Sunday, May 22, 2011

Where's The Podium? #8: Oxford Road Race - 35th

Firstly, I will allow myself to say that I don’t feel great about this one, but I guess I have to live with it just as much as I have to live with successes.. and the successes will come eventually, friends.
New helmet, new paint on glasses, same old sport.
Secondly, I will say that what they have posted as the "official" result as I've noted in the title of this post is wrong, but either way... at least I didn't DNF, and it really doesn't matter beyond top 20... 10... 5? Oh well. I am near happy to suffer for as long as they will let me. At least the drive to Chris's place in NW, Washington DC was really nice. I do need to visit DC more often (any pictures are from that drive through - to and from).
If you haven't already guessed, I was again dropped for the second weekend in a row. I was really hoping for a competitive showing at this race. Sure, I didn't know the course, but considering the fact that this is a Cat 3/4 race and thus more acute to my perceived skill level than a 1/2/3 race, I had a mind to make something of this race as far as a result. I was optimistic in the warm-up and first lap of the race.

The course that was described to us (Chris Gould, Jonathan Lyons, and me) was that of the rolling terrain type with no real decisive climbing and generally a fast, but fun loop. The 3/4 racers were to go around 8 times and then turn off that loop for the finish at the end of a 1.5 mile rolling portion that kicked the race off as the original neutral stretch.
This Oxford RR marked the first race I would participate in with new teammates on the road. From the nullified neutralization, WWVC's Chris Gould took off after an optimistic breakawayee for about a lap and a half. I did my best to mark any surges on the front and I even tried my hand at "taking a pull." I did know the break wouldn't work, but it was all a learning experience for me with a teammate up the road. I didn't much mind being reminded (as if I didn't already know) to cycle-through if I was to find myself on the front "trying" to give a pull. I wasn't too much of a pill on the front, but it would all be for naught anyway.

As entirely expected, Chris and his person of doomed co-resistance to the inevitable were folded back into the peloton and I slipped back toward the middle of the pack. It was at this time that I realized my legs were beginning to feel quite fatigued and overall too heavy to keep me dancing with the peloton over the punchy, yet,  decisive enough climbing that was going on. As it happened, I was gapped by the field and left wondering a lot of things (more on that later).

I lost track of Jonathan and Chris at about that time as well, only hoping that they were up in the field or at least somewhere more comfortable than where I was. I ended up time working with 1 then 3 riders to actually latch back on to the field the following lap, (3rd lap maybe?) but the timing of that regrouping left little for recovery. I knew that within a minute of getting back together with the peloton there would be another climb and that I would most certainly lose the chance for remaining with them for the rest of the race.
That was the story as the suffering continued and the legs just pumped as best they could. Eventually, Chris and another cyclist caught up to my efforts and the three of us would work and talk together for the rest of our race as they pulled us a lap early.

Having to face getting dropped for the second weekend in a row had me wondering about my cycling quite a bit. Am I going to improve beyond this point? Well, of course I will. Okay, I am not as strong as I thought I was/would be/hoped to be for this race, but it's not the only thing I have had/will have going on this season. Mind you, I'm making an effort to not put myself in an overly confident, nor overwhelmingly discouraged cyclist. I don't want to think my moving up to a Category 3 racer was any sort of fluke or premature happening, but I still have a long way to go. These utter defeats remind me of my Cat 5 days where I didn't know how to train, race, or deal entirely well with such circumstances. Today, however, I know consistency and not giving up is key. I didn't DNF like so many this race. I didn't want to stop. At this level, I will not allow myself to do that. Whether I am first to the line or the official pulls me, I am not done with any race until I am officially done (barring injury or mechanical).

My race preparation needs work. Not just the morning of, (this race-day morning wasn't bad at all) but the week before. I need to dive back into that training bible and get my focus back. My diet needs focus as well. I will be back at it all soon.
I was happy to meet another teammate, race with the two there and I still look forward to racing with more teammates soon. Also, a Congrats to teammate Joe Harar for taking 2nd place in the Cat 5 race! I'm not sure when my next race might be at this point. Next weekend sure has options, but work might take priority so as I can grab some needed hours and overtime pay. We'll see.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Found your blog looking for Oxford results, sounds like you did a bunch of work at the front! Do you know if there are any photos or videos from the race anywhere?

  2. Thanks for the comment, but I will tell you I wasn't there much beyond the second lap. Anyway, I have been on the hunt for pics/video of the race. I will be sure to post up here if I find any.