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Some days you get the bear...(14 posts)

Some days you get the bear...lonefrontranger
Aug 12, 2003 8:07 PM
Be careful what you wish for goal-wise, you might just achieve it.

In January I stated a top-3 Cat 3 BAR series finish as a season goal both to my coach and on our team resume. After skipping some key series crits in June, I've been forced by a tight 4-way race for 2/3/4/5 on BAR points to do events which, quite frankly, do not favor me. At all. Like the Mike Horgan hillclimb, a sufferfest that includes 4.5 miles of 20%+ grades. I hung my head in defeat and walked up most of this section, but in Women's 3, merely to finish is to score points, so I grit my teeth and finished DFL, by a staggering margin. Yes, that was me, staggering to the finish line. And the Mt. Evans hillclimb, which comprehensively sucked as noted below.

Saturday's event was another such BAR series horror. The G.P. Rio Grande, a 43-mile grovelfest through the best that BFE central northern Colorado has to offer. The women's Open course contained a claimed 4,200 ft of climbing on combination chipseal and gravel roads, with yawning potholes and nearly a dozen (thankfully plywood-covered at race time) cattle guards. The climbing isn't your typical Colorado long gentle canyon grades either, oh no... It reminded me more of central Northern Kentucky or Southeastern Ohio. Short, rolling, steep stair-stepped climbs that went on and on into oblivion.

Add to this 95+ degrees heat and me forgetting to bring either Cytomax or gloves, both critical judgement errors that I will not make again. I prayed the neutral feed would have energy drink handups, but no. I ran short of electrolyte and finished half-bonked, covered in snot and thoroughly cramped, an undistinguished 22nd of 30 finishers. This represented another 2:20 of my life wasted killing brain cells at the mercy of the Women's Elite field. Chrissy Redden missed her start by 10 minutes and passed me on Mile 12. Have I mentioned how cool it is racing against the best Pro/1/2 women in the country?

But wait, there's more! No parking or rider pickup was allowed on pain of DQ along the finishing road. This normally wouldn't be much of an issue, except that in this case the finish was 8 miles from the start with poor directions and no marshals or signage. So I and a friend spent something like another hour riding around rural northwestern Ft. Collins with no water, food, money, shade or cell phone coverage until we got desperate and beat on some poor guy's door to call for help. I then sat down to wait for our ride in the only patch of shade for roughly ten square miles, merely to discover it contained a large nest of fire ants.

I could always have it worse, though. My friend, crazy as this might seem, was racing with a full-blown classic symptoms case of West Nile virus, which among other things manifests as chronic fatigue. She showed me the rash. She finished in the same group as I did. So someone please remind me why I race bikes again?
...and some days you cut the bear's head off and shove it down his throatlonefrontranger
Aug 12, 2003 10:48 PM
After Saturday's dismal performance and attendant mishaps, I had major concern about being recovered enough to even race on Sunday at Edgewater. My previous plan to double up in both 35+ and 1/2/3 was shot anyhow, as we are packing to move house this coming Friday. This crit was one of the events that my coach planned to come watch me race, so there was nothing for it. I opted to race the combined Master's & 4 to make an early day of it and get some packing done.

I've not done this course before. It's a 6-corner suburban crit with a short rise up to the finish. The corners are quite technical for 90's; narrow lines on steeply crowned roads riddled with seams, manhole covers, storm culverts and potholes, not to mention a novel rarity: spectators! This bike race is part and parcel of the Edgewater Heritage Days Festival. I'd say Heritage Days is quite an understatement. This is the only neighborhood I've ever seen with an Irish pub, a soul food joint, a Chinese restaurant and a taqueria on the same block. Diversity embraced within a festival atmosphere, the locals enjoyed the bizarre invasion of gringos on their Lycra-clad merry-go-round; an enjoyment no doubt furthered by liberal application of cerveza and a driving rap soundtrack courtesy of the MC / break show going on up the street. To the credit of the marshals, the only spectators in the road *during* our race were the four-legged variety: a surfeit of squirrels, a stray hound dog the moto official chased off, and a thouroughly freaked-out cat which froze 18" off our line as we passed, with eyes big as hubcaps and every hair on end. The marshals indeed kept the 2-legged spectators at bay, but they had their hands full from what I hear, especially as beer consumption increased in direct proportion to the withering heat. I was finding it all quite to my liking as I warmed up with a couple Cat 4 guys I know.

