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The 4th stage of the ’09 Tour de France highlighted the Team Time Trial (TTT). The TTT requires many skills from all 9 riders in the team “train.”

Among them are obviously speed, power, and endurance- which are needed to keep such a high rate of tempo for the entire TT distance.

But one of the most overlooked skill in any type of bicycle riding is; bike handling skills. In fact of all the acquired skills of riding, handling skills are by far the most important.

During today’s stage, team Bbox showed the importance of understanding, focusing and implementing the mechanics of cornering, or lack thereof in their instance.

Four of their nine riders rode right off the road in a sweeping right hander. The turn wasn’t that tight, nor was it a decreasing radius corner. It was basically a constant radius, flat basic turn.

Once the first rider of Bbox drifted wide, missed the apex and began to go off the road, three others follwed him! Why? Simple. Target Fixation. Besides knowing how to corner properly a rider needs to know how to avoid following a wreck or the same path of carnage.

This is where quick and firm Countersteering comes into play.
More about countersteering later.

A corner is made of three basic elements. The entry, (turn in point – “tip”) the apex, (the middle or center) and the exit (the end of the corner).

There is a proper way and an improper way to corner efficiently, safely and quickly. Bbox showed the world how NOT to corner, while team Saxo Bank and team Astana among others, showed how to perfect a corner.

To be somewhat fair, in a TTT, riders are riding time trial bikes- which are usually more rigid, have more rake in the front end to be aerodynamic and subsequently, are more unstable in corners.

But that’s not to say these riders get a pass on their lack of good handling skills. These guys are in the pro Peloton. They are supposed to the best of the best- but that’s not always the case.

While some of these riders are amazing climbers, sprinters and all around good endurance and power athletes- they are not necessarily all-around good bike riders. What makes a complete rider, is all the aforementioned, plus knowing and understanding how to Steer, Turn and Brake properly.

Steering, Turning and Braking– are the core skills of bike handling.

cornering-apex

The entry is where turning/steering starts and the rider begins to lean into the turn. The apex is the point where the rider reaches the furthest point on the inside of the turn and the exit is where the rider can start going upright so as to pedal and power up again.

There are 4 basic laws of physics- gravity, inertia, traction, and balance as they apply to cornering. The laws of physics dictate that when a bicycle is leaned over, the position of its center of gravity will  influence the lean angle of the bike.

cornering example

In addition to kinetic energy, a rider has two other forces working on the body and the bike- Gravity pulling you down, and Centripetal Force pulling you either left or right- depending on which way the rider is turning.

The lines in the above picture display the forces during cornering. The illistration is designed to better understand these basic forces involved when cornering.

The bottom line on the graph represents the road which induces frictional forces. The horizontal line is the centripetal force and the vertical line, represents the force of gravity.

Countersteering

In short, counter steering moves the wheels out from under the center of mass. It involves turning the front wheel in the opposite direction you want to turn the bike, be it a motorcycle or a bicycle. Counter-steering is achieved by pushing on the inside of the handle bar in the opposite direction you actually want to go.

steer-push

Select your turn in point as you approach a turn. But before reaching your “tip” look through the turn and select a reference point (RP). When you reach the “tip”, begin to steer (countersteer).

It is important to intiate firm countersteering- to keep the right trajectory and proper line.  As the rider nears the apex (a single apex corner) and has the need to turn more sharply to keep from running wide or off in the turn, the rider turned in too early.

A gradually, early turn in has the rider following a parabolic path, a wide arc at first that tightens until maximum lean or turning is reached near the apex. This is an example of “lazy” steering. This often results in a rider(s) missing the apex which causes a dramatic slow down and/or riding off the road.

Turn in slightly later but quicker and the rider follows a more circular path that requires less lean angle but reaches the apex sooner and is able to hold the arc longer. This technique is known as “squaring off” a corner, which usually enables a rider to carry more speed/momentum through the corner.

Many riders don’t bother to work on their cornering technique and when it’s crunch time- find themselves in a time losing situation. Today, those 4 Bbox rides cost their team precious time– in a race against the clock, seconds and as it turned out, hundredths of a second enormously count.

