Type 1 Cycling

Type 1 Cycling

Saturday, January 9, 2016

All the best laid plans... (Season opener - Urim race 2016)

It was a race of mixed emotions for me.  Last year I raced this same race in the same category and came second in the age group category.  I was mostly happy with that.  The year before I was dropped after the first lap and had to ride 60km in the wind by myself. Today was windier than last year and the was a really big peloton, add to that the rain.  It didn't actually rain during the race but did the course was we, lots of puddles, standing water and greasy roads.  I was nervous and I think I was not the only one.  I knew that I had to stay alert, watching other riders closely.  I had to think about position and rely on my team mates trying to keep me save.

The TL;DR version of this post is that I came, I raced, I tried to get away in a break, I failed, I sprinted at the finish and got 3rd in my age category.  I was extremely disappointed with the result.
All the pictures are here

I was told by my wife after the race "You have never been happy with any result you have achieved no matter what the result."  So maybe I should look for some positives in this race.  The last race I did was the end of last season, in June the national championships.  I had a horrible time with very high blood sugar before the race.  I may have been fatigued too.  Either way the race did not go as well as it should have.  I was in good condition. I had worked hard, and too much glucose in my blood stream had made every pedal stroke an effort.  I was very unhappy, how did I get my control so wrong.

So I planned ahead.  No carb loading the night before.  It gives me high blood sugar all night and high blood sugar in the morning.  I had my Dexcom sensor on from the Wednesday night so I could keep track of what was going on.  Thursday day I was mostly low carb and stayed stable.  Thursday night we had pasta and plenty of insulin.  The goal was to increase glycogen levels.  I ended up havine a very high night and early morning.  I corrected when I work up, but at least I wasn't waking up like that on race day.  Friday I took it easy, no training, just some strethcing.  Friday night I ate only a small amount of carbs and some protein.  I got the insulin blanace right and woke up, at 430am, on race day with my BG levels just above 100.  Could not really ask for better.

Now came decision time, with 3 hours to the race I could take some insulin and not worry about how it would effect me during the race.  I took a couple of units and had some toast and a yoghurt.  I needed something to take the edge of the hunger and some extra fuel for the race.  I drank several gallons of coffee on the way to the start and some water.  Checking my Dexcom the whole time I found that my BGs were only going up slowly.  I got setup once I arrive, had a small sandwhich and started my warmup.  Again not wanting to burn all my fuel before the start.  I checked my BGs, everything stable, although slightly on the rise.

I have come to expect these pre race rises.  A warm up that is a bit too intense, the excitement and adrenaline all add up to high blood sugar.  The only way to combat it is to take even more insulin but that leads to far worse problems during the race.  So I was on the up but nothing drastic, still a sideways arrow telling me that I wasn't rising too fast.

Throughout the race I paid attention to my Dexcom for the first couple of laps it stayed high, when it finally started to come down with a diagonal down arrow I was able to take on a gel.  Other than that, I just drank wanter with electolytes and I was fine the whole race.  Finishing with BGs in an acceptable range.  This is a huge positive from the race.  Not something I get right every time and can really make or break me.
I woke up fine, I had something small to eat, coupled with the pre race adrenaline I saw a rise, but not a sharp one. Most of the race I was a little higher than I would like. The small amount of insuliin taken at 430am now mostly gone from the system allowing glucagon to do its job and release sugar from the stores. Again intensity and adrenaline pushing sugars higher. Once they dipped below 170 with a diagonal down arrow, I had a gel. This was during the last lap while I was on a break, I need to keep my energy level high. Post race there was a high, mostly due to eating a cookie and a sandwich to recover, but also as a response to the stress. A corrective dose followed by some lunch sorted me out for most of the rest of the day.

Why was I so upset with the result?

We had a team plan and I had a personal plan.  Either one involved working together and winnning.  The team plan was to have 2 guys protect myself and another rider so that I could lead him out for a sprint finish. He got cramp after one lap and dropped out, another rider got dropped from the peloton.  That left me reverting to my personal plan, get in a break and stay away to the finish and go for it in the sprint from the small group.

