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Yale Weekend

Race Reports

The night before I realized I left my shoes in Philly so I pulled a
quick pedal & shoe swap with Dan after his ITT and raced down the hill
as to not miss the C ITT start.
Since my energy systems are rather unbalanced right now I decided to
put most of the strain from the ITT on my cardiovascular system (a
strength). I rode the entire ITT at 92-110 rpm even on the climb. At
the end my lungs were burning pretty bad but my legs werenít that
sore, even got that post race cough in which you lungs are basically
flipping you off. Looking back I probably used too small a gear for
the ITT. About halfway up the climb the Vermont rider who started 20s
behind me finally caught me and opened a ~10 sec gap by the finish. I
have to say I was pleased with the ITT, though I can certainly make
improvements to my TTing. It was my first ITT in a long while and I
rode a good hard pace the whole time and didnít let the Vermont rider
passing me cause me to overcook it.
Final result 26th/59, time - 13:12.76, avg speed 19.5 mph. 1.2 sec
out of the C1 points
C - RR
I did a quick ride over to the local bike shop and picked up a pair of
traps for the RR since I was not going to be able to swap with Dan for
the RR.
In the RR I simply didnít have the strength. I did rather well
sitting up near the front for the first two laps as UVM set the pace
at ~19-21mph up the hill. I let UVM dictate my pace the first two
laps making sure to follow their wheels up the hill (they didnít
attack they just rode a steady tempo). The third lap the C1 field was
warned to speed up since the C2s were catching up, not too surprising
since C2s destroyed the C1s in the ITT (16 of the top 24 ITT were
C2). When the C1s hit the first switchback on the 3rd lap I was in
the middle of the pack. A UVM rider attacked right as he hit the
steep section, the whole field responded but I didnít have the legs to
accelerate with them and was tailed off the back. I was able to raise
my pace to match the fields but just dangled off the back. I failed
to rejoin on the decent and that sealed my fate. I rode the last lap
solo and actually climbed faster than in my ITT.
I finished 21st/32, 2:35 back from the winner. Disappointing but not
entirely unexpected as only 9 C1 riders beat me in the ITT but some
beat me by 40sec and I went at their pace the first two laps.
C - Crit
The night before I was really hurting from the ITT and RR. Though I
felt fine at the starting line I didnít know what to expect for the
crit. Right off the line I got up near the front and put out the
effort to stay close to the front for the first couple laps. With the
inexperience of myself and other riders I wanted to make sure I
avoided the early crashes that I expected to happen. Crashes did
happen early, one right behind me that nearly took out Brendan if Iím
correct. The chocolate bunny preme caused a faster pace early on than
the other premes, I just hunkered down and followed. Iím not sure how
many laps we did but I say 7 at one point (Iím terrible at keeping
track). After the first few laps I allowed myself to slip further
down the pack rather than constantly surging to stay at the front.
For this crit I was far more active than in past races. I defiantly
gained a lot of confidence during the race moving up and back in the
field whenever I wanted to. I also began to annoy some riders by
forcing my way into the line after I moved up, making them move behind
me or over to a different wheel. I was far more active in this race
and being more assertive certainly paid off. I wasnít simply
following wheels and letting others dictate what I did; I was racing
my own race. As the race when on I kept feeling stronger and my
confidence built up. I need to pay attention to lap card though
because all of a sudden we had the bell lap and I was sitting toward
the back feeling great. I cursed myself for not paying attention and
powered up to the front by the 3rd turn (my thought go big or go
home). UVM started a leadout as I reached the front but I failed to
hop in their line. I ended up stuck in the wind and lost a lot of the
