Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cycling--Tuesday Night Twilights--I hardly knew ya.

Last Tuesday (6/2) marked my second and perhaps last time participating in the Tuesday Night Twilight training crit series in Santa Rosa. It was the 6th race of the series, but I am slow to catch on to good things, and only made it up there the last two weeks.

It is a shame that they currently have no plans to continue them--their permit was only for 6 races this year. The course is great--fast, safe and easy to park. Unlike many crits, the corners are wide enough to pedal through them at full tilt, and even the Cat 5 racers seem unable to hurt ourselves (except of course my legs). There are 3 races--first off is the Cat 4/5 for 30 minutes, followed by the 3/4 and finally the slightly longer 1/2/3 race. The arrangement allows most people to race twice and get at least an hour's thrashing.

Last week was my first road race in about 20 years. I managed to hold up the back end of the 4/5 race, and then hang in the 3/4 for about 15 minutes before I had a mechanical (my legs broke). This week my goal was to see the front end of the pack, and finish the 3/4 race. The 4/5 race has "mentors" who keep folks out of trouble, although they did nothing when the recently crowned state criterium champ tried to put me in the curb. Fortunately, he was the champ in the 10-12 year old category, and weighed less than my front wheel, so I was able to fend him off. I spent the whole race at or above lactate threshold--fun.

After a cool down lap it was time to go for the 3/4 race. The 3/4s are actually slightly easier for me. In the 4/5 race, people do weird things like brake going into corners. I am too damn old to be sprinting out of every corner, so I generally don't like to brake going in. The 3/4 race is slightly faster, but a lot smoother. I took Todd's advice that the best way to ride the rhythm I wanted was to go to the front and set it. After hammering full speed through several corners, I looked back and was surprised to see that, except for one guy, the field did not think much of my pace and was pottering along a hundred meters back. My breakaway companion declared that it was time to go, and the prime bell rang. I tucked on his wheel as we upped the speed again, and shortly thereafter got a note from the engine room--"we're done". My break companion won the prime; I spent the rest of the race in familiar territory at the back of the pack, but I made it all the way to the line.

Scott and Todd cleaned up, winning primes and taking 2nd and 3rd in the 3/4 race. Their reward was as much booze as they could carry.

to the victors, the spoils

The prizes at this series are better than any other race I have been to. Ronnie Lenzi and the NorCal Bikesport team do a great job and everything runs smoothly. It is impressive for a "training" race. It is amazing how different racing is from training and club rides. The speed and constant intensity mean that you do have to race to train for racing.

And after the race, of course, the feast. We patronized a local authentic latin restaurant to replace all the grease we burned racing. Good times!

ahhh, sweet beer

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