Some quick tips:

  • Use counter steering (pushing on the bars) more so than leaning your body
  • Look through the turn (keep your eyes up and looking down the road)
  • Keep light to moderate pressure on the bars
  • Pivot your hips to assist counter steering

(no death grip- this allows the bike to follow its  ‘natual’ centrifugal path – by holding too tight you  prevent the front end from following its inherent course- this causes the already rigid front end to become even more unstable)

  • Use the brakes sparingly and try not to brake much when the bike is mid corner or when you are leaned over

Remember, a bit slower in…but almost always faster out.

 

Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul

 

Author is a former WERA and CCS sportbike and grand prix roadracer

 

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MIT’s Aero/Astro Department are designing a new type of helmet
and head protection to reduce traumatic brain injury and concussions.
MIT is currently working on this technology by developing helmets lined
with fluid channels.

This newer technology is being created first for the military, then football
players and then other athletic competitors.

Eventually you’ll see it in racing helmets, bike helmets, ski helmets and other recreational helmets where the hope is users will be better protected against concussions and more serious injuries.

Video of MIT’s helmet development

Video

Video


There was a report recently published outlining the top 40/top 50
most valuable sports brands, by a high-profile business magazine.
Well, Real Analytics is about to burst that (incorrectly published) bubble…

We’re sorry that we have to disappoint all the Yankee fanatics and
the stick & ball sport fans, but alas there is more to the sporting world
than the United States. Much more.

According to the high-profile business publication that put the report
out they utilized their OWN proprietary formula to arrive at their
conclusions- (albeit, flawed conclusions)

The reporter who covered the story is a regular on a TV show with the
program initials SM, on the promineant cable network MSG and who has
his own web column as well. The publication is usually reliable, but in this
case we think they have not considered a variety of factors and methods.

The most likely scenario is that the publication employed an in-house
intangible or ‘name’ only valuation or third-party appraisal, as well their
use of a model of correlation between Value and Revenue. Unfortunately,
we don’t know the credibility of those methods and sources.

So, in order to ‘correct’ the somewhat questionable methods,
Real Analytics has put together the Top 5 Most Valuable Sports
Brands/Teams in the sports world, based on the reaserch mostly
derived from a high profile Auditing/Accounting firm.

Before we get to the list, a little tid-bit; The most valuable sporting events– (multiple series events) hands down is Formula One. Oh, we know your
boo-hoo’ing that fact…but it’s a stone cold lead pipe lock folks.
(our homage to the entertaining  and awesome Mike & Mike)

Without further adieu here is the list. (note: exact values are nearly
impossible to attain so approx values within +-1% are utilized)

Top Five Most Valuable Sports Brands/Teams

1. Manchester United: £1.5 Billion (British Pounds)
2. Real Madrid: £1.4 Billion (British Pounds)
3. Scuderia Ferrari: $1.81 Billion (U.S. Dollars)
4. Dallas Cowboys: $1.79 Billion (U.S. Dollars)
5. New York Yankees: $1.7 Billion (U.S. Dollars)


Footnotes:

The published dollar figures consider both the intangible (theoretical)
and tangible (asset based) values of each entity. Furthermore, each value is based upon an “Arm’s Length Transaction” (A-L-T)

Obviously, it would be extremely difficult to parse out pieces of these teams. One could argue for the ‘value’ of just the teams “name” which would
be an entirely intangible valuation.

But then the Yankees would be worth significantly lower than the estimated $1.7 B. That figure includes the Yes network, the stadium, and all other subsidiaries. Same goes for all the top 5 teams/brands.

To separate out the property from the name brand would be very difficult
and not paint a true picture of the entire worth of these organizations.
Therefore a mixed valuation is the correct method. A fractional valuation
would not be practical. One has to take into account both enterprise and
equity values.

Conversely, the figures do not consider any Debt-To-Loan Ratios (D-T-L)
or outstanding debts. Strictly A-L-T Sale Values based on the entire
‘property’ -both intellectual and asset based properties.

The methods and metrics that go into a sports business valuation are very
complicated and very detailed. Some methods employed are DCF
(Discounted Cash Flow- future earnings) Capitalized Earnings, Value Added Analysis, Valuation Multiples, Weighted Averages, Broadcast Rights, Merchandising, etc.

