Second race

vpLesson learned this week: don't forget your bike shoes. We did some basic cornering practice, but this lesson about footwear was much more important. Without bike shoes I couldn't lock into my pedals and get power on my upstroke. Al convinced me to race anyway. Surprisingly enough, I finished.

I survived six laps in the peloton before falling back and doing the last four in a paceline of stragglers. I had double-vision and my brain had gone offline, but this was much better than only surviving one lap in the peloton, not finishing, and emptying my stomach on the side of the road like last week. The final stats from my computer read: ~39:50 / 22.8mph / 15.1 miles.

A husband/wife mentor team were largely responsible for my finish. They formed the bookends of the paceline that I finished with. I nearly lost it when the rider in front of me gave up and left a huge gap between me and the next rider. If it weren't for the mentor behind me screaming for me to catch back up I probably would have watched as my draft rode away. Then I would have to come up with some lame excuse to explain my failure, like drinking bad sports drink samples, or forgetting my shoes.

Some additional notes on lessons learned in the extended.

Previously: First race

I made a couple of little changes after the first race: working out, eating right, warming up, and no free drinks samples from strangers. I still didn't do the recommended one hour of pre-race warmup, but I was able to buy some additional time during the race as the race start was much slower this week, perhaps because everyone learned their lesson about overly fast starts last week. I heard expressions of delight, rather than agony, from the riders around me.

The freakiest lesson they taught during the pre-race mentoring session was about touching wheels. Apparently, if you know that your front wheel is going to hit another rider's back wheel, i.e. your wheel is within an inch or two of making contact and striking is inevitable, you're supposed to turn your wheel into the other rider's back wheel, then use this contact to push off and away from the other rider, ignoring the fact that your wheels are spinning at 25mph in opposite directions. You're supposed to be creating an additional balance point with the contact that will keep you upright, but the physics of this particular technique are beyond my comprehension.

Al and I had heard about the possibility of doing this drill this week and were intent on not doing it. We've both seen our share of wheel-touch crashes by professional riders and my only significant bike crash was when the side of my front wheel touched a curb. We didn't want to practice this at any speed. Luckily, even the mentors don't like doing this drill -- a big red warning flag to the rest of us -- so after a brief demonstration of this at slow speeds the mentors moved onto cornering drills. The cornering lessons were about what you would expect:

  • cut the apex of the turn (just as you see on TV)
  • hold your line
  • the inside rider sets the line through the turn. If the inside rider starts going wide, you have to go wide -- the rider may be trying to avoid a gutter or some other obstacle.

The mentors did their job during the race. After a loud popping sound, they yelled out "Flat! Don't worry! Keep moving!" which kept us all calm and focused forward. Only after the race did I find out that it was actually a crash -- one rider described ducking by an airborne bike and I saw another rider walking to his car with a destroyed rear wheel. Had the mentors been honest and yelled out, "Crash!" someone probably would have tried to look back, and then they would just have to yell out "Crash!" again, and then another rider would look back...

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