Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tour De Richland. aka Malabar A race

Expectations. Some set them high and some set them low. I tend to think I try and set them realistically. Today my expectation was that I would eventually get dropped and I hoped I would have a couple of guys to roll around with. IN the meantime I wanted to make a good showing for Team Columbus and my teammates. With the powers of positive thinking I did allow myself to think grander, but I didnt expect it.

The course is a fun one with a reported 1 mile climb that is a steady grind that tops out with not one but two steep right hand bends. I get 0.84 miles, but whos counting. It hurts and thats all that really matters. Afterwards its a short descent then right into the first of these rollers that are really killers. Its hard to say, but I'd say there are at least 4 steep rollers on the backside. Then its out onto what I call the highway for 5 miles of mostly flat, but windy open roads to the start finish, which this year was across form the parking lot, not up the 1 mile climb.

Everything started easily enough on the first 10 mile loop. First attack was from INferno racing's Jim Baldesare. When he came back Marco took off next from Inferno and he was given some room and got a small gap. Soon aftewards my teammate Brian Batke bridged and again no one reacted. He bridged then dropped Marco. Tris and I sat in the pack and chased after, but did not work in the few bridge attempts.

On lap 2 up the big climb I went to the front and set tempo and before the first right hander Paul Martin attacked and although I knew what to do, the speed in which he took off was too much. So much in fact that we chased, but no one could catch him. He went after Brian whom he felt needed reeled in because he had built a 1:47 lead!!

On Lap 3 I again went to the front for the climb and coming over the top near the front I saw Paul was gone and Brian was hovering within sight. After recovering for the climb I launched my first attack of the race to try and bridge to Brian. if I drew a crowd I would sit up, but if I got away solo I would try and get across. I had my heavy, but aero Powertap wheel this race and I was quite happy with my numbers. I only bring up the weight because I left a 300+ gram lighter rear wheel and 230 gram lighter front wheel in the car because I figured aero would trump weight.

So anyways, I get a gap, putting out good power and sometimes Brian is coming back to me and I think maybe I can do this. We go the whole backside and as I descend to the highway I look back and theres guys coming. I sit up and wait and only 4 guys of the 11 in the main field have closed the gap and Tris is one of them. So now we are a group of 5 with Brian then Paul up the road.

Laps 3 and 4 are pretty uneventful and it seems everyone is waiting for the finish. I have other plans because I have a teammate in the break. Finally after 40 miles we start the last lap. I again set the pace up the climb and I try and drill it over the top, but they get right on my wheel. The course makes the race hard all by itself, but clearly the pace hasnt been hard enough as this attack is brought back quickly. A couple miles later I decide to try and soften up the pack of 5 of us some more and launch another attack. I dont get much of a gap initially, but I put my head down and within a minute I am pulling away, but I am not putting out enough power and my legs hurt.

Tris said eventually they put the chase on the rollers to bring me back and he said it was a hard move. Good!!

Once back in the group I think, why isnt anyone attacking? What a perfect time to drop me, then a cat 2 rider from Ohio State starts upping the pace before I am recovered and I am fading off the back. Luckily they all relent and up one of the steepest rollers I get back on legs screaming in pain. Like someone hitting nails in my thighs with a hammer. That was close. But its supports my belief to never give up because every racer is human. They cannot go that hard forever. Well maybe Batke and Paul can!! I decide to chill for now.

I didnt say, but every lap on the highway we do a very nice rotating paceline the entire 5 miles. Its almost like a duty when in these small breakaways in the Cat1-3 races that some show of "skill" at things like this must be exercised. Its also entertaining to see everyone grab a gell to eat at the exact same time on the 4th time down the highway to prepare for the last lap.

We hit the highway one last time and everyone looks fresh. Bummer because i know my aggressiveness has burned up a lot of my energy and I already know I dont have much power left and hard efforts are met with a lot of pain. I try and do something about it for Tris and between us we launch a few attacks. I go about a mile out and then Tris throws down an attack I hope will stick just before the last corner, I sptint last in line and barely stay in touch with the 4 others. But as we make the bend he fades and we go past. I try for the two places just ahead of me, but I am toast as my right thigh was cramping after my last attack. We roll in at 34 mph, but I dont have the energy to pass anyone.

But, a day that started with meager expectations ends up being a great day for the team (2nd, 6th(me)and 7th) and we dropped some good guys on my lap 3 attack. Sure it was only 13 starters, but I'd argue quality over quantity today!! Everyone says they dont have form in the spring, even Brian said he didnt have race form, but he rode 40 miles solo and finished 2nd to the tireless and uber powerful Paul Martin.
But i can honestly say today took me by complete surprise. Maybe some will say you only got 6th (possibly 1st Cat. 3 though) so thats not so great, but I am happy, happy, happy. Oh and sore, sore, sore!! I cannot wait till tomorrow to spin out my legs for an easy, easy 30 or 40 minutes. Oh-also Team Columbus wins the Masters race and gets 2nd with Tom Frueh and Mitch!! A good day. I dont know how Chris Grisvard did yet.


Feel It: The Factory Rider said...

Again, I tell you won't suck and will be twice as good as last year.

Cookie Monster (me), Better Half (my wife), Caylin (our girl) said...

Great job at the race! Nice read Thanks.

Ray Huang said...

Thanks guys.

Heres a mildly amusing factoid from the race, my bike weighed a very non weight weenie 18 lbs (no bottles). Ouch!! I need to get those light weight aero wheels!!

I'll admit, my bike doesnt feel heavy when I climb, but 2 lbs will make a difference in energy expended climbing.

Ray Huang said...

Results are in. looks like I was 2nd Cat.3-darn it!! I knew I should have tried harder to pass Andrew Will. Yeah right, like I wasnt totally gutted as it was.

Men 1-3
1) paul martin
2) brian batke
3) Kieran sikder
4) Mike heagney
5) Andrew will
6) Ray huang
7) Tris Hopkins