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  • Jani Brajkovic

Back to riding, Nationals and some other questions answered

Last Sunday I participated at national championships, my first race after suspension.

There were some people who were really surprised seeing me. I guess many though, I wouldn't race anymore.


It would certainly be easier, not having to deal with everything that comes with it, from trying to find a team, looks of despise, trolling and being uncomfortable.


But let me clear some things out right away: I will, no matter how hard or embarrassing, not matter if I have to beg, humiliate myself, find a team, race, and race well.

Once you hit rock bottom, you learn to appreciate things that were taken for granted, little things, like not having to worry about is my bike race ready, am I gonna have enough water bottles, food, for the race.


Nationals were, like always, a very strange race, the break went from the gun, and stayed until the finish. Unfortunately I wasn't part of it.

But instead of riding at leisurely pace for the last 100km, moaning and complaining, I and a good friend of mine, Grega Bole went on the front and rode decent pace, not hard, appropriate, trying to get something out of the day....even if it was only a pair of sore legs.

Faster pace was greeted with a lot of moaning and whining, and quickly we were riding alone. We caught a few other guys who were dropped from day's breakaway and together we finished the race.

Result was far from good, but it's not the result that gave me hope, It's the legs, the feelings I had, getting better and better as the race went on. I knew I had condition similar to 2012 TDF, I wasn't sure how this would translate in the race.


For geeks, these were my numbers. I'm 60kg


And also, I realised, there was nobody in that race that had more motivation, drive and passion for cycling that I have. Granted, those boys were racing for 5 months, getting their arses handed to them, and many were mentally drained. But at the same time, almost none of them sees what they have, an ability to ride their bikes, train and race, and at the same time getting paid for it. Almost none of them is all in, they do as much as necessary to go through the season, and stay in cycling for next year....That's sad.


After the race, I returned the race number and rode for another 50km, to the place where family was staying for the week. I felt a bit disappointed, but very happy at the same time. I trained more than any year before, mainly because cycling was the only way I stayed sane, not getting depressed, and asking myself about the purpose of my life.

It's selfish and egoistic, I know but at this point I don't feel it's time to stop, I will be some day, but not today.


Riding in Slovenia

Total riding from Jan-Jun


Now back to some questions I've gotten in recent days


First about the chain lubes:


Reading about this new revolutionary chain lube that saves you 10 Watts, caught my attention.

After reading through, it was clear their marketing team was hard at work.

It's not that some lubes work better and can save you a few watts, but this particular article has so many unknowns, and for a good reason probably.

Saving 10watts while riding at 100W is very different from 10W saving at 1000W.

Let's suppose and average race/ride one is averaging roughly 200-300W. Is this lube gonna save you 10Watts? Probably not, because at 250W, that's 4% increase in efficiency. WT teams already have good drivetrain efficiency, let's say 97%.


Adding another 4% comes back to 101%, which means 250W at cranks, will result 252,5W at the hub....Yeah, not sure that's possible...


Another question was about team selections


Things get more complicated here.

Based on what the goals are, let's say for a big race like The Tour, if the team is riding for GC, you're obviously gonna need a leader.

Then you'll need a couple guys to support him in the mountains.


A very very important part are the guys who are making sure your leader is well protected in the bunch, on flat stages, with factors like wind, narrow roads, stress etc play a roll.

Having couple, three of those guys who are always there for you, sheltering you, takes away a huge amount of stress from the leader. It's immense how much easier racing gets when you can rely on those guys.


After, you'll need somebody who's good for everything, climbing, flat stages, TT (TTTs are very important for the leader, keeping him in contention).


Taking all these together, you also have to make sure all these guys can work well together, they create good group vibe and will give absolutely 100% when they need too.

That's why have two or more leaders on the same team is not always a good idea. It's in human's nature to form groups, take sides, and this can divide the team...not good.


And last one, crank length


In this area, I'll admit right away, I have no science knowledge.

What I do have though, experience.


I've ridden with 175mm, 172,5mm and i'm on 170mm now.

Based purely on how it felt, I can tell you, I love 170s. They allow me to sustain higher cadence, which makes sense, power wise, I don't feel I'm doing more or less watts.

The old belief that longer cranks will allow you to push more watts while applying less force is stupid. With longer cranks, yes, you will need less force to produce same torque, but also your leg is making more distance.

Trust your feelings, and you should be fine...body knows best, no matter how much science we apply to cycling, It's still the body that tells you what works and what doesn't.


And lastly, happy 4th of July to my American friends.


Thats all for now, thanks for reading, love you all.


JB


P.S, there might be some grammatical mistakes, hence, I was writing this while taking care of the kids at the same time :)


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