Me against Him

Me against Him
Racing a BMW

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