Posts tagged ‘usacrits’

Chris Thater Memorial Race

UPDATE – Nevermind, I made the mistake of taking the last flight out of Birmingham. The flight has a flat tire, which they are replacing in about an hour, which means I miss my connection to NY. There is no way I can make it to the race in time!

I’m privileged to be racing tomorrow in the last race of this year’s NRC series – the Chris Thater Memorial criterium up in Binghamton, NY. This race is also part of the USA Crits series where I am currently still holding my position in the Top 10. Here’s my topocreator map of the course … at 1.3miles long, this is a bit longer than a typical crit course. We’re supposed to be racing 50 miles, so I guess that means about 38, 39, or 40 laps.

August 28, 2010 at 4:09 pm Leave a comment

USA Crits – Ironhill Twilight and Capital Crit Race Reports

2010 Capital Criterium – July 11, 2010 – Amazing! Photo by Marco Quezada.
What an experience of racing this weekend! I received call-ups both days for being in the Top 10 overall for the USA Crits series! This picture above is right before the start of Sunday’s Capital Criterium during the singing of the Italian National Anthem followed shortly by the American National Anthem. The reason for the Italian anthem is because this race was held in part to promote the start of the 2012 Giro d’Italia in Washington, DC. The course was fun and fast. I worked hard to stay at the front for the entire race and ended up 18th.
2010 Ironhill Twilight Criterium – July 10, 2010 Photo by @ShaunaSmash Looking down at broken derailleur while coasting to a stop. Photo by Joe Mallis
Saturday night was a fast, fun Twilight Criterium in West Chester, PA. The story of the night for me (besides getting a call-up!) was how much time could I spend in the pits! Only a few laps into the race, I got caught up in a crash on the hill coming out of Turn 3. I think my bike was OK, but later in the race I ended up cracking my derailleur cage when the chain came off. I ran back to the pits and got a SRAM neutral bike, which I was able to use to finish the race (38th place). SRAM was awesome and let me use the bike again the next day since it was impossible to fix the bike without ordering the part.

After the weekend’s races, I moved into 6th overall. And even though I’m missing the next race, I’m hoping to still have enough points to be in the Top 10 for Charlotte and Dallas which are the final two races in the series.

@TotalCyclist broadcast the Ironhill Crit live, and there is still an archived version available online at the following URL:

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/4599574
– scroll to 5 minutes to hear me ask @probikeracingtv to post pic of my call-up
– scroll to 12 minutes to see my call-up

The weekend was the first time I have flown to a race since 1998. It went pretty smoothly, albeit expensive!

Saturday, 11AM Dreary morning here in Baltimore – forecast is for rain tonight in West Chester, PA, too. That means tonight’s Ironhill Twilight criterium is looking to be pretty much a repeat of this year’s Athens Twilight. With one exception, though, I should be getting a call-up which means I won’t be stuck at the back of a huge field!

I flew in last night to the Baltimore airport, grabbed a shuttle to the hotel with my giant bike carrier (61 lbs w/ bike, clothes, tools), and then assembled my roughed up bike. Everything inside the bike carrier had come unscrewed and with the handlebars dismounted I forgot to screw the headset together so the fork had almost pulled completely out of the bike – I’m very lucky it didn’t crack! I had been planning to take the free shuttle back to the airport to take a free shuttle to the rental car place to pick up my rental car. But then I realized – wait a minute – I have a bike! So I avoided the shuttles and biked the 4.5 miles to the rental car place to pick up my car. The bike worked great, and I felt great, but it was pouring down rain. So dripping wet I waited in line, got the car, put my bike in the trunk, and headed back to the hotel. Everything is drying out now — just in time to get soaked again tonight during the race!

Later that day... The sun came out at the end of the day, dried up all the streets, and we raced on the perfectly dry (and fast) streets of downtown West Chester. It was a hard race, and I ended up 38th.

July 15, 2010 at 2:23 pm Leave a comment

Upcoming USA Crits

Capital Criterium, July 11, 2010

Yes, that is a crit course located just two blocks from the White House, and yes if everything falls into place I will be racing it on Sunday! Excited is an understatement!!! But first, I’ll be racing the Ironhill Twilight criterium on Saturday in West Chester, PA before heading down to DC to race the Capital Crit on Sunday. Both crits are part of the USA crits series, where I am currently 6th overall, which hopefully means I’ll get a call-up to the start line at one or both races. Stay tuned for updates.

