PIR last night was unenjoyable. Partly I am just tired from racing the three crits (Seward, Ballard & Boat). That's the most racing I've done in that short a time in several years. So I was already off my best, which is way of my old best by a long shot.
And then there was the course change because it started raining; I am all for going down the escape route. The problem is we were heading out for 1:20 and raced the first 40 on the flats. There were a lot of attacks, which was good! There were also a lot of wierd splits were the field just came apart. Not sure what that was about.
Then the rain hit and a split happened with 20 to go and, as I tried to bridge, I saw my kid in the rain cheering and decided to pack. Just not in the mood.
A couple notes since I had some words for a couple guys in the race regarding the appropriate use of blocking techniques:
1. Blocking by slowing down: I am specifically talking about times when the pace is high and the field is together. A rider with a teammate farther up will intentionally slow way down allowing a gap to form. I see this mostly at PR and assume it's mostly Cat 3 guys who do this. This isn't productive for your; if the guys up front are not opening a gap on their own then the gap you just created will get shut down quickly. On the otherhand, it will annoy guys who have to close the gap. If you do it enough guys will start fighting you for wheels because they don't want to be behind you.
2. Blocking by getting in the chase and slowing down when a break is up the road: This is pretty self explanatory. There isn't really anything wrong with it. Just keep in mind that if you are going to disrupt the chase you need to understand that the chasers have everyright to keep you out of the paceline. Last night one of the Bikesale guys did this and tried to swing in front of me in the line. I pushed him off and he got upset. I would rather not push people at PR (and, I should have used my shoulder, not my hand, that was my bad) but that's the deal if you want to pull out that tactic.
Obviously there are times when we all pull one of these tactics somewhat unintentionally. I've been in a strung out group where the pace went way up and I've let a gap open. It wasn't a tactical decision, it was passive. And I've found myself in the chase not wanting to help (the best thing to do is just roll through and off quickly then try to sit in at the back of the chase). Grey stuff happens.
Contrary to the impression a lot of people may have, I don't actually get into it with guys very often during races. However, when I do I try to be firm and clear as to why my ..er.. suggestion is a better approach to racing. I know at least one top local rider who is quite chatty and telling people what to do but mostly it's crap instructions: he yells at you to hold your line because he wants the line; not because you are taking a bad line. He will yell at you to chase because he wants to be able to st on your wheel, not because it makes sense to chase.
I think riders also need to ask themselves what they hope to accomplish. Or as Ron might say, what's yoru endgame? Will either of these tactics work? I haven't seen it happen at PR. And do we want the racing to go negative? I don't and frankly it would benefit me since I am a break away rider and am happy to just get in moves knowing it will be blocked from behind.
And tactically, the most effective way to block for your riders when a chase is going on is to attack up the side to draw riders out of the paceline and then not drive through.