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Report2003-03-22

Navy & UMD' 2003-03-22 by Joe K

Hey guys,

Here's results from my end this weekend:

Mar 22 Navy Criterium Classic

  • Men's C (40 starters)
    • 8th Joe Kopena

Mar 23 U. of Maryland Elkridge Furnace Inn Road Race

  • Men's C (35 finishers)
    • 5th Joe Kopena

I expect we won't hear about the Monkey Chucker and other stuff until everyone comes back next week.

The Sunday race was awesome. I wish I'd had a camera on me so I'd have a tape to show all those people that don't think cycling's a mental sport or a team sport. The race was pretty long for this early in the season, and everybody who raced that day was talking about what a strategic event it turned out to be.

Long story long:

Notice

I thought I'd point out that a couple of the ACCC teams (particularly UMD and Hopkins) were up here for the Pagoda and Lehigh/UVM races and they had all noticed us, particularly at UVM.

Traveling

I have to admit, I made one u-turn over the course of the weekend. Well, really two, but I can't be blamed for the one. I've been using Mapblast for directions and it's mostly ok, but it really screwed up this one set where it required going west on a highway but you can't from the exit it used because there's a divider. It conveniently ignored it but that just kinda screwed me over and I had to spend a while figuring out a way back.

I decided to drive up for the Navy race Saturday morning, which was a little tight but do-able. Unfortunately, I woke up around 4, said "This is stupid!" and went back to sleep. After eventually getting up, I had to rush out of the apartment and fly down to Annapolis like a speeding bullet. Sadly, I was really just a speeding Kia so it took 2 hours. Still, that left plenty of time had registration not been a nightmare.

Saturday night I camped out in Patapsco Valley State Park in Maryland, just ten minutes from the Sunday race. It was pretty cool and I highly recommend it. Not very rustic (you can see the other campers although they're not close and surely it can't be real camping if there's hot showers), but nice. Although it was strange to be on my own this trip, it was also kind of neat in a quiet way. I can't really think of any trips I've been on before where I was on my own basically the whole time, so it was kind of neat.

Navy Racing

The Navy race was good like always. I was worried because it rained a little on the way down, but that cleared up. It did make things wet enough that the first couple races featured a good coating of mud in the Widowmaker, but it's not like the thing can get more dangerous so it didn't matter. Pretty much 1 out of every 5 or 6 guys at the start the next day had fresh bandages on.

I was keeping up well in a lead group of about a dozen guys but then this Navy/VTech train just ripped it to shreds on one of the sprint laps. After that it was just chaos. There was no pack anymore and we came through huge amounts of lapped traffic, so I had no idea where I had finished until I found the results sheet afterward. I think maybe I could have caught onto that train if I'd gotten more time to warm-up, but that's just a maybe.

On that note, I will say that I have discovered the cycling equivalent of running with your hands in your pockets. Once I got through registration, I had about 12 minutes to get my bike assembled and get warmed up. When I got on the trainer, I discovered that it is incredibly hard to put your numbers on while also riding the thing.

I will also point out that you guys would be so proud of me: not only did I actually use the big chainring a fair bit throughout the race, I even got up off the seat one lap to sprint up the little hill after the first corner.

UMD Racing

As I mentioned before, UMD used a new course this year. While I liked the Greenbelt course a lot, this one was awesome. I suspect there's a USCF race there later in the year (from listening to them it sounded like a well-known local route). The geography of the course was fascinating. It had a hill in it that was sharp enough that sprinters couldn't get up it well, but it was far enough removed from the finish and the rest of the course so flat that it didn't favor climbers either.

First of all, it was awesome being ten minutes away from the race. I got there at seven, second only to a small group of Maryland people organizing the race. I was literally the first person to go through registration. One neat thing about this besides having ample time to get organized, warm up, and hang around was that I got to watch them get the race together. UMD has a new captain this year, whom I had actually met over the summer, and he's just really on the ball. He's a little older, already has a wife, and has a couple years of military service behind him, and it just showed in how organized everything was. He had tons of signs up, duty rosters for his volunteers, check lists of things to be done, it was great. And, they even thought of having vegetarian meals for the lunch (which Navy shamelessly did not have at the barbecue!).

