26 August, 2011

Summer wrap-up part 3: Provincial TT and Pre-cyclocross musings

Part 3/3 of the recap of my Summer racing and training...

Ontario Provincial TT Championship

This would be the last of my racing efforts for the pre-cyclocross season. I had a few more

weeks of training since the Binbrook TT and really hoped to put in a good ride. That all fell apart about 15 km into the race.

I don't know exactly what the problem is/was, but some residual tightness in my hips causes some misalignment and on the TT bike where the saddle is not as supportive this is exaggerated. The result was a lot of pain on the bike even when not really going that hard, never mind pushing a TT effort. By lap 2 of the course I was not even trying, worried that I'd injure myself further jeopardizing the rest of my season.

The published splits tell a lot - my first 20 km in 28:38, 12th place. That was with a significant drop in effort for the last 5 km. Lap 2 I pretty much shut it down, bringing my total time up to 1:00.01 and 17th place. It was not the result I was looking for, but that was largely outside of my control. I really should have stayed on top of tightness and asymmetry leading up to the event but had never had such a problem as a result to indicate it was this much of an issue.

Preparation for Cross Season

With the TT behind me, everything now is working toward cyclocross. Training is going as planned, with a couple weeknight mtb races and club rides for intensity and lots of cyclocross practice.

Also taking up a lot of time is planning for my race, the Firemen's Park Cross. Being my first time organizing a race, there is lots to learn but so far it's been a pretty smooth process. It appears everything is going to go off successfully. I hope everyone enjoys themselves and the course, and that this event can become an annual thing in one form or another.

My schedule for the fall is posted, including some events I'm not 100% sure I'll be doing. In any case that's the core of it, and I look forward to seeing everyone at the races and getting back into the whole cross season routine.


Look for more updates soon, as I have an interesting development in the way of competition with the one and only Chandler Delinks.

25 August, 2011

Summer wrap-up part 2: Binbrook 40k TT and lots of MTB

Continued recap of my Summer racing and training...

HCC Binbrook 40k TT

Having planned to do one of these all year, I finally made it out to a HCC club TT which was run very well and gave me a much needed opportunity to practice the 40k distance for provincials. I had a good ride, doing the course in 53:45, just over three minutes slower than Darko. With this under my belt, I felt good about the pacing for Provincials and hoped to improve on this effort.

"Hamilton Endurance Ride"

Jeff Landry has been putting these rides together on a roughly annual basis since about the time I got into racing. I've done a few of them, the first in 2008 when I was significantly less capable, and again in 2009 when I taco-ed a wheel fairly early into the ride. I skipped the 2010 edition, but returned for this year's which was to be taken in the opposite (anti-clockwise) direction and included lots of new (to most of us) trails.

These rides circumnavigate Hamilton and Dundas taking in most of the local trails along the way, climbing and descending the escarpment many times. The full route is over 100 km and is mostly off road except for short connecting sections and the stretch along the waterfront between Hamilton and Burlington.

Starting at Cafe Domestique in Dundas, somewhere around 23 of us set out for this ride. The first section along the escarpment which was supposedly going to take around 3 hours turned out to be more like 4.5 due to many flats and bent derailleur hangers. This really challenged our water rationing and also set the tone for the day's pace. At this rate we would not complete the whole route, which was fine as in the end we still did the intended duration of roughly 8.5 hours. Lots of technical escparpment trail was ridden and for the most part I think everyone enjoyed themselves. I cruised up the King Rd climb from Burlington to the trailhead in Waterdown gradually distancing myself from the others despite Jeff (wisely) having called off the KOM competition. I definitely need to return there to climb that on my road bike as it was a very nice extended climb for Southern Ontario.

After the ride Mr. and Mrs. Monster hosted us for a great BBQ at their place in Dundas where we all refueled and recounted stories of the day. Miraculously I had no crashes or mechanicals, failing to live up to my reputation and generating no particularly interesting stories.

Duke's Summer Epic 8h MTB Relay

For no particular reason I felt compelled to do this event. It would be a good way to put lots of time on the bike and practice my off-road handling. I recruited fellow Niagara resident and SHCC member Ryan to put our previous tag team back together: "SHCC - What's the Rush?"

We travelled up to Hardwood hills and met up with all of the other SHCC folks. For no particular reason we decided Ryan would head out first and we'd do double laps all day until the end when we might switch to singles to finish it off. It was around this time I remembered the 34t cog on my cassette was a little bent, so I went in to see Benno at the shop and decided to throw a 12-36 HG-61 cassette on. This would prove to be very nice later in the day, given that I was running a single 36t ring in front.

