There were some positive things about Saturday. I attacked a lot, and team mates rode well and aggressively as well. I've refined my technique for getting away, and am psyched with the quality of people who've been bridging up to moves I make lately. There were a few sequences where I really thought the elastic was getting stressed to the point of breaking - it was getting easier to get away and you could stay away for a relatively long time just by riding a good quality hard pace, but one that you could hold forever. A mistake I've frequently made is to get off the front and ride too hard, trying to open the gap too soon. I'm refining that, and it's getting better and better. The whole thing is pretty addictive though. It's all I want to do all race, just make moves. It's so fun. The whole progression that I felt happening with the field becoming more and more inclined to say "f it, let him go" was unfortunately foiled by the horse incident, which ended the race for everyone with the common sense to stop.
I've been fortunate this year to race with some very skillful guys who've taught me a lot. One of the critical learning points has been moving up through the field. I'm not yet to the point where I can do it as effortlessly as a lot of guys can, but I'm improving. It takes some selective deafness - guys get pretty possessive over wheels they once had but are now a bike length and change away from, and you decide to take over "their" turf.
We're lucky to have good, dedicated refs around here, but I wish they'd make one tactical change. Instead of telling the field how they're going to take anyone caught over the centerline and string them up by the balls (or whatever parts are available), I'd like to hear them say "you guys are 100 people and we have 2 motos for your field. We won't see everything. Crossing the centerline to move up is dangerous, puts all of our race venues at risk, and is cheating. Police yourselves. Don't do it. It's not only cheating when you get caught. And if we happen to catch you, we will relegate you, but self policing is the first line in this issue." I grew up sailing and playing tennis, two sports where you're required to self police. It's second nature to me. People with deeper stick and ball sports backgrounds are probably completely trained to only play the whistle, which I appreciate a little bit, but not really. I mean, there's no drug testing but does that mean we all get to take what we want (don't answer that, my cup of coffee and I don't want to know whatever ugly truth might be out there)? We got a scorcher of a warning before Saturday's start, but the enforcement just wasn't there to follow it up. I think this makes the situation worse, and reinforces the "it ain't cheating if you don't get caught" mindset.
So while I was disappointed that a race I was riding pretty well just ended through craziness and dumbness (who wouldn't stop there, how was that not unbelievably obviously the thing to do????), mostly I was just wicked relieved to see the girl get up on her own and get into the cop car. Really thought that would be a much worse outcome for her. Congrats to those who took home the prizes, but in my mind the finish of that race never happened. Literally for me, as I was so cheesed off by everything that had happened that I oley'd the last lap and went home.
Some photos from the 10am races are here
Mountain biking has made me stronger. Whether it's pedal stroke efficiency or short burst, high power training, the core workout you get, or something else, I don't know. The more I ride my mountain bike, the stronger I get, it's just obvious. In the past couple of weeks I've set a bunch of new standards for short duration power, done back to back 20 minute intervals that were within a very small percent of my all time best, and just yesterday blasted my previous 10' standard. That came on a rather quick trip up Mount Weather. Average and normalized power for longer durations (90+ minutes) are also nicely up. Of course the flip side is that the more I ride my mountain bike, and the more fun it is, and the more stuff like Saturday happens in road racing, the more and more I lean towards the dirt racing schedule. We almost made a last minute trip to Granogue on Sunday, but bailed due to time and expense necessary for the trip.
Haymarket Bicycles really is that good, and Curtis P really is that cool. Three or four miles into our first attempt at a Marshall loop yesterday, I broke a rear spoke. I guess you build up a 24 spoke wheel, use it for all of your training and much of your racing, treating it with absolute wanton disregard over 7,000 or so miles, and you're likely to break a spoke eventually. Well, we got in the car, went straight to Haymarket. Curtis hooked me up with a spoke before he was even supposed to be open and let me use the truing stand to finish the repair, and was completely helpful and friendly. I'll save my retail needs for trips out there from now on. They also had both of the mtb tires I planned to choose between - Continental Mountain King and Bontrager Jones ACX. My first choice would have been the Conti, but the one they had wasn't UST, and I wanted to do something I'd know would work. Got the Bonti home, put it on the rim, filled it with Stan's, and pumped it right up with a floor pump. It COULD NOT have been any easier. It held air straight away. The bead makes rather an insistent noise as it seats. But I am now half way to tubeless, and very psyched to be so.
Congrats to young Joe D for his assault on Wintergreen on Saturday. He went up that hill for 32 minutes at a power that I can hold for exactly 5 minutes and 15 seconds, and he weighs 10 pounds less than I do. Congrats also to Greg W for getting second in the 3 field, despite spotting the winter about 12 degrees worth of thermal advantage (it's a long story).