Merry Crit-Mas 12/17/16

This was criterium number three for me and since I crashed out in number two, I was a little nervous.  The field was pretty big compared to the other races on the day … 38 racers I believe.  The weather was windy and cold. 

My goals going into the race were as follows:

  1.  Have fun – Stay Upright
  2. Discover weaknesses I have
  3. Learn tactics
  4. Gain Experience
  5. Win

Yup, winning was pretty low on the list.  In fact, I had a very tough week of V02 max work and over-unders (intervals where the rest is at 95% of FTP), a trip to the gym for weight lifting and a whole lot of bad sleep. Also, I’m working on losing weight and lost 6 pounds the week of the race.  That’s great for the future racing, but lose 6 pounds in a week and you’re weak and tired.

My pre-race ritual was better executed than last race.  I remembered my gloves (left them in the car last time), and turned on my every-important GoPro!  My warm-up routine seems to work well for me, so if nothing else, I think that’s pretty dialed in.

At the whistle there was some dude who just took off, but he was given zero leash.  Two turns in, on the back stretch (directly into the wind), and the whole field was stretched out single file. I found myself on the back as I didn’t line up early enough for a good spot (lesson learned).  So I had to move up to the front 3rd of the field into the headwind, burning some matches.  What also got burned off with the match were my nerves. Once I was racing, I was calm.

About five minutes into the race, Team Tolero decided to toughen up the race and they shelled a large portion of the field. Thankfully, racers that were lapped got pulled in this race, unlike last time.  During this time with Tolero working hard to soften the race I realized that I suck at corners.  Watching the GoPro footage I realize that I scrub off too much speed heading into the corners.  I got gapped every single corner for the whole race, but especially when there was a high pace. I burned a lot of matches regaining contact coming out of corners.

The first prime lap was interesting as the field slowed down and they let one dude take off solo and win it.  Here I made my second big mistake … I chased him down, dragging everybody with me.  I had planned on attacking after the prime, but had I read the race better I would’ve known it was a bad time. 

The second prime was more like I anticipated, but I messed this one up, too.  There were aggressive moves and the top riders all took off.  I let them go and reeled them back in. (I was fully confident that nobody in that field could ride away from me, so I could burn fewer matches by not matching their explosive attacks, knowing they’d blow up, and then have juice to counter attack when I caught them.) On the back half of the course they sat up and looked at each other, which is when I should have attacked.  I don’t know why I didn’t attack there, doh!  Big mistake number 3 … which is perfect, I came to make mistakes and learn from them.

The rest of the race unfolded like the other crits I’ve done.  I did a good job allowing others to close gaps, just following 2nd or 3rd wheel.  Then, second to last lap there was a move, I followed it.  Once that dude seemed vulnerable I attacked him but not hard enough to shell the guy at the second wheel.  This time I didn’t get cute, I played my card which is putting out power and that last lap was the fastest of the day, 27.2 mph.   I figured that if he could hang on my wheel and roll me at the finish, he deserved to win.  That’s exactly what happened.  I hate finishing second or third usually, but am perfectly happy with how things shook out. 

It was very cool having Doug and Liz Perry and Tim there cheering me on. 

Here’s the gopro footage (edited) of the race:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJQA1yn6vzI

 

 

–Philip Brown

 

USAC Nat’l Hill Climb

Aggressors:

This inaugural event was my only significant objective for 2016 so I did set up and try to follow a training regimen to prepare for it.  Since the race was to be 20km up Pikes Peak with a start line at 9,380 ft and a finish line at 14,110 ft I included altitude acclimation as an integral part of my preparation.  I researched several training blogs and concluded that about one month at altitude was the optimum acclimation period.  If one cannot do that, little or no time at altitude is the next best approach.  Most of my training effort was put in between 4 weeks and 1 week before the event.  I took 2 days off shortly before the event and did a wake-up ride with a few pushes the afternoon before the event.

Weather for this event was forecast to be lousy until the afternoon before at which time the forecast changed to clear and sunny.  In the end, it was clear, sunny, calm and cold for the race.

