Sep 20, 2011

Folsom Cyclebration Omnium report

Another weekend spent racing near Sacramento strongly reaffirmed what I had already suspected: heat and anaerobic efforts don’t agree with me. At this point, you probably know how the rest of this report is going to go, but knowing that most of you enjoy reading about my suffering, I won’t spare you any details.

Challenge Criterium

The crit was actually the best race of the whole Omnium weather-wise because it started at 8 in the morning when it was only about 70 degrees. The course was sort of bean shaped, with only two wide sweeping turns and an arch linking them. The length of the course was .7 miles and the pace was fast for most of the race.

I lined up in the first row and knew exactly what I was going to do, attack right out of the blocks. I knew that I had a TT coming up in the afternoon, so I wasn’t really planning on getting into a break from the start line, but I wanted to see how motivated the group was and how my legs felt. After flying solo for about a lap and a half, I saw there was no chase and the legs seemed okay, so I settled into the middle of the group to see how the race would develop.

There were five primes for the taking. The first two were a gym membership and a t-shirt, neither of which I was particularly interested in. The last three primes would be for points, two for each (two points at an ominium equals to one place, in principle).

Attacks and breaks went flying fairly often, but all got chased down. About two thirds through the race, with two riders up the road, a rider from Davis tried to bridge and I jumped on his wheel. After turn two, I got on the nose and took my pull, but saw that the rest of the field was on our tails and just sat up to let someone else finish off the chase.

Fast forward to three laps to go, the pace picks up. In fact, it picked up so much, that I somehow forgot we did a lap. On what I thought was lap three, but was actually lap two, the pace almost halted for some reason after turn one and some derailleur to front wheel action in front of me required me to got a bit heavy on the brakes. This wasn’t too big of a deal because I was neither off the back, or crashed out, but I knew I had to move up quickly because it wasn’t going to get any calmer. As I’m making my way up the field, we pass the start/finish and I see one to go (fully expecting to see two to go).

Now I have to make up the distance in the field in one lap that I was planning to make up in two. All of a sudden, a San Jose junior finds an open lane on the inside and I’m riding his wheel past half the field, then the field swings left and that gets door shut down in a hurry. Through some maneuvering, I was able to roll in for 14th, but knowing I seriously screwed up that finish.

The South Canal TT

I was counting on making up some points in the TT, which was an out and back course, just shy of 11 miles with a set of three rollers in the first (and accordingly last) 2 miles of the course. The rollers are short, maybe 50 meters at the most, but very steep, 12 percent or more for sure. This was the same distance as the Madera TT which I killed, so I was hoping for a similar performance.

I felt good during the warmup. Despite the fact that the temperatures were now creeping up into the high 80s, my heart rate seemed to be not off the charts and the power was there.

I hit the course hard, getting my HR over 170 in the first 30 seconds or so and holding there on the way out. I was told that it was easy to go out too hard, which I realized when I started hitting 30mph on the way out and almost touching 40 going down the backside of the rollers. I made it to the turn around point in about 11:30, which was a very good time, assuming I could do something similar on the way back.

The way back proved to be more of a challenge with fatigue setting in, heart rate creeping up and a headwind slowing me down. At one point, my mouth had become so dry, I could not physically swallow, so to minimize time loss, I waited until I was on the downside of the roller, and while gravity was helping me, I grabbed a gulp of water. Except that my HR was so high, all I could do was swoosh it around my mouth and spit it back out, none of it wanted to go in, but it did what I needed it to do.

I finished in 26:04, a fairly disappointing time because I was aiming at about 25 minutes. Just like in the crit, I was 14th in the TT – my worst TT finish in the last two years – oh well.

Folsom Circuit Race

My start for the circuit race was at 2:25 pm, and it was getting hot. The course was absolutely awesome, and I wish I could race it again in much cooler weather. It was a 2.4 mile circuit, with six 90-degree turns, a couple of sweepers, a few undulations to break up the rhythm and one Euro-style roundabout. I talked to Michael and Phill before the race and they both told me to stay on the inside on the roundabout to avoid trouble, which I did.

We ended up racing eight laps or about 20 miles. I was fine in the pack for the first six laps, but as we were racing, the heat was going up and I was slowly starting to cook. Dumping water on myself no longer worked, as it was hot. With two laps to go, it was time to start making moves and as I tried to move up, my body started fighting me and I started to remember Sacramento Grand Prix. On the last lap, my body had enough and I was literally cooked. The field split right before my eyes and I just didn’t have enough in the gut to bridge and ended up rolling in. I didn’t check, but I’m pretty sure I was either last or almost last (unless we lost some people on earlier laps, which is possible).

Some people don’t like climbs, some don’t like crits, and I don’t like heat. Next year, anything that will have me racing in the 90s or above at anaerobic levels, I’m not doing. Considering I only had a handful of races like that this year, I don’t think I’m giving up much.

There’s more coming later this week on my ever-growing to-do list and I’ll go out on a limb and make some Everest Challenge predictions (oy!). 

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