In the cycling world there is not much that you can do for 5 dollars. You could buy a tube, or some low grade sport drink or the apres ride coffee but every once in a while you get more than you are expecting for 5 dollars. So I did the coin toss in the morning and I think I lost. Loaded up the TCR and headed to my first ever road race.
So to clear some details this was a pursuit type race where riders are split into groups depending on the their ability with it going from slowest to fastest with time gaps between the groups. 5 groups total and I was looked at at registration and mentioned that I did a 5 hour ride the day before. We'll be nice to you and put you in group 4. We were scheduled to leave 6 minutes behind group 3 and group 5 was going to be in chase 1.5 minutes behind us. On a recovered day I'd line up in 5 and I'll explain shortly why.
Conditions were not to bad, light rain mild temperatures, I had to do it. Talked to a couple friends and got the 12 second description on what will happen during the race and what to do. A half way warm up and it was time to go. Instantly the first turn lead onto crap pavement, the type of pavement that my body doesn't like and this would play into things later in the race. Group 4 were all strong riders but the first thing I noticed happening was an excessive amount of surging as people rotated through the pack. Because of that it didn't take long for group 5 to catch us. Somewhere around the end of the first of 5 laps. This turned into a good thing.
Rotations seemed to smooth out for the next few kms and the pace went up. We had a huge gap to gain on the group 3 which was filled with more than one sandbagger. Lap 2 was pretty smooth but coming into the last turn I watched a guy slide out of the back of the pack. No injuries, just some road rash. The third lap started to show the weaker riders and it seemed that there were only 4-5 of us doing all the work. Of course my thoughts started wondering how long my legs will stay at these exertion before I popped.
Near the end of the 4th lap I got caught out on the front for way to long and brought the pace up way to high heading towards a slight rise and as I rotated towards the back I knew I was in trouble. Stuck with the pack towards the line and the first turn to that nasty pavement. I knew that if I could stay in the group I'd hold on but for me the worst thing could have happened. I was on the back and there was an acceleration. This pavement just sucks the power out of my legs. I held on then there was another surge, then another. Gap!! We hit the smooth pavement and there was about 50 feet between a draft and me and I got as smooth as possible. There were others blowing of the back but they were spent also and as I went by only one jumped on with me to play chase.
It was a really cruel thing seeing them so close but not able to gain. By the mid way point of the lap it was now playing damage control, Merged into a small group and we tried to bring the pace up again as we continued to pass riders who got spit out of group 3 and our group. Crossed the line at the 1hr 55 and 74 km of pain. It was a good pain though. My legs were feeling it yesterday evening and yet again this morning. Not sure where I finished overall, sounds like there will be some changes in groups for the next race since we were the fastest group and we couldn't catch the supposedly slower groups.
I had a lot of fun and like the last o-cup I'm looking forward to seeing what my legs can do when they are not tired. That old saying of you always get slower before you get faster. Well i was pretty fat up till about 1.5 hours and then I got slow. That was the best way to finish up a hard 3 week training block.
My thoughts on road racing, well I don't think I'll be changing my focus anytime soon. The big killer for me is the surging, being that efficiency junkie that I am with my leg power I'm all about smooth accelerations. I did have a lot of fun and if another one happens to fit into my training schedule I'll be there. The count down to the first 8 hour is on, less than 2 weeks.