Sunday, September 21, 2008
-Team Specialized Racing
Team Specialized Juniors volunteered to hold for team time trial events at Master Nationals, but before the event they got expert advice and practice with Leonard Harvey Nitz, multi-time National Champion and
Edan secures the bike as Earl Henry climbs on. One way to begin a hold is from the side with a foot under the rear wheel to keep the bike from rolling, and a hand on the bars to keep them from flopping.
Edan supports rider Earl Henry securely against his hip as both rider and holder find a good balance point before Edan moves to the back of the bike.
Earl Henry explains his preferences to holder, Edan
Nitz goes over fine points of holding for Daniel.
Joel holds Earl Henry and LaBerge holds Nitz as Specialized Juniors get pointers prior to team time trials at Masters Nationals, August 7th, Hellyer Park Velodrome.
Nitz explains to hold the rider on a balance point and adjust side to side position, but to leave your hands open so as not to restrain forward or backward motion. If a rider false starts… let ‘em roll away from your hands.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Vic Copeland - 1st 65 to 69 500M TT
Larry Nolan - 1st 50 to 54 1KM TT
Kevin Metcalfe - 4th 45 to 49 1KM TT
Craig Roemer - 7th 40 to 44 1KM TT
Vic Copeland - 1st 65 to 69 2KM Pursuit
Larry Nolan - 1st 50 to 54 2KM Pursuit
Kevin Metcalfe - 1st 45 to 49 Points Race (lapping the field solo)
Mike McCarthy - 2nd 40 to 44 Points Race (one point separated 1st and 2nd - exciting race)
Billy Innes - 6th 35 to 39 Pursuit (winning time for this age group was a blazing 3:33.8)
In the morning session Vic Copeland won his 500. Huge surprise since Vic has only won the kilo/500 about a million times at Masters Nationals and/or Worlds. He was hanging around during the evening session and it was great to catch up after not seeing him for seven years or so.
In the evening session, Larry won the 500 by .6 seconds in the 50-54 group. Another huge surprise... :-) On the other hand Craig and I are kilo novices and not really suited for it. Both of us did it mostly because we could and because it sounded "fun". I also had the alterior motive of trying to snag a few Best All Around (BAR) points with the hope that it would make a difference later in the week. It turns out that we both had pretty good rides (for roadies at least!) I rode a 1:13.2 and Craig was something like .1 seconds behind. That was good enough to put me into 4th where the winning time was a low 1:12. Unfortunately for Craig, the 40-44 group was FAST. Bobby Walthour won in a 1:08! That is a very fast time at Hellyer!
Afterwords, we all had "the hack", hence the blog title. Everywhere you walked in the infield it sounded like you were surrounded by a bunch of hard core smokers! I've done many a brutally hard road race or long training ride and they hurt a lot. But these short track events are a whole different level of hurt! Ouch...
Monday, September 1, 2008
I’ll call this story, “Eat from the other guy’s plate”.
I got to Pra Loup 13 days before the race, just the right amount of time to adapt to both the jetlag associated with 6,000 miles, 9 hours time difference and the slightly more than 5,000 feet of elevation at the start line. Arriving on August 17th in Nice came with the only problem I couldn't overcome on the trip, my bikes didn't make the connecting flight from Heathrow and wouldn't show up in Pra Loup for two days. It forced me to rent a road bike in a nearby bike shop the day after I arrived and put two 4 hour days indoors on the trainer instead of the trails of the race course. And oh yes, it broke my streak of 6 years and 7 months of consecutive days on the bike without
a day off. Oh well, I knew the streak would end some day. I feel lucky it didn't end because of illness or injury.
The accommodations at the ski resort worked well with plenty of room for me and my friend Cees Beers, who came down from Holland to help me with all things mechanical, training advice and friendship. As usual, I brought all my food with me from home to provide appropriate and controlled nutrition for the entire stay with exception of the daily trip to the local market for fresh broccoli and bananas.
I also brought two identically set up bikes, one for training and one for the race. Redundancy for any broken part is essential in my book when it comes to leaving no stone unturned for my biggest race of the season.
This year I decided to try something different in preparing my body for race day, very serious tapering in a way I'd never done before. No racing for the two and a half weeks leading up to race day and very easy days on the bike with the exception of 2 good hard laps (about 54 minutes) of the race course five days before the race. I also cut my hours on the bike back to about half my total normal for the four days immediately preceding the race. So training days leading up to the race were really about memorizing the race course like the back of my hand, deciding on every line I was going to ride in the race and trying to stay upright while doing it. I wore my crash pads for every pedal stroke I took on every training ride. I hit the ground twice in the days leading up to the race and my pads saved me from having to deal with injury recovery. The other significant change was racing five pounds lighter than I had ever raced before. At the start line of this year's race I weighed about 137 pounds (62.5 kilos and about 4 to 5% body fat) versus the 142 to 143 pounds I weighed at last year's race.
So with nutrition, equipment and physical preparation covered, it was also necessary to develop a race strategy. This had been going on in my head since the moment I got off the bike a year earlier in Pra Loup, finishing a somewhat disappointing third at the 2007 Worlds. I had been soundly beaten by a Swiss (who wouldn't do this year's race) and an Italian named Roberto Viviani, silver medalist in 2007, where he finished 3 minutes and 12 seconds ahead of me. A very bad start last year (not getting clipped into the pedals fast enough coupled with a serious elbow from a fellow racer in the first 50 meters nearly stopping me cold) left me 45 seconds off the front 5 minutes into the race and in 20th place going into the first single track, putting me on my back foot early. This all coupled with an over-the-bars crash two thirds into the race sealed my fate last year, all the things I was going to take all measures to prevent this year.