The format was a staged mass start in waves.  My scoring group comprised about a dozen riders (MM70+) and left the line at 0703.  The first mile or so was deceptively flat and all of us enjoyed a bit of respite before the grind.  The grade then ramped up to about 10% and was relentless with very little easing.  Our peloton quickly fractured and soon Durward Higgins and I were alone off the front.  I have previously raced against Durward last October at the Huntsman World Senior Games where he beat me in 4 of 4 events.  Halfway up he bumped the pace 1 km/hr which I could not match, although I felt that I was performing well, and slowly but surely rode away from me.  I continued to be functional to the summit and was actually able to increase my own pace slightly the last 3 km.  I am admittedly a bit disappointed with my 2nd place finish, yet I feel that I performed about as well as I could, free of strategic or tactical errors, and without any equipment issues during the race.  Durward is simply stronger than I.  After summiting,  I took some time to enjoy the views, which I reckon were 50+ miles in any direction; truly grand. 

Given that this was a US National event,  my feelings about how the event was run are ambivalent.  The choice of venue was a profoundly wonderful challenge and would test the mettle of virtually any rider.  However, the extreme altitude should favor those who are already living at altitude.  Yet, having said that, it did not turn out that way for my group; 3 of the top 5 are living at low altitude.  Of course, for other groups it may well have been different.  Surprisingly, there were mistakes in posting of results;  I was initially not even listed in the results, and I know that other riders also had issues.  Fortunately, I had a “receipt” which I had obtained at the finish line listing my exact finish time and my finish position among those who had finished in my group; a neat feature, I thought.  Perhaps the most frustrating issue was the limited timing window; cutoff shortly after 0900 with riders starting between 0630 and a bit after 0730.  The road was opened to the public at 0900 and a steady stream of cars was nearing the summit by 0915, intimidating a couple of the racers in my group into giving up and turning around to avoid the press of vehicles in close proximity.  The Pikes Peak hgwy is city owned and I speculate USAC was simply unable to negotiate a reasonable closure window with the city.  As usual it was likely about the money.

pikes2016

Rick E.

—–
I finished mid pack this weekend in my Men’s 40+ category. Gus, Kelly, and I showed up with plenty of time we thought. However after a long wait at the toll gate Gus and Kelly had to hurry to make their event. 
I thought I had plenty of time but needed to use the bathroom. A half hour later I headed out for my 2 miles of warm up. At 9000+ft I was dizzy just standing there. I had about 30 guys in my group. 
First thing I noticed was they all had compact cranks and a 11-32 on the back. Second thing was these were some hard looking dudes. 
As the race started I felt good. However within 2.5 miles I got dropped when the group surged. Ive never felt anything like it. My muscles didn’t hurt, no burn at all but I just couldn’t go any faster. 
I had to just mantain my pace and ride my race. Maybe a mile or two later there were people already on the side of the road. One of them a very fit young guy throwing up.
Ok this race is very different from any thing I ever done.
The great thing was I was starting to feel stronger every mile and was passing one competitor after another till the finish of the race. 
I believe my fitness was good but I just wasn’t quite acclimated properly. The winner beat me by 13 minutes. That’s a long time for a 12.5 mile race. My finishing time was 1 hour 28 minutes. The pro winners time was 1 hr 10 minutes. 
I’ll let the other teammates tell their stories. I will say this, anyone who finished this event is a champion in my books. Rick is my Hero at this event and I really look forward to hearing his story. 
I want to thank everyone who encouraged me to keep training, lent me equipment or just their ear when I needed it. 
I have to really thank Kelly O’Connor’s family for hosting us in their wonderful cabin in the woods.
 
