Saturday, May 23, 2009


For the past few weeks, I've been working hard on my cycling, losing weight and getting stronger.

That all started falling apart a couple weeks ago. I got very few miles in. Then I raced Silverton and was dropped. I used to pride myself on not getting dropped in races, then I started getting dropped. My motivation is low.

Then yesterday, after track, I was bushed. My ear was (and still is), for some reason, clogged up like it was when I had the sinus infection earlier this year. I went to bed right after I went home, without even brushing my teeth.

It started on the last omnium event. I didn't even try. The thought of putting out that much effort was too much and I just soft pedaled the event.  I was tired and sketched out. I had a close call when someone shot up track almost taking my front wheel out in the first race. Then in the second, one of the guys inexplicably came down into the sprinters lane after finishing, forcing me off the track onto the apron to take the corner at 20-30 mph on the apron. I came out of it okay, but I was praying the whole time that my pedal wouldn't ground and my tires would stick. It didn't and they did, so okay.

But the third event I couldn't get it up. Started out strong, then just gave up. Didn't even give it a go. Getting up at 6:00 this morning, I couldn't muster the motivation to get ready to either race the rehearsal road race or ride with the team on their epic 90 some odd mile ride today. I turned my alarm off and got up again at 10:30, over 12 hours after I went to sleep last night. I feel better now though, so I'll probably go out for a 50 mile ride after I finish breakfast.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Silverton FAIL plus Track Rant

The race report for the Silverton RR is a short one: FAIL.
Got dropped after a lap and a half, then rode the rest of the lap with John Kim, a friendly sprinter type who is a monster on the track, but hills, like me, not so much. Quit after two laps of three; no point in thrashing myself on another lap after the hammering I took on the first two.
I did do a little racing early. It's not like sat in the pack and waited for my turn to be dropped. After we started up the first hill of the day a break formed. I got Mitch into a chase group which didn't quite get away, but the fireworks started by the chase led to both the break and the chase being swallowed briefly and the break reemerging with Mitch as one of the members. So, after that little amount of racing, I went to sit in in the chase group. Actually, I drifted almost all the way to the back of the field, and was just getting my breath back when version two of the breakaway went off.
I learned some little things about myself in the race. I learned that my training (and weight loss, I now tip the scales at 180lbs, 5-6lbs less than a couple months ago) was working incrementally. I was able to dig harder than I have previously to keep on the wheels, and I think I stayed on much longer than I would have two months ago. Who knows though. Two months ago, the guys racing now were not in as good form as they are now, so perhaps the tide is raising all boats and I am just trying to keep up.
Also, I learned that the trick to squeezing though narrow gaps just wider than your handlebars is to look at the wheel you are following through the gap, instead of looking at the handlebar you are trying to avoid. If you look at a handlebar on one side of the gap, you'll hit it. If you look through the gap and just move through, you'll go through without the slightest problem. Another thing about moving through gaps is that it is safer to move through them than backing off and exposing your front wheel to someone's rear wheel. Better to be squeezed with your shoulders between two hips than having your front wheel trapped between two rear wheels. I think that's what is meant by "protecting your front wheel". You place yourself such that any swerve on anyone's part will be met with your shoulder or hip, not your wheel.
So, a little racing before I got dropped, some deep digging, and a little more pack riding experience is my takeaway from Silverton. It's a tough course.
On a final note about track.
It's a tough community to break into. The Alpenrose track is a hard place to race because of the high banking so a high level of experience is necessary, but getting that experience is tough. There are classes, but you don't get the racing experience you need from a class. So to protect the Cat4 racers and up, everyone, from Cat3 roadies making the transition to complete bike racing noobs who have never turned a pedal in anger are thrown into a novice field. It's almost a gauntlet with the range of bike handling skills ranging from okay to mediocre to absolutely dismal. Survive the gauntlet four times and take a class and you can get upgraded to race with the guys who actually know what they are doing. I've got to make a decision soon whether to press further into track racing or just shit-can the whole endeavor for being too risky. The way it is now, the noobs are left to fend for themselves; any that survive can race with the real racers. I'm not sure if I am willing to go through with that.
Last race, last Friday, I was criticized a little for riding off the front when I asked a question about the upgrade requirement. The organizers basically said that I didn't show any bike handling skills in a pack because I was off the front the entire time. Now, that's not entirely true, but it's true enough, by design really. I raced that way because I don't trust the other riders to be good bike handlers. I know that I am a decent bike handler, at least enough to keep a line and avoid dumping the bike if I get bumped. But I've seen enough in my first race last year to be really suspect about the others' bike handling skills in the novice field. They'll let pretty much anyone race in the novices with a helmet and $10. If I ride this next Friday in the novice field, I can't say I'd ride any different. The upgrade criteria is basically subjective, and I don't know if I can satisfy their bike handling requirement by riding outside or on/off the front the entire time. At the same time, I don't think I am willing to just soft pedal in the field, just to display my bike handling skills, and risk a crash.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Finally got back on the track today. Last year in my very first race, a 12 lap (2 mile) scratch race, a crash took me out and ended with me landing on my head and shoulder.

So today, I'm still a Cat5 on the track, so I raced in the novice omnium to see what it was all about. The first race was a 10 lap "tempo" race, meaning that first person crossing the line every lap got two points, and the second person got 1 point. I started the race at the back and almost riding the rail to stay out of trouble. I started moving up, which was hard because I was still staying up-track. But I eventually got to the front with, I don't know, 5 or 6 laps left, and managed to drop everyone in the race.

Second race was a 10 lap "scratch" race, meaning that it was 10 laps and first to cross wins. Very simple. This time, I got to the front in two laps and proceeded to just hammer. I managed to drop everyone but one guy. I just kept pulling him around the track and he came around me at the end for the win. I'm second. Not a great strategy, just leading around the track, but the intent is to learn my limits on the track and this is a decent way of doing it. I found that for an eight lap TT, the 49/15 gear I was running is a bit steep. Anyway, got second.

Third and final race was an "unknown distance" race. The racers don't know how long the race is until the bell is rung marking the last lap. I got up to the front with the racer who beat me in the previous race and we traded pulls for a total of a single exchange, and then I managed to drop everyone again. The bell was rung at lap 4 and I won easily enough.

Obviously, I'm not a Cat5. Next week I'll try some match sprinting and then request an upgrade so I can race in the Thursday omniums.