Monday, March 29, 2010

1st Road Race in VA

Yesterday was the area's first road race of the year, and my first in VA. Driving down to Charlottesville Saturday afternoon, I was a bit nervous due to the UK game against WV in the Elite Eight, and not knowing how well I'd perform in the race due to my lack of "training" this year.

Saturday night UK plays its worst game of the halftime, I got even more nervous...and by the end I was an emotional wreck. I was glad that we left the Wild Wing Cafe at halftime, or I would've been too hungover Sunday morning for any kind of racing.

After the game, I shift my attention to the race. Thoughts were mainly of the "why the hell are you doing this?" variety. This year I've ridden in a grand total of 1 group ride. Most of my riding has been commuting...although I've taken 2 "extended commutes" to do some loops at Hains Point, I hardly call that training for a race. On top of that, I ran that marathon a week ago. I just didn't want to get dropped...that was the only goal. In a field of 125 Cat 4s, I knew I would have to find a place to hide in the peloton and just survive.

So, I thought about all these things and eventually got to sleep at 1am for a 5am wakeup. I'm pretty obsessive about the weather, so I check 2 weather rain until 2pm, and temps in the 40s for most of the race. Good...just have to decide what to wear.

Show up with about an hour to go. There are a ton of people there...haven't seen anything like it for a road race. I meet my teammates...nice dudes, no one was too serious talking about how we're going to execute tactic A to get rider B up in position...I liked that. A few of the guys had the same idea as me..."not get dropped" or "get dropped as late as possible in the race."

Decide to leave my jacket in the car.

"Neutral" rollout to the start. A lot of guys going up the left side to jockey for position. I start the rollout in the front 1/3 of the peloton...end up in the back 1/3 at the start. So much for neutral.

First lap is pretty tame. It's a ten mile loop with some tight corners and a few small hills. There was always some acceleration on the hills and out of the turns, but the leaders always seemed to slow down and the pack didn't get strung out too bad.

Lap 2 was a little more interesting as it started to drizzle.

Lap 3, drizzle turned to rain. Roads were slick, made the descents pretty hairy...considering there were potholes (from Snowmaggedon) and loose gravel all over the place. I was surprised there were no accidents.

Started lap 4 still in the peloton, but feeling a bit worn. The accelerations on the hills and turns were starting to take their toll. On the first turn of lap 4, there's a small climb. I lost contact with the pack going up the climb...a lot of riders did. I tried to limit the losses...probably 100ft back from the end of the pack. I then did something I never do...hammer the descent. Was a bit risky in the rain, but my the end of the descent I was back in the pack. I'd have to do this one more time in this lap as I was at my limit. With 1.5k to go, I was still in the peloton. At that point, there's a sharp turn. As the pack rounded the turn, the leaders throttled up the pace for the sprint. I lost contact shortly after the turn. I managed to keep myself about 50m back. As I approached the finish, I see 3 dudes laying on the road...there'd been a crash. So, getting dropped when I did may have been a good thing.

So, after the race, I stop to talk to my teammates. After a couple of minutes we decide to ride back to the car. That stopping was a big mistake. I was shaking the whole ride...thought for sure I'd catch hypothermia during that 2 mile ride to the car. I managed to pack up the car and drive back to the hotel shaking the whole way. Didn't feel right until I took a hot shower.

Overall a good race...happy about not getting dropped until the last minute. Even at my best, I can't sprint. The Jefferson Cup lived up to its "Spring Classic" billing, with cold temps, rain and rough roads through a beautiful countryside.

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