All I want to do is drink beer and train like an animal.
- Rod Dixon

I'm feeling rough. I'm feeling raw. I'm in the prime of my life.

Race Report: Carl Dolan Circuit Race Cat3/4

Sunday, April 18th, 1PM
Race #5
Cat 3/4
27/52 in cat4 (75 started, 125 total starters)
25.2M - 1:00:00
Partly sunny, windy, cool

The Carl Dolan Circuit Race was my 2nd road race of my 2010 season. It was was only my 2nd time racing in a cat 3/4 field and the first time I've finished a 3/4 race - making it the highest category race I've ever finished. With 125 riders it was also the largest field I had ever raced against.

Held in Columbia, MD the course was in a commercial park and as the 25+ mph average suggests it was FAST. There was only 1 real corner which lead right into the only real course feature - ~400m 2% hill. The course was 2 (sometimes 3) lanes wide and was pretty windy on the back stretch. The accordion effect was yanking the field around like I had never seen before.

I could not have been less prepared for this race in terms of rest and nutrition. My roommates' had a birthday party/BBQ the night before and my plan to "only have a few drinks" failed both miserably and gloriously.

Good times were had.

While I (somehow) did not have a hangover I was exhausted, starving, and dehydrated when I woke up. The next 3 hours were a race against time to get enough water, coffee and food in me to roll up to the line a semi-functional human being. After a large latte w/an espresso shot from Koba Cafe - my awesome local coffee shop, 2 IBProfin, a few liters of water, and a constant supply of leftover pasta salad I somehow managed this.

And so off we went.

The dynamics of the race from the gun were dominated by having so many riders on such an easy and windy course. For most of the course the field was in a tight bunch. But when we hit the corner everyone would sprint out of it and up the hill to the start finish. The result was that every lap the field would get strung out to literally 200m long before regrouping on the back stretch. Despite this the attrition wasn't too high; 52 of the 75 registered cat4s and 37 of the 50 registered cat3s finished.

I had a lot of fun in this race. Riding with 3s and confident 4s was so much more fun than riding in a 4 or 4/5 field. The pace was faster but smoother. There was less breaking into the corners. There was more communication and less yelling. People was ask for "just an inch Kelly" or just put their hand on my side to let me know they were there. For the first time I had a rider try to move into me and I had to elbow him out. No one panicked and he moved out.

It was just so much more fun. Fast, elegant, smooth - it was what road racing should be and I'm glad I finally had the bike skills to enjoy it.

There were a few scary moments, a near crash on a prime lap and a crash at the finish. I heard some people call the race a shit show, but I thought the level of riding was higher than what I was used to -- in a good way.

I am definitely going to try for more 3/4 races in the future.

As for the race itself nothing really exciting happened. I had 4 teammates in the field and while most of us spent some time at the front no one really tried anything. In the last lap 2 laps I lost position and couldn't recover to position myself for the sprint. While I'm bummed I missed the finish it was good to check the progress on my fitness and my handling.

All-in-all a good day but still looking to find the positioning to get it done at the line.

[Photo Credit Jim Wilson: ]

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