My coach showed up just prior to my start and gave me a rather simple plan. The crit went as most crits go; there were the usual surges, attacks and primes, there was the usual screaming and bickering about who pulls through, and the usual silly acts perpetrated whilst going for wheels in the corners. Several ladies threatened to crash but didn't quite make good. Quite a number of pedals endured impromptu weight reduction schemes, and I managed to bottom a crankarm once (Speedplay user), which was somewhat novel. My teammate and I have each pulled off wins in this field recently, to the effect that we are now so marked we can't sneeze without six people offering us a Kleenex. So we abandoned our trademark aggression in favor of the waiting game. Suffice to say that for once, I managed to follow the Sherpa's plan and not make any dimwitted improvisations. I pulled off the win, by the barest of margins, with a nice cash prize as my reward. My teammate finished 3rd overall to take the win for the 4s and a bit more of the folding, with a $20 prime tacked on. Post-race we both joined the festival throng and spent most of the loot on a rather stylish flamenco hat, cold smoothies and lunch for us and our boys.

As he is a rather strict purist, the Sherpa had a few minor issues to bust my chops about afterward (and rightfully so) but we're both stoked. He'll come watch me at Bannock too, and I'm hoping he's got another of these devastatingly simple plans up his sleeve, as it's becoming painfully evident that I am my own worst enemy when I think too much.

The moral of the above story (I think) is that with the aid of an effective plan, I was able to catalyze the rage and angst from Saturday's abject beating into Sunday's win.
Congratulations, LFRIronbutt
Aug 13, 2003 2:22 AM
The congrats are not only for the win on Sunday, but also for shaking off the doldrums that assailed you on Saturday. Great report. Now, if I just has your facility with language, let alone cycling, I'd consider myself fixed for life.
cool beans. mojo is as mojo does. nmbill
Aug 13, 2003 4:40 AM
The roller coaster that is racing.hrv
Aug 13, 2003 8:28 AM
You call this a roller coaster? This ain't no stinkin' roller coaster! It ain't squat compared to the bike racing roller coaster! Great job on your turn-around performance, and realize that probably many on this board wouldn't have lasted more than a few laps in that open women's race.

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rock on!weiwentg
Aug 13, 2003 11:55 AM
now, you must get Sherpa to help you work on the victory salute.
the one handed salute of course!CritLover
Aug 13, 2003 12:19 PM
I hate USCF rules!

Congrats on your win! That sounds like a fun kinda of day, with the festival and all. Where is that town, in the mountains? Sounds like it may be worth a drive.

Maybe if we get some money together, Sherpa can coach all of us via RBR. Sounds like he's da man!
thanksweiwentg
Aug 13, 2003 3:32 PM
Altoona somewhere is in central Pennsylvania, and we got there using the turnpike. YES, it is worth a drive provided you're not coming from Alaska.
btw, what's this about USCF rules? afaik, one cannot take both hands off the bars before one crosses the line ... I think there are worse rules, and one can always do the full routine after one crosses the line.
hey CritLover!lonefrontranger
Aug 13, 2003 6:57 PM
As concerns victory celebrations, I made the original Cat 6 error, misjudged the distance to the line and about paid the price, so I think I'll leave that one lie.

The town of Edgewater is on the west side of Denver, and is one of the older communities. The festival was indeed tres cool, so Patsy and I talked her husband and my SO into wandering around to check out all the trinkets and demos and eat some naughty festival treats whilst we ogled the young shirtless boyos (and they ogled the young nearly shirtless girlies, let's be democratic). I think that's the first time I've eaten funnel cakes since the Ohio State Fair when I was 17. The Sherpa was at the mercy of some honey-do projects, or else we'd have stolen the keys to the Ducati and kidnapped him.

Have you decided on dates that you're going to be in the area? Mail me at lonefrontranger@yahoo.com when you get close and we'll hook up.

