Friday, June 17, 2011

Hellyer Get Ready for Summer #5: June 11, 2011

In a fit of ambition to upgrade I decided to enter the cat 4/5 field instead of the cat 3/4 field. At GRFS #4 there were 19 4/5's but on MY race day there ended up being only seven of us. Since that field is less than ten, no upgrade points were up for grabs. But once racing had started and I knew the numbers, it was too late. Fizzle.

Kieren: Racers line up beside each other based on a random number draw, the motorcycle goes by and everyone sprints to get on the motor. After three laps of pacing the motor pulls off and it's a two lap free for all. Or something like that. Maybe it's a 1K free for all? Each heat only has six or seven riders (I know Ted is going to read this and pound himself on the head that I could have such a vague handle on the technicalities of this race but, whatever, go with the flow dude.). Since there were only seven of us there was a heat of 4 and a heat of 3. I ended up in the second heat of 3. The first two riders advance to the final. I gave a 87% effort on my sprint and got pipped for the heat win on the line but securing second was all I wanted. I turned lap cards for other races for awhile until my Kieren final. I was second wheel until the motor pulled off then a couple passed uptrack. In the sprint I could see my way over the top and past to take the sprint and, yay, my legs followed my eyes. Win!

Snowball: The winner on each lap gets points. On the first lap, 1 point, second lap, 2 points, etc. so the last lap 15 is worth 15 points. I took laps 3 and 4 but then Dexter snuck off the front. No one wanted to reel him in and, in all honesty, I think some beginners (I refuse to call them n00bs) got a little confused about the part where there was a race going on. We finally got him back with four or five to go. I took at least three of the last four sprints but it wasn't enough and I was 2nd.

Miss-n-out. I'd like to have this race back. The last place person on each lap gets pulled then the last three sprint it out for 1,2 and 3rd. With four to go I TWICE had my front wheel swept WHILE I WAS IN THE SPRINTER'S LANE. I went into bitchy whiny mode and started yelling at the two rule breakers. The officials pulled me and I proceded to let them know exactly how I felt that they weren't enforcing any delegations for dangerous riders (all calmly and sweetly of course). I'm pretty mellow except when it comes to dangerous riding and then I get a little stupid and self important (I like to think of it as self preservation). I calmed down a bit and had a good talk with the official. I completely disagree with him but he said if I wasn't getting physically pushed into the apron it's my fault for "being intimidated." (Again, he says intimidated, I say safe).

Points (15 lap points every 5 laps): Knowing that my miss and out failure probably lost me the omnium I took out my frustration on the first two sprints, winning them both. I sealed the win with a 3rd on the last sprint. Maybe the officials were mad at me since they somehow scored a three way tie on the first sprint. No matter, it didn't really change the overall results.

So a mixture of emotions to take home from this one. Losing the omnium by one point (out of 22) kind of sucked. And turning into a whining baby in the miss and out wasn't anything to be proud of (though I did make it up to the two guys I yelled at: that's the nice thing about the track is that the shit that happens in the race usually doesn't make it into the pits; at the cat 3/4 level anyway...). I was happy to be able to win track events in each year I've been on the track now. And bringing home a red ribbon always makes the homefront take notice. But in hindsight, I really wish I'd done the 3/4 race. I think I had good enough legs to have been competitive and forth place in that race would have netted more upgrade points than the zero I got in my race. Oh well. More positives than negatives overall.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Hellyer: Funk removal machine. (aka Tues. nite omnium 6/7/2011))

Let's get it going.

15 lap points (x5): After the first neutral lap the promoters, official and wise bystanders pulled everyone off the track and decided to run two 4/5 fields. Hernando, always the shy one, called everyone to the rail who felt they were faster and more experienced. That ended up being about 2/3 of the original 4/5 field. I was happy they did this. Then there was a race. There was a ridiculous balling up on the backstretch on about the second or third lap. This didn't really relent for another lap so -and I guess you know this is coming if you know me and my track mentality even a little bit- I attacked full tilt (picture found here by Tim Westmore). Unfortunately my full tilt was pretty weak and then I didn't have enough umph to get back into the action after the first sprint. I wasted time and energy chasing for awhile but when the pace didn't slow down after the second sprint I threw in the towel and went uptrack to lick my wounds.

15 (i think?) lap scratch: Not much to say here. I kept my nose clean, stayed about six or seven riders back and then uncorked my best sprint @ the 200 meter line. 5th place.

20 lap points (@5): This was the most fun of the evening since it was fast from the first lap and never let up. That's my favorite kind of track race. It was pretty satisfying to survive the shredding and be one of the last six or seven riders still on the lead lap at the end. Unfortunately survive is all I was able to do and there was no good opportunities to score points. There still aren't results but it sure seemed like the same four guys were scoring on every sprint.

And so, once again, Hellyer turned my attitude around. I was having a pretty grumpy week on the bike but a night of racing and hanging with good folk in the pits lifted the fog.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Middle Age Mediocrity

The finish line daze of a mediocre 26 year old Cat. 3-->>>>>

<-- The chimp-like starting line gaze of a mediocre Cat. 4 Master.

I have a really good deal at work. My watch goes off at 11:30. I duck into my lab in the basement, lock the door and -like a slow motion Clark Kent coming out of the phone booth as Superman- I come back out 5 minutes later in my bike gear carrying my bike. I swing a leg over and finish putting on gloves and glasses and maybe a jacket as I spin away from my building. About 8 minutes later I'm on my interval course, a 2.25 mile loop that is dead flat and borders the military golf course next to work with no stops and, except for the occasional errant golf cart, is traffic free.

