Tuesday, June 29, 2010

When the time is right, GO!

Road cycle racing is pretty unique. There's things you do and things you don't do. One of those things is don't go where you shouldn't go. Meaning, there's a pecking order. I'm not the speediest of gents right now so I spent most of the weekend walking the fine line between getting in the way and maintaining my position. I was able to hold a top ten position in the field on both days at the ToKC. This has two benefits. One, you don't waist a bunch of energy yo-yo-ing at the back of the bunch and two, you can take notes on tactics.

Twice I ended up on the wrong side of Steve Tilford as he blocked for teammates. By the time I figured out what he was doing I was at the back of the bunch sprinting out of every corner to maintain position. Luckily I've never had a problem nudging my way up the inside of a corner to make up positions. Tilly has a pretty unique technique, one I'd not seen before, but it works brilliantly.

I see a ton of talented yound riders waste a lot of energy. You see, road racing is a test in energy management. And to win at that game, you have to train for it. You have to know when to conserve and when it matters to go hard. As my buddy Nate always says "I'm always good for the bare minimum, it's the least I can do". Pretty good words to live by in road races. If you're going hard when it doesn't matter, you're going to lose. One of the harder points to learn is the who's who. Who's got the legs and who doesn't. If a guy is strong you don't want to give him much room when he jumps. If the guy is not so strong, maybe you can ease up a bit on the pedals and use the terrain or a rider with less savvy to tow you up to him. These were all methods I had to employ this weekend. I wasn't strong enough to do much but sit in this weekend but with good positioning I was able to make it work and even be a little aggressive in very limited quantities. In the end I was able to contest the sprint for a cash placing. It worked out for me on Saturday, not so much on Sunday.

There's basically one road race left for me this year, the state road championships. That'll give me five races on the tarmac, more than I've done on dirt this year. It's been a fun return to the road and I'm looking forward to the 70 mile circuit race. From what I hear, the course will be pretty cool in reverse this year. I should probably go check it out.

Photo Credit: Alex Edwards


brady said...

Dude, that photo is going to give me nightmares

bryan said...

That's a painful wheel to follow.

MOD 2.0 said...

Yeah when I saw Nick Coil Jump with Spence on his wheel I thought, "this one might go". It didn't, and it was partially my fault because I just didn't have the legs to push as hard as we needed. Nick is a monster.

RF said...

Very respectable performance in a stacked field. And good advice as well. Very curious about Tilford's technique. to quote McGrath "that guy has probably forgotten about more races than you or I will ever enter." I think McGrath actually said that first about you, MOD.

Rad-Renner said...

way to represent, Mark & Chris!; from what I've heard. Tilford is a nice guy off the bike; on the bike, not so much. I don't know anybody like that myself.

MOD 2.0 said...

Tilford's how you have to be on the bike, otherwise you get pushed around. I had my share of bumping elbows in the race, you always have to fight for your position, or you'll lose it. And on the last lap, it's all about position.

Tilford's technique was sweet, he'd just slowly drift to the back, forcing everyone to accelerate around him, problem was, I was behind him and guys were passing him on both sides so I couldn't get around.

It sure was fun racing down there. bummed I'm missing Lawrence.

MOD 2.0 said...

I will say this too, Tilford is rock solid to race with. I totally loved racing with that guy again.

CD said...

I did plenty of road events with Tilford over the years. The guy has more tricks and techniques up his sleeve than anyone I've seen, some good, some bad.

Once I was in a break with him and one other guy in a crit in Columbia, MO. He refused to take a pull, claiming he didn't feel good. Next thing I know, he is gone from the break. As we passed the wheel pit, there he is re-wrapping his bar tape. We must have gone around two or three times before the official put him back into the break with us (new meaning to free lap, I guess). We asked him what happened, and he said he went down, even though we heard nothing, and, honestly, guys with his handling skills do not crash on their own (though I have seen Scott Moninger crash on his own while off the front solo at the Tour of KC). Once Steve got his multi-lap breather, he started taking pulls, but we ended up getting caught anyway. After the race, a teammate who raced earlier who was spectating on the back side of the course said he saw Steve pull the plug (no pun intended) out of his handlebar and unravel his bar tape while sitting up an letting me and the other guy roll away.

Nobody really intimidates Tilford. I actually think he thrives at bigger events with top-shelf talent. But the one guy who could always get under Tilford's skin at any race was Wichita's Alan Craddock. That was even when Steve was a fixture on the national scene. Alan always (well, usually) found a way to beat him. As smart a racer as Steve is, Alan was a notch or two higher in the race smarts.

It's interesting to me how Steve seems to be unsure as to why his form this year is not up to par. I just wonder if Steve has yet come to terms with reality. He is nearly 51 years old. There will be a day when he can no longer hang, and it is probably not that distant. Don't get me wrong - the guy is an ageless wonder. Reading his blog, though, age is the one factor he never mentions when trying to figure out why form isn't quite there. Just an observation, not a criticism.