Rough Rides at RATL with Ry and Rae

Team Mandalore’s RATL #4 lineup was Ryan (mens 4, masters) and Rae (womens 4)… The first hot day of the year brought smiles and dehydration to all. The team donated prizes to the juniors racers prime laps, which was probably the highlight of a day that went pretty rough for our crit racing friends. First, a few notes on juniors prizes, then a report from the Mandos.

The local juniors race usually splits into 2 distinct groups – the teenagers (fast!) and the under 12’s (doing their best!) so we opted to donate $10 in prizes and split it two ways. Both groups got stickers and patches from us and we included a $10 note for the older kids and a box of 50 Dunkin Donuts donut holes for the younger kids. Did you know you can get FIFTY DONUT HOLES FOR $9.79? Now you do. It’s true that one junior complained she would rather have $10 worth of hummus (Rae’s response: you need to put that request in before you are on the start line) and many of the kids stopped by the possum van to say “thanks!” Kids deserve good stuff- that’s a primary function of our team.

Next up, a recap from Ryan:
So RaTL Week 4 was easily the best weather of the whole series, would that also mean the best racing? Well, yes and no! After three weeks of the same old entry-level racing, as far as what you can expect with regards to race tactics, etc., week 4 saw the first successful break away attempt in the Men’s 4/5 field… But I didn’t make it into the break away … On the contrary, My early efforts are probably what the break away “broke away” off of. See, my plan this race (after learning?? in the first three races) was to conserve my energy early on and not take any turns on the front until at least half-way through the race. Is that what happened? No, no it was not! I summarily led the race for the first three laps. Was I being aggressive and riding off the front thinking, “This might not work, but at least I’m making the race faster and trying to pose a threat”? Again, nope! I was simply riding at the front, doing all the work for the pack without getting any kind of advantage… So, when I tried to (finally) recover and drift back among the pack, the strongest racers attacked me and I was unable to respond, and was probably blocking anyone else who wanted to attack. SMH Well, I did recover in the remaining pack as we picked up a couple break away members who fell off and ended up nabbing 2nd in the group sprint of this group and 7th overall in the race.

The Masters race this week was a bit more tame. There were no break away attempts that got more than a few seconds before being closed down, but the quality of riding was a bit more sketchy. More people were being reckless (or at least less careful in the pack) I got into a few situations where I thought I was going to crash, none which actually caused me or anyone else to go down, but I did suffer two broken spokes as I was squeezed in between two other racers and my wheel went into another bikes frame as it was rolling along. I saved it and didn’t go down, but my front wheel was a casualty and I had to pull out of the race. On the good side, I have learned to adopt some smarter strategies for riding in a group like that, making myself bigger to let others know I’m there (using my elbows when needed) and trying to avoid those kind of situations in general. All-in-all, a good racing weekend although I would have liked to do better in each race. We’ll have to see what the series results have in store, but overall I’m pleased with my performance in this series. In the Men’s 4/5 field, never did I place in the bottom 50% of the field. In the Master’s field I have some work to do. Ok, that’s it RaTL recap done!

And from Rae:
This week’s womens field was numerically improved with 7 racers in the 1/2/3 category and 7 in 3/4! It was awesome to line up with so many friends, old and new. I figured the group would split up pretty quickly, as the Velofemme ladies have been launching attacks no later than the 3rd lap, so I was prepared to fight for 4th or 5th place with the other “womenopausal” riders. My friends Kim & Mary Beth are just about my pace and I was stoked to have a good group of 3 to work with. We had some newcomers (3 ladies actually doing their first race ever!) and they all turned out to be real quick.

I had a long work week – I’m a manual labourer part time when I’m not teaching art- lifting rocks and digging holes is like doing weighted squats for 12 hours a day 3 times a week! My hammies were do sore Saturday morning, I considered skipping out all together, but then I remembered I made our friend Sara a promise to sign up for every single race just to increase the number of women participating. You can’t moan about the lack of women as much as I do then skip a race. Plus, with EOTT coming the next day, I was worried that if I didn’t race, I wasn’t going to ride at all, just putting off the inevitable shite performance by 24 hours.

I had some solid 18-20mph laps towing Mary and Kim before my little crew settled in to trading positions between 17.5 & 18 mph. With 3 laps to go, I got the world’s worst cramp in my right hammy. Like, did you ever get a cramp in your foot that just dropped you to the ground? It was like that, but in the back of my thigh. And twitching. I glanced over my shoulder to make sure there was no traffic behind me and dodged to the side of the road, trying not to crash from the pain. When I passed the timing table, Ana yelled to me, “Rae what’s wrong?” I yelled back “Hammy cramp. Really bad! I’ll ride it out.” So my third to last lap was a 15 mile per hour whimper fest- I chugged my Nuun (glad I left my bottle on, sometimes I take it off for racing) and by the time i got back to the finishing hill I was ready to sprint again. I finished alone, as strong as I could, for an eventual finish of 6 out of 7. But I finished my laps. And Kim waited for me at the finish line, a tradition I hope we will keep up at all the races we attend together.

Ryan, Rae & RATL 3

The third installment of Races at the Lake brought some really beautiful weather. Ryan doubled up in Mens Cat4 and Masters 35+ while Rae made a return to Womens Cat4.

