Monday, April 16, 2007

Oxbow Served Me Some Humble Pie

I had the joyous opportunity to race with the Pro's/Cat 1 & 2's at the Oxbow Spring Classic Dirt Road Race. Working off of the lowest hours I have ever trained in the off-season was not enough to hang with the top Cats. I didn't expect that I would be dropped, but actually figured the field would split with a handful off the front and the rest forming chase/control groups behind. It split alright, but it was about a 65/35 split--35% off the back. I was not off the back initially, but ended up there and in the end, I had the duty of bringing up the rear as the last finisher (thankfully, there were some DNF's).

Just 3 miles in, and the first time up the Oxenberg, the split occurred. About 15 together in the lead with a gap to anyone else. A group, myself included, bridged the gap and soon there was a lead group of 22-24 with the rest no where to be seen off the back. I eventually worked to the front--hanging near the front wasn't that tough, but if you dare fell near the tail end it was murder, hence the constant yo-yo'ing and pushing hard to stay in contact with them. I drifted to the back over a couple rollers and soon I drifted off the back just near the end of the first lap. Even though I was not in the lead group, I felt pretty good during the 2nd. For that lap I paced with a GrandStay guy and a guy from The Hut. We figured we'd pick off riders that fall off the back of the lead group, thus making our group a little bigger for pacing--chasing was out of the question, but we wanted to stay in it and have a good day. Not many fell off during lap 2--once they fell off, they kept a good pace because we didn't catch anyone else. I didn't want to cook myself during the 3rd lap and decided do go at a lower pace than the the two I was with. There was no one behind me for as far as I could see so I thought I could take it easy and ride solo--mistake (remember the tortoise and the hare?). I was approaching the last stretch of pavement (Valley High Rd) when I looked back and here come 4 guys--moving a lot faster than I was (PCR Teammate Joe Moyer was with them). By that time I had already been riding for 30 minutes at a zone 1-2 pace, sipping water/eating Clif Bloks, just spinning the wheel--I didn't expect I'd have to bring it up again, nor did I have the energy. I slowed so they could catch me sooner than later--no sense delaying the inevitable for 2 more minutes! I got on their tail and only made it to the stretch of gravel with the "S" turns--which is really a long descent to the last turn. I had to let go--I had nothing left. They were the last 4 that remaind in the race. I slowing made it to the final ascent of the Oxenberg and weaved up it as slow as I could and as fast as I could at the same time. Team mgr, Ton Tran, was cheering me on, but basically all he was doing was bringing attention to the fact that there was one more guy on the course.

It was a very humbling experience. I was ready to put in a good race, just not at a level higher than what I am capable of. I know my limits and believe I can exceed them on occasion--just not that occasion.

I hope to recover by this weekend as I am looking forward to a Cat 3 race at Durand on Saturday April 21.

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