Training Race Taxonomy

We race an absurd number of miles on the Tuesday night Westlake course each year. As I recall, someone once calculated that it’s in the neighborhood of 1000 miles for the ‘A’ race. After so many times going ’round and ’round on that course, I’ve realized there are a number of archetypal races that you can count on every year:

The “Fast Race Before Downer’s Grove”. That’s covered here.

The “Small Field With Mostly Fast Guys and Nowhere to Hide” race. Often happens early or late in the season. There is no sitting in for this race. A suffer-fest.

The “Everyone’s Fast Enough to Chase” race. Happens mid-season, where the fitness has equalized a bit. Or the Zipp demo night where everyone has fast wheels. High average speed, and sure to end in a field sprint.

The “We All Know Paul Martin Will Win Tonight” race. That’s, oh, about 95% of the times he shows up.

The “Tailwind on the Backside” race. This is when there is a strong tailwind on the back side of the course — the windiest part. 30+mph on this section is then a normal lap. Someone always wants to drill it through this section while looking down at their speedometer. Then they can say afterward, “yeah, I was taking this 31mph pull, and …”. Often results in very high average speed.

Then there is what I think is the hardest of all: the “Cross-Headwind on the Backside” race. This is when the wind is coming strong off Lake Erie, which is a mile or so away. You can’t just follow a wheel and get a draft. There is always some SOB who will put the field in the gutter to break up the race. Hmm …

Not being one of the bigger guys, I get blown around a bit in the wind. But I like these hard races. You have to pay attention all the time, because once someone opens a gap in the cross-wind, it’s hard to close it. I always marvel at how the bigger guys can ride through the wind, take sips from their bottles, while I’m just trying to keep from getting blown into someone else.

Last night (Aug 26) was one of these nights. The wind was strong, the field was strung out in the gutter, and the gaps opened up. A group got away, and everyone suffered. These are the races where, at some point, you just want it to be over.

It also could have been a “We All Know Paul Martin Will Win”. Except somehow he didn’t, as RGF’s Andy Moskal took the tailwind sprint from a group of 3 (that was me, “last in the breakaway”).

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Training Race Taxonomy

  1. From your description of last night, I’m REALLY glad that I skipped out on WL. At Valley City I learned all too well that it stinks when you run out of road at the back of the echelon (I ended up getting dropped this way on the final lap). Add to that my quads are still torn up from trying to keep up with Ray at the JCB Bi. It feels good to hurt during races, particularly TT and CX, but when you’re really fighting the wind it seems to really put a mental hurt on as well.

  2. Bob Martin

    That lap cards couldn’t fall fast enough last night. I wanted the race to be over with 8 to go when Paul split the group half. That was the hardest 8 laps at Westlake this year for me with my heart rate pegged @ 185 and above. Needless to say Rudy took the sprint for 4th quite easily.

  3. Brian

    I wanted it to be over with 5 to go, when Andy had to ask out loud, how many more laps do we have? Up until then I was trying not to think about it.

    It was only 5 laps, but I was thinking … damn, that’s still 10 more miles.

    I was groveling for any break from the wind, while Paul appeared to be out for a Sunday ride.

  4. Tom H.

    I’d like to add a race to the category that Brian is too modest to add himself. That race is the “Brian Decides to Attack Relentlessly Until the Race Splits” race. There is no single breakaway. Instead, this race is a constant series of attacks coming from all directions and from as many riders as will take a chance. I usually lose the ability of coherent thought about halfway through this race.

  5. Brian

    Ha! I think losing the ability of coherent thought is what keeps the madness going in some of those races. The attacks seem to keep building further momentum until only the craziest are left.

    One of the things I like about Westlake is going out to race without any care for whether I finish ‘in the money’ or not. That’s when you can really push it to the edge, to see how far you can go before you crack.

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