Here's what could've happened... Sam's 2nd road race

Here's what could've happened... Sam's 2nd road race

by SamShaw   May 28, 2012  

VC Glasgow South RR

Here's what could've happened...

I could've won.  I could've come second.  I could've come third.  I could've had a mechanical.  A bear could've eaten my homework.  The tarmac could've melted my tyres and made me into a life-size Mr.Soft.  I could've finished the race. 

None of these things did happen. 

I got shelled on the 2nd lap of 3 after about 30 miles, which is an improvement on the last race I did where I lasted about 15 miles.  But at least I finished that first race.  The call of watching the finish was too strong as I completed the 2nd lap and I headed back to the finish line to see the bunch fight it out for positions instead of battling the headwind up the A77 on my own.  Looking back, that was a mistake, it seemed like a good idea at the time, but in the car  home I realised it was a poor decision.  I won't do it again.

I'm still not fast enough. 

My speed and ability to stick with a group at race-pace has increased, on the first lap I was maxing out on the steepest climbs, stomach in knots, that sicky-taste not far away, but I was sticking in the bunch and thinking that if I could do the same for the other two laps I'd be in with a shout of finishing with them.  Time told that I'm not yet quick enough to keep up that level of intensity for the full distance of a Cat 4 race though, never mind a mixed category race with 2/3's.  After I got dropped I tried chasing on, doing 30-35mph on my own for a couple of miles, I started catching the group but another set of climbs soon saw them disappear into the distance.

Disillusioned is not the word. 

I suppose the writing should be on the wall when I look at the training I'm doing and compare it to the training of my contemporaries.  In 2011 I did no high-intensity work and didn't once go out with my club so I should've been more realistic in my abilities.  I have to ask myself this though: Am I prepared to do more? To sit on a turbo in the evenings instead of spending time with my family?  To spend my weekends entirely focussed fully on cycling?  The answer to all of these questions is a reluctant 'no'.  Half a day, a quarter of my weekend, is spent cycling, I don't want to sacrifice yet more time that I could be spending with my kids.  Some people wouldn't mind, I do. 

I'm going to keep trying. 

Yep, I'm going to keep trying.  Focus is needed on efforts to increase my ability to suffer specifically on climbs where I'm at my weakest.  I've always concentrated on weight-loss, as my cycling was borne from my need to lose weight, but perhaps I've focussed on it too much.  I thought that if I got lighter then I'd fly up climbs and although I've got quicker, I still don't have the top-end to get up climbs quick enough to keep up with other racers.  I even struggle on the club chain gangs to stay in touch on the hills.  Climbing/top-end work is my weakest area and my illness-ridden winter training hasn't prepared me for the pace of 80 other riders going full-bore, putting in digs to pick off the weaker guys such as myself.  The winter bike didn't help either!

I'm never going to be Pro.

There.  I've said it.  We all, deep-down, a tiny bit, think that we might be able to keep up with guys who are paid to do this sport.  Even becoming a sponsored rider is a huge achievement, but I don't think it's going to happen for me, certainly not at the moment!  None of the above makes me love cycling any less, in fact it makes me love it even more.  My next race is hopefully in a couple of weeks if I get an entry so there'll be another chance to test myself.  I'll aim to finish with the bunch, but if not, I will be finishing the race.

Main image courtesy of ffffan via. flickr  I'm on the right hand side of the pic at the back, white helmet, blue top, head down!

12 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Sounds like your trying the hardest you can with the resources (time being a precious
commodity) that you have available, so well done and plan for the next one. Mixing
training and family life is pure juggling act, dropping summat is inevitable - always a
training session nornally. Have planet-x replaced the frame ?

To slo to live, to slo to die! ::-}

posted by OldnSlo [125 posts]
28th May 2012 - 20:32

3 Likes

Thanks OldnSlo. I've had some great input from twitter/facebook from people suggesting more focussed training, which I should be able to do in the time that I have available.

Planet X are replacing the broken Nanolight frame, unfortunately it's not going to be until early July as they're not being dispatched from the factory until early June.

So I'm without a summer bike until then. Crying

Twitter: @velosam

SamShaw's picture

posted by SamShaw [281 posts]
29th May 2012 - 8:14

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I like reading your racing blog, I wish you would do more updates. Anyway, was that a closed road cycle race? on the pic above the riders are on the right hand side of the road.

