Sunday, June 26, 2011

Downtown South Bend Criterium

The day after Glencoe I decided to head out to South Bend for some crit racing.  The field wasn't huge but was respectable sized.  Lots of Cat 3s, which is tough because most all of them had already raced the 3/4 race earlier.  My collegiate teammate Doug "Duggles" Ansel almost took that one, but got second out of the break.  Congrats to him on a good effort.

Our race started with a few break attempts.  I was in a frustrating position: I knew I was strong enough that I should have made the break, but only strong enough to go with half the serious moves.  So I missed the five man winning break, which was a bummer.

Back in the main field, guys were hurting big time.  They were letting stuff go off the front like it was nothing.  At one point three guys went, and then a fourth, fifth and sixth guy bridged like it was nothing and nobody reacted.  The "break" grew to ten guys.  It really ticked me off, so I decided to play sweeper and clean up the mess.  My other collegiate teammate, Matt, was about to bridge as well.  I turned to him and said, "no man, just sit on.  I'm sick of this crap."  I hit the front and pulled back all fifteen seconds from the ten man break.

The winning five man break lapped us.  I hopped on as they came by, and the field realized they could too.  Three guys from the break attacked.  Brandon Feeherty, who was in the break, asked if I wanted to try to bridge to the three guys and if I'd help him.  I told him yes, so we went.  A third guy grabbed our wheels.  I pulled at a pretty unsustainable pace for the first three laps to get Brandon up there but couldn't help him get there.  We had like 12 laps to go, and it was pretty obvious we'd make it the whole way since the field was toasted.  Brandon pulled the last lap and really helped me stay with the break toward the end, which was nice of him, but I still couldn't win the sprint.  I thought we were sprinting for 6th buy apparently some other group got off the front that I didn't know about so I only got 13th.

Glencoe NRC

It didn't go well.

Thanks for reading

Brian Boyle

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cobb Park 123s

Small field at the race yesterday; only 15 guys.  That's a shame since its a good, well-run race put on by the South Chicago Wheelmen.  A few moves went early but Tony and I stayed on top of them.  Eventually a serious break with a Wheelman and a XXX guy got about 15 seconds.  I had to start taking pulls.  As we got closer, tony bridged and the Wheelman got dropped.  Eventually Tony dropped off too, so I hit the front to kill the move. 

After that the race was winding down and the Weelmen started sending guys off the front.  Their strong juniors made good moves.  With 4 laps left one of them got a big gap.  I rode tempo to keep him in sight, but I thought he would make it.

With 2 to go I saw the lap counter flipped to "1" early.  I got the sense that the two guys in front of me didn't realize it and thought it was the last lap.  Sure enough, I followed their wheels as they sprinted a lap early.  I looked back and had a substantial gap just like I hoped.  I measured my effort since I knew I was likely to get the win if I could last.  I caught the wheelmen kid with a half lap left.  I eased up since I wanted him to grab my wheel so his team would sit up.  Unfortunately he couldn't hold it.  I was committed at this point.  I still had a healthy gap out of the last corner, but jim flora from the wheelmen caught me with 200 meters left and took the win.  Several people rode his slipstream to pass me in the last 50 meters.  Anyway, it didn't work out but I played my cards well.  You have to risk losing to win, and that's what I did. 

Thanks to the wheelmen for putting on a great race again.  Hopefully there will be more riders next year!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Brian Boyle Racing at the ToG Crit

Photo By: Eric Goodwin

First Race Experience: Tour of Galena

Since this was my first race I really didn’t know what to expect. I wanted to gain experience and to see where I stack up against other competitors. My only two goals were to 1) not crash, and 2) have fun…

Time Trial: Although I had never been in a time trial before, I was comfortable with the race because of my experience in triathlon. The short-course was constant rolling hills, but nothing too steep. I tried to press hard uphill and recovered on the decent. I passed the rider who started a minute ahead so I knew that I probably had a good time going. I finished the 3.6 miles in 7:31, which was the fastest Cat-5 time. Good start to the weekend.

