Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fun in Delaware

My teammates backed out of Columbia, so I didn't get to go. I love that crit too. This past weekend, I wasn't going to miss a weekend because my school is maybe incapable of sending my team long distance. Luckily, Natan and the guys at BU were able to bring me along for an awesome weekend. I left my studio class at 2 on Friday, headed over to the BU lot to wait for the vans, load them up and leave just before 4. I would say Natan had a good drive down, but we did get pulled over on the Garden State Parkway, and luckily garnered a warning to a van full of 11 collegiate cyclists. We hit Olive Garden in Cherry Hill around 9:30, eventually got to the hotel around 12, crammed 7 to a room, did a quick shave and got to bed before 1. Woke up to realize we had a 7-minute drive to the race, and decided to hit up Waffle House across the street.

The Road Race on saturday was awesome, the B field didn't let any break go more than 200 meters up the road before we eventually reeled them back in. I felt great the whole race, and was happy with 11th but I know had I not got cut-off in the last turn and almost taken out by a crazy crash, I would have been on the back of the UVM train and probably could have pulled a top-5. I give all the credit to Chebot for the win, I could see him jump at the right time as I was trying to get by as many people as I could. Nice victory salute, and I'm not going to say I advocate taking your hands off the bars in a sprint finish, but to those who do it in a non-dangerous, non-sprinting situation can benefit from how to Victory Salute Like A PRO:
Robby knows how to do it right.

Saturday after the races we hit up main street in Newark, grabbed dinner and headed back to the hotel to shower, watch Super Troopers on TV and pass out early. Sunday we woke up at 5:45 to get in some Waffle House before the ITT. The course was fun, I got to ride it beforehand, but wished I spent more time on the trainer getting loose. Nevertheless I got 11th with a decent time, felt like I should have pushed it in some parts and upped the cadence a bit, but what can you do. Anybody have ITT pictures? I'd like to see if there is a pic of me looking weird in an aero helmet but no TT bars.

Most of you that may or may not be reading this knows how things panned out for the crit on Sunday. Many people were going down in a blind S-turn which included a flat brick crosswalk interupting the slope, which sent 4 or 5 to the hospital including the motor pace bike driver! Needless to say, after seeing so many ambulances come and go on the course, I wasn't taking any risks on that turn in Alan Atwood's death crit. It was hard for me to find a line through it that I was comfortable with, and fell back quick, and 4 or 5 of us got gapped from the main group and just fell back. At this point I really didn't care anymore, my only ambition of the day was to not get injured so, taking it easy I eventually got pulled. Whatever, I'm finding that I prefer a road race to a crit anyday, but crits are essential to racing in this country, and I better start sustaining the constant hard effort and accelerations alot better, I think I'm sprinting well but I just need to get a little more comfortable taking turns at speed.

We didn't get back to Boston until about 1:45 AM, which prompted me to ride back to WIT, drop my stuff of and head to studio to stay up and get my work done. Lets just say, sleeping didn't happen. I was impressed with myself, I didn't resort to caffeine pills or anything like that to help me stay up, I was running on adrenaline (I guess?) which is hard to do regularly, let alone after a day of two races. The key is to stay on your feet, as soon as you sit down and lay back all it takes is ten seconds to fall asleep. So after a two-race Sunday, I didn't get to bed until 10PM Monday. Not bad, its just the nature of architecture. I got some work done to help saturday night and the car ride home, but we all know that for the most part not much can get done on race weekends.

My wallet is empty, and therefore I am not making it to Philly, I also would not like to fall behind on my studio project. I'll hit Wells Ave of course to get some action in my legs on sunday, and hopefully get out to Army and Yale in the coming ECCC weekends.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rutgers/Princeton Awesomeness

Well in the first race weekend of the year, I could say that I was pleasantly amused at the outcome. The weekend started off great, Greg and I won our studio competition project after sitting in on the jury session for over three hours on Friday. We had a bit of a rush getting all packed to head out, but were finally on the road at 6:30. Only making quick stops, and maintaining a fairly high speed throughout, we made it down to our hotel in Edison by 11. I couldn't figure out the Days Inn wireless password, so we were going to take the longest way to the ITT, but luckily some cool Kutztown guys gave me the quick route from the hotel.