The problem was that a break went early and we never managed to bring them back.  My teammate said I should go after them if I had the power to get over.  I didnt think they would stay away the whole day, as they went in the first lap.  The final two guys that were not realed in finished with a gap of 1min over the peloton. I had tried to chase them down with just one other guy. It didnt work and I think that may have cost me some positioning on the final sprint.  My chase was interesting, a strong guy went off the front and started to pull away.  A couple of guys made vague attempt to catch but pulled off leaving me on the front.  I had to gauge my effort, this was the second of three laps and I didnt want to expend all my energy pulling the peloton up to this guy. I pushed a bit harder and monitored my heart rate. I spun the pedals nice and smoothly and looked round to see a big gap on the group.  I continued and checked if I Was gaining on this chasing rider.  I was stuck in no mans land and I had to make a call. Chase him down and try to work together to do something, or fall back to the group.  My plan was to be in a break, and given the wet conditions it was the safer place to be.  So I went for it.  I pushed really hard but felt good.  My heart rate climbed, my legs burned but I was gaining on him and distancing the peloton.  I thought maybe if I could catch him and we could continue on we might just do something.

Once I had caught him there were two of us.  We decided to do one minute each on teh front.  We wored well together and caught a rider dropping back from the break.  He stayed with us but refused to work, so there were just two of us working to say away from the peloton.  We crossed the start finish line to start the final lap and turned the corner.  We continued to push on into the headwind.  I looked down at my garmin and saw that our speed had dropped from 40kmph to just over 30.  Soon the peloton was upon us and we were done.  I stayed in the group from there until the end of the race.
You should be able to spot the bit where I was along on working with just one other guy. Its the bit where I never stop pedalling

I still dont know if it was a mistake, rather a good attempt at the right time that was just unluckly or a foolish thing to do that lasted too long and wore me out.  What ever the case it meant that I didn't quite have the legs for the sprint and maybe if I had stayed protected that little bit longer I could have done a bit more.  The guys in my age group were only just infront of me.  One more kick and I could have got round.

When it came to the sprint I found myself in the wrong train.  I had latched on to the pointy head of the group and they were picking up speed. I was accelerating with them but I looked to my left and there was  faster train coming round us.  I saw the 500m to go and looked for a wheel to latch onto. I saw my rivals and went for it even though I could see there were many people ahead and we would have no chance at overall positioning. The disappointment had already set in and I think I may have stopped pushing so hard.  I followed them guys in front of me in and went to catch up with my team mates.

Silver linings?

So it didnt work out.  What positvies can I take from this race.  Firstly I had a plan, and with some margin of error I executed it. I didnt go when I wanted to, but I did give a good shot.  I worked well with someone else and looking at the analysis I pushed hard for a long time which is really satisfying.  I feel that I could have push harder in the sprint.  Just squeezed that bit more.  This is something I have learned from this race that I may need to work on.  Having said that, looking that the final segments of the race on Strava I see that I been my previous PRs, which means I was faster than last year.  Thats an improvement and means that fron a physical point of view I did what I should have.

I also read the race well, opting for a safter place to sit rather than behind my team mate, and narrowly avoiding a crash seconds later. My plan, I believe, was a good plan and I like that was able to create it and be confident in it, despite it not working out.  I am reading a book called 'Domestique' by a British cyclish called Charly Wegelius.  While he was riding for Mapei his manageer Damaiano would ask the riders questions like 'What are you doing?'  He expected the answer every time to be 'To win.'  Today I came to win, and I didn't.  Yes I got a podium, but not the one I wanted.  It made me unhappy.  But I rode a good race.  I finished high up the peloton and I gave what I could.  I should be happy with that

... but I am not.  I will work harder and next race I will come back stronger.


  1. Sounds like you made the right decision to push and catch the rider in front of you. I had a similar choice to make, and wussed out instead of going after the break (almost certainly would have been able to bridge). What might have helped? Call out for the guy in front of you to wait! Chances are he'll hear you and be happy for the company.

  2. I think he saw me catching him and may have slowed when I got near. He was very receptive to working together so maybe calling out to him earlier would have worked. I think given the head wind it was doomed. It really stopped us dead. When the break went and was not far down the road on the last 3rd of the first lap I could have tried to get over. I might have done it but I am not sure I could have held on the whole way. I definitely should have given it a go.

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