Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Finally got to try this road racing thing..

In my relatively short competitive biking career I've done a few different disciplines like MTB, Road, Triathlon, and today was the first time I've attempted a real road race. I've done a couple of informal events that felt like races but this was the real deal.

I got a decent warm up of about 35-40 minutes of random spinning around the grounds with a few jumps in there to see how the heart rate would respond. It seemed ok but I could definitely feel the heavy weekend that I just put in in the legs. But f
or what ever it's worth I figured I'd set my goal as don't crash and finish with the pack.

We lined up and my teammate Ian and I got on the front line. There were some cameras there so maybe we'll be in some swanky pics-wohoo! Looking back there were probably around 40 people total. It seemed to be a nice sized field. What do I know I'm a noob at this. Anyway it started off nicely paced and someone immediately jumped off the front. It started to get organized and I just found a wheel to sit on. I worked back and forth with cycling front to back and just seeing how the whole dynamic works. I was amazed at how quickly you could go from the front of the pack to the middle and back. It was interesting just to see what kind of gaps you could jump into and being able to see people that were fading to avoid. The comfort factor was a bit of a battle since it did get really tight and jerky at times. Honestly I think that was the biggest thing to wrap my head around. Since I got hit by the car in December, lets just say I've been a little more anxious about proximity and impending doom. But I think I faired ok. It was more annoying to see the people that would brake into the turns and mess up the flow. It always felt like the pack was slowing and speeding up.

Towards the final few laps I finally got the feel of when I can put power down and when to relax and when to pedal a little softer. Unfortunately that's when the pace picked up and I just got stuck in a bad spot. I was playing around in the front 15 or so for most of the race and kinda got boxed in and couldn't get around as guys were freight training to the front. So the last turn came up the hill and I got out of the saddle and tried to get out which I did but was a little late. I heard the voice of God say get on my wheel, but alas it was my teammate Weber flying by and I did my best to stick to his wheel. He started pulling away towards the line but as we rolled I saw the guys that went too early fading fast as Weber and I reeled em in and past them to cross the line.

I'm not too sure how I faired but I'm guessing somewhere in the middle of the pack? It was interesting to do my first road race and see how being smarter would have resulted in a much better finish. The biggest battle is going to be just getting comfortable sitting amongst so many wheels. I think I was pretty solid but there's always room for improvement. All in all I guess I met my goal. I finished with the pack and no bad luck. I'll be back for more. Probably next week as the series is each week til July. It was good to be on a bike on such a gorgeous day!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Holy Elevation Batman!!!

Well I had an opportunity this weekend to get away for 3 days. With the warmer temps my girl and I decided to head down to the Shenandoah National Park to get some travelin in.

We arrived Friday night to nothing but closed campgrounds so the seats of the neon turned into some comfy(insert sarcasm here) beds. So Saturday morning after being directed to another closed campground we found a sweet primitive spot down by a river. The only bad part was that it was 3 miles of gravel to the nearest spot of pavement. We set up and took a nap and I got the first of my rides in.

2:22, 37 miles, 4703 ft of vert, the one main climb was 3 miles and 1100 ft of vert on a very constant grade which was sweet.


Back to the camp to chill and cook dinner and relax and enjoy the downtime. After all the problem we had finding a campsite I sometimes wonder if it's worth the camping issues. We were having dinner and looked up to see a bald eagle chilling in a tree across the river(looking for dinner as well) I was reminded how it really was worth it.

The next moring I woke up and decided to head up t
o Skyline Drive. For those who aren't familiar it is a sweet road in the top of the Shenandoah mountain range with spectacular views and some nice undulating hills. I headed out from camp and had to do the fun gravel road and head up, ALL UPHILL, to Skyline drive.

5:32, 82 miles, 9331 ft of vert, the one main climb was 8 miles and 2500 ft of vert on a pretty consistant grade.


Needless to say after that ride I was pretty shot but we still managed to wander around and check out the local town and some local caverns. We slept in this morning and took a nice leisurely ride home. All in all a great weekend and did I mention that it was mid 70's all weekend. After I washed all the dirt off I actually got a tan line from my bibs...SWEET!!!