Me against Him

Me against Him
Racing a BMW

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A whole lot all at once

So it's been a while...... A lot has been going on since the last time I even thought about writing on this thing. I guess I should start at the last post and go from there.

Collegiate season ended and then I did two regular crits. One of them was the Spartanburg edition of speed week. I decided I would attack on the very first lap, before the first turn. I was joined by two other guys at the end of the first lap. I lasted three laps with them, I was doing a lot- probably too much- of work. I ended up getting dropped because I started feeling like I was going to explode out of two of my openings involving food. I didn't want that to happen so I sat up and rejoined the group. From there only one of the guys in the original break stayed away. A bunch of people crashed a few times, I mangaged to avoid them and ended up getting 5th in the sprint. I got some money and that was cool.
After that race I did the POA blair cup race. I felt good the whole race and raced pretty smart until the last lap I took the wrong line in a turn and got boxed in to the back half of the pack. Going into the sprint I was in about 20th position. I finished 14th, but two lapped guys got in my way and caused a huge traffic jam. That was frustrating.

Since all that I haven't done much other than work and not ride. I took about 2 weeks off, not totally I just rode when I wanted to, then there was a week straight of evening ride ruiners I like to call thunder storms. I managed to get one good ride in the last 3 weeks. Last week I went out on Wednesday morning to go up Paris Mountain.
I was shifting gears into an easier gear at the base of the moutain and my shifter made a horrible noise. It was busted, dropped me in to my 12 cog and I was done. I pulled into a friends house at the base of the mountain and asked him if he could give me a ride to Sunshine, he did. I called up Sram and they said a new shifter would be on the way. I waited a week and nothing, so this morning I called them. They said they are going to send me a pair of 2010 shifters, so thats pretty much awesome.
In the mean time I finally remembered I have access to a mountain bike and decided to take it out last night. The only problem with that is I picked the same night the storm of the century decided to hit. I rode anyway. I got about 30 minutes in and the lighting and wind got really bad. I decided to go under a shelfter, about 10 minutes later the bottom dropped out. I waited and waited and finally a guy offered me a ride back to my car.

Things at Sunshine have been going pretty ok. People still like bikes and I still like helping them with them. Hopefully my shifters will be here before this weekend and I'll be able to do our Saturday morning ride and get some riding done this weekend. This not riding thing is starting to get to me.

Hopefully the fun will start for me soon.

I hope you are still enjoying it

Have fun,

T Crotts

Monday, April 19, 2010

The good, the bad, and the UGLY!

Last weekend I had a fantastic two days of racing in Alabama. The road race went exactly the way I wanted it. I didn't really have a high placing but I executed my plan perfectly. I was supposed to try and get in a breakaway before the finishing climb. I made every break and even made a solo break for a lap and a half, none of the breaks stayed away because the course was pan flat until the last climb. Since no breaks got clear all I had to do was make it up the climb and save my legs for the crit.
The crit was almost perfect. I covered all the good moves and didn't have to do a whole lot of work. I maintained my postion well and ended up taking the field sprint and a third place overall. The only problem was I missed covering a late attack. The move went with five laps to go. The two that got away had bigger teams in the pack and they did their job and slowed down the chase. I was feeling very confident and excited.
I had hoped that my success last weekend would bode well for me this weekend. It did not.

