Tuesday, May 18, 2010

WestLake Crit: Learning to Sprint

Tonight I finally made it out to a Westlake Crit training race. I had always wanted to go but found stupid reasons not to go before. I have to admit, my confidence in racing was really low. I'm doing real road races and also moving up a class in Mountain Biking. I should be ramping up my fitness and I should be feeling good, I've done everything right, but my first two races ended in complete failure. I got dropped from the field on the first couple laps each time, leaving me with nothing to show for it. So there were a couple weeks where I couldn't bring myself to go race. It tore me apart to do this and I hated that I had got to this point. I had glimpses of greatness on some of my training rides, won a bunch sprint with the Summit Freewheelers and had some good moments but when it came to race day, I had nothing.

So today I decided to hell with it, I'm going. I packed up and on the way there my wheel flies off my roof rack and bounces down rush hour traffic on 77 north. Luckily it bounces into the median and not into traffic, wheel is ok and the wheel carriers will be used no more. I arrive at the race and just as I'm signing in, a familiar white car pulls in. Now I'm freaking out, I haven't seen this person since spring break and there's still bad feelings. I decide to not let this person ruin my race, I was going to ride my race.

My main goal is to finish this race. I just wanted to ride smart and be at the finish with the group. It's also a mixed field of the lowest three categories (I'm in the lowest) so I know there will be some fast people in it. We start off and I make my way to the front, safest place to be, and easiest to react to moves by other riders. My big problem has always been cornering, I have never felt confident in my cornering but today with new tires on, it was a huge difference. I didn't have to brake going into the corner and I was pushing hard in each corner and came nowhere near pushing the tires past their grip threshold. With that problem solved I was able to stay near the front the entire race, only going to the back once to rest after a sprint.

A couple laps in the primes started. For those who don't know, primes are races within the race. Every couple laps the bell is rung and a prize is displayed. Whoever crosses the line first on the next lap wins the prize. There were no breakaways in the race today so every prime was a sprint. The perfect chance for me to work on my sprinting. I decided to have some fun and go for every prime. In total I sprinted for 7 primes today. I won one, and finished in second in 3 or four. One I lost by only a wheel length at the line. Each one I was topped out at 30 mph, and my fastest was 34.6 mph which is a new personal best for me. Overall, I was very pleased with my showing. At one point the pace was slowing and I was feeling good, and I decided to try for a break, so off the front I went, it didn't last long, but it was worth a shot. Then a couple laps later, that unnamed person took a chance and went for a breakaway. If it stuck I wasn't going to let them get away with it, so I quickly jumped on their wheel and followed them till we got reeled back in.

After having to add another lap because a car slowed us down right before the start finish line, we came around for the final sprint. At this point I had burnt all my matches and there was no way I was going to be able to sprint for the win. I ended up midpack but I'm ok with that. I finished in the pack and that was my goal. I also did a lot of sprint practice and I think I really animated the race. I got a lot of comments on my race and the big one was that I was a sprinter. Who thought the skinny climber could hold his own in a sprint. I had an inkling but I'm glad I got to test my legs. The important part is I had a ton of fun. I'll be there next week.

Thanks for Bike Authority, Camba, Rudy Project, Kenda Tires, Crank Brothers, and Ritchey products for supporting me in my racing.

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