Thursday, May 7, 2009

Unattached

Bike races have a tendency to be sausage parties. Sure you get a handful of women showing up, but for the most part, it’s a bunch of guys.

As a result, the women that do show up tend to receive a lot of attention, at least from the unmarried racers (I think). While I was stretching out before the DMV crit last night, I got a good chuckle as the prettiest girl present would have another guy start chatting her up every two to three minutes.

Apparently none of these guys remember A Beautiful Mind and that John Nash came up with the concept of a Nash equilibrium in just such a situation. Instead of chatting her up, they’d have been better off ignoring her and talking with her teammates. Incidentally, what is it about the Ski Utah team that attracts so many women? Chances are better than not that if there’s a woman at one of the road races, she’ll be in Ski Utah kit.

As we lined up to start the race, I realized that DMV must have a reputation as a tough course. Whereas Tuesday night there were probably close to 100 racers in the C Flight at RMR, at DMV we had a grand total of seven. Unfortunately, these six other guys had all self-selected to come to this course, presumably because they liked their chances.

One of these days, I am going to learn something about race strategy and tactics. Within just a few laps, three of us had a nice gap opened up on the remaining four, and a racer from Bingham’s had been on the front the whole time. He was obviously the strongest rider, and I should have let him continue doing the work and continued sitting in, knowing the gap would likely only widen. Instead, I suggested that the three of us work together to get further away, got on the front, and pulled all the way to the “West Valley Wall.”

My legs were already burning when we got to the climb, but I continued to push it all the way up in order to stay with the other two. I was hurting at the top and had to slow, but fortunately, the other two needed to as well.

We had another racer bridge to us, and then shortly after that, I got dropped on the climb. It took me a few more laps, but I was able to get back on. But the solo effort cost me, and I was soon off again. Back on one more time before I was detached for good.

I finished fourth, which nominally is my best result of the year, but considering the field size, it’s smack in the middle of the pack. Unless you count all the B flight racers that we either passed or who dropped out entirely.

For what it’s worth, there was no yelling, grumbling, or animosity during or afterwards. The C flighters were all smiles as we congratulated each other on a good race. I like this course. This was also start number 10 for me, so I’m now eligible to upgrade to Cat. 4. I may sit on that for a while, though, at least until I try out the UVU course next week.

6 comments:

  1. Sausage party? The suitors should have had a "swordfight" to determine who could talk to the pretty girl.

    Tactic for next race -- wheelsuck. See if you can do it the entire race.

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  2. 331 Miles, agreed. Sitting in is the obvious strategy, yet hard to do in an actual race. So what's the cause? Fair play / sportsmanship / camaraderie? Adrenaline / excitement heat of the moment? Miscalculation / inexperience? Fear of not being in the break / getting dropped? Resistance to learning?

    I'm not bagging on SBJ, these are the questions I ask myself over and over and over... Well, since we haven't perfected racing at least it keeps it interesting.

    Good job at DMV. That course chewed me up. I stink at cornering. I did Ok the first 3 trips up the wall, but then faded badly. And I crashed going around the final (off camber) corner up top. One DMV was enough for me.

    But I want to check out the UVU course. Will the first run bring out a lot of poor bike handlers? I'm not a fan of crashing.

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  3. Oh, my theory is: the Ski Utah team has a lot of women because of a snowball effect. Once a few women joined the team, other women looking for a team and notice Ski Utah has other women so they join and so on. But who knows, maybe the recruit women racers.

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  4. Kris, all of the above were/are at play in my decision not to just sit in. I need to be more patient and realize that if people are struggling to stay on early, there's no need to go for the kill right away. Conserve energy and let them die a slow death while hopefully tiring out the person on front at the same time.

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  5. Another way to think of it: Moves that don't succeed are wasted energy. Energy not spent making moves is energy that can be used later when the finish line is closer. Energy another racer spends making a move that does not succeed while you sit in means less energy for him and more for you - an imbalance in your favor giving you an advantage.

    It seems to me the only thing you have to watch for is a break that may finish. This will be a judgment call. You already mentioned you know it's key to stay up front so you're ready to respond if you see a promising break go off the front.

    But as always, easier said than done. I'll be interested to hear how your next crit goes. And regardless of the outcome I enjoy reading your crit reports (I get to armchair race without risking my hide).

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