Monday, March 12, 2012

Season of the Apocalypse... Grant's Tomb Criterium

Heading to NJ before NYC.
The season of the apocalypse is upon us.  While the first two months of 2012 have managed to whip by, the cycling season has just begun.  The riders this seasons are looking to follow the trend of the year thus far,  whippin' on by fast as hell.... one might say, they've gone plaid?

Friday evening, Joe, Chebbi and I piled in the car and took to the road towards New York City.  We spent the 5ish hour drive to our hotel in Fairfield, NJ chatting strategy and exchanging racing stories.  Being my second full racing season, I only had reminiscent and top secret stories of tom-foolery from last seasons time spent among UVM Cycling.  After hearing stories of pro riders from the 7/11 and Stowe-Shimano days, I was more than excited to get on the bike and start the season off on a powerful stroke.

Saturday morning started early.  We packed up our trainers and bikes from the hotel room where we had managed to squeeze 30 minutes the previous evening before sleep.  Once we got on the road, finding the race was as simple as navigating a cheese maze.  As all know, mazes become much easier with a prize at the end, and with the scent of a race at the end of our NYC maze, the path was an easy one to follow.

Opening the season with a 31st in the 3s.  A good gauge of
things to come....
The cheesy finish was a good one... the course before us had 5 corner and a long straight away.  Cross winds plague the hardest sections of the course.  Riders with tasked with three corners before a brief 50 meter climb into a straight away before a gentle corner into the finish stretch. Now riders, remember, 45 minutes, rinse and repeat.  Going into the race, Joe and I planned to try to simply stick in the field and set each other up for a sprint at the end.  Being the first race of the year, and trying to get a gauge for the season, this seemed like a very reasonable goal.

Hopping back into the field
takes some adjusting.
Once the race went off, tactics changed.  Fitness levels were not as expected for some riders, and I lost site of teammates and friends in the field.  Once I realized the position I was in, I was able to jockey a little and play with the field for positions.  It eventually became apparent that riders hammering the brief climb were wasting energy, as they would end up in the same position they started the climb on.  It was more beneficial to hit the climb with energy enough to clobber the back stretch.  As the race went on and laps counted down, I felt my legs warm up to the point where I could stick in the peleton without straining efforts.

2012 here we go....
Coming into the final 500 meters, I was able to move myself through the field quite easily.  At least 30 positions were gained from an in the saddle effort at the line.  Because of poor planning I wasn't able to get a top 10, but the power showcased this early in the season are what I see as good things to come.  With a little better planning, this season could prove to be one with a view from the top.

Arc hard, ride fast, go plaid!