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Race Report (and wildlife update)(16 posts)

Race Report (and wildlife update)lonefrontranger
May 13, 2002 3:07 PM
Saturday was the best race of my season so far. I singlehandedly beat the *entire* LaForza team who started 5 riders. This is significant because they have been a big thorn in our side all year, and have swept the podium on more than one occasion.

This week's wildlife sighting: One large male pheasant strutting around in the road on the climb at 5 laps to go. The course was many, many lanes wide there, so he was more of a curiosity than a danger to us. The lady on the front exclaimed "ooo, look at that pretty turkey!", to which I replied "that's not a turkey, that's a pheasant! Turkeys are way uglier". The weird stuff you talk about in women's races when you're brain-fried is amazing.

This course doesn't favor me. Last year I got spit off the back 2 laps in. The course itself is a 1.2 mile loop with a long gradual climb and short curvy descent into a corner that nearly every field crashes in (for no earthly reason as PM and I were discussing below). Basically I anticipated 45 minutes of pain and futility.

The Women's 4/35+ field is always competitive at any BAR/BAT (best all-around rider/team) event, and the big guns were out in force again. About 25 ladies came to play, including 2 former elite MTB racers, a handful of Cat II/III level 35+ girls, the current queen of the 4s who's won the last 3 races she entered, and the current space alien, a Cat IV who in her second bike race ever last weekend won a frame for the women's *overall* best time at Pillar to Post hillclimb. I did have a teammate, but she's nursing a herniated disc, endoed out of last week's rattlesnake rally, and this was her second time ever racing in a mass start, so I told her to just stay out of trouble and not worry about results.

The pace was insane from the start, as anticipated. The space alien put the screws to us every lap going up the climb, the sandbagger put the screws to us every lap after the downhill corner, and the mountain bikers put the screws to us every chance they got. I had allervite's "best race" thread on my mind as I clenched my teeth, hung on for dear life, and bridged across the gaps as they formed on each acceleration. I even took my own little flyer through the downhill corner on sheer principle, just to demonstrate to the field that yes, indeed you CAN go through that corner at ludicrous speeds and remain upright. I paid handsomely for that audacity by being oh-so-close-to-shelled the next round up the climb. At 20 minutes in, I looked back to realize that the field had halved in size, and for once I wasn't in the back half.

Something eventually had to give, and it did. Halfway through, they rang the bell to announce a $25 cash prime. We hit the base of the climb, and attacks went thick and fast. 3/4ths of the way up the climb, here came the motorbike behind us to announce that the 35+ men (running concurrently) were about to lap us.

To be continued...
CONTINUE!!!! CONTINUE!!!!! (foams at mouth) nmweiwentg
May 13, 2002 3:53 PM
Yes, more please! (nm)allervite
May 13, 2002 4:59 PM
Man, this is just like OLN race coverage! [nm]speedisgood
May 13, 2002 6:52 PM
Are you waiting for us to put money in your hat??? Go! (nm)shirt
May 13, 2002 7:56 PM
Race Report part deux (continued)lonefrontranger
May 13, 2002 8:18 PM
To say all hell broke loose with 80 guys surging around us as we sprinted through the 2 final corners for a prime would be an understatement. To these guys' credit, they saw what was going on, and strung the field out nice and skinny to make things as easy as possible, but it felt like they were passing us forever. I went as best I could through traffic for the prime, but our queen sandbagger caught herself some kickass SimpleGreen/Mazda wheel and rode the Greenie-Meanie Express all the way to the line. I lost track of my legs somewhere around 42 mph and crawled across in third place.

I know, I know: taking pace from another field is a punishable offense. However, you can't help but get sucked up in a field that big as they come past unless you're on the brakes, which is contraindicated when money is at stake. Hence this is one of those "gray areas" an astute and cagey rider might be known to exploit to his/her advantage. I had to admire her audacity in doing it right in front of the chief judge tho, knowing there was too much confusion for him to catch it. Naughty indeed!