places that I just gained. After the final turn I opened it up
(rather early) and passed several riders on the final straight but was
simply way too far back and had no chance for any high result. Though
the phlyer RR was my best result, this was by far my best race (it
would soon be surpassed by the 4/5 race).
The final result 26th/60, st., field sprint; earned 2 individual
In summary I was annoyed with myself for not paying attention to how
many laps were left. On the other hand I enjoyed the race more than
past races and was pleased with my riding.
Men 4/5 Crit
Spurred by the confidence I gained in the C crit I placed myself up at
the front in the start ready to hit it right from the gun and try to
get into a break. Army had a different ideaÖfailing to clip in right
in front of me and falling into Brendan nearly knocking both of them
to the ground and forcing me to stop deadÖ so rather than starting in
the front I started at the very backÖwonderful. I spent the first two
laps getting to the front of the field avoiding a few early crashes.
As I reached the front I saw a break had already formed (damn you
army). The pace for this race was defiantly faster than the Cs but I
felt much stronger. Since I had just used energy to move to the front
I chose to sit in and recover prior to chasing. However I quickly
realized the field wasnít chasing it was simply attacking itself over
and over so I chose not to chase and ignore the break. None of the
attacks were able to get a gap and worked pretty well to eliminate a
cohesive chase early. Attacks continued the whole race and were
regular enough that the pace never really fell, the field seemed to
accept the first break and wasnít about to let more riders get away. I
spent some energy early trying to hop into possible breaks but nothing
Some older gentleman yelled orders for the first 1/3 of the race at
all the collegiate riders who just rode over the potholes, saying we
were taking terrible lines and were going to cause crashes. An Army B
rider eventually told him rather nicely to shut it, ďjust keep your
hands on your bars and you will be fine. I raced for 40min over these
potholes earlier. Keep your hands on your handlebars and you can ride
right over them.Ē
The only attack (other than the two riders in a break) that looked
like it might get a significant gap was by Brendan. He made a move up
the far side of the main stretch and I moved over to get on his wheel
but quickly noticed the field grabbing onto my wheel. Thinking he was
attacking I just held a pace slightly slower than him and let him
build up a gap. Dan then moved in front of me and held the same pace,
just hard enough that Brendan could slowly pull away. The pace was
about the same as the field had been holding. The pace however was
too slow to discourage attacks and several riders quickly attacked up
the far side of the road. I jumped onto their wheels but the whole
field had followed and caught Brendan rather quickly.
After not paying attention to the lap count in the Cs I paid more
attention. This time I was ready for the final few laps. A few
riders tried in vain to get away. In the field sprint I was only able
to hold my position; not passing or being passed. A Yale rider stayed
away off the front.
Final result 12th/58, field sprint at 19s back.
In summary I stayed active the whole race following wheels from
attacks and moving throughout the field, but never attacking myself.
This was faster than the Cs, but I felt physically much stronger and
more confident in my riding. After looking at the results I realized I
had been racing a bunch of B riders at the front which made me feel
better about not being able to come past anyone in the sprint. Iím
actually amazed at how good I felt in the race. It seems like the
faster the race the better I feel. Iím starting to get comfortable
moving about and asserting my position in the field. I need to
improve my cornering though, I take corners a little slower than
others and depend on strength to accelerate back up to speed. I wonít
be at Army but I should be at Dartmouth the following week.

