Sunday, March 25, 2012

Road Racing: The Playlist

Welcome to all the new (and vet) Speed Theorists. For those of you new to the whole road racing scene, here's a little primer on how the average road race sometimes pans out:

Getting There

Since road racers tend to be cheapskates, car pooling is the preferred option. And, if you're really serious about
road racing, your bike(s) are probably worth about three times as much as your car. For example, here's me and Harley heading off to Provincials last year in my 2000 Ford Focus.

The Warm Up

The average dude will probably get to the race a good hour to an hour and a half before the gun to register and warm-up (Well, unless you're Speed Theory emeritus member Lockie H., but that's another story...). At the early season races, there will probably be a lot of chit-chat about winter training:

Rider One: So, how was winter training?
Rider Two: Horrid. I reno'd my basement and went to Disneyland for Christmas and New Year's. Just did a few spins on the trainer. You?
Rider One: Great! Was in a solid, progressive program spinning three nights a week and weights two nights a week. I'm going to crush this thing!

Both riders are lying through their teeth. Rider Two's basement "reno" was installing a dedicated bike room complete with computrainer, plasma TV, and enclosed a/c unit. On vacation he brought his new Cervelo (Christmas gift to himself, since he runs "solo" in all aspects of life) to California and rode five days straight. Rider One's "program" lasted two weeks in November until he aggravated an old knee injury from high school football and hasn't been on the bike since.

But, at some point the chatter stops, and the race gets going.

The Breakaway

So, the race starts and everyone's pedaling down the road. At some point, a few guys are going to decide they don't like the constraints of the group, and they'll try to go at it alone in a breakaway. If the pack is smart, they'll let them go. It's a long race.

Fighting for Position

Meanwhile, back in the pack everyone's trying their best to stay out of the wind, especially if there are some viscous crosswinds. Try not to get guttered, otherwise it's going to be a very, very long and very, very lonely race for you. I know. Trust me, I know...

The Bridge

Now, after a few kms of racing some rider might think to themselves "Hey, you know, that break might actually hold to the finish. Maybe I should drop any sense of commitment to work with the pack and try to bridge up." Sometimes it works. Sometimes the dude just winds up flailing around in no-man's land between the break and the pack, not wanting to admit failure and slink back into the peloton.

The Chase

At some point the pack will decide it's time to throw some coal in the locomotives and reel in the break. They've been out there for a good long time and are probably cooked. But, it's going to take a coordinated effort, and if anyone doesn't pull their weight, the chase might not work.

The Catch

So, it's about 5 kms to go to the finish, and the break's just about caught. Normally, one of the break's members will go off the front in a last ditch effort to solo for the win . Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't.

The Sprint

So, with about one km to go everyone's throwing elbows and boxing each other out fighting for the front. Hopefully the team's "designated guy" has managed to hang on, and after all his teammates have buried themselves in the front working for the guy, the sprinter gets to go for the glory.

The Prizes

Now, I'd love to say that winning the cat 5 GC at Swift Current Stage Race is the pathway to a pro contract and summers spent in Europe, but that would be a lie. In reality, all one can hope for is enough cash to fill the gas tank for the drive home.

Good luck, everyone.


Dennis said...

Ha! Great post... and collection of music videos!

cyclingphysio said...

Man I love road racing, I can't wait! Great post G.

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