August 16, 2015
What fun it was to ride in Race the Lake 2015! This time I was not a stranger, I was able to hang out with people I call friends: before, during, and after the race. I saw one familiar face back in 2013 but this time I really felt like I belonged there!
Race the Lake 2015 — An Introduction
For those of you not familiar, Ganther Race the Lake is a 90 mile semi-professional and amateur bike race around Lake Winnebago. If you qualify to enter the first two waves you race for money otherwise you race for bragging rights.
Race the Lake 2015 — The Top Third
- The bike was Ready. B
- I arrived early enough. A
- My nutrition. B
- Clothing B-
- My Bike Handling B-
- The First Hour B
- The First Third C+
- Stops A-
The Friday before I took the time and washed it down good and put it back together, I tightened up the brakes too, the bike was ready to roll. However, I need to retape the bars and probably clean and lube the pedals, and around the bottom bracket.
Not too late, not too early. I had time to eat my breakfast get my kit on, and locate my buddies. Good thing as my front tire’s stem broke necessitating a front inner tube change, quickly I got it changed and inflated.
My food pack was spot on. I had some oatmeal fueled up with some blackstrap molasses along and ate that on arrival. I did not want to eat it too early nor too late, I had it with maybe 45-30 minutes prior staring. I had six pieces of biko (aka rice cake) each about 2 ounces packing about 150 calories a piece. That is what I have figured out I need on an hourly basis when cranking out miles. I had no notion of bonkage at any time during the event. I brought some Gatorade chews along, next time I’ll leave them at home.
. The new pair of bibs and a new team jersey worked well. I added a bit of chamois cream and I had no hint of saddle soreness or any other issues related to clothing (I quickly slathered up with sunscreen prior starting).
Bike handling is a skill I’ve been working on and all the work showed, I had two minor mishaps with regards to handling, I got a bit heavy on the brakes in the first hour and towards the end I had a lapse of concentration that caused me to run into (at very low speed) a cyclist who was working on a mechanical. Fortunately, no damage due to either event just some wounded pride.
Other than those two events my bike handling passed some serious testing in Oshkosh. I was still with my starting wave (three) and had to execute a few 90 ° turns, one of them was hard right with an immediate hard left. Add to that a bike crash to the far right of the flow (on the left turn) and some traffic furniture meant my handling had to be on and it was, I got past the carnage and around the corners at good speed without getting off line or throwing others offline. People were communicating very well, I heard a shout out of the hard left and had it spotted early and then again the same for the crash. I’ve talked to people who were around the crash when it happened and it sounds like someone may have got off line and applied too much brake causing a lock up and they went into a parked car, reports I’ve heard had about a half dozen cyclists getting taken out. I’ve locked up (in less challenging circumstances and did not crash) and that is one scary feeling, I hope all involved are okay.
Overall, I was ready to be a part of wave three for at least that first hour. I did eventually drop, after the crash scene the riders in front of the crash gapped those in back, and we received further punishment by being stopped by a train. After the train I made some errors, I took a pull and held it for too long. I stayed on for a while yet, but then I dropped with a few others and was relegated to riding in a gruppetto or by myself. That first hour while it lasted was exhilarating and I want more of it. I made about 27-28 mph during that hour and had not the train stopped us it would have been like 30 mph!
While my lack of judiciousness in that pull out of Oshkosh hurt me, I did not get too dispirited and made cause with 3 -4 other riders who dropped with me and we formed a nice gruppetto that got us through Neenah, Menasha, and up to Waverly in fairly good time. Then wave four caught us and we lost one of our riders to that wave. We made it to High Cliff in about 2 hours which was on track with my goal so things were okay.
The only stops I made were due to the lost focus on bike handling (I refer to above). The first one was the event itself and the second was to take care of a front-wheel brake rub. But this was something else I was goaling for — no stops!
Race the Lake 2015 — The Middle Third
Actually, there was not too much bad. At times I got a bit too ambitious and a few mistakes in bike handling I would consider the bad things in my Race the Lake 2015. In the gruppetto that formed due to the train I should have seen if I could have got the group rotating, that way we could all have stuck it out at least for a while longer. Oh well, next time if I am in that situation I’ll take charge a bit more or at least throw it out to the group.