-Nick Ferra

This weekend a bunch of us did the open ITT and non-collegiate crits
at the Yale ECCC races. In the open ITT I finished 5/14, which sounds
ok but was DFL by a second on the Men's A times and a disappointment.
The 1/2/3 crit (probably mostly 3s, bunch of 2s, couple 1s) was much
better. Though I only finished 24/37, quietly not contesting the
field sprint, my mental game was solid and I felt super visible and
active throughout, so I was very pleased.
In the ITT my form was good but I was up about two gears from where I
needed to be. Ultimately, as I get older I just can't keep up my
traditional nonsense of sleeping 1--4 hours, driving overnight,
running around to get the race going, and expecting to be at strength.
One note for new racers is that for TTs in particular you should
closely examine the course map since there's little guidance in front
of you and you're pushing every section. I had not raced this TT
before and scared the hell out of the marshals at the left out of the
park as I Tokyo drifted my rear wheel to rapidly go from big ringing
hard into an expected slight bend to dealing with an actual beyond 90
corner, scrubbing seconds and being super perilous.
The Yale crit is flat and non-technical, with just one corner
requiring care. Imagine a fast approach on a wide road with a 90
degree corner onto a single-lane version of the old South St bridge,
with the same exposed rebar ribbing, lips and curbs, and more holes.
I made at least two big mistakes in the race.
Maybe four laps in I guessed people were going to get tired of dealing
with the pack on that bridge and the first separation would happen, so
I went to the front. I was about a lap late; I could see a credible
5--7 person break forming up ahead as I worked around riders they were
shedding. At that point I made a miscalculation. I figured I was at
~85%. I could probably bridge, but it would take 100%+ and risk
blowing up. In part because mentally, particularly after the ITT, I
was not prepared to be in this kind of strong position, I opted to
play it safe, assuming someone would go around and I could follow
their chase. No one went, either because they'd broken or another
rider had already established what turned out to be a pretty effective
block. That precious couple seconds as I realized no one was coming
was enough for the break to slip too far away for me to try for it.
Later, the break slowed or the block weakened and we came closer. Tim
Manzella (TSV/Drexel) was near the front and started digging toward
it. I thought if I buried myself I could get him close enough to
launch into the break, so I rolled by the line and gave him a wheel.
We made up ground but I didn't have enough strength endurance and in
the end couldn't get him close enough. The big mistake though was
that I assumed at least a chunk of the field was with us, and had not
verified that. As I began to weaken and told Tim to launch, I
expected there to be a line for me to rejoin and sat up a fair bit.
In reality, we had separated from the field when we pulled forward,
and Brett Houser (Drexel) and Matt Griswold (BU) had started running a
block. The field was nowhere nearby. Given that separation, I should
have let up earlier and switched off with Tim so we could try to TTT
up together rather than me redlining to launch him, but the latter was
the only plan I had in mind. That we were all alone caught me way off
guard, so I couldn't readjust to tag his wheel and our bridge fizzled
out. After that the break was safe all the way to the finish.
Three observations for newer racers: One is that I'm always super
conscious of where my handlebars are. I try to never ride with my
bars next to another guy's, as handlebar-on-handlebar is about the
most dangerous contact you can have. In contrast, if some guy hits my
hips with his bars, it's probably not going to be a problem (at least
for me). As a corollary, the guy with the bars in front better
owns the line and is asserting his space. So, particularly
approaching a tricky corner where I want to control my line, I'm
usually very aware of giving a couple extra kicks to put my bars
definitively ahead of the guy next to me, making space for myself.
Another is that in the closing laps, you've got to expect attacks to
come, and you've got to think about where they'll come and how. A
wide, fast boulevard section like the main stretch at Yale is a clear
candidate. I think some guys were surprised I was pretty easily able
to counter a couple late attacks on the field, but it was precisely
because I was waiting for them---watching the left side out of the
corner of my eye since we were on the right, not blocked in by the guy
in front of me, in the drops, spinning loosely and ready to spin up
and accelerate rapidly to full speed.
Finally, I was pretty much mentally fixed on not contesting the
sprint, even if I'd had much left (very questionable). However, it
was still well worth my effort to come forward and fight for front
pack positioning in the closing laps. Even if you can't contest the
sprint, if you're near the front as it begins, you'll still roll in
before other people. More importantly, that effort guaranteed there
were only a couple, likely competent, riders in front of me going
through that bridge as people ramped up in the last couple laps,
protecting mission #1: My own safety.
All in all, the crit was a super fun ride with a ton of guys I know.
After the Phlyer I started working out again after several months'
near-hiatus, so I did these races to benchmark where I am and to
continue getting into the rhythm of racing and getting my mental game
back in form. I was shocked to find myself in a strong position
physically and mentally, and pleased with how assertively and cleanly
I rode the Sunday race, so it was a big success by those goals.

-Joe Kopena

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Page last modified on June 30, 2012, at 05:27 PM