Saturday was the hardest road race of my life. Three major climbs with three other smaller ones in a 12.5 mile lap that we were supposed to do four times. Needless to say that was not my course. I ended up getting dropped in the first lap and got in a chase group for 2 more laps. Close to the end of my third lap I was fighting hard to stay in contact with my group and ended up blowing into pieces on one of the tougher climbs of the course. I dropped out when I crossed the start/finish line for my fourth lap. I hate DNFs!
Sunday I woke up at 6:20am so that I could eat three hours before my race like a good racer boy should. The alarm went off, I got up, grabbed a pop tart, tried to eat it. Nope, too nervous couldn't eat. I got back in bed and got an extra hour or so of sleep. I tried to eat again when I got up the second time and finished another half of the pop tart. Then it was time to go load up and head out. When we pulled out of the parking lot of the college to head to the race I had a half of a pop tart in my belly and some water. My stomach was churning and I felt like I was going to hurl.
When we got to the race course, which was about a half an hour away, I managed to eat half of a bananna. My stomach still felt uneasy but I was getting hungry so I had to eat. I started to warm up and drank a bottle of drink mix to try and get some calories. I did my warm up and rode three laps of the course then it was time to start.
I was still in my funk when the race director said go. I had a horrible start and ended up losing about 10 places because I couldn't get clipped in. Then as we entered the first turn I got gapped exiting the turn and had to accelerate hard to maitain my position. The first lap was horrible. I started to feel better by the third lap and I moved up in to the front of the field where I could cover moves but not do any work.
On the fifth lap a guy from Lees McRea made a move. He is one of the guys I've been covering all season long and I know how strong he is. For some reason I hesitated and didn't get on his wheel. Then, another guy went- also one of the guys I keep my eye on at races- I let him get away without me too. When he went one of the guys I always cover joined him and gave the break three of the strongest riders in the field. The cherry on top of it all is that I had yet another chance to get across when another guy I know is strong started to bridge up to the break. I was out to lunch.
With four of the strongest guys in the break working together and building their advantage we were racing for fifth. For some reason I got upset and tried to solo up to them when their lead was already well established. I don't know if I was just trying to get everybody else to chase or what I was thinking but it was wrong. I had burned several matches on my silly move. I was getting frustrated. When I got pulled back I decided I would save it for the field sprint and I sat in for the rest of the race.
With one lap to go I was fourth wheel and maintaining my spot. A guy from Georgia State made a good move from about six wheels back with two hard turns to go. He got an advantage and maintained it. He was fifth. I started my sprint with about 250m to go. I was on the wheel of a Lees McRea rider; he started to drift to the right and our wheels were coming dangerously close. I tapped my rear brake and moved to his left for some open road. I lost precious momentum not paying attention. I sprinted hard and was a tire width from sixth place. Seventh place in a race I should have won doesn't sit well with me. Especially when I lost it the way I did. The silver lining, if you can call it that, was that I managed to get a top ten with all the stuff I did wrong.

Racing can be very frustrating. It is also extremely fun. Regardless of how terrible I think- or know- I did in the crit a seventh place still isn't a terrible result. I had a great season and learned a lot. I got three top five finishes and never finished outside of the top 15- other than two DNFs, one of which was because I got crashed out.
The good news is that phase one is complete. Phase one of my trip to becoming a Category 3 racer and an A collegiate racer. I need to cat up so I can help my team next year and possibly go to the Collegiate National Championships. I also want to get on a team outside of my collegiate team. I now have an entire summer to try to build on what I've learned and get some good results.
I am very excited about my season and I have improved a lot in my racing. I still have a lot to learn but with some good training and a little luck I will be right where I want to be.

My next race is this Thrusday night. I finally get to race with the people I know from Greenville and see how I stack up against them.

Until then.....

Have Fun,

T Crotts

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Furman Race Weekend

The A guys warming up on Sunday

Me and Julia Tellman wait to start the Road Race Saturday.

This weekend my team and I traveled down to wonderfully sunny South Carolina for some bike racing. Saturday morning we left Brevard NC at 6am so we could make it to the Fork Shoals Road Race course in time to start the team time trial at 9:00am.
I have done the last two TTTs with the A guys from my team, they are in the Pro 1,2,3 Category. The first one was at the Georgia Tech race and we started really hard and I ended up getting dropped- the guys decided they were going to hard about 30 seconds after I got dropped- so this time we decided to communicate a little more and I was able to stay on all the way around the 15 mile loop. That hurt almost as bad as the SC Cyclocross chamionship race.
After the TTT it was time to go cool down and relax until the road race started at 2:20pm. The sun was out but so was the wind. It was warmish but the wind made it feel cold. My race was to do 4 laps of the 13 mile course for a total of 52 miles. That is the longest race I've done all year- and close to the longest race I've ever done; the longest being the 56mile bike portion of the Ironman 70.3 I did a few years ago- and definitely one of the toughest.
The fork shoals course is a tough 13 mile loop with a few long steep hills that zap the legs and leave a dead feeling in them after the climbs. It was only made tougher by my stomach acting up. I had horrible stomach cramps for 3 of the 4 laps.
Early on the 2nd lap a guy from the biggest team in the race attacked so his team sat on the front and made sure he didn't get pulled back. Then a few other guys decided to bridge up and the days break was formed. Once again I wasn't there. I have got to stop second guessing breakaways and just go with them. I could have been up there. I was the only guy with no teammates and every team had a man in the break. I tried to bridge up once but the field wasn't letting anybody get up there without them; so, I just decided to sit in and get some good miles in for the rest of the day.

