Me against Him

Me against Him
Racing a BMW

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

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Racing Time! (almost)

So that time of year is almost here again, and I absolutely can not wait.

Last year at the end of Collegiate race season I found a new love for my bike and that love grew and blossomed over the summer, and into the fall, and even through the winter. I have trained and raced with fun in mind. Over the summer I only rode for fun, I raced and competed but only for the fun of it, I didn't have any goals or ambitions other than just to get out there on the bike. This fall I raced Cross bikes and found that to be extremely rewarding, I learned what it means to really suffer and leave it all out there. This winter I have experienced some of the worst riding conditions and yet I have been enjoying alsmot every second of it. Even now as I type this I am watching the rain fall and I know that the weather will continue to get worse before it gets better. I am hoping that all this riding is paying off and I feel like it probably will.
I have ten days until my racing season starts and I have only been this excited one other time in my life- I was once a triathlete and I trained and got super excited for that too- and that time it didn't really turn out the way I planned. See, every time I close my eyes I find myself racing and imagining the attacks and countering them and sprinting to the line for the win. Only when the race actually happens it never turns out quite like I imagined. So this year I have been trying something a little different- its not self doubt just not being over confident- I have only imagined all the different variables of the race, still seeing the attacks and covering them. I see the guys around me and the road under me and the gear I'm in and all that cool stuff but I try not to ever imagine the finish or my role in the race. I don't want to imagine victory- obviously that is close to impossible and every once in a while I do- so I just try to keep in mind why I am there and that is to have a good time and to learn and get experience.

My first race will be the Hincapie Spring Series Donaldson Center road race. I am extremely excited about that race. It will be really fun to be back in Greenville mixing it up with all the guys I rode with over the summer. I can't wait to line up with Pait an all the guys again. The next day is a Crit at the BMW test track in Spartanburg, SC. I have never raced there but I am really looking forward to that race because I want to learn how to develop my criterium abilities this year and the sooner I can start the better.
After that I'll do the Feb. 28th installment of the Donaldson Center road race and then I'll move on into my collegiate season. Following all that will be some Blair Cup action and Saturday morning Hour of Power rides and then some Tuesday night world Championships.

In other news I am officially a Cat 4 USAC road racer and a "B" collegiate racer- that is the Cat 4 collegiate class- so I'll get to try to earn some points to upgrade to Cat 3 this year. I also discovered how delicious Nutella is and that it goes best on a spoon. I have run out the first set of batteries on my powertap, I've always been told there were little gerbles in there- guess that was wrong. Oh and Mark Cavendish is pretty much my new hero, that guy is an animal and the way he gives credit to his team for his sucess is something he doesn't get enough credit for.

That's it for now.

Have fun,
- T Crotts