Road Race: I heard it was hilly in Galina. I guess “hilly” is relative. The time trial short-course wasn’t bad and the crit course was flat. How bad could the road course be?* Well, about half way down the first decent I told myself this would be my last road race. I had a death grip on the handle bars and was shaking so bad I was having trouble keeping smooth. I was scared. I liked the climbs a lot better. Although they hurt, I was not afraid of dying while going up. I could tell right away the uphill sections were where riders would be dropped. About half way through the course I was in third position, on the wheels of the eventual 1st and 2nd place finishers. This is where the steep decent/sharp turn/railroad-to-hell-crossing incident took place. When I flew off the road I was just glad that I didn’t crash. I scrambled to get back on the road, clip in, and catch the front again. When I pressed down nothing happened. That’s when I looked down to see the chain was off. I dismounted again, and fought against my trembling hands to put the chain back on. When I restarted the group in front was nearly cresting the next climb and I knew I was probably done. I was told that the top two riders finished together, then a small gap, then 3 more, then another gap to the rest of the field which was strung out. I was able to chase down everyone else, to finish 6th in a field of 40+.

* On Sunday I talked to one of the race organizers about the road course. He said it was probably the most difficult road course in Illinois. Bob, Brian, and Paul would probably have a better idea…

Crit: The crit course had two long straight aways, one easy, wide turn, and one tight, narrow turn. At the start of the race I went to the back of the field for about 5 laps, until the lead pack started to separate. I passed guys that were dropping to stay on the heels of the lead pack. With about 5 laps to go I wanted to see if I could get to the front. I was able to pretty easily and led for one lap before attempting to settling back in. This is where my inexperience hurt. As I gave up the lead I could not get back in line and ended near the back of the pack again. I was able to out-sprint most of the field down the stretch to finish 4th, but I put myself in such a bad position there was no way I could get to the front.

Overall this was a great first race experience. The long team rides and talking to some of the more experienced riders on the team helped tremendously. Looking forward to the next race!!!


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Spring Prairie P/1/2

Like Sully said in his post about the race, this was a 6.5 mile course with a few climbs in it.  We had to do ten laps, a mercifully short race of 65 miles.  We had to go up the 18% climb eleven times if you count the neutral lap.  My number one priority was finishing with a respectable group. I'd felt pretty crappy racing for a few weeks and just pulled out of it this week.

It was way hotter once the race got going than I thought it would be.  I knew I'd made a huge mistake bringing only two bottles.  The first lap I stayed toward the back up the climb, which was no problem.  The second lap guys started to gap, but it easily came back together.  The third lap I got caught behind a pretty substantial split and I had to shut it down myself.  For the rest of the race I entered and exited the climb in the top ten to avoid that crap.

A handful of guys got a small gap when apathy set in among the main field.  After one time up the hill, maybe the seventh or so, I actually had to do some work at the front because nobody else would.  Nick Ramirez from Illinois made a great move then to bridge.  I'd have gone with him but I was really worried I'd crack with dehydration setting in.  On lap seven I took a bottle from a stranger in the feed zone.  I drank it and tossed it back on the next lap with a "thank you."  That bottle saved me.

On the last lap I ruled out attacking since I'd been one of the stronger guys on the climb.  But I ended up cramping up pretty bad on the final climb.  I started catching guys at the end but finished at the back of the group I thought I could win and got 25th.  Overall I was only doing this for training and I guess it worked.

Monday, June 6, 2011

I Thought Fox River Grove Was No Fun...

First of all, congrats to Bob and his ability to come back from the "Crab Cake" incident. I'm sure that Indy State Championship is not far off. I, on the other hand, was at Spring Prairie this past Sunday. Treat these next few paragraphs like an accident on the Dan Ryan: you don't really wanna look, but it's quick and it makes you feel better about yourself.

After a neutral start up the daunting 18% climb, we, the 4/5s that aren't from Packerville, began our first of six laps on the six mile or so course on country roads. While I was beyond joyous about staying in the top eight to ten on said lap numero uno, I was passed by about 80% of the field on the first "official" climb on the 18%er. "I know I can, I know I can" just wasn't enough to get me to stay on the back.