Of course my most serious threat to victory was going to be Janes Silvano, a six-time mountain biking world champion and a two-time road world champion. I later found out that Janes has won 41 Italian National Cycling Championships, including mountain biking, road, time trial, track and cyclo-cross titles.
As fate would have it, I ran into Janes and his wife Christina at registration two days before the race. We exchanged a hug and said hello. He speaks little English and I speak even less Italian but he managed to let me know that his stomach problems during last year's race, that allowed me to beat him in a race for the first time ever, weren't going to happen this year and that he was very serious about winning his 7th World Mountain Biking Championship. He also told me that he had just won another Italian National Mountain Biking Championship, beating Roberto Viviani by more than 5 minutes. So it was now obvious to me whose wheel I had to hold.
Race day arrived with glorious sunshine and perfect racing conditions for me. I was now going to see if my altered approach to race preparation was going to work. I warmed up indoors with a good 40 minutes on the trainer with 2 hard five minute intervals. I then put my racing kit on and jumped on the race course to get another half hour of warm up while also getting a last minute feel for the dirt. Cees would meet me at the start line to take my warm up clothes then head off to the tech zone to support me. It was great having him there.
As last year's bronze medalist I got a call to the front line, very important for my head. I was focused on two things; a perfect clip in, and knowing exactly where Janes was. The start gun went off, and, as usual, all hell broke loose. I clipped in on the first pedal stroke. Perfect! Viviani was off like a shot putting a quick 50 meters on the pack. I wasn't concerned with him, where was Silvano? He came by me in a blur but I jumped on his wheel just as we hit the steepest part of the first climb. It was now me, Silvano and Viviani off the front and, as far as I could tell, it was now about in which order the three of us would finish.
I was pleasantly surprised at how well I was holding Janes' wheel on the climb. The last and only time I managed to hold his wheel was three years ago at the Sun Peaks, British Columbia World's. I was with him at the top of that first climb too but he gapped me on the following descent that year and the next time I saw him that day was after the finish where he beat me by 2 minutes and 43 seconds. I wasn't going to let that happen again this year.
We hit the course's only serious descent, about 600 feet to the base of the course over the next one and a half kilometers. It was a bit dusty so I stayed about 15 to 20 yards behind Janes so I could see the lines. At the bottom we were a good 30 seconds behind Viviani but I assumed Silvano knew what he was doing so it didn't really matter. The next 4 1/2 kilometers to the start finish were short climbs and traverses with one quick half kilometer fire road descent that dropped 200 feet. About two kilometers from the start/finish was a kilometer of serious technical climbing with mud, rocks and roots.
I was 10 bike lengths behind Janes as we started this part of the course and quickly got to his wheel. I remembered a little saying Cees said they used in Holland before the race, 'eat from the other guy's plate', so I stayed on Silvano's wheel although I found it easy to do and had to fight the temptation to attack. Janes kept looking over his shoulder to see where I was and I thought he looked a little on-the-edge. As we hit the twisty single track before the steep climb he didn't look smooth and seemed to be fighting it a bit. As we came out of the single track and approached the climb I just couldn't resist it any more and I let my nature take over, I lost the discipline of Cees' advice. I jumped by him and hit it hard. Once out of the technical stuff we did a 180 onto the fire road home, a very gentle climb that culminated in a switchback and 40 yards of straight up, loose gravel that took a lot of energy and balance to navigate.
As we started onto this fire road, I looked back and he was about 5 yards off my wheel. I gunned it thinking I had him on the rivet. Two minutes later I looked back and he was glued to my wheel. It was then I noticed the gentle breeze blowing in my face. Uh oh, a head wind. A thought crept into my mind; he was ‘eating from my plate’. We were just about to hit the switchback-straight-up-climb and I was on the rivet. Suddenly Janes jumped by me and exploded up the climb. I couldn't respond and 500 meters later, at the start of the second lap, he had 10 seconds on me.
It was time to dig deep, find some strength and fight to get back. I could see him slowly extending the gap and felt powerless to change it. By the time we finished lap two the gap was 45 seconds. What to do now? The answer was easy, put my head down and bury myself.
At the bottom of the long descent on lap 3 and into the tech zone there was Cees, but for some reason he was very excited and screaming at me but I couldn't make out his words. As I turned to start the long climb home I could now see why he was excited. Viviani had cracked and he was 50 yards in front of me. I drilled it and within a kilometer I was by him. But where was Silvano?
I got my answer about 2 minutes later as I could hear the fans ringing cow bells and beating drums at the top of one steep climb about 3 kilometers from the finish and I was a good 50 seconds to a minute from that point. They were screaming for Silvano. It was never-give-up time! You never know what can happen in a race, a mechanical, some cramping, a crash. So I gave all I had to the finish but, as I topped the switchback climb 500 meters from the finish, I could hear the announcer speaking French proclaiming the new world champion. So it was silver for me and gold for Janes.
He was 60 seconds faster than me today and had out-smarted me to get it. Close but no rainbow stripes this year!
At the awards ceremony later in the day, Janes and I had a fun chat and he said he needed to be tactical today to beat me, something he never needed to do before in the seven prior World Championships against me. He said it wasn't about whose legs were stronger, but who made the right move at the right time, something I seldom think of in a mountain bike race. One thing is for sure though, the next time we square off (probably at World's next year), I'll remember what happened today and try to eat from his plate.