Ironhill Twilight Criterium, July 10, 2010

July 5, 2010 at 9:43 pm 4 comments

Racing the Ohio Triple (Madeira Centennial Crit, Hyde Park Blast (USA Crits), Tour de Grandview)

Whew – what a hard weekend of racing … 120 miles of criterium racing in only 3 days. Today’s Tour de Grandview criterium was 42 miles long and had over 2000 ft of climbing cumulative for the race! It was by far the hardest race, not only because of the long hill on the course but also because of the hot, humid weather with heat index hovering around 100. My heartrate data tells the story, but I went from thinking that there was no way I was going to be able to finish to by the end having a shot at the top 10. But before all the details, here is the quick summary:

Quick summary and heartrate data
Sunday, June 27th, Tour de Grandview (Columbus, OH)
14th place, 80 starters (25 finishers plus another 10-15 placed on time), tough course with long hill and very hot, humid weather
2010-06-27 Tour de Grandview Heartrate data

  1. Easy first part of the race, break of 5 gets away
  2. Attacking to bridge – two laps chasing solo
  3. Caught – tired
  4. Hurting bad, figured I would be gapped off or dropped
  5. Hurting bad, figured I would be gapped off or dropped
  6. Hurting bad, figured I would be gapped off or dropped
  7. Hurting bad, figured I would be gapped off or dropped
  8. Hurting bad, figured I would be gapped off or dropped
  9. Hurting bad, figured I would be gapped off or dropped
  10. You get the idea…
  11. Field down to 25 riders by this point
  12. Recovered, starting to figure out how to get top 10
  13. The finishing laps, last rationed gatorade gone, a few accelerations, cramps, cramp in finish sprint, 14th place

Saturday, June 26th, Hyde Park Blast USA Crits Stop #3 (Hyde Park, OH)
11th place, 100+ starters (38 finishers), tough course with short steep hill up narrow alley
2010-06-26 Hyde Park Blast (USA Crits) Heartrate data

  1. Good start, near the front, not unmanageable
  2. Crash on last turn – forced into barriers – free lap
  3. Field split – only 55 riders left in the race – still hard with lots of attacks
  4. Good break got away – steady chasing by Kenda
  5. Moving up for the finish

Friday, June 25th, Madeira Centennial Criterium (Madeira, OH)
28th place, 100+ starters (60 finishers), very tough 6 corner course including two 180 degree turns, highest power average for the year
2010-06-25 Madeira Centennial Crit Heartrate data

  1. Started near the back, very difficult with the 180 degree turns, struggling, full water bottle popped out on rough pavement
  2. Neutral section after rider clotheslined by a finish line cable and attended to by EMTs. Stopped to pick up my water bottle
  3. Fast finish, moved up to about 40th, couldn’t move up any further

The Details
Friday’s Madeira Centennial crit was on one of the most unique courses I’ve raced … see annotated topocreator map below …

  1. First 180 degree turn at top of small hill
  2. First active railroad crossing, carpet laid over tracks
  3. Second 180 degree turn at top of small hill
  4. Rough pavement
  5. Second active railroad crossing, no carpet but not too rough

And by active, I mean that a train was scheduled to pass through anytime between 7:30PM and 9:00PM. Fortunately, the train was late and didn’t come by until just after we finished at 9:30. The callups were decided by order of registration, so I ended up starting near the very back because I had only decided a couple days before to register. This wasn’t a good course to be at the back because both 180 degree turns required slowing down to about 5-10mph if you were at the back as the riders in front bunched up trying to squeeze through the turns shoulder to shoulder.

About 20 minutes into the race, one of my water bottles popped out when I hit the rough pavement coming out of the second 180. As if to taunt me, the bottle (or maybe somebody helped it) had rolled into a standing position right on the side of the course. So each time through that part of the course, I would see the bottle as my one remaining bottle was just about empty. But then, there was a really bad accident (a rider was clotheslined off his bike by an air compressor cable being held up after the finish line blow-up area fell over). This neutralized the race for about 4 or 5 laps while the EMTs immobilized and transported him off the course. This accident, while terribly bad for that racer, did provide a stroke of good luck for me because it meant I was able to stop and pick up the bottle that I had dropped.

