Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Where's The Podium? #14: ToPC Road Race/Criterium

Back to racing at the Tour of Page County. This is a race for the hardmen. The strongest made their presence known and the weaker were picked off by these two grueling days. Everyone was challenged and I, for one, had a great weekend with friends and bikes.

This race was promoted by teammate Chris Gould. His tireless efforts to put on a memorable and challenging weekend should not go without mention. Everyone that put in efforts to have this weekend of racing (not unlike many others, but not all) to run as smoothly as possible did a great job. It was a new experience for me to help out with corner marshaling, but I learned a lot and still raced as best I could, and to be honest, better than I expected, though there aren't any good results to show for it.

If I was not racing, I was to be on a corner. This made for an added challenge to the efforts out there, but I am glad I could do my part in the whole that made this all work.

Anyway, Saturday was the road race. I went in with minimal expectations and a mind to just ride with the group for as long as I could. I also rode with the mindset that I was back to racing after a lot of unexpected time off, and form was what I as personally after. Yes, I did expect to get dropped. I could go into why I thought that, but there's not much use beyond me knowing that I would. No selling myself short here, though. Remember, I did better than expected.

The pace wasn't blistering from the start and for the most part, it was tame throughout the first half of my race. In the race I was described as somewhat "aggressive" by my teammate. I'll take that. I thought, as long as the pace isn't that I'm being shelled off the back, I might as well be active on the front with a teammate in mind and fall off when I fall off. So that's just how it went. I didn't know the course, but our race was to ride it for 5 laps and approximately 60 miles. I made it 4 with 3 in the group and the last on solo off the back.

While I was with the group, I think I rode well. I was in the mix near the front as often as I could be. I drove pace a bit, wasn't afraid to hit the front leading into climbs, and did my part to ride tempo and recover when I could. Again, after the 3rd lap I fell off to ride a lap solo and I knew my race was over. I still have a lot to learn about this distance and these efforts for so long on my body. I am still figuring out what I need, how I can rely on a feed for my bottles, and what I must do to prepare for such rides.

With what I knew and how I had been feeling leading up to this race, I had a good race Saturday. I should now know that feeds are expected at this distance and with a bigger team, I might be more likely to have someone help me out and hand me a bottle. Thus, I need feed bottles at the ready. This road race marked the first time I have ever had a bottle handed to me and it was perfectly done so by teammate Ed Patrick's wife, Kristin. A big thank you goes to her for helping me surviving as long as I did and to Andrew, while in the race, for keeping my head straight about getting a bottle when I needed to.

Andrew took 7th for the road race. I could tell he would have gotten a better spot, but he got boxed in on that climb and could not move around to edge out a better spot. With that race over I was back to my car for a quick change, fluid and food gathering, and back out to a corner for some second half marshaling. I am happy with how the race went for me and it helped to build some measure of confidence in myself for the races to come.

Saturday night was another pleasant surprise. I'm having trouble adequately summing up all that happened. Not because I was drunky, but just because there was so much going on. All the people, conversations, jokes, food, beer selections, and smiles made me so excited to be there. I don't know how people found much comfortable sleep with the rowdiness some of us "last standing" caused, but it made for a memorable time.

Sunday was ahead and more racing with it. The downtown Luray Criterium is something everyone who has raced will not soon forget. That climb. Ouch. Each race had lapped riders, breakaways, and strong finishers. I was not one of those finishers, but I'll live. Marshaling was tough, but it didn't have it as bad as some and I knew I wouldn't last the whole race.

Again, this race weekend was all about getting back some form and having some momentum to carry into the next weekend; which will be in the Millersberg Stage Race. I lost weight and am happy with how my bike performed. Ahead to Millersberg, we're going to have a larger than usual Cat 3 squad and a rider or two that we want to have in contention for that general classification (one in particular, mind you). Awesome! I will be doing my absolute best to help out when and where I can and am not afraid to sacrifice myself for that possibility of a teammate winning. At this point, I am happy to play the teammate role and I know it doesn't go unappreciated. I just hope my efforts are used to the best of their ability and that I can make a positive difference for the team!

By the Numbers:

  • Time - 2 hours 32min.
  • Distance - 51.7 mi.
  • Speed - Max: 48.5 mph. Average: 20.3 mph.
  • Elevation gain - 3,957 ft.
... not a lot to talk about, so I'll leave it at that.

Thanks for reading and I hope to race this again next year. Results should be better by then, though the race will be just as hard.


  1. avg speed 20.3 mph. i really have to get a monitor for my bike so i can see what i do myself. i know im not racing like you do, you race for me hehe. i would just love to see my own stats.

    Im also curious about what marshaling entails. is it just keeping spectators out of the way so when racers come into the corners they wont have contact with anyone? elaborate, please johnny b.

  2. Well, I must say that average speeds will depend on the course profile a lot. This was a hilly one. The next weekend will be more tame in that regard, so the pace should be up, but yeah it all depends and it's fun to see. I really would like a power meter to see what kind of work I'm doing.

    As far as marshaling, it's all about keeping cars off the course at critical moments and to keep racers pointed in the right direction through turns. This weekend had no misdirections, but I have heard of that happening a lot the past few weekends. I would not have much appreciated being directed off course, but I guess I should know that it happens sometimes and no one means ill-will to racers when marshaling.

    This weekend, however, there were a lot of close calls with drivers seemingly hell-bent on getting through the course when directed otherwise. Whether they knew about the race or not they really didn't know the kind of danger they were causing. It was hard to keep composure when someone just screams on to the course with out a care for the safety of others. I wasn't put into too much difficulty on my corners beyond the sun and feeling a bit of pressure when you have to hold up traffic for so long, but the alternative disaster situation is a quick reminder of how crucial holding up traffic is.