Partial data and figures were sourced from:
Deloitte Touche LTD and FormulaMoney

One last side note, valuations are usually reliable from quarter to quarter.
So during a business cycle year, the top 3 can flip flop. But it is safe to say that the top 3 are all within a few hundred thousand dollars at any given time.


Race Day Beckons

I pedaled up E Henry St and onto N Finley, to the start line of the final bicycle race of the day. I lined up next to dead last of the 35 riders in the 20th running of the Olde Mill Inn Tour of Basking Ridge, category 5 race. Which was held on Monday, Labor Day, September 5th.

This was a 10 mile, 6 corner circuit race in downtown Basking Ridge. The category 5 class is for newer racers, weekend warriors and the more serious racers moving up to the category 4 ranks and beyond.

I had entered this race in 2009 and finished 19th of 36 riders, quiet mediocre at best and I haven’t raced since. So, my ambitions were to place mid-pack and maybe, possibly top 15. I approached this race with a very laid back attitude- which is something of a stretch for me. Though I did take my race week preparation fairly seriously as well as my pre-race warm-up.

Perspective

One thing I am unable to fully prepare for though, is the injuries my 46 year old body has to constantly deal with, which are a myriad of physical issues.

*Psoriatic arthritis – both hands and right knee
*Degenerative disc – L5/L6 (chronic)
*Pinched nerve – neck (chronic)
*Claudication – both lower legs/calf’s
*Peptic ulcer

I reference these issues not as excuses or complaints, but rather to put my athletic endeavours in some kind of context and perspective. Even though at times, I suffer from pain relating to these conditions, I still refuse to stop playing sports or competing- it’s my own choice. Luckily, I was taught by some key people in my life to tough it out. Always tough it out if possible.

Sure,  I take prescription (Metaxalone, Diclofenacum and Protonix) and many non-prescriptive med’s, such as ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin- all like candy. But hey, everyone has something to deal with, so no big deal I suppose.

_____________________________________________________________

All bets are down

The rain held off on this Labor Day, temps were in the mid 80’s but with a fair amount of humidity. By the days end, the crowds were thinning though still enthusiastic on the start line and all along Finley Ave. I glanced around for any locals I might know but I don’t see any recognizable faces (later, after the race I spot two guys I know and turns out my riding buddy Eddie was cheering me on)

“Gentlemen, have a good race” were the parting words from the Race Starter…and we were off! I stayed off the rear of the pack down the front stretch and into turn 1- not wanting to get caught up in anyone’s silly antics and then closed up a bit before turn 2. Between turn 2 and 3, I began to move up through the field.

On the backside of the course now through the esses, into turn 5, I continued my ascent in the standings. Just after crossing start/finish the guy I was in the back of starting grid with, Bruce Rice, called out to me- “let’s work together” I nodded and gave the ok. Trailing Bruce was a another rider who joined us and we pacelined for the next lap.

On lap 4 one more rider attached to our train and now we were 4 strong, each taking pulls at the front of our small group. I glanced over at the start/finish line to peek at the electronic lap counter to see 5 laps to go and I was feeling winded already.

I backed off my pace just a bit and drafted at any point I could, to save some energy for the last couple of laps.  Lap 7 on the back half, we dropped one rider from our group, while passing a bunch of others. We were moving up I thought, cool!

Now I began strategize a bit  in my head. How can I pick up some more spots and maybe drop one of these riders I’m battling it out with. I decided I was going to try and pick one off into the fast and sweeping turn 1. I was 3rd in our group down the front straight, then I hunkered down and  went hard and fast into T-1 up the inside of Bruce.

Driving furiously out of 1, I dive-bombed  turn 2 stuffing my carbon Pro-Lite up the inside of the rider ahead of me- the classic block-pass! Now the road rises slightly, so I had to put in the extra effort to carry my built up momentum. Just as I approached T-3, I caught two more riders, local Califon rider Tyson Witte and an another unknown. The pace was picking up and by the exit of  turn 3, Tyson and I dropped the third guy in our wake. Then there were two… heading into the Bell Lap!

