Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Candy is sweet and Martin just gave you some

Who was surprised last night that Martin Criminale attacked with one to go last night and held it to win? I wasn't because that's the best move on that course and because he's done it before. A lot. In fact, I was right there and kicking myself for not going with it. I had a lot of love left to give!

Now I know you guys have become accustomed to a snarky post that both hugs and smacks you. But, well, it was just a strange night and I don't think anyone really raced that great or that bad. It was kinda of subdued, starting with our decision not to attack at the start and instead attack on the 3rd lap. This had the net effect on us of getting cold and making it harder to attack later. So the good news is we are back to unrelenting aggression next week. The race is just too damn short.

Hard Candy
Rumor has it that, thanks to my previous accurate assessment ass-holish comments about Old Town's race tactics I should continue the practice of handing out hard candy to them. Sadly, they have managed to up their game just enough to avoid any Fail Whale awards, but aren't quite on it enough to really get credited for being good. So here are my, slightly longish comments that are neither funny but are serious and accurate. You can take them or leave them.

Our Team
First, the mission statement of the Keller Rohrback masters team is to improve the overall quality of Masters Races. As I've repeatedly mentioned we intentionally brought on guys who know how to ride first. We did not pursue riders if we felt their teams were good and that rider would weaken the team. The team is designed so that it takes a team to beat us (or a rider who knows how to ride off other teams) but we are beatable. Second, our primary goal for the season are the Cascadia Crits. Ultimately everything else is training race and we are willing to take risks and fail if it makes us stronger. Third, we want to set the tone for each race we are in and that tone is aggression and suffering. We'd rather lose a hard race than win an easy one. Finally, bicycle racing is hard and the Masters riders all have lives. I know that several riders have started accusing us of sandbagging (and I don't mean the Jamie/Ian controversy) but that's an excuse. I average 5 hours a week of training including racing. The difference is that we are organized, coordinate the races we show up to, ride smart and are selfless.

So that's the background. My comments are made with the hope that perhaps, just perhaps, it will positively impact the way guys ride. I doubt it and ultimatily we aren't going to lose any sleep over it. We're busy winning races.

The critique
Old Town has several riders and the numbers to be a factor in Master A races such as PR. However, it also has a couple issues that prevent it from being good.

The first and formost there are a lot of alpha males who are too busy competing with each other rather than trying to win the bike race. This leads to team riders chasing each other down. I must point out that OTB does this repeatedly and often. My suspicion is that because of the Alpha-qualities, these rider's egos won't let them take the risk of trying to win and failing. They'd rather target riders they know and beat them because it's achievable.

Further, the team as a whole does not take advice very well. In many of the conversations I've had with riders one-on-one I've gotten a lot of "that's not how racing works" or "what do you know".

Which leads into my other critique: the riders on the team are so focused on the guys they know on the team they really have no f*&^ing idea who the other riders in the race are. This means that the stronger OTB riders are constantly out of position, missing moves and not considering that maybe, just maybe, the guy giving them advise may know what he's taking about.

Here's some examples:
1. Did you know I was going to attack with three to go? You should have. I've done it every single time down the escape route the last two years.
2. Did you know Martin was going to attack with two to go? You should have. It's a great move and he's done this pretty consistently over the years too. And he's won doing it more than once.
3. Did you know that, had the group been together, there would have been an attack the last time up? There would have been.
4. Pushing into line ahead of the aggresive riders. I've seen the stronger OTB guys do this repeatedly: basically when our train is setting up or when we are going up a hill the riders start trying to move up and often push in front of us. Pro-tip: You want to be behind us. In the leadout train you want to draft behind our sprinter. On the hill you want to go with our attack,
5. Chasing all the time: I'll give OTB credit for chasing well. But how many times has an OTB rider actually been in a break? Why wasn't anyone there when I attacked last night? Or when Martin attacked? We just flat out missed Martin when he attacked. But we knew it needed covering.

Here are a few tactical suggestions. Feel free to ignore them. After all, I just, you know, raced NRC for a year, DS'd NRC two years, ran a team that racked up something like 15 National Championships and helped three riders go pro. So obviously I am not the best source of advice. But you know, I try.

If you really need to prove your dick is bigger than the other guys on your team, try seeing who can attack the most. It'll get you in the breaks more and it'll make you faster.

Pay attention to who the good riders are. You know, observe how they ride and learn.

Ride with a goal, even if the goal isn't to win the race. Then commit to the goal.

Don't let a couple riders who go rogue disrupt the race, but the strong riders have to lead.

If, after all that, OTB wants to ride the race against each other rather than race the race then don't get upset when others point it out.


At Wednesday, April 27, 2011 12:20:00 PM, Blogger sprint king said...

Im 42, got 2 kids in the need attention age,20 lbs overweight and a full time job. Masters catagory was created for a guy like me. However if im winning PR or any other masters race I must be SandBagging. Whatever...If all of us sandbaggers left then someone else would be winning and then ofcourse Sand Bagging...

At Wednesday, April 27, 2011 1:53:00 PM, Blogger P-Dog said...

Well, you know, the sandbagging accusation often boils down to "he's faster than me". Which itself is often code for "I am lazy and don't want to ride smart". The reality is if we're in a race you won't even be in the top 5 if your ride stupid.

Also this is really the last I am going to say about OTB. I know that there are a lot of connections to the team out there and as a result many of the good riders want OTB to be better than it is. But at the end of the day there are 4-5 good Masters Teams this year and OTB is gonna be what those guys want it to be.

At Wednesday, April 27, 2011 3:13:00 PM, Blogger Martin Criminale said...

Ride with a goal. Be selfless. It's amazing what you can accomplish with these two things. I agree.

At Wednesday, April 27, 2011 3:58:00 PM, Anonymous robV said...

Whats with OTB? They do the same things in the 1/2/3s. More or less, is it training for them? And for what purpose? Are they thinking out there, individually or as a team??

anyway, i digress...well said martin.

At Wednesday, April 27, 2011 4:05:00 PM, Blogger P-Dog said...

I asked one of their 2's that very questions and he was pretty blunt that he only cared about beating his buddy (also OTB). So as far as I can tell they'd rather finish 54th if they are the first OTB rider to finish than try to actually win a bike race.

At Wednesday, April 27, 2011 9:17:00 PM, Blogger Andrew F Martin said...

When you play golf, do you only play to get the best score of all players on the course? If it's a real competition maybe, but for a practice round there's plenty of screwing off.

It's pretty common for us to race "dumb" on Tuesdays since winning the tuesday night world championship is not the ultimate goal. Sure we get results by racing as a team, but we've certainly cost ourselves some results by racing as friends that have each others objectives in mind.

At Friday, April 29, 2011 10:13:00 AM, Anonymous OMG IAN! said...

"Mission statement?" That is so so effing lame. Did you guys have a committee draw it up or was there some outside consultant? You so sadly disappoint one fifth of your readership, not only with your tales of LOSING, but with your corporate bullshit.

At Friday, April 29, 2011 10:22:00 AM, Blogger P-Dog said...

Don't you have a appointment with your hair stylist you're supposed to be at? Damn kids always getting into my bolglawn.


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