21
Sep
09

Greenville RR review

It’s been a while since I posted about a race, and that’s really because I haven’t been doing much racing. I did do a rally in August, a 100-miler that felt fantastic, even in the heat, and I probably should have written a review about the Texas State Team Time Trials, in which we placed 4th with just 3 riders, but I’ve been focused on writing a book about WKO+ software, and getting the fall program set up for the Cycling Center of Dallas. But this past weekend, myself and 3 other Mirage cat 3’s entered the Cotton Patch Classic, a race AND rally, which was also a stage race, and was ALSO an omnium (points instead of time).

I prepped for the event as best I could, including my now famous need for Sushi the night before the race. For some reason, sushi just does it for me. I’ve always had great results the next day, stayed out of cramping trouble, and generally had that sense of well-being that is so necessary to race. Race gear was the basic Soloist with Aeolus 6.5’s, three water bottles, and my trusty Quarq Saturn.

An Omnium race is a little different in terms of stage racing. Instead of racing for time, you’re racing for points based on finish. Points are given six deep, I think, maybe 8 or 10, but time doesn’t count. As a result, in the past there had been hotspot time bonuses out on the course. This year, there were none.

We rolled out on time, about 50 of us, and it took about half an hour before someone started the fireworks. Shawn Hodges and I communicated really well, and when he attempted a breakaway, I blocked for him. However, it never really went anywhere. About 40 minutes in, I attempted my first attack, and got off the front with one or two other cyclists. However, our break never got more than a minute up the road, and we were reeled in. I tried again at minute 50, and again at minute 56, only to get sucked back in to the pack after a few miles. My teammate Robert Snedden then launched an attack, but it, too, was slowly reeled in. Nothing was sticking.

Finally, at about 2 hours, I launched an attack that ended up becoming a solo effort that lasted roughly 9 miles. After that, though, I was cooked. There wasn’t much left in the tank, and the pack was going to decide the winner at the finish line. I tried to lead out my teammates at 2k, but my speed just wasn’t high enough to keep others from attempting to pass me. Then, there was a ton of confusion in the last kilometer, and we ended up rolling across the finish line sort of without even knowing that it had arrived. None of the Mirage riders got points for the Omnium, and there was the usual finish-line crash.

But I was really, really, really upset about that finish. Notsomuch about my results, or my team’s results, but about the way the finish was set up. The finish line was at the bottom of a rolling hill, on the far side of a low bridge. There were cars obstructing the shoulder, as well as the officials’ tent, and there was a cop car on the left hand side that added to the confusion. We finished at high speed, but there was no way to truly accelerate or lead out or get away, and there was a perceived ‘squeeze’ at the finish line that really left a bad taste in everyone’s mouths. It was really unfortunate, because the course itself was such a great course. But if you want to tie it up with a bow, you have to have a great finish. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and a good rider went down because of it. I had such a bad taste in my mouth after the race, that I decided to come home instead of contest the TT and Crit over the next two days.

Now, what’s the moral of this story? Hmmm. I could point fingers everywhere, but instead, I think it’s important to make something constructive out of this experience.

  • First off, it was, for me, a great race. For 98% of that event, Mirage was at the front, attacking, blocking, counter attacking, and trying to keep the pace high.
  • I’m really happy with my fitness right now, and that of my teammates. We rode well together, communicated, and basically played the game. I like this. It’s something I’ve dreamed of for years.
  • When you have a complaint, not only do you count to ten, you count to about 1000. You write your complaint down on paper, edit it, rewrite it, and then submit it to the Race Director. For this event, as soon as I was finished, I did everything wrong, and I went after the Finish line officials, the Race Director, the local Gendarmes, and several teams that never bothered to show their noses at the front. It was the WRONG WAY to elicit change or get an audience that would listen. Later, much later, I was able to talk with two or three officials, and two Race Directors, to vent my comments. They listened, they agreed, and they vowed to change. I also posted all the GOOD THINGS about the course and race on the local state racing forum. The thing is, that you’re not going to be able to re-race the race. It’s over. It’s done. You can’t affect the outcome. Move on.
  • No matter what, no matter how early or how late you get to an event, SCOUT THE FINISH LINE!!!! Had I KNOWN that there would be a downhill finish, with different road types, different cones, etc. I would have been better prepared. Had I KNOWN where the finish line was (it was definitely confusing, thanks to a million cones and cars in the way), I would have been better prepared and picked a better location to be in, or I would have known where to attack.

There was lots to like about this race, and lots to dislike. However, its’ proximity to Dallas, and its’ time in the season, make it a must-do for next year. Hopefully the promoter will take the lessons to heart, but I also need to show up better prepared. I might GPS this thing next year.

TSS for the race was 229 points, IF was 90.2%, and Pnorm for the event was 259 watts. The attacks were my strong point, though they may have been TOO strong, since I never got enough people to go with me. Lesson learned.

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