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CHERRY PIE 2004
RACE REPORT: cat 3, 4, 5

Pre-race conditions:

Unbelievable weather conditions. Too warm and dry for February and no wind. The conditions have everyone confused about their standard Cherry Pie race strategies.

I strained my right hamstring on Saturday. I am not too concerned because it is not a critical muscle for riding. I am feeling overly nervous about the race. I feel uncomfortable about the size of the pack at the line up, 113 cat3, 4 and 5s. I am not enjoying the experience. Laurie and the kids show up. They come over and give me hugs. That reminds me what is most important in life and relieves some of the pressure.

The race:

The start is very congested. I loose contact with the team. I am about 4 or 5 rows back from the team. I am riding on the center line. I can’t see any opportunities to move up with out crossing. Someone on the team is talking to me from behind. They want me to move up. I just don’t see any safe openings. I don’t know who is behind me. I thought everyone was in front of me. There is a lot of tension in the pack. There is bound to be a crash in these tight conditions. The pack is slinking back and forth. I don’t enjoy this kind of riding. I concentrate on staying steady while not giving any room for anyone to take the wheel in front of me. Another acceleration and an immediate stall causes me to hit the wheel in front of me. No big deal. I bobble a little but hold a steady line. Then someone hits me hard from behind. I hear the sounds of bikes getting tangled up and going down. I suspect it is my team mate. I don’t look back and I am really bummed out. That really takes the fun out of the whole experience for me. I don’t worry too much about myself being in a crash but I don’t like being connected to someone else crashing.

It becomes obvious this is the way it is going to be until we hit the hills. I look for some advancement opportunities out of the corners. The best I can do is to not allow any one else to move up on me.

The hills finally come and things start to spread out, as expected. The first hill is the longest and steepest, 1.5 miles and 800' rise. My legs feel tired. I maintain a steady pace up to the steep part passing more people than pass me. The lead pack becomes firmly established and accelerates ahead of the weak climbers like myself. I am somewhere back in the remains. My legs just don’t feel strong today. I make it over the top and look for other riders to work together on the descent to the next roller. I am working with 4 other riders. We hit the next roller and I power up it dropping the group I was with. I pass a team mate, Steve, right at the top of the roller. He gets in front of me to pull me up to the next group of chasers. Very quickly we start climbing the final roller. The final roller starts off steep and then the slope reduces to the top. It is deceptive because it is easy to think you are finished at the top of the steep section. I know to drive all the way through the mailboxes on the right. I loose Steve but I am almost on the chase group.

I catch the chase group on the descent before we hit the open flats. I recover on the back of the chase group for a few minutes before I move into the paceline. It is not a very efficient paceline but we are making progress towards the lead pack. We eventually catch them right at the I5 overpass just before we begin the 2nd and final lap of the course.

I am at the back of the pack. I can see Brice about 5 rows of riders ahead. It is the same situation as the start except there is no one behind me. My legs feel very tired for this short of a distance and the intensity hasn’t been that great. I just sit back and try to let them recover. When we get into the corners I start to move up a little. I get about 3 riders back of Brice. I am hoping I can get up with him before the climb through the hills. I am really concerned about the tired condition of my legs. We turn onto Gap Road and head for the hills. I start to move up some more but so does Brice. There is a crash on the right just as we enter the foothills. I accelerate a little in hopes of gaining some ground before the first long hill. I hang in there for the first 2/3 of the first hill. Again I get dropped by the leaders on the steep section. I have to work to catch up with a group of 3 chasers on the descent. 2 more riders catch on before the 2nd roller. I power up the roller and sit up to allow the rest of the group to catch and pass me going into the final roller. Again I power up the final roller leading the chase group and I sit up to allow them to pass. There is a collection of about 6 or 7 of us.

I sit on the back to recover and assess the situation for the finish. We are not going to catch the lead pack before the finish. There is confusion and frustration among the group as to who wants to work. I take a couple strong pulls at the front to keep things moving. As we get closer to the 1 km mark, I am more careful about my position. I am sitting in 5th position as we pass the 1 km mark. I hear one Team O member yell a word of caution to a big powerful looking team mate to think about his position for the sprint. That verbal clue gave me my target. I just stuck to his wheel. He started to move clear before the 200 m sign. He jumped at the 200 m mark. I knew he wouldn’t have enough to push that hard for that long. I waited until 100 meters before I jumped off his wheel and accelerated past him to the finish. He was trying to find something down deep but it was too late. A good finish for a difficult day for me.