The ITT was the start of some signs of a bad day for me. My thought was it was going to go well, especially with doing the Landry's ITT the week before. My hopes for winning my heat at the event were high, until some bloke from Princeton entered my heat, but I ended up getting third out of 16 in the heat, 25 seconds off of Bennette and ended the day sixth overall in collegiate, 335 watts over 19 minutes isn't bad (if only I could lose some weight!). So even though the previous ITT went well, it ended up not so much. Maybe it was the short length of the course that made me go too hard, maybe it was the bad stomach ache and subsequent bathroom rush right beforehand, but I wasn't going to be full strength. I shot out too fast, felt great though until after I came back past the start, began to feel a little fatigued, and right before the second turnaround I got passed by the Kutztown rider starting behind me. DAMN! After that I didn't have the same kick left to get a great acceleration out of the turnaround and ended at 6:24, 16 seconds better than last year but given better weather and general level of fitness I should have been alot faster.

Then, the crit. What a great course this was, and even more fun was coaching the Intro fields to get to preview the course a bit (as well as give out advice to the newbies). By the time the A race came along, I had ridden the course alot and thought I would be as ready as ever... nope. I lined up on the front row, which would have given me great starting position had I not slipped my pedal on the whistle. I still was mid-pack going up the climb, and everyone was flying off the bat, it was hard just to keep pace up the hill, and once you got to the top the acceleration downhill was brutally fast, and taking the corners at blazing speeds wasn't bad, it was just the intensity of the accelerations after the corners that my legs weren't feeling good for. I popped off the back on the third lap, saw Steve drop his chain on the hill, which was a shame because he's a good crit rider and just made a silly mistake that can cost you, which I had one the next day. Steve, myself (barely), Derek from UVM and Anna McLoon (the all powerful girl who can destroy the Women's A race and still sit in the Men's A race after for quite awhile) were kind of in a pack strung out because of my inability to accelerate, but all got pulled once we were lapped by the mighty Nick Frey and eventually the field.

Given a good meal and decent amount of sleep, Sunday should have went pretty well... nope. I avoided riding around too much before the race, periodically doing half laps of the circuit between races to stay fresh, got on the trainer awhile beforehand and was feeling really good. Here comes the big mistake: I put my computer magnet on my wheel upside-down. The race started and after two laps of the circuit I felt really good staying in the pack, but all of a sudden I hear a ticking noise. My wheel magnet rotated because of the wind pushing against it being upside down, and it started to hit the cadence/speed sensor mounted on the chain stay. It got annoying and I got worried, so I reached down just to push the sensor out of the way, and one of the two zip-ties that was holding it snapped, causing the sensor attached to the other zip tie to fling around the end of the chain stay and knock against my spokes. Obviously, I had to stop at this point and rip the sensor off the other zip tie and throw it in my pocket. In the ten seconds it took me to stop, get off, rip off the sensor, and get back on, I already los significant ground on the main field, and after a hard lap of pounding the pedals, I knew I would never catch back to them. So after 5 laps of soloing way off the back (pissed off enough to keep pushing it but wasn't going to just quit) I finally got pulled. I rode slowly around the course in disgust after feeling really good about the race, the field went by, but on the backside of the course was Graham from Brown, a UMass rider and Anna McLoon pacelining off the back of the field. They told me to hop on the back, to which I replied "I've already been pulled,..." at that second, I realized I was displeased with myself enough to just hammer it away on the bike, and I added "but I'll hop on anyway!" So I started pacelining with them for two or three laps at a pretty decent pace, even though I was already done I didn't care, I wanted to keep going. Our group got pulled after a few laps, before the field came around again, but afterwards I felt much better.

And thats my story of how I got pulled three times in two races. Beat that. My ambitions for next Columbia are pretty good seeing as how B suits me better for a category. For someone who barely gets in 8-12 hours a week on the bike, I couldn't train enough to keep up with the A's all season. Architecture studio work will pick up here and there, and there will be weeks where I can't get in 6 hours on the bike because of work, in the end I'd rather be competitive and give A my best shot for next year.