Monday, June 8, 2009

Ride Sally Ride CAT 4 and CAT 4/5 35+ mad libs

So then I saw a rider from ___________ go down and take down about _______ riders and this ___________ came flying back at me and I went ___________ and injured my ________ and my ___________ and my _________, which I had also injured in _________.

A lot of horrible stuff occurred on Saturday, the most horrific probably being a boy's face being torn open by someone's chainring.

If you only had road rash, and it didn't approach the nature of John's hematoma (shown here), you'll find no sympathy here.

What's wrong with us? Are we really The Bike Wreck?

Possibly. This time, at least, we didn't cause the wrecks.

It's wrong to blame anyone for the disaster that was Ride Sally Ride except the riders. WWVC and the officials did fine. No big deal. I say this having sprinted for a (now worthless) 3rd place in the Cat 4 race. My teammate, Martin, worked hard for a 2nd place that now is meaningless.

Our efforts aren't meaningless because of the officials--they're meaningless because we (some of us, at least) rode like a pack of blind, drunken monkeys. That's the truth of it.

Points? Please. Surviving the thunderdome is its own reward.

CAT 4/5 35+
I did get my first win out of it, taking the 4/5 +35 race by half a wheel. My strategy: stay out of the wind, stay out of trouble and be patient. In the morning, the wind was blowing pretty strong on the finishing stretch, and I figured it'd be smart to stay tucked in as long as possible.

My strategy was jeopardized by a crash. I had to stop completely behind some wreckage and lost about half a lap; time trialling back to the pack wasn't too hard, but it did burn a couple of matches. Thankfully, it was still fairly early in the race.

With Grayson and Chas covering the breaks and initiating some of their own, I could sit in and recover. The pace was steady for a crit--I rarely pushed it over 500w coming out of corners, and averaged less than 250w for the race.

With three laps to go Grayson came by and shouted for me to get on his wheel. He pulled me to the front...all the way to the front. He was pulling 27 mph and I didn't think he could last 3 laps like this. "PULL OFF," I shouted. He eased up and we let about ten guys go by, then we swung back into the fold. Perfect.

With half a lap to go, he'd eased me up to about fifth position. At the corner, three guys took off, directly into the wind. I hopped on their wheels, sat there and watched them wilt in the wind, then jumped, and did the bike throw for the win.

Cool to get my first win.

I was glad to see some NCVC guys working together near the end. Granted it was only two of them, but they were about 1/4 of the field and should've dominated the race. Too often, they sit in the back when they should be dominating races. They've got some good riders at the CAT 4 level. Instead, I saw Sigberto and a couple of their stronger riders burning matches at the front, and the rest sitting in.

Contrast that with my own team's performance, where guys like Brian, Chas, Grayson, Corey, and Matt sacrificed their own chances by coming to the front and pulling and/or chasing down breaks.

That isn't to say that our organization always works. Our designated guy was Martin (aka, Da Trez, the Hiking Viking) but Da Trez just can't tolerate a moderate pace, and can't stand the idea of working for his own win. He was on the front for half the race, despite my pleading with him to sit in and let us work for him.

Maybe he knows best...after all, he got second place in the first race. I tried to give him a leadout in the second race, but I did a poor job of it and left him hanging. He'd been pulling at the front for half of both races, so he probably wasn't quite as spry as he could've been. Da Trez. Sigh.

One note: when the bell announced the surprise last lap, Ringer went to the front and chased at 30mph + to bring back a breakaway and move Da Trez up. That was about the ballsiest thing I saw all day, and a pretty damned impressive display of power. I'm looking for him to get some results soon.


Sigberto said...

Thanks for the kudos. It's too bad all this nonsense ruined what was overall a fun race. I saw Martin driving the front at the beginning and joined him for a while. He seemed to be driving the pace while I was more "covering" attacks. Small attacks kept rolling off and with him and I there and other guys from both of our teams, I doubt anyone could have gotten away. WWVC sure tried though.

