Sunday, March 04, 2007

Greenville Cat5 35+ RR report

Apparently yesterday's races (3/3) had much larger fields than today (3/4) and it was quite a bit warmer as well, but today was my only opportunity to race so I took what I could get. This was only my 4th real race (ok I've officially started 2 other races but didn't even finish one lap in either of those due to crashes) so I still have much to learn.

While warming up I found that my power meter batteries were shot (again! I just replaced them but used a set that must have been old) so I would have no indication whatsoever of speed, effort, time, or distance during the race. That was a bummer because I'm not to the point yet where I can trust perceived exertion. I'll be honest: I tend to wimp out prematurely on long hard efforts if I don't have a number to shoot for. Attention anti power meter people: now would be a great time to pile on and tell me how lame I am.

Anyway, I was planning on trying to stay in the pack for the first two of the three 7-mile laps and then see if I could incite some sort of breakaway (solo or otherwise) on the last lap. I took off a few times during rolling hill sections but simply was not strong enough or willing to commit to enough pain to put any lasting distance on the field and I couldn't get anyone else to go with me. There was a strong guy who got a bit of separation and when I bridged up to him and asked "do you wanna go for it?" he said "well, I'm a better sprinter so I don't think that would be good." He was right about being a good sprinter.

Anyway, I could tell there were several guys who were going to be able to outsprint me so with about 2 miles to go I went as hard as I thought I could hold for 5 minutes (i.e. VO2Max effort). After 2-3 minutes I was not making any headway and was nearly cooked. As I eased up, the train went hurtling past me and I soon found myself at the very back of what was left of the main field (maybe 15 guys). Fortunately, they soon bogged down at the very small hill shortly before the finish so I just stood up and went for it. I was able to pull all the way back up to the front but this time instead of going to the very front I pulled up next to the guy in front with my front wheel even with his back wheel, trying to pin in the guy who said he was going to wait for the sprint.

I was hoping the guy in front would cook himself close enough to the line that I could take the win but he cooked early and two good sprinter dudes (including the one I was trying to box in) were able to get around and take off with me chasing. Holy moly do I need to get better at sprinting! It seemed like it lasted forever and there was a guy in 4th who seemed to keep closing and closing and I kept grinding and grinding and just barely held him off at the line to take 3rd. When it was over my legs just kept hurting more and more for the next couple of minutes as I tried to keep riding to make the pain go away. I would have liked to know how fast (ie. slow) I was going there at the end. 18.2 miles per hour maybe? ;)

I got a cute little 3rd place trophy that my kids think is really cool. Really, I mean how cool is a little trophy compared to $15?! If I showed my kids $15 they would be seriously underwhelmed but because I had a little $1 trophy they were pretty excited.

I learned some good stuff, increased my resolve that being good at this sport is all about being willing to seriously suffer (but quickly recover), and I had a blast. I have to keep reminding myself that what makes racing both fun and frustrating is that there are a bunch of other guys who are trying to kick your arse and placing well in the standings is always at the expense of those other guys. Let's just say that it is a far different culture than the marathon running I used to do where I was essentially only competing against myself.

Totally off topic... The weirdest part about the race was the hotel where a couple of teammates and I stayed. It was a nice hotel but apparently there was some sort of convention for about 200 deaf athletes in the 16-22ish age range (actually I don't know their ages but I know they were old enough to--um--interact with their girlfriends, old enough to drink Colt 45 in large quantities, and old enough to smoke pot, but not old enough to do any of those things surreptitiously) . Anyway, you would be surprised at how loud deaf people can be. Perhaps the chaperones felt that because these kids were deaf they didn't need supervision. That would be incorrect.


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