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Monday race report...(11 posts)

Monday race report...biknben
Jun 17, 2002 8:41 AM
A little carnage, a little yelling, and a big lesson learned.

I did a cat 4/5 race in central Jersey yesterday. 5 laps around a 6 mile circuit. What they described as rolling to moderately hilly. One hill required standing. The rest were rollers and a slight uphill finish.

I don't know how many riders there were but the limit was 60 and I'd guess there was +50. The yellow line rule was used except at the finish line of the last lap. The roads were good but about 1 mile was really narrow (four riders across max).

I stayed at or near the front. Pace was moderate but I realized, after a few laps, I was doing more work than I wanted to. A few guys went off the front but never got anywhere or even looked threatening. A guy was reprimanded for crossing the yellow by the ref on a motorcycle. Other than that things were pretty mellow.

My inexperienced showed in the fourth lap. I lost track of the lap count. I looked at my speedo which said 22 miles near the beginning of the fourth lap. Race flyer said 30 miles so I started thinking that maybe the course was actually shorter than 6 miles and this was the last lap. At the end of that lap some guys were turning up the heat in an apparent attempt to form a break. At the time, I thought they were trying to get ahead of the sprinters for the upcoming finish. Anyway, as I come through the finish, I realize there's still one more lap. All the guys that were charging sit up. My legs are tingling and within a half mile a whole new group of people move to the front. So now I'm in the top half instead of top 10. My legs are burning and the road is about to get real narrow before that one moderate climb. My confidence is diminishing quickly.

Everyone slowed up the climb and things got real tight. I noticed that a couple guys were crossing the yellow to advance, which ticked me off a little. With about 3 miles to go I had moved up a little (top 20) and was following a wheel about 2 feet inside the yellow. One of the "yellow line offenders" is next to me on the yellow telling me to move over. I ignored him and then he gives me attitude. I look over and say "I watched you cross the yellow to advance before, so go "F" yourself!" He said nothing and moved back.

The end of the race was messed up. We passed the women within the last mile. Those at the front picked up the pace as they went around the women. By the time they got around there was only a few hundred yards before the last turn. No one was able to get settled and things got sketchy in the last turn. Not far from the front, two guys got tangled in the last turn and went down. A few guys slowed/stopped to go around. I slowed and rode between them. I look up and realize I'm in a huge gear but crawling. There's about ten guys ahead sprinting for the finish. There is also someone on the ground in the middle of the road by himself. No idea how that happened there but I went by and finished in the top 15.

I'll put this race in the "experienced gained" category. The race turned out to be +35 miles instead of 30. I've been doing mostly crits so I've gotten used to ignoring laps. I figured that leaving my trip distance showing on the computer would give me enough indication of how much of the race was left.

Oh well, I learning.
The "Crash 5"TypeOne
Jun 17, 2002 11:32 AM
Good report, I enjoyed the read.
When I have raced crits my placing always seems to depend on where I am placed before the inevitable crash in the last 100 meters. I have to hope it's behind me. And I have also finished up like you did, feeling strong but slowed by a crash. Thank goodness I haven't been one of the unfortunate ones on the ground yet.
It's more incentive to finish strong, gain some points and move up a category next year!
A different perspective...Wayne
Jun 17, 2002 11:57 AM
I was in the same race. I was toward the front coming to that last corner maybe two riders back from the front row on the far right hand side. What they were doing I don't know! I kept waiting for one of them to go and string it out trying to be the first one into the corner. I mean you were practically guaranteed a paying spot if not the win if you went around that corner first. Anyway, as we approached the corner someone finally got impatient and jumped around the yellow line with just enough time to come across the front 5 and take the apex of the corner. Of course everybody was screaming his number like he had murdered someone. No way are you going to take a tight corner 5 wide, so naturally there was a crash, I was on the far inside and luckily avoided it completely. Actually they were just bumping as I went by, but i heard the metal on metal a second later. As I turned the corner and started sprinter, the evil yellow line violator was in the process of going over his handle bars about 30 yards up the road. Anyway, I got by a handful of people and ended up 6th. Turns out the yellow line violater was parked right next to me and was a guy I spent the better part of a couple of laps chatting with. He pulled out of his pedal which resulted in his catapult and a good bit of road rash to boot. Man there were guys wanting to kill him for that yellow line violation, but as he pointed out, on every other corner and on that exact corner every other time people swung across the yellow line to take the proper line through the corner. But the last time not one of those 4 or 5 guys blocking the road had enough sense to go for it, and created a dangerous situation with a predictable outcome!
An even more-different perspective...kaiser
Jun 17, 2002 12:30 PM
A wise man once told me that winning bike race is not about being strong enough to win, but having the guts to win. The meek do not inherit a podium position.