The prime sprint and subsequent chaos from the guys completely shattered what was left of the field. When all was said and done, I found myself on the sharp end of the race, now whittled down to seven riders. The next two laps are pretty hazy, as they involved much pain and suffering on my part as the space alien attacked on the climb again, this time with the kid gloves off and murder in her heart. After two laps of this abuse, the inevitable meltdown occurred and she disappeared over the horizon with the sandbag queen glued firmly to her wheel, leaving broken tattered remnants strewn all along the climb. I fell off with one of the mountain bikers, so we started a 2-up rotation with good intent, but both of us were shot, so it was a pathetic effort. At five to go, the remaining workhorses from the LaForza team caught us, and I jumped on the back to sit in and regain my composure. We now had a decent group of five, and LaForza (as usual) seemed content to do most of the work on the front, although I did my token pulls to keep it friendly. I was actually calm and focused enough to check for visual cues coming through the finish line (lot for sale sign) to nail my 200-meter reference point.

At 2 laps to go, our group careened through the downhill corner to discover bodies stretched across the road through the exit; the result of a crash in the Men's 35+ race on what was their bell lap. There was one guy down with his bike smack in the middle of the road, so we picked our careful way 'round. He was in a bad way, curled up in a writhing fetal ball. Anytime they don't hop up cussing right away is not a good thing.

As we came around on the bell lap, the LaForza girls tried a couple halfhearted attacks on the climb, but I could tell they weren't feeling particularly groovy, so I bided my time and sat on. The safety marshals had cleared bikes and bodies from our path on the downhill, and the ambulance was pulled off to the side with casualty loaded, but there were several dozen sightseers standing completely across the road! We shrieked at them a bit and they realized "oh, gee - there's still a race going on" in time to give us enough of a gap to get through.

With 2 corners to go, the LaForza train got things wound up. I stuck tight onto third wheel, and as we swung out through the final corner, I waited for my visual and went like a scalded cat as soon as I passed the chosen sign. I took the bunch sprint easily by 2 lengths, and the LaForza gals looked fairly crushed. Final tally: seventh place overall, third Cat IV. I figure that's reasonable pickings in a tough field on a course I don't like.

I haven't officially heard about the guy who went to hospital, but word of mouth was nothing broken, just a wicked bruise and acres of road rash. I truly don't envy him the ne
Race Report (continued)lonefrontranger
May 13, 2002 8:24 PM
darn, nearly got that page limit figured out!


I haven't officially heard about the guy who went to hospital, but word of mouth was nothing broken, just a wicked bruise and acres of road rash. I truly don't envy him the next couple of days as he sticks to the sheets. I also heard some scuttlebutt that the official had a congratulatory chat with our sandbag queen; she won in a 2-up sprint with the space alien, and since this is the third race she's won this season, she may be lining up with the 1/2/3 field next week.

Sunday was incredibly mellow in comparison. It poured icy buckets for my race, and the officials shortened it to 35 minutes. I wore a heavy layer of grease and plastic bags, left the Zipps at home, got utterly filthy, worked my sore, hammered legs out, and in general didn't care much about anything besides having a total lark. I got 2nd, won some cash, and enjoyed myself doing what I do best: cornering at speed in the rain, a somewhat novel skill in this neck of the woods.
two questionsishmael
May 14, 2002 6:01 AM
what is the secret to cornering at high speeds in the rain if there is one, id imagine there isnt one and you just hold on and hold a straight line...also ive never been in a race with a break so i dont understand what the ethics are, if someone just sprints up there and sits on the back what happends,you said you did some pulls to keep them happy...what if you didnt do they try to drop you? they get grummpy and call you names?..
some answerslonefrontranger
May 14, 2002 7:35 AM
There are many secrets to cornering in the rain, but I think the biggest are confidence, practice and zen-like calm and acceptance of your fate should you screw up :) The first big secret is knowing that everyone ELSE is nervous and unhappy, and use that to your advantage. On rainy days, the big guns often stay at home, so a good technician who may not be a strongman/woman can really use these days to let their skills shine.

