Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mid-Ohio post Disney

After 7 exceptional (exceptionally tiring and hot and humid, but mostly fun) days at Disney I got back on the bike on Thursday evening for 49 miles and followed it up with a short 45 minute ride Friday. I drove to Mid-Ohio with Jim and we talked a bit of what we expected of the races and whats been going on strategy wise with Snake Bite Racing in the Cat. 4s. It was a good drive there and back.

I flip flopped probably driving Tym Tyler nuts with Cat3/4 or Cat1-3. See I had gotten there early and no one was signed up for Cat1-3.

But as time rolled on I saw Andy Clarke and Stefan Kadar of RGF roll in and then saw Josh Halvex (a strong Cat3) of Raisin Rack and knew the A race was shipping up to be worthwhile. I literally switched numbers on my jersey 3 times. When we finally got to roll up to the line I saw that Dan Quinlan (Elves and More), Andy Moskal (RGF) and Jeff Braumberger (Inferno) were also there.

I have to go back to before vaca and say I was a bit worried about doing Mid-Ohio at all because of the time off and no hard efforts before, but Sean Gilbert assured me that I would be fine, if not on my game (assuming I got any game to begin with).

So we roll off and its hard from the gun. RGF sends two different riders to the front for 2 or 3 laps and the pain index is pegged. Finally Andy MOskal goes off and everyone watches and we slow considerably. Now heres the funny thing about these sort of situations. On the one hand your happy that the pace has relented, though Mid-Ohio is a much tougher course to ride then you would think, but on the other hand it really starts to get boring. Especially when you cant do anything about it.

Bridging would be dumb because youd pull everyone to Andy and tire yourself out considerably. And more so you know that RGF has two equally strong guys to control everything. Racing scared sucks, but its as much survival as it is anything. So Andy finally comes back after some jumps by Josh, a little pulling by me and Dan. But i am sure most are thinking what I am thinking. When Andy comes back, counter attacks will come fast and hard.

Very surprising Jeff is not racing aggressively, but it turns out afterwards he said his legs werent good all day. Jeff was one of my heroes back in the 80's and 90's if that dates us both. I wanted him to attack with Dan and then I'd go and draw out one RGF then wed have split the field. But all attacks were met by accelerations from the 8 of us that were left after 5 or so of the 14 total laps were completed. Small field, and everyone a stud.

The race pace was going from 24 to 24.5mph and finally I threw my hand hoping to get something going on the back straight (where in the karts I used to race I'd be going 80 to 90mph). I got a huge gap straight away by going 36mph down the back and continuing to push through the twisties. But afterwards it appeared that the time I was away was one of the fastest laps 25.8. I was brought back after only one lap and decided to hang low and only went when others went.

But those accelerations were pretty brutal with Jeff, Stefan, Andy, Dan, Josh, etc. all throwing down at some point. and certasin sections of the track were really tough just to stay with the group. We agreed the race wasnt hard enough, but that it was still a tough race. Does that make any sense? Maybe the race pace wasnt brutal all the way, but the course and strong winds really zapped your strength regardless.

Entering the 3rd to the last lap up the front straight I noticed we had dropped Kadar and immediately rode up past Dan and Jeff hoping for some allies and told them both that he was dropped. I figured they knew he was the fastest guy in the race and I went to the front to up the pace from turn one to the top of the Keyhole, but Dan and Jeff didnt help. I too didnt want to pull forever or too hard as I wasnt feeling all that strong and knew I needed to save something in case the race did a last lap split or a field sprint.

When we got to 2 to go Moskal was ramping it up probably to tire everyone for Stefan to sprint it out, but Andy Clarke waved him off and pulled us for the full last 2 laps and no one fell out of position. I was 2nd wheel and felt like I was recovering the whole time. I was inches to a foot off Andy and trying to draft as best I could.

On the last lap I keep thinking when can I jump? Should I jump at the slowest parts of the course in the left hander before the Carousel? Its a painful place to attack, but with a long uphill finish I didnt think I could hold the wattage I'd need for that long. But more than anything I am thinking about how many times I have tired myself out on the last 2 or 3 laps trying to get a break away and failed and used that excuse for why my sprint was so poor.

So I make the decision more or less that this time I WILL sit in and wait for the sprint to the line. Halvex, Braumberger, Moskal, Quinlan, etc. all sprint strong, but you never know.

We hit the front straight going for the line and Clarke is still in front and I am still 2nd wheel. I hear everyone start to go and I am already up two teeth ready for the sprint and I pre-think to go to the windless side of Clarke to start my sprint and at first everyone gaps me, but I pour it on as hard as I can hoping maybe someone will fade and still everyone but Andy of course pulls away. I gut it out for everything I have and hit 936 watts, which is pretty high for me at the end of a race. It goes Moskal first, Halvex and Kadar got back on and took 3rd.

I get 7th out of the 8 that are left. Not too good, but I got a some serious jumps in my legs, high cadence and high power intervals. I paid for the effort as my legs were in serious pain the next day. On to the Vrooman Road TT and Race For Alex. Hopefully I'll have some race legs for that one.

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