This pretty much sums up how the day went for me: (I'm on the back)
Sunday we left early again and headed down to Furman University for the most fun Crit I've ever done. When we left Brevard it wasn't raining, about ten minutes after we got the van parked and got a tent set up the rain started to fall- talk about perfect timing.
The men's C race was underway in about an hours time so I watched and cheered on a few guys I knew. Going into the last corner a Lees McRea rider had the deal sealed but he overcooked the last corner and ended up going down pretty hard. That was hard to watch, it made me a little bit nervous.
After I watched the guy crash it was time for the women's race to get started. Julia Tellman and and her 48 tooth big ring had a great race finishing up in 3rd place. I didn't get to watch too much of that race because I had to start warming up on their 3rd lap.

I got dressed and started warming up. As I warmed up the rain started to really fall hard. I was getting a little more nervous. I got my warm up done and headed out on the course to try a few of the turns, nothing was too slick- the cobbled section was a little sketchy, but that is to be expected. When I pulled up to the start line I saw John James, the manager of the shop where I work and a mentor of mine, I exchanged a few pleasentries and rubbed Blair LeMarche's head for good luck and we were off.
The course was awesome. The first turn was about 200m from the start line and it was only one lane wide with curbs on either side and a sewer drain right in the apex. After that its a straight shot towards Furman's Student center and a hard right turn onto the cobbled path that goes around to the lake- I think. Once on the coobles we went down and to the left towards one of the dining halls and then back up and made sort of a C before turning right again off the cobbles and on to the pavement. That stretch lasts for about 100m then its another hard slick right turn on to the main drag through Furman towards the far traffic circle and the Athletic building. Instead of going around the circle we took the left turn, which is a double 90 degree turn. That was a strange one- that's the one the Lees McRea guy went down- we went into it fast and had to brake hard to burn enough speed make the first 90 then kind of float outwards towards the grass and then cut back in for the second turn and then stand and accelerate to the start finish line.

A shot of the cobble stones:
Right turn off the cobbles:
The right hand turn on the main street through the campus. The building in the back ground with the banner on it is where the right hander on to the cobbles.

I had a good but baddish race. I held my position better than I ever have in a Crit, but I struggled for the first few laps on the wet tight corners. I also did a little bit too much work on the front chasing stuff down and trying to cover moves. I won a points prime and tried to focus on riding a good race.

Going into the last 4 laps I was sitting 8th wheel behind the guy who beat me in the sprint at GT. His team was on the front sitting the pace. I was focusing on relaxing and trying to hold that position. On the last lap I should have tried to move up a few places but for one reason or another I didn't. Coming out of the last turn I stood, still sitting 8th or 9th, and sprinted. I passed for people and ended up taking 4th place. Normally I would be really happy about getting 4th but I really wanted to win and I probably would have if I had been a few more places up in the line. Oh well, thats what racing is all about- live and learn.
When I got done it was time for the men's A race to start and the star MC to have the mic in his hand for a whole hour- he was having a great time talking about cornering and "pot-hoes". T Cowie and Corey Meyer- Corey made it after crashing in the early laps- made the lead break and rode a hard race. T Cowie and Corey definitely showed they were some of the strongest guys out there, it just wasn't there day but they still ended up top 10.
All in all it was a really good weekend. I learned a lot and definitely gained a lot of fitness from it. The whole team did a great job and we had lots of fun.

Can't wait for Alabama next weekend.

Until then....

Have Fun,

T Crotts

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Dream Machine

I love bikes. I dream about them all the time, since the day I started riding bikes I've been pricing, figuring up different builds, and figuring up the different weights for those builds. I love to dream about what my next bike could be.

Lately I've been looking into some of my favorite components from the Sram Red group, I'm starting to think about a few upgrades on my Blue Rc8. I really like the red shifters, rear derailuer and OG 1090 cassette- it is one solid piece of CNC'd chromoly steel and on of the lightest-stiffest cassettes in the world.
I have also been looking into different options for measuring power output and I really like the Quarq Cinco Saturn built into a Sram S900 crankset. Crank power meters are a better option than rear hub meters for several reasons: they do not add rotational weight to the drive train, they do not limit you to what wheels you choose, and they are marginally lighter as well as more reliable.
All of this has led me to what happened the other day, almost by accident I typed into my web browser and stumbled upon the TCR Advanced SL frame set. The TCR Advanced SL is the one of Giants higher end frames and it is one of their lightest- just below the ISP (integrated seatpost) version.

