Saturday, April 14, 2007

Finding the Lessons in Richmond

Ok so I have to update the blog in the next ten minutes before I go to the next race just so I don't appear to be a fair-weather blogger: I raced horribly at Richmond, had no legs and raced dumb. I was very disappointed in myself. As a team we were pretty bad - we have a lot to work on and will improve, provided we learn from each experience. Other features: I-95 travel leaves something to be desired, we minimized climate impact by traveling five people in one station wagon (reminiscent of childhood carpools, except we are now all twice as big), I don't love women's races that are the side show of men's events, it was snowing at the line, and I really really need to get a jump. A bit more now one day later, in the spirit of learning from one's experiences: Hats off to Tina Pic and her teammates Iona Wynter and Andrea Dvorak, who controlled the race and took home the win. And to Heather Labance, who took 3rd which gives me hope but adds to my personal sense of missed opportunity. GOOD: 1. My teammate Robin rode like a superstar, well-positioned the whole time, alert, using her energy well. She finished 9th on the day in spite of all the work. 2. Hiroko can sprint! She finished 8th. 3. Everybody did her best, on a day when many of us were struggling. 4. On a personal note, I tried to help my teammates and did contribute to bringing back the break we missed. 5. Greg is so dialed in with information it's not even funny. 6. Jorge Romero helped us out again. He is such a positive and leveling influence on the team. COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: 1. As a team we need to establish a place at the front of the field, define it as our own and race and look out for each other from there. Instead, we basically had one person cover attacks until she died, then another person came to the front, instead of sharing the workload. 2. When the course turned out to be less-selective than previously thought, we needed to change our race plan from attack-attack-attack to covering but preparing for a bunch sprint. We made a lot of ineffectual attacks. 3. I did not think on the fly, assess the situation described in 3 and make a change. I should know how to do this. I didn't have good radio contact, but this isn't an excuse. It's next to impossible for any director to direct a race that's a 3-mile loop with no race caravan - the riders are going to need to make the call. 4. We needed to save our best sprinter (Robin or Kathleen on this day) for the finish. 5. I needed an 11-tooth cog for the downhill, given my compact crank. The ability to move up easily on downhills is an advantage I have since I am bigger than many other riders, and I should not throw this away. 6. Even though I felt awful, I should not have thrown my chances to the wind. If there is a finish that's made for me and my fitness right now - it's a long slow drag up a gradual hill and into a headwind. Instead I wasted energy attacking and thus wasn't there at the end. 7. We didn't help ourselves by traveling late the day before, arriving at 10:30 pm after a 9-hour drive for a 10:00am start. We all have stories of great races raced on no sleep, long drives, and ice cream for dinner but getting the details and logistics right does count for something. 8. We were all kind of bummed after the race, but instead of having a meeting and saying "here's what went well, here's what didn't" we had chaos: Nina in an ambulance, Robin in drug testing, the rest of us freezing and eager to shower. Good thing it's only April! We have our work cut out for us. Photos by Emory Ball.

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