Saturday, May 31, 2008

People are doing weird shit on bikes these days. John Prolly's weekly tricks throw-down sees some pretty ill shit, and the trailer for the Bootleg Sessions II shows a horizontal trackstand and a short game of bikeslap that's really fucking awesome.

Of course, we're doing weird shit too, and getting some attention from strange places. Tracklocross/Mud Sweat and Tears got a write-up on Trend", which I didn't know even know about. But apparently we're the new hottest shit. Do we count the minutes until we've got a NYTimes Style Section article about us? I don't know. All I know is that tracklocross was borne from the idea that riding bikes on Randall's Island would be fun as shit. And it was!

Of course, lately I've just been into going fast and turning left on a 400 meter concrete oval. Wednesday saw a brutal 7-lap tempo that I took 3rd in, and a 12-lap Devil's Scratch as the B Feature race that I took 2nd in. I finally did a smart thing, marked the right guy, and completely stuck with him even though his sprinters' thighs have a serious edge on mine.

Tomorrow is Super Sprint Sunday, and me and the new bike are pretty excited for it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Occassionally, I've gone over to NY Velocity to read up on race results, or local racing news, or whatever.

Bad idea.

There is some toxic, petty bullshit going on over there. People fired up in the competetiveness of racing, combined with the easy anonymity of being an internet tough-guy... that's a website to avoid. Can't find last weekend's race results without tripping over the word "sandbagger" a dozen times!

But sandbagging is kind of obnoxious, and I wish the roadie who heads up all the Cat 5 fields on the track will just throw his luck in with the 4s. Where he'd do well enough, or get destroyed by other racers who are getting really smart at working together.

But I was able to get a bit of comeuppance in a 9 lap points race. Early in the race I went high up the banking on turn 2 and got a bit head of speed, opening up a gap. I looked back several times to see how close they were, but it took them a while to react! The gap grew as I tore around turns 1 and 2, and I kept the pace high all tooth-grinding down the back stretch, and stayed alone as I cruised past the line to take First in the first point sprint! That was the first time I've broken away like that, and I blew pretty well after it; the pack swallowed me, I sat on some wheels, and didn't score for the rest of the race.

Next up was a 7-lap scratch. Early on I was wondering two things - can I do it again, but with company? And how will I avoid that strong rider who's new to track racing and bouncing around in the pack? I whispered to him that if he went, I'd follow. He broke strong and it hurt to try to follow him; they chased us down pretty fast but people were tired. Not too tired, though; there was still a strong sprint at the end. I was in fourth trying to sneak up to 3rd, but instead, ex-5th caught me around the outside, and instead of sneaking 3rd, I got 5th.

And finally, a Win and Out. Not my favorite race, but it's one that I have a shot of doing pretty well in. I wanted to sit back on the first sprint, try to bridge to the losers of it, split the pack, recover, and have a shot for the second. It worked; the field was split, but not enough. I wound up sitting back for the second sprint and let some other dudes get tired, then moved hard on the backstretch and tore up their fatigue to win third.

These finishes qualified me for the B Feature race, with the 4s. A ten lap scratch - I figured I'd just sit in and enjoy it. Worked pretty well and I even reacted to the final move with enough time to be in the sprint - though at the tail end of it, getting 5th.

All in all, a good night at the track. Tomorrow morning is the road bike training ride, and the Saturday, Sunday, or Monday I'll find time to get in my sprint interval ride.

Maybe I should get a computer, so I can figure out how fast I'm going, ever. It's a pretty basic "training tool" - not like a thousand-dollar powermeter hub or crank*. I definitely want to get faster, and so some smart training, but I don't want to get caught up in the techie-game of it, focusing on watts and distances and stuff. I'd rather just listen to how my body feels, have fun, and get stronger.

*These aren't for me, but any shittalking I may do of people who use them is done entirely in jest. I used to be the same about lycra, which I wear in spades now, so, you know, grains of salt, feet in mouth, whatever.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Lesson learned. When you're doing all the work to catch somebody off the front in a scratch race, and you pull off what you think is a paceline and the dude in the fancy kit behind you says, "Don't give up now, let's catch him," just yell back, "If you want to catch him then take a fucking pull."

Don't just buckle back down, tow them to the leader, and blow up.

Stupid scratch races.

Finished 3rd in a miss and out, though.

I do sort of wish I didn't have twenty five miles worth of riding in thick traffic to go to and from the velodrome - though the short skitch off of the scooter piloted by everybody's favorite bike racing Hungarian cartoon character was fun.

