After sitting around the past few weeks wondering about my fitness and thinking about how I'm itching to race already, I decided to go feed the craving by hitting the Tradezone training races in Bowie put on by Bike Doctor. Tradezone is a typical industrial park crit, nothing interesting and not all that technical. Just 3 corner circuit with a long downhill finishing stretch, perfect for early season carnage as these things always have a bunch sprint, even for 37th place.
Week before last I didn't ride all week and my legs were tight from lifting that Friday so I decided to just enter the B race which I thought was limited to Cat 3/4s and would provide a decent workout without the fear of early season road rash. On the start line the refs realized that the field was close to 100 riders and consisted of Cat5's, a no no to the USCF. So to get the field down to the 75 rider limit that started pulling riders. I would have volunteered to move to the A race but there was no guarantee one of my pulled teammates would get my spot and that I could actually hang in the A race. After an hour of narrowly escaping crashes by people who cannot corner at speed, I decided no more B races.
I had a shitty week on th bike, well, it wasn't exactly on the bike. Friday was a failed attempt at FTP intervals that ended with severe stomach cramps. I tried to rebound Saturday with a long ride with Mike C. The first hour was fine then the legs left me. After 2 1/2 hrs or riding into a 20-30mph head wind we finally turned for home, 3hrs later the legs were cooked. This didn't make me feel good about hitting the A race at TZ the next day. I woke up feeling rested so I decided to pack the bag and hit the road. A nice 11:45 start makes for a nice morning to take time getting out the door.
As I'm about to turn into TZ, a the meat wagon is pulling out with it's lights on. Not a good sign. Apparently there was a big pile up with a few laps to go int the C race. The weather was good and the forecast was for a fairly warm day, I assume this is what brought out a lot of the big guns. Looking around while warming up I was feeling like it was going to be a short day for me given the legs and the quality of the field. From the start it was on, immediately some Harley guy went off the front and that field chased. The first 4 or 5 laps were nothing but guys trying to launch breaks and the field chasing, I never saw my speed drop below 28mph. Finally a break of three established itself and stayed out for close to an hour. Some good work between several teams reeled the break in with about 5 laps to go. Ryan had been on the front the whole race contributing more than his share to reeling the break in so he decided to sit in the pack for a couple laps to save his legs for the end. With 4 laps to go Ryan and I were riding side by side when some guy tried to go wide on a turn and then jumped back inside hooking his handlebars on Ryan's bike then finally loosing it and dumping it. Ryan managed to stay up right and we chased back on to the group. A half a lap later Ace and I realized the skewer on Ryan's rear wheel was wide open and his wheel wasn't going to stay in if he tried to sprint, so after all of that work he was out with 2 to go. I had had to take a lap for a mechanical earlier so I couldn't contest the finish. The legs weren't great but I make the split in the field with about 1k to go so I got to the top of the hill and just rolled in.
Good day all around. What was interesting was analyzing the power files from the A and B race. Off the top, they were almost exactly the same with regards to average Watts and Normalized Power. Main difference was that the A race was 30min longer but only 1mph faster. A higher NP in the B race over a shorter time period would indicate the B race is actually harder than the A due to the amount of efforts at or above FTP.