When we started back up, the organizers figured out that we would have just enough time to finish our race before the train came. This was good news because we crossed the train tracks twice on the course! I moved up pretty far – from near the back to somewhere in the top 20 riders or so but lost position in the 180 degree turns on the last couple laps, starting the sprint in the top 30 and finishing 28th. I knew the race was hard, but when I downloaded my heartrate and power data, I couldn’t believe how hard it had been — average power of 394W and average heartrate of 176bpm and 53 minutes in my Zone 5 heartrate.

Saturday’s Hyde Park Blast (USA Crits)
110 riders lined up for the start of this race. Tim Hall, from Nashville Cyclist, leaned over and said this was the “Athens Twilight” of the north — and he was right. Good, hard course, thousands of spectators in a party-like atmosphere, and a survival-fest of a bike race. Sounds like Athens Twilight to me! I had a fourth row starting position, but the guy in front of me clipped in really well and I followed him past two rows of riders immediately as soon as they blew the whistle to start the race. The pace was fast, and I was in zone 5 pretty quick, but everything was smooth and steady at the front of the race. Then about 5 laps into the race, there was a crash a few riders in front of me on the super fast downhill out of the alley. I had no place to go, so I decided it was better to run into the barriers than running over the riders on the ground.

After taking a free lap, the official put us back in at the very front of the large field. This turned out to be pretty important because only a few minutes later there would be a field split that eventually saw half the field pulled from the race. There were a lot of breaks and moves, but I decided that my best chance at finishing well was to conserve energy for the finish by working to stay close to the front. Coming into the final laps, I had moved up to near the front of our dwindling field (down to about 30 riders) and fought hard to stay there by accelerating hard out of the 180 degree turn on the course. On the last lap, there was a split in our field with 13 riders in it. I was about 5 riders back from the split so I attacked hard and nearly completed the bridge by the start of the final sprint with the rest of the field splintered a few seconds back. A crash took out two riders in front of me meaning I was able to squeeze through for 11th.

Check out my annotated topocreator map with highlights of the course and race:

  1. Lots of spectators here – I think the estimate was a few thousand people!
  2. Live band playing some loud hard rock music we could hear each lap.
  3. Shift into the little chainring in prep for the steep climb up the alley.
  4. The alley climb – narrow, steep, nicely paved cement – felt like a driveway.
  5. Beer and $ primes from the spectators.
  6. Crazy fast downhill – location of crash where I went into the barriers.
  7. Location of finish line crash.

The alley climb was a really unique part of this course. The alley was behind people’s houses, and so there were a lot of people grilling out on their back porches and lining the already narrow road at spots where there was some place to stand just off the road. They were giving beer and money primes later in the race after the field had thinned down. The trees lined the alley with branches hanging out into the alley. There was one evergreen tree with a branch hanging about 2-3 feet into the road that people (including myself) would brush up against on every lap. On one lap, I was preparing to brush up against the branch again when a rider passed me on the outside just before the branch. So he ran smack into the branch pushing it back out of his way. Well – guess who was there when the branch snapped back into position – me! I got hit hard on my face and arm and was a little bit stunned, surprised, and upset at first. But that quickly turned to laughter on the way down the hill as I realized what had just happened. You don’t see that in a race every day!

I really enjoyed the race and was happy to finish 11th which has moved me into 6th place overall in the USA crits series which means I will probably get a call-up at the next USA crits race in PA and maybe even the big NRC rate in DC on Pennsylvania Avenue!

Tour de Grandview, Columbus Ohio
The last race of the series was by far the hardest because it came at the end of a long weekend of crit racing, was in the hottest weather and humidity, and had the most climbing (2000ft!). Still, I was proudest of this race because less than 15 minutes into the race, I was half-hoping to get dropped or gapped off so I could call it a day. So in the end I was elated to have been able to hung on and have a shot at the top 10. Plus – any crit that has a feedzone because the climb is steep enough and the race is long enough to warrant one has got to be tough!

The race started out relatively easy as I had a good spot in the second row. Riding at the front, it was easy to fly through the corners and make it up the climb. Plus, a small group had gotten away on the first lap that had most (but not all) of the major teams represented. A large part of the field was happy to let them roll away, and I thought for sure that with everyone being so tired they would lap the group. I was feeling good enough that I wanted to make sure that I at least gave it a good shot to get across to the break. So, on the third time up the hill, I attacked 100% hard and got a clean gap on the field. By the top of the climb I came flying by another rider who had been chasing and continued my pursuit. I made it to where I could see the break at the top of the hill when I was about 3/4 of the way up meaning that they had about a 20 second gap. This was as close to making it as I came though, because on the next lap, the break wasn’t visible and the announcer said they had 30 seconds. Since I only had a 10 second gap on the field, I eased back and pushed it hard to make sure that I didn’t get caught until the top of the hill on the next lap. So now that I think about it, I must have been away chasing for 3 laps.

