Friday, 16 November 2012

Season is almost done - Lessons Learned and Race Weekend Essentials

Two weekends left - 3 races.  Its been a fun season as an A Category rider.  No podiums, but instead a real sense of accomplishment about how far I've come in a year.  There have been ups and downs, but mostly ups.  The downs, silly little things that I'll put in my "tickle trunk" and try to avoid for next season.

On that note - Next season - just found out that I'm probably relocating to Ontario next summer for my job.  It will be sad to leave.  I've built some excellent relationships with the guys that I race with - not only the boys from The Radical Edge, but also the familiar faces from Moncton, St John, and Miramichi.  It was here that I learned to race, built a camaraderie with a lot of people - I'll never forget that.  I hope to fly the Rad Edge colours in Ontario.

Fortunately where I'm going, the Ottawa area, there is a huge cyclocross scene.  Which means two things

1)  I still get to race
2)  I don't have to sell stuff cuz I no longer use it :)

So, lessons learned to far this year -

1)  The days that I felt confident in the course and did well, I had arrived early and was able to do a proper pre-race routine.  By routine I mean:
-  Arrive about 90mins prior to the race and register.
-  Get dressed and drink lots of water
-  Ride a few laps in warm layered clothing at a casual pace
-  After every lap, ramp up the speed and start shedding layers
-  Ride a lap at 75% race pace then adjust tire pressures based on the conditions
-  30 mins before the race, eat a gel and put on embro
-  1-2 more laps
-  Stage
The days that I got there late, I only got 2 or so practise laps in prior to the race.  I'm rushed, don't know the course as well as I should - don't start confident, not good.

2)  Assemble kit the night before.  Talked about this before.  Last race I forgot my mud tires.  Critical error.  I had all my gear piled in the garage except my wheels, which I left hanging on the wall a mere foot away.  Sure enough, I forgot them.

3)  I need to improve technical riding skills and bike handling confidence.  I also need to ditch the fear of crashing.  There have been several instances where I've chosen to dismount and run over an obstacle, where most of the field is riding it.  I may not have lost a lot of time by doing this, but it takes quite a bit of energy to dismount, lift bike, control bike, jump on bike, clip in, get momentum into bike. There's also the potential of fiddling with pedal clip-in, which leads to lost time - and frustration.  Stay on the bike as much as possible.

I'd also like to throw in a list of essential items to have in your bag for a race weekend.

a)  Race licence.  Not no much for 'Cross season, given that's a bit more informal than a road race, but I always carry it in my bag.

b)  Safety pins.  I keep them in a old Nuun container.  Use them for pinning your numbers - when used in a race.

c)  Extra jersey or wind vest with pockets.  I wear this during my warmup laps so I can carry a water bottle, since my bike doesn't have any cages.

d)  Towel and extra water.  Use this to wash up post-race.  Especially on the legs where dirt and grit sticks to my embrocation covered legs.

e)  Embrocation.  This stuff rocks.  I used to wear leg warmers - never again (unless its REALLY COLD!!)  Warmers leave me with a constricted feeling, whereas the embro warms the legs without the hassle.   Apply it liberally 30 mins prior to the race, legs will be on fire in no time.  Just be prepared for a slightly painful hot shower.

f)  A floor pump.  You won't believe how many people have asked to borrow my pump.  How do you go to a cross race with no pump???????  'Nuff said.

g)  A proper pressure gauge.  The gauge on most pumps are crap and are not to be trusted.  I bought a digital one (Topeak) that allows "tuning", meaning you can let air out of the tires while the gauge gives you a reading.  The only downside, it runs on batteries, which tend to die at the most inopportune time.

h)  Vittoria Pit Stop.  Sealant and air in a can.  If you're running tubulars, you can pre-treat your tubulars with sealant to prevent puncture DNF.  But with Vittoria tubulars, the stems don't have a removable core to allow that.  Pit stop is sealant in a pressurized can.  If I get a flat, I'll have to ride to the pits, use Pit Stop to seal the tire and inflate it at the same time.  Haven't had to use it yet, but I imagine its faster than switching wheels and don't have to resort to clinchers.

i)  Tool box with critical tools containing
-  chain whip and cassette removal tool
-  snips for cables and zip ties
-  philips and flat head screw driver
-  allen wrench set
-  chain breaker
-  KMC Missing Link
-  electrical tape

j)  Dry and Wet chain lube.  Critical when the conditions warrant it.  This is the stuff I use - works great.

k)  And finally, a "Dry Bag".  One of those waterproof gym bags that you can throw all your muddy stuff into post race.  I don't want that nasty stuff in my gear bag!!

l)  *EDIT*  Can't believe I forgot this one.  GROWLERS.  45 mins of pain warrants beer - at least 1.8 litres worth.  I bring two for those really really hard days, or if its well deserved.

So that's it for now.  Forestry Cross this Sunday.  Traditionally a very fast course, and the weather has been dry all week.  Can't wait!!

1 comment:

  1. To avoid the painful embrocation shower I scrub my legs with a washcloth soaked in rubbing alcohol then rub in some olive oil and wait at least 15 min before showering. My legs still get warm in the shower but they don't feel like they're being skinned with red hot razors.