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RPI Race Weekend

Race Results

Saturday Morning Ė Individual Time Trial

  • Menís A
    • 23rd Ė Tim Manzella
  • Menís B
    • 33rd Ė Brett Houser
  • Menís C
    • 13th Ė Bryan Carbone
  • Menís D
    • 15th Ė Brendan Diener

Saturday Afternoon Ė Road Race

  • Menís A
    • 20th Ė Tim Manzella
  • Menís B
    • 36th Ė Brett Houser
  • Menís C
    • 20th Ė Bryan Carbone
  • Menís D
    • 18th Ė Brendan Diener

Sunday Ė Criterium

  • Menís A
    • 25th Ė Tim Manzella
  • Menís B
    • 28th Ė Brett Houser
  • Menís C
    • DNF Ė Bryan Carbone (Flat tire)
  • Menís D
    • 13th Ė Brendan Diener
  • Cat 3/4
    • 1st Ė Tim Manzella
    • 5th Ė Joe Kopena

Race Report

A small Drexel contingent made its way up to Troy, NY this weekend for the first ever RPI race weekend. It was pretty cold the whole weekend, and it looks like it was pretty much the same down here, so much huddling in the car for warmth was down by a majority of the team in the mornings. Due to spring break being the week prior, it was only Bryan, Brett, Brendan, Joe (since he did actually race) and I made the trip up. This meant that we didnít have to worry about who had to sleep on the floor for the entire weekend which means one less fight to have to mediate. The conclusion has been made that Brendan looks like Joe since both Brett and I thought he was Joe at some point on one of the nights when we werenít really awake. Once we got up to Troy a late night trip was made to Walmart to pick up some food for the weekend. There were many wrong turns during this trip and somehow we ended up in downtown Albany, drove through some lovely neighborhoods to witness the plight, and discovered that Brendan can only navigate when the sun is out. Eventually we got to Walmart, which in New York is a 2 story structure is the department store on the 1st floor and a full on grocery store in the basement. I wanted to pick up nerf guns to have a battle, but Brett was too scared that Iíd shoot his eye out at some point, which is probably a fair worry to have, so we didnít get them. After settling into the hotel room, we turned in for the night to prepare for the cold and the two races that were on tap for Saturday.

Saturday brought about the individual time trial and the road race around the farm community outside of Troy. The ITT was just a flat out and back along the Hudson, so there was some wind to deal with in one direction. The circuit course was mostly flat on narrow roads with wind on a bunch of them and had a nice climb up to the finish that killed every field. Everyone did pretty well in the ITT or were at least happy with their effort given the cold weather. After Brett got done the ITT, he put on his cape and Joe Kopena mask and went out to cheer on Bryan and Brendan in the C and D races respectively. I caught parts of the C and D races but was out with the Intro racers for their coached lap and racing portion. From the parts of the race that I caught, the D field definitely shattered the first time around the course, but Brendan found a small group to ride in with and only came in a couple minutes behind the leaders. The C fields were combined, so there was a lot of fighting for position on the narrow roads, but the times that I saw Bryan come through the finishing climb he was hanging with the group, and ended up coming in with the main group to the finish. I missed all of Brettís race since it happened during the same time as mine, but he must have finished decently since he was place and was cheering me on for my final laps around the course. My race wasnít bad for the first lap until we hit the climb for the first time, the field was content with just rolling around for the majority of the first lap to shake out the legs from the effort in the morning. A small group ended up going away in the 2nd or 3rd lap and eventually got a gap after a lap or so. There was a point where we were about to catch them and them were within a couple of seconds but then the string snapped and they went away. The field got smaller and smaller every time up the climb until it was about 12 of us on the last couple of laps, with about 8 people up the road in the break. The climb was definitely tougher than I though and I ended up getting dropped leading up to the two laps to go but was able to catch back up to the pack after a mile or two of chasing. I was able to hold it together the next time up the climb and since there was no one really behind us the last 2 laps were just a pace line exercise by army to try and get ride of some people or at least tire some people out since they ended up not getting anyone in the break. The last time up the climb, I didnít have much left in my legs to keep up with the first attack and just kept the pace I could hold and ended up picking a couple people off the went out too fast and ended up placing in the points, which was good. The team ended up going back to the hotel before going out to eat some Thai food in Albany and having a good time trading stories of the day and hearing some of mine and Joeís stories about other courses and races.

