• 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

It's been a while since I last posted something. I've been meaning to do so for some time, but I have to admit: I've been racing and riding a lot. I mean a lot. I last posted on July 1 saying that "racing season is over". However, oddly enough, for me it was just getting started into full swing. I feel this season was the best season of racing yet, even through I have one one win to my name. I have as many kilometers added to my car as added to my bike. Most of my races have been middle or back of the pack finishes, although I did get 8th place (because I can't sprint) in the Tour di Italia crit in Windsor last weekend. Also, two weeks ago I finished first in the Miss and Out at the track at Bloomer Park in Rochester Hills, MI. Racing the AA group at Bloomer Park has resulted in a lot of Podium finishes (which felt good).

Attacking the pack in WindsorI've been at almost every single Midweek Tuesday Crit. I've been to race training at the Forest City Velodrome almost every Wednesday this summer. I've been racing either in the Larkenville Challenge in Buffalo, NY or the Real Deal Time Trial on Thursday nights. I've raced the D'Ornellas Club championship stage race. I've been to the International Velodrome at Bloomer Park in Rochester Hills, MI some five times now even though it's 4.5 hrs away. I raced in Windsor at the Tour di Italia crit. I have also followed through on my goal to get out on group rides more and ridden with the D'Ornellas Club a few times, and I have done the Toronto Donut Ride several times the year - more than last year. While everyone was racing the Provincial Road Race, I was in Buffalo for the Niagara Square Crit - a seven corner technical crit that was the most fun crit this year. It has been a busy two months. I have successfully stayed away from road races and only done two this year. I've done this stuff mostly on my own because I'm working towards a goal of racing at the Masters Track World's and on the downtown circuit in the Twilight Crit in Athen, GA for Speedweek. These are my "A" races - the rest is just training.

I think one of the best things I did this year was move up from CAT4 races in the US to CAT3 (I raced CAT1/2/3 in Buffalo) and move up the second race at Midweek. I raced the CAT 3/4 race at the Niagara Square Crit in Buffalo and placed 12th (along with getting my name photo in the Buffalo News). They say one of the best way to train is to train with guys faster than you are and I believe it has worked. I've gone from hanging in, sometimes on the back, at the second race at midweek to attacking on and getting a gab with other riders. I just moved up from the AA group at Bloomer Park to the A group and managed to finish well. I'm looking forward to trying racing against some of the best at the Forest City Velodrome in October in the A group. If nothing else, racing against some of the best races has helped build my confidence.

 

I know from experience now I can drive hours to the middle of now where, some city I have never been, register for a race, scope out the course, and hit the start line without my trepidation. I even signed up for Open Race in the Colburn Crit. 10 laps into the race I discovered I was cleanly over my head, but I did it. I can still recall being worried about racing the CHIN Picnic Crit and being a nervous reck, but that never happened again.

 

To me, this season has been a success because I've gain much in confidence and skill racing bikes. I may not have stood on the podium as yet, but as my last post suggested, one needs first needs to believe that you belong in the race. Confidence means one has the ability to stop "hanging on" and get involved in "seeing the race". Once you believe you belong there you can see the eb and flow of the race. You can see the pack slow. You can feel when an attack is going to happen and when to go the attack happens. You can feel when it's good to attack. Yes, it would be nice to win. However, as I am more than happen to point out, everyone in a race wants to win. The next step is not just learning to win, but believe it is possible. For me, that will require some work on fitness and speed. I've been told I need to do motorpacing.

My time trialing has gotten better. I beat 22mins for a 15km time trial. Every time I did the Thursday TT, I ended up with a new personal best. I still need to see 45km/h in order to be able to attack in a crit and be able to get away and stay away. The same goes for the track, but the speed needed is must faster.

Looking forward, September I have named Fixed Gear Month. I started last week riding my road fixed gear bike to work and back, and I intend to keep that up all month. I want to build strength and power on that bike so I can put on a large gear and still manage to turn it over on the hills. I was riding 73 gear inches (46x17) prior to September and moved it to 78 gear inches (46x16). I need to be able to ride 86 gear inches (48x15). When that happens, I can take the fixed gear bike on the Donut Ride. I would like to also find a river valley to take that bike out to work on speed/strength. Keirin racers in Japan do this exercise. Ride down one side and up the other, and repeat over and over again. The idea is to spin as fast as you can and then follow that by grinding as hard as you can. I know one of the guys at the track rides his track bike (no brakes) on an 86 even up 12% grades through the summer. This type of riding is something I also need to be comfortable with. It will also help improve handling skills on the track and road bike because there is no coasting through corners on a fixed gear bike. At some point, in the future, I would like to be able to compete in the Red Hook Crit in New York City where only fixed gear bikes (no brakes) are allowed.

Racing WindsorThis fall, I intent to race at the Forest City Veldrome and keep up with the track. I want to be able to race the Madison and be confident enough to hold my own in any Madison race. I would like to be good enough to be able to go any track and race Madison along with the Points, Miss and Out, Scratch, etc. races I already do.

Training to some degree may take a back burner for the fall time frame because I have enrolled in a course at York University. I may need to be happen riding to work and back as training while saving rides on weekends and racing at the track for the high level stuff. But, I must confess, I've been "ON" for more than a year with out any break, so I don't mind. Today, for example, I got in at 2AM after driving back from Bloomer Park, and slept into 11AM and didn't ride at all (it was raining). It hasn't bothered me. 

I want to challenge myself by riding in cold weather. The first challenge is to Niagara Falls in the cold. Something like in November or December on a nice day with no chance of snow. I ride all winter long to work and back. I should be able to ride 160km (about 5-6 hours) when it's below freezing. So, I should be able to hop on the bike the go visit my parents in Niagara Falls without the use of the car (well, I get a drive back). I want to get out on the Donut ride at least once per month through the winter. I did that two years back. I should be able to continue that again. Also, if there is a cold, cold, day like last winter (-18C without the windchill), I want to ride it. I wimped out last winter. Some people thing training outside in the winter is crazy, but I am sure those who had to DNF because of the cold at the Lake of Bays Road Race this spring would have benefited from training outside all winter long. (HINT: It snowed for that race).

So, again, while I have not won any races that resulted in prize money or medals, I've used the time racing and training to build confidence. For me, this process has been part of moving to standing on the podium. When I started the year off, I said my first goal was to have fun. I stopped worrying about winning, and that happened. I had fun riding and racing my bikes. I can say for the first time in four plus years of racing, I'm finally enjoying it. This fall, training may be a bit light, but I will use the time to work on skills in the time I do have. At some point, I will finish on the podium where a gold, silver, or bronze medal is handed out.

 

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