Crunch Time

Back across start/finish I can hear the lead out vehicle approaching- which means the lead pack is not far away. As I set up for turn 1, I can see out of the corner of my eye the fast, full time racers coming through. I moved to the inside to make sure my momentum wasn’t balked by the front-runners, get low, turn my right shoulder, counter-steer and lean her in. I continued my ‘push’ into turn 2, then eased right to allow the few faster riders to come by.

I counted 6 guys who lapped the field- not too bad I thought- only 6 of 35 on the last lap. Okay focus, back to the battle with Witte. I stayed right on his rear wheel all through turns 3, 4 and 5. My plan was to jump him into the last turn, but he had gapped me a bit before 6, so I had to adjust my strategy on the fly.

I closed up on Witte out of T-6 because I knew how to keep the pedals turning through all of these corners, something not many riders can or don’t want to do. Tip it in, leaning over and pedaling as hard as I can out 6 onto Finley, I was right on his back wheel. He seemed to be tiring just a bit, so I  jumped out of the saddle for more speed, to try and go by him- (I yelled to myself- Andiamo!) Just as I started to pull even, Tyson stood up on his pedals, kicked hard and pulled away from me in the last 50 or so yards…my gasping lungs and burning legs could just not respond.

I glanced out of the corner of my left eye to make sure no one else was threatening my wheel before the line, I was safely ahead of the next rider coming through. Across the stripe I sat up, short of breath and feeling the burn of lactic acid in my legs. External thought returned to my head and I realized I had survived the 10 miles of corsa veloce. I tried to work out where I placed, but couldn’t pin it down really, I figured maybe it was a mid-pack result.

It’s all over but the shouting…

Back at start/finish, the race director called out the top 10 finishers- when he called my number, “#135” it was for 8th place. I was elated, really happy in fact. I clenched a celebratory fist in front of my body with genuine pleasure- 8th, yea!

Now 8th place in a Cat 5 race doesn’t mean sh*t to a lot of folks, especially
the racers themselves. But for me it was a real solid result and accomplishment. Consider the fact that I usually race only once a year, I haven’t raced since 2009 and I don’t “train” either. Couple that with the physical issues I contend with and you might see why I was really pleased…molto soddisfatto!

I haven’t been that excited about a top 10 placing since my amateur roadracing season finish of 7th place in lightweight supersport at Daytona in 1992, a 5th in LW superbike at the now defunct Bridgehampton in 1993. And then my 5th place in the National 125 Grand Prix Series at Road Atlanta in 1994. All of which are great memories for me.

“…so hard for me to shine- been so long…”

_____________________________________________________________

4 wheels move the body…2 wheels move the soul


A short 5 minute highlight video of the 5th annual Pro Cycling Race in Basking Ridge, NJ. The BaseCamp International.


Here are the Top Finishers:

1 Robert Forster (UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team)
2 Hilton Clarke (UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team)
3 Jaan Kirsipuu (Team Champion System)
4 Anibal Borrajo (Jamis Sutter Home p/b Colavita)
5 Jonathan Cantwell (V Australia Pro Cycling Team)

What started out 5 years ago as the Ricola Twilight Grand Prix has evolved into a high-profile, multi-national race sponsored by BaseCamp Adventures, Verizon and Liberty Cycle.

Five years ago, local shop, Liberty Cycle put together a challenging and technical course through the streets of downtown Basking Ridge. Then sandwiched the event between the Historic Tour of Somerville and the TD Bank Philadelphia International Championship.

The race has grown into one of the best in terms of talent and competition on the east coast. The prize money has grown significantly as well. Many of the top U.S. teams and riders now show up and ride the Small town race. The action is fast and furious as near 100 riders snake through 8 turns in a 1.1 mile circuit.

Unfortunately, the same accolades can’t be reiterated for the town government and a lot of residents. The 2011 edition saw a drastic drop off in attendance. Easily, there were 30% to 40% less spectators at this years race.

The Bernards Twp government does almost nothing to promote the race and (by doing virtually nothing) basically do all they passively can to discourage its continuation. It is painfully obvious that township officials wish this race gone. They tie the hands of local eatery merchants on the main straight-away from doing business and basically ignore the entire event.

