Saturday, January 22, 2011

Memo to self: it's always better to start a race with everyone else.

I did the EB road race today and stepped where I thought I would never go. I now know how my friend and teammate Larry Nolan felt.

I dragged myself out of bed at 4:45 this morning and decided to give it a go even though the lung infection I picked up I think in Brazil in September reared its ugly head on Wednesday night. When it hits, at times I feel like I'm suffocating, I'm guessing it's what asthma feels like. The weather was perfect for racing today and I just couldn't resist. The 45s started 55 minutes after the 35s so it was an easy choice to get an extra hour of sleep.

My race plan didn't go quite the way I drew it up in my head as for the first time in my life as a bike racer (maybe 500 races), I missed the start. No need to explain why, it just changed my day significantly. The race was 3 or 4 minutes in front of me when I figured this out so, my lung condition aside, I did a individual time trial for the first half hour into head and cross winds for 19 km before I finally made contact with the peleton. It was all out and I was wiped when I finally caught them.

It gave me about 12 km to recover before we hit the climb. My original plan was to sit in until we got to the climb then hammer it, maybe get away on my own and solo the second half. Well "the best laid plans of mice and men ...", you know the rest.

When I finally caught up to the race, instead of looking forward to the climb, I was now starting to dread it to some degree, likely having to hold on as best I could and see what happens, forget the idea of attacking. I managed to stay close to Cale Reeder, Carl Nielsen, Clark Foy and Arthur Jones up the hill and made the turn around about 20 to 30 seconds behind them. Hunter Zeising and Jan Elsbach were stuck to my wheel and we hit the turn around together and ripped the descent. One problem though, 3 guys were now chasing 4 and both groups were going all out in rotation. Strangely enough, Hunter pitched in with Jan and me for the first half of the chase even though Cale, his teammate, was in the front group, my cajoling seemed to work. That stopped with about 10 to 12 km to go and he started to sit in just when we were agonizingly close to catching the front 4.

There wasn't much choice for Jan and me and we stayed in rotation going as hard as we could. I finally got sick of Hunter sitting in and told him if he didn't take a pull I would sit up. I really think he wanted to win the race so with about 5 km to go he started to work again. This happened just when the front group started to splinter under the pace, first Carl came off and then Clark. Now Hunter was really done pulling and Jan wasn't interested in towing him anymore either. Cale and Arthur were only about 75 meters in front of us with a kilometer to go but I was the only one interested in still trying to catch them. An exercise in futility on my part which doomed my finish. Hunter and Jan jumped past me with about 100 meters to go. Cale won, Arthur second, then Hunter, Jan and me.

One hell of a workout especially that first 19 km time trial. Man I love racing my bike.

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