The field did catch me – and fortunately it was at the top of hill. I made sure to ride as much as possible in the middle of the road so that when the field came by 5mph faster, I could catch a draft from riders passing me on both sides. Then I eventually latched on near the very back of the pack. Also, fortunately, the next time up the climb was relatively tame so I basically had two full laps to recover before the guys in the front went into “blow the race apart” mode. Each time up the climb, somebody would attack in the flat leading into the climb – which meant that those of us at the back of the pack who had to slow down for the 90 degree turn leading into the climb, had to accelerate even harder up the climb. The only thing that saved me was that most of those attacks would be caught by the top of the climb — which meant there was usually a slight lull in the pace where those of us who had gotten gapped off or dropped could catch back up. This must have happened 10 times — including during the middle of the small thunderstorm which passed through the race. Yes, it started to rain for less than one lap — and only on 1/2 of the course – so we had about 5 minutes of relief from the heat before the sun came out and was blazing hot with what felt like 100% humidity. The top part of the climb was dry even though it had rained pretty hard at the bottom! About two laps later with the blazing sun, the bottom part of the course was dry again.

The thunderstorm was a bit of a psychological blow for me as the lightning flash and almost instantaneous thunder had been a cue for me that they were going to stop, delay, or call the race right then. The next lap around though, the official yelled “laps” or something like that so I thought that meant we were down to 5 laps to go. The pace was fast and I had trouble figuring out where the lap card was. It took me a few laps and by this point I was thinking we only had a couple laps left. When I finally found the lap card, it read “22 laps” and I thought “you’ve got to be kidding me”. We still had almost an hour of racing left!!! So I was a bit demoralized at that point, but the only problem was that I kept on recovering enough on the downhill to be able to hang on or chase back on at the top of the hill. It was like an endless interval session…

That is, until a good break got away with about 6 or 7 riders. Then things seemed to slow down a bit. I thought we would be sprinting for 7th or 8th because our pace really dropped. But the guys in the break weren’t working well together, or they must have just been plain exhausted because we caught them with about 5 or 6 laps to go. Two riders got off the front of our group in a strong counterattack (Andy Crater and a Panther rider) and I was already in survival mode so I was happy to let them go. Almost everyone in the field was just so exhausted that you didn’t care if somebody attacked to get away, so two riders slipped away independently with three and two laps to go, respectively and they stayed away for 3rd and 4th. Basically, if you had any legs left you could attack and the small field of 20 exhausted riders was going to let you go. Unfortunately for me, I had no legs left and was just hanging on trying to move up so that I could try to get a top 10 finish. It didn’t quite happen though, because I cramped up really bad up the climb to the finish sprint having run completely out of water/gatorade with 3 laps to go – and even though I had a bit of luck in that the muscle relaxed just enough for me to reengage my right leg and pass three or four people before the finish, it was only the people who had already passed me at the start of the sprint when I had cramped so I ended up in about the same position I started the sprint – with 4 off the front meant 14th for the race.

  1. First corner – pace slow down as attacks up the hill usually petered out by here.
  2. Hard second corner because you came from a sidewind and turned directly into a headwind.
  3. Fast downhill corner.
  4. Another bunching up spot before accelerating downhill.
  5. Very fast, rough pavement, downhill corner. First lap, the first rider didn’t make turn went straight off the road between some park bleachers and fell on the grass.
  6. Slingshot corner, accelerate hard up the climb
  7. The feedzone
  8. Lots of spectators shouting encouragement and throwing water on riders.

June 29, 2010 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

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My mtb waiting to be pushed to brick alley, plus future cross bike??? The southminster switchbacks further up the hill plus run-in to the berm (bottom) Hwy 31 left sidewalk- hidden gem in Vestavia. Check out my road bike tracks on the berm in lower left pic.

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Quick reference stats

Anaerobic Threshold:
Power:315 watts
Heart rate:180 bpm
Maximums:
Power:1097 watts (5s)
Heart rate:198 bpm (5s)
AT power estimated by critical power curve in Golden Cheetah, which predicts I should be able to maintain 315 watts for 1 hour.

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