It’s not surprising really, most of the town and its officials look down upon such type of events. If it is not an equestrian, orchestrial or some other wealthy activity, they snub their noses at it. Basking Ridge is one of those towns that wishes with all its might it was an exclusive, true wealthy bedroom community. Instead, it has a nice mix of condos, townhomes and single family homes with incomes that are very varied. Much to the chagrin of township officials and some residents.

The overall marketing of the race in general lacks in promotions and relations and one has to wonder how long it will continue. One possible bright spot is that BaseCamp Adventures is moving to neighboring Bernardsville. Could the race possibly move as well? It might be the best thing to happen to the race since its inception. Time will tell.



Head injuries and concussions are the hot topic right now in the NFL and around the sporting world. Rightfully so as well. The incidences and the injuries are significantly increasing. There is no one best solution to this real problem, but limiting the hitting and tackling to a specific ‘zone’ within the body are NOT an answer in our opinion.

The game of football is violent by its very nature, it is part of the sport. It is what separates these incredible athletes from the weekend warriors and armchair qb’s. Permanant head injuries and paralysis are some of the most very unfortunate parts of the game.

Redefining the game is truly not the best solution to curbing head injuries, but rather redefining the protective gear is. With mounting pressure from the media, some fans, sponsors, some players and health care professionals, Commissioner Roger Goodell is bound to make changes. Let’s hope they are not in haste.

Head trauma and head injuries are some of the most under diagnosed and mis-understood afflictions in sports. As more and more data and information comes to light regarding athletes and concussions, the closer sports and medical professionals come to finding a workable solution and possibly better prevention methods.

Last month, former football player Chris Nowinski testified before the House Judiciary Committee, whose chairman, Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), called for a hearing aimed at placing focus on the issue. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in his testimony, “We know that concussions are a serious matter and that they require special attention and treatment.” According to the NFL, about 175 concussions occur league wide each season.

More recently the NFL has suspended its in-house study of the long-term effects of concussions in retired players. In the face of heated criticism from outside medical experts, the players union and members of Congress (although Congress involvement is the last thing any sporting entity needs) because of suspect data and conflict of interest.

Gee, you think? The fact is, that the NFL has known for quite some time that concussive injuries are more dangerous with severe long-term aftereffects. So why is it only now, after numerous high-profile concussion injuries in 2009, to both NFL and NCAA stars has the NFL truly addressed this very serious issue. Like almost anything in life…it comes down to dollars.

“Protect the shield” as infamously echoed by the commissioner. Protect it indeed, at almost any cost, until it becomes so glaring and such a problem that action is needed to address the problem. The days of sweeping serious issues under the carpet are gone. In this world of media now, virtually no one or nothing can hide from the stream of real-time information.

Players are now supposedly encouraged to come forth and report and/or disclose any signs or symptoms that may be associated with a concussion. That may be true, but actually getting some of the tougher, hard-nosed players to admit a weakness may prove to be a stumbling block in itself.

Medically, the treatment of concussions are passive and depend mainly on allowing the brain to heal itself utilizing rest and a strict avoidance of activities that may induce a re-injury. It is completely unsafe and irresponsible to return to play while symptomatic in any way following a concussion. Return to play should follow a stringent medically advised step by step process. The prescribed progression will typically vary depending on the duration of post-concussion symptoms.

The Data

National Football League player concussions occur at an impact velocity of 9.3 +/- 1.9 m/s (20.8 +/- 4.2 mph) oblique on the facemask, side, and back of the helmet. There is a dire need for new testing procedures to evaluate helmet performance for violent impacts causing concussion.

Pendulum impacts were used to simulate 7.4 and 9.3 m/s impacts causing concussion in NFL players. An instrumented Hybrid III head was helmeted and supported on the neck, which was fixed to a sliding table for frontal and lateral impacts. Second, a linear pneumatic impactor was used to evaluate helmets at 9.3 m/s and an elite impact condition at 11.2 m/s.

The severity of the head responses was measured by a severity index, translational and rotational acceleration, and other biomechanical responses. High-speed videos of the helmet kinematics were also recorded. The tests were evaluated for their similarity to conditions causing NFL concussions.

