This was my first cyclocross race ever – I placed 6th/29 and 11th/28. It was a great weekend of racing!!
Yesterday was the day that a lot of cyclists have been waiting for… Tour of the Battenkill. This is a challenging 62.2 mile course which included various road conditions and obstacles. Our Quality Care Pharmacies cycling team headed out to pick up our numbers and then enjoy a dinner together as a team. Members who made the trip included: Shannon Case, Eric Giehl, Dwight Roth and William Auten. Of course my dedicated wife who is 31.5 weeks pregnant made the trip – probably the most amazing feat!!
A lot of training when into this race, which I could tell made the ride a bit easier. The race started with a fast section heading out to the covered bridge. That was a pretty tense section because it included 102 riders and during the whole section everyone kept yelling SLOWING. Our team lined up about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way from the start. I was hoping to get right up front fast. It was a challenge to get up there especially with all of this SLOWING nonsense and I didn’t accomplish much. We eventually went through the covered bridge and then headed out to the dirt sections – this was very cool. It was also very smooth and fast. We began to climb some elevation and the group was pretty much together. I was also feeling pretty good. I started to get a bit cautious when there were transitions between dirt and pavement. There was a fast down-section of dirt and this is where I lacked the confidence to hold onto the group. When I eventually got to the pavement it was hard to get back to the group and I was just dropped. I still felt good but was quite disappointed that I didn’t try something different. Unfortunately, Shannon was unable to ride because he broke his foot but he was able to be there with us and at the first feed zone. It was great to see him and my wife there supporting and handing us water-bottles. At this time a lot of the group was shattered and there were little groups starting to form. I connected with a few of them and we ended up making up some time but then the dirt sections were back. The absolute toughest part of the course included dirt sections, which transitions occurred between solid, granular to rocky and then transitioned to pavement. I guess that I’m not one to take chances because some of those sections really made me nervous. Those who were able to ride with breaks and the group I commend greatly. My teammate Eric Giehl was one of those guys. He ended up 15th out of 102, which is amazing!!! The bike confidence and bike handling skills that these guys have are amazing. I did however beat my time from last year but didn’t place anywhere near I wanted, which was 60th of 102. I lost a lot of time through those dirt and rock sections. It’s definitely a race where I learned a ton more, which is always good. It was a great trip with great friends and teammates. Our team also came out of this unharmed, there were no flats and everyone finished the Tour of the Battenkill!!! Good work QCP!!! Thanks again to my wife for her support – it’s always nice to think that I’m going to see her at the finish. Thanks to our sponsors and Shannon for their support and commitment to our team. It was a great weekend!!
Last Saturday I decided to go race the Hornby Hills Kermis road race. I was really debating on whether I was going to go because I was really struggling in the area of cycling for the month of March. The Giros were a bust and it seemed like my training was going backwards. I had a couple of rough rides out in the Brisol/Naples area which really took a toll on my confidence. I kept looking at bikereg.com to see how many people were registering and if it would be worthwhile to make the trip. I finally decided to enter when I noticed that 20 others were going to race. It ended up with 26, which was a decent number of riders for a challenging course.
Our Quality Care Pharmacies Cycling team also had Eric, William and Dwight going, which made the event even better. It’s always good when you have teammates around, especially when racing.
I changed up my strategy a bit for this race to just gain some confidence. Instead of starting in the front I ended up in the back, which I ended up realizing was a mistake. I also let a group go without trying to hold onto wheels. I did however feel really good on the climbs, which was an area I needed to focus on. I ended up picking off a few people and then holding my own throughout the entire 38 miles with an elevation gain of 4100 ft. Overall, it’s not the placing that I wanted but I feel very happy with my preparation and the end result. I felt good from beginning to end and to me I met my expectation!
