Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Week #8: Ouch!

What a great ride!

The weather forecast was less than stellar, so I prepared for a soggy, windy ride. Shawn made his way down to ride with us this week, and must have brought the good weather with him, as it turned out to be a great night (although slightly windy!)

We set off with a good group of riders (35ish?) and slowly upped the pace until we were left with a group of about 8--myself, Shawn, Ashby, Steve, Fraser, Ian, Drew, Brian, Fernando and... that might be it (sorry if I missed anyone?) rode most of the night together. For a while, we rode a nice rotating paceline and the average speed increased steadily, from under 30 to 32.4 by the end of the night. Apparently when Shawn and I are grinding away on the front into a headwind, we're not allowed to chat--when we did, Ashby and Steve would pull past and up the pace yet again! At one point Steve was on Shawn's wheel and waving me to pull through and I could hardly keep up, let alone pull through! Shawn put in a couple of monster pulls, including the longest leadout ever (7kms?) up to the the railroad track sprint. Again, I was barely hanging on to his wheel here, and didn't have much of a sprint left in me, but the leadout gave me enough of an edge to take Steve while a train rolled across infront of us (remember kids, never try to sprint a train!)

In the BSW department: Ashby took Mott's Mills, where my legs had NOTHING. Shawn took two impressive wins, one without even knowing it was coming up until much too late (at least, much too late for anyone else to win!) As mentioned above, I took the railroad track sprint over Steve after an incredible leadout from Shawn. I'm not sure what happened to Ashby here...I guess he was off the back because he knows the railroad track sprint doesn't count?!? Yeah.. that's it ;) Seems to me Steve at a blue sign win too, although I can't recall..?

All for now... remember to let me know if you're interested in joining the TdF pool!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Week #6: Rest

Yes, apparently it's rest mode for Darren lately.

My plan was to take a long weekend away from the bike. I did so, spending the weekend paddling around the Kawarthas. I got home Monday afternoon, but decided to skip the ride, partly because of the weather, partly as a result of the canoe trip. However, here it is almost 6pm on Wednesday, and I'm not getting ready to ride now either. It's officially rest mode now! The (wet,cold, windy) weather is telling me it's time to slow down, so I don't get burnt out before summer even starts! Hopefully those who made it out to ride Monday night (or tonight) enjoyed it, and didn't miss me too much! ;)

In the mean time, check out Chris' photos from the Masters Tri here, and remember that the weather provides an excuse to rest. Like Padraig over at B.K.W. (clearly a much better writer than I) says:
"We can do all the miles we want, but everyone knows that getting fast requires recovery. Here’s to the speed that sleep brings."

Cheers to that!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Week #5:

So Monday night was supposed to be an easy day for me after racing on Saturday. Ya, right!

Ashby showed up, and well.. that's all you need to know.

We had a great group of riders out, and the weather was perfect.

My two blue signs apparently didn't count, as 'other' picked up two wins by taking a shorter route and passing the sign before our group. Since it's a bit of a cop-out, I won't name names of the 'other' *cough* Greg *cough* riders.

A couple of kilometers from Jasper, Ashby took off. I didn't really feel like going with him, but he looked back and said "are you coming?" which is apparently all it takes... We rode into Jasper, then turned and up Jasper Highway back into town, trading pulls and barely dropping below 40 km/hr the entire time. Mostly because we kept picking off groups of riders, and as soon as we passed a group, the next one was on the horizon.. nothing like a rabbit to keep you motivated! By the end, we were both pretty fried, but it sure felt good!

Pub talk consisted of about a hundred conversations going on all at once, since we had a group big enough to fill up the back room at Rob Roy's! Dave had a copy of his velodrome proposal, which I got a very quick look at--impressive!

Note for Wednesday night Perth riders: I unfortunately won't be able to attend, as last minute work duties call. Perhaps more riders will show up when I'm not around? ;) Enjoy the ride without me!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Brockville Road Race for Habitat - Post-race thoughts

I'm back from the Brockville Road Race for Habitat. After learning that I'd be racing Senior 4 rather than Senior 3 (due to my lack of a UCI licence) my strategy changed somewhat from "try to stay alive" to "see if I can actually do well." Race time was 9:03am, so I was up early for a quick breakfast and headed off for the big town of Lyn. I arrived with plenty of time to get prepared, sign in and pick up my bib number (#115). It was a bit chilly early on, so I put on my arm warmers, short sleeve jersey, with a long sleeved jersey over top. However, it did warm up a bit by race time, and I was fine with just the arms and the short sleeve jersey. I kept leg warmers on the whole day though.

The race started with a laid back roll out of the park in a group with Senior 4 (my group), Master 3 and Cadet Men all together. We left 3 minutes after the group of Senior 1/2 women and Master 2 men. The course consisted of 8 counter-clockwise loops of this loop, for a total of just under 80kms. It was a very flat course, with only one slight hill just on the way back out of town. However, it was also quite open and windy for most of the course, which came into play often. The first lap was more or less uneventful, except for the turn from Howe Rd. to #27, where riders were jumping after the corner to maintain the pace, but then hitting a slight uphill grade and a headwind, and slowing down quickly. Riders behind were hammering on the brakes to stop from hitting the slower riders in front of them, and on the first lap, I got my wheel right up beside a riders chainstay and rubbed briefly before I got slowed down enough. This location was one to keep an eye on throughout the race!