Looking into that may have been a mistake because I have just spent the last 2 hours cruising the web building up a dream bike. So here is what I'm thinking:

Sram Red Shiters
Sram Red Rear Derailuer
Sram Force Front D
Sram Force Brake Calipers
Sram OG 1090 Cassette
3T Pro Alloy Bar
Sram BB30 Ceramic Bottom Bracket
Easton EC90 Full Carbon Clinchers
Specialized Romin SL saddle
Speedplay X2 pedals
Garmin Edge 500 Computer
Quarq Cinqo Saturn S900 power meter
With blue and black Fizik Bar Tape and white Sram brake Hoods

This build would cost about $7100 and weigh in- with the power meter- at about 13.5lbs (thats overstating too) in a Size Small frame- which is the one I would need.

It looks a little Something Like this: (Bar tape and hoods not pictued)

Just thought I'd share a little of what I'm dreaming of.

Have Fun ,

T Crotts

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Yep, that was fun.

Today was the day. The day I've been riding my bike in 30 or colder temperatures for. The day I have lost sleep over and the day that can proudly say was a success. Today was the first race of the 2010 season.
The race was a 5 lap trip around Perimeter Rd at the Donaldson Center in Greenville, SC. Each lap was about 7 miles long and the total race time ended up being 1:39.00. It was my first time racing in a field of only CAT 4s.

I lined up in about 15th place because I didn't think I wanted to be right on the front but I didn't want to get too far back in the pack. The race started fairly slow and we just kind of relaxed and let our legs loosen up. I was pretty happy about the easy pace for the first lap. The 2nd lap was pretty typical of what I'm used to at Donaldson Center, it was a little bit harder but not too bad.
I was concerned about my place in the pack for the first 3 laps, I was sitting just off the back of the middle of the group. I was in a good position to not have to do a whole lot of work but it was sketchy back there and I didn't want to miss out on any attacks- I just didn't really feel like I was in control. So I decided to do something about it.
Right after we went over the rail road tracks on Perimeter road I jumped hard to make up as many places as I could. I ended up right on the front of the group. I got there right as everybody decided to sit up and stop working; so I just kind of carried my momentum through the couple of guys that were up there and I made a small mistake, I went all the way to the front of the group and I got stuck there. I sat there and didn't really know what I was going to do up there, so I just sat there and pedaled a moderate-comfrotable pace going into the two hills right before the finish of the lap. I waited until the second hill, I was still on the front- I didn't really like being there- so I decided to attack and got a decent gap on the feild and held it until about 300m to the finish of the lap. The pack pulled me back right there and then the counter attack went.
When the group saw who made up the counter attack, two guys- one was a junior- who didn't look very threatening so we just let them go and decided to softpedal for the whole lap. We just had to keep them in sight and reel them in slowly. The break was perfect for us, it made the race so easy and relaxed. We let them stay off the front until the golf course hill on the last lap. The break was absorbed and the group got down to business.
The big attack came on the hill just past 3m's plant at Donaldson Center. Everybody was very very nervous the whole race- the 1st race of the season is like that, it takes people a little while to get used to the pack again- the last part of the race was the absolute sketchiest race I've been involved in. Everyone was on edge and screaming at each other. The impetus really picked up when we got across the railroad tracks and back on to the smooth pavement. The whole feild was jockeying for position and trying to get their team to the front. I was right there in the thick of it and holding a pretty good position.
As we went into the section of the course with the two hills and about 1.5k to go I was in the perfect spot- so I thought. We got up to 400m to go and I was still good, then I stood to sprint with about 300 to go and 2 teams with a good lead out train came around me and I just decided to sit up and ride it out- I knew I wasn't in the money or the points, plus I had beaten Pait, that was pretty much my goal for the day :)

All in all the race went great. I did exactly what I wanted to do. I made an attack which, in a way, decided a lap of the race and it also moved me into the perfect position in the group. My progress in my training for this part of the season is very positive. The race was almost easy. My parents and Caroline came out to watch the race, which gave me something to look forward to every lap. Plus, the weather was amazing and I had loads of fun while I was out there.

The second race of the season is tomorrow, it's a Crit at BMW's test track. That should be fun .

Until then...

Have fun,

T Crotts

Just a few thank yous:
Pait, thanks for giving me somebody to talk to out there and doing a good bit of work.

Tebbets, thanks for being out there and racing a good race and helping me move through the pack.

Hincapie Sportswear for putting on a great race.

