Yesterday I rode the Dick Evans 112-mile Road Race. This is the biggest cycing race in Hawaii with about 200 riders lining up to start. Sunday was a great day for racing with only a few moments of rain at the start and light winds...that's a rarity for some parts of the island, and since the route is 'round the island' some bad weather is to be expected. We started at 5:45 am in Hawaii Kai at a controlled pace (20mph) with full police escort through Honolulu and the Pearl Harbor area. At about the 30 mile mark, the official vehicles move out of the way and the race is opened up on a short 2-3 mile climb that sorts out the contenders from the rest of the pack. I thought about charging up the climb with the lead pack and then falling back with a slower group...would've been cool to see how far I could've gone, but I didn't want to burn out. Instead opted for the more sensible strategy of finding a handful of teammates on the climb, then riding with them for the rest of the race. About halfway up the hill about 5 of us from my team linked up and started working together. It was good to have them around, since I knew they'd all pull their fair share. After the climb and the folowing 4 mile descent to the North Shore, we'd formed a group of about 20 folks from various teams. Things got a bit more complicated, as about half the guys were doing all the work. We flew through the North Shore and before long we were down to a group of 10...at that point I only had 2 teammates, and I felt like popping off the back. The pace was tough...we were probably only a couple of minutes behind the lead pack. At around 70 miles, as I was struggling at the back of the line, teammate (and my ride to the starting line) Dave was up near the front when the ead guy dropped his water bottle. Dave hits the bottle, then flies off his bike at 20mph headfirst into a telephone pole. Needless to say, that ended our charge as a few of us stop to make sure Dave was OK and call an ambulance. That was the second headfirst crash I saw in this race...there were plenty of folks falling down when the peloton was all together at the beginning, but this was by far the worst accident I saw. After we confirmed the ambulance was on its way, we took off again...eventually latching on to a slightly slower group of about 15-20 riders. This group had a lot of passengers with only a handful of us doing any work. At one point, it seemed that teammate Corey and I were the only ones working, so I decided to ratchet up the pace on a couple of hills to drop all the passengers. Eventually we end up linking up with another teammate on this nasty 2 mile hill at the 100 mile mark. The hills began to take their toll on my legs and at the 107 mile mark I got a massive cramp in my calf...I waved goodbye to the guys and decided I just needed to do what I could to survive. The cramps shot up through both legs, then I started having troubles with my chain...luckily I was able to get the chain back on the ring just by shifting. If I had to get off the bike, that would've been the end. A couple miles later on the Mokapu climb, I got my legs back and started closing in on the guys...couldn't quite close the gap. I was still able to finish strong at 5:56...very satisfied with this time, since I just started riding again back in May, and really didn't focus on the longer distances until July. This ride was 40 miles longer than my longest ride of the year. If I had another month or so of training, I really think I could've hung with the peloton for most of the race. Too bad I won't be here to ride next year...hopefully there will be a few bike races before I deploy. Of all the events I participated in this year (3 x triathlons, 1 x duathlon, 2 x running races, 1 x swamp romp, 1 x metric century), this was definitely the most fun.
It was good to see the family at the end. Carter and Jack seemed to enjoy themselves, especially all the post race snacks.
Sonya was excited, 'cause she got to take this picture of THE BACHELOR. Although I'm in the foreground, I'm just a prop. My goal for the day was to give him 'the look' similar to what Lance Armstrong gave to Jan Ullrich during the 2001 tour. Thinking that I probably wouldn't see him on the road, I managed to do that at the pre-race rider's meeting...when the guy next to me turned around and asked him a question, I turned around as well to give a quick stare down.
Here's a partial team photo...some of the guys had a really good day. As a team, we finished 3rd overall.