Saturday, May 26, 2007

Dragon's Challenge Masters 4/5 Road Race

I raced with the old, slow guys today (Masters 35+ Category 4/5) at the annual Dragons Challenge Road Race held on the Fort Bragg military base in Fayetteville, NC. It was not a huge field size--maybe 30-40 riders--but it was probably one of the bigger fields at the event due to the sheer number of different race categories offered. The weather was warm (a high in the low 90s on the course today) so I was glad the race was only two laps of 16.2 miles each. Normally I favor longer races because the distance helps separate the fit from the, well, not-so-fit but with two more races this weekend I was glad to not have to spend any more time in the sun than necessary.

This event is extremely well organized but the road race is not a course that sets up well for me, at least not in theory... it's basically a sprinter's paradise with only a few rollers and a long straight shot to the finish line. Nobody was going to get away today and I didn't even bother to try. I just sat in the middle of the field and hung out. The average speed was about 24 mph but in the middle of the pack it felt like a recovery ride. Seriously, my average power for the all but the last 3 minutes of the race was 172 watts. On my own, that wattage would get me 17-18 mph at best.

With a little over a mile to go we were coming up the last hill on the course getting ready for the subtle, steady downhill that flattens out about 300 meters before the finish. I saw some room on along the right shoulder so I got up out of the saddle for only the second time all race and moved up to the front. When I got there, I coasted a bit to let others come around since we still had over half a mile to go and I didn't want to be the hapless leadout guy for the sprinters.

A couple of guys moved in front of me and I settled in behind them, but they started getting squirrelly so I thought "screw that, man" and went around them. Trying to avoid a crash at 30mph is not my cup of tea, and as I found out later there was indeed a crash somewhere back in the peloton that took out several riders including both of my teammates.

With a sprint that leaves a lot to be desired, I decided that I might as well go for broke. I stoked up the engine and spread out the field who lined up behind me but I could not get any separation from the group. As I glanced under my legs, I could see other riders pegged to my wheel so I knew it was not looking good: they would wait until the last second and sprint around me. With no other options, I just powered toward the line and held the wattage as high as I could for those last sixty agonizing seconds to the line.

As it turned out, the long run-in worked to my advantage and sprinters were tired enough by the time we got close to the finish line that they couldn't quite make it around me and I took the win by what seemed like less than half a wheel. I'll post a finish line photo if I can find one.

This is the second time I've gotten lucky like this... Absolutely no work for the entire race, a 2.5 minute effort at the end, and a big neener neener to the sprinters who had been licking their chops with glee. Sometimes the mouse gets away, I guess.


Blogger ScottFromUtah said...

Fort Bragg, you say? That's were I spent the summer of 1970 during 6 glorious weeks of military training. Anyway, congratulations on the win!

May 27, 2007 12:49 AM  

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