Wednesday, May 14, 2008

1st Race of the Season is Always a BITCH

Last Monday's adventures at the De Pinte Kermis in Belgium was no exception. The day started off fine enough. I ran into a bunch of folks I hadn't seen since my last kermis event two years ago when i was racing for Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam. It's always fun to socialize!

Next it was off for a perfect warmup around the course. The weather was great (a bit hot perhaps at 30 deg. C - 86 deg. F) with not a cloud in the sky. The race was 12 laps totaling 84km with lots and lots of tight technical turns and two "hills" which were actually highway overpasses.

Last time i raced this event, I instigated a break of 4 gals early on in the race. We stayed together up until the last lap of the race - an exciting day!

As i waited at the start line this time around, doing a little pre-race stretching, an 80 year old lady came up to me and asked about my stretching so i told her it was for prevention, then we talked about the weather and next week and what the race is going to be like. Normally i wouldn't write about this boring stuff but what made it especially fun for me was that it was all in flemish! Yippee - i'm getting better at it! And my experience was even topped a few minutes later when another rider pulled up alongside me and the lady. It turns out it was her grandmother. When she introduced me to her grandmother as an American, the woman was shocked! Double-yippee!

My pre-race strategy was to ride in the back of the pack way to either side of the road to stay out of trouble, keep the pressure off, prevent myself from spending face-time (forced or inspired) in the wind, and keep in the draft. I can also give myself a little extra front wheel room when i'm in the back.

The race started off fairly fast but manageable, so my first thought was that everything will be ok. But then i looked up the road only to find that we were in "neutral" mode with the pace car slowing the riders. Once the car moved out of the way, all hell broke out. The pace immediately shot up to 45kph with a string of attacks. After the first few turns where i, along with the others at the back of the pack of 123 riders, had to come to a complete trackstand before sprinting out out of the turn from 2kph to 45kph in 10 seconds, I realized what i've always known - the back is the absolute worst place to be!

After an hour of stop-and-go every minute - that's right, 60 stop-and-go's per hour - I was really cursing those turns. Just as my sprint out of one turn ended, I'd reach the next turn only to trackstand and sprint again. By the time i finally made a conscious effort to just ride through the middle of the peloton to get in a better position farther up, my energy was wasted. I rode through the middle, got to the center of the peloton then almost immediately pulled off to the side to spin it back to the finish line.

I only lasted seven laps of twelve at avg speed of 39kph, but i got an incredible workout. I don't know if my memory is accurate since the mind has a convenient way of forgetting pain, but can't imagine that i've suffered this much in a cyclo-cross race. Maybe all i have to do is suffer at the same level in a cross race, and I'd do a lot better!

Anyway, just before i reached the crowds at the finish line, i passed our parked van, immediately pulled over and hid behind it so nobody saw i pulled out. Yeah, totally pro.

Even though my debut was a bust, I'm really looking forward to the next opportunity to give it a go. Heck, it can't get any worse than this...famous last words.

16 comments:

Rickie Rainwater said...

Hey Christine,
Flemmish... wow, you really are smart. The other day I tried riding after work from the factory on my last "half day" and tried sprinting. Kind of like your stop and go race experience, it seemed I hit every light going out of town. I intensionally went as fast and hard as I could. This is what that taught me. I was soon trash, but I got a good estimate of my current fitness level. Another positive thing is this regarding your race. You got out there and showed up. Now you know what to focus on. Just keep giving it your all, and I will keep giving it my all. I didn't race the Joe Martin Stage race here in Fayetteville this year as I just wasnt' up to snuff, but that is my focus for next year, so that is why I am training. It is alot harder now that I am 50 than it was when I took my body for granted. Thanks for showing up.
rickie

PEANUT said...

hey rickie:
You nailed it when you said that showing up is hard. It's even harder when you're not ready and know beforehand that it's going to hurt like hell.
The joe martin stage race is super hard and it seems that cyclists only get stronger with age so i bet your category is rippin' fast! Keep racing those stop lights and you'll be ready for next year. It's funny how after about five sprint efforts you can be burnt - or maybe that's just me...

Rickie Rainwater said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I have been thinking what you might possibly name your bikes. But that will be your deal. I checked out the framesets of the vanderkitten road and cross frames. I love bikes. I have a new trainer, but I don't like putting my italian bike in it as it seems to flex the frame unaturally, but I don't want to get hurt riding in the rain. Right now I need a nap as I have been up since 4am central time United State time for work. Thanks so much for sharing and I will talk at you later. Check out my blog if you want.
rickie

Rickie Rainwater said...

