Monday, April 14, 2008

Turtle Pond Circuit Race

It's 5:17 AM and I'm awake before my alarm. Oh yes, I'm a bike racer again. Time for the morning routine, stuffing as many carbohydrates as my half awake stomach can take, and double checking the weather report for the day. Yep, still cold.

I met RMM and Nick at the shop for a 6:15 departure to the Turtle Pond Circuit Race. At 46 miles the race marks my first official road race. My legs ache a bit, protesting the early hour, but they mean well. Its anticipation.

We arrive with ample time - and its bloody cold. I opt for the wool, the R2, the short sleeve, and finally long sleeve jersey. Down below its embrocation and leg warmers. I roll out with Nick to check out the start of the course.

The course jumps right into the only real climb, about 1.5 km in length, right out of the start. A once over reveals its definitely a small ring climb, but I'm finding no trouble keeping myself in control in the saddle. Four laps, five times over the hill, with the finish at the top of the hill.

The race rolls off and there's an immediate attack off the front. We had already decided to let any early break go, as there was a solid 2 miles of downhill after the climb, and it wasn't worth killing it early on to pull in a failed break. The first lap is uneventful - the three sharp right hand corners come as big surprises and cause little sprints but the pack stays together. I spent most of the lap sitting about 35 back from the front of the group. As we come through to climb the hill for the second time I settle into a reasonable rhythm in the saddle, and quickly find myself up in the top 10 guys in the peleton. At this point the break has about 30 seconds on the field and I'm getting concerned. The group is taking the downhills a little too easy and the break is gaining more time on the descents and rollers than anything else. I move to the front and with the help of RMM try to get a chase group formed. Oh wait, cat 4 racing, no one knows how to work together. It became painfully obvious that this wasn't going to work, so we peeled back into the shelter of the group and let it ride out.

A few groups try to pull off the front, and a separate chase group manages to break away and dangle about 20 seconds ahead until they are finally caught. By the last half of the final lap I'm feeling antsy, so I quickly move from midpack up the yellow line and take a jump off the front, in hopes of picking up the pace and stringing out the group. A few guys follow and our pace picks up - finally. Now RMM and I are maneuvering within the counter attacks, each of us covering anything off the front. We manage to drop 30 seconds off of the lead group in a few miles. Coming to the turn before the final climb I'm sitting at the head of the pack. I settle into my rhythm and get prepped for the climb. About halfway through a group makes a jump and comes around my left hand side. I drop a few gears and stand to sprint after them. I'm immediately in a world of pain. No acceleration at all. I actually start to fall back. I settle back into the saddle and spend about 15 seconds recovering from my effort. Another group gets past me and I make it to the line somewhere in the top 25 (I haven't seen the results yet).

Still, it was a solid performance. I'm still in my base miles period (I do have to race well into December remember) and this was not a priority race. Mainly I wanted to some distance under my belt before I tackled the insanity that will no doubt be Battenkill next weekend.

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