It has been noted that football players from age 30 and up to 50 were 19 times more likely to be diagnosed with a memory disorder or dementia than the national average. Players over 50 were diagnosed with dementia-related illness at a rate of 5 times the national average.

A new linear impactor was developed for use by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE). The concluding results from the pendulum test closely simulated the conditions causing concussion in NFL players. Newer helmet designs and padding reduced the risk of concussion in 7.4 and 9.3 m/s impacts oblique on the facemask and lateral on the helmet shell.

The linear impactor provided a broader speed range for helmet testing and more interactions with safety equipment. NOCSAE has prepared a draft supplemental standard for the 7.4 and 9.3 m/s impacts using a newly designed pneumatic impactor. No helmet designs currently address the elite impact condition at 11.2 m/s, as padding bottoms out and head responses dramatically increase. The new proposed NOCSAE standard to improve football helmet shell and padding design is the first to address helmet performance in reducing concussion risks in football.

The fact is, that football has to invest in better designed and more protective helmets. Cost should NOT be an issue. With teams and the league itself worth billions of dollars, the cost of protective equipment should NEVER be a question or consideration.

Similar carbon fiber/kevlar and energy apsorbing technology and knowledge that is utilized for F1, MotoGP and other motorsport helmets with some version of a Hans type device needs to be incorporated into football helmet design and manufacturing in order to minimize the high rate of brain injuries suffered by football players worldwide.

data sourced from the NFL, Ovid, PubMed and NCAA.


Brian Surtees on his TZ250


 

When the checkered flag fell in the 48th Rolex 24 At Daytona, it was the No. 9 Action Express Racing Porsche that took victory.  Team drivers, Mike Rockenfeller, Ryan Dalziel, Joao Barbosa and Terry Borcheller covered a total of 755 laps of the Daytona International Speedway’s 3.56-mile road/oval course.

The key to victory was consistency, good car/pit management and reliability, as the team completed the prestigious, grueling 24 hour endurance race without any major incidents.

The newly formed team- which was a composit of the 2009 second Brumos Porsche team car along with some new personnel drove a Riley chassis-Porsche Cayenne V8 powered prototype to victory lane in its season début. Although instead of utilizing the new flat six Porsche power plant, the team opted to use a privately built 2009 Porsche V8 engine. No doubt guaranteed to be the chagrin of the Porsche factory!

This marks Porsche’s 21st overall win at the Daytona endurance classic event. Additional Porsche stats at Daytona show an impressive 62 class wins and 36 victories for the famed 911. Porsche also have the most consecutive wins- at 20 from 1966 to 1987 and the most 1-2 finishes at Daytona with 11.

First Daytona win | 1966

First overall Daytona win | 1968

Total overall Daytona wins | 21

Total class Daytona wins | 62

Porsche 911 Daytona wins | 36

1-2 overall’s at the Daytona 24-Hours | 11


In the whirl of wheels streaming by- spectators, cheers and late summer blue skies…The Race is on

Historic downtown Basking Ridge, NJ was once again the setting for the 18th annual Olde Mill Inn – Tour of Basking Ridge. The Labor Day race is always an eventful contest near the end of the road cycling season. The  event features 8 separate races accommodating all abilities- from pros to amateurs. Presenting Sponsor, Liberty Cycle puts on a great community event each year.

The 1.12 mile sweeping course features six turns around the bucolic borough. The Start/Finish line located on South Finley Ave and Lewis St., which is the front stretch of the short circuit- that rises and falls into turn 1-  a fast left onto on Henry St that leads to Turn 2- a quick left onto Rankin.

Turn 3 is a sweeping right/left combo onto Dyckman then a slight rise towards the left hander onto Colonial. The final corner, turn 6 is another left onto S Finley to the Finish line.

The final sprint race of the day was the  category 5 event. The competition was a short 5 laps that saw 36 riders line up for the start. Atop my Hutchinson-shod, Pro-Lite carbon frame, I lined up at the start line on the left, about midpack so I would have an inside line into T-1. Local guy Doug Ernst, Joseph Meyer-Fuchs of Oakland and Nick David from Hoboken were among the top favorites and all quickly went to the front at the drop of the starters flag.

