Friday, July 27, 2012

Hot days, hot nights - National Life Criterium and Tour of Hilltowns

The past two weekends of racing have been plagued by ungodly amounts of heat and humidity.  Two things which would make any normal man cringe, whither and possibly create the urge to crawl under a rock until winter.  That said I would like to announce my retirement and retreat to under a rock until further notice... JUST KIDDING.

National Life Criterium, the place where it all began, was a hot day.  With about 20 or so riders in the field, there was no hiding on the hill.  Riders went flying ahead, causing chases and counter attacks lefts and right.  With about 16 laps to go I made an effort to bridge, bringing some of the field with me.  With about 14 laps to go, the bridge was made and the field was back together.  Two laps later, while grinding over the top of the course, things started to close in and I was forced out of the race.  While I didn't pass out, I was on the verge of catastrophic systems failure.  Sad to say, this was not the outcome I was hoping for.  After pulling out of the race, I drank as much water as possible in an attempt to refuel my system and begin recovering.

Tour of Hilltowns was one of the hardest races I have done.  The course was demanding through and through.  With a large 20 minute-ish climb in the middle, riders would be equalized and tested in strength and tactics.  This race was a reminder that inspecting courses is a must.  No matter how strong or fast you think you are, knowing your course and plan off attack is key in successful bike racing.
That said, I miss planned my attack on the climb, as I had not inspected it, nor did I really look into the overall length and difficulty of the climb.  About half way up, I launched an attack thinking I was near the peak of the climb.  To my surprise, around the up coming corner was the remainder of the climb and the end of my race.  My pace dropped and I watched the peleton ride away.  Defeated by the race, I still rode tempo the whole way back, ensuring that I would learn the remainder of the course for the future races at Tour of Hilltowns.

Arc hard, ride fast, go plaid!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Stafford Criterium - Stafford Springs, CT

Stafford Springs was the host of hoards of racers as they poured in to the Stafford Speedway, a usual host for Nascar and automotive race events.  On the weekend, a host to the slew of bikers eager to taste the line before the rest.
The course was simple, using most of the motor speed way, and a brief switchback through the pits to keep things interesting.  A headwind plagued the far side of the course, making for a pleasant tailwind boost coming into the finishing stretch.
Racing started off fast with the pace pushing through until the finish of lap 40.  I started with a leg opener off the front of the field for a few laps.  As the race went on, many took flyers up the road, causing a chase from the peleton.  After flyers were caught, it generally took a lap or two before another went, while the contrary should be true and it just so happened that the move that stuck was an immediate counter attack off a flyer which lasted with one rider up the road to the finish which with the peleton working together, was unable to catch by the final lap.
Coming in to the final 5 laps, I moved myself up through the field and was able to hold my position while we attempted to chase down the breakaway riders.  With 2 to go, we caught two of three breakaway riders and I was able to position myself still at the front of the field.  Coming hot into the final lap, a rider clipped a pothole.  While he didn't go down, plenty of riders were startled and thrown off their line by the sudden jump.  I was able to squeak around the rider and stay up at the front with just enough riders to create a draft and slingshot towards the line.  Coming up to the final corner, I started to ramp things up until the straightaway.  Up into the straightaway towards the line, I was able to let lose my kick towards the line.

2nd in the field sprint, and 3rd for the day.  A good finish, a great race.  Up Next, National Life, July 15th, Montpelier, VT.

Arc hard, ride fast, go plaid!