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Clinched!

  • 23.0 avg
  • 34.4 max
  • 144 AHR
  • 178 MHR
  • 18.99 miles
  • 49:36.8

Those stats include the cool down and part of the ride home–I forgot to stop the timer after the race.

Tonight was a points race, and I just needed to get 8th place to clinch the series lead, and that would only be necessary if the second place guy got first.  I took second in the second sprint, and then more or less sat back and let the race happen without working myself too hard.  The second place guy took third tonight, and I took sixth, so I have a 19 point lead with only one race remaining.

That means I’m the Tuesday Night World Champion!

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The Rochester Twilight Criterium, the second event in the Rochester Omnium, was open to amateurs, and I signed up to race the 3/4 field, right before the main event.  The course, as I mentioned in an earlier post, is a tricky, technical twister, but very fast, with very little elevation change and some long straight stretches to allow the speed to build.  The roads are in iffy condition, especially on the Court Street bridge, but nothing too bad for anyone used to racing on New England roads.  The race also attracts huge crowds, as one would expect for a UCI sanctioned event, and the energy of the race is bolstered by the raucous shouts and noise from the stands.

My race had 58 people signed up, and everyone seemed to show up to race and race hard.  The speeds were fairly fast right from the gun, but I was able to stay within sight of the front.  Dorothy, who was watching with her parents, told me later that some started falling off the back right from the start, and I wasn’t surprised to hear this.  There is a fairly wide turn from Court Street to Exchange, and we were taking the apex of the corner at 28 or more mph.

Things were looking good, because I was sitting in a good position, and I felt strong, even though my heart rate was fairly high at around 168.  Then the rain started.  It poured.  Hard.  The road was drenched, and the manhole covers were slippery as ice.  Guys started crashing, especially on the short, narrow Irving Street, which had something like 6 steel covers in about 100 feet.  When two guys crashed in front of me, I lost contact with the main pack of 25 to 30 and found myself racing all alone.  I kept the pace as high as I could ride comfortably, which probably wasn’t all that fast; I didn’t want to challenge the slippery surface.  Soon, though, three of us got together in a group and were working okay together.

Then, disaster as one of the guys lost his grip on one of the slick corners and I skidded out and landed on top of him.  A rider coming up behind hit my bike.  I ended up with a bunch of bruises and a potentially cracked rib.  My bike didn’t do so well, though.  The big chainring got bent, and the left chainstay cracked.  So, my nice BMC is no longer a viable machine.

Criterium racers have a saying: If you can’t afford to replace it, don’t race it.  I’ll be getting a new frame next week, but I have decided not to spend as much on the fancy rig and will go for a more utilitarian, hard-working sort of frame.  I’ll post more on this later.

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Are We Done Yet?

  • 25.6 avg
  • 34.2 max
  • 160 AHR
  • 179 MHR
  • 22.07 miles
  • 51:41.6

Another Tuesday Night World Championship race; they are starting to get predictable and a little boring, so it’s clear the end of the season is approaching.  I had to score high in the points tonight because we are going to be away in Vermont next week, and I can’t defend my lead.  It was a hard race, with attacks coming more or less constantly in the first 30 minutes.  Finally, seven of us established a break and really started drilling it.  For a while, the break was averaging over 27 mph on the laps, and there was no time to do all that much recovery, as my very high average heart rate shows.  I got into a zone, though, focusing on the wheel in front of me and blocking out everything else.  I started my sprint a little late and from sixth position, so I only managed to take third.  Since the second place guy in the series was not in the break, I maintained and maybe added to my lead.  I think I’m up by almost 40 points now.

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I’ve Done It Now

Yikes!  We will be visiting Dorothy’s parents next week up in Rochester, and I went and signed up for this crazy thing:  The Rochester Twilight Criterium.  It is a more or less flat one mile loop with some very tricky twists and turns that should make it a very scary and exciting race.  Here’s the course:

Looks like fun, doesn’t it?  It does not show very well on this map, but the part in the lower right is very tricky, with a mild chicane followed by a 180.  That gray dot in the middle of the road is a big sculpture, so the road is almost like a roundabout there.

Last year we watched the pro men’s and pro women’s races, and that inspired me to race it myself this year.  The venue is great, right in the middle of downtown Rochester, crossing the Genesee River twice each lap, and the crowd, at least for the pro races, is huge and very loud.

Wish me luck.  I’ll need it.

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TNWC Points Race

  • 25.1 avg
  • 35.1 max
  • 153 AHR
  • 177 MHR
  • 24.20 miles
  • 57:50.9
  • Second Place

Tonight’s race was a points race: 30 laps with sprints every five laps, scoring for the first four places with the last sprint worth double points.  There seemed to be a lot of new people in this race, and they didn’t quite know the etiquette yet, so there were some strange attacks happening at odd moments.  Otherwise, it was a fairly straightforward points race–fast with some small breaks that never got anything going.  I had some great help from the leadout guys on my team who helped pull back the breaks a couple of times and set me up for some of the sprints.  On the second to last sprint, I was isolated about fifteen deep, which is a very bad place to be.  I decided to go wide to the left very early, far too early for a real sprint, but I still managed to take the sprint.   I took 2nd, 2nd, nothing, first, first, second.  Mark, the big powerhouse, made it to the line before me in the final sprint, which gave him one point more than me for the lead.  A good race–this puts me up by about 36 points or so in the series.

