Monday, September 8, 2008

Ann Arbor Criterium

Results are here.

(I did a write up for the team that I sent, but I figured I'd put it here as well)

I went up to Ann Arbor with the wife and the dogs to visit her family, catch the Michigan vs Miami of Ohio football game, and race the Priority Health Ann Arbor cycling classic...what a tough race.

I was signed up for the 2/3 and being a first year race the numbers signed up were pretty slim...about sixty guys showed up, mainly from Michigan, Ohio, and Canada. Surprising too since they were paying ten deep with tenth getting $40.The course was six turns with all of them being at least 90 degrees and had two hills about the steepness of capitol hill (maybe a little less) but about half as long...not grinders, but enough to cause separation and take a toll on the legs. There were also two railroad crossings that were covered with a layer of sod..overall a truly gnarly course but exciting to race.

Wasn't able to get much of a warmup, but rolled off the line sitting mid pack. Spent the first two laps making my way to the front and was sitting around top 7, and felt comfortable. Pace was more like a fast 3/4 back home...but combined with the course, guys were getting popped quickly (20 guys finished). Plan was to watch for the right move and go with it. Two guys made a strong move going into a 90 followed by the hill leading to the finishing straight and it felt right...I jumped to bridge across and we had three of us and about 5 seconds. We ended up dropping one of the guys and me and a guy from Michigan built our lead to about 17 seconds...took a $50 prime while we were away, which sapped my power. The guy I was with was the strongest guy in the race (eventual winner) and I was dying trying to recover and hold his wheel.

I made a decision that I'm regretting now, but race and learn.

I was hurting...bad. I wasn't recovering quick enough and thought that if I kept trying to stay away with this guy I'd blow up and we'd be somewhere in Maryland right now. I made the call to sit up, let him go at it alone and go back to the field. The gap was about twenty seconds at this point. I fell back in line, picked a position in the top ten and tried to recover. The pack was breaking really hard into all the turns and the guy up front built himself around a 25 second gap just by riding the turns quicker than everyone else.

The rest of the race was uneventful. Nobody could get organized to chase, even though there were teams with 3 to 4 guys still in the chase. I wasn't going to do anything as I had already got gas money from the prime and was content to sprint for without any teammates I felt it wasn't my responsibility.

With three to go I was sitting about 7th. Held the position and with what I thought was one to go I went with a guy that was making a strong move on the finishing stretch. The announcer corrected himself and said that it was actually two to go..that sucked. Anyway, on the last lap the wheel I was following popped on the last hill and I had to adjust and get back on the gas...rolled in with the bunch in 9th for $45.

Looking back I wonder if I just wussed out when I went back to the field and that if I had just put the head down and gutted it out, maybe payday would have been a little sweeter. Who knows...I had a long drive back from Michigan to think about it. Superstar Jay Moglia sent me a reply that really shows that he knows a lot of this bike game. Super useful stuff that should be shared. Here are the good parts:

Now as for the second guessing tough to say. Obviously if you fully blow up in the brake you are done and get nothing so maybe you were smart to do what you did although I would say given the situation and if at any way this is possible what you should of done is verbally conceded first to the dude and just sit on to see if you can recover. Is possible that just be sitting on you could of recovered and maybe helped him if you could and had a certain second place.

If the dude was just motoring and you were maxed then there isn't much you can do but with an opportunity like that I would try every little thing before bailing.

I know I have had to do that (concede to stronger rider in brake so I wouldn't get attacked) - is kind of hard/weird to do that but on the other hand it is a smart last grasp move.

He's on the money. I kept thinking to myself, wondering, "could I have suffered through the pain and recovered on his wheel?" I'm kicking myself a little because I like to think that when that moment comes when you either fight or flight (cycling-wise), I'd fight it out...but I didn't. Maybe I was tired...who knows.

Anyway, Coppi and Turkey Day this weekend...we'll see if I can HTFU.



KML said...

Before I read Jay's response I was thinking to myself "tell the guy he has first, that you won't contest it"!!

At any rate I really enjoy reading your reports, you always seem to learn something and your genuine enthusiasm for the sport really shows in your write-up. And no matter what, you stay positive :)

Jesse said...

Before Jay told me that I thought about that too, but in the moment, the thought never crossed my mind. I was in it to win it...which I wasn't going to do against the motor that ended up winning it.

Now I have that strategy in the bag of tricks though...maybe I'll get a chance to use it sometime down the road. How's that for positive??