NCVC definitely has lots of guys (this was the worst, no doubt) but thankfully we always have no-shows and, inevitably, guys who never factor in the race. Those are usually the guys you see at the back and they never do much. At least they're not bothering anyone, right? (And the race promoter gets the cash.) The other thing to remember is that half of our squad had already raced - be them masters or juniors (we had 3+ juniors there).

Saturday we actually had 6-8 of us organized, so finally we made a difference taking turns covering stuff. I caught up to my boy Dan on that first bell lap but I was gassed from surfing up so far. He lead me out to perfection through the last corner but my matches had been blown out.

Any word on young Mr. King?

Calvini said...

I've only heard that little King has had 70 stitches.

And I only made comments about NCVC because I felt the top NCVC guys weren't getting support, despite having a bee's nest of riders in the race. I like to see good team tactics, no matter who's racing. Coordinated efforts that work to get a guy on the podium--whether on my team or a rival's team--are beautiful to watch.

I say this especially after racing with the Masters 35+ guys. These guys work together in ways I'm still trying to figure out.

Anonymous said...

There is also the fact that a lot of Cat 4 racers get put off by the sketchy bike handling skill exhibited in these races. Instead of complaining about it you guys should be wondering why it happens to you so often. It seems like every time I see your team at a race there are crashes that involve your team. Say what you will about NCVC but their riders are well schooling in pack handling and racing even if some of their guys are a bit too long, or short in the tooth.

My old coach used to say that a win is only a win if everyone thinks you deserved it. If you're racing negatively you may find the best racers in your category are turning elsewhere. I don't know exactly what went down at the Ride Sally Ride Cat 4 race, but some Sage advice; think less about winning and more about the fact you all have to race against the same people week in and week out and ride safe.

Calvini said...

That's it. I'm quitting this dangerous, godforsaken sport.

I made $40 this weekend. Enough to cover my GU packets. That's what I get from my gazillion dollar investment and buckets of sweat and tears? Pshaw. Not worth it.

Done. Gonna save some money and take up golf or Formula 1 racing. Cycling's just too expensive and dangerous. Too many poseurs. Too many knuckleheads. Too many boobs. Too many bloggers.

qualia said...

A provocative homily from Anonymous, casting aspersions on our team, and, if I am reading this correctly, on my brother's win(?).

Shall I respond in kind? No way. No flame wars here.

Bike racing is and always will be a beautiful thing to me. I won't let that be sullied by internecine strife. Not in this space, anyway.

Of course, everyone involved in a crash, from any team, should ask themselves whether they were responsible and how they could have avoided things, if at all. Lord knows I have.

And we all have a duty to practice bike handling and to develop pack riding skills. Any good club or team, NCVC and Bike Rack included, aims to teach that in a safer setting.

I am proud of the way we ride as a team. I have, in fact, never felt at risk around a team member at races or otherwise. If you have a problem with someone in particular, please let the team leadership know about it privately.

qualia said...

Speaking of NCVC, a very cool NCVC guy and reader this blog, came up and talked to me after the race about Whitman, The Go-Betweens, and his Brighton- built titanium ride.

I was kind of amped up on adrenaline from crashing and, though I asked twice, forgot his name. I want to say "Mike"? Not sure...

If you're reading this, send me an email.

dennis said...

Sheer statistics explain The Bike Rack's involvement in so many crashes. The team is well represented in the 3-5's in almost every race. It would be an interesting statistical exercise to see how we are doing :)

Let's say -conservatively- there is at least on crash that involves 5 riders. Assuming all riders -including the DVR/TBR riders - are equally skilled and that your average pack is around 75, then there is a 7% chance of being involved in a crash during a race (alternatively, you will crash once in every 15 races. Think abouut that!).

DVR/TBR has a very active roster and are usually present with 5-10 riders. There is thus a 13% chance of being a DVR/TBR rider in the pack.

Now do your homework and estimate the chance that a DVR/TBR rider is involved in a crash ;)

qualia said...

dennis: i actually had a similar thought, on reading this post, but didn't do the math.

Let's assume equal skills and that there's a .07 chance of any randomly selected rider going down.

