Archive for the Race Day Category

Thanks to John Wilson for crunching the numbers. This first table represents all points collected by the top twenty in the Masters A field. To qualify for series overall standings, a rider must have competed in at least 3 races.

   Name       Alpenrose Hornings  Rainer    Astoria   Barton    Estacada  Total
1  Hendricks  26        26        13                  20        20        105
2  Cramer     14        16                  26        26                   82
3  McCaffery  11         7        26        16        14         8         82
4  Bannink    16        14        16        20                  16         82
5  Bravard    15                  14        10        16        26         81
6  Butler     10        12        17        15        15         9         78
7  Wilson M   12        13        11        14        13        14         77
8  Schindler   9         9        10        12        12        13         65
9  Bradway     8        20         5                  10        14         57
10 Leitheiser 13        15        14                                       42
11 Baker       2        11         8        11                  10         42
12 Mitchem     7        10         2         8         9         4         40
13 Benno       6                  20        13                             39
14 French      3         5         9         7                  12         36
15 Enderle               6         4                  11                   21
16 Hoyer                 8                   5         7                   20
17 Wilson J                        6         4                   5         15
18 Fletcher    1         4         3                             7         15
19 Voldengen   5                             2         6                   13
20 Junger                                              8         3         11

Next, the drop the two worst race results and see how everyone stacks up:

   Name       Alpenrose Hornings  Rainer    Astoria   Barton    Estacada  Total

1  Hendricks  26        26                            20        20         92
2  Cramer     14        16                  26        26                   82
3  Bravard    15                  14                  16        26         71
4  Bannink    16                  16        20                  16         68
5  McCaffery  11                  26        16        14                   67
6  Butler               12        17        15        15                   59
7  Wilson M             13                  14        13        14         54
8  Bradway     8        20                            10        14         52
9  Schindler                      10        12        12        13         47
10 Leitheiser 13        15        14                                       42
11 Baker                11         8        11                  10         40
12 Benno       6                  20        13                             39
13 Mitchem     7        10                   8         9                   34
14 French                5         9         7                  12         33
15 Enderle               6         4                  11                   21
16 Hoyer                 8                   5         7                   20
17 Wilson J                        6         4                   5         15
18 Fletcher    1         4         3                             7         15
19 Voldengen   5                             2         6                   13
20 Junger                                              8         3         11

So what’s it all mean? Tre Hendricks and Rich Cramer are the most likely for the overall. If either wins, they get the series. Bravard looked really strong at Estacada but that 21 point deficit in the drop-two chart is quite a gap. That means in order to win the series, Bravard would have to win at Hillsboro and would also need Hendricks finish worse than fourth. If several of the top riders have poor outings, things could get interesting at the top. The top 9 look pretty solid. As long as they finish within a few spots of their regular results for the season they’ll hold the top ten. If Ian Leitheiser shows up and finishes, he’ll likely round out that top ten.

I’d have to end up on the podium to score a top ten — so that ain’t gonna happen. However, I’m looking pretty good for a top 15. As long as I finish ahead of Gant Enderle and keep sight of John Wilson and Shane Fletcher, I should be able to scoot into 15th. However, I won’t count out Erik V. He eats up courses like Hillsboro and could pull out a pretty good result to vault into the top 15.

This would be a very bad race to DNF or even have a flat/mechanical/sillt spill.

I edited this post to credit the correct Wilson brother. I certainly didn’t want to give that other bother the number crunching glory. Sorry John.

While genes, training and skill will largely determine how you perform in races, race day preparation (or lack thereof) can can make a difference in your final results. First, there’s registration. Preregister if you can since it can save you precious minutes at the race venue (and probably a couple bucks). A day or two before the race, gather the stuff you’ll need (or as much as is convenient) so that it’s easy to load in the car and you won’t forget anything. Plan your race day menu and prepare as much of it as convenient the evening prior to the race. Get a good night’s sleep. Make sure you know how to get to the venue, understand about how long the trip will take, and know absolutely for sure when your start time is (and confirm the time when you sign in). The morning of the race, you want to have as little to do as possible. Load the car, eat your food, drive to the venue, warm up, and race.

Here’s what I like to take (NOTE: This list is geared for a wet race day — I pack a little lighter on dry days):

  • 2 bikes
  • pump
  • multi tool (one of my teammates has a full tool box he brings plus Chris King usually has a tech tent)
  • race kit (bibs and jersey)
  • warmup kit (bibs and jersey)
  • race shoes and socks
  • warmup shoes and socks (I like standing on the start line in dry shoes and socks)
  • spare set of post race clothes in case the ones I wear for the drive get wet while I hang out before warming up
  • boots for mud (I have some old LL Bean ducks but wellies work very well)
  • garbage bags for wet/muddy/dusty stuff
  • food (light pre-race meal — low urp factor, post race food)
  • water (2l), electrolyte drink (2l)
  • tarp to line the back of the minivan (wet/muddy/dusty bikes)
  • towel for cleaning up post race
  • cleaning kit (check out Erik V’s excellent article on post race bike washing)
  • micro wallet (money, driver’s license, health insurance card)
  • HRM — I don’t pay attention to it while racing, I just review the data later
  • cowbell
  • number — pinned properly to my race jersey

I might start bringing my rollers and some spare road wheels for warming up during wet races.

