Saturday, May 17, 2008

Union Grove Road Race Report.

After a week of easier riding I was itching to ride today's race up in East Earl, Pennsylvania. Though my bike's bottom bracket is screaming like a nagging wife, I treated her to new bright orange Bontrager handlebar tape. It's a bit brighter than the orange on the rest of the bike, but I'm hoping it tones down in time. The new bottom bracket is on order and should be in this week.

This was my first race on the Kelly Benefits/LSV racing team and I wanted to do well for the guys. We had six riders in the Cat 4/5 race. First off I gotta say, they are a nice bunch of guys and can't wait until our next one. That reminds me, I have to change my US Cycling ID card to show my club affiliation.

The Race As I Saw It: There was a pretty full field of about 70+ riders and the start was tight. While waiting for the race to start, Mari and Mae were yelling Go Daddy Go! Go Daddy Go! from the side of the road. That got a bunch of laughs from the crowd and definitely lightened the pre-race jitters for many, including some guy repeating their words, Go Daddy Go! Go Daddy! The KB/LSV guys and I didn't get a very good position this week, about mid-pack so getting underway was a bit stressful but everyone made it to the first turn OK and the racing commenced. The course was generally much more technical than my previous 3 races starting with a downhill and narrow curving section, with an uphill right, level back straight, a couple small hills, metal bridges, then more curvy narrow roads toward the finish. A great course really. Amish country is so beautiful. We passed a couple horse and buggies during the race, and a group of kids sitting on a stoop in front of their barn cheering the riders each time we sped by.

I had a really poor start and ended up mid/back of the field. It was tough moving up with the yellow line rule in effect. It seemed I'd get a few places, only to be passed again by guys taking a big risk into corners or crossing the yellow lines on the outside leapfrogging towards the front. I bided my time, while seeing the KB/LSV guys in a nice tight group up towards the front of the Peloton. I was very impressed with Howard's position up near the front. He did just what he said he was going to do and it looked like it was working.

This course was a fast one, with only one tiny little hill to slow down the pack. Every time around to this one hill, it seemed as though the pack's speed would drop to excruciatingly slow. So slow in fact, that one time up, with the yo-yo effect, I came to a complete stop in the middle of the whole mess, track standing until the race got going again. CRAZY! Well, it did get started again, and me being in too big a gear, had a shoe pull out of my pedal. Luckily I got back in and was able to muscle my way back into the slipstream. Like I said, the speed on this tiny little hill was snail slow. Even so, after the race Steven said guys where weezing like emphysema patients all around him. This kind of racing continued until the last lap where I began to move my way up towards the front, with about 5 miles to go. (5 Mile Laps)

Finally, on the back straights, I got up into a pretty good position around 15 back from the leaders and right behind some other guys from KB/LSV. I didn't see Howard now and wondered where he'd gotten to. The speed picked up finally going over the hill to more-than-snail pace and I think this is where the peloton started to string out with the speed picking up. Eric and I got together at this point, with one other KB/LSV just up ahead. Great, we had 3 guys in the top ten to set up the sprint. Not bad. On the final corner, just ahead and to the left a couple guys got tied together and wrecked right in front of Eric and me. That kinda messed up our sprint. I know Eric is a bit better sprinter than me and was hoping I could've led him out for a good finish. But now it was just a matter of hanging on until the end to see where we'd end up.

Steve ended up 4th, Eric 8th, with me getting inched at the line for 11th. Howard's handlebar came loose, forcing him to end his race with a mechanical with right about 1 lap to go. Major bummer, since I think he had the fitness today to be right up there.

Summary: Looking back, would I have raced it differently? Probably. I had some good legs today and on the last lap there were a few choice spots to make a break stick. Overall though, since this is only my 4th race back in racing after so long, I'm happy to be contending for wins already. I have something now to work on until the next race.


Calvini said...

I'd say congrats to you if I had seen a Kelly rider take a single pull at the front. As it was, five or six of us--none Kelly riders--did all the work.

Two riders from other teams who did take pulls (along with me) were pretty irked about teams who didn't do any chasing.

Please, in the future, share some of the load. That kid who won was amazing, but we could have caught him.

Then you could complain about how hard you had worked, and how much of a physical challenge the race was, instead of how hard it was trackstanding on the hill.

John P. said...

Hi Calvin, there were some kelly riders pulling on the last lap. I saw it, maybe you didn't. I was hoping we could've pulled that guy in too. He was just up the road.

After my last race where tried a solo breakaway into the wind, then promptly got dropped, I was just happy to be hanging on this week.

That's racing and there's plenty left to do.

Calvini said...

I hear you. Just thought I'd let you know of the impression some of us had.

I've had a good opinion of Kelly riders, good guys all round.

Just that this race, there was no pulling on any of the penultimate laps. The last lap, well, it was already too late, and at that point we were trying to position ourselves for 2nd place, which is like getting a kiss from Grandma. Nice, but not the podium girls.

We're all learning, though. Keep up the good work!

John P. said...

I hear you Calvin and understand the frustration, Like I said in the post, It took me forever to get up near the front. I was trying to stay out of trouble with guys taking some crazy chances on the other side of the non-existent yellow line. When I finally got up there, I noticed that guy up the road.

You are so right though, we should have/could have pulled him in with some real effort. Congrats to him though. He did it by himself.

Hope we can chat at the next race if I can recognize you. I'm doing Millport in 2 weeks. Hope to see you there.