All the CAT 4s I raced with who, while they were a little sketchy, didn't crash during the race.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Opening Day

Ha. What a silly looking outfit.
This is from back in the day at Paris Island.
3/15/08 the first race of the season.
The one I dreamed of, a lot like
I'm doing now.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I haven't been this excited about the start to a race season since I was a triathlete. The start to that season was set to take place at Paris Island Marine training center in March of 2008. I ws new to triathlon, just like I was new to road racing last season. I didn't really know what to expect from my competition and I planned on winning when I was visualizing the race and trying to imagine what would happen. Well, it didn't really turn out like that- in fact I couldn't even stay with the other kid in my age group in the pool.
Last season when I started road racing I made that same mistake, thinking that I would be one of the strongest people out there. I found very quickly in my first race that I was not as strong as every one else and that I had a lot of work to do and a lot to learn. I raced several more collegiate races last spring and I a few Cat 4-5 races over the summer. My results started turning out a lot like my triathlon career did, I was consistantly average. I have been top ten in almost every race I have started- not to say top ten is a good thing because I was pretty far behind the top 5 guys. In my triathlon career I finished top 3 in my age group on several occasions and I won my age group once. Towards the end of my triathlon season I began to get some confidence and knew that I would place well but could not ever pull out the win that I sought.

Right after the Brevard Confrence Champs race. I got 7th.

Bike racing has taken that same sort of path so far. I have gained more confidence with every race and I have gotten in a few top tens and some good racing experience. Now, as the start to this new season approaches I am kind of scared that it will end up like the last ones have, with mediocrity and no significant results.

On the way to a top 10 finish in the Cat 4 SC cyclocross championship. A decent result but still not really what I hoped for. Very fun race, and I learned a lot from it though.

I am hoping that my new out look on life and racing will help a lot with my worries. I am racing and riding because I really enjoy every part of it. I don't just enjoy being done with it and talking about it afterwards. I like being out there in the thick of it racing against human will power.
I am also considerably more well prepared for this season and much better trained, along with all those seasons of mediocrity in my legs and in my brain. So, maybe my past seasons will all culminate into a successful season and I will get some of the results I would like to. I'm not banking on anything or saying that I am going to win any particular race, my plan for this season is to be active in the race and if a win or a high placing comes from that then I will be happy- I will also be happy if it doesn't because I had a good time doing it.
There are a few other differences that could make this season better than those in the past. I have more experience. I also had a full summer of education on being a bike racer. I have better equipment. I am better trained and I have a better out look on the racing.

Anyway, the important thing that I keep reminding myself of is to go out there and have fun. I hope everyone has a great season and that they enjoy every second as much as I do.

Good luck and Have fun,

T Crotts

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The test to make an A on

Yesterday I went out to find out if all these days freezing in the saddle are making any difference. The good news is that I found out that they are making a good bit of difference. The bad news is that the pyruvate I make still doesn't quite love my mitochondria the way I want them to.

I do my Threshold power tests on the 276 climb up to the Blue Ridge parkway. I start at Looking Glass falls and go all out for 20 minutes, usually that puts me out right where the gravel road 475b meets 276.

Learning to cope with the physical pain of a threshold test is half of the reason to do them. The other reason is that it gives a fairly accurate wattage for which I reach my Lactate Threshold, the point where my body stops using up the pyruvate left over from the production of ATP in the mitochondria of my cells. (Thanks Dr. Chandler for the College Education on the Subject) When a person who is training knows their personal limits they can train to make those limits better and make themselves better while they are at their limits.
For me my limits aren't much higher than they were the last time I tested, in September, however I am much more comfortable at those limits. I am more comfortable with threshold and I can perform at threshold more consistantly- my watts aren't all over the place as much and I don't have to recover every few minutes.

Another part of my my threshold test was the 12-16 degree fahrenheit- that was the wind chill the real temp was around 25- temperatures and the headwind- ON A CLIMB!!!- that I experienced yesterday. Now, I have been riding in some cold stuff lately but yesterday was the coldest ever; my feet, hands, and face were frozen. The thing about it is yesterday taught me a lot about pain and suffering. The pain of the effort and the pain of the cold, it's pretty painful to lose feeling in a limb and then get it back again. I am slowly becoming better and better at hurting myself and dealing with it. I have to build the pain a home to live in and make it comfortable, invite it in to stay a while. (I know that doesn't sound like much fun but it is kind of maniacal- thats kind of fun for some folks)

Well that's about all the training mess you're gonna get out of me on here so for now.....

Have Fun,

- T Crotts