Saturday, 18 March
Another day of riding with the boys. The Excel team wasn't quite as dominant today, so it took a couple of laps before the winning break was established. And it wasn't all Excel guys (yea, Greg!!). I think our early speed must have been higher than last week because I remember thinking a couple of times that I didn't have five laps of that tempo in me. But I held on to the finish.
Just after this course transitions from little country chipseal road to nice wide smooth county highway, there's a drag of maybe 3-4% that's about 1/4 mile long. You hit the smooth pavement and it suddenly feels like you have a ton of power, and (if you don't ride at the front) you feel like you're just getting sucked effortlessly up that hill. Until you get to the top and you realize your HR is through the roof and they're still going hard. At the top, the road turns and today it was all headwind after that turn. Fortunately, that usually brought the tempo down just in time for me.
Somewhat to my credit, I started AT THE FRONT today and stayed until after the top of the aforementioned drag when the attacks started and I didn't feel a need to cover them. I moved up a couple of times during the first couple of laps, only to get annoyed at guys who liked to push me on the thigh to get me out of the way (this was not a tap on the hip to let me know he was over there) or who thought that a gap of more than six inches between me and the rider in front of me was an open invitation to cut me off. Duke came back to tell me it was way too much work to sit on the back, and I assured him that was actually mostly a myth because riding behind 30 guys who weigh a lot more than you do and are a lot wider than you are is a pretty comfortable place to be--until it gets strung out. Bob came back, moaned about the racing, and then put his arm around me to apologize for whining; officials in follow cars probably don't see that too much in races!
We did not catch the women's 1-2-3 field today, but we did pass a lot of other riders who had gotten dropped from their races. I noticed one very apparent gender distinction. The cat 4 women we passed were all riding single file as far to the right on the road as they possibly could. The men we passed were either (1) riding on the left side of the road (you know, where oncoming traffic would hit them--Darwin awards in the making!) to not be in our way, or (2) riding right smack in the middle of the lane so that our pack had to swarm around them, which was a little confusing sometimes when some guy came rocketing backward through the group. (Draw your own conclusions about what I'm trying to point out here.)
I was pretty happy with my race today. Same average speed as last week. Same weather, damp roads at the start but sunny at the end. I had some bone pain issues that completely distracted me from racing in the last two laps, but since they didn't affect my pedaling, it was easy enough to keep going, behind 30 big guys....
Race results are posted here.