I am also impressed that you can ride between 30 - 35 mph on your own, I could never match that. These race guys must be very fast, I dont think I will be taking part anytime soon. I would half consider a road race, I dont fancy a closed short circuit.

posted by millskid [37 posts]
30th May 2012 - 8:24

3 Likes

Thanks Millskid, I'll try and increase the frequency of my ramblings. When I was chasing back to the bunch the terrain was rolling so I was aided by the topography!

The guys in the pic are on the left hand side of the road, the person taking the pic was in a layby. Wink

Twitter: @velosam

SamShaw's picture

posted by SamShaw [281 posts]
30th May 2012 - 8:39

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I see it was taken from a layby, doh! I appreciate what you are saying about training schedules, you cant sacrifice everything to get that bit faster. Training would takeover your life. The only way I could ever train properly would be if I won the lottery and I could give up my job.

I went out with a guy who trained 8 days out of 10, as opposed to my once a week. We were riding between 19 - 24 mph and he made it look effortless, and he could have dropped me whenever. I imagine races are full of hardcore training guys, sticking to their wheel is probably much easier said than done.

As for the blog, more updates please, training racing whatever.

keep up the good work.

posted by millskid [37 posts]
30th May 2012 - 14:46

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You know what - this is what its all about.
We aint all world beaters and thats just a fact.
Running I can keep up with the fat guys at my best, cycling I'm not in the same league as the fast guys. But when I go past people running I say "keep going, well done" and d you know what, there's no enough of that in cycling. When you're not naturally gifted to be able to ride at 25mph all day long or can find enough time to train to get anywhere near that, then you just have to accept what you can do and enjoy it all the same.
And without all us "REGULAR" guys, fans of the Pros, the fast guys wouldn't be beating anyone but their ride partners on an intermittent basis.
Keep riding.
Keep Racing.
Keep enjoying it.

posted by pmr [175 posts]
30th May 2012 - 21:59

4 Likes

Hi Sam, I can relate to your comments. I was in the race too but this time I managed to stay with the bunch. Like you I normally get dropped and have done so in the other 2 road races this year. Since then I have been going out on the various club "chain gangs" - hanging on for dear life but working when I can.

Really, really helped - on this race it was like a chain gang, hard on the hills then recover. What I also did different this year was pick out some of the guys that always finish in the bunch - then stick with them., Move up when they do - suck their wheels, close the gap. This really worked.

Will probably get dropped next time - but guess what, it is still a great feeling to be racing and competing. When I get dropped, I work in a group in my own little race. Keep at it, keep pedalling - we are all competitors - we just have to find our level Cool

posted by Paul H [2 posts]
31st May 2012 - 21:02

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Paul H wrote:
Hi Sam, I can relate to your comments. I was in the race too but this time I managed to stay with the bunch. Like you I normally get dropped and have done so in the other 2 road races this year. Since then I have been going out on the various club "chain gangs" - hanging on for dear life but working when I can.

Really, really helped - on this race it was like a chain gang, hard on the hills then recover. What I also did different this year was pick out some of the guys that always finish in the bunch - then stick with them., Move up when they do - suck their wheels, close the gap. This really worked.

Will probably get dropped next time - but guess what, it is still a great feeling to be racing and competing. When I get dropped, I work in a group in my own little race. Keep at it, keep pedalling - we are all competitors - we just have to find our level Cool

Basically that's what I was hoping to do, from the pre-race training to the race tactics - I was positioning myself well and chose to stick as close to John Gartland as I could, I know he's fairly rapid! It worked on the first lap and I actually felt ok. Going up the A77 was easy stuff and wasn't tasking at all and the hills were hard but I hung in and thought if I could do that for the other laps I'd be ok. Then my legs refused to do any more work and I went backwards on the 2nd lap.

I've been given some training manuals by a friend so I'm aiming to get them read and put lessons into practice where I can and hopefully finish a race this year in the bunch!

Well done yourself for keeping in there - must've been a good feeling!

