The Lady Luck of Racing

Race #1 Grand Rapids Criterium (Women’s 3/4) – BAD Luck.

This weekend I decided to go up and race the Grand Rapids Criterium (Women’s 3-4) on Saturday.  Not much in miles this year, haven’t done a crit in 3 or 4 years I think, but what the heck, the Michigan Women’s Racing Forum was encouraging 3’s and 4’s to come out and race as the promoter made a separate race this year for the 3/4’s.  Three days before the race, I renewed my USA Cycling road license and registered for the race.  Two days before the race, some aggressive bouldering at the local climbing gym tweaked my hip out.  As Danny, Devin and Brett can attest to, I was a whiny bundle of nerves during the drive and before the race.  I squeezed into the skinsuit and warmed up on the rollers of which I gracelessly slid (ok, fell) off 5 minutes later – maybe the beginning of the brake issue?  Warming up on the course (there were delays in starting our race), I just felt tired and sluggish – thinking, yeah a bit out of shape, but must be nerves.  Race started with 15 of us, not too bad a pace on a great 8 corner course – and I felt awful.  I was up where I needed to be, but after a few laps I was so utterly exhausted, I  just slid off the back and finished the race by myself, not quite dead last, but almost.  Very heartbroken, thinking the Wednesday ride is faster, maybe I can no longer do this, I sat next to the car for a bit then as I lifted my bike to the rack, I noticed the back wheel was immobile….come to find out, my brake had shifted and was rubbing quite nicely against my wheel.  I laughed.  Frustrating, but laughing was all I could do.  Bummer!

Race #2  Milford State Criterium Championships (Women 4) – GOOD Luck (and darn lucky!)

Saturday night, I couldn’t stop thinking about racing, about maybe more structured training next year…and thinking about the Milford Crit.  But our house has been in construction mode for a while and really needs to be done.  I promised I would work on it this weekend.  But the race….  Couldn’t sleep, woke up at 6 am, debating, what time do I have to leave, but the house…  Paced the house, finally Brett grabs me and says go, I’ll load your bike, you can still make it over for the 10:45 am start (it was 7:25 am).  Some slight exceeding the speed limit, I didn’t tell anyone from the team in case a repeat of performance of Saturday (minus the brake – just my lack of endurance).  Made it, walked into Devin around a corner and to my nervous delight, was thrilled to see him.  He helped pin my number on a smelly skinsuit (sort of forgot to wash it..) and got me set up before heading out for church. 

13 strong Cat 4 women (I was the 13th) for 35 minutes plus 2 laps on the great, technical, bit hilly Milford course.  Off the get go I was out front for a lap to test the corners and then tucked myself in the top 5.  One gal decided she didn’t want me to have the 4th spot and kept trying (quite unsucessfully) to ‘push’ me back.  I politely declined her advances, took the spot, then when she made a small verbal complaint, I very gently guided her tighter into the corner than I think she preferred (I did not and would not intentionally ever put someone in a ditch or off course, but if you are going to actually bump shoulders with me over a spot, I will happily let you know that I could put you in a ditch if you persist).  It was all good btw, we chatted afterward.  A good race, several of us led some strong laps.  My cornering was stronger, but my low endurance wouldn’t allow me to stray far from the pack without risking a blowup.  The last left hand corner is just wicked and requires a lot of handling skill at high speeds.  I was testing the corner, trying to tighten my line to gain spots.  Final lap, and one of the stronger, better cornering gals, Shannon, attacked the field, and with a quick jump, I tucked in right behind her, ready for the final sprint.  We hit that corner fast and hard and Shannon went down right in front of me and slid slightly right.  Never touching my brakes, I actually tightened my line into the turn and flew right by her.  My sprint needs some serious work, I forgot I was on the hoods, but sprint I did, not knowing who else was right behind me.  Almost to the finish, I risked a look back and they were far enough back (they told me they got caught behind Shannon – took their corner too wide), I was able to do a victory salute….except, I wasn’t over the line yet!!  They have a banner over a section of bricks – looks like the finish, but the tiny white line is 20 feet more forward.  After looking at the finish picture, I was really, really darn lucky I didn’t get passed at the actual line (with my hands in the air)!!  Thank you Lady Luck for that one – I owe you!! 

Thanks to Devin and to Jack for making the day fun!

