Monthly Archives: March 2009

Smackdown

smackdown-breakaway

The VB Wheelmen organized another great race at Sleepy Hole park in Suffolk on Sunday. I raced Cat 4 in the morning. This course makes me pretty nervous because the paved track is quite narrow with two hard turns that can put you in the dirt and a bend in the finishing straight. But only 32 guys preregistered, so it was more manageable.

The race, as they all do, started fast with one knucklehead trying to attack from word go. That lasted a half lap. Eventually everybody settled in. I went with one attacking threesome, which lasted a lap. Then I blocked for an attack that included Jerry. All of my Tripower teammates in the race – Jerry, Chad, Art and Mike – took digs off the front at various points during the race.

I countered after one big breakaway attempt and got off the front solo as the team blocked for me. The pic above from Mike C. (more pics here) shows me in the first turn as the group rolls through the start/finish. My lead grew to about 20 seconds at most with me in the second turn as they crossed the finish line. I sustained 25mph for a while, but had really hoped somebody would come across and work with me. I stayed away for 5 or 6 laps, I think, but my speed started dropping and the group lost patience with my mates blocking.

Back in the pack, I focused on recovering and staying in good position and safe as the lunatics risked life and limb for the burrito premes. The pace picked up with four laps to go. Somehow a VCU rider went down solo on the back stretch, his popping tire sounding like a gunshot. During the second to last lap, a guy rolled a little off the front. It was a moment too long before I realized his teammate was blocking at the front and suddenly he had 50 meters and was time trialing hard.

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I moved up from about 10th wheel to fifth on the backstretch in the bell lap, then jumped hard out of the third corner in a futile effort to bridge and perhaps lead out Chad. But the rider was too far away and all I succeeded in doing was leading out a Natures Path guy and Devinnish from the Outer Banks (aren’t you ready to upgrade yet?). Chad finished right behind, so I nipped 4th, just out of the money.

TriPower had a decent day. Carhart got 6th in his race – 3rd in the field sprint, as did Kevin in Cat 3. Hosang and Greco were 9 and 10 in the 1/2/3 race. Sally and Brenna went 5th and 6th in the women’s 1/2/3 and Lynn 4th in the women’s 4 race, which Chad’s wife Dawn finished as her first crit.

It was a gorgeous day out at the park and we enjoyed a beverage (thanks Art) after the race as we watched others turn circles. Millie accompanied me and had a wonderful time running around the infield with other kids there. She tells me she’s going to be a racer too some day.

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She’s tough all right

Jumping for a header in front of the opposing goal during the first half on Sunday afternoon, Ellie just missed the shot and tumbled to the ground. A few minutes later she was waving to come off the field. She ran off in tears. Someone had stepped on her hand after she landed on the ground. You could see the cleat marks and she said she couldn’t make a fist.

She stayed on the bench for the rest of the half, but said she wanted to go back in at left wing for the second half of her U-12 game. You could tell she was trying to protect the hand, still she played hard. About midway through the second half, she took a ball and beat her defender on the dribble (her ball handling is markedly better). She booted an angled shot into the far right of the goal, giving her team the 2-1 margin it needed to win the game.

A few minutes later, while fighting for the ball, she stumbled and landed on the bad hand. Her scream led the ref to send her to the sideline again. Sunday night, Michele took her to the ER for an X-ray as it started to swell. The ER docs saw no major breaks, but put her in a small removable cast anyway and referred the films to a specialist in case there was something small. The report came back today – nothing broken thankfully. But it is swollen and an ugly bruise is emerging. You can see how swollen it is by her right thumb:

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Unfortunately Ellie missed the first day of her middle school field hockey tryouts. She went yesterday with the cast and the coach sent her home.

Ellie showed up again today, knowing nothing was broken and played through the pain. At the end of tryouts, the coach told her she made the team. That’s my tough girl.

Du it in the dirt (a spring calendar)

Until Sunday night at about 8:30, I didn’t know how I planned to race this spring. I want to get my upgrade to Cat 3 on the road, but looking at the Virginia calendar, there just aren’t that many races. Still I could race the mid-March VBW Smackdown crit in Suffolk, then Jeff Cup and the Casey Crit in Newport News in mid-April. There was even the very intriguing Fawn Grove Roubaix on April 5, which offers a mix of paved and gravel roads north of Baltimore. But the road races seem few and far between and very much a crap shoot for earning upgrade points (and Fawn Grove is far away).

However, I’ve really enjoyed my Sunday mornings this winter on the Trek Top Fuel hitting the trail in Williamsburg. There’s also a great calendar of mountain bike races in March, followed by a series of off-road duathlons in April leading up to the Off-Road Duathlon National Championships in Richmond on April 25. I’ve been running all winter for Kale Running’s Mud in Your Eye series, which wrapped up Saturday. (I got 2nd in the 40-44 age group for the series.)

So last night as the time to register for Jeff Cup loomed, I decided to stick to the dirt for the next two months (despite past success at Jeff Cup) and see what I can do. Jeff Cup conflicts with the Virginia Duathlon, which will be my first duathlon in preparation for nationals.

My spring schedule (subject to change based on the girls’ spring soccer schedules):

March 8: Camp Hilbert #1 (either enduro or expert vet)

March 15: O-Hill Meltdown

March 22: Ride the Ridge

March 29: Virginia Duathlon

April 5: Dirty Duathlon

April 11: FORD (Fredericksburg Off-Road Duathlon)

April 19: Twisted Tire (Poor Farm)

April 25: National Off-Road Duathlon Championship

While I’m not expecting to make any real noise at nationals, I want to give it my best shot. And I love mountain biking, which is wall-to-wall fun even when you’re pushing yourself inside out. There may be tremendous joy in winning on the road, but it really is as much a game of chance as it is fitness.

I’ve got the rest of the spring and summer to race on the road, but who knows when I’ll get to compete in a national championship in my backyard again.