Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Break yo self

Im far from the world's leading authority on anything, but on Saturday I had cause to question some things I thought I had a good handle on. Here's what I think about when I'm in a break: 1. Quickly assess go/no go. Factors include strength of riders and their teams, distance left in the race, wind factors, is everyone working, etc. If the break is screwed and it being out wont help your team, sit on. If it has a likelihood to stay away and you can get your team a good result*, or if its probably doomed but plays in your team's favor anyhow, pedal. *many will categorize this as a win and nothing less. I can't afford that distinction. 2. If it's a go decision, then work hard to get a gap that will be hard to cross and will discourage chasing. In doing this, you must play the fine line of going hard enough to get that job done but not blow yourself up. 3. Riders coming off the front pull off into the wind. 4. The more riders, the shorter the pulls. 5. Try to maximize speed per watt. Go fast, not hard. Smooth rotation is key to this. 6. If someone is on the ropes but useful to the break, keep him/her going as long as s/he can provide further value. Motor fast on the flats but struggling up short rises, for example. Or if s/he is a weak member of a strong team. Variants of that kind of deals. Conversely, get rid of the strongest climber. 7. Ride naturally. There was talk of 'get in your hardest gear' during the break, which made no sense to me. Why do other than ride in a smooth, fast, efficient gear? The voices espousing this are instructed by people whose cycling jockstraps I can not hold, and will no doubt in their lifetimes have cycling accomplishments that pound bloody hell out of whatever I might do, which are the reasons I considered it. But my technique yielded better results for me than theirs did for them. Workload was equal. Am I missing something there? 8. Again, smooth. Look at how long is left to go. If your threshold is 300 and you're drafting at 300 and pulling through at 450, you won't make it an hour. It's a fine line between not blowing up, getting to the critical point where the field says 'ahh, screw it they aren't coming back,' and having something left to try and win. 9. We're best friends until it comes time to win. The best time check we got was after the dirt on the last lap - "you guys are way ahead". I felt at that point that I was the weakest of the 5, but was still taking pulls, so I dreaded hearing that. The pulls I was taking became sort of irrelevant at that moment since any strong rider from the break could make it solo from there. As such, we became unbound from one another right then - it was time to win. My poker hand was to stay with the others as long as possible - in tennis terms, to make them keep hitting the ball back to me, and hope for unforced errors. Once they felt confident that they could play riskier shots and not have the field catch us, I was pretty much hosed, but I tried. So I really don't get the 'use the hardest gear you've got' bit and I feel like nursing the gap further open, once it is open some, is more effective than going hell for leather and starting a time bomb that's surely going to blow up before the finish. It turned out that in this instance my preferences won but I'm not a "what worked is always the right thing to have done" guy, so if I'm off in the woods on this please weigh in.

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