Thursday, May 26, 2011

2011 Tour de Champaign

It has been a while since I have posted a race report or a blog of any sort. I have found it a challenge to allocate time to blogging. In the past, I have always been too much a perfectionist in searching for the right words, adding relevant links, and embedding lots of pictures. All that takes time and can be draining. Going forward, my first priority will be to simply record my thoughts. If there is any time left, I'll make them look prettier. I find the race reports especially useful to review when I return to a race I have done before and I hate that there is a 2 year gap in the record. It's good to try to learn from past experience and improve next time.

The weekend of May 21-22 marked the third edition of the Tour de Champaign criteriums. I missed racing on Saturday for my kids' birthday parties, but I served as a volunteer course marshal for the masters, cat 3, and Pro/1/2 races.

First up for me on Sunday was the Masters 4/5 30+, the old and slow race. There were only 14 riders in the field, which featured 6 Wild Cards (Dan, Art, Karl, John, Jim, and me). I tried to get away early, but it wasn't an overly ambitious attack. I was mostly just trying to open up my legs and test the other teams and I was brought back after 1/2 lap or so. At that point, there were only 7 left in the lead pack, but two teammates were still around: the big diesel engines of Jim and John. I went to the back to rest. A few laps later, 2 riders jumped off the front (Frank from Team Mack and Jon from Bloomington Cycle). Jim was in a position to follow and I paused a bit to see how he would respond. He tried initially, but didn't have the legs to stay with it. I had mostly recovered, so I bridged up. Frank and Jon welcomed a third set of legs because they were a little tired. With 3 of us pulling, all would be guaranteed a podium as long as nobody quit. We worked well together and did about equal work, but I was tiring toward the end and my pulls didn't feel particularly strong. In the end, they were good enough to keep us in front. I pulled the 2nd to last lap (or was it the 3rd to last), then dropped to the back. I came around the last corner in third wheel, facing a headwind sprint. I came around Jon and was able to nip him, but Frank was a bike length or so ahead of me. Ironically, we finished from oldest to youngest. (I thought young guys made better sprinters, but maybe I will get faster with age.) I was my first podium in a crit (or anything other than TT and tri), so I was pretty happy.

Here is my race profile. I reached 180 bpm on the final sprint, which was into a stiff headwind and slightly uphill.

Scott (2nd), Frank (1st), and Jon (3rd)

Jennifer and the kids made it downtown after church to watch me in the cat 4 race, which was fast from the start. The field was modestly sized at 21 riders, but had several 18-24 year-olds who had not yet raced that day (and sadly, no Wild Card teammates.)

Cat 4 Start

About 20 minutes into the race, there was a group of 3 off the front and the main pack was crumbling. (I think it might have been two leaders and one chaser, but there were a total of 3 up the road.) The pace stayed high for a while, and I mostly dangled at or near the rear of the main pack, while riders were popping off at a rate of about 1 per lap.

Early in the race, it is already getting hard

Just when I was about ready to pop myself, the race miraculously slowed. At that point, there were 7 left in my group. Later, with about 6 laps to go, 3 guys jumped out of the group, trying to bridge to the leaders. That shattered the group and I wound up in the middle with Jacques from xXx, while the other 3 dropped behind us. Jacques was a little stronger than me, but not strong enough to follow the attack or try to bridge. He worked with me (and probably did 2/3 of the work) until the second turn on the final lap, at which point he simply rode me off his wheel. No one was threatening me from behind and I was really feeling the effects of the heat, so I soft pedaled home into 7th. (There were actually 7 ahead of me, but one of the leaders crashed out on the last lap.)

As a bonus, Jennifer and the kids were in the race coverage that aired on the 10 pm TV news (WCIA channel 3). They were shown close-up, watching the race from a sidewalk bench.

Here is my cat 4 race profile. Note the pace of the first 15 laps or so, followed by the relative calm. No sprint in this race, but I stayed north of 170 bpm for most of 44 minutes of racing.

Saturday results - lots of Wild Cards represented, including 8 in the cat 4/5 race. Nice job Luke taking 5th in a big field. Props also to Jason and Jim for pulling double duty.
Sunday results

Lunch Downtown at Guido's - more pictures

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