Archive for June, 2010

Paracycling Road National Championships

I was well on my way to writing this a few days ago, but decided to wait and give it a few days. I think it was better that I reflected on what happened and came back with a more level review.

The first thing I’d like to do is thank USA Cycling for giving us a Road Race and a Crit. The first race was a Road Race; our field was small (9 riders), but we have to start somewhere and I’m hoping to see the numbers grow in the coming years. The race was a very tactical affair because everyone had Thursday’s Time Trial/Worlds Selection race in mind. The course had a stairstep hill that Sam K. and I took some slight digs on, but it just wasn’t long enough or steep enough to break things up without redlining. Everyone was jostling for position on the final run-in when Justin made the first jump from 1k out, Sam and I jumped on his wheel and waited. Sam jumped hard with 600m to go and I chased, but he held the gap to the line and I rolled across second.

There was talk of a slow crit happening because the Time Trial was the next day, but when the gun sounded Sam took off with me on his wheel. Sam pulled more than anyone else, I was a couple laps shorter in pulls, and Greta pulled for 2 laps, but none of the other guys wanted to do any work. Sam attacked with 2.5 to go and I chased, but wasn’t making up enough ground. The guy behind me refused to pull through until the last lap when he jumped me for 2nd. Now, you may say he raced smarter, but I raced the way I did for the sake of Paralympic Cycling in the United States. If Sam and I had been content to ride 14 parade laps and sprint at the end everyone would have seen it and lumped us in with the Special Olympics. The last thing I want is for people to watch us ride around and think we are the poor crippled kids riding our bikes. If you really want to say that the guy who would not take a pull the whole race and jumped me on the last lap is a better bike racer, go ahead. His style of racing does no favors for the program or disability sport.

On to the TT. I needed to be top 5, I was 7th. It was the best TT I’ve ridden all year. I need to suck less.

Despite the disappointment I am motivated to go train as I have track nationals in a month. I managed to set a new 30 second peak power number that is 12% higher than my previous best, and I have set new power records across most durations of time this year so it looks like I am heading into track season with whole lot of new power. I am looking forward to the opportunity of defending my national title.

This is a free piece of advice: When your celebrity cycling crush asks you how you’re doing, telling her how horrible your day was may not be the best plan of action. A simple “ok” would probably suffice even if you did miss the World Championships Team.

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Confidence is Remarkable

This is mostly an update with a few small race reports thrown in.

Hugo Road Race:  Dumb, dumb, dumb, not because it was a bad course, but due to the wind.  30mph sustained winds with gusts to 45mph, re-read that, it’s the report from NOAA for the day.  I was fine in the headwind, but when we turned into the crosswind it was everything I could do to keep the bike upright, much less hold a wheel.  I usually don’t blame a race result on having a gimpy arm and leg, but the arm made a difference here; leaning into the wind put some very unusual strain on my upper body and balance control systems.  I couldn’t drink enough because I couldn’t take my hand off the bar, it was 78 miles of misery.  Lesson learned:  135lbs doesn’t mix with stiff winds.

TT Bike:  Hugo did nothing for my confidence, but over the weekend I built up a TT bike.  I have not raced a good TT this year and I’ve been putting out pretty good power numbers, so the missing piece of the puzzle had to be the bike.  Initial testing shows it be a huge improvement over the road bike with clip ons, and I have not done any testing with race wheels, a skinsuit, or an aero helmet.  This is all happening just in time for nationals.

Track Racing:  I raced the letter grade night last night at the 7-Eleven Velodrome. I haven’t raced mass start on the track since last summer and I was excited to get back to it.  I seeded myself into the B’s initially.  The first race was a Chariot heat (1 lap, standing start with a holder, 6 riders).  Now, I’m no sprinter, but I do a lot of standing start work for the pursuit and kilo.  I also used a little gear so I could get off the line quickly.  I started in the poll lane and was 2nd coming into the first banking when the guy above me moved down into my lane early causing me to back off (I should have ducked onto the apron).  I had a run on him to the line, but it wasn’t enough, still I advanced to the final.

I drew a crappy 5th place seed for the final meaning I had a lot longer to go through the first turn.  I got off the line very well and was first to the turn, but was passed by 2 riders that were lower on the track, I once again had a good run on them down to the line but I ran out of room and finished 3rd.  I need to work on timing.

The next race was a Miss and Out (last rider each lap is pulled), we started with 12 or 15 and I lasted until there were 4 riders, I was eliminated by half a wheel.

As we were waiting, the announcer said there would only be 2 Points Races (Sprints every 5 laps with 5, 3, 2, 1 points awarded for 1st-4th, most points wins), a B/C and an A/B race.  Decision time, do I race the easier group in a race(my favorite mass start track race) that is far more suited to my strengths than the previous two, or do I risk being blown out the back in the A/B race? I was just about to race the B/C when I decided to Nut Up or Shut Up and race the big boys. Most of the B’s had the same idea so we started with a good size field in the 40 lap race. I didn’t contest the first sprint, but when Ryan jumped for the 2nd sprint I gave chase and took second. Shortly after this Ryan attacked and blew the field to smithereens, he was being chased by 2, I was 4th and 40 meters off that pair, and Eric (who just raced Philly Sunday) was 5th. It took me about 6 laps to catch the 2 in front of me, Eric finally caught us and we went about trying to catch Ryan, but he gobbled up enough points to take the win. I’m pretty sure I scored enough points for 4th place, so instead of getting destroyed I finished with the fast guys and rode a respectable race.

A new bike and good legs are pretty nice to have 2 weeks out from Nationals/Worlds Qualifier.

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Euro Racing

is hard.  The pace is relentless.  I spent 6 races in Europe just getting pounded.  I came into the last race with no results and in need of a good ride.  * Scroll to bottom for a non-bike geek summary

I had raced 2 road races and a crit without a pack finish, so the first order of business was staying with the group at any cost.  The second was to protect my teammate’s (Sam Kavanagh) GC lead which was a scant 8 seconds.  It was raining, like it had rained the whole trip, and the pavement was crappy, bumpy, gross.  They started all of the categories  and both genders together, so it was a mass of about 100 athletes of varying disabilities on a 5km circuit.  The race really started on the neutral lap as the more disabled racers tried to push to the front so they could draft off the less disabled racers to hopefully take the win in their field and take time out on the General Classification.  A few of the guys in the high functioning disability categories race on Continental teams so the race started from the gun, we raced for an hour with 2 lulls in the action.  I was doing pretty well in the race when I noticed that Sam’s 2nd place GC guy was making a move up the road, so I grabbed his wheel and sat there ’till we were absorbed.  I spent the rest of the race shadowing any move he made.

My shining moment of the entire trip came when I saw Sam slide out and fall through a turn.  I sat up out of the lead group and then saw Greta.  We were 3 strong and we WERE going to save  Sam’s GC lead.  I took what was nearly a death pull before Greta towed us back into the group.  In all, Sam was only off the back for 3-4 minutes before he was safely with the leaders.  As we reconnected I prayed that no one would attack for at least a minute so I could catch my breath, and thankfully I was able to recover enough to stay with the group.  We heard 2 to go and I knew that I had finally raced a race worthy of a bicycle racer.  I finished with the group, Sam won the sprint finish and the GC; it was a highly successful day.  I was so happy and relieved to not only have a decent finish myself, but especially to have helped Sam save his leader’s jersey.

*Non bike speak:

I had a good race and I helped my teammate win the race after he crashed.  I finally felt that my trip to Europe had served a purpose.

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