Thursday, April 13, 2006

Gainesville Georgia Cup race report

The Cat 5 time trial started early Saturday in a steady rain. Luckily, it was about 60 degrees, so freezing to death was not likely. The 10K course consisted of the inside lanes of a divided 4-lane road south of Gainesville (Tanner something, I think). There were a few rolling hills, but in general the course was fast. There were about 25 Cat 5 TT entrants, I think.

The Cat 5 criterium started Saturday at 5pm, after the womens crit. The womens crit was interesting to watch, because the organizers lumped all the women into one race, Cat 4 thorough Pro 1-2. Obviously the race blew apart quickly and the Aarons team dominated most of the race. I heard the announcer call out Renee Martinez from MAX cycling team, but could not find her after the race.

There were 58 entrants in the Cat 5 crit. I've never raced a crit before and had little idea what to expect. Later, more experienced riders told me the course was one of the fastest they had raced. As I found out very quickly, crit racing success is all about accelerations and bike handleing. The downtown course was about 0.6 mile long and relatively flat. The key was being able to accelerate through and out of the four turns in the course to stay with the leaders. Unfortunately for me, a main peloton never really seemed to form. A few strong riders led by the Clemson team quickly pulled off the front as the accelerations and turns popped riders off the back in groups of 2 to 5. Once in a while I found relative comfort in a group of 3 or 4 riders, but even small groups broke up quickly because of all the accelerations. The race was 20 minutes plus 5 laps, which ended up being 17 laps total. At about lap 10 or 11, the announcer said that the 3rd place guy passed my group of about 6 riders. I never saw 1st or 2nd come by us. I finished the crit 16th, 4th in a group of about 8 riders.

The Cat 5 road race was 4 laps around a 6-mile hilly course. The 59 riders started the course with a mile or so of flat road, then had a long decent. Shortly after the decent was a mile-long 9% climb that worked wonders on the peleton. Two more smaller hills followed the big one before a short downhill finish. I think the peloton lost a good-sized clump of riders on the big hill on each lap, but I'm not sure. I managed to stay with the lead group on each of the four big climbs, but had absolutely nothing left each time. On the final lap, there were 18 in the front group. The Clemson team of about 3 riders tried an attack on the second to the last small hill. I momentarily lost contact with the group, but fought back on the decent. It was an all-out sprint-climb up the last small hill. Unexpectedly, the Cat 5 yellow jersey was at the back of the front group with me. I figured he'd be a good wheel to ride to the finish. He pulled me past a few folks on the decent and I finished 14 out of 18 in the front group.

The most amazing thing I saw was the winning move. William Harrison also started the final short climb with me at the back of the pack, but somehow fought his way to the front to win the race!

Shortly after we finished, I saw the finish of the masters road race. Jeff Clayton, MAX Cycling, took 3rd in a group of three that broke off the front of that race. Congratulations, Jeff.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Bike Racing

I've sort of switched my focus this year after catching the bike racing bug. I raced the Cat 5 circuit race in Perry, GA, the Perry-Roubaix a couple of weeks ago. I did ok, finished 7th out of 17 (7th out of 9 in a bunch sprint).

Last weekend I raced all three races (Omnium) in Gainsville. I finished 10th out of about 25 in the time trial, 16th out of about 55 in the criterium, and 14th out of 58 in the road race. I was very pleased with all of my results considering that I haven't really done any bike training this year other than riding about 50 miles a week and doing a few hill repeats on the Computrainer.

I enjoyed the change in the competition from triathlon, and I think I'll do some more bike racing this year.