After a few more rollers, one at 8% and another around 10%, I honestly considered sitting up. But why did I drive 100 miles? Why did I pay my own money for the race AND gas to get there? Why have I spent almost seven days a week training? To quit? It sucked, but I chased down a few guys and started to work with them. When our pack grew to seven, I corraled them all to take short pulls (20-30 seconds) in order to keep the confidence. After sweeping up a couple more riders on lap three, we all eventually rushed up the finishing hill like we were in the main pack.

Now, I would LOVE to end this with a tale of my first top ten finish, or how I flatted and still got a PR; but what was most satisfying was getting back to my car and seeing some riders from other teams. When I asked them how they did, a few of them answered that they had dropped out. DNF. Wow. All that time, effort, and money to get a DNF. Yeah, it sucked, but I am proud to say that I finished, no matter how far down the list. A moral victory? Nah, just a love/hate relationship with this biking hobby.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Eagle Creek Crit Cat 4/5

I went down to Indianapolis this weekend to race what looked to be a good race.  I was right, it was a well run race put on by a group called Planet Adventure, It was held in Eagle Creek State Park. They were well organized and prompt. This race will be on the calendar for next year.

Now to the race, I arrived early enough to get warmed up and not be rushed. All is going well, the officials tell us to take a warm up lap and then line up. I get a good spot on the line when I remember that I forgot to put on my timing chip, big mistake. I bolt off and get it on as quick as I can, but now I’m sitting on the last row.  Ok, that’s cool I just have to work my way up in the field. This is my last test to check my fitness after the surgery, so I figure no it’s big deal. We start off as usual the field hammers it for the first 3 laps then shuts it down. By this time I have worked my way to the front so I decide to take a flier.  I stay off the front for a lap before the pack pulls me back. I did this like 5 times in the 1 hour race. On one of the fliers I thought the pack was going to let me go, but they dragged me back after a few laps. That’s when I heard over the PA, 5 laps to go. I decide to sit in and gain my composure to get ready to sprint. On the last lap I was sitting around 10th, mistake number 2. I need to stay in the top 5.  Anyway the acceleration came and I was boxed in.  I had to come all the way around the other side of the field to get 6th place.  All in all it was a good day. The legs and lungs are working fine, plus no pain from the surgery area. Now I just need to race smart save my energy and be sitting in the top 3-5 going into the sprint. If I can do that I have a good chance to pull one off for the team.

Bob Murray

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Quad Cities Criterium Cat 1/2

This crit is a fast, eight corner flat downtown race with a great atmosphere.  I decided to make the three hour drive out to Rock Island, Illinois.  I did some longer rides with teammates the previous few days so I wasn't the freshest.  When I got there I remembered they staged the start by race number.  I was number 110, so I was starting in the back.  I'm guessing there was a field of around 120 guys.  I've been doing this awhile though, so during all the pre-race call ups and movement to make way for the guys coming through I was able to sneak up to the middle.  

The pace was pretty fast from the beginning.  I wanted to make my way up to the front, but so did everyone else.  It took me like five laps to get up there, but by then a few groups had gotten off the front.  I'm not capable of being in an hour and a half long breakaway anyway, so I knew it was time to sit on.  Sometimes you have to take the risk that the race will go up the road, and this time it did.

One guy who I guess won the day before managed to attack one of the breaks and he lapped the field.  When I saw his teammate bring him by me I knew they were going to the front to drill it, so I moved up again.  His teammates seemed to be driving it pretty hard, but in a field that big it's easy to sit in so I couldn't really tell how fast we were going.

At the end, a few attacks went away from our group, which I think was the main field.  I was sort of baffled when guys weren't grabbing those wheels, but then again I didn't either so I can't really say anything.  And most of those guys raced the previous few days.  Apparently there was a separation somewhere behind me so our group wasn't that big.  The announcer said that our group still had some money spots available, so I stayed toward the front and sprinted for fifth or so in the group.  It was only good for 46th place though, which was a surprise to me since I didn't think there were more than 18 or so guys left up the road.  Well, I guess that's what happens when the field is so big that you can't see the front of it from anywhere on the course.  It was a hot day, a fast race, with plenty of corners, and I was never in any difficulty.  That's good because I haven't felt too good on the bike the last few weeks.  Hopefully I'm coming out of it.