by Buzz Wright
Since I am always bugging the other IC3 guys for race reports I suppose I should set a good example and post mine. Even though I don't feel my weekend warrants any sort of publication.
I knew I'd be hurting based on how poorly I've been doing at crit practice the past couple weeks. It is awesome to see so many guys gain strength from the Crit Training Series but it also means that my competition becomes that much more difficult. My plan for the crit was to stay at the front to avoid the leg-scorching surges and hang on for as long as I could. I did so and held a top-10 position for a handful of laps, feeling pretty decent actually. But my leg strength is definitely not where it should be and I started having trouble closing gaps. I let the group slowly pass by me rider after rider, trying to keep my power constant and within my bounds. The group was nice and big (60+ riders) so I had a lot of buffer room to try to recover. By the time I reached the back of the group though I was still at my limit and my legs were not interested in providing any more power than what they were giving me -- which was about 30 watts less than what was needed to stay with the group.
I settled into a sustainable pace and after a couple laps joined up with some other riders. We traded pulls and did the best we could, but ended up getting pulled after 17 minutes of racing. I was pretty bummed but all the encouraging shouts from spectators and other racers (as they passed me) really made for a fun race that I can honestly say I enjoyed. The weather was beautiful and even when you are pulled from the race halfway through, coughing and hacking with legs burning... shoot, that's a great day in my book.
It was very, very cool to see so many newer racers from our Crit Training Series racing in a criterium for the first time. I have a lot of respect for anyone brave enough to try bike racing. It can be a very intimidating sport to get into and it takes real guts to pin that number on. If you were out there and I didn't get a chance to say so in person -- congrats and nice job!
Buzz (in the background), about to explode
Photo by Damion Alexander
I didn't have much hope for this race. In addition to not training, I added about 15 lbs over the winter and definitely felt that extra weight on the climbs. The plan for the road race was to kill myself trying to stay with the group for the first lap. I surfed the group on the rollers to conserve as much energy as I could and that worked pretty well but soon after we turned on Webb road I found myself steadily slipping backwards as the pace was just too high. I settled into what I could do and tried to keep the group in sight. I was able to pass a few riders here and there and having riders to catch kept me motivated. The second time up Webb I was able to catch up to Gary and David and that helped keep the motivation high enough to keep pushing. Once we were back in town I slid up next to David and said, "let's go" figuring we might as well have some fun with the finishing sprint. It was amazing to see how little power I was able to produce during that effort.
It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to gain fitness and strength.
It only took a couple months off the bike to erase it.
The good news is that I know how to get it back.
Buzz, Michael, and Gary
Photo by Damion Alexander
El Tour de Tucson Race Report
by Greg Chmelik
El Tour de Tucson. Arguably our city's greatest cycling event and unquestionably the most popular. I first rode it in 2013 and crashed less then a quarter of the way around. Last year I stayed on two wheels but I was so nervous from the previous year that I soft-pedaled to the first wash and totally lost the lead packs.
Speaking of the washes, I hate them. Being a mediocre-on-a-good-day bike handler, those wash crossings are the bane of my existence in ETdT. This year I went out fairly hard but, once we hit the first wash, lost the group immediately. I was determined to catch up. I closed most of the gap but was getting tired. Michael Kothke and one other guy came by and pretty much finished the job.
I don't think the group we caught was actually the lead group, but it was a large group with strong riders and was probably a guaranteed top 50 or 100.
From there, things went pretty easily until the second wash crossing. Same deal. I did tentatively pedal most of the way through the second wash (read: one foot pedaling, one foot pessimistically dragging through the sand. I made it most of the way but another rider went down in front of me so momentum was lost. I had to get off and run up the hill.
Margo and the boys were up in the parking lot with fresh bottles and encouragement. Helpful tip: don't load two oversize bottles before that short nasty climb coming out of the neighborhood - the extra weight does not particularly help. Regardless, the good group was gone. I caught up to a few riders who had made it through the wash but couldn't hang on the climbs. We got a decent group going and scooped up some more riders along the last third of the course.
When we got on the frontage road, my bike started shifting itself up-down-up-down. I tried different gears and fiddling with the barrel but I couldn't fix it. I had to ride the last twenty miles with ceaseless shifting. I figured out after the race that when I had a hit a pothole earlier in the day, my wheel had moved down slightly in the dropout on one side. It was sitting slightly crooked- enough to put the derailleur half a gear off.
Meanwhile that shifting thing was pretty fatiguing and, I think, annoying to the guys around me. It's funny because this was not the first time something like that happened. Earlier this year at Cochise the magnet for my speed sensor had moved itself enough to just barely hit the sensor itself on every wheel revolution. I am the embarrassed owner of the noisy annoying bike that drives everyone (myself included) crazy!
Anyhow, back to El Tour. We eventually made it back to downtown. I was nervous for the sprint because of the shifting thing. I tried to move off to one side and just go really early. Sprinting is not my strength anyways. That worked pretty good. I didn't get away from the group but it did get spread out pretty well. One guy came across the front of my wheel and his back wheel actually scraped my front. I leaned over hard, stopped pedaling, and tried to follow his angle. You could hear the wheels scraping for a few more moments. Felt like eternity!
End result was something like 157th place. A little disappointing after my finish at Cochise. I'm not sure that I will continue doing this event. The washes are just not my thing and, honestly, 104 miles is a long day. I will see how I feel next year. I do thank God for keeping myself and everyone else safe and sound through another rollicking El Tour de Tucson!