Saturday, July 4, 2009

Joe Matava Memorial Criterium 2009

Now that I've been looking at the WSBA race calendar, the 34th Annual Joe Matava Memorial Classic criterium had been on my radar for a while. Down in Burien, Wa, it was only about 20 km (12 mi) away from Capitol Hill. It didn't conflict with any brevets or other rides, so how could I turn it down?

It would be another race that would count towards the upgrade to Category 4, which would give me two total. Just need 10 to get to 4.. Then just 10 top 10 results to get to Category 3. I'd like to do that by the end of next year, but not sure if there are enough local races (or if I have enough skill) to do so. Well that's the plan anyway.

On Friday I stopped by REI to check out some new shoes/cleats/pedals, as I think the current SPDs I'm using are finally starting to hold back my racing. Or maybe they always have been, and I haven't noticed it. It's not that I pull my shoe out of the pedal, just that the cleat starts to give/move at about 800 watts.. Meaning the power transfer just isn't that great. I used to ride Speedplays, and I think it's time to switch the Ciocc back to something more efficient. The tradeoff is less walkability, but I can live with that.

Didn't end up picking out any shoes, but it's something I want to change soon. Another race on SPDs...

Ride To The Ride

It was the perfect day for a ride, clear and 75 degrees or so when I headed out at 6:15. The race started at 8 AM, and I was happy it was early so it wouldn't be too hot yet. Only 20km to the start so it was a good warm-up. I took Delridge all the way down to where it turns into Ambaum, and then just kept going until I hit 153rd. Traffic was really light and it wasn't as bad of a route as I thought it might be.

At around 153rd the road was blocked off in "downtown" Burien, and from there it was easy to find the sign-up table (day-of registration only). After signing up I stashed my frame pump, arm warmers, rear light, and extra water bottle in some bushes on a side street. I figured nobody would really notice the stuff if they weren't looking for it, and even if they saw the stuff would they really take it? Luckily nobody took my stuff.

The Course

I got a chance to take a few warm-up laps, which was nice since it was an opportunity to see the course from the bike, and more importantly the turns. From the start line the course was on a slight downhill, turning left at 90-degrees, over a brick crosswalk, go a few meters and turn left again, onto the back straight.

The back straight was a slight uphill, maybe at 2-3%. A narrow-ish section only maybe 10m across. After the crest you took two more quick lefts, and headed down the main straight, with a roughly 200-meter downhill sprint to the finish line. A great setup for a race!

The course was a lot like Ballard, 4 90-degree corners in a rectangle - but unlike Ballard, it was smooth pavement all the way around, and it was on more of a hill, though a slight one. And although it was smooth, there was a lot of stuff in the road like reflectors and manhole covers. The reflectors seemed really new, with high hard edges, not yet worn down by traffic. In a turn if you hit one just wrong you could easily go down due to it.. I never did though.

After a few warm-up laps I realized I had my rental number pinned on the wrong side, as the judges' camera was on the left and my number was pinned on the right. With 15 minutes to go I had plenty of time to switch it, but it's one of those thing I didn't want to change since I had it "dialed in" pretty well. After the switch I had just enough time to line up, on the front line on the way left of the pack.

The race official went throuh and inspected our numbers, and gave the pre-race announcement. Four primes, 30 minutes of racing. 55 entrants he said, for this Category 4/5 field. Soon he said "race starts in 30 seconds," and there was a silent countdown on.

The Race

"Race starts in 10 seconds" and I just wanted it to start.. Whistle blew and we were off, I hit my max 10-second power of the whole race just in the initial surge, which in a race like this is a serious one. Everyone wants to be up front, and if you start out in back and try to work your way up, it takes more energy than just sprinting there in the first place.

We were off and I was excited to be doing a different race than Seward, and especially one that actually "counted." We were going fast of course, but I felt comfortable and was in about 10th wheel for quite a while. I had no real intention of getting on the front, or even off the front - the plan was just to "sit in" and see what happened for the field sprint at the end.

The first prime lap came up, and a familiar face from Seward, Mark, was moving up front just before the last two turns. He's a really good sprinter, and I was tempted to challenge him but didnt want to be spent too early, it was only 5 minutes in or so. Mark won the sprint, edging out another guy at the last second he said.

There were a few more primes, and I just held on for the surges in speed, and watched the sprints. The pack would string out on the main stretch, never really grouping up as much as I'd like to easily stay out of the wind. On the back stretch, we'd bunch up a little more since it was uphill, but it was also tighter there.