The center line rule is obviously needed to balance logistics with safety (we obviously can not get every road fully closed)...but there are times when a rider is absolutely shafted and screwed because of that rule. Riders sometimes need to take chances to get themselves into position. Look at virtually ANY Pro/1/2 race. The guys in front will test the full limit of that rule (and beyond) if they have to...if they don't, then someone else will.

Look at sprinters who sit in the back the whole race, and then somehow miraculously "arrive" at the front on the last lap of a crit. Chance are, they didn't muscle their way to the front in a polite and cheery manner. Everything they got, they TOOK. Unfortunately, getting past being a 4/5 rider involves a certain amount of flirting with safety (this does not give you the right to ride in an obviously unsafe manner). That guy may have pulled his foot out, but look for him next week. He obviously has the guts to win.

I know of few winners who got that way by simply being lucky enough to ride in front.

No matter how he got into that last turn, he WAS there. When I sense a guy doing this to me, I usually "shut the door" on him with my elbow (conveniently stuck out), or a slight variation in course. You need to teach these gamblers that they have to go THROUGH you to win...But if you act scared and just let them intimidate you into 5th place, well, welcome to the world of perpetual Cat 4-dom.

Don't worry about where he came from (anyone who pissed their sprint away by yelling his number, would have beenb passed anyway).
re: Monday race report...kaiser
Jun 17, 2002 12:03 PM
Some advice about the center-line jerk:

If you're in a race (and climbing) and the guy next to you shouts something at you...ignore him. Let him waste his own oxygen . You don't wanna get dropped over stupid shit like that.

I've seen it happen.
good report!lonefrontranger
Jun 17, 2002 12:52 PM
It amazes me how folks get all bent out of shape at someone else over situations they put themselves into. Like the centerline jerk. You think it's bad in men's races, women are much worse about feeling some inflated sense of entitlement just for gracing the field with their presence. This amuses me: I have recently been told that I'm developing a reputation as an aggressive rider. Now when I raced with the guys back home and in Open women's fields with the Indy velodrome trackies, my teammates would sometimes get on my case for being tentative. I will admit to being stubborn about protecting my place in the field, but I won't take it to the level of a head-butt, which I've seen done, and in women's races to boot. Example: gals get all freaked out if I won't let them back into the paceline during a hard effort. Then I get screamed at for holding my line and barely brushing them on the wrist when they get p*ssed and try to steal the wheel I'm on. Hey, it's a bike race, not a training ride. A certain amount of safe and legal ruthlessness is to be expected. If you're dumb enough to get yourself stuck out in the wind or on the wrong side of the centerline, YOU put yourself there, and it's YOUR job to figure out how to resolve the matter. If you're not my teammate, I have no responsibility to save you from your own silly mistakes.

I'd say that's poetic justice for the maroon who pulled his pedal. Depending on the event, safety staff, and the officials, there is (and should be) a marginal amount of "fudge zone" for the yellow line rule through technical intersections and the final corner into a field sprint. So if you're not sure where they stand on this, feel free to ask the official when he's giving "the talk" at the start line. At the Estes stage race, this "fudge zone" was clearly marked by cones and announced during "the talk". It was understood that riders within the "cone zone" could safely use both lanes to corner, and none of these key corners were blind. They had police for corner marshals at these spots, so the safety margin was a lot higher for this than your run of the mill guy in a lawn chair with a flag.

Read further down the threads to the "yellow line" one, where I explained to weiwentg how typical dynamics of a Cat 4/5 race dictate the field almost always get cowardly and clustered in the final few K. This is a golden opportunity for the strong guys that is almost always squandered in the lower category events.

For comparison, hang around sometime and watch the dynamics of a field of Pro/1/2s, where the strong teams get things well strung out in the final Ks, and / or have established a break, or even created several chase groups by the finale. It's called "evolving the peloton" and Cat 4/5 fields aren't cohesive or experienced enough to know how to do this. They tend to spend the final 5K all scrambling to be 3rd in line for a field sprint that 80% of the pack hasn't much of a clue how to contest in the first place.
good report!kaiser
Jun 17, 2002 1:48 PM
Well said.