Hey Christine,
I don't know who will be racing in philidelphia, but if you have contact with the other girls, wish them the best. Here is a velo news link.
http://www.velonews.com/article/76256
Nemo, my bike, is clean and on the trainer as it is raining again. I'm thinking I would like to build a cross bike. see ya.

chr15 tree said...

Ha! I'm sure I saw a list of 'euro-pro' rules one of which was learning how to abandon and get back to the team car without anyone picking it up! You are so a Euro-pro. :)

Love the report! Sounds like you are still under the 'heatwave' there? Not ideal for such hard efforts. That sitting at the back sounds like hell, I would never have thought it would put that much more stress on the riders. But I suppose the constant slowinga nd accelerating is wearing like interval work. And why is it time seems to dull the 'pain' give it a couple more races and you'll remember this a hard day but forget about the pain. I'm sure.

Great work on the Flemish! Even fooling the locals!

chr15 tree said...

So I was out running with Sue (my wife) last evening, she is wearing a Vanderkitten 'Tattoo'. A kid at heart. She starts moaning that her legs hurt and that she is tired (I push her way to hard :) ).

I said "Come on Vanderkitten, for Girls who KICK ASS!"

She says "For girls who kick up a fuss" Ha! I'm working on her! :)

Dave Noisy said...

heh - this sounds like a typical 'cross race here! 180 degree corners every 10 seconds..not quite trackstands, but big-time slow-ups and then speeding away...!!

Anyway, keep at it! =)

PEANUT said...

Hey Rickie:
Nice blog, btw. So what should i name my bikes? If i talk to the VK gals before the race, i'll pass on your sentiment.
hey chr15: thanks for the sue story - very cute!
Dave: If you saw the race, even YOU would have mistaken what we were doing for trackstanding. Lesson hopefully learned for me. So how long can you trackstand?

Rickie Rainwater said...

Christine,
I have been thinking about your "chocolate" bikes. Since they are twins I was thinking on a play on words, Ok, I have it, One is Chocolate, and the other is CoeCoe. Chocolate is calmer and more mature, experienced, patient, but deeply strong in the long haul and CoeCoe is more high strung, impatient, and explosive, but worships her sister, and is trying to get better in longer races. They are both sisters by the way as Cross bikes can be either boys or girls. Since they are almost identical, you will have to determine which is which, and they will be like naughty children on somedays. They may whine when they have to get cleaned or adjusted, or complain when you don't take them out, or that one is getting more attention than the other. Looks like you have your hands full.
Enjoy,
Rickie

bikesgonewild said...

...non sequitur but worthy for ex-pat marinites in faraway lands concerned about the weather...

...mid-may & novato was 102*, ross vally area an oh so cool 97*--98* today...sf was 97* & oaktown a 98*...supposed to be a little cooler tomorrow...

...said it before so i'm being redundent now but...welcome to global weather weirding...

...& btw, good luck, get some serious fitness for fall & remember to wear your helmet around the house...hah !!!...sorry...

PEANUT said...

hey bgw:
thanks for the weather report! I hear it is just unbearable out there.
By the way, i am wearing my helmet as i write this.

bikesgonewild said...

...good laugh...

..."i am wearing my helmet as i write this."...no doubt bringing new meaning to the term "my computer crashed"...

PEANUT said...

On an almost related topic, i just heard the most gruesome story of a wrongfully removed helmet. Three siblings were hit by a car while riding their bikes. The gal was the worst off. She sat up, took off her helmet and immediately died. Turned out she cracked her skull in half and the helmet was holding it together. I just heard that story today and it creeped me out so i figured i'd share.

Rickie Rainwater said...

What a heart breaker! Still, got to wear a helmet! I must enjoy this day, so I'm off to ride though I just don't feel well. I sent you an email. Be good to yourself,
rickie

Dave Noisy said...

Oh, as i'm not a sprinter, trackstanding isn't something i ever practice, but if conditions are favorable, i can stay up almost indefinitely...i've gone several minutes a few times on the road bike..

Hurray for your furry friends, sheep are great. =)

PEANUT said...

hey dave:
Wow, that's TALENT to be able to trackstand for that long - especially on a road bike.
My cow and horse neighbors are also great - much better than my loudmouth texan neighbor of the human kind. But now that i think about it, the only time he yells is when he is outside with the cell phone. Maybe his phone is simply broken...