Anyway, what can I expect after a week spent barely riding - well, every day, but nothing serious - you know? It's time to buckle down if that's what I want to do. Wednesday track races. Friday morning road bike rides. Sunday evening sprint workouts. Commuting, of course, for base miles (whatever those are good for*), and intervals in central park if I'm going that way.

*I can ride all day and never tire.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

A handful of New Yorkers traveled up to the Elm City yesterday for Grand Theft Velo II. I had talked a bit big before the race, saying that I was there to do better than I did last year (2nd overall, 1st out of town).

Last year's race was full of short sprints - 3 manifests with closely grouped checkpoints, many just given by location name, favoring the locals. It hurt me a few times, and with no time to plan the best route, a lot of on the fly decisions and hope-for-the-bests came into play. I thought I was doing worse than I actually was, seeing other riders leave checkpoints, but the hectic nature of the race was such that riders were flying by all over downtown, in all directions, and you couldn't really know who was where.

In the middle of the second manifest, we had to pick up a package and carry it with us the rest of the race. I had the misfortune of getting a long, triangular Fe
Blogger: tri state vagabond - Create PostdEx box that kept trying to fall out of the way I had it crammed between my bag and my back. Others were lucky enough to get flat packages. Buggery!

And, knowing full well that I was pretty sure I was wrong, I tried to quickly find a CP that was much further away, during the last manifest, and lost time and places. I finished 8th - well, sort of. 2nd place actually only did 2 manifests because of an organizer error, and rumor had it that the winner cheated something fierce (wtf?!) - so it's still a strong finish either way you cut it. But I wasn't thrilled. However, it was nice to race an alleycat again - it's been a while. Valentine Alleycat (in NYC, 4th place), and Battle for Brooklyn back in October, were the last two that I've done.

New Haven does know how to throw a good bike party, and it was nice to see some of the heads up there, including Matt from Ghostship, who's sponsoring Tracklocross pretty nicely.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

A crazy night last night at the track. On the way out, I got right-hooked by a livery cab turning into a driveway. Nearly right-hooked, anyway. It took some skilled skid-turning to avoid it, but I'm more impressed at my ability to engage in a very hostile argument in Spanish with the driver, who claimed que no tiene la culpa. I assured him that he did, and that in future, que necesita buscar, necesita usar los ojos! Pinche punetero!

It got my heartrate up, but that's not the same as warming up - I only got in a paltry two laps before the races started, and when the 5s were called to the rail for a 9 lap points race, I was cold. Bad condition for busting my ass, which I did, placing in two sprints and winning a respectable 3rd. But when it was all said and done, I felt like I was going to puke.

I felt a little bit better during the scratch, and moved strongly with Dan Bones. It didn't stick, though, and we wound up spending too much time in front. When things heated up on the final lap, I blew up hard, sat up, and didn't place. I was hurting. I'm going to have to figure out how to get the strength that some other folks have, for counterattacking and spending a couple laps off the front.

The third race was a miss and out; with somebody from Brooklyn Velo Force setting the pace, we hustled around the track, sprinting through turn 4, trying to avoid getting pulled off for getting in last each time. I stayed in the back for most of the lap, hustling up on turn 3 and coming down the banking on 4. It worked out well - I stayed in. For several laps I was boxed in on the inside but made some room in the sprint. I had a few kicks in me and hung on until there were just 3 of us remaining. Thinking that the neutral lap was the last lap, Andy kicked hard as the BVF rider moved forward, and I thought I was done. The pace stayed high into the actual bell lap and I fell off Andy's wheel. Hurting, I almost sat up and settled for 3rd, but I remembered that Andy was hurting as much as I was. Tapping into reserves, I put on an extra burst of speed and pulled even with him in turn 3; in turn 4, he looked over his left shoulder, but I was coming down the banking on his right. We sprinted hard and I edged him for 2nd place.

Of course, that put me in the uncomfortable spot of getting invited to the B Feature, to race with the 4s in a 12 lap points race. Immediately, with no break, and coughing like an asthmatic. Fortunately the pace stayed sane, and when I caught my breath by sucking wheel on the end of the line, I felt good enough to move up and place 3rd in one of the middle sprints.

I got a word from another rider about a move I had made, and started to think maybe I wasn't as safe a rider as I thought I am - maybe my confidence isn't so deserved. But talking about it later, he clarified what he had told me - just that I had unintentionally blocked him. Not unsafe, just (perhaps) unwise; he went on to compliment some of my riding, which made me feel a whole lot better.

Can you tell I'm excited for these Wednesday night races? Some people are encouraging me to upgrade to the Cat 4, but I'd like to stay in the 5 field for a handful more races in order to gain confidence, continue getting in better shape, and wait till I get a bit faster. Maybe after a few weeks of the sprint/recovery training that I am planning.

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