Monday, August 27, 2007

State Championship Road Race

The drive up to Avon, MN gets long. The drive back is even longer when the race doesn't go your way. Also, since the 68 mile race was the second longest time I've spent on a bike all year, I felt extra beat on the way back. About 25-30 riders turned out for cat 3 race. The route was awesome! Great course, but different than last year. Last year, Avon was not the spot for the Championship, but there was a race there at any rate. As far as the race is concerned, I worked way too hard, stupidly, with nothing to show for it, except a fun time.

To recap how it went down, I will first say that my choice to NOT warm-up was a good one. I never warm-up for road races as I just treat the first lap as the warm-up. After the first lap I thought, "This is it? Four laps of problem." However, after doing what I did, I barely had enough in my legs to get all 68 miles behind me. Any extra miles before the race could have meant a DNF. Anyway, after lap one, a few in the field were nagging and complaining of guys going off the front saying they are just being stupid and causing pain for the rest of us, they're not going to succeed, etc. True, they had no chance and were being stupid, but that's why we race. To take chances, maybe knowing that you are just getting others to chase and wearout so your teammates have a better shot. Who wants a full field sprint at the end? You might as weel go for a no-drop group ride and sprint at the last town sign. Well, I thought it wasn't very painful at all--the first lap anyway. Then four riders (Birchwood, Grumpy’s, NV, MCT) put in a solid effort and got up on the rest of us quite a ways. They started their break at about 1/3 to halfway into the second lap. There were 3 Flanders, 4 or 5 Loonstate, and a bunch of randoms in the peloton, but only a couple (including me) would take pulls trying to pull back the leaders. Flanders and Loon should have been up front pulling the break back. That's what 'teams' are for. Grumpy’s and Birchwood did a good job going to the front and messing things up trying to ensure that their guys stay out in front in the break. That's their job if they have a guy in the break. It ticked me off at the time, but if I were in a break and had teammates in the peloton, I would hope my guys are controlling the pace behind me. Well, finally, during the 3rd lap I went hard and didn’t let up. I stayed at the front, pushed the pace, and pretty much wore myself out. We almost caught the breakaway. Then, during lap 3, leading into the feedzone climb, the peloton swallowed me and spit me out the back without hesitation. The climb isn't very tough and its short, if not for being tired from pulling/leading like an idiot. It's just sort of one of those gradual things that creeps up on you when you don't want it to. I was way off the back. Way off... I almost considered DNF’ing, but then I figured "this is the state race, I am going to try to catch them and stay in it!" Once over the climb and then down the descent, I spent 2-3 miles TT’ing my way back to the group, caught them, then recovered as much as possible. We caught the 4 in the break right after I got back to the group--then 2 more went off the front almost immediately! What the 'F' ! At that point, I said screw it and was just happy to be back in the group. I recovered and I was actually feeling good again. We approached the start finish ending the third lap and I began plotting where I would sprint (for 3rd ?, Top 5 ?, whatever we would be going for). During the 4th lap, at that hill, I fell off the back again. I swear my tires were flat, but they were just fine. All that chasing was taking it's toll. Along with me were a handful of other—some of which were the guys in the first break. Kristy L (double teamer: PCR and Hollywood) handed me a bottle--plain water never tasted so good! So good that I drank up, and tried, for about 1/2 mile, to get back to the peloton, but knew I was done. HR was in the 140's (recovery level), but I felt like I was at TT pace. I bonked. Then I just slowed so us stragglers could ride in together. Soon I was joined by a Flanders guy (the one that was working with me in lap 2 to pull back the break). He pulled me to a Birchwood guy (who soon fell off from us). Then a Grumpy's guy (from the first break) caught up to us as well as a Hollywood rider. We didn’t even try to catch the group. We were only a few miles from the finish so we just road in talkin' about the race and how it went down.

All in all, it was a good time. Worth the drive? Maybe, but it felt good to 'road' race again.

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