But people should expect someone to take an unorthodox line at the end of a race (heck, they choose unorthodox lines even when the turn is not strategic). Be prepared for this, and also be prepared to shut the door on jerks that decide to muscle in like that. The reason that the innocents crashed in this case, is likely because someone backed-down in the turn. If you sense that a guy is racing towards the turn to take a line that will cut-in on you and bring you down, then you need to react by making sure it's HIM that takes evasive action. Don't back down....People that back down do NOT win.
Here's a good oneSherpa23
Jun 19, 2002 6:08 PM
In regards to irregular sprints, I have a good story. Last year I was in California and did some local Pro,1,2 race. The crit was a 4 corner 1.5 k deal but there was a sharp downhill (6%)going into the last turn and in the middle of the turn, the road started an 8% climb maybe 100m to the finish line. With one lap to go, there was a break about 6 seconds up the road and we were going to catch them but we were doing about 60 kph the whole last lap. When we hit 3rd turn, this scrub puppy tries to take this ridiculous inside line. I mean ridiculous - we are already doing over 60 kph going into the turn. Well, this guy is so squirrelly he starts sliding. Seeing that he is about to crash into me, I back off just a little so that he go down in front of me and slide by. Well, somehow, MIRACULOUSLY, the little chicken$%^&er manages to regain some grip, stays upright, and is now RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME! Well, I had scrubbed off so much speed that there was a decent gap to close. Instead of being in prime position to win, I am now lucky to get in the top 5. I was livid. I reaccelerated and I started to pass this guy on the outside on the downhill corner and I just start to really pass him on the lower part of the climb to the finish when he starts to drift into me. Already pissed because his previous ineptitude, I bumped him back. Hard. I think that I also threw in a decent hook for good measure and cut right in front of him as he was going backwards anyway. I managed to pass 6 guys on the way up the hill and finish in 4th. Guess what? I got relegated to 11th for an irregular sprint. The official could only see just enough from the top of the hill that the lowe part of the hill was obscured. He saw me come over and bump this guy. I explained what happened in detail 100% truthfully and the judge said he wished that he had seen what this other guy did but since he didn't he had to relegate me. Anyways, the point is that there is no point in yelling at other people in a race because that is not going to solve a thing. The only reason people yell is because they cannot undertake the action necessary to undo another's good move, stupidity, or any combination in between. You have to seize the opportunity to undo what you can, put yourself in a winning postion, and come hell or highwater, stick to your decision and see it through. Don't be pissed at the guy for taking a flyer when everyone sat on their butts, even if it was illegal. I am not advocating breaking rules but if 5 guys are ruining everyone ele's chance to win, then that is not the purpose of the yellow line rule. The spirit of the rule is for safety and if these guys were ruining everyone's day by going 20mph into the last turn and blocking the course, then they are using the yelow line rule in an unsportsmanlike manner to prevent others from winning. That is most definitely not in the spirit of the rule. If this guy took the flyer without endangering anyone then that's fine, but if the judge's confronted him about his (mis)behaviour, then he needs to tell them everything. Even if it is in the spirit of good sportsmanship that he took the flyer, it doesn't necessarily mean that he might get to keep his place but he should be satisfied that he wasn't afraid to lose. So be safe out there, but don't be afraid to lose, even if it means doing something a little unorthodox. As long as safety is not compromised, then it's worth a try.
Here's a good onekaiser
Jun 20, 2002 6:55 AM
I was so vocal on this center line thing because

I did a Cat 3 RR in Ridgecrest Ca in (I'm guessing) 1987. This was the year coming off Lemond's first tour win, so bike racing was REALLY popular then. Really BIG fields. Our field had over 250 riders (probably closer to 300). The center line rule was in effect, and I must have sat in mid-field for about 45 mins, unable to move in any direction. I was pinned. Since I'd ridden this race before in 84, I knew that the big climb was pretty tough, and if I was stuck 150 riders back, it would be just my luck that everyone in front of me would (of course) be 250 lb sprinters who'd all end up zig-zagging their way up the climb. By the time I got to the top, the break would be formed, and long gone.

As I sensed the climb approaching, I became more and more frustrated. The pace was dead slow, but it was so crowded, I couldn't move up. The only way up was to boldly cross the line. After watching about 5 of my chief climbing rivals do it, i finally did. I covered my number with my hand and went for it and assumed my position at the front of the lollygagging peloton. I did the climb, and ended up in the top 10 at the summit, and then got dq'd as the moto rode up handing out a long list of dq's....Didn't matter, because it was windy that day, and the Pro/1/2 field decided to echelon across the road, prompting an angry trucker who almost killed them all to call the CHP. The cops were waiting for us as we came to a turn, and they told us the race was stopped. We were ordered to ride back to the S/F, no more than 2 abreast....But damn....If the field is big, then the center line rule really bites. If they must have that rule (and they must) then road races are the place where they need field limits (not crits).
Here's a good oneSherpa23
Jun 20, 2002 8:50 AM
I wasn't directing that at you (or anyone else for that matter). I thought that your previous post was right on.
I know...kaiser
Jun 20, 2002 11:32 AM
I know. I just like to talk endlessly about the old days. ;-) Damn, I sure have had some great fun racing bikes in the past. It's just good to have stories, y'know? No other sport I know gives you such a cool combination of fitness, style, tactics, action, intelligence, speed...and just plain pure guts.

These forums tend to discuss (so endlessly) topics relating to gaining top racing fitness...even after you've attained top fitness, racing still hurts, it's still damn hard to do, and you need to start learning all the 'other' stuff you need to know in order to convert that fantastic fitness into winning fitness.