Wednesday, 7 May
The state road race championship on Sunday was funny in a bunch of ways. Three stand out.
First, last week was chaotic for me at work. And I worked 12 hours on Saturday. Come Sunday morning, I wasn't really feeling too peppy, mentally or physically. But the sun was shining, so I figured I'd hang in the pack for the first half-lap until we got to the hills and then have a couple of nice easy laps on my own to enjoy the warm sunshine and the smell of tide flats. So much for that plan. Yeah, I got dropped on the first hill but caught back on. On the second hill (there were two climbs in each of our five 10.5-mile laps) I was behind someone who dropped her chain at the bottom so had more chasing to do....on a hill. Repeat that scenario each lap until the fourth, when on the second climb my legs absolutely imploded in pain and forward motion seemed to cease. But STILL I got back on to the front group (which was 8 riders by this time). I could see the writing on the wall, though, so I took a long pull at the start of the last lap and made only a half-hearted effort to catch back on after the first hill. And then I had a nice little solo ride in the warm sunshine to the finish line.
Second, I was comparing notes with a rider in another field after the race, and we made the same observation about cyclocross riders. Come to the steep hills on this course, and they were all about flailing their bikes. The thing that made it sooooo striking in my race was Jen, who spins as comfortably on her bike on a 15% climb as she probably does sitting on her trainer at home with a HR of about 80. She rode up those climbs rock solid, super smooth and steady while more than one or two others were all choppy and jittery around her. I tried to stay on her wheel just because the image was so much more soothing.
The third funny thing was what happened when one rider had a mechanical halfway through the race. Understand that there were about 4 riders each from Teams A, B, and C, plus about 5 of us who had no teammates (several of these had been dropped by this point in the race). A Team A rider gets a mechanical and has to stop to try to fix it. Team A obviously is going to try to keep the pace slow. Well, Team B also joined in that effort ("it wouldn't look good to attack now"). Team C did not do much all day to dictate the race or its pace. So we rode along at 14 mph for a good 5 miles until the rider with the afflicted bike caught back on. In the end, the faulty bike part failed completely and the rider DNFed. Furthermore, the woman who won the race (who was not part of Team A, B, or C) said this nice little rest in the middle of the race played perfectly to her strengths (or, rather, helped her overcome her weakness). Of course, at the time she was agitated and wishing she had teammates in the race so she could drive the pace. It was an odd little incident for midway through a state championship race.