The race was relatively long, 7 laps at 5 miles a piece. Like most road races it was pretty slow going for a while, with lots of people screwing around every now and then, quick feint attacks and stuff like that. I thought the hill wasn't a big deal, but everybody complained enough. The ACCC guys who were at the Pagoda thought this was about the same, although shorter.

The first two laps I made it pretty clear that I was matching everything anybody could do on the hill and then pushing ahead a little with a strong push down the back side to see what would happen. In some ways that might sound silly because it marked me, but it worked pretty much like I wanted. Coming around the third time the VTech captain pulled up next to me, introduced himself, and asked if I had any teammates in the race. Introducing myself, I said I had nobody but would do my share if they took me on any breaks they made. Their large team (~seven strong guys) had been pretty much running the pace on the flat portions and seemed like they might do so all race so it was good to befriend them. After he spread the word around to all their guys it guaranteed me a place in the line whenever I needed it and let me not have to watch them as a group so closely (then it basically came down to helping them watch the William & Mary and Navy groups; it was interesting throughout the race to watch other teams listen in on the VTech guys talking, or for some of them and I to sprint ahead a little so we could talk).

But, strong as they were, they weren't making it up the hill nearly fast enough. A couple laps into it, this one Maryland guy goes charging up the hill and nobody comes with us. When we get to the top we talk for a little bit and figure there's no way we can make it all the way to the end between just the two of us. But, we plan a little. Next time around we slack off a little and let two Navy guys come up the hill with us. It was pretty funny because we get near the top and start figuring out who's with us, which turns out to just be these two guys from Navy. We start yelling at them to "Come on, come on!" and "Faster, we gotta go!" and they just looked very confused for a few seconds. Then, after they caught up, it took a couple more seconds for me to explain a rotating paceline and what we wanted to happen. Once we got the picture across, though, it was a thing of beauty. The four of us worked it really smooth and just took off. Sadly, though, the main group organized enough that we could only hold them off about half a lap until they sucked us back in.

The next two laps, including the last one, no one really came with us. That sucked. I wished we could have gotten a little group like that going at the end, but we wound up with almost 20 guys coming through the downside toward the finish. The end was funny because there were no sprinters left among the group, so it basically devolved into a long dash for the finish. The heavier guys wound it up about a kilometer out while the climbers just tried to hang on.

In the end it was actually one of the Navy guys that had been on our break that won the race. He looked bigger and stronger and had struggled up the hill I thought, but it helped him on the flat finish. The guy who finished second was one of the stronger VTech guys that I had tried to talk into making a break with two laps to go, but in the end none of them were making it up the hill fast enough to do it. I stuck onto his wheel at the finish as long as I could, but 3rd and 4th caught me right within the last fifteen feet or so. So, after all that, 1st place got me by about a bike length and third got me by wheel or less. I would have been upset, but it was such a good race and I just didn't have the strength to beat their top speed on the dash. We were really moving at the end, I was in the middle of my big chainring and spinning my normal cadence; it was pretty fast and I just couldn't get down into that next gear.

All in all, a fascinating race. It was nice to have a longer race so there were things to worry about like eating and drinking enough (the half a PowerBar I'd squirreled away to eat at the 50 minute mark really saved my ass I think), actually getting up out of the saddle a couple times to work some different muscles on the climbs in the later laps, and to have lots of team work and strategy going on.

Second Blood!

I thought I'd point out that you should all be proud to be a part of Drexel Cycling. Not every team can claim to be home to the guy that crashed on the sharp uphill during the cool-down lap... Now I have no functional knees at all.

Actually, it wasn't bad. Some of the VTech guys and I were screwing around after the race and I got tangled in a wheel while we were going too slow to correct so I just tipped over. Nothing hurt but my pride. Well, pride and my previously unscathed knee (it'd be nice if they worked, that might be useful sometime).

The Real Reason We Go Down to Maryland: VTech Girls!

For the guys who've been down there, I'm sad to say that VTech has new uniforms that do not have "Hokies" stenciled big as day across their posterior. However, the new jerseys do feature an awful lot of bright, vibrant: orange! I was stoked. The women's race at Navy received my undivided attention.

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