Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sun, Jan 30

Eventually, the weather had to turn to what it is supposed to do during this time of the year: rainy and cold. Expectedly, a lot less cyclists showed up today for the 4th weekend of the Early Bird Clinics and Criteriums. Luckily the rain stopped just in time for the 11:45am clinic, and it stayed dry until end of my race at 2:30pm. With about 20 riders in my group, the race got off to a fast start, thanks to one guy doing most of the pulling. I even got into a breakaway with two others, but it only lasted for one lap, before we were gulped up by the pack. From then on until a couple of laps before the finish, the race got pretty slow. All of us who had done most of the work at the front, were content to be recovering, so by the time the pace picked up again in the last two laps, I was good to give it a better shot at sprinting for the finish. Today I was more patient and waited a little longer before starting the sprint, and going 32mph, I could hold on for 3rd place. Looks like I am getting better at this. Looking for sponsors now ;-).

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sun, Jan 23

The last Sunday and this Sunday today were the Early Bird Clinic and Criterium #2 and #3 in Fremont. The temperatures went from mid-40's two weeks ago, to close to 60 last weekend, and today we had spring-like weather hitting 70 degrees, allowing us to shed full-finger gloves, and arm and leg warmers.

While last week's clinic focused on cornering, it was sprinting today, an ideal method to wear you out before the race actually starts. So by the end of that 1-hour workout, we all felt toast, so I had to revert to a toast of another kind (the one with Nutella on it) in order to overcome that tiredness. I was closer to taking a nice 2-3 hour nap, than racing for 40 minutes around the block. Soon though I felt better, and waited for my race to start. Just like last Sunday, the start was delayed due to a crash in the prior 30-44 Cat 5 race. Today, one rider had swerved to much during the final sprint, and he catapulted himself off the bike, hitting the pavement hard. After the ambulance had taken him away, we finally started our race. Due to the delay and in order to not mess up the day's schedule, our race was shortened to about 30 minutes. Just like the last two weekends, I tried to stay at the front (not "on the front"), and was maybe 5th coming into the last turn, with 600m to go, when the sprint was on. I was hitting 31 mph, and finished 9th (of 48 riders) as per my account; last week, I was somewhere between 12th and 15th of about 50 riders. Regardless, I was happy again to place well; average for the race: 24 mph. Since the Early Bird Criteriums are not official but training races, there's no official account of the results. There are two more weekends scheduled for the Early Bird Criteriums, with the race on the last weekend being an official, not training race. This is what will count.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tue, Jan 11

Happy New Year 2011 !

For me, the 2011 race season is already one race old. Last Sunday, the first of five installments of the Early Bird Clinics and Criteriums was held in Fremont. With temperatures in the mid-40's, it was a cold day. If it weren't for the event, I would have preferred to stay home. But if you have some racing ambitions, you have to brave the odds.

Sunday's clinic covered paceline riding. After a few chaotic laps on the 2.2km course, we got our act together, and managed to ride nicely for the remaining laps. Immediately after the clinic, the Cat 5 30-44 group was about to start. All my team mates in the 45+5 group, slated for a start 45 minutes later, abandoned me, and opted to race in the lower age group instead. Smart move, because now I was the one having to wait another 45 minutes longer in the cold. Eventually, my race started, for 10-11 laps or 40 minutes. I tried to stay close to the front throughout all laps, and counter all surges. All worked well, and with about 200m to go, I found myself in 2nd place. With maybe 100m to go, I tried to get past the first rider, and then finally out-sprinted him, only to get pipped on the line but another rider who came from behind. I only would have needed maybe 3 seconds to win the race, but was happy with 2nd place regardless. I hope this was not just a glimpse of pure luck.

Next on the calendar:
1/16 Early Bird Clinic and Criterium #2
1/23 Early Bird Clinic and Criterium #3
1/30 Early Bird Clinic and Criterium #4
2/6 Ronde van Brisbeen Criterium
2/13 Early Bird Clinic and Criterium #5
2/26 Snelling Road Race
3/13 Menlo Park Criterium
3/27 Bariani Road Race

By end of March, I should be eligible for a Cat 4 upgrade.
My goals for these races: finish or better, finish in the pack, and leave no skin on the road.