On the second lap, nothing of note happened until the same corner, where one of the Cadet riders went down. I'm not sure what happened, but I think he must have overlapped wheels with a rider in front, then over-corrected and hit the gravel shoulder. No other riders went down, and I was well clear of the action at that point. All I saw was a rider on the left side of the group veer 90 degrees, cut across the group of riders on the right (no idea how they avoided him) and hit the shoulder/ditch and go down.

Laps 3-6 were pretty uneventful, and I just sat in the middle of the group as much as possible, trying to stay sheltered from the wind. It didn't feel like we were going too quickly, until one point when I went to click to a higher gear, and noticed I was already maxed out! On the Howe Rd. 'backstretch' on the 6th lap (I think?) we had two riders open up a small gap. A third rider joined them briefly, and the gap increased. The third rider didn't stick with them for too long, because the next time I noticed they were down to two again. I thought they would get caught easily, so was content to let them go (as was everyone else apparently.) By the seventh lap, we were getting reports that they were up by 30 seconds, yet still no one started the chase in earnest. By the start of the 8th (and final) lap, riders were talking about starting to chase, and on the backstretch we got a double paceline working fairly well. I think we put some time into the two leaders, but shortly afterwards the paceline fell apart, and they were still 30 seconds up. Coming around the 'crash corner' on the final lap, I was sitting on the left side of the road, about half way back in the group when I saw/heard riders going down in front of me (you know the sickening crash sound, and smell of burning rubber....) I went far left and managed to avoid everything, but we lost at least 8 riders from the group at this point. However, since it was so close to the end, we carried on.

At this point we were about 3 or 4 kms from the finish, and the two-man break was well clear. I found myself at the front, and tried to get a paceline going again, but nothing doing! I was sitting on front for a while, trying to get someone to come up and take a pull, but again, no one responded. Once we hit the town (approx. 800m or so to go to the line) I figured that if I was going to sit on the front, I might as well make them work for it behind me (I knew there was no way I would win an actual sprint!), so I jumped. I opened up a fairly sizable gap, and looked back once to see the group about 60m or so back. At this point it was do or die, so I put the hammer down. My legs were burning at this point, but I could picture the finish just a couple of hundred meters ahead. When the line was (finally!) in sight, I took one more look back to see the group about 10 meters behind me and closing fast! All I could do was put my head down and sprint for the line! I'm 99.9% sure that I took the sprint at the line, but if so it was by less than a wheel length! We'll wait for the photo finish results to see the real story! I think that if I had waited about 20 or 30 more seconds before I jumped, I could have taken it uncontested, but then again they may have responded quicker if I had waited...so I won't complain about the results!

So, overall, I was 3rd in the group (the two in the breakaway stayed away and won by 35") and took the bunch sprint with the late jump! I'm pretty pleased with that! One of the riders in the break was a Senior 4, so I ended up second in the category, and third in our little group.

Official results will eventually be posted here. Hopefully they'll also post some photos or videos of the finish if at all possible! Unfortunately, Shawn and Keli didn't make it down, otherwise I would have stayed to watch them...but as it was I was pretty tired, and after the BBQ and podium, I headed home for a well deserved nap and some more food!

And, as a side note, an American is in Pink at the Giro d'Italia today. Cheers to Christian Vandevelde and the Slipstream "Argyle Army" (best team nickname ever!)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Senior 4

As a real quick update, it looks like I'll be racing Senior 4 tomorrow, since I don't have a UCI Licence. I guess that means I won't be racing with Shawn, but will get to watch his race after I'm done!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Week #4:

OK, so I'm officially terrible at updating this thing on time. Ah well!

Monday was a beautiful sunny evening, and we had a great group out for the ride. After some trash talking in the shop with Greg and Ashby (apparently, one of my BSWs didn't count because it was on the highway... ok fine... but Steve's did going up the hill at the tracks.. even if there is no sign!)

Ashby managed to tear my legs off on both sprints I tried to go for--on the first one, I was spun out in my big gear, and apparently he had one "in reserve" still.. Yes, we had a tail wind, and yes, it hurt. However, the first BSW of the night is somewhat debatable, as someone (not naming names) rode off from the shop ahead of the group and was sitting and waiting for us at the Rosedale sign. I'm not sure if that counts or not?!? Survey says....... NO!

We put in ~58kms, and I think all enjoyed the ride!

Post-ride pub banter:

  • Everyone is jealous of Fernando, who spent an afternoon with George Hincapie's wife (who, as we all know is quite attractive). Don't ask how... or why... just go with it.
  • Also, remember to vote for Fernando on "Older Idol".. if he ever sends out the link again..
In other news, the Perth Wednesday night ride tonight was (once again) two riders--this time Don and I. If we can only get all these lone riders out on the same night for a change, we'll have a great group! It drizzled for the entire (very short) ride, but we beat the heavier rain that started seconds after I arrived home. Also, I'm officially registered for the Brockville Road Race for Habitat now.. so.. wish me luck!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Brockville Road Race for Habitat

The Brockville Road Race for Habitat is looming! Next Saturday is the day, and I'm hoping to attend, although I've yet to register. I'll likely be racing Senior 3, and it sounds like Shawn will be there as well! Is anyone else going? Dave? Chris? Steve? Ashby? If so, we should discuss car pooling, etc.