I need to get to a race venue at least 90 minutes prior to my race time and like to arrive even earlier for social reasons. Once I arrive at the venue, my routine is generally:

  1. Park and sign in (register if I didn’t pre-register)
  2. Find my team easy-ups and check in with them
  3. Figure out when I can pre-ride the course and pre-ride as soon as possible — work on problem areas between races if prudent
  4. Frigg with my tire pressure based on the pre-ride
  5. Warm up
  6. Stage — early enough to snag a starting position appropriate to my probable finish position (pretty far back since the upgrade)
  7. Race

Of course during all of this I hang out, cheer, and talk to folks since I’m a social crosser, after all.

There’s a better than even chance you’re going to crash during the season. Most crashes in cyclocross result in nothing more than some soiled clothes, a bit of rash, and minor equipment damage. As such, you should be able to pop back up and get back into the race. However, going down can mess with your rhythm and take you out of your race psychologically.

Okay, so you biff, what’s next? First, assess your physical condition. Crashing can release buckets of adrenaline and you might not notice even significant injury. I’ve gotten back on the bike and pedaled a few hundred meters with a broken clavicle before the pain had me rethink my strategy. Don’t continue to race if you might cause additional physical harm or extend the injury recovery time.

Second, check your bike. If you dumped it, the chain is probably off. If you’re on flat or downhill terrain, you might be able to pedal your chain back on. Otherwise flip on your chain and get to it. The brifters might also be rotated. You have three options:

  1. Get to the pit ASAP and exchange bikes.
  2. Right the brifters. Riding on maladjusted hoods for long periods in a race will most likely cost you more time than setting things right.
  3. Or just finish the race the way they are. If you’re on the last lap and they aren’t too bad, focus on the finish and ride hard.

For anything more serious, you’ll want your pit bike.

Third, get your head back in the race. The psychological toll of a crash can cost you more time than the few seconds it takes to get back underway. Most of use will fixate on the lost time and the large gap that opened to the racers ahead. We might be more timid through that section or similar sections. We might be frustrated about a good ride turning bad. All of those are understandable feelings after a crash.

However, you need to get back to the task at hand — going fast. Here are a some positive steps you can take:

  • Get back underway and ramp up your pace. It’s natural to try to chase back on and if the gap is small, worth a shot. However, be careful to ride your race so that you don’t crack during the chase.
  • Concentrate on your breathing and pedal stroke. You might be flustered after the spill and your breathing might be ragged or shallow. Get it back under control. Turn the pedals smoothly, striving for a fluid cadence. By concentrating on breathing and cadence, it will help you get back your focus and reduce your tendency to dwell on the crash.
  • Stay aggressive. You might be more timid through that section or similar sections after a crash. Ride within your abilities but try to relax your shoulders and concentrate on proper form in the tricky areas.
  • Concentrate on the right way to do things, don’t imagine what might go wrong. This is positive visualization and is akin to looking at where you want to go instead of where you want to avoid.

We want to do our best in every race. The reality is that some races are not going to be as successful as others. When problems arise, keep or regain your focus and ride strong to the finish. Take away the lessons you can and think about how you might apply them in future races.

And have some fun.

I’ve gone through more than a couple attitude adjustments over the four cross seasons I’ve raced. I’ve gone from just happy to be here to racing near the front to learning how to race to racing at the front to pack fodder. While the bottom line is personal fitness, your attitude is what will let you make the most of the fitness you have.

My last two races last season were the USGP stops in the Pacific Northwest where I raced in the 35+ 1/2/3 race. At the Steilacoom race on Saturday, I was nervous, excited and just wanted to put forth a good effort. The result of that thinking was that I stacked it up through the barriers on the second lap, twisted my shifters around (requiring a field adjustment) and never made up for that momentary lack of concentration.

The Steilacoom race had been warm and dry and I was hoping that the rain would hold off until after racing then next day at the Portland race. However, it was raining pretty good when I awoke and it continued to rain throughout the day. It rained when I signed in. It rained when I tried to warm up. It was going to rain while I raced. The course was a quagmire of slop.

After signing in, I stopped by my team’s tent where they had a fire going and I was reluctant to leave the warmth. I went off to “warm” up and it started to rain harder. I was not in a racing frame of mind.

However, while I was tooling around on my own, I stumbled on a moment of zen. I was just ready to race — and by ready, I meant mentally ready to line up and do whatever I could to finish in front of as many guys as possible. When we staged, I fet loose in the starting grid. I started strong and settled into my pace. I kept churning through the mud and pulled off a great race.

I have a hard time explaining how my attitude flipped 180 degrees in the blink of an eye. One possibility is that I decided that this was just a race rather than the culmination of the races that had come before. Instead of dragging along baggage from the season (and previous seasons), I was out to race right then and there. Also, the conditions were terrible (some might say great) and the absurdity of racing through that mess and trying to warm up with a rooster tail of cold water running running down my butt poked some fun into my grim demeanor.

I hope that I can find that attitude this season. I need to keep things in perspective. Every race isn’t going to be great. There are lots of guys faster than me and they will beat me most of the time. I need to line up, stay loose, and be aggressive in the race. When I cross the finish line, I need to understand that the race is over and while I can learn things from my performance, I can’t dwell on the negatives. I need to enumerate the positives and go into my next race thinking about what I will do rather than trying to avoid doing something dumb.

It’s like riding past an obstacle; since you tend to ride where you look, if you stare at the spot you want to avoid, you are more likely to run into it.