Sunday brought about the 3rd downtown criterium in a row, though Troy is a much smaller city than New York City and Philly, but was definitely the most fun crit course so far this year. The course was 6 corners in about 1k of racing so it was going to be a fast race with a selection made early in the race. The excitement started early with the team, when it was discovered that my car had a screw in the front tire that was slowly leaking air. Luckily there was a Firestone that was open near the course, so I was able to drop of the car and get the hole plugged while the racing was going on. Brendan was up first for the team, and used a pretty good tactic of going for it from the gun and trying to make a selection early in the race. He ended up establishing a small break that lasted for a couple of laps and definitely knocked some people out of the race very early on. His group got caught by the field after a couple of laps, and he ended up hanging out to the field the rest of the time and rolled in for an impressive 15th place. Bryan took on the CI field, which was luckily split from the CII field for the crit so that it wasnít as big of a group. He was hanging in there at the back of the field but ended up getting a flat inside of the free lap rule so he had to sit out the rest of the race. Brett ended up hanging in there pretty well with the B field and rolled around with the tail ended up it after deciding not to sprint. The A race was fast from the gun and everyone was fighting for position through the tight opening part of the crit, which lead to a couple of crashes with people overcooking corners or not paying attention to who was around them going through corners. I spend most of the time trying to maintain position near the front 1/3 of the pack which turned out to take a lot of energy not just physically but mentally trying to figure out where to get around people and who was about to get gapped. I ended up only taking on drink from my bottle for the entire 60 minute race which definitely wasnít good. I ended up not moving up enough in the closing laps to be able to get a good position for the sprint and only rolled around in 25th, which I was a little disappointed with, but at least I place in the top 25 in every race this weekend, which I think is a first for me since probably Easternís at PSU 2 years ago. Brett and Brendan ended up also doing the Cat 4/5 race after my race got done, with Brett finishing in the pack and Brendan getting pulled with a couple of laps left, but for some reason neither of them got placed in the results. I ended up convincing Joe to do the 3/4 race with me which got combined with the couple of riders from the Womenís open race. My warm up consisted of riding around the course with Joe, Maggie from NU, and Mark a recent grad from NU a couple of times. There were only 10 guys that started the race so it was a small field with a bunch of the riders being from McGill. I spent most of the race as the 3rd person in the line making sure not to put in too many accelerations since like Joe I was trying to make sure that I didnít drop Maggie to early in the race, so that she could have a chance to beat a guy or two. Nothing happened to much in the race until the first unexpected prime, which you can just read Joeís report to find out what happened that lap. I ended up getting beat by a tire width by Mark, and then just sat back since everyone was still there thanks to Joe. The next prime shattered the field thanks to a McGill guy taking himself out in turn 2 and allowing 4 of us to get a gap on the field. The group didnít work well together, so Joe and a couple of other guys were able to get close to us and eventually tag along. I ended up starting to take longer and harder pulls to try and get rid of people since I knew I didnít have the legs for an all out spring against a couple of guys. One of the pulls ended up dropping everyone else so I took off on a 5 lap flyer that ended up winning me the race by a comfortable margin. It was actually the first road race that Iíve ever won after winning a couple of mtb races in the fall and placing very well in a couple of cross races during the winter. Its definitely fun to be able to celebrate across the line with some of the team watching and the officials that I knew cheering me on too after that had encouraged me during my breakaway. And as I pointed out to Steve B. today, John Frey finally has a finish line photo of me thatís not me sliding across the line during a crash. Afterwards we ended up going out to a local brewery/restaurant with Joe and Alan and had some pretty good dinner before heading out for a long trip home.

The next weekend weíll be up a Boston for the second coming of the Boston Beanpot, featuring the TTT and Road Race from the X-pot when just MIT put on the race and the crit for the original Beanpot.

-Tim Manzella

This weekend I got talked into doing the 3/4 crit at RPI's Tour de
Troy. I doubt RPI will ever put on that course again, way too much
hostility from the city government, but if anybody does, I highly
encourage doing it. Awesome course in a great downtown venue.

