Sunday, May 1, 2011

Where's The Podium? #6: Race At The Lake #2 - 16th

This is the kind of race I have been wanting to do for a long time. I've stepped up into the "big" leagues of this cycling area and had my grit worked in Ohio today. I learned a lot and I am so excited about what is in store from here on out. Today's race is officially my last as an IUP Cyclist. I have had an amazing experience here and would not be where I was today, had it not been for IUP and everyone that has been involved with my continuing development and growth as a cyclist.
Closing that gap (like I was doing all day).
This sport is a wild one. Things may seem tame on the outside of a race like today's, but when attacks are flying, one after the other, a lot is really going on and there is no way to know it unless you're in the mix. I was lucky enough to be in that mix and working hard to stay active and off the back. I really did not know what to expect going into today's race. Honestly, it was kind of one of those "expectations - low; hopes - high" kind of deals before I started.  I have a lot still to learn, but let's just get right to the race as I saw it, shall we?

The start time was at about 12:30 and everything seemed like new to me - or at least it felt like I was in some unfamiliar territory. This course was a 1.2 mile (closed to traffic) circuit that we were to complete 30 times. It was rolling and plenty fast with this field. I have gotten used to seeing these Cat 1/2/3 fellas race while on the sidelines. Today, I was there lining up next to people I have watched with some awe at their abilities and style. I won't say I was nervous, but excited and anxious will probably suffice to describe my pre-race mindset like every other race I've had this season. I refuse to get nervous.
Friday afternoon's preparation.
The pace and intensity picked right up after the neutral roll out and I worked to stay off the back and try to handle the turns with confidence and predictable form. The last thing I wanted to do was cause a crash, let alone be in one. I am one to lose positions in cornering and bike handling is something I really intend to work on, though today's race certainly helped. I kept reminding myself that I was surrounded by riders much more accomplished than I with many more miles in their legs. It is still yet to settle in me that I have just raced against category 1s and 2s (and yes, some darn good 3s).
Fitting shirts to get the day before my most intense race yet.
With me being able to hold my own through the first laps, it was time for me to get off the back. I looked around and saw my efforts stacking up in a similar fashion to everyone else's. If you ride hard to catch wheels, close gaps, or chase breaks, you're gonna hurt and need some recovery after folding into the peloton as the pace slackens. Once you'v recovered a bit, you are ready for another bout or two on the front making your presence known - giving scares to everyone looking to mark attacks and counter attacks swinging throughout the race.
Attacks were flying the whole time. I went with what I could - really just testing my legs and knowing that I was in position to stay up there and not let every gap open up in front of me. I had nothing to prove - and everything to prove. I followed people's wheels as constantly as I could and finally a break of six went off the front. Apparently, that break turned into four as two drifted back to the peloton. No one seemed to know exactly who was in the break, but those who figured out that their team wasn't represented did what they could to bring it back - to no avail.

I believe this guy won, but the peloton was way back.
 Once one or two would pull hard on the front from this chasing peloton, everyone would quickly slow as teammates of those in the breakaway group, having followed the chaser's wheel to the front of our group, made sure no one could continue a fighting workload to reel the breakaway back in, and riders would continue to jockey positions and wait for the next surge while trying to take in drinks and leg recovery. It was all for nought and the group ahead would take to top four spots. The finishing laps brought an initial slowing for our group as riders were readying themselves for a speedy final circuit. I knew I wasn't about to have the final kick some of these guys had, but I also knew that my legs weren't spent and I did have something left for a dig. On the second to last left-hand bend toward the finish someone 3 feet to my left had a wobble with his bike - whether he was about to go into the grass or just lost focus, I'm not sure. either way he made a bunch of people behind him and I touch their brakes and lose positioning as I continued to find my line. The last, right-hand turn to the uphill finish was mixed with riders in full sprint and riders slipping back having done their jobs and not caring for their position on the line. I tried to take advantage of every rider dropping back to finish 16th overall.
By The Numbers. (FINALLY FOUND MY COMPUTER!) I rolled beyond the finish for over a lap, so my numbers are taking that into effect - keep that in mind. This was a 36 mile race, but what I recorded is as follows: Distance - 39.75 miles. Elapsed Time - 1:33:58. Av Pace - 2:21/mi. Av Speed - 25.4 mph. Max Speed - 39.3 mph. Calories - 3047. Av HeartRate - 170 bpm. Max HR - 190 bpm. Total ascent -1654 ft.

I held my own in the race and didn't get dropped. Sweet. I look forward to racing these and other elite level racers. I know it's not the biggest deal in the world to be racing at this level, but to me it's just another stepping stone and I will keep up as best I can. I don't suppose I will be able to hold on to every race that I encounter with this kind of talent, but I'm not ever giving up. The talent was HUGE by the way... former national champion Paul Martin was in the mix and apparently Steven Brewer got a few pictures of me leading him in the peloton. I haven't seen any photos Steve took, but I'm excited. I don't know if I'll ever have a race at this level where a camera is focussed on me again. Thanks to him and David for taking photos and everyone there watching and supporting me race. I had a blast.
Doing some work in front of former national champion, Paul Martin.
Again thank you all for reading and thanks to Duane for hosting David and me Friday night, and showing us what a Kent State frat party is all about (nothing special, folks). Chipotle after the race was unbelievably good. Almost as unbelievable as a helicopter crashing a few blocks between my apartment and IUP's campus in the middle of me writing this (everyone was relatively okay).
I snapped this and a few other quick ones before police shooed us away.
I'm not sure when my next race will be, but I think I will take a bit of a rest as this next week is my final undergraduate Finals Week and graduation on Saturday will keep me out of racing. I have some good stuff to look forward to with my new team and I will be talking with them to see where they will be testing their legs. I'll add more pictures (of the race) as I see fit.


  1. Hardcore effort man. Sporting the crimson well.

  2. How were you racing against Cat 1s and 2s? Was it an open race? Even if you race Collegiate B you shouldn't have been racing Cat 1s and 2s.

  3. Anon, I was indeed racing 1s and 2s - certainly some pros. It was a cat 1/2/3 field and nowhere else for a 3 to go. I have only raced one collegiate race this season and it was as a C just before I was able to upgrade to a 3. I don't see why I wouldn't be able to race 1s and 2s anyway? Collegiate is its own flavor.