Sunday, November 2, 2008

Kirtland Park A Race

For the first time all year I could warm-up on my SS bike instead of my geared bike. I knew I was probably undergeared, but decided to race the SS anyways. I only own one freewheel so the bike was geared the same as usual. Warm-up went fine till I fell on the off-camber by the service garage. I had already made it a few times before the B race so I went and rerode it a couple times. The line had changed and I found one that allowed me to get up it, if not almost at a standstill!!

This time I got a front row start and the field of 29 was pretty stacked with Gary Pflug returning (winner of Spin's race) and some other fast young guys. I didnt have a bad start actually, but by the time we got to the 180 at the end, I was really far back. I was spun out on my gear so I couldnt have gone any quicker. Cameron took the banzai line to the inside, which I should have done too given my poor position again. It really worked for him.

This is the course with the stadium section and a series of 3 off camber, pretty steep 180's. Number one goal was not to stack it up in the 180's. I was so so in there, but clean every lap, but once.

First couple laps I am in a nose to tail battle with Spin's Jason Halloran and Jeff Craft and hes stuck to me like glue, even showing his nose here and there. And I am stuck to Craft! We hit the off camber on the west end of the course and Jeff baubles and Jason and I get a gap. The next lap before i figure out my best line I bobble and need to take a step and this works out worse for Jason and Ive now gapped him. I felt bad about my mistake dropping Jason.

What I learned after that lap was when I came up to the turn I needed to run my pedals like in a corner with one pedal up, one down (outside) and as soon as I got to the point where I was past the chewed up grass I had to stand up and put that top pedal down hard in one movement to jump me back up to speed as I ran wide and made the corner as shallow as possible. This would never have worked in the wet!!

Again I was undergeared so I went super hard out of the corners and even harder up the run-ups. I gave those everything I had. I also figured that I didnt have the top end, but the sooner I hit my top end I was making the best of my situation. So I sprinted hard out of the corners anytime I knew I was going to spin out my gear. This helped later as I'll explain shortly.

I was in a battle the whole race. Looking back and looking ahead I had the fast young guy who flatted in a top spot at Spin and Tony, then ahead of them was Rudy and Cameron having a great race. The gap to Tony and the other guy (sorry-I dont know his name) wavered a lot, but the gap to Rudy and Cameron never changed more than 1 or 2 seconds I bet the entire race!! So although we never battled it out closely I would say I raced Rudy, Cameron, Tony, etc. the whole race.

Like at Chagrin the previous day I worked on being more perfect every lap. Faster and faster through the corners, quicker in the stadium, baseball field, off camber. And really worked on getting in my pedals at the top of the all the sets of stairs. I could really feel my speed increase in all areas too. All except the really steep 180!! That thing has my number! I know in my mind I can let go of the brakes once I am pointed in the right direction at the top, but I wont do it.

Near the end Tony got tired from the ballistic pace and as I started to catch him I got to see his lines (that kids got style and speed) and my speed in the "playground" with all of the turns went up dramatically for the last 2 laps, which also ended up helping me.

And who do you think is coming late in the race? Thom and Jason have hooked up and they are eating into me as I too get faster. Again its race on!! But unlike Chagrin where I was both physically and mentally exhausted I felt fast and had a clear head at the end of the race so it was going to be good.

Thom's pace finally dropped Jason, but Jason really rode strong again today. Thom closed down big gaps three times late. This was serious fun, but what a hectic last lap!! I actually told myself with 3 to go that I needed to be perfect everywhere doing everything so that's what I aspired to. I really concentrated. Doing things like nto taking turn in points for granted or making sure my speed entring corners wasnt to fast or slow and geting off the brakes as soon as possible in the 180's.

On the bell lap I go past start finish already spun out, but trying to spin even higher. Thom told me he put in a big effort and almost caught me at the tree, but I rounded the tree pretty well and put in a huge acceleration going back the other way which took Thom by surprise and the gap opened up again. I go like heck to the west steps just bombing the little drop off up in the trees. All of this is killing me, but I have to do it.

I am still trying my best in the run-ups, but Thom catches me again, but I remount quicker and accelerate well off the top of the west steps by getting right into both Eggbeaters to the baseball field. I am catching some lapped guys and they stumble in the off camber and I lose some time. But not much. So now I have to dig really deep around the outfield. I sprint three times to get through the field and another short burst by registration and cleanly hit the first 180 in the stadium.

In the stadium I screw up on the steepest 180 for the first time and almost go down the hill, but I save it with a toe tap and continue down the last 180 fine then around the trees into the amphitheater and I can hear Thom's catching me again by the crowd yelling. Up the east run up with a gap, but I can hear him breathing at the top and see him alsmot next to me!! Gap gone again to Thom on a run-up!! But I gap him on the remount and down the hill.

I know hitting the finish straight in a two up race is Thom's so I again try to max out the playground turns. But I need to take chances of the front slipping out, but do them clean, no bobbles!! I have my best lap through there and come out with a gap and sprint it for the line for 11th overall and 9th in the A's!!! Gary and Rudy were ahead in Masters.

So maybe not my best race of the year in terms of position, but who's complaining!?!?! Not me-I love being in the thick of the battles in the Lake Effect races this year. And this was one of the best battles Ive had in a race period. Maybe even better than the one with Jeff and Rudy at Spin where again we hammered each other into a pulp or last year against Zak at Orrville.

But I loved today's race from many standpoints. I made some little decisions due to my gearing that I think paid off. I had to ride clean and unlike at Spin where I crashed myself out of an 8th out of 48 trying too hard I kept it together today. Crash free in fact!!

Wow, what a weekend and what a pair of races. I had no idea how my legs and back would be after Saturday's abuse, but dinner of made from scratch oatmeal, buttermilk pancakes and smores sitting by a fire late into the evening at a friend's house Saturday night must have been the perfect recovery regimen.

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