Saturday, June 09, 2007

2007 Cape Fear Road Race

Even though it's a great course and it's an event hosted by my own cycling club, I hadn't planned on participating in the Cape Fear Road Race this year because a change in the dates of both this race and the Assault on Mount Mitchell meant that they would be two days apart. However, with a promise to stay in the middle of the pack until the final hill, I convinced my coach that it would be OK to enter the Masters 4/5 version of the Cape Fear race because it was only 34 miles long.

As it turned out, I almost ended up not making it to the race after all (the web directions were, uh, somewhat misleading) but I showed up just in time to assemble my bike and rush to line. No warmup--but it was hot enough outside that no warmup was necessary, ha ha ha.

Did I mention it was hot? Holy hannah it was hot! With Mount Mitchell looming on Monday, I followed my plan and just sat in toward the mid-to-back of the pack for nearly the entire race and tried to avoid pedaling at all costs. I had two water bottles for race and thought that would be enough. It wasn't. Had the race lasted even a few minutes longer I would have started getting dehydrated.

With the heat keeping everyone's aggressiveness in check, it was clear that the whole race was going to come down to the last 2K before the finish. There is a nice 200-foot climb over 1K (just long enough and steep enough that I had to go into the small chainring) and then a final 1000 meters of flat-to-slightly-uphill coming to the line. I could tell things were going to spread out a bit by the top of the climb so my goal was to be near the front.

With 2.25 kilometers to go, I made my way up the right hand side of the pack, went to the front as we worked our way up the hill, and kept trying to go hard without blowing up. At the top, there were two guys who had stayed with me and we had some decent separation on the field but there was still a long way to go to get to the line.

I let another guy come around me and he pulled for a bit and then slowed to play cat-and-mouse. He kept twitching his elbow to signal that it was time for me to come around and take a turn but I was having none of that. I yelled out "sorry, dude, but I'm not gonna pull through" but he kept slowing down until I was worried the rest of the field would catch us so I went to the front and headed toward the line. I knew the two guys would sit on my wheel and sprint around me when we got to the 200 meter mark so I saved just enough in the tank that I would be able to manage at least a meager sprint to keep things interesting.

My sprint is pretty weak anyway, and after four minutes of VO2Max effort I wasn't hopeful, but a top three finish would be better than getting swallowed up by the pack. Sure enough, one guy came around and so with about 150 meters to go I jumped up out of the saddle with just enough ooomph to pass him and hold it to the line for my second road race win as a Cat4.

Here's a photo of the sprint finish. The photographer apologized to me personally afterward for having mistakenly bumped her camera to the wrong setting right before we came over the hill, but the photo is certainly good enough to get the general idea:

Average power for the entire race: 179 watts (29% of time spent not pedaling)
Average power for last 4.2 minutes: 420 watts
Average power for the last 10 seconds: a meager 882 watts--but just enough

Now I gotta rehydrate, keep the legs up, eat, and rest. Monday's gonna be tough.


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