Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tour de Big Island

Last weekend, we headed over to the Big Island where I raced in the Tour de Big Island Stage Race. We stayed in the Hilton Waikaloa Resort. Thanks to the global economic crisis, this temple to capitalism is offering some discount rates. Sonya and the kids spent most of their time there while I raced.

The first race was a time trial along Queen K highway. It was a short, 6 mile effort. I suck at TTs, but I knew I'd have a decent chance in this one as it was short and had a climb at the end. Managed to pull off a 3rd in the Master's 4/5.

Second race was the crit later Saturday afternoon. This was one tough short course with a short but steep climb to the finish. After the neutral lap, we quickly split the field apart on the climb. I managed to hang with the front group for the first 4 laps, then a preem was called. Everyone went to sprint up the hill to fight for the preem, but my legs didn't have it. Managed to hold my position for the rest of the race, finishing 3rd in Maser's 4/5. Timers had some issues counting laps, so I didn't make it into the official results. Oh well, I was shelled off the back anyway, so who cares...glad I didn't waste too much energy trying to chase the lead group.

Sunday morning was the road race. This was a 19 mile loop with 6+ miles of climbing...a total elevation gain of 1600' per loop. The race was a mass start with all categories leaving together headed down the hill from Waimea to Honoka'a, where we reached speeds of 50mph. At the bottom, we made a hard right turn and started a tough climb. A lot of folks started out climbing hard. I decided to ease into the climbing...ultimately this proved to be a good idea. I kept my HR low and slowly worked into a steady rhythm passing a lot of riders on the early-mid portion of the hill. I'd move from group to group, resting when I bridged up and leapfrogged my way up the hill until I ended up in a group of about 7 strong riders. I then sat up to eat a bit, and lost this group. Another rider came up and we worked together to bridge up to this group of 7. On the 2nd loop, we hammered down the hill...I think I saw my speedometer briefly hit 55mph...and picked up 5 more riders at the bottom. At the start of the 2nd climb I kept losing my chain, causing me to lose this group. They didn't get too far ahead, but for whatever reason I didn't bother chasing. In the end, this was probably a bad idea. I rode most of the climb by myself. About 4 miles into it, I looked back and saw a few riders about 30 seconds behind me. I pushed up the pace until I reached another rider....a Cat 3 rider who had to go 3 laps. Since I was only a few miles to my finish, I told him it would be ok for me to pull him until I needed the help. At that point, I gave a max effort to put the group behind me out of site. Never caught up with the larger group of 12. I ended up being 4th guy to finish the B race, 2nd in my category. Had I known the winner was in that group of 12, I would've made an effort to latch back on to the group at the bottom of the hill...don't know if I could've pulled away in the end, but I could've tried.

Here are the results...ended up with a 2nd & 2 x 3rd place positions...good enough for 2nd overall in Master's 4/5. The race was a lot of fun...great courses, excellent support. They even gave out free burritos at Tako Taco after the race. What more could you ask for?

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