Tri Del Sol Duathlon Race Report 7.21.12

On Saturday my wife twisted my arm and made me do a duathlon while she competed in her first Triathlon. The duathlon consisted of a 2mi run / 19mi bike / 4.9mi run. The first run I did fairly well and finished in the middle of the pack with a total time of 14:30. Then the bike started. It was a very rolling course with almost no flat sections. I made up a lot of ground and passed nearly everybody with a average of 22. Which is pretty good for me considering drafting is illegal, and as many of you know that’s the only way I can keep up on Wednesday night rides. Overall I had the third fastest bike split in the duathlon. Then the dreaded final ran began. It took almost ¾ of a mile before my calves stopped screaming at me. All that hard work and huge lead I had gained was quickly washed away by mile 2 or 3 as the other runners appeared to be sprinting right by my slow ass. I finished the run with a time of 41:24min – avg 8:30min/mi. Which is way better than the goal I had set for my self. Finished 3rd of 4 in my age bracket and 22nd of 59 overall.

Special thanks to WSI and Team Active for making all of this possible.

David Goff

Bloomer Park Cycling Heaven 7.22,12

Not only was there an awesome Mountain Bike race going on at Bloomer today, there was a full-on demonstration of races in the Velodrome.  I need to spend some time in the Velodrome and tell you more about it.

This race report is going to be  kind of ‘run of the mill’ because that was what my performance was.  I went out (my new Fuel EX frame was freaky fast) I rode the switch backs as well as I could , I rode the straight parts as fast as I could and I finished 3rd.

It was hot and dusty, no disasters, just kinda did was I was supposed to do.  I did ride behind Neil Sharphorn for a lap.  He is a legend.  70 plus years old, Nationally recognized MTB racer.  He was awesome to follow.  Awesome motor up-hills, was smooth as silk in the turns…I kept telling him how awesome he was, he was having trouble hearing me though so every time I talked to him, he slowed down so he could hear me….figured I would quit slowing him down.  And yes, he beat me by a couple minutes—most happy I will ever be to have been beat by a 70 year old stroke surviver….I can only hope to be that fast and fit when I am 70.

Thanks to WSI-Team Active for letting me live a dream.

Jack Miner.

Waterford Race 7.18.12 “Mind over Mechanical”

Both the A race and the B race last night at Waterford Hills were very strange.  Maybe it was just me and a couple other guys that I ride with there, but we all agreed that the races were very schizophrenic. The stats on my bike computer showed that we averaged about 24 miles an hour for 1:10 minutes or so, but the feeling I had in my legs was that we were going 30 mph for 10 hours!  The group was very nervous and there were a lot of quick line changes that kept everyone on edge.  We would power up to 30 MPH and then sit up a mile later at 18 MPH.  Based on what Devin and Danny have been reporting, this seems quite typical of a CAT 4 race, but it was more pronounced last night than I remember it at Waterford.

While I was awaiting the race to start, I heard a strange vibration in my bike, but looked at my hub (new power tap hub) and figured it was just the sound from the hub.  I should have looked at my brakes…more on that later. The first 30 minutes were the usual settling into a pace and getting to know each other, some new faces were there from Bay City TCC Racing and a guy from North Carolina (who thought the course was comically flat!) but these fresh faces seemed unusually uncomfortable in a pack, creating over-braking in the turns and wacky line changes over the splits in the cement.

I am loving my new GARMIN and Cycle Ops Power Tap, I get more data than a Formula One Pit crew chief (too bad I cannot fine tune the engine to put out more horse power.)  Power, Cadence, Heart Rate, Distance, Average Speed were all very similar to the last race, which surprised me—as I stated, I thought last night was a huge effort compared to 3 weeks ago.  Or, maybe it is the fact that I continued to hear a hum from my bike and with 10 minutes to go, I loosed my rear brake and realized that it had been rubbing the whole time.  The brake was a little off-center and there was just enough of a wobble in the rear wheel to cause it to rub, even with the brake released.  Unfortunately, I debugged that too late, if I had realized I was having an issue, I could have taken a mechanical lap, but not in the last 10 minutes of the race.  The hum from my bike and fear that my bike was having a mechanical wore on me the whole race and I think made it seem like a larger effort than it obviously was.

It was a pack finish for me and the IPA tasted extra good at the finish.  GO Team WSI-Team Active.  On my way to Bloomer Park to pre-ride the course for Sunday’s race.

Jack Miner