After the trek through the Pyrenees back in August, I decided to have a rest day by hiring a cheap bicycle to explore the surrounding mountains in the Pyrenees, it was an awesome ride getting soaked up in the amazing vista of each twist of the road.
It also got me thinking about the bicycle in general, during my short jaunt around the Pyrenees on a hired bicycle, I never thought about how stiff that Orbea Aqua is (horribly so), the tight clearance with the 25mm tyres rubbing against the chainstay, or the odd levers/handlebar shape that I find a little uncomfortable trying to brakes from the hood and the drop.
All I remember thinking was admiring every single small thing I notice on the road, hell, I didn’t even notice how uncomfortable the saddle was until the last flat 15km ride back into Luchon.
Perhaps the expensive carbon job with one extra cog and hand-made tyres make it more enjoyable, or perhaps I might not even notice the marginal gain in climbing with a lighter wheels, all I remember is that I enjoyed that day.
Glad to get that monkey off my shoulders. (semi race report)
didn’t think i’d need to respond to this post of mine about racing advice so quickly, regarding that elusive mass start win i sought.
Well Im happy to report that yesterday I got the victory I craved based heavily on race tactics that I made from ‘learning from past races (mistakes).’
rewind to last year. Turkey Hill Mens ¾ Race, I’m the guy on my back near the sign post…. It was the only time i crashed in 2013 and it was one of the worst i’ve been in. Scary fast downhill finish with fellow racers thinking they can sprint from 1k out and hold it. With nowhere to go the front racers ‘die’ and then are slammed into from behind by other riders…. So this really affected how i was going to ride this race. I definitely wanted to ride this race though because Turkey Hill the ice cream company sponsors it, so free ice-cream after is always a good incentive to race bicycles!!! wahoo!
Needless to say this year I did not want to bunch sprint at all. I had 2 teammates with me yesterday and PLAN A was to lead out one of my teammates who likes sprinting. In the lead out i would peel off way before things got hairy. I still wasn’t quite 100% on this idea due to fear, but I wanted to help the team as best I could. I also said that I could make the race hard from the gun and try to get rid of some of the 94 registrants in the race.
The first 4 laps I rode this set of rolling hills pretty hard, and got into unintentional breaks twice due to the pace shedding the field behind. We were brought back, all 3 times this happened. I rode on the front (90% of he time) for 4 of 7 laps, then decided to pack sit top 20 the last 3 laps looking for my teammate. On the last run into the finish, with about ~4.5k miles to go, I looked behind and didn’t see my teammates in the pack of 50. A friend on another team said our sprinter crashed and other teammate waited. So PLAN B, kicked into my mind. I felt fresh and maybe, just MAYBE could stay out of trouble for a sprint. I wanted to make the best of the race, for the team. As i was thinking this, another friend on another team (in pink jersey, yea I’m really thankful for these relationships!) said “Nathan take my wheel!” He brought me to the last 2km, and dropped me off!
So here’s where I used what I learned last year and applied it to this year. I told myself that I would not get caught behind all the anxious sprinters, sprinting from 1k out. I decided to read the race, read the pace of lead outs, and ride in the wind myself, hopefully* staying within my self (power effort wise). I did this from 1.5k to 1k to go. When 1k sign came, i saw trains starting to kick off quick, and i upped the cadence to stay on par. I was next to, them not trying to pass, but not trying to drift back. At 800m, i saw in my peripheral vision people starting to rock and roll their arms out of the saddle. Behind and next to me, I heard yells, i heard carbon breaking, i heard tubes popping…. I knew the pack got into a bad way. I continue to pedal hard and didn’t look back. At 500m to go, i realized that I had stayed out of the trouble behind, and had a true sniff of the finish with a small group of 7 still upright. With a downhill finish, it’s so tempting to open the sprint early. At 300m to go, i see a racer on my left open up the taps. I knew this was too early and again, upped my cadence to stay level, until about 200m to go. THIS WAS GO TIME. we were spread across the road and when I started my sprint, i was just a half a wheel behind racer on the left. I then kicked it down to the biggest gear I had 53/12 and began pulling away with 50m to go. It then dawned on me…. that I had won. I put my hands in the air and celebrated with a loud YEAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!! Was super stoked and ate many hot dogs in celebration. Made 150$ too. 20 people crashed yesterday, and 4 people went to hospital. I hate it when racers crash and hope they all* heal up.
With this win, and this race. I can respond and say that the process of ‘how’ to win really came into play and using previous knowledge of the parcour, and being able to adapt to the ever changing race dynamics. I am ‘udder’ly thrilled to have brought the team a W! =)