Ryan and I tagged off after his first two laps and I set out just below O-Cup pace, riding carefully as I did not know the course. I felt really good, and picked it up a bit for lap 2 putting in almost the same time for that lap. It was Ryan's turn for 2 more and I ate a bit, drank some water and got ready to go again. Feeling good, I again headed out and put in a quick lap, but the second of this set did not go so well. I cramped up early and often in this lap, and it only got worse as the day went on. To make things worse, we were now in 2nd place so we had some reason to keep trying in order to hold on to this and see if we could catch the "Lapdogs Tom and Larry Show" who were leading.

I cramped lots more, and later found out Ryan was suffering just as much as I was out there in different ways. In the end we held on to 2nd but my body was not happy. It hadn't been to receptive to food all afternoon and though I was drinking upwards of 1.5 L/h I was still very dehydrated. It took a lot to recover from this one, but in the end it was probably worthwhile.

Next: Ontario Provincial TT and Pre-cyclocross musings

24 August, 2011

Summer wrap-up part 1: Detroit and Windsor Crits

While certainly not timely nor regular, my posts on here have at least settled into a good rhythm and without full race reports for each event I am not constantly behind. Due to the amount of material I am going to split this into three posts over the coming days.

Since the last post I did indeed race two more crits and TT provincials, both of which were pretty huge failures for very different reasons. I also did the Hamilton Cycling Club Binbrook 40k TT, a social but nonetheless pretty epic mtb ride and an 8h mtb relay in between. All of those things went surprisingly well.

Criterium Detroit City

The Ciociaro Club Criterium, the 6th race on the O-Cup circuit for 2011 was held on a closed track in Windsor. The day before a criterium was run in downtown Detroit, so a few of us headed over to race that as a warm up. It turned out to be a very well run event for a first time race, and the course was moderately technical but fairly open through the streets of downtown Detroit. The race went pretty well for me, really, though the heat was not making it easy. I closed down a few gaps and tried a couple attacks, once bridging up to a fairly strong but not so organized break. In the end I was positioned fairly poorly for the bunch sprint, and there was a crash in the final corner. I avoided it by going wide up on to the sidewalk and back on to the road under the tape, rolling in for 30-something-th.

Ciociaro Club O-Cup

The Ciociaro O-Cup itself was a bit of a priority for me, one of my last chances to earn some needed upgrade points on the Ontario circuit. The race was not very interesting to start, and I found myself away with one other strong cat 3 who I had raced with before. we quickly gained a lot of time on the group, maybe 20 seconds in a matter of a couple laps, but with only the two of us it quickly was brought back as soon as they recognized the danger of letting us get any further ahead. While recovering from that effort, the big break of the day checked out, and it was full of strong riders. Four in total got clear and at least two of them were guys I knew could win this race.

Sticking to my plan, I intended to bridge to this move while it was still in sight but after the gap was established. Other strong riders left in the pack had the same thought as me, but decided this was going to happen about half a lap sooner than I'd have liked. I was too far back, and was playing catch up with the bridging group from the beginning. Six of us tried, got clear, but only four made it across. I was not one of those four. Now the break was 8 riders, with 15 remaining in the bunch. Normally this wouldn't be a terrible situation, but the break contained all but three of the stronger cat 3s and it also contained no Juniors. That last point proved to be fatal as more than 50% of the remaining 15 were Juniors with no reason to chase the break at all. As such there was a lot of dead weight and only a couple of us making any effort to chase. Add to that SRS and CHCH blocking for their riders in the break, and there was pretty much nothing we could do.

The organizer Dylan was giving us good updates over the PA each lap, but unfortunately I think the updates the break was receiving were even more useful as they knew when the chase was gaining ground and were able to pick up their pace accordingly. I would take a pull of one or two full laps on the front and bring back 10 seconds on the break. Then someone else would hit the front and let the gap go out 20, so we were constantly losing ground despite the efforts of a few of us. Had there been another two or three taking pulls like mine, we would have had the break back in less than 6 laps but most of the guys capable of doing this were either in the break or Juniors, so it did not happen.

In the end, the Juniors picked things up in the last 5 laps and raced their race. For the rest of us it was over long before and I simply cruised in at the back of the bunch, disappointed.

Next: Binbrook 40k TT and lots of MTB

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