One of the keys to the Sherpa's coaching is that he likes to do a lot of work in person with his riders. I've done a fair bit of mileage with him either riding next to me or at the mercy of one of his motos. This means anything I misinterpret or am just wankering around with gets fixed post haste. This is also why he comes to watch our events. I know very few amateurs who have the benefit of this much personal attention from their coach. The bottom line is that he's not a fan of internet or coach-by-mail type stuff. That makes it great for all of us in the Denver area though.

He is indeed the man, however as he tends to lurk on this board I'll now have to think up something else to argue with him about so he doesn't start to think I've lost my keenly honed edge of cynicism.
hey CritLover!Sherpa23
Aug 15, 2003 8:56 AM
Cl, as flattering as it is, I would probably pass on internet coaching. It's not very effective. Sure, I could get you super fit so that you could kick everyone's butt in your category but at some point, fitness won't get you any better. Tactics and strategy are what gets you wins. And I could help with that via email but it's not the same as having me on the sideline being able to make all of the changes necessary. Of course, there is chance that will be spending one week a month in another part of th country for business and I may be able to coach someone in that areas but for right now, it's only Denver/Boulder folks that I can really work with.

Besides, coaching isn't very lucrative for me as I tend to undercharge so if it's not helping me make that much progress towards that Lamborghini Gallardo I've had my eye on, I might as well do it properly, right? (c;
a girl can try, right?CritLover
Aug 17, 2003 6:39 PM
Yeah Sherpa, I guess you're right. I had a coach from CTS in Durango, and while she was great and all (two World Championships), I just never found the form I had from the previous year. It's just that finding a coach is frustrating here in NY/NJ since they're so few. And the ones that are here train you like you're a pro and you've got nothing else going on in your life.

Hopefully, I can meet with you all when I come to CO next month. I'll write you LFR. Just gotta find a bike box.
Congrats! But what's more impressive than your win is...jesse1
Aug 13, 2003 2:27 PM
....that you actually raced after what happened the day before! I wouldn't have. You are tough! You are to be saluted, bowed to, and knelt to.
re: Good job LFR!Sadlebred
Aug 14, 2003 6:31 AM
Great job LFR! I love reading your race reports.

I wish we 3 women in the Southeast had more options than to race with the 1/2/3 women. I would race with the Cat. 4 guys, but they crash as often as the Cat. 5's around here (no offense to all of my friends that are 4's and 5's). I'm not old enough to race Masters, but Masters races are full of Cat. 1/2 men in this region. It's one of the toughest fields.
re: Good job LFR!Sherpa23
Aug 15, 2003 8:27 AM
Okay, you caught me lurking. I do have a couple of things to add, though.

First of all, in the USCF, you can take both of your hands off the bars in any race finish as long as it is not a sprint (this does not apply to pro/1 races).

Secondly, LFR did more of a kick ass job than any of you realize because it was a crappy race with wierd moves, which is the hardest to win. Really hard races are easy to win because things play out in a very logical fashion, making prediction and execution simply an academic exercise. Races like this one on atypical courses with very enticing primes (Mr. Potatohead can really bring out the beast in people) have many strange attacks and even stranger lulls in the action, making it easy to overthink the situation and really screw yourself out of the win. LFR kept her head in some potentially damaging moments and followed the pre-race plan to win the race. Believe me, speaking from experience, that's easier said than done.

Lastly, I keep hearing some of you say that after such a bad day, you wouldn't race the next day. That's one of the worst things I have ever heard. A bad day is simply that: ONE BAD DAY. It doesn't mean that you have a bad weekend, bad week , or bad year. Play the game again the next day, make your adjustmensts accordingly, and see how it goes. Two-race weekends are fantastic because you can always tweak strategies the second day to make sure that you win. It's kind of like that old game "Battleship" where you have to keep making adjustments to your aim before you finally hit it. It's always easier to get the hit after a miss than it is from the get go, mostly because you don't know where your point of reference is with out a practice shot. Besides, you cannot tell what's going to happen the next day. I cannot tell you how many times I have had a killer stage in a stage race after getting shelled badly the day before and barely making the time cut. You simply cannot predict what's going to happen the following day. At any rate, no one should ever not race simply because of a bad day the day before. Furthermore, you should never rule yourself out from winning a race simply because of a bad race the day before.