Also assume these are independent trials. (No entanglement.)

The probability that a given person does *not* go down is 1-.07 = .93. In other words, the probability of survival is .93 for each one.

So, for any group of riders, DVR or otherwise, the probability that the first of these riders doesn't go down is .93. The probability that neither of the first two goes down is .93*.93 =.86

You look at the possibilities in which the first doesn't fall, and you take the percentage of these possibilities in which the second guy doesn't fall. That gives you the cases in which neither falls. 1 minus that is the probability of one of the two falling.

The probability that none of a group of five riders goes down is therefore .93^5=.7. The probability that one of the five goes down is 1 minus that = roughly 1/3.

If we look at a group of ten riders, the probability that one will not crash is .93^10 = roughly 1/2, so the probability of one of them crashing is also 1/2.

So if we have 10 guys in a race, it's even odds that we'll be in a crash somewhere. Jeeeeeez.

Probability. Always surprising.

dennis said...

nice example of the glass is full vs empty reasoning ;). According to my reasoning, there is a 66% chance there is a DVR rider involved in any given crash. we're there 2 out 3 crashes.

qualia said...

Right. Conditional on there being a crash, odds are high we're there.

But even without conditionalizing, it's a scary probability of a DVR taking a nose dive.

I wonder how many stupid, longstanding fights arise because of our lousy intuitive sense of probability + confirmation bias + fundamental attribution error. (google it.)

One of my favorite examples of our awful sense of probability:

How many people have to be in a room before the probability of two having the same birthday is 1/2?


fabsroman said...

I've got another theory on the wrecking. There are those that apply the brakes when they hear/see something that isn't right (i.e., me), and then there are those that try to ride through it, around it, or over it because they think they can and/or they don't want to be caught off the back because of a wreck. At Ride Sally Ride, I heard the tire rub in front of me and started braking as "young" King went down, and the rider in front of me went down. I had the rear wheel locked up and was on the front brake hard enough to just shift the weight of the bike forward. I would have stopped well short of the guy and bike in front of me on the ground, and was thinking, I saved myself again. Then, somebody rams me from behind so hard that it throws me over the bars, from which I got a pretty good contusion on my forearm since I was in the drops (Not complaining because it could have been a lot worse). I'm willing to bet that guy ended up on the deck too. So, I am sitting here wondering how the heck that guy couldn't have come to a stop, or at least somewhat of a stop, before slamming into me. I had the same thing happen at Hagerstown Challenge last year when two teammates took the first corner too fast and went down in front of me. The first one wrecked and the second one wrecked into him. I was able to slow up enough to avoid it, but I still got a pair of handlebars in my rear. Just not hard enough to wreck me that time.

Now, I'll ask this question. Is there anybody on your team that hasn't been involved in a wreck? They should be the ones that you pay attention to while racing.

Next, start sorting it out by who has been the first man down, and who has been collateral damage. If they were the first man to hit the ground, what did they do wrong? Were they half wheeling? Did they take a blind turn on a descent too fast (e.g., Robert Fulton)? Did they just lose it on a turn for no apparent reason? Did they lock up handlebars? Was there contact that they were uncomfortable with?

If they were collateral damage, why were they collateral damage? I'll admit that it is extremely hard to avoid it when it is the man right in front of you that goes down, or on a descent, but in these crits it really shouldn't be that hard for us to avoid massive pileups. We aren't even hammering hard enough to string everything out, so people should be able to brake and maneuver quite well. We hardly even take turns at high speed because I can watch people correcting their lines in the middle of the turns.

Me, I'm just thankful that my first wreck since getting back into racing in 2007 wasn't a bad wreck. Now, lets try not to make a habit out of this.

By the way, those of you that are trying to bunny hop bikes and downed riders are making things a lot more dangerous for everybody involved versus concentrating on braking and steering. I'm not saying that somebody from Bike Rack has done this, I'm just addressing it because I have read about it, and about others riding over people. I want to go home to my wife and 2 kids after the race, so please don't ride or bunny hop over me.

PS - I hated statistics in undergrad.