Race the Lake 2015 — The Bottom Third
- My Hydration Plan F
- Leadership F
- Gruppetto Riding F
- Understanding Wave Cohesion D+
It was a hot one out there, seems like the hottest day of the summer, so there was no opportunity to train for it. I had a liter and a half of electrolyte supplemented water along (in two bottles, one making a one-way trip) and then I took on a bottle of water and a bottle of Gatorade at High Cliff, I lost the water after a sip and stuffing it into an oversize cage. I did pick up some more gatorade at another station and finished that off. At this time I was working mostly alone or with some brief stints being pulled along. I even managed to join wave five for a few miles but then I dropped from them as the long HHH climb began, at that point, we have 20 miles of a long gradual climb characterized by rollers and that really took a toll on my legs with mild cramping setting in. Fortunately, the Gatorade I had along came to the rescue and I took advantage of all the subsequent opportunities to get water and gatorade. I kept a close watch for sweat on my skin to make sure it was there, but it was obvious, I was losing the hydration game.
Pulling out of Oshkosh would have been a great point to start a rotating line and get the gruppetto to work together, I should have shouted rotate and started it off. I am guessing the majority of riders in my wave know how it works and we could have made it work and kept the gruppetto going to High Cliff.
I should have kept my patience and worked with the two fellows I was with and waited for wave five to arrive and they did. I most likely could have hung with them for much longer. As it was I always saw someone to chase and that always caught my fancy and most of the time when I would catch up with them as they were about to pull off at a rest stop, I found someone else to chase, or I could not hang with them once caught. Of the gruppetto I was in when I dropped from Wave Three through Lakeshore Dr. two (one managed to get onto wave four) finished in front of me and one behind me.
I know a bit about how groups work as a unit and how the group’s collective mind works. I know changes in speed magnify as they pass to the rear of the group and how that can spit riders off the back. I also know which side of a group to ride to get the most shelter from the wind. However, I did not put that knowledge to good use especially as I was attempting to hang with the fifth wave towards the end of the race. Also, with the lead waves any riders out on their own are suffering as well, next time form with and STAY with the gruppetto and wait for the next wave to come through. Waves four and five came by in strong and well organized groups and as far as I could tell, I saw no wave six, either the waves cease to be cohesive (my guess) after five or that perhaps they had not yet caught up to me.
Race the Lake 2015 — Overall
I improved on my 2013 finish time by 50 minutes! Still, that is tempered by the disappointment of not finishing with an hour improvement and I was goaling for 4 hours and not 4:45 and not 4:30. My overall speed is right there with my short rides officially, the speed was 18.5 mph and my Polar computer says 19 mph or just a smidge under. Can I really feel disappointment in that (errr, yes)? I was happy with the bike handling, satisfied with my preparedness, satisfied with my physical fitness, and disappointed in my tactics. This self-evaluation is given in a retrospective spirit, I have a long way to go in all of those areas.
Race the Lake 2015 — Grattitude
In making this happen I was not alone. It took a lot of patience, tolerance, and tutoring from others. Obviously my wife sees what this has done for my health and happiness, thanks Honey. The rest of my family also indulges me in my riding, again, that is very valuable and is much appreciated, thank you!
How can I repay all of the folks I group ride with? The crew at the Outdoor Outlet with whom I took my first tentative group rides with a bit more than a year ago. The Wheel and Sprocket Crew who take a genuine interest in me as a cyclist and as a friend. It is this crew that helped turn my nascent interest in cycling to a passion. They helped me overcome and understand the pains and annoyances we all encounter on a bike as well as help me build the Dire Wolf!
I want to also specially call out the group leaders on the W&S Wednesday rides who offer coaching. I know you may get jacked up from know-it-alls, but you will only hear gratitude from me. I join these rides to hone and develop skills and without you offering guidance and correction those skills can not develop. There is the crew at Group Ride who lead the Stone Arch ride, Mark your genuine interest in my riding and history was very cool. The group at the Cranked Bike Studio (Mark C. thanks for conning me into wave three) also have been a great help and inspiration.
The folks I follow on Strava whether your return the follow or not are also a part of my motivation and inspiration.