Saturday, February 9, 2013

Bicycle Plus Winter Criterium (Troy)

February 9, 2013 – Folsom, CA
40 Min
Elite 5, 18th; 35+5, 13th
Eric Voosen, Shayne Marshall; Jamie Whitmore
First bike race of the season.  Little nervous because of lack of training and group rides.  Bike handling is important in the close quarters of criterium racing.  Good bike handling comes with a lot of riding and feeling comfortable on the bike.  I pray before the race that I can be aware of the riders around me and protected from crashes ahead of me.
It's really cold, about 31deg.  After waiting in a long registration line, I get about 15min w/u on the rollers.  Nice to get the cold out of the blood.  The family is at home but we do a quick pre-race prayer over the phone.  Anna made sure that I called before the race so she could pray with me.
35+ Cat 5
I line up.  Field is about 30. Teammate, Eric Voosen, and friend, Shayne Marshall, are starting, too.  A Cat 2 cyclist "mentor" briefs us on proper racing techniques.  Most important thing is don't crash.  After a practice lap, we're off!
It's going well except for my right pedal cleat.  My foot popped off unexpectantly, hit the ground and got banged by the pedal.  Ow!  Maybe I wasn't all the way clicked in.  The pain wears off and I'm now focusing on getting the feel of my bike again.  Pace isn't bad.  Last time I raced here, I tried the inside line on the last turn and got jammed up.  I make sure to practice on the outside this time and it looks like a better approach.
While accelerating out of the turns, my foot pops out again. Bang. Ow!  The 3rd time I'm more ready and it doesn't get hit.  I have to focus on not pulling up hard because in a sprint that could be disastrous. Otherwise I'm just making sure to just "sit in", conserving energy in the draft, instead of any hard efforts near the front.
I see Shayne sometimes, riding well, but in the wind, not utilizing the draft of the pack.  Afterwards found out it was his first race so trying to get comfortable riding close. It's a lot of extra effort out there. Eric is riding closer to the front. I'm usually in the middle, trying to catch a group forward, and then slower drifting with the pack to the back.
3 laps to go.  I have to stay close to the front.  Near the top 10 guys.  It's working out.  I happen to be at the right place a few times and follow others to the front. 1 lap to go and the pace has picked up.  But going into the final turn I end up in good position about 20 back and on the outside taking the turn fast.  Ironically, instead of me popping out of my pedal, another guy does right in the middle of the turn.  He saves it while bumping another rider.  While they're all drifting to the outside trying to salvage their uprightness, I'm able to get by along the curb without losing speed and then sprint for all I'm worth to the finish - which means basically staying up with the other mid-pack sprinters.  I do pass a few and end up in 13th which is a good placing for me.  The last lap was 26.4mph ave (23.7mph total ave)
Thanks, God, for keeping me and others safe.  Eric was 2nd and Shayne was 23rd.
Elite Cat 5
Between races, Eric let me borrow the cleat from his spare shoe.  Mine had just worn out and broken.  Now I was set with a solid connection to my pedal.  I also see Jamie Whitmore, here to race the Women's 4!  I can't wait to watch her after my race.  Originally told she'd never bike again, here she is on the para-Olympic team and racing a criterium!  And always happy and encouraging, and quick to point to God as her source of joy and blessings.
I line up again.  Field is about 50.  The sun is higher and warmer.  Shayne and Eric are both back again as well, along with other Victory Velo Teammates, Kevin Gorchinski & Wyatt Morin, and also Brandon Scott from Auburn.  After another mentor briefing and practice lap, we're off for our 2nd race!
The group is younger and the pace is faster.  The pack is tighter.  I see Shayne and he is riding closer to the wheels in front.  Eric is maintaining about 10-15th.  I'm around 20-30th.  It's going well and my cleat is working great thanks to Eric.  Again trying to conserve and move up when someone else leads the effort.  I'm getting a lot of good opportunities… holes opening up, other guys blocking the wind and moving up.
With 5 laps to go the effort has increased a lot.  I'm getting tired but trying to stay closer to the front where there is less accelerating out of the corners.  With 2 to go, there is a near-crash on the outside (thank you, again, Lord, that I'm not near it) involving many riders.  This allows me to move up to about top 7.  It's going well.  A good finish relies so much on being in the right place.. or rather, being in the right group, that takes you to the right place.  It's easy to get jammed in a group that's falling back, out of contention, or worse, behind a crash.
With 1 lap to go the leaders put the hammer down and I can't match it.  I go to the drops and give it all I have while riders are passing me on both sides.  It's only 1 lap at this effort… I can keep it going.. and keep looking for a wheel to get on.  The good part of this pain is that the pack is strung out with less risk of crashes or getting boxed in.
I don't give up and go into the last turn on the inside, but this time un-crowded, and then sprint.  It hurts but it's only 5 more seconds..  Yay!  I'm done and still in the top 20.  Wyatt finished 2nd, Eric 4th, I was 18th, and Shayne was 26th.  The last lap was 27.8mph ave. (25.2mph total ave.)
Great to be done. The bonus today was that we got double-points for upgrade since we had a Cat 2 mentor teaching us.  So only 6 more races required to move to the next level, Cat 4.  However, I have plenty of room for improvement in the Cat 5's still.
I watched Jamie race and take 6th.  Pretty impressive without the full use of her left leg.  Thanks, God, for a great day and good experience.