Race Report: 2012 Army Hill Climb + 2/3 Crit

This weekend Army had several non-collegiate categories for their fantastic hill climb and crit (nothing for the circuit or TTT).

In the open hill climb I got crushed by Charlie Avis (Trek-LiveStrong), but I’m pretty ok with that. More importantly, various Drexel, UVM, and other riffraf were held at bay for 2nd/7. My time was still pretty low against the Men’s A results. I was 4 seconds behind my previous best time on the course. I’m still debating if that’s an “only 4s” or a “a disappointing 4s.”

On that note though, results from the past couple years (setting aside the year w/ a course change) bears out the theory that the very top of the conference has been fairly steady, but the talent pool has deepened. Men’s B has basically dropped 40s (on a 10–12 minute climb) from 5 years ago. The long standing, wide discontinuity between the top 5 Men A and that field has also steadily dissipated.

The Men 2/3 crit was to some extent a very spirited group ride, with only thirteen starters, but it was a pretty legitimate group—the green jersey (ECCC sprint points leader) and both the weekend’s Men’s A winners were all in there. Most of the guys were pretty game so there were plenty of attacks, but no one had the sustainable power to stick a break so it all rolled into a field sprint. I lost focus in the last lap and got pushed off the wheels of the clear contenders, so I rolled in right behind but just out of the front line sprint, for 6th. My head was not in a racing mindset going into the race, so my cornering until I could get settled was not efficient and definitely cost me. Ultimately though, I was pretty happy to be able to hang with those guys fairly easily on a solid crit course.

One general note is that a day like that can be kind of rough logistically; when to eat, staying warm, not getting sunburnt, and so on. My hill climb was at ~9:15 in the morning, and my crit not until ~5:30. Personally I find it can be easy to screw up eating either too much or too little on that kind of day, particularly if you’re running around and doing stuff like I am. A strategy I’ve developed is to continuously eat small amounts. I don’t particularly eat any set lunch, but every two hours or so have a PB sandwich, Clif bar, (soy) yogurt, or similar. That way I’m continually digesting everything and never wind up with an overfull stomach, but also stay fed.

Similarly, that’s a long day in general; we started setting up at ~6:45 and didn’t finish tear down until near 7. In this case there were also officiating and other problems that needed to be mitigated; I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to get away to do the crit until minutes beforehand, and was definitely not in the mood. That’s all pretty draining even without a morning race. To help deal with that as well as general fatigue, hard racing/riding the day before, etc., I’ve come to accept pre-race caffeine. I don’t drink any caffeine on a normal basis, so if I have a Dr Pepper or something, it has a notable effect. Red Bull or such has an almost unbelievable effect for a couple hours if your baseline is no coffee, and I confess to having a stock on hand for particularly dire days. I’m not convinced the effects of these aren’t mostly psychological, but whatever works, works, psychological or not. The zero baseline is probably critical to the efficacy of this though.