Not being a true “racer” (this was the my first race of the season, and really had no training in my legs to speak of- read: I am slow) I planned my strategy around the design of the tight course. I knew that attacking the corners was the only chance I had of a top 20 finish.

As the pack tore off into T-1 I was mired somewhere in between the chaos of lap 1. Immediately I powered through 1, and 2 the left handers, closing up on the guys in front of me. As we headed onto the back part of the course I would lose a bit of ground. But dive bombing the turns would bring me onto the wheels just ahead of me.

I have found that some riders are a bit hesitant and stiff when cornering. I have found that I can exploit that weakness by not slowing and going as fast as I can through the turns- whenever possible. Eight seasons of motorcycle roadracing has its advantages.

The gap to the front grew as I watched the leaders quickly pull away. I settled into a sort of frantic rhythm dicing it out with 4 other riders- who kept the pace at about a 23 – 24 mph average. (good thing this race was only 5 laps!)

Doug, Nick and Joe were picking off riders at the front and waiting for their opportunity to take command. Yours truly was hanging on for dear life in 26th spot with 2 laps to go. The four guys in front of me would gap me on the straights and I would suck right back up in turn 1- a fast sweeping left, which I took at full speed, about 28+ mph.

More riders fell off the lead as Nick and Joe were moving up to the top spots. Lap 4- out of T-2 our pack of 5 pass two guys who seemed like they were standing still. So far I’m thinking- “This is cool, I haven’t been lapped and I actually passed a couple of riders” But I’m sucking wind hard, and my legs are burning with lactic acid.  This was it, the crux of race, gotta hold on one more lap….

Past the start/finish we begin the “bell lap” the final circuit…

The imperfect and often awkward synergy of Man and Machine…merge for a fleeting chance of perceived glory…fore now the battle is between heart and mind

I can hear the crowd but its muffled. My vision is tunneled as I flick the bars and lean the bike in for the hard left. The gap of nearly 50 feet quickly disappears as I close up. I’m sitting last in our group of 5, trying to draft and save any energy I may have left. I’m watching to see if anyone is going to try and jump- as we bend into the right/left combo T-3 & 4- so far nothing.

I wait for turn 5. I swing slight right of the pack and square off the corner. Arc it wide and keep pedaling through the corner, as this gives me the momentum I was looking for. I swoop up on the four riders in front of me and jump out of the saddle to add some power to the pedals- I move right and pass all four.

Meanwhile Joe and Nick had control of the last lap, sprinting towards the finish, as Nick popped up and made his move for the lead and the win. Across the line it was Joe who took the victory followed by Nick and Doug garnering the last podium spot in third.

As I set up for T-6 I glance back to see what- if any gap I might have. I tuck my chin into my left shoulder and see a substantial space between us. As I crest the rise on S Finley I spot another rider just ahead of me. I’m in the drops and keep my head down- but eyes up. I can see he is as tired as me-

Shoulders rocking, cadence faultering…”I have to get this guy, I have to.” I put every last ounce of breath and energy into the my weakening legs and watch the distance between us shrink. The finish line is in sight as I’m closing in on his rear wheel…once again, I swing right and pass the lonely rider- with a familiar grimace on his face.

I fly pass the finish, totally spent. Sitting up I try to catch an elusive breath and give a thumbs up to the guys around me- I make a feeble attempt to say “good race” but not much comes out as I am somewhat oxygen deprived. The guys at the front are not even breathing hard, while me and some of my similar competitors are shagged. smiley

 

My post race thoughts were a combination of satisfaction and disappointment- after finishing 19th of 36 riders. Sure that was a good result for my first race of 2009, but as a ‘competitior’ I wanted better. But what my mind wanted and what my body gave were just not equal- Yet still the moment was good, the day fulfilled.

And in the end, on dreams we will depend…

 

Machine Specs

Frame/Fork: Pro-Lite Carbon  | 53cm

Drivetrain: Ultegra 10 | 53/39 | 12/27

Wheels: Neuvation | M28 Aero 3

Tyres: Huchinson Equinox (slick rear) | Quartz (intermediate front)

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