Twitter: @velosam

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posted by SamShaw [281 posts]
31st May 2012 - 21:57

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Reading your blog I cannot help thinking about the thing I learned, eventually, from racing. The mental aspect. I am not saying that if you can convince yourself you can win then you will. Training is obviously the key. But your mind can have a negative influence convincing you you are not good enough and cannot compete. A good example above is 'my friend trains more, therefore he is better' (not necessarily) or I can't go any faster, but if someone was chasing you with an axe you would! I work to a recognised training schedule and stick to it as much as possible, this gives me confidence and good results (top 10%)despite a job, family, study etc. this works for me. The reality is that if it is hurting you it is hurting them, confidence (arrogance?)is the key! This is not intended as a critisisim or a quick fix, just food for thought!

posted by SideBurn [873 posts]
1st June 2012 - 9:43

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Sam that could have been me writing your blog. Everything you said is a replication of how I feel.
I registered for the North Midlands Road Race League (NMRRL) which is a series of 12 races over a period of 18 weeks; the odd weeks are taken up by Marshalling so you retain a valuable involvement. 3 Groups of a variety of Cats from F, oldest rider well into his 60s to Cat 1 and juniors. 3 courses none of which are flat.
Anyway, I and another member of the club decided that we should join the band of fellow achievers but with the express purpose of season 1 to experience, learn or assess our strengths and abilities and just enjoy the whole thing.
First race, all those who had been doing this for years pushed into the line, friend + I sat at the back. Then off we went, we expected it to be a fast being a downhill start so no problems keeping in there. Slight incline so fell back a bit more, but still in touch. First corner, first race, everyone accelerated up and around, by the time I got to the corner they were gone. Short descent, but they were still accelerating off into the distance. Now a long ascent, I was falling further off the back, friend was still chasing. I was on my own off the back. Pushing as hard as I physically could, or would, was I making absolutely no ground so accepted the inevitable.
At this point I could have retired from a very very brief racing career. Then, eureka moment, It is very rare that my busy schedule (wife) allows me 2 ½ hrs. on my bike so make the most of it. You may not be fit/fast/experienced enough to keep with the big boys but if you dismiss this opportunity you never will. So plod on I do. As you pass Marshalling post, smile and make a joke of it. I the turn one of the many corners and see up ahead someone else who has been spat out the back, a target to chase down, imagining he is the lone breakaway on a big tour, I almost sprinted. I eventually caught him and then passed him, I was no longer last, it may be a minor one but it’s a win. We start supporting each other all the way in. Get caught by the first Group, only to be expected and the remnants of my group catch me on their last lap but being one lap down was good enough for me to cross the line and consider it a painful, but rewarding experience.
It showed me my weaknesses and focused my training, and escalated to imperative from nice to have.
Race Two went the same way with the exception that I pushed to the front on the line and went off first; at least I knew what the first miles panned out. I stayed in the front end of the bunch, how easy cycling can be, with little difficulty, took the front a couple of times and pulled the pace up. Hey this is easy. Then, around the final corner and a ½ mile uphill finish, rapidly demoted from 6th to 50th as they sprinted up the hill. By the time I got across the line I was in the back echelon with the leaders off the descent and heading for the first corner. There was no way I was going to catch them so happily resorted to plan B of the previous week and enjoy. Remembering that I had completed the first lap in the bunch, on hindsight I should never have pushed the pace, just sat in, kept quiet and remained incognito. I finished the event, got passed by Group A towards the end but never caught by my Group.
So Race 2 can be considered a success, improvements all around, showed the value of the extra training and reinforced known weaknesses. I may be off the back, I may chat to Marshalls as I pass them and I may never be competitive and pushing for points but I do it with a smile on my face and if numbers are needed count me in. I rely on the thought that if I had started doing this 40 years ago when a teen I would be up the front and possibly further afield but the importance of taking part and enjoying it is the true benefit that I hope is not just to me.
And as a final though Sam, just remember that riders of more experience, stronger abilities pull out all the time, which in my book puts me above them in the table. Smile

thanks, Andy
07956 028025

posted by AndyJB [2 posts]
1st June 2012 - 9:48

2 Likes

Nice summary Andy - summed up my last 5 years since I started racing - and when you get there for those few occassions - how good does that feel Big Grin . We all have our targets - tour de France, cat 1,2,3 in the bunch, hanging on to a chain gang. No matter what, if you aim for it, work for it - it is our own yellow jersey Smile

posted by Paul H [2 posts]
1st June 2012 - 10:20

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I was in this race also, first ever proper race after an APR in March. Most of us have the same limitations, work, family etc. most of my cycling is the comute to and from work. i found one of the best things to do was to add a 5 mile extra 2.5mile uphill (and back) to the end of my commute home, only added 20 minutes or so but seems to have helped, especially on the hills. also make your commute interval work, not just even paced. if you keep sticking with the chaingangs ( and learn when to take a spell and miss a turn or two) you will stay on for longer and longer.

posted by risb98 [23 posts]
1st June 2012 - 13:09

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