Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Salina Road Race (Bicycle) Race Report

Or "How not to ride a road race" or "Don't write checks your butt can't cash" or any number of funny slogans.  Well, I decided to venture once again into the world of bike racin', since last time I straight up raced was about 3-4 years ago in a criterium (think NASCAR / F1 racing, on bikes, with folks that CAN crash you), which ended, ironically, with me getting crashed, but I got up, sucked it up and raced the last crit and ended up in 3rd overall, so, meh.

But this was going to be my first road race, sort of like a nice group ride, but with everyone thinking "STRAVA SECTION!!!!" all the time.  But as this was my first RR, I of course had a half baked plan going in, but with luck, I knew one of the riders in my Category, Alex Ardussi, who drove a long way to race.  We said that we would work together since bike racing is not only an individual sport, but team tactics really plays out in these as one team in the CAT5 swept the podium (out of 4 riders on their team) so smarts plays into it and being a one man band isn't that cool.

I'm sooo roooonry!
Things started out nice, got there, warmed up on the first stretch of road and headed back to get ready and lined up for the CAT5 race, of which 11 brave souls signed up for.  As we all looked each other up and down, I noticed a few things about my competitors; A: They are all taller and leaner than me, B: They have nicer bikes and better wheels, and C: They all know each other, making me the odd man out.
Well as we started to roll out the first half mile was "neutral", meaning, the race was not on, but after we crossed the finish line area, it was on and our pace went from 18 to 22 mph, so a nice start to this hilly, windy, 30 mile race.  We stayed in a nice double pace line for the first 5 miles or so, with me tearing ass up a hill to see who could climb (answer: all of them), so I settled back in to the pace line, feeling a little dumb.  But about another mile later, one guy launches out on a break, and he gets about 30 secs up the road, I think to myself, "Hey self, we should chase him down" which was the WRONG answer!  Sure I caught him, but as the rest of the peloton absorbs me, chews me up and spits me out.  Being "off the back", "dropped" or "loosing a wheel" is the worst feeling in the world.  It seems no matter how hard you try to latch back on, you are toast.
So at the 10 mile mark, that was me, off the back.  It sucked.  No, it more than sucked!  It was lonely (as you can see from the picture up there, courtesy of Lanterne Rouge!).  It took me a while to get back any semblance of speed going and by then, I was out of sight, especially on the hills.  So, that was how I "raced" the last 20 miles.  Ugggh!
If you look hard enough, that was they guy I was chasing, waaaaay down there!
Well, to make matters worse, I had to contend with a bit of a head wind on the way back, so I just kept plugging.  I will fast forward to the end, because, no matter what I did, that speck on the road never got closer.  I did sprint the last 2 miles to the end, to get some good intervals in, but I ended up about 10 minutes down to the winners and 2-3 from Alex.  Overall, I was 10th of 11.  And the guy I "beat" was in his 60s, whoohoo!  Uggh, well my lessons learned are here:
1.  Stay patient for as long as you can.
2.  Stay with the peloton.  It saves energy.
3.  You will always overestimate your own fitness.
4.  The wind is not your friend when you are alone.
Could I have done better?  Yup, but I got all antsy in my pantsy, and before I knew it, BAM!  Done and gone!  But at least I learned a little more from this, now if I remember those lessons come next time!  And this catches me up on my race reports and all, but I have a busy next few months up ahead.
Next race up: Victory Week 10 Miler, tomorrow (Wednesday 12 June), to try to qualify for the Ft Riley Army Ten Miler Team, which last year was stacked.  I am looking to break my 10 mile PR tomorrow, so I have an "A" goal of 1:08 and quicker, "B" goal of 1:12 or quicker, and the "breakeven" goal of 1:25.  It is a pretty rolling course, nothing too major out and back, but we will see how this turns out.
I'll be back tomorrow with another RR!

* All photos for this post is courtesy of The Lanterne Rouge (Roger Harrison) (Thanks Roger!)

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