Monday, June 15, 2009

State Road Race - Sufferfest extroidinare

It really didnt seem that hot or humid on Sunday. or maybe its all the cool weather weve had for racing this year. Heck last month we started a race in the rain and 40 deg temps. So I actually thought it was a gorgeous day to head out for the 83 mile State Road Race Championship at Ceasars Creek (Waynesville, Ohio). We had our whole Cat.1,2 team in our new livery so that was sweet.

I slept a lot of Saturday so I didnt get a ride in. So I got a nice 40 minute easy warm up and the race started as we expected sedate untill Matt attacked or countered. A few other moves went and a guy I am behind sits up!! I go around to see a big gap and have to drill it to close it. One thing about cat1,2, races they might not always have the highest ave speed (though they often do too), but when its fast, its really fast.

Then the first time to the wild and fun descent. For me it was sight unseen, but some others new it and drilled it. This was also my first time racing with carbon hoops and carbon brake pads in a road race so I took it easy and when we hit the bottom of fast 45mph descent the front groupo was drilling it leaving 3/4 of the field chasing hard for what seemed WAY too long.

As usual Brian was very active as was Dan and Matt opening up opportunities for the rest of us to catch on to fast moving trains. But the first real move came from Tris who attacked past the feedzone up the hill and got away with a couple others. I am a bit sketchy, but Kirk Albers, Dan Quinlan and Brian from Carbon Racing bridged up and the break was established.

On the third lap of 8 10.4 mile loops we were grouppo compacto so at the top of the feedzone I finally felt alright (I was really hurting the first 30 miles anytime anyone lit the afterburners). I rolled off after Brian opened up a few attacks to tire everyone out. At first I hovered about 20 seconds up the road and the field was content to let me hang there. But the field slowed dramatically and then I kept hammering along pretending I was in a 50 mile TT!

Eventually I was so far ahead that I could not see the field even looking back across the fields after making a 90 degree turn. I felt really comfortable and was hoping when I got caught that please, please, please don't let it be by the entire pack. I knew staying away wasnt an option with some of the riders whom I knew were in the race and the length of it too.

I had a scare when coming down the descent I got held up by a driver who was driving so slowly and nearly stopped for the turn even though the marshalls were yelling, I was screaming bloody murder to keep going and the lead car was honking. Some people have the mental capacity of a chunk of rock I got to tell you. or maybe we all scared the piss out of the guy. I didnt dare pass, one because it was too narrow and two I was afraid of being DQ'd. But I lost some time there for sure.

After 20 miles solo I finally saw some guys coming up fast and they caught me right at the top of the feedzone. I made a HUGE mistake and didnt take a bottle from Erin thinking I had a full bottle on my frame. Turns out it was half full and the previous lap my right leg let me know in no uncertain terms that it was cramping solid up the climb. I got 4 good laps where I felt like I could have attacked the field up the climb, but sadly I had 4 miserable laps up the climb too.

The group was now John from Huntington (Two John's Podcast), Kirk Albers and Greg Strock of Texas Roadhouse, Matt Weeks and Dan from Carbon and Josh Halvex of National Engineering.

I can tell you I got dropped a few times and clawed my way back each time. Matt and Kirk and Greg were pulling so hard that it was hard to stay on just in the paceline. Unlike some rotating pacelines where you could remain shaded in the draft, guys were taking longer pulls so fading back you were face to the wind. It was brutal. In fact the entire end of the race was brutal.

This wasnt just your usual pain from the effort. I was in pain all over. Back, muscles, mental tiredness and fighting the urge to quit was foremost in my mind and the cramping up the climb-boy did that hurt. I was lucky to hang on up the climb 2 more times and even got dropped on lap 6, but accelerated over the top and caught back on again. But on lap 7 I cramped so hard at the bottom that I was barely moving forward and I was too tired to chase back on at the top. I tried really hard for a bit on the rollers, but it was not to be. Thats a sick feeling. Watching the break go. But we had Dan and Matt in there and they looked strong.

And since I didnt have a bottle on lap 6 and 7 I was probably (definitely) dehydrating. I watched as the break motored away slowly up the false flat and down the finish straight and then I kept looking back and didnt see anyone. And although we got gaps in the field for the breaks (from the moto and fans on the road) We didnt get too many in the breaks till the end when Andys Burns came up (thanks Andys).

I kept telling myself to keep going as fast as I could maintain and recover and spin the legs out before the climb after the right hand turn. Hopefully I'd have the gap still to crawl p the climb one last time. It wasnt till I started all of the s-turns before the hill that I saw the familiar Grey helmet and our colors of Brian Batke coming up with Jeff Braumberger of Inferno. And it didnt look like anyone was behind them. Brian and Jeff came by and said I should just sit on and I had one word to say to them. "CANT".

So once again quitting or sitting up was not an option because I had such a damn big gap. I was previous to being caught racing for 7th and now 9th. I felt it was worth fighting for. We had 4 Carbon guys racing in the top 10 in break aways. And as expected I was in severe pain up the climb and like every lap the cramps ended just as the road leveled out and turned left. Back in the big chain ring and kept pressure on the pdals as best as i could.

When I was going up the false flat I finally saw what remained of the group coming out of the corner. Andys rode up and said 15 to 17 seconds and faded back. I made the corner for the final stretch and knew I only had that short, fast stretch to the line. I went pretty hard and the group got closer. I went a bit harder and with 200m to go I knew I had it. I crossed the line in 9th and not a second after going past the line the field sprinters flew by on each side.

Quite possibly the most miserable Ive ever been racing a bike. I started off feleling sluggish in attacks and after 6 laps I wanted to pull into the parking lot so many times. I was passing riders from other fields all race long and I must say thanks to all who yelled out some encouragement. It really helped me keep going.

Sadly we didnt take a podium, but we did race aggressive and did put 4 of our guys in the top 10!! Sam got 2nd in the Women's race as well. I think I learned about how deep I can go mentally and physically too. And its not a pretty place that deep into your psyche. One more State Championship on Sunday then i think I need a little break. But boy am I pumped up for the State TT now.

1 comment:

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