After 3100 miles of winter training I think that I had high expectations, which only frustrated me when I wasn’t attaining them. I just like to ride my bike. I enjoy racing and learning about the sport but I can’t stress myself out about high expectations. I’m doing this because I want to and I don’t want it to become something that I dread doing. Timing, scheduling and then working a full-time job can really damper training but training/racing cannot become another stressor. My weekends have been pretty much busted because of training and then when I’m not training I’m exhausted from the ride. It’s an expensive sport that only takes money out of my pocket – sponsors make things a bit easier but isn’t a full-time profession that’s bringing in income. I want to do well but I can’t take it so serious – it’s supposed to be fun!! It’s been a learning experience and I’m hopeful that I’m heading into the right direction.
When the day ends I’m grateful for my wife, my family and everything that we’ve accomplished. I’m also excited and anxious to meet our little girl… 10 more weeks until we get to see you!!!
The Hornby Hills Kermis race was great and I would definitely go back!! Here are some pics from the race:
I was glad to see an email today from the GVCC president Mike Minerva going over very important pieces to safe and successful racing. One of the major downsides to this sport is the dreaded crash and I think that if we all listen it’ll be the safest year ever. Not many areas have access to such a great club like the GVCC so I think that it’s important to utilize these events as a piece of training that will assist everyone in becoming a successful cyclist ready to win races. Lets be respectful of the club, the roads and each other! Thanks Mike for sending out this email and please read…
Hello GVCC Team Leaders!
The season is starting to go into full swing and our weekly training series is about to start. I am emailing you as you are a leader on your team and I want to address safety in the B group. We had some serious crashes last year, and a few at the Giros this spring. When I look at the majority of B group, I see myself: a middle-aged father with a job and a mortgage…. I really do not want to see anyone get injured, especially one that needs to go home to a family.
Here’s what we can do to improve safety while maintaining our commitment to racing:
Organized racing. The biggest problem in the B group is that we travel down the road in a big, unorganized blob. We are often white line to yellow line and taking up a lot of real estate on the road. We are moving very fast too as the average speed is high. This is a recipe for disaster. Do not sit at the front and yank the group around aimlessly and yell “go go go” or “chase chase chase” Instead, teams should be attacking and counter attacking. Launching hard attacks that separate a break from the group. You need to be riding hard. And it needs to be a group break away… not just a one-rider attack.
Teams should be working to be represented in the break by launching across. Launching across is different than blob chasing. If a team does in fact miss the break, then they are responsible to chase. This creates order in the pack (organization), with certain riders up front chasing and other riders siting in. The chase should be fast, so everyone should be tucking in and out of the wind… single file or double pace line (not a blob). When the catch is made, teams must counter attack. And the whole process happens again in this organized fashion. After this is repeated several times, the next important step to safer racing should happen: Natural selection.
Natural selection: There are some very fit riders in the B group. I’ve read your blogs, seen your Strava’s, read about your watts on Facebook and I know many of you are coached. There are also many riders who are new, don’t train, are not in racing shape, and/or are unexperienced. When we ride around in a blob, this mix of rider abilities plus speed creates a very dangerous situation. The stronger riders are responsible for forming the breaks and making the racing hard such that riders are dropped. If we can get the group broken up into a break, a chase and an exhausted white-flag-waving-groupetto, not only will the racing be so much more rewarding, but it will be safer as well. Everyone will be riding and eventually sprinting within a smaller group of like abilities.
Safer Sprinting: Historically, the B’s have had a single rider who has dominated the B group with a strong sprint. The B riders who attack a lot and win from aggressive riding usually don’t stick around the B group very long. If we employ the tactics above, the sprinter will be forced to sprint from the breakaway group. Let’s make a commitment to make that happen. Sprinting from a blob is very very dangerous. To repeat, it is a mix of rider abilities, plus speed which can end up in a disaster. G-Tour points are not worth getting seriously injured in a mass sprint. Unless you can sprint for the win and can handle your bike, just roll in, get out of the way and show up to work on Wednesday morning.
Please share this with your team members and if you have specific questions, please let me know. Let’s all make a commitment to end the blob, be safer, and have more tactical racing.
Good luck to everyone for a successful and safe 2012 season!