Cornering in the wet means taking a wider, straighter line through the turns, avoiding radical lean angles and keeping the bike more upright than usual. Start your turn earlier, use every bit of road you are able to, and exit wide. Keep your arc consistent and as straight as possible; don't pinch in tight on the entry, "clip" the arc, or change radius in the turn. This is where pre-riding the course becomes mandatory. Don't make "loose", loopy turns, the goal is to corner as little as possible.

Paint stripes, manhole covers, bricks or other decorative pavers, gas meter covers, expansion joints and any other metal or tar banding are all the devil incarnate as soon as water hits them. I've seen guys crash on a clear sunny day from paint stripes dampened by a lawn sprinkler.

Don't grab at the brakes just because they won't work like usual. When braking wet rims, you initially get that scary feeling of utterly no brakes... until the last moment when the rims dry and heat up from the pressure you're piling on them... and lock up! This is a bad thing, considering your tire adhesion ain't all that. Keep your rims clear by feathering lightly and brake in light taps, just like you'd pump the brakes on an old-school car.

The road in the first 15-20 minutes of a light shower is as dangerous as it will ever get short of black ice, because the oil and grease rises to the surface but hasn't washed away yet. Treat these conditions with respect, and pray for a good Biblical downpour to clean things up.

Your back wheel will skip around some. Let it. You'll feel more wheel-skip than usual as you hit bumps and seams in the corners because your tires hydroplane a tad before connecting. If you've mountain biked and know how to "hip-check" your back wheel into line when it breaks loose, this is a good skill to have. An extreme example of this would be Andrea Tafi's amazing near-horizontal save in the Roubaix this year.

And finally, crashing sucks, but crashing in the rain sucks less than usual because all that water adds a great lubricating barrier between the road and your body, meaning you hydroplane rather than losing (much) skin. Get the '93 Worlds video and watch Lance spank the competition in Oslo on the descent on that last lap; he crashed several times that day, but was the master of wet cornering at speed when it counted.

Ethics in the break; well - that discussion could go on for pages and still not tell you enough. The short answer is to do just enough pulls to keep everyone else happy, otherwise they will start to yell at you, then if you still don't work, they'll start to attack you. The team I was racing with on Saturday had a 3-on-2 advantage in that break, and had I aggravated them badly or if they *really* wanted to get rid of me, they were in a position of strength and could have alternately attacked until I was gone.
Good Job! Also try.....rwbadley
May 14, 2002 3:36 PM
In slick conditions experiment with tire pressure too. I found going from 120 psi to 105-110 seems a bit stickier.
Love your play x play!
Race Report (continued)Wannabe
May 14, 2002 7:06 AM
Wow do I love reading your race reports. Gets my heart going just reading them! Go LFR, Go LFR!! I have my first race (I hope) in the next 3 weeks. I'm gonna put all of your (and the other good ones here too) race reports into a folder and read 'em on the way! Get me all psyched up!

Did you ever race superweek? If so, do you ever come back?

May 14, 2002 2:44 PM
Yes, I raced 3 days of Superweek in '98. I got killed. A friend from Cincy convinced me to go, though I didn't ride on her team. Her idea was for us to work some collusion; I'd hang in as best I could until the first decent-sized prime, lead her out, then get shot off the back. Now, if I'd had only had enough legs under me to actually *get* to the front...
"...the ne..." "...the ne..." "...the ne..." ...WHAT?shirt
May 13, 2002 8:39 PM
You've missed your calling, girlfriend. You need to write for a paycheck...
Agreed. Ain't she grand.RoyGBiv
May 14, 2002 12:05 PM
Nice, insightful write up. Thank you.
If you don't mind, where was this race held?
thanks! Golden, CO (nm)lonefrontranger
May 14, 2002 1:22 PM
Great Reports!LeGrimper
May 14, 2002 11:40 PM
Great read, keep them coming, as they are a highlight. Good too to read all the feedback and tips that it generates.

I should put pen to paper but I think my efforts would pale in comparison.

Ride on.

Le Grimp.