je ne sais quoi

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Breakaway Chronicles


Scroll down and you'll find it all over the blog: "...but i've been improving with each race" or "the body is starting to adapt..." Unsubstantiated words in most respects, as there wasn't any "pudding to prove," so to speak. Well, yesterday's ride finally validated the fact that yes, the words are real, and the body really is doing some interesting things...

Where to begin? The city. Another marathon 300 kilometer drive brought us to the town'll be easier to just put up a photo:

It's a tiny town. A couple hundred inhabitants, perhaps? These little towns are usually the backdrop of most of our races. I'm likely mistaken, but according to the race flyer, this 2007 edition would mark the 98th running of the "Prix du Pave D'Antibes"...swell!

Again, we were probably the first team at the race...more than 2 hours early. The photo above shows a couple teammates ready to go...despite ample time for the all-important pre-race nothingness. I'm a procrastination addict...this i've already confessed. A pre-race ritual. Speed through procrastination. What? No. Moving on: I haven't mentioned this, but it's really cool to have the basic things like putting the bike together, pumping tires, and filling bottles lovingly taken care of by team staff. Good guys, and I am forever grateful for their efforts. So after sitting around for a good bit, I found a way to just barely make it to the start after doing a 1-lap warmup on the 10 kilometer course.

The course: We pre-drove it once. Not bad. No flat, but no major hills. The worst of them was 1 k long. Some brrrrutal wind was on the menu, as well...which I didn't mind. Oh, also happy to note that it did not rain on cue this time. The wind took care of that. It was a 9.6k circuit which we'd roll around 11 times for 106 total kilometers. A short one, no doubt. So after a bunch of guys got call ups, I staged it about mid-pack. From the gun, I felt springy. I didn't really have a proper warmup, so I figured a short dig up front would open things up. So after a few hundred meters, I rode the next rocket out of the peleton. Fun, there never was a gap, but the field was strrrrrrung out. Not even a K in! I kept pedaling. Followed a few other wheels, and thought..."ok...getting hard now, and I think i'm warm. Enough?". We get to the top of that 1k hill. I looked back for the last time on the day. We had 200 meters. 15 of us at this point. Guys were killllling it trying to make it work, and by the end of this lap, it was 12 of us with 30 seconds advantage. The legs were buzzing with the lactic stuff, but "stable" still. I was able to pull through fine, particularly on the flatter sections, and we were able to peg it at or around 50 k/h for nearly all of the first two laps. I kept hearing gaps. "Trente seconde!" then we'd hit it hard and only increase the gap by 10 ticks..."quarante seconde!!". I think at some point the break lost some resolve, but still, some nice even pulls. Some sweet death noises on the hills by some of the breakaway mates made me laugh a bit.

After a couple laps a few things changed. We were down to 10 guys, and every time through the start-finish area, guys would sprint for the line. I mean, really, 4-wide guys absolutely punching it, then sitting up. Primes?? Hmmm. So after making that deduction, I picked up a hat-trick of primes rather easily. I used that little sprint-trick I'd written nice!! After the third prime win in a row, I got some slang French words and dirty looks thrown my way. I then made two more deductions: (1) How sweet would it be to arrive at the finish with this group and wax the sprint? and (2) Shite. Did I just give away that I'm going to kill them in the sprint by winning 3 primes consecutively? #2...gah. There's always that damn number 2. After the 6th or 7th lap, we no longer got time gaps. It was above a minute at last check. Ah well. 4 laps to go. I ordered "une bidon tres forte" from the DS. "Extra Strong Bottle." Our bottles are usually just flavored sugar-water. The only variable is the ratio of sugar to water. On the advice of this old guy in Michigan, I upped the glycemexity [newly coined -by me- nutritional term] of that all-important last bottle. And it worked well. I'm blessed with a tolerant stomach.

Can't say i'm missing the expensive Accelerades and Cytos yet. Allright...before another tangent begins, let me finish the report. So I stopped going for primes after taking them on the 6th, 7th, and 8th lap. 3 laps to go. I even kindly "led out" the prime sprint with 3 to go, as a token of humility. Didn't work. On "that hill", a guy attacked hard, solo. Pieces. But back together after a while. Thank god for the wind...worked in my favor on this day. One thing I lack as a rider is that non-sprinter mentality of attacking out of a break. Whether I have the legs to attack or not, i'm always content to roll in with a break as I like my chances in a small group, so I don't attack the break. In the US, people rarely do, and this is what's been burned into my race-psyche. Back to topic...the flurry of attacks continued for a bit, then a brutal cross-winded short steep hill was coming up. Just as soon as I thought "no. don't attack here. not on this hill, man...." Boom!!! Attacks fly! Aram's popped. But not out. Instead of putting my head down immediately and hammering, I used this time to coast a bit, recover, and wait for one of the other attack victims behind to work with me in hopes of making the final 2 laps (20k!) without getting caught. 8th place was at stake. Eventually a skinny lad joined me. We kept the main breakaway in sight. Mother F-ers were working so smoothly with each other now...are they really privy enough to calculate that it'd be worth it to attack and try to get the American with fat legs out of the game? Gahhhh. Victory was up the road, but I could still salvage something. We worked well together. I really was fearful of the peleton catching, and didn't look back. Just hammered. Allez bidon forte! Last lap came, forearms on the bars hammer-land. I knew once we crested the first hill that we'd made it. I unintentionally gapped the guy (who hadn't done much anyway) with 2k to go on the final hill, waved goodbye to him, and coasted in, 8th. The top result for the team since i've been here. The diminished peleton rolled in 3 minutes later. I am content. At the result, yes, but more so because I now know that victory is within my grasp. I just need to get to that line in the first group....and will.

My first French envelope!!! Gonna hold on to that one. The cash from the primes was much better than my finishing money, so I guess that's some consolation, despite the tactical mistake it might have been (we'll never really know). 105k off the front! A record length/time for me. HR/Speed graph here. Crazy speed variance, huh? Average HR of 172 might be a record for this length as well. I love this computer download stuff...too much! I could stare at it for hours trying to recreate and analyze the race. Hopefully i'll have power figures soon!

And we'll end this one with a shot from today's recovery ride. It was a bit too wild outside so I kept the training to 90 mins recovery on the turbo. It went well. Had some nice tunes (Broken Social Scene's "you forgot it in people") getting me through it. Definitely no shortage of photos in this one, huh? And none of them tourist-related! All bike! I do have some pulp-laden and insignificant entries and photos on the way.

'till then...



Anonymous Faris said...

Congrats there 0ggy [) time keep it close to the vest and yer bound to blow their doors off. I found out my boys are comin out for Super Week, so I am motivated to get into some semblance of fitness so's as I can join 'em! There is even scheduled to be a new race here in Evanston, IL.

7:47 AM

Blogger Marco Fanelli said...

Right on Aram!! Next time, win the break's sprint. The race after that, attack from the break and win solo! Gotta have goals and all...

11:19 PM


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