Welcome to The Wheel Racing....

Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.
George S. Patton

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Spring Fling 02/23

After riding over 1200 miles from the first of the year combining spinning classes at The Wheel, rollers, commuting, plus a great deal of miles outdoors including two 80 plus mile days, two centuries at the beginning of February, a ferocious possum attack that nearly severed my leg, ice filled beards, hands so cold they would surely shatter in to a million pieces if I tried to shift or brake, and so many “You’re insane” comments, I was feeling pretty ready to prove myself in a race.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, or if the races would even be held due to the snow that fell the previous Thursday.  But, low and behold, come Saturday morning the announcement was official.  Races were a go!  With an hour delay, I was able to throw everything together last minute and rush out to Clinton Lake, KS for a day of seeing what I was made of.  

It was a typical race day for me; got to the race, registered, checked out the course, warmed up…  I’ve done it a few times before so nothing really surprised me.  Even with 8 or so inches of snow on the ground, the powers that be did a fantastic job clearing the course.  It was spotless and totally dry!  My props and gratitude to those that worked on it.

My first race was in the 3/4’s.  27 racers started the shortened 40 minute race with the ferocity of a sloth.  We completed the first lap at a speed that made me feel as if we were out for a Sunday afternoon spin around town.  Lap two, no change.  So I went.  Alone.  At race pace.  (YAY!  RACE SEASON!)

I chose not to look back as I sped off from the pack.  There was no point.  If they wanted to follow me, they would.  I was there to see what I had and if I had what it takes.  No one followed though.  No one even flinched.  No one acted as if they gave a care in the world that I went alone so soon in the race.  Pretty soon I was 30 seconds out front of the peloton wondering if I was in a parade strutting my stuff for a couple of free laps, flaunting my feathers for the few brave souls that came out to cheer us on.  “You see that name on my jersey?  That’s right!  It reads: The Wheel Cyclery.  And I came here to race!”

I kept pushing, kept going, kept focusing on my pace and not slowing down.  I was NOT going to let the pack catch me.  I was NOT going to waste this effort.  I was NOT going to prove myself wrong.  

After what seemed to be 6, or maybe 7 laps two other riders broke from the pack.  I would check back on their, and the peloton's, progress as I rounded a couple of the corners of the course as I pushed myself around.  They made slow progress to catch me, but catch me they did. 

With the confidence and positive attitude of a veteran racer out having fun, the first rider came up alongside me and asked if we could all work together, not trying to sprint past me, but rather showing me respect and waiting for my answer.  He seemed strong and smart.  I didn’t actually look at him, just down at his bike as I answered, “Sure!  That would be great!”

So it was settled; Garrick, Conner, (I learned their names as we worked together.) and I ventured off together in an attempt to leave the field no hope of ever catching us.  

I would say that we worked well together, very well.  Nothing was said regarding who should be pulling, who isn’t working hard enough or long enough.  Nothing negative was said at all in fact!  Motivation was the name of the game.  Conner blew me away, and instantly impressed me with his attitude, positive motivations, and strength throughout the rest of the race.  Conner’s wheel was the wheel to watch.  Conner was the rider I felt could possibly make a break from us as he seemed to accelerate just faster than Garrick and I.  Don’t get me wrong, Garrick was just as strong, but he wasn’t showing the fresh attitude of Conner; neither was I though.  This was a race and I was studying my opponents as we continued to pull further away from the field.  Where was the peloton?!  Jeeze!  They were no longer in site!  

Our pulls seemed to be timed perfectly; each one of us taking our fair share at the front, complimenting each other, showing each other respect and staying focused.  We decided to work together until one or two laps were left in the race. 

There’s the peloton!  They were in front of us, not behind us!  

Three laps to go. 

Two laps to go-still working together.  

One to go.

Still working together.  I feigned being tired and pulled off the side to catch their wheels and let them pull me around the last lap.  The back stretch of the course had a slight rise, right turn and a flat ¼ mile leg, and then a right turn with a slight downhill sprint to the finish.  I waited for this portion of the course to gauge my opponents, to feel them out and make my move.  Half way down the flat leg before the last right hand turn I jumped.  Conner slowed a bit causing Garrick to slow as well.  This is where I attacked as I knew it would take them that extra second to respond.  I had an instant gap and didn’t let my body sit back down until the turn only to stand and attack again.  For a second I thought I had it!  But half way down the straightaway Garrick flew past me as if I were sitting still.  Crap.  But Conner couldn’t respond. 

