Saturday, April 27, 2013

Racing Against Murphy's Law - Quabbin Reservoir Road Race 2013

In cycling, there are days in which Murphy's Law is in full effect.  For those unfamiliar with Murphy's Law, it is simply "everything which can go wrong, will go wrong."  Now that we are all caught up, let me explain the relevancy of this law to the Quabbin Reservoir Road Race.

In a field of 150, things are bound to get stretched out and people are going to be tense.  While I would generally see a field of 150 an exciting thing, because of the early season manner of the race, my feeling of most of the riders was an on edge sort of mentality.  Because of this, there were a lot of unnecessary movements... and crashes.

Those who read last post remember my mechanical which cost me the race.  Well this time, it was something a bit more which separated me for the field.  Two crashes, the first at mile 5, and the second around mile 20.  The first, was nothing major... for me anyways.  I cannot speak for those involved.  From what I heard, wheels were crossed and pavement kissed.  No no... I am referring to the second crash around mile 20 which took half the field out of contention including myself.

Now now... put your mind at ease.  I did not crash.  However, I was just behind the crash, and by some  magical bicycle handling... I was able to bob and weave through the carnage to continue on.  To be more specific, within about 15 seconds, I had to duck a flying wheel, jump an additional skidding wheel, jump a skidding frame and maneuver my bike around a skidding person as well; all at about 20-30mph.

By the time I got through the wreckage, the remainder of the field, being about 50% by my count, was already a fair way of one of the larger climbs of the day.  My maneuvering and twisting threw out my back and gave stitches up my side.  While my fitness was where I needed it, I was unable to bridge up to the field and regain a chance of victory in the day.

To my knowledge, that crash took out 50% of the field.  Out of those who went down, I am unsure how many were able to continue on.

All that said, I am extremely glad to ride another day.  HOWEVER.  This is the point of my post where I get on my soap bike (similar to soap box, but rolling) and preach the following to my field, and all other fields who do not have people to clean up after them.

When you are racing, in any field (even when you are just riding), do not just throw your wrappers and trash on the ground.  You have the time to put your wrappers back in your jerseys.  This said, unless you have someone to clean up after you while you are riding, there is no excuse to do this.  The roads, while you use them, do not belong to just you.  They are shared by other individuals and forms various forms of wildlife.  It is important that if we are to be welcomed back to these places by the towns, and continue to see their beauty, that we as a community of cyclists striving for better health and glory; take care of the world we compete in and use to shape ourselves.

That is all.

Arc hard, ride fast, go plaid!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Let The Season Begin!

The season begins with a bang.  More of a thunk.  Well really, it's the hollow crunching of carbon over potholes yet to be repaired, and frost heaves which have still not come back to their un-heave-like state.

I traveled this weekend to Plymouth, MA to race the Myles Standish State Forest Road Race.  I'm sure you bikers are thinking to yourselves, why not Battenkill? Why not contest for the bragging rights to the East Coast Spring Classic rated to be among the hardest races in the Northeast?  My answer to this is simple; I didn't want to.  Myles Standish is a fantastic race.  The course is small, but interesting.  With full open roads running along ponds and through Myles Standish State Forest there is nothing boring or uninteresting about the race.  Rollers keep everything interesting through the whole course.  When it's not rolling, it's twisting, turning and climbing, all individually and at the same time.

To back up a little... the past few weeks have been spent training both indoors and out.  Weather has been limiting for the riding, and me being stubborn as a mule... I'm never willing to cooperate.  That said, I'm riding strong and think this season will look up... especially after today.

Myles Standish is a course built for me.  It twists and turn, climbs and falls.  My legs felt good and I was ready to go.  The race started off with an attack right from the line.  Teams all working together to get their guys up the road.  As soon as one attack fell, a counter would go.  There was no moment in the race where someone wasn't trying to fly off the front with their teammates blocking at the front.  It was a true race.  One I wish I had stuck in for longer than 2.5 laps.  Early into the 3rd lap, I (like many others) hit a massive pothole.  I had been lucky enough not to flat or go flying off my bike, but this time something mechanical happened that I still cannot fully explain.  Without my wheel coming out of the dropout, or loosening, or coming out of true, my brake began to rub and I could not pull my brake lever.  I was forced to stop and get off the bike to fix it.  Eventually I heard a click, the brake released and I was good to go.

By the time I got back on the bike, I had already been off for 5 minutes trying to fix the problem.  Once I got back on I was able to TT the remainder of the race.  While I did not ever catch the field, I was able to ride it out and finish the race. 39 out of 39 finishers.  Far from ideal, but the power is there.  We'll give 'em hell next time.

Arc hard, ride fast go plaid!