After about 22 minutes of racing they turned off the clock and switched to a lap counter, 5 to go. It actually went really quick, and I'm starting to find I wish the races were a bit longer. I think seeing that switch makes the pack speed up a little, and everyone of course wants to start moving up. I too wanted to be up front, just not all the way up there.

On the 2nd to last lap or so, heading for the first turn, I heard that "plastic/metal scraping on pavement" sound and two riders went down. When it happens I feel bad for them, but can't lose focus on the task at hand and just have to keep going. I've been lucky in my 12-race history that I haven't crashed yet, but I know it will happen eventually.

In fact on the last lap I ever-so-slightly struck a pedal on the ground in the 2nd turn.. it was enough I could feel it, but luckily not enough to bounce me or make me skid out. Guess I was lucky, as I'd been somewhat pedaling through the turns all day to make up positions or keep mine.

On the 2nd to last corner on the last lap I'm in good position, probably top 10. Guy in front of me touches a wheel and drifts sideways, but somehow he stayed upright! I had to brake slightly to avoid hitting him as he slowed, and that slight braking going into the last turn of course cost me some spots I'm sure.

We came around the final turn, and I emptied what little I had left in the tank, but it wasn't much. I don't think I really geared up enough to put much into the sprint.. Even so, I ended up 11th! I'm really happy with that, given many of the riders in the field were Category 4 (more experienced).

Now I just need to work on that final sprint, and when I might be able to report a "w" one of these days.. Still, it was more good training, practice, and experience.


Entire workout (254 watts):
Duration: 29:00
Work: 441 kJ
TSS: 50.3 (intensity factor 1.02)
Norm Power: 291
VI: 1.15
Distance: 20.524 km
Elevation Gain: 245 m
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 927 254 watts
Heart Rate: 126 192 177 bpm
Cadence: 15 119 84 rpm
Speed: 0 62 42.3 kph
Crank Torque: 0 199.5 27.2 N-m

If anything I think this data shows I didn't really sprint all that well (only 119 max rpm), and that I probably need to raise my FTP-estimate (currently at 285 watts). And the fact that the max 10-seconds was at the beginning of the race, I'd rather that be at the end.

The data also shows that this was a faster race than Ballard (40.1 km/h), we averaged 42.3 km/h (~ 26 mph) for this race! My fastest ride on a bicycle, ever. And the funny thing is the Cat 1/2's are definitely going faster than that.

Next weekend is the Redmond Derby Days Crit (I'm somehow not doing STP this year), so that will be another big one. And the weekend after that there's either the S2S or a two-day "stage" race in Bellingham (Juniors/Masters Omnium State Championships).. oh decisions decisions.

And on the 25th is a 200k brevet, another series is starting up. I've got a lot of riding to do!


HidaYanra said...

Hey- nice report!
Congrats on staying up with the pedal strike, and keeping your solid results going in a "real" crit.
8 more to go, if you go down and race Kent a few times this year you can easily get up to 4 this season.

Best of luck at the races- I probably won't be out at Seward Park again this season, but I'm sure I'll see you around at some point.

Dessa said...

Upgrade to 4. They count all mass starts including Seward and PRW for 5->4 upgrade, since it is experience based.
Be careful with normalized power. I would not use NP from 30 minute crit as any FTP estimation. There was some discussion about NP on Google/Wattage. I think people saw more than 20% overestimation.

jordan said...

Good work on saturday and what a nice documentation of the race you have created.. VERY exciting stuff! Well it sounds like you don't have to wait to upgrade to the 4's Congrats! BTW I have a few pics with you in them, I will find a way to get them to you if you would like.
see you thursday!

matt m said...

Thanks, guys!

Hida, I hope you make it out to some more races this year. Is your bike still F'ed up?

Dessa, I think I will apply for the upgrade soon. Even though here WSBA says Seward doesn't count for upgrade, but like you say maybe that's just for moving to Cat 3 and below. I guess the worst that can happen is they'll say "no".

As for the FTP estimate, I think you're right that NP isn't the one to base it from. But either way I think my FTP has risen lately, as the IF's are getting closer (or above) 1.0 more and more lately. So maybe the estimate was a little high before, and now it's correct.

Jordan, it was great to race & hang out with you on Saturday! Nice job on finishing in one piece too, it was a fast/tough crit.