So there is it.  Race one for the year; second place, and a sprint prime.  

The second race of the day was the 2/3's.  I wasn't sure what to expect with this race as I haven't held up well against 2's in the past and I only had around 30 minutes between races.  But no matter.  I was here to race and test my limits!  

Brrr!  The temperature dropped a few degrees between races so I had to throw on some extra layers to stay warm for this bout.  I was also running a little late; the last person to show up to the line with a minute to spare before the start.  Right away I noticed to teams lined up, Velotech and Cycle City, and knew this was going to be a race of tactics and strength.   

Sure enough, as soon as the whistle blew, Velotech and Cycle City each sent a man on the attack and held every one else at bay.  And that was the theme for the rest of the race.  They did a fantastic job at it also.  After a number of laps of this, knowing that no one else was doing any work, or making an attempt at reeling the breakaways back in I decided that, again, I was here to race and test myself.  So off I went, taking matters into my own hands.  

I figure I made around 6 attempts at bringing the riders out front back in to the folds of the peloton with no success.  I would attack, get a small gap, the peloton would catch my wheel and let me drag them closer, only to engulf me and push me back to the back for my rest before my next attempt.  

Ugh, ah well.  I kept trying and trying.  I never gave up and was the only one in the chase groups that made put forth any effort in taking charge of the race again.  I listened for the prime laps and stole one away from the peloton during the race.  Even though I didn't succeed, I still tried and got a great ride in for the day.

I had not realized it, but during the final laps we apparently did pull most every one back together.  I guess my efforts paid off...for every one else.  Going in to the last lap I knew I was pretty fatigued and decided to let the others do the work around our final lap.  The problem with that?  I didn't have the energy left to stick with them!  Half way around the final lap I was off the back, but not done fighting.  I kept them as close as possible and even stood up to sprint for the finish even though I was on my own. 

So there that it.  Race two for the year; tenth place, and a sprint prime. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Anticipation- The Flavor of Spring

     When Punxsutawney Phil pokes out his furry little head on February 2, he sets in motion a flurry of emotions. Is spring coming? Is it coming NOW? How about NOW? Okay, lets be honest, the emotion is best described as anticipation. Whether spring is six weeks away, or a month and a half away (that's the deal, right? I'm always confused) we are eager for the snow to melt, the roads to be rinsed of their salty and sandy debris, and the sun to stay up past 6pm. Even better if it would warm up enough to ride without an arsenal of winter apparel designed for deep tundra exploration...
    In the meantime, we wait. And  wait. And curse the trainer. And Wait... After four months or more on the trainer, it is hard to stay motivated to get on that stinking trainer! You start giving it the stinkeye whenever you pass it, and think of excuses not to ride (I walked to the mailbox twice today! that counts, right?). But if you get sidelined now, you might as well right off an entire winter of trainer hours, winter rides, cross training, and strength training.
    So how do you stay motivated? I have a plan, and I will share it, as long as you promise to use this power for good and not evil. Agreed? Well, read on.

Step 1. Buy something cool and new. Make it expensive if you can. When you have new stuff, it is more fun to ride, and you want to ride more. We've all seen first hand the effect a new bike can have. You are motivated to ride, so you ride more, you are riding more so you become stronger, your progress is encouraging, so you ride even more. This phenominom is refered to as "new-bike effect" and it trickles down to small purchases too! If you are lucky, your new purchase may even have the added benefit of actually making you faster, like wheels with nice cartridge bearings.

Step 2. Register for an event that you are not ready for. It needs to be challenging; something that you would be unable to do without atleast some preparation. This works on two planes. First, you will be motivated to train for your event. Second, the event itself is excellent training. Think of it as a tune-up to an event that you are eyeing for this summer.  There are lots of spring training races in the midwest. You could try the Spring Fling Race Series at Clinton Lake. Or, if charity rides are more your thing, you could do the Rising From Ashes Charity Ride for Team Rwanda.

     So fill out your registration form, get excited about some new toys, and brave the cold icky roads. It's all about staying focused and motivated, whatever tricks you have to play on yourself to do it. Because spring is just six weeks away!