Sunday, August 31, 2008

Elves and More Greenford Road Race. whoa!!

Northern Ohio seems to be a hot bed for great clubs putting on great races. The newest on the block is the Greenford Road Race put on by Dan Quinlan and the Elves and More Charity race team.

For a first year race it did pretty well on attendance, but i bet with an earlier date and 2nd year status and a lot of happy racers spreading the good word it will be like Shreve and grow and grow. Its also for a good cause as well.

Ive been thinking about this race for awhile now. I was excited because of the climbing*, but a bit scared because though I am a Cat.2, I dont race very long road races. So at a reported 64 miles and 3900' of climbing over 8, yes 8 laps, it was going to be a test for sure.
*it was more gradual long grades, all in the big ring and all done fast!!

It all started with my Team Columbus Team mate Brian Batke locking himself out of his car. A AAA guy came and sorted him out, but left him with virtually n time for a warm-up. So I didnt attack early and when people did jump I was quick to jump on board till Brian was good and ready. Dan Quinlan was sending off some early warning shots and when Brian started to cover them I knew he was ready.

Cioccio took off and Batke covered it. It was my turn to cover the next move, but poorly positioned and a bit gassed I let Chris go, but Brian didnt. They got a decent gap that came and went. I covered everything that seemed a threat to bring it back, but I did not race negatively, but I do think I snuffed out the will of the pack to chase. Eventually they tired and were brought back. I am not 100% sure, but I think we were 3 laps in now and I countered there move I think on the rollers on, appropriately enough Roller Road and held the gap for a couple miles when I was reeled in.

But I was only joined by 4 other guys including Ryan form Virginia Pro cycling (very tall, VERY strong rider Ive never seen before), Jake Lifson from Indiana Medical, Dan Quinlan of Elves and More and of course Brian Batke. Long story short the next 3 laps were hard. Fast pace (25mph) rotating paceline that never relented, even in the feed zone. I was sucking down goo and eating a bit of energy bar quite often.

I was in my deep aero position in the drops for so long my triceps and neck were aching to go along with my tired legs and back. I had to stay like this because it was a windy (and sunny and warm) day. Especially going North on Lisbon. Headwind all the way.This was a hard break and I was glad we had 5 guys. Rotating this hard with only 2 others would have been a LOT worse.

3 laps to go and I am thinking about one more attack or raised pace and I'll never make it another 24 miles. But I survive lap 6 and 7 with the same pep talks to myself. Just hang on, go till you cannot go anymore. And when Ryan who had been pulling through harder than anyone all race long and pulling us 440 watts up the climb on W. Middletown Road attacked and took Brian with him I tried to play good team mate, but Jake Lifson lit it up on the descent coming up to the tight downhill corner onto Roller Rd. and brought us back.

We went through the feed zone and for the first time no one seemed interested in racing their bikes anymore so I pulled through and got the paceline going again. But my pulling through was getting weaker by the lap. I was so close to being dropped on the 7th lap I warned Batke to not get stuck behind me if I went pop.

When we made it a ways down Washingtonville Rd. there is the longest grade. Not steep, definately big chainring, but hard enough, especially after 7 laps. This is where I believe Rudy Sroka attacked ot break up the Masters race. I didnt want anyone to attack Brian yet so after I had rotated off the front and the pace had seemed to die I rolled off the front from 3rd wheel only hoping to disrupt attacks and put everyone but Brian on the defensive.

But this is where it got strange. I roll off dont hit any high wattage or even stand up, but a minute later the 4 guys are a speck behind me. I roll down to Roller rd and expect the worst from my legs, but I run a high cadence to try and save my legs, but still try to push hard on the pedals down hills or up when need be. I am so paranoid I keep looking back ,looking back. I mean I am so fried and not having thought about holding a gap to the line I am really in hurtsville.

I make it to the final two rollers on Roller Rd. and the steep little climb before turning right onto Lisbon for the maybe 2 mile stretch to the line. I can see way behind me the whole time and still no one. Is this for real? I see the 1km sign and I finally allow myself to start to really back off.

I finally make it to the line and I yell as I cannot believe my good fortune and the level of effort physicaly and mentally it took just to finish, but to win!?!?! NO WAY this just happened, but it did. As soon as I rolled to and past the finish line I wanted to fall over in the grass in the fetal position till all the pain went away!! And I was in a lot of pain.

So what do I do? What any amateur racer does, I rode up the road to the water bottle I tossed a few laps ago so I wouldnt forget to pick it up!! Thats how I roll baby. Cheaply!!

And even though we were all marking Ryan as the threat due to how well he ripped our legs off all day (is he a Cat.1 or semi-pro?), Brian got away too and rolled in for 2nd. Yessiree a Team Columbus 1-2!! Can Idedicate a win? I'd like to dedicate this one to Tris and his new baby girl!! YOu would have savored the suffering today, but alas we had to do it without you. Brian and I did think about you as we cooled down.

So that's how it went yesterday. And this closes my road racing Calender I believe for 2008.

And what a Year its been. Starting with tearing my MCL in February cross country skiing and barely training for a month. I rode pretty aggressively at Malabar farms on barely any training. I won a few Time Trials (2nd and 3rd at others) including my age group at States, went to Masters TT Nationals where I was only 15th in my AG (46th/200 men overall), but without a doubt had my best TT performance ever!! I got upgraded to Cat.2 (a lifelong dream) and backed that upgrade up with 3 road race wins. And in almost every race where I either podiumed or had a field finish I tried very hard to play my part in getting Tris or Brian a win or podium as well. And they definitely played a huge part in all my wins. I even won a Biathlon (374 entries)last week. Thanks again to my great team mates and to my great coach. Its been one heck of a year.


Scott Thor said...

The solo wins are the best in my opinion. Congrats on a spectacular season!

Ray Huang said...

Thanks Scott and what an awesome job your doing in the Cali Pro1/2 scene.

I took a day to recover, but Brian Batke went to Tamarack, won 3 primes and the race too!! I was in no condition to race and even today doing intervals I was HUR, HUR, HURTIN'!! I think I made myself sick on 30 second sprints.

Presque Isle coming up!!

Rick said...

Congrats, Ray!

thump said...

Ray, Congratulations on that ride. That's fantastic. That was a hard course. A hard, hard course. And I think I could ride that hard right hander one hundred times and I'd never be able to get through it as smoothly as I'd like! Congratulations again, and you're having an incredible season.

Now, for the cross!

Ray Huang said...

THanks Rick and Thump!!

I went through that right hander pretty balls out one lap and I was slightly braking on the exit!! A little assurance brush of the brakes!! I didnt need to, but my hand made em do it!! The lap I broke away I took it just a bit easier, but still tried to rail it pretty hard.