• Bloomer Park, Rochester Hills, MI

  • Racing the Provincial's Crit 2014

  • Forest City Velodrome - London, ON

  • Larkenville Challenge, Buffalo, NY

  • Winning the Sprint at the ForestCity Velodrome

  • Track Nationals 2014: Keirin

  • Track Nationals 2014: Points Race

  • OCUP #1: Feb 2015

Bike races go off rain or shine. But how often do we practice racing in the rain? Tuesday night is the Midweek Crit here in Toronto. It's a 1km loop in a industrial park on the edge of Toronto. I was watching the weather all day today. I was planning to race it regardless of the weather. In my mind, I knew we would be racing in the rain and I looked forward to the training opportunity. Part of my motivation/enthusiasm today was my lack of preparation and readiness when I raced in Roswell, GA some 2-3 weeks ago. It poured from the moment I arrived until the Pro race at the end of the day. As a result of my lack of training in the rain and general unpreparedness, I ended up not finishing. Today, I was set completing the race regardless of what the weather brought - redemption of sorts for the pathetic result on Roswell.

 

I think it is something few cyclist bother to do: Train in the rain. Most club riders won't even show up for a group ride if the weather report has a raindrop in the picture on the website. However, if you race, there is little choice. Regardless of how much one races, it is going to happen. You are on the start line...and then the drops start to fall. That happened today. As I parked the car and started to get my bike ready, the sky started to open up. As a result I pulled out my SealSkinz waterproof socks, my crappy cycling shoes with plastic soles, and rain jacket and I put all this gear on. While it doesn't keep me completely dry, motivationally speaking, it makes me feel that I'm ready to race. The waterproof socks keep the feet warm and prevents the "squishing" while riding. While putting my gear on, numerous other riders looked up, and either just got back in their cars and drove away, or got ready and the returned shortly thereafter. It wasn't more than a few minutes after plopping down my 15 bucks, did the rain start to get heavy. I had to return to my car to get a baselayer on because it was getting a bit chilly. But, unlike many other riders, I locked up the car and went back to do some kind of warmup. I wanted to race in the rain today. I needed the practice.

 

At the start of the race was a whole nine riders. So, this is the first time I finished in the top ten at Midweek (actually, finished 7th or 8th I believe). I spent my warmup time putting around the course hanging out behind riders to get use to spray in my face. The biggest mistake I made at Roswell was not wearing my cycling glasses. It is hard to see with glasses fogged up and covered in water, but it is completely impossible to see with dirty in your eyes. I brought tissue with me to the start line to dry off my glasses and that helped. When I set my bike up, I set the tire pressure to 90PSI - down from the usual 110PSI (I ride clinchers) to give them more grip. This is a must for riding on wet roads.

With the sound of the start horn, we were off. With nine guys, there wasn't anywhere to hide. There were a few attacks, but for the most part the group stuck together. After 30 mins of racing, I managed to get enough will power to sprint by one rider. Woohoo. I should have done a few attacks myself, by I had a hard time getting motivated. But I finished the race. I raced when others didn't even show up. That much I am happy about. So, if it rains for my next race which is on Thursday night in Buffalo, NY for the Larkenville Challenge, I'll be ready.

So, I learned a few things today:

  • Dump the rain jacket. While useful in the warmup/course inspection, I should have put an extra baselayer on and used armwarmers. The rain jacket was flapping in the wind creating extra drag, nevermind, it covered up the race number. Normally, the commissaire would tell riders to take off their rain jacket off, but this was a training race I got away with it. Next time, I will just overdress and get wet. It is what everyone else did. But the end of the race anyways, I was overheating which fogged up the glasses. Bad. Very bad. I was too warm with the rain jacket on.
  • I need a better warm up. I had a hard time keeping pace in the first race. Either I need a better warmup or I need to sprint off the start line in these situations to do a lap or two TT get the brain switch onto race mode. I stuck around for the second race, and 10 mins into that race, I was mentally ready to hold a wheel at all costs. The first race ended up being more of a warmup. When some of the other first race riders got blown off the back in the second race, I managed to TT around them, and get the back of the pack again. Normally, I would have just given up but after the first race, I was into race mode and manage to keep pace. I think to race in the rain requires a tent and a trainer and 30 mins under cover getting sweaty. Just riding around the course does not cut it. It's mentally hard to want to start line in the rain. Getting a good warmup in by just riding around, just makes things more difficult. Think will power. To me, a warm up is more about preparing the mind for the effort rather than the body and it is even more important racing in the rain.

Things that worked well today:

  • Drying the glasses off at the start line worked well.
  • Waterproof socks and crappy shoes make the ride more enjoyable.
  • My corning skills seems to be improving. I'm getting better at hold a wheel through a corner even with the wet pavement.

Next, I'm racing in Buffalo on Thursday. Rain or shine, I will be ready. If it rains at a rain, insteading of getting back in the car, get the rain gear on and head to the start line. Train to race requires getting wet on occasion.

 

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