For what it's worth, I began my Build 2 phase today (which is kind of fucking ridiculous since vacation and then work are going to completely destroy all this hard work... ) and so was doing a "threshold" workout where I rode upper zone 4, lower zone 5 for 30 minutes without interruption. If that means nothing to you then let's just say I went out and made myself hurt for 30 minutes. That's "hurt" not "HURT".

So basically it's 30 minutes at a notch just slightly down from a time trial pace. I timed each lap and, on the last lap of five I didn't hold back. I felt good, though the knees were complaining slightly and I had a slightly hard time getting on top of the right gear going into the wind. But it felt good to just crank out the last 20% at a higher level. On that dead flat course making a loop, I averaged an extremely mediocre speed of 23.1 mph. Okay, granted I was on a 15 year old bike with seven speed down tube shifters and heavy wheels and no aerobar but, still...

I clearly remember the first time I broke an hour for a 40 km time trial. It was a fantastic feeling to enter that club. Sure I had teammates who were knocking on the door of 53 minutes but I was in the 59" club and I belonged to the guys who weren't just slapping on aero bars and going through the motions. I could push my body to endure the pain and suffering to propel myself at over 25 mph for over a little under an hour. And it wasn't a fluke. I broke an hour for 40 km time trials at least three times total that I can remember.

I'm certainly not unique in that I raced as a young man, gave it up, then came back. But I don't seem to have picked things up where I left off like many of the other middle-age-crisis racers I know. I'm really scratching my head over it too. The main difference between now and then is that I now train with some amount of regiment. Back then I just rode my balls off every time I swung a leg over. Bike commuting was recovery and everything else was time trialling my regular routes or trying to prove my worth on group rides or pouring every ounce of myself into training races during the week and racing races on the weekends. I never could predict when I'd have a good ride or when I'd be unable to turn over my own feet to make a wheel turn.

I'm not sure what the lesson or message is here. And don't get me wrong, I feel like I'm cheating fate or destiny or something just to find myself at my old racing weight and being able to, once again but in a much more limited way, call myself a bike racer. But the mediocrity gets a little old. Maybe I'm just like Al Bundy sitting on the sofa telling the dog about his former glory. The truth is I was a spectacularly mediocre bike racer as a young man, too. But I always figured some age and wisdom and patience would make me a better racer than that young dumb and full of plumb kid I used to be. Ah well. Youth is wasted on the young, I guess. I have a much better life than he did anyway. I wouldn't really trade. I just want to borrow his legs a few weekends a year...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mount Hamilton Classic Road Race 2011

The race was a week ago and not that spectacular anyway so I'm kind of squeezing myself for any kind of a race report here tonight.

There was a 45+ group this year so, with those guys off in their own race, the pack was smaller than last year. But smaller meant faster. I started off smart and got myself up into the top 12 riders or so but it was quickly obvious that it was going to be a repeat of last year. By about ten minutes in I had a very high heart rate and just couldn't find a rhythm and get comfortable. Not too much later I realized some of the pack was slipping by and I was falling back. By minute 18 no one came by me and I looked back and... that was that. No more pack. PATHETIC!

From then on it was just survival. At the top of Mount Hamilton (the top after the observatory not the top at the observatory) I checked my time and saw 1:38, EXACTLY, the same time as last year.

I didn't have the same descending mojo as last year so I just got it done and, for the first time in about 20 times down that mountain, I got passed by someone going down. Ride ride ride. I was caught and dropped by several groups of 4 or 5 riders. I felt I could hang in with them but it seemed like I'd be risking a cramptastic day if I tried so I just let them ride away over and over again.

With about 18 miles to go I was caught up by a group of four riders, two of whom were in my race. We all rode it out together. I asked the two guys from my group if they were racing or just getting it done. One guy laughed and agreed it was survival mode while the other guy just kept quiet. Whatever. I tried to take my share of pulls and lead the mile before the last descent as well as the descent. At the bottom there was an ambulance in the road. I stopped since it was starting to pull out but the other two squeaked in front of it and rode off to the finish. With the ambulance gone, I rolled in and busted their balls a little bit for using an ambulance to shake me (all in good fun).

That was that. Oh, as I crossed the line I checked my computer and saw 3:49. EXACTLY the same time as last year!? WTF!!!??? I guess the difference is that this year I was just riding it. Last year it was a major goal for the year. I had better endurance this year too with no cramping and not the death march feel that last year had. That said, I was pretty disappointed with such a mediocre ride. I resolved to bottle that frustration and unleash it on my goal the next weekend, the TopSport Stage Race. So imagine my added frustration on Tuesday morning when I found out that race was cancelled (with only five days to go??? LAME!).

And so I decided to lead a team ride today and drove my stupid ass all the way to town and did the team ride all by myself and then drove my stupid ass back home (a 90 minute round trip). Grrr. I'm just generally frustrated and riding angry this week. I don't like that.

But on the bright side I had a nice family bike ride in the afternoon. I bought Jasper his first mountain bike yesterday (an 11" frame with 24" wheels) and got him dialed in today so he's not falling over all the time and is comfortable on it. He has no clue about shifting and I have to just bite my tongue since I just manage to piss him off evertime I try to "help" him but it's a beeyootiful thing to see him climb up a hill, turn around and come screaming down with a big old grin on that gorgeous little face. See? That's what bikes are supposed to do.