Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Training Crits in RI & PA

I lost my voice last week.  I think it was a combination of back to back races, allergies and a rave/concert I went to last weekend that did me in.  Either way, not being able to speak made it impossible to work so I decided to take a road trip to Philadelphia for a long easy decompressing weekend.

Its a 6 hour drive to Philly but there's a Wednesday night training crit in Ninigrit, Rhode Island which is right on the way down there so I decided to hit it.  I've known about this series for a while but I've never done it.  This was a good opportunity to check it out and I figured it would also be a nice way to break up the trip.

The race starts at 6:30pm. I got there just in time and rolled to the starting line alongside about 40 other guys.  It was a  pretty typical training race; aggressive racing with a bunch of local guys riding with a lot of confidence because, like their own backyard, they're intimately familiar with every one of it's particular dynamics.  I missed a warm-up and basically went from the drivers seat of my car straight to the starting line.  As such I decided to roll half the race as a warm up before trying anything and mix it up a bit in the second half.  But as it turned out my legs didn't really opened up at any point.  I know most of the guys down there from racing with them all over NE so I can gauge their efforts and I know whats going on pretty well.  Right off the bat the pace was a little too stressful for me so I changed my initial plan and decided to just sit in and draft the entire race.  The race was peppered with attacks and small groups floating away every 7-10 minutes or 2-3 laps but it was all together in the end and I won the thing with one effort in the field sprint finish.  Afterwards I caught up with a few friends in the parking lot then hit route 95 South and rolled into Philly at about 1:00am which was perfect because I can't sleep after a pm race anyway.

All things considered I woke up the next day feeling pretty good.  Around 10:30 we went to a cafe called 'Good Karma' and spent the day working there on-line before going to the Great Valley Practice Crit that evening outside the city proper.  It's about a 50 minute drive to get there which wasn't great but the race format was pretty easy.  There's no registration or fee.  Everyone just meets in the same parking lot on the course and rolls out together at 6:00 pm sharp. Great Valley Crit is a 1 mile loop with one power roller. The course is open to traffic but its wide and open enough to easily manage the 100 plus riders that showed up to do it.  The race itself was pretty cool.  The course lends itself for a breakaway group provided it has the right combination and number of riders.  Not knowing a single rider meant I had to really observe the race flow and animators closely.  About half way through I had a pretty good idea of what was going on and started extending a few efforts and stretching the front of the field to see what shakes.  I didn't give a blue flame effort to any single move because giving 100% in unfamiliar situations and with guys you don't know at all can be a big mistake.  It was really fun though, just trying to read things the whole time; staying in the mix at the front and cruising off the front here and there, with this and that guy, but holding back the whole time.  In the end everything was still together.  I was forth wheel at about 250 meters from the line where the race started and then I jumped with about 180 to go.  I crossed the line several bike lengths ahead of everyone and sat up only to see that the guys kept sprinting passed me for about another 100 meters after I had stopped?  It was weird because the spectators were all standing around the spot where we started...it looked like the finish!  And every crit I've ever done finishes at the same spot that it started from.  But Great Valley is different, I guess.  Either way it didn't really bother me much. I was in the right position and had the legs left in me to contest the win if I knew where is was exactly.  Oh well, lesson learned.

It was a pretty big weekend in Philly.  It was their 'First Friday' weekend and 'Cinco de mayo' rolled up together with the 'Broad Street Run/10 miler' also taking place.  Broad Street run is pretty big, 41,000 runners this yr.  It goes from N.Philly straight through Center City on Broad Street and ends in S.Philly's colossal ATT Pro Sports Complex.

Among other things 'First Friday's' in Philly appeared to me to be a city wide festival of open houses for the city's many world class art galleries.   Pretty eclectic and cool.  We went to an opening for DSL's friend Julia Levitina.  Julia had an opening called the 'The Sails of Memory' displaying her truly amazing sculptures and drawings.  Peace & RS.
DSL & Julia Levitina

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