This stage race didn’t start too well for me. Got up at 4 AM and rode down with former teammate Robert, who was doing the E3. Got to the start @ 7 AM, put on my skinsuit and me and Daniel glued on our numbers. I warmed up a bit under the rear hatch of Robert’s car, as it was raining lightly and I was still cold. After about 10 minutes on the trainer, I headed out to check out the course. There was lots of fresh white paint that looked like it could be dangerously slick through the corners. Lined up with 13 other guys. 12 of them were cat 4’s, and one was a cat 5 that they threw into our group since no one else showed up. Looks like the rainy forecast and Red Kite really killed the turnout this year.
We went out at a reasonable pace, with Daniel getting the hole-shot. Things settled down a bit, and the group was taking the corners fairly cautiously. A couple laps in, one of the three SJBC riders in the field somewhat casually rolled off the front. No one seemed interested in chasing, it being fairly early in the race. I took a turn at the front for about a lap just to wake the legs up a bit, and then settled back in for the next one. Suddenly my bike starts to feel a bit bouncy, kind of like it does when my tires are low. I ask Daniel if I’ve got a flat, but he doesn’t notice anything. As we approach the fastest corner of the course so far, I scrub some speed just to be on the safe side, but still feel my rear wheel start to slip. I correct and slow down to a stop. Yep, I’ve got a rear flat. I don’t have a rear wheel at the moment and didn’t bother asking around to put one in the pit (turns out Daniel had one in his car I could have thrown a tire on, albeit with Junior gearing). I walk back to the start/finish line, let the ref know, and find out that they will mark me as last with a mechanical.
Daniel must have done a bit too much work at the beginning, or just wasn’t feeling well, as I saw him chasing the field on the next lap, with a couple other juniors behind him. The SJBC guy off the front grew his gap and almost lapped the field, and came away with a large time gap.
It was already fairly windy in the morning, but by the time we arrived at the TT course it had increased in force. I had borrowed a disc wheel for this event, but now I was doubting if I could handle it in these conditions. I’d read some blogs and forum posts last week saying that the disc wasn’t too bad even in higher winds, as long as it wasn’t too gusty. Since this was fairly steady wind, and the roads are pretty wide open, I decided to go for it. I warmed up on the stretch of road between the start and finish, ate some gummies, and lined up. I’d be first to start from our field. A few of the other riders also had discs, so that helped my confidence a bit.
I took off strong but controlled, and settled into a heavy rhythm. I tend to go out too hard, so I tried my best to let the pain come to me, instead of rushing towards it. The starting section was pretty much a full headwind. About half way through this stretch, it started to feel hard but not unbearable, so I knew I’d picked the right pace. I took the right turn cautiously, since I’d have a crosswind coming into it. The wind hit me from the left, but since it was steady, I just shifted my body weight into it and settled back into the groove. The road here is pretty shoddy, so I had to weave my way around the potholes, all the while hoping no one was coming by soon. Just when it was really starting to hurt, I saw the cones for the turn approaching.
This would be the ‘fun’ part. I turn and the wind is now pushing me along nicely. I crest a very slight rise and drop down into a harder gear, and ramp it up to ~29 mph. I enjoy the feeling of gliding along the road, until I glance down at the power and have to remind myself to keep pushing. The novelty of the speed slowly gives way to the building heaviness in my legs. Just one more turn and it’s over, I keep reminding myself. After what feels like days, I hit the final turn, and kick on the afterburners. I know it’s just a little way past the turn, but I’m not sure exactly how far. I come past a 1km to go marker. I can do this, just keep pedaling! I look down and the speedo says 32! Holy crap! Keep going! I scrape together what’s left in my legs and cross the line, spin down for a few minutes, and head to the car.
I went back to the crit course with Robert and checked the results as soon as they were up. I’d made 3rd place, 11 seconds behind the SJBC rider from earlier in 1st, and 3 seconds behind 2nd. Also found out that they marked me as being 9 minutes back for the crit. Guess I won’t be contesting the GC then.
Avg Power: 288w
Avg Speed: 24.7 mph
I was not feeling enthusiastic about this road race. I didn’t sleep well, and was still annoyed about yesterday’s crit. According to Strava, lots of riders in the other fields flatted out on glass that was on the course. I kitted up and didn’t bother warming up, since there would be a roll out to the start. With 1st in GC all but guaranteed for SJBC, no one was willing to work. We rolled around quite leisurely for a lap. After we went through the rough patch of road for the first time, I convinced the group to stop for a nature break. We stopped just a bit after passing the feed zone, and then started our easy roll around the course again. Despite the easy pace, I decided it would be better to sit in the pack and do a minimal amount of work. Cruising at zone 1 in the field is still saving energy compared to zone 2 on the front. This easy pace continued for the next two laps, and it was starting to feel like a sunday coffee ride, except on worse roads. Then, on the last lap, the attacks started. SJBC seemed to be trying to launch their 2nd rider off the front to move him up in the GC, but the field was not having any of it. A few counters followed, but we hit the bumpy road all together. The race leader then got to the front and started setting a steady but difficult pace, probably to discourage attacks. Daniel sat on his wheel, and I sat on Daniel’s for a while, until he moved back to the slightly more sheltered pack. I visualized the finish a few times and started to get a tingling in my legs. Yesterday’s efforts were still with me and I was starting to tire.
I reminded myself that if I’m hurting, others probably are as well. This proved to be true, as we cleared the bumpy road and headed up the first roller. The race leader bumped up the pace again and strung the field out. I took shelter on the less windy side and surfed the front few wheels. I knew that people tend to go too early for this finish, and that all I had to do was sit on until the very last moment. As we passed 1k to go, I looked back briefly and realized that 5 of us had a small gap on a now shattered field. Great, better odds for me. I get in my drops to prepare for the effort ahead. As we went up the few rollers leading to the finish, I was hurting. “Everyone else is hurting too, just hang on until you can’t anymore,” I thought. The race leader gave one final surge on the front, and I knew the sprint was on. Three of us passed on his right, with me in the rear. The guy in front of me got out of the saddle and started to push, passing the guy in front of him, but I knew it was still too far. It’s an up hill finish and I haven’t seen the 200m marker yet. He sits down as he starts to fade a little, but I don’t come around yet, and he gives it a second kick. There it is, 200m to go! Just a couple more seconds… now! I jump out of the saddle and kick as hard as I can, pass the rapidly fading rider in front of me, and hit the wind. I can see the line now, there’s no one in my peripheral, and all I hear is wind… just a few more pedal strokes! I cross the line for my first ever win!
Avg Speed: 20.1 mph