Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mountain Bike Mike's Multisport Weekend #1

This weekend was a very busy one for bike racing. First, we drove south to Brooksville so that I could race in the Brooksville Cycling Classic Criterium. It was my first time doing a crit, and I was excited.

The start was kind of confusing for me. There was a pace car that led us out, and we didn't start out all that fast, but somehow I got boxed in after the first turn and was stuck at the very back for a while. At the first opportunity, I got to the outside and made my way up to the lead group of riders. I finished the first lap in the middle of that group.

By the end of the second lap, our group had shrunk down to 5 of us. I just kind of laid low and hung on the back of all these bigger, older guys. At one point, they caught me off guard when they attacked and it took me about half a lap to catch back up, but I wasn't worried. They rode really slow up the brick road hill, so I knew I'd catch them there.

At the half-way point, we had dropped one more rider and the four of us continued together for another 3 laps or so. With two laps to go, a couple more guys caught our group on the climbing road. Let me just say, I had to keep reminding myself what my race strategy was supposed to be, because it was driving me crazy that we were only doing 9 mph on that road climb, which allowed the other guys to catch us. It's not in my nature to sit back, follow, and go slow, but somehow I did it. 
Finally, the official rang the bell for the last lap and things started to pick up a little. My coach, Winston, had given me advice on where to be and when to attack on the last lap. Well, I kind of messed up and found myself in the wrong position when the time came. I probably attacked a little too soon also, which allowed the more experienced guys to get around me going into the final turn. It turned out ok though, because I was the only one in my age group to finish with the lead guys, and I ended up winning my first crit, which was pretty cool.
We left Brooksville after awards and then drove home, switched bikes, grabbed food and our friend Dave, and headed north to Alachua to pre-ride the course for Sunday's FSC race.
Sunday morning, we got to San Felasco early to set up and get ready for the day's races. The weather was nice and cool and I was feeling pretty pumped up to race. I got a pretty crummy start off the line because I had trouble clipping in again (gotta figure that problem out before next week) and at one point, I was in about 7th position. The first stretch of the course is a big, long grassy climb before you get to the woods. By the time we got to the single-track, I had worked myself up to the lead, and I held it, until I heard gears shifting behind me, but by the time I could react, Troy had gotten around me. I wasn't too worried though because I knew it was a long race and I was content to ride his wheel, while Sam, who was in third, rode mine.

All of a sudden (and for about the 100th time lately), my chain popped off. I tried to baby it back onto the ring, like I've done lots of times, but this time it got knotted up really bad, and just like that, I was out of the race. It was extremely disappointing!!
Soooo.... no podium for me this time, but congratulations go out to Troy (1st), Sam (2nd), Jordan (3rd), Ethan A. (4th) and Morgan (5th) for a great race. See you guys next week at Markham Park!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mountain Bike Mike Gets Coached

Not too long ago, I got invited to be coached by Winston David, a pro road racer. I wasn't really sure if it was something I'd want to do, because my dad has always been my coach and other successful adults in the cycling community have often given me great advice on how to improve in different areas. Also, I never really had a training "program".  Mostly I just rode my bike and would practice different skills whenever I (or my dad) noticed that I needed it.

Well, I decided it was worth a try, because I might learn some new things that my dad didn't even know. I'm glad I did. Winston lives in South Carolina, so for the first couple of weeks, he would just send stuff to my dad and we would go out and do it. This past week, though, Winston came down to visit family and went out on an individual training ride with me after school. My dad went along too, which was good, because Winston and I are both very shy, and my dad kind of served as the go-between at first. I soon found out that Winston's a really nice guy, but boy, did he work me! Now I don't have any doubts that training with him will make me a stronger racer and rider.

Winston has also agreed to provide some expert training advice for Junior Cyclist Magazine, the new online magazine that my mom is putting out, so look for his column in there.