Friday, August 27, 2004

Thursday Night Criterium - Final Edition

Yesterday was the last Thursday evening criterium at Seward Park for the season. Luckily, the unusually wet weather (for this time of year anyway) paused long enough for us to get some racing in. They mixed up the format a bit, which made for probably the most fun race of the year. First, the normal format goes like this:
  • 15 laps
  • 2 primes of $10 each
  • Points for the first 6 positions

The special season end format worked as follows:
  • 15 laps
  • $1 to the winner of each lap
  • 2 primes of $10 each
  • 1 prime for Mariner's tickets
  • Win and out format after 10 laps

The last one was new to me. In a win and out format, the person that wins the first lap after the win and out begins, wins the race and stops. Everyone else continues for another lap to decide second place and the next person to stop. We started the win and out after 10 laps and raced for 6 positions. So, instead of having 1 big sprint finish....there were 6.

The first 10 laps were pretty competitive with all of the prizes up for grabs. At one point I found myself in front of the bunch and figured I'd go for the big score ($1). Unfortunately, leading is not where you want to be into the final sprint (up a hill, btw) and I got jumped and missed out.

Into the final laps I started to think strategy. I figured my chances of winning the race weren't high, but I could content for 3rd or so. So when the sprint for 1st came I was right there, but only to maintain my position. I didn't kill myself. For the remaining positions I was in all of the sprints, but couldn't pull it off. I still don't have the sprint I need. No big deal, it was a blast and the 6 sprint finishes left me beat and made the 20 mile ride home a little slower than usual. Time to start planning for next season....

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Carnation Race Update

In my last post about the Carnation circuit race I mentioned a bad crash that happened at the end of the event. Well, I guess it was as bad as it looked because the next day I saw this email to one of the local cycling email lists:
Hello all,

To the person who blatantly ran me off the road
straight into a metal stake at nearly 30mph: Please
come forward and tell me who you are.

This happened on Saturday during the 4/5 race on the
last lap. I was wearing the Seattle Super Squadra
jersey (white, green, red) and suffered major damage
to my bike and (thankfully) relatively minor damage to
my body. There was no excuse for this incident.

If anyone reading this knows who this person is please
let me know.

Wow, so I followed up with the guy to see what had happened to him and his bike. This was the response:
Broken carbon fork, broken Dura Ace shifters, taco'd
wheel, bent handlebars, missing heart rate monitor and
a severely tweaked lower back.

Ouch... I'll be curious to see if someone steps forward to take responsibility.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Broadmark Circuit Race #3

Today was the third installment of the Broadmark Circuit Race Series. I missed the first one because of guests and the second one was cancelled and became the subject of a different post. So this means it was my first (and last) race of the series.

The location was in the area of Carnation, WA. The route wound through beautiful (and flat!) farm country nestled in the Snoqualmie Valley. I often do training rides on these same roads, so it was very cool to race on them. I'm not sure how long each lap was, but my warmup lap took about 12 minutes. The cat 4/5 race was scheduled to go for 7 laps and got going under cloudy skies and a cool 70ish degrees.

Since this is the end of my first season I like to look at a race in terms of the progress I've made. At the Thursday night criteriums I can now hold my own and could probably go for a top finish if my tactics were a bit better. I was a bit nervous about this event since the weekend races tend to draw a more skilled crowd. I decided that finishing with the main pack was a good goal.

The first few laps had a quick pace, but I wasn't struggling to keep with the field. There weren't any big events to speak of, so I'll fast forward to the last lap. At this point I was still with the main group and was trying to maintain/improve my position for the final sprint. About 1/3 of the way into the lap I was toward the back of the peloton and trying to work my way up. At the half way point of the lap, tragedy struck. Someone a few riders up from me crashed. I didn't see what happened, but I did see his body fly into an irrigation ditch and to everyone's surprise his front tire bouncing through the peloton! It looked more like a car race as everyone tried to dodge the bouncing tire. I managed to avoid it, but the slow down pulled me off the back of the peloton and there was no getting back. Since it was the second half of the last lap, the pack was already steaming along at quite a pace.

Overall I am happy with my performance. Crashes will happen and its just a matter of time before one effects you. I suppose being further up in the pack might have helped, but you never know.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Funky Chainrings

Stories are starting to appear about the strange looking chainrings Bobby Julich was seen using during the Olympics. Some information can be found in this story as well as at the manufacturer's site. Unfortunately, I don't think there any reviews on them yet, but I asked the guys over at if they knew anything more about them (haven't heard back yet).

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

New Toy: Polar s725

I picked up a Polar s725 to replace my current bike computer and heart rate monitor. I've only been using it for a few days, but am quite happy so far. Hopefully I'll get off my ass and write a full review after I get some more time with it.

The tech/computer geek in me loves one thing about it-- graphs! Yep, you can download the data from the monitor and mess around with it using the provided software.

Today seemed like a perfect opportunity to play with graphs. After work, I rode from downtown Seattle to Seward Park, raced in a criterium and then rode 20 miles home. Below is the graph from the entire ride:

Can you guess which part of the graph was the race? Here's a zoom of that region:

In a prior post I talked about how racing places different stresses on you. These graphs clearly illustrate the point. Obviously my heartrate is quite a bit higher, as is speed, but take a close look at cadence (the green line). Notice that on every lap (the laps are just a bit obvious), the green line is dotted for a bit. These are periods when I wasn't pedalling. At that time my speed doesn't drop off too much and my heart rate goes down. The wonders of pack riding.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Boston Harbor Circuit Race

This morning I packed up the gear and headed south to Boston Harbon, WA (outside of Olympia) for the second of a series of 3 circuit races promoted by Broadmark Capital. The weather was beautiful and when I got to Boston Harbor I was greeted by water views and nice rolling hills. I couldn't wait.

As I pulled up to the registration area (a school) everything started to go bad. The gates to the parking lot were closed and as I rolled past, several people were giving me a thumbs down sign. Uh oh. I hopped out of the car and a quick chat with some of the racers confirmed by suspicions; the race had been cancelled. Apparently an email had been sent to some list I had never heard of announcing this fact. There was nothing else to do but turn around and head home.

As I drove I started to put the pieces together and realized I should have been suspicious. At Thurday's criterium, the organizer didn't know there was a race scheduled for Sunday (he announces the weekend events and usually knows everything) and commented that the Broadmark folks hadn't picked up any support gear. Hmmmm....

Later that evening I find the directions to the race to be lacking any detail. They basically said to drive to Olympia, turn on this street, etc. No exit numbers, mileage estimates, nothing. Hmmm... (fwiw, I made it to the race site with no problems)

I wanted to give these guys the benefit of the doubt, so when I came home I immediately when to their website to see if there was an announcement. Nope.

Next I went in search of this mysterious email list people mentioned. Sure enough, I found it and in the archives was an email from last night announcing the cancellation of the race. Of course, their website doesn't even mention this email list as the place to go for announcements! I guess it's my fault for not knowing.

Look, if any of the Broadmark people read this, today was a pathetic display of disorganization. Many people drove long distances for that race. In fact, I ran into one guy that had come in from San Francisco and your poor organization and communication cost everyone a lot of time and money (hey, driving a Jeep down there ain't free ya know).