Saturday, May 26, 2007

Race Days

So Friday afternoon was an individual time trial (TT) to start the Edgar Soto Memorial Stage Race. Yes, Memorial race because Edgar was killed while riding his bike and his son is one of the race directors. Huge race with over 540 people racing different categories (with some BIG BIG US pro boys showing up). Anyway, the TT was 6.8 miles of rolling hills with a few good steep climbs. Tough course and it was about 90 degrees at 3 pm (who has ridden in that kind of heat yet? no one), but I did ok at 19:10, which is 21 mph. That was my goal speed, so I was happy. I was going 10-13mph on several occasions, so it was tough. The pro winner did it in 14:08 or so. That is super fast. Anyway, I placed 19 out of 46 in my category.

For those unfamiliar with race categories book mark this page, there are basically 5 categories. Cat 1 is Pro, 2 is almost pro level (but they race together), Cat 3 is pretty strong boys, 4 (my category), and 5 which is entry level where anyone can race). I race 4, but for a few reasons I decided to race a Cat 4/5 omnium, so there are Cat 4 and Cat 5 racers in it. Hence we have some beginners which stinks because they can't ride in a straight line and tend to cause crashes. Anyway, I'm happy with my TT time considering, especially as training for triathlons. If I'd done the Cat 4 race, I'd have been about 104th out of 111 racers. So I'm pretty slow, but that is because I started training late in the winter and did the half marathon. Hence a lot of bike time and ride days were spent running.

Today was a 33 mile circuit race. It was an 11 mile loop we raced 3 times with 1100 feet of elevation gain every lap (yeah, every lap!!). That is VERY hilly. Basically like all the hills in the Vicksburg Military Park crammed into 5 less miles. I have ridden the course before as I could ride there from the house, so I knew the course. There are a couple killer hills and they hurt me today too (mentally and physically). From the get go at 8 am, I felt crappy and I was not so motivated to try hard. The pace was not really fast on the hills (thank gosh) and I avg'd 21.7 mph. I'm glad the pace wasn't wicked as I'd have been dropped early on the long steep climbs right after the start. After lap 2, I got caught at the end of the field of racers and the attacks started on the first hill and that was it for me. I was too far back and couldn't get to the leaders, so I was dropped.

I was tired, unmotivated, and getting hot, but I rode with a small group of guys who looked to be hurting more then me. I was tired on every hill, but I dropped them on every hill, then waited for them to catch up. Better off riding into the wind with others to pull me then to do it myself, get worn out, and have them all pass me. We worked together poorly, but good enough. I recovered a bit since we riding so damn slow over the last 5 miles and decided to attack the group. Why not? If I blow up, I'm one of the last riders in the stupid race anyway. If anything it'll be fun to try and may be a morale boost. So with ~400m left in the race, I pulled out of the group and hammered all the way to the finish line. I mean I went out with everything left in the tank. The finish was flat/slightly uphill, then the last 250m are downhill, so I figured if I gapped those guys, I could hold them off on the descent. Being an idiot, I looked back to see where they were with about 200m to go and then with 100m to go (NEVER LOOK BACK!! and I know it too). I had a 20 m gap on them, but they were closing. I sprinted my heart out and from out of no where someone came up on me and he pipped me at the line. Neither of us were sure who won the sprint (but he did after seeing the results). It was likely for 40th place (I ended up getting 20th out of 45), but it is the morale boost I wanted. I had legs left and could give a long all out effort. Good training and it was a blast. Either way, if was nice to ride hard and hurt and still have guys to ride with (outside last week riding solo) and be able to try an attack. I think I stunned them all with the attack that they couldn't match as they didn't catch me, even on the downhill. The one guy that did work with me had little to say after the race when I tried to chat with him. Mad I smoked him??? Good. He needs to train harder.

Tomorrow is a criterium, which is 0.6 mile loop in downtown Nashville which we will race for 30 min. It will be more uphill then anything (more time going up) and will be tough. There is a long descent where we will hit ~40 and have to make a turn. Sketchy at best. Anyway, my goal will be to ride as aggressive as I can and stay near the front, which is what I should have done today. If I can stay near the front, I'll stay out of crashes (caused by those bad Cat 5 riders) and be able to respond to other aggressive riders and maybe get a decent finish. My legs will be blown in the race I bet, but everyone else should be tired too. Hopefully I'll be able to hang and if anyone gets dropped, they'll likely get pulled out of the race with the short course, technical turns, and largish field. It'll be fun to stay all day and watch the pros hammer the course at 30 mph.

Off for a needed nap!!

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