In hindsight, probably not a bad day for a 40 year old fat guy and considering how I felt. I don’t know my exact placing. Probably in the top 50. I wasn’t even in the top 80 last year. I continue to learn a lot about myself and racing. I will continue to struggle as long as my climbing ability is weak. I will definitely make a greater effort to be at the front of the start line in the future.
 

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The web is a MUT
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Experience

You knew the course, you know yourself, congratulations.

And thanks for the report. Always encouraging to read of others improvements. Especially in this early of a race, double especially since we're still snow-impaired here in the mid-west.
 

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pack fodder
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Thanks for the report. I'll be starting as a Cat 5 racer this year (I did one citizen's race last autumn) and reading these kinds of reports gives me an idea of what to expect. It seems like when "Cat 5" is mentioned, the word "crash" isn't far behind! :)

Congrats on the improved finish. How much training did you do in the off-season?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Crashes happen in all cats and at every level. There was a big crash at the finish of the Pro/1/2 that sent someone to the hospital. It may happen more often in the 4/5 when riding in tight groups.

It didn't seem like I did an extraordinary amount of off-season training. I was able to do more local weekend group rides with very strong experienced riders. I think the improvement is more related to the accumulation of time in the saddle and group training rides.

The weekend group rides are only in the 50 - 80 mile range with some intermittent high intensity segments. I have been doing some hill repeats on Tuesday evenings and ss mtbing on Wednesdays nights. I am also in the middle of a max weight lifting phase.

I am probably due for a rest week. I won't be able to ride much this week because I am feeling the need to spend some more quality time with the family. I may not finish my max strength phase and just transition to a stength maintenance routine. The heavy squat weights are risky for my back (herniated disc). I can't stop thinking that I can get more out of this 40 year old body.

Good luck. Give us a report.

HouseMoney said:
Thanks for the report. I'll be starting as a Cat 5 racer this year (I did one citizen's race last autumn) and reading these kinds of reports gives me an idea of what to expect. It seems like when "Cat 5" is mentioned, the word "crash" isn't far behind! :)

Congrats on the improved finish. How much training did you do in the off-season?
 

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NeoRetroGrouch
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Thanks, it's great to see a race report...

Just reading it starts the adrenalin. The season is near!

TF
 

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TurboTurtle said:
Just reading it starts the adrenalin. The season is near!

TF
I couldn't have said it better myself. First training race is in two weeks.

I wish I had races like that near me. We jokingly refer to NJ racing the "NBC Series". That stands for, Nothing But Crits. 800 ft. of climbing? In just one climb? I doubt all my races combined came close to that. I'm one of those skinny climbing guys so I'm very jealous.

Nice report, keep them coming!
 

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pack fodder
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biknben said:
First training race is in two weeks.
Branch Brook Park?! I'd planned to start Cat 5 racing by entering the Readington TT (or Sandy Hook the week b4), but I may try one or a few of the BBP training races just to get my feet wet (and frost-bitten).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Oregon schedule

biknben said:
I couldn't have said it better myself. First training race is in two weeks.

I wish I had races like that near me. We jokingly refer to NJ racing the "NBC Series". That stands for, Nothing But Crits. 800 ft. of climbing? In just one climb? I doubt all my races combined came close to that. I'm one of those skinny climbing guys so I'm very jealous.

Nice report, keep them coming!
I don't know a lot about racing schedules. I do think Oregon has a very well though out schedule of events. The season starts out with a variety of one day road races through April. There is a local TT series in April and May. The April TT is a flat course. The May TT is a hill climb. The stage races start in May thru July. The local crit series begins in June and runs through August.

For me this is an awesome schedule of events. It is easy to put together a progressive training plan from endurance to interval intensity. By July, the Tuesday crits series is enough for me. I enjoy more camping and epic mtbing since the trails are clear. I consider it the reward for all the hard work through the Spring.

This is definitely a mountain state. 90% of the races have some elevation gains. All of the stage races emphasize the mountains. I have more of a sprinter body composition. At this point, I just can't match the prolonged climbing intensity that good road racers have. Oh well, I can only get better. I can't imagine what life would be like if I actually was completely satisfied with my abilities.

"Those that are not humble will be humiliated"
 

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You got it...

HouseMoney said:
Branch Brook Park?! I'd planned to start Cat 5 racing by entering the Readington TT (or Sandy Hook the week b4), but I may try one or a few of the BBP training races just to get my feet wet (and frost-bitten).
Yeah...Branch Brook is the place!!!

FWIW: There is no better place to get your feet wet. The BBP races and Skillman series are good places to start. The turnout is a little less and everyone is just chillin.
 
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