Tuesday, November 4, 2014

School Yard CX

Being the one of a handful of knives at the gun fight is both humbling and relieving.  When that knife is just to the left of the 3 biggest guns at the race it is a little unnerving – just glad not to be in the next row back, which happens to be the last.  I don’t know if a smaller Open race is better than a bigger one where I see salaried pros lining up.  I am certainly guaranteed to get better points in the later situation but at this point I merely worry about the race and workout I will get for the hour after the whistle sounds.
After multiple, staggered recon laps I felt comfortable with the all encompassing course that was made on the grounds of what was obviously an elite K-12 institution.  Recess on a cross course – seems like cheating but still jealous as I had to play hookie to get ride time in during high school.  The mix of terrain and near perfect weather seemed to favor my skill set; I was looking forward to lining up which was in stark contrast to the hesitant and doubtful feelings I had the past weekend.
I had issues with the start: clicking in with the right foot was problematic and the attack isn't quite what it was early in the season.  Something I changed at the beginning of the season was using my non-dominate (left) foot to start, subsequently I push off with the right and get the second push from the dominate (stronger) leg.  It worked well in nearly every hole shot before the last couple of weeks. It is something I had seen in different elite riders, I contemplated the physics and theory behind it, and decided to make the switch.  Now that is settled, I just need to get that explosive 1000 watt power to back it up.
This circles me back to match burning – something I wanted to address and focus on for this race.  I had noticed my matchbook was dwindling in its scope but remained strong in a couple areas: I need more depth in that 20 to 30 second range as well as the 4 to 6 minute range.  I am satisfied in the other areas and deem these as weaknesses as I’ve found that during those times I need those matches is when I start conceding spots.
The longer match seems to have come back around, evidenced in my fifth and sixth laps of the race when the front end of the 35+ Open race caught up with me.  The leader came around me on the fifth lap with a healthy 8 to 10 second lead on second place, I decided to see what my legs could do 35 minutes into the race.  I hung on, got a second wind, and ended up leading him around the course for the second half of the lap.  When we came past the pit for the first time on lap 6 and headed up through the chicanes into the first small climb I bobbled and 3 of the 35+ guys came around.  I hung for as long as I could but their skills and experience bested me and a small gap formed.  I was able to reel them back in and brought 4th place along with me, he passed me and I felt absolutely gassed on the grass sections before and after the barriers on the last lap.
I wanted to completely obliterate my legs at this race knowing I would probably not get a good ride in for the next 2 days and not be back on a real bike for well over a week.  I saw Jeff Cospolich coming up on me when the off camber section started and I knew I couldn't let him pass me – for what reason I don’t know but I know he had no idea I felt that way.  I dug where I could and tried to lay off the brakes as much as possible.
One major takeaway from this race was watching what faster riders do in certain sections: pedal through the top – always.  Every time I saw a faster rider crest a hill he always pedaled further after the crest than I did – a quick 2 to 3 second gap would form and I had to fight to reel him back in.  Just multiply that over the typical 7 to 8 laps laps and you have at least a 15 second advantage if there is just one of those sections.  There were 3 of those sections in a 7 lap race – 51 seconds!
The good news is my technical skills are at or even exceeding the level they need to be at and as is my MO the barrier/running sections are in my favor.  I was able to make passes 3 of the 7 laps in the one barrier section of the race.  What could have gone better? The start, still a work in progress as I need to balance my skill level and my comfort level in this group.  My dang stem bolts: I use a Thomson “road” stem and the latest incarnation uses 3 mm face bolts where the older molder used 4 mm.  Not sure is the actual interface changed as well but this is the second race where a bumpy section made a sudden loud crack echo from the front end, I believe 2 of those happened during this race.  By the end by bar had rotated at least 20 degrees down – not a comfortable hand position but not so bad as to make me pit without someone to fix it.
Nationals remain on the horizon but have become a second guess.  I have set the races 2 weeks from now as the deciding factor in my participation in Austin.
The TrainingPeaks data, if you care to dork out.

No comments:

Post a Comment