that was fun. srsly.
my third race and first road race. the 29 mile loop was a challenge for me and my skillz. tight country roads with winter muck not washed away yet, short risers, short descents with tricky "s" turns, quick turns and the wind.
early start to the day since i was staying at the in laws about 60 miles away from the the race start. i didn't have the grand breakfast that some had, but i grabbed a McGriddle and some coffee in Litchfield. i got to tell you something, a pancake muffin injected with syrup is pure genius. god bless the Golden Arches.
i was pretty early to the start getting a prime parking spot near the start/finish. checked in, got instructions on proper number placement. since there were two, a giant one and a small one, i had the lady write down on the back which side which number went. later when the full crew arrived Rob pointed out that i pinned the numbers on wrong or backwards. even when a CAT 5 follows instructions he is wrong.
it was cool to hang out with the experts of the team before the start. warm up was solid as i rolled out with Rob, Kyle and Crystal. in typical Rob fashion he was all 411 and i was taking it in.
the first time we went up the "big climb" the sharp left turn on the decent really surprised me. i was in the gravel, then the grass, but managed to keep it all together. after that turn is the decent into and onto the brick road. my first thought was holly sh!t. i was coasting down it and hitting 30 with ease. the transition to the brick road is plastered with asphalt patches, uneven payment, and oh yeah, a left hand turn at the bottom. next, after the decent the bricks continue, slightly uphill, and i was bouncing all over the place. i was not comfortable on this section at all. i took two more warm up passes on it though. all that and all i had done was a solid warm up.....
lets race. the neutral start was helpful since i was small chaining it at the start line. Matt and I lined up together in the second row, then waited 10 to 15 minutes for the roll out. unfortunately, this would be the most time i spent with Matt.
4 miles in i was in the back 1/3rd of the pack. not due to fitness, but more a lack of skills. i need to work on getting my arse in the front half of packs and hope that comes with more races. the back was all that CAT 5s are said to be; brakes, surges, brakes, surges, squirrels, brakes, and surges.
then, everyone yells slowing, i hear brakes, i hear metal, i hear a pop, and the guy in front of me locks up his brakes. i got no where to go, so i continue forward on my line, slowing, but not braking, and i believe i pushed that guy off the road into the ditch. i either got my tire square on his or into his RD. not sure, but my first thought was braking hard was not the right thing. 5 seconds later i see Matt, who had been riding well near the front, floating back. remember the pop? as we pass i say, "flat" he says "flat" then i say "fuck" and slam my bars.
4 miles in his day was done.
i spent the next 16 miles at the back of the pack. i never got comfortable. braking and surging again and again. i would move up and fall back quickly. at one point on a nasty quick decent with a s turn i started to move up when a Metro East rider came blazing by on my left, into the gravel shoulder and i was sure he was bound for the ditch and a 10' drop. several minutes later he rejoined the pack, but i have more on him later.
riding at the back and being caught on the wrong side of the cross wind was killing me. no one was breaking away and no one was pushing the pace that hard. however, doing what i was doing was bad. at mile 20 the pace did pick up a bit and i was falling off the lead 20 guys. we hit a roller and i found myself standing, nailing it, and losing ground.
all i could hear was Curtis; "don't ever lose the wheel in front of you. do everything you can to stay with the pack.do it."
standing and hitting it hard for only 5 strokes, i pause, 5 more, i think i am done.
no no no. i am telling myself this out loud with a few curse words that i believe could have been DQ'ed. i bury myself and i grab back onto the pack at mile 22ish.
at mile 25 the pace really picks up and i finally look down at the Garmin and think the two climbs should be coming. i look up and i see the feed zone climb. i like climbing.
i am on the inside as we hit the two hills and think that is dumb. we shed riders in the feed zone. as we hit the final hill a skinny rider stands to go at the base and the pace picks up. i keep thinking go, but wait. half way up that rider is blown up and going back. my inside line didn't hurt me and i passed half the pack on this section.
next we have the nasty left and mad decent. at the top, the previous mentioned Metro East rider asks me if there are any more hills and i say no, but watch out for the tricky left. he floats back and i am about 5th going into the turn. he returns, blazing inside me and yelling; "look out & I'm sorry." he has pushed me back into the soft gravel and grass ditch that i scouted on my warm up. he and several other riders fly past me.
shift, jump, check bottles, grab his wheel and i am bombing the decent. i don't bomb, but i did today. i was up, just off the saddle as we hit the rough stuff. i was passing everyone and catching the two leaders. as i hit 41 mph a sharp left approached, i was on the inside, then remembered i am also bad at taking corners at high speed. i brake hard and fall back.
i navigate that turn, but i was dead up the last little incline of bricks. somehow i passed two riders. we hit the corner and the better pavement, but two riders flew by me. maybe three not sure. i thought i was done and should sit up, then i look up and there aint that many riders in front of me. i cant stand, but i am turning the crank. i believe i passed two the last 200m to finish 6th.
i finished up my day cheering on PSIMET Racing. a really really nice day. congrats to those who raced, especially those doing two laps and double especially to those with a brick.
my ride stats are HERE
i have logged some miles, slow and fast, low and high, solo and with a 1000 others, but this was fun. CAT 5'ish fun for sure. later.
1 day ago