Saturday, April 17th, 8:00am
10 x 2.5M laps (25M)
Heart Rate: 154 avg / 178 max
16th/32 (55 pre-registered)
The SoYoCo Circuit Race was my first road race of the season and my first since July of 2009. It was my first race on H8TR, my new Specialized S-Works Tarmac. Last year I woke up late and missed the start of the 4/5 race and had to do the 3/4 race. I went off the back and made it one lap from the end of the race before I was finally pulled and had to DNF - it was my only DNF of my 2009 season.
The course is a 2.5M loop that goes right into a downhill that as Dr. K put it "will make your chamois wet". That because it goes right into a 90 degree turn at the bottom on a less-than-perfect rural PA road with some dips and gravel thrown in for fun. The rest of the course is mostly rolling or false flat and ends on a steep kicking climb back into the finish.
Even though I finished out of the money and the points this was a great race for me. My fitness was noticeably improved from 2009. But more importantly my confidence on descents, corners and riding in the pack was on a whole different level than in the past. Last year I was very scared of the first corner, lost pack position on the descent in anticipation of the corner, and then had to chase back onto the back of the field. Not surprisingly after a while of that I got dropped.
But this year I was confident, fit and helped control the race. My max speed was 38 mph this year which shows how conformable I was fighting for pack position on the descent.
The 4/5 field had to do 10 laps. Here's how it went down:
There is no good way to get to a 8am race by yourself that's 80min away. Even though I was there by 7am, I had found a slow leak in my rear wheel (on race day of course) and the line for pre-reg'ed riders was about 20 guys long (no wait for day-of registration of course). Once I was reg'ed, bathroomed, pinned, bathroomed, changed, fixed the flat and locked up my car I had just enough time to make to the back of the start line and catch the tail-end of the official's instructions before we rolled out.
There was no warmup incase you missed that.
The race itself was uneventful. I took me about 5 laps to warm up. My teammate Eric, in his first race as a 4, jumped on what looked like a very shaky break w/3 other guys that managed to stick. It stuck, because Eric did most of the work, dropped two of the guys and dragged the other guy around for 6+ laps before dropping him on the last hill to take the W (and $100) for our team.
Back in the pack I did my best to sit on the front and block for Eric but he pulled out of sight early and the peloton was not looking to organize or chase so my job was pretty easy. With about 5 to go I started to feel warmed up and chased down some short lived fliers off the front.
The hill up to the start/finish was actually really hard for me the first few laps when I was trying to spin up it. Around 1/2 way through I just pushed up in bigger gear and found this was much easier to do at race pace. After that I was marching up the hill with the rest of the leaders in the peloton and helped keep our attrition rate high (almost 1/2 the race dropped out).
Eventually the last lap came along and I was pretty excited to finally have a shot and some money/points.
But it was not to be.
With about 800m to go a rider that had been popping off the front all race went on a flier. I burned my last match to get on his wheel because I figured this was the race right there. Right there. We were going to throw down.
But about 15s later the other rider decided that no, this was not to his liking, and sat up. I should have counter-attacked but I would have just pulled the peloton up to the finish and gotten eaten up. With no one else from my team in the group there was no reason to do that. At any rate the peloton was right on my wheel, happy to have me pull the flier in, and everyone sat up for about 300m.
With 300m to go the real attack to the finish started and everyone went passed me like a bad dream. I managed to catch a few guys going up the hill who were completely gassed and took 14th in the field sprint, 16th overall.
I was pissed. I wanted to pull over and sit down. I had blown it.
But after a few minutes I got over myself. You take a chance, some times it's the right one, sometimes it's not. You learn from your mistakes but a lot of it is just luck sometimes.
And finally, since I had started racing like I had a pair -- I could actually say it was all fun anyway.