The 3/4 was basically a throwaway to let some of the locals race and
collegiate guys to do more miles. It was super late in the day (5pm
start) and cold (mid to low thirties), so only about a dozen people
lined up. I only finished at the back of the lead group, completely
unable to match Drexel Tim's breakaway in the closing laps, so nothing
amazing to report. It was, however, super ridiculously fun, and the
first time in years that I did a race and just plain had a good time.
I was also super happy about it because my endurance is actually
really high right now but I have not been doing much/any intensity, so
I was pleased to hang on to some strong guys even without warming up.

I wanted though to point out three things from the race in hopes that
they might be useful to newer racers:

[ Field Reading ]

I can't stress enough that being able to read the riders around you
is, in my opinion, the most important skill to work on. I spend a lot
of time with new racers and they all constantly say things like "I
felt strong, but I just got dropped" or "I was riding the corners
well, but I just got gapped in the last one." Lots of times, that's
actually because the people around you aren't riding well. Especially
in a very small group, you need to closely watch the two or three guys
in front of you. If they look like they're cracking, you need to get
around them so that you don't get caught behind a huge gap when they
fall behind. Lately I've mostly tailgunned the back of the field on
group rides and what few races I've been doing, and it would never
work if I wasn't allocating the vast majority of my mental focus to
watching out for this and coming around people as necessary.

[ Pick Your Battles ]

Everybody has strengths and weaknesses, and that extends to particular
course features. This course, for example, was pretty non-technical,
but had 6.5 corners in a kilometer course so they came up fairly
quickly. The three middle ones in particular came in rapid
left/right/left succession so it warranted some care. I was not able
or willing to whip through them quite as fast as the leaders, but
after a couple laps it was clear I had a better line on the two
closing corners. That freed me from having to really worry about the
middle three. I could mentally relax, and I didn't have to jump as
hard coming out of them to cover that difference because I'd still be
able to move up and be energy neutral for the lap after the next set.

[ Control the Field ]

After the first twenty minutes or so of the race, a few riders had
dropped behind but everybody else was pretty much doing a nice,
pleasant group ride of ~9 or so. Coming off a cold start---too much
running around with a last minute crisis at registration---I had
finally warmed up and was just hanging out in the back with my friend
Maggie, definitely riding slightly above her comfort zone but hanging
well with the boys. There weren't any primes planned for the race,
but a few spectators offered up cash for some impromptu sprints. As
soon as I saw the officials getting out the bell, I knew Maggie and I
were screwed. She would almost definitely get dropped if the pace
went much higher and I was worried about three things:

  • Someone would get too jumpy and there'd be a crash.
  • I'd get dropped and lose contact as the leaders ramped up the pace.
  • The already tiny field would shatter and we'd all wind up doing
    boring ass solo TTs in significant wind for the next 20 minutes.

Knowing I would never be able to take the prime around the top guys,
instead I focused on the bigger picture of those three concerns and
immediately jumped to the front of the field. Most people probably
figured it a pointless, stupid effort, attacking way, way too early.
Instead though, I intentionally went to the front and tried to raise
the pace just enough so that people would hesitate to come around and
attack the group. Similarly, by pulling all the way into the sprint I
gave a bunch of guys---who would have crushed me anyway---a good
leadout, but ensured I was on their wheels coming out of the sprint.

In practice this worked beautifully. By going above my threshold but
not spiking it, I protected my own minimal high-intensity energy
reserves and made sure that:

  • I was in front in case someone did crash, and helped prevent that by
    keeping it calmer.
  • Made damn sure I was on the leaders' wheels coming out of the sprint
    in case they kept going and attacked off the prime.
  • Discouraged anyone from attacking and either getting up the road or
    causing the group to shatter; in the event, Maggie and I both made
    it through totally fine and the group stayed together.

All of this was vindicated when another unexpected prime came up a few
laps later. Unable to come forward and do the same thing, three
things instantly happened:

  • Some guy in the middle of the group overcooked a corner and crashed.
  • Half the group got dropped and shattered into TTs.
  • I barely made the lead selection, but couldn't come forward to match
    the winning counter attack that come shortly thereafter.

So, a tactic to think about. On the surface it's a stupid move if
you're aiming to win, but there is a lot you can do to impose your
will on a field if you're willing to put out a little extra effort,
like protecting yourself and your "teammate" like I did here.

joe kopena
right here and now

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Page last modified on March 29, 2011, at 08:30 PM