning break went. I, reverting to my "stay in the draft" philophy of just losing bike races instead of energy, wasn't a part of that. I talked with a teammate and decided to wait until the fourth lap when we went up the hill to attack.

We were heading down the first descent of the fourth lap when I hear a loud screech and then crash. Adrenaline shot through me. I saw it from 30 ft back and eased on my brakes. Luckily they fell to the right and I swerved left. I had the same reaction I always have when I see bike crashes, I wanted to cry. Something about a bike crash that's so painfully violent, I can still feel it now hours later.

And the race went on. Everyone a bit shell shocked and grateful to be on two wheels still. I sat on the back for the bit and chatted with some of the guys. Then I began moving to the front so I'd be ready when the hill came.

Jordan and I went and a few others came. Then we pushed it some more. Eventually the group split and we ended up with about 10. We crested the hill and the guys on the front started to break a bit, no one really wanting to take the lead. I could see the finish line and didn't feel like braking on the descent so I went around and started pedaling.

Lesson #3: Don't be the lead out guy, unless you're the lead out guy.

I pedaled my hardest and died about 400 m from the line. They all rode around me and I completely missed the sprint. Lesson learned.

I rode around and cooled down and then we got packed up. Jim was pissy because he had low blood sugar so we headed to In-and-Out.

Then he let me drive. Much to his and Hunter's surprise, I still know how to drive a stick.

1 comment:

  1. pissy is being polite. I was being a little biaaatch. Thanks for putting up with me. And awesome writeup. I think Cal in general needs to take some of the offensive medicine. Breaks dont happen by accident. And its 5-7 mins of pain and then tempo. Boom, the race is over and you have top 5. Be smart and you'll have the win. Lots of racing makes you fast.