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Monday, March 31, 2008

Penn State

I got back yesterday from Penn State, and was too tired to make a post so I waited until today. Pace yourself, this could be a long post!

Saturday: Road Race
At about 9:30 Men's D took off to start the scary 21.4 mile road race, including a 5 mile continuous climb up over a mountain. I had an awesome start, and had a first in any races I've been in. About a mile into the race, while I was near the front of the peloton, a few guys took off, breaking away from the peloton and became the leaders. I didn't think much of it, thinking we might catch up to them later on in the race. However, like 10-20 seconds later I saw a line of 3 guys passing by me on the left for the chase against the leaders, and I decided to try my first chase with them, catching on to the back wheel and staying with them to the leaders. There were now 7 or 8 of us in the lead pack with the peloton 5-10 seconds behind. They did, however, catch up to us and it was one large peloton again for a little, until the first climb. This climb was a short, steady climb for like .5 mile, but the peloton exploded into many small groups. I was leading the one small group down the decline after the hill, and then there was a sudden left turn before the second climb. I calculated the left turn wrong, and was looking in the wrong spot around the turn that I ended up riding into the field on the right side of the road I was trying to turn onto. Luckily there wasn't anyone on the right of me, or we would've had a disaster. There were guys behind me that took the turn right and went up the hill while I was throwing my bike into the ground before getting back on the road. What sucked is that when I got back on the course to start back up again, it was at the base of the climb that I was using up energy just to start up my momentum again on a climb. Anyways, so I see these two or three riders behind me and I just focused on keeping my distance from them after I get to the top of the second climb, which I would say was a mile long. Another downhill with some rolling hills, until the 3rd climb, which is five miles of constant climbing, no flat false more than 10 yards or so. The same two guys stayed behind me by 10-20 seconds, and every time I saw the one creeping closer I just did a short sprint effort up the hill to keep my distance. Somehow when I wasn't paying attention to them the one guy caught up, which pissed me off but I made sure I stayed with him. Finally we get near the top with about a mile left of climbing and I see a kid from Penn State about 20 seconds ahead of me, and I kept focusing on him. When I got to the top of the mountain that some rolling hills before the straight downhill descent, I sprinted to get away from the guy I was riding with and to catch up to Penn State. He was not expecting me, as I saw him look back, noticed me, had a "shocked" reaction and tried to sprint to get away from me. I kept sprinting, and on the downhill I was a few seconds behind him. I did not want to pass him, as we had some technical turns and a sharp left turn at the bottom before the final road to the start/finish line. But, as soon as he hit the bottom and made the turn, I went inside and he went outside, still in front of me by a few seconds, I started sprinting with all I had left to pass him and cross the finish line a few seconds before him. I got 63rd out of 69 that finished, there were a few that didn't finish due to flats or crashes. I was impress of my finish, with the sprinting and all, but was disappointed in my cornfield run early in the race, and wish I could've made that turn better.

Sunday: Time Trial
This will be short... I had a bad start, did horrible through the race, and basically bonked. With riders going off at 20 seconds intervals, I got passed 4 times, already being 80 seconds behind. I got 3rd to last, and hated my performance so much that I'm done talking about it.

Sunday: Criterium
This was one of my best crit performances. So I didn't get top 9 or anything, but I've definitely discovered something about myself. First off, at the start I took off and got pretty near the front of the pack before the first turn. I don't know what happened, I'm usually nervous around turns when in a pack, but I was feeling great today, using the brake only when the bikes in front of me would brake (brakes should be illegal in crits, seriously). Anyways, I stayed with the pack for the first lap, coming around the second turn of the second lap, there was a crash right behind me, I don't know what happened but I did a short spring effort for a few yards to make sure no one would hit my back wheel. After that the pack exploded just like in the road race and there were many small groups. I started dropping back because everyone was pushing harder and my legs weren't up for it yet. I got into a group of a few people, the guys in front of me started pulling away and I looked back to see a Princeton buddy and I pulled out to let him through and thought we could work together to catch up. However, when I said "let's go and catch these guys" he went overboard and pushed really hard and got away from me. Then I saw a guy from Kutztown that I just met that morning through a teammate of mine that knew him, and so him and I rode together in an attempt to catch someone. However, because we were too far behind the leading contenders, we were out of contention and the race official said we had one lap to go while there were really like 7 or 8 laps to go. So Kutztown and I rode together to the end, but he stayed on my wheel for most of the final lap and that was pissing me off. Since there were no other riders for like 5 seconds behind us, I did a daring stunt that would usually cause a crash it others were around. Coming around the second-to-last turn, I made it seem like I was going inside the left turn, but as I was coming to the corner of the curb, I quickly shifted my bike to the outside, causing Kutztown to go inside and pass me. Then immediately I grabbed onto his rear wheel and took the last left turn behind him. Then just as we finished the left turn I saw him trying to sprint, and I was about 5 yards behind him when I started sprinting. I made up 5 yards, getting next to him and we just sprinted with all we had left. I got ahead of him just barely, and crossed the finish just before him for the "win". I got 17th out of 23 that finished, one did not finish, I think he might have been in that small crash.

Overall, this was one of my best performing weekends. Yeah, I didn't get impressionable results, but even Kim and Scott both said this was the best they've seen me race, with the amount of effort I was pushing, more than I usually do. They also were impress with the sprint at the end. That "thing" I discovered about myself is my sprinting potential. I now know I can be a really good sprinter, I just need to learn to stay with the peloton until the end to unleash my sprinting power.

Anyways, this was a long post, I'm glad you stuck through it to read this, you should get a medal or something! Next weekend is Army, I'll be posting about that in a few days!

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