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  • 20.5 avg
  • 44.9 max
  • 162 AHR
  • 180 MHR
  • 56.31 miles
  • 2:44:29

In my race report for the latest TNWC, I talked about the cat-and-mouse games that started up as we got close to the end.  In a way, that can be fun, but it can also get pretty boring.  At three or four laps to go, I thought, “This is ridiculous.  We are going to watch each other for the next three laps, while no one wants to take any chances.  It will be a perfectly predictable field sprint.  We should just end it now.”  Of course, I was partly to blame for this: because I’m the series leader, I raced to protect and increase my lead, so I raced more tactically and conservatively.  Very boring of me.

Today was the Tour of the Hilltowns race, a 56 mile, hilly course.  From what everyone had told me about the course, I knew that it would not play terribly well to my strengths, but if I rode safe, I could probably pull off a respectable finish, just like I did at Union Vale.

I didn’t do that.

At 7 miles in, I found myself stuck in the middle of the pack, a place I don’t really like to be.  When I heard some guys wondering why no one was riding on the shoulder, I moved over to investigate, thinking that I could easily move up in the pack if the shoulder was open.  It was, and I started to move forward on a big ring hill (that is, a hill that is shallow enough to climb in a fairly large gear).

When I approached the front of the pack, I realized that my pace was very comfortable and felt very good, so, instead of doing the smart thing–ducking back into the pack about three or four guys from the front–I did the stupid thing–breaking off the front.  My plan at that point, as far as I had a plan, was to get the pack to surge ahead with me and pick up the pace.  I looked over my shoulder to see how well my plan was working, only to see one guy trying to catch my wheel and a 50 meter gap on the field.

I thought I should then push it a bit to make a real gap on the field, so I did.  I pulled over to let the guy on my wheel pull through and take his turn at the front, but he wasn’t there.  And the pack was now almost 200 meter behind me.  Hmmm…what to do, what to do.  I could sit up and let the pack catch me, but that felt like a move completely lacking in panache.  Plus, I felt good.  I decided to stay out front and see what developed.

Soon I had an even bigger gap, and, because the roads were twisty, I was completely out of sight of the pack.  This could be good, because in bike racing, out of sight can mean out of mind.  So I pushed.  Hard.  I went into my Fabian Cancellara time trial mode, pretending I was in a daring break in the Tour de France.  I felt like a Tour rider, riding all alone off the front, spinning a big gear at 30 miles per hour.  It is really too bad there was not a video camera anywhere near, because I looked really good, really professional out there.

But alas, it was too good to last.  Although I stayed out front for more than 14 miles, and at one point had a one minute gap on the field, I got caught on the vicious Hawley Road climb.  The pack caught me and destroyed me.  I managed to get into a grupetto for the second half of the race, and I think I finished somewhere in the middle of the field.

I am glad I raced this way.  Instead of playing it safe, I took a big gamble–after all, a solo break can work; it just usually does not.  As I raced my heart out for those 14 miles, I was having the time of my life.  It was so much fun to hammer like that.  I would rather take a chance, race hard, and ride with some spirit than sit comfortably safe.

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TNWC–I Got Better!

  • 25 avg
  • 32.8 max
  • 149 AHR
  • 178 MHR
  • 22.88 miles
  • 54:53.2
  • First Place!

I must have recovered from whatever was bothering me over the weekend, or the rest of the racers at the Tuesday Night World Championships were also feeling achy and tired.  At any rate, it was a straight scratch race, with a decent sized field.  The pace started off fairly quick, but no one was able to get away.  It started to sprinkle on us just as we got going, but the rain never really fell in earnest, and it was never a factor in the race.  I did attack a couple of times, but I could never get enough of a gap or get anyone to go with me, so it soon became obvious it was going to come down to a field sprint.

The second half of the race was a lot slower than the first, with a lot of cat-and-mouse watching going on.  No one wanted to pull at the front, and the pack was getting bunched up, which worried me a lot.  At two laps to go, I felt a little boxed in, so I moved up to near the front of the pack where I would have more maneuvering room.  On the bell lap, one of my teammates jumped hard down the right side and started pulling for all he was worth at the front.  I quickly slotted in fourth place and watched and waited.  Once the line stretched out, I knew I had it and launched my sprint at exactly the right moment.  One guy tried to come around me about 3/4 of the way up the hill, but I found a little more speed deep inside and opened a wider gap just before the line for the win.

After the race, one of my teammates told me he was fighting furiously for my wheel, but all of the big sprinters from other teams were also trying to do the same thing.  It’s sort of cool that I’m the one to follow leading into the sprint.  This gives me at least a 30 point lead in the series: not quite insurmountable yet, but almost.

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