Tim

State Road Race

I was nervous as usual. I guess I’ll never get over the pre-race jitters. It helped that I was with Rich & Cathy because they’re super chill before a race. We drove up together and stay at a friend of theirs. 
That morning I wad lucky to line up with Rich Horn and Philip Brown. We started in a masters group that was 30 through 49. It looked like we had some competition. 
I’m always quiet and focused at the start as I’m visualizing the race. 
Things went amazingly as I planned. I stayed near the front of the race not wanting to get into any trouble. I Was able to match any pace and felt very comfortable. The only real problem was my rear shifter was having issues. I think a new chain is in order.
I did struggle on one steep rollers in the back stretch of the race. I had just eaten and that often slows me down for whatever reason.
I made it back on easy enough and tried to conserve energy for my eventual break away. 
We finally reached the last turn towards Show Low and had a headwind heading back. I came around the corner and put in a hard two minute effort and created a huge gap from the field. Two riders who turned out to be one of my 40+ guys and a 35+ guy from Mexico. The group let us go because they had just been caught by the chase group.
The three of us worked relatively well together with me barking orders to put in work. I tested these guy on the first big climb and was surprised that they stay with me. We continued working because we knew the group wasn’t that far behind. However on the bottom of the last big climb I timed my break just as Bill the 40+ guy finished a pull and the other guy was starting his turn.
Bill was quickly dropped. He told me later he was already at the end of his rope at that point. The P&S rider manage to stay on my wheel and he must have been strong because on Strava I had the second fastest time of the day on that climb. Just behind the winner of the Cat 1 race.
I spent the next several miles cursing the wheel sucker who I couldn’t shake. I couldn’t afford to sit up because this guy wasn’t even in my category. I tried to explain that to him and he gave weak little pulls and claimed to be exhausted. Join the club right?! 
I yelled at him that if I was going to pull him to the finish he better not sprint me.
Guess what he did as we came around the corner. GAME ON! I gave it everything and caught him and we finished together. I haven’t seen the timing chip times yet but I’m pretty sure I had it. I won either way. 
However my hamstring instantly cramped up as I stopped peddling. I was embarrassed to have to drop to the ground in such pain. I was dehydrated and needed sugar.  I had given everything and it paid off.
 
-Timbo 

Howdy, esteemed Aggressors!

First off, congratulations to those that raced, you guys all represented Aggress well!  Tim, two years after shattering his femur, killed the field.  I was more excited to see him win than had I won myself!  I did a dance of pure joy when he told me!  Rich, Shane and Rich and Cathy (who I just met), all raced well and had great results.  

For me, I’ve never been less relevant in the outcome of a race.  Yet, I can only think of one race where I was more proud of the outcome.  I’m literally in uncharted territory regarding my recovery.  There was hope I’d be “here” by December.  


As Tim mentioned, the race organizers lumped together all masters under 50 years old in one group.  I believe that was 35 total men.  I was nervous, which is very unusual for me. No matter what happened in the race it was to be a surprise, and I don’t like surprises during a race.  Just before the race, out of nowhere, my wife showed up and hugged me.  I really needed that!  She drove 6 hours the night before and stayed at our friend’s cabin!  I had no clue.  It was the best surprise I’ve ever had!  Thank you Tim for helping pull that off!

As for the race, mine wasn’t much of a race.  On the first real climb, about 18 miles in, I got dropped.  I tried to position myself up front before the hill so I could drift back and catch on, but I have a negative V02 max… I did drop back, but did not catch on.  

I found my own pace up the hill, and started catching and passing a bunch of other guys who also got dropped.  As normal, they were all surprised because I look more like a beer league softball dude than cyclist. I went by them all hoping they’d catch up and we could work together to catch back on.  We eventually formed a small group of about 10 or so. They tried to form a pace line but frankly, they sucked and were really slow.  I was upset to be with such a group.  When we made the series of right and left turns pretty quickly where there were a few houses around mile 22, I went to the front.  I didn’t attack at all, just gradually lifted the pace hoping to flick the clingons off the back.  Well, all 10 of them were clingons.  So I rode from there to the finish by myself.  I did just enough to keep them at bay. I had about 43 miles of solace.  It was a great time.  I really wasn’t hurting, kept my heart rate around 155 most of the time, and just stayed as aero as possible.  

I had some problems on the ride with my feet and hamstrings, which isn’t unusual still, but I knew how to keep it in check.  I kept looking back to see how close the chasing group was.  On the big rollers to finish the race I could them, so I stood up to make it look like I was attacking those hills even though I was just going a steady, relatively easy pace.  Anything to break their spirits!  From reading Strava accounts they were trying to catch me, and were upset they didn’t.  I thought they’d given up really.  

I’ll continue to take things one day at a time, but this was a big victory for me.  Not a result I’m used to, but I’ll take it! 

-Philip

 

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  • Mission

    Aggress is a Tucson-based statewide / regional cycling team formed in January, 2004.
    As a developmental team for both road and mountain bike racing, Aggress continues to actively – yet carefully – recruit according to a philosophy that emphasizes teamwork in both training and racing tactics.
    Our focus is to race as a team, utilizing team tactics to get our man the win. We ride in support of our designated racer, with each member in turn supported in the key event(s) of his choosing.
    We are aggressive when we race, but we behave in a courteous and sportsmanlike manner at all times. We also have team training rides that we utilize throughout the season.