Primes this week were $20 Taco Bell gift cards & Ryan went for it, grabbing those snacks & taking 10 seconds off his usual lap time for this course! Unfortunately, that effort cost him in the subsequent laps and he ended up with an overall placement of 10th out of 21. We think he made the right choice, as at this local series, there’s no cash payout for Mens 4/5 and you can’t eat a top five placement medal!

After a short break, he lined back up with mens masters, finishing 5th but feeling pretty burned up. Back to back racing is hard, but 5th in mens masters does pay a small purse. Says Ryan, “hey! I got paid to race TWICE today!”

Mothers day weekend did not bode well for Womens attendance, with only 7 riders reporting to the line. RATL breaks the ladies field up into 2 groups: Categories 1/2/3 and Categories 4/5. The disparity in speed and skill at these smaller local races is pretty big… Our friends Liz & Laura, from Team Velofemme, launched an attack on lap 3 and quickly separated themselves from competitors Addy & Marie, who were left with more than a 3 second gap in a race for 3rd place. Bonnie, a cat4 who comes to visit us sometimes from Pittsburgh is *almost* as fast as the 1/2/3 group, but only for about 35 of the 45 minutes. She lapped Rae in the final lap, after Rae had already lapped the 3rd racer, Kim.

There’s so much debate in the community about how to get more women racing and we’ll just leave that for another time, but here’s hoping for a bigger turnout for the 4th and final race of this series, on May 14th, where Team Mandalore will be providing primes for the Juniors racers.

RATL 2 with Ry!

A race report from Ryan

Races at the Lake week 2 saw a much-reduced field for the Men’s category 4/5 race. A smattering of other regional bike events including an MTB race and an early season gran-fondo kept the field size small. The first week saw 29 racers and this week saw only 19. The weather was cooler also as there was more cloud cover; at race start the temperature was only in the upper 40s.

My goal this week was to remain present toward the front of the field, but refrain from doing any real work at the front unless force to. I knew, from the previous week, that a small break away didn’t really have a chance at staying away, but any more than two people up the road could be threatening given the small field size. Remain toward the front, but sheltered and really step it up in the last two laps and bury myself in the last straight to go for the win; this was my plan.

We all know what happens with plans, right?

hey look, it’s Ry, NOT staying off the front of the pack!!!

The pace of the field stayed quick through the beginning laps, but not too fast, no one was really pushing the pace very high and I found myself at or off the front routinely, as no one attempted a break-away until the 4th or 5th lap. I brought back a two man break with the help of the pack and then (inexplicably) I found myself off the front although I didn’t really try to get a gap or put myself there, I was just trying to maintain a quick pace and take my turn on the front… I guess I missed the “slow down” memo.

Well, that lasted almost an entire lap, I was brought back heading down the hill into the start/finish area, and what was worse, heading into a prime lap… So I was trying to recover on the prime lap and ended up not being competitive for that prize… Starting with the prime lap, there was one semi-successful attack by a solo rider and they were able to maintain a 15-20 second gap for two laps before they were brought back with 3 to go.

our teammate Jeffy took this shot, apparently just out of the frame on the left is one of the classic “back straight turn” smashups that are so common at our early season series!

Just like I thought, the pace picked up at the start of the final lap as people were trying to position themselves for a field sprint finish. I was able to stay close to the front of the field, and heading into the final sprint, my legs were able to get me 7th place in the field sprint, an improvement on last week, but still off the podium.

ratl 4 and a series 2nd place!

Big news this weekend for the 3 Mandalores in attendance at RATL#4. Robbie raced for the first time & Brian placed 18 our of 36 in his 3rd crit! The mens Cat5 race was in pretty crummy conditions – rain and about 40 degrees – and the boys both did a great job! Robbie, Rae says she’s really sorry she pinned your number upside down 😉

In the womens 4/5 field, Rae managed to eek out enough points to place second overall for the series (a first for her and for Team Mandalore) and reports that the weather was MUCH better for her race. It’s nice when the ladies get the good weather!

What’s up next for the Mighty Mandalorians? This is a rare off weekend for the team, but there will be group rides and adventuring before we get back to racing. EOTT begins this month in Deerfield and the first of June will bring us the Parkside races in Twinsburg.

We’ve also committed to supporting the FU5K CANCER trail race in Kent on May 23rd. Sign up here to help us support Colin Cares! Say hi when you see us scrambling around in the woods, likely confused, as we try to figure out what running is. In all honesty, they sold us with “there is beer after.”

RATL 2 & 3 Report

Team Mandalore is having a blast with Summit Freewheelers at their Races At The Lake Series. Race #2 was a first time in a large criterium field for Brian, our zoomiest Cat5 and Race #3 was the first for our foundling, Quinn.

For both races, Rae spent time with her galpals in ladies 3/4 and put a blistering 18.1 mph average on the locally contested “S River Slog” Strava segment. 2 seconds off the leader, not bad for an old meatball.

pretty sure we promised you you’d be able to find our jersey!!!

The beginning of May also brought the delivery of our new SE roadbike, which is going to young Quinn to get her started on what we know will be a long and happy road racing career!

Q is lucky to have former pro, Duncan Oliver, around to help her learn how to use the Garmin cause it’s a mystery to the rest of us goons!

Quinn is training with Stacy Rhea – Health Coach Rhea – to build her endurance, take advantage of her young muscle building ability and learn great nutrition for sports performance. Stacy’s amazing, definitely check out her training plans! Or if you’re a lady, come on out to the Cleveland Velodrome Women’s Weekend to get a taste of her coaching.