Vlees Huis Ronde Road Race
Team Action Sports
75F / 24C
Cycle – Road Race
Total Time = 1h 24m 30s
Overall Rank = 8/34
Age Group = Cat 5
Age Group Rank = 8/34
First road race….I drove up to Bakersfield the night before just to make the morning a little easier. I had a smallish breakfast and drove out to the start. I was only about 15 minutes away but wanted to get there kind of early. I’ve never done one of these before so I was a little unsure how the process goes and how fast registration is etc etc. I was also on my own and I knew I’d have to pin my own number which can be a daunting task in and of itself. As I’ve discovered with bike racing, registration was a snap. I walked up and they handed me a number and off I went.
I headed back to the truck to unload the bike and trainer and get a bit of a warmup in. I’m still recovering a bit from last weekend’s Mulholland Challenge. That race turned out to be 560TSS and you don’t just bounce back from that…that’s some people’s weekly totals. I’m also not a huge fan of warming up. I don’t know why but I don’t really find much benefit. For me, personally, it’s really just to get over that initial shock of doing work and I’m set to go. So 15 minutes on the trainer was good.
This kind of went down the way I expected. The first 5-6 miles was a short downhill followed by a long flat stretch. I knew there was nothing to do here so I just sat in and kept an eye on the leaders.
Once we hit the first hill, the pace quickened a bit. No one really made any kind of a move for a while. The climbing was just really steady and comfortably hard. At about 10 miles or so, one guy rode off the front. Just about 100 yards off the front and settled in. I didn’t think too much about it. A few minutes later, three more guys off the front to close the gap. BTW, we are still climbing. It was a long steady climb. One of the three made it to the front guy. The other two kind of lingered in the middle. I wasn’t paying too much attention to what was going on behind me. I was sitting at the front 2-3 wheels on the chase pack. Again, the leaders were just kind of lingering out there and I thought for sure would come back.
The first turn around is a short descent, turn around, and back up the hill. When we made the turn around, the leaders were still only about 100 yards ahead and if memory serves, the pack was down to about 10 guys. From there it is a short ascent and then a long descent to the first turn off which is again, another out and back. Seeing the first two at the first turn around would prove to be the last time we would see them.
We made the turn to the second and final out and back and the pace stayed roughly the same. The hills on this out and back were a little more severe but shorter in duration. Once we made the final turn around, I couldn’t figure out who the leaders were because we were starting to run into the back of the Masters group that started ahead of us. At this point, our chase group was down to 6. One of the guys said that we had to organize to catch the two ahead of us and we did. The pace skyrocketed and we began taking turns pulling…way to damn hard. I knew there was no way these guys would be able to hold this pace. So when the final climb came which would return us to the main road, the pace slowed as I thought it would. I decided to make a break for it.
I didn’t sprint away. When it was my turn to pull on the final climb, I just tore into the hill at a really solid wattage. I decided that if they were able to stay with me, I would sit in and hopefully chase back with them. If I dropped them, I would make a go at trying to catch the leaders or at least trying to break away for third. When I reached the summit, I looked back and saw no one. The hill was kind of windy so I wasn’t sure how much distance I had…but it was enough to make up my mind.
I had about 6-7 miles to go with a descent, big flat section and small hill at the end. I knew I could stay away for the descent and flat section, I just was worried about the final hill. I put my head down and hammered as best I could. I caught three Masters on the final run in just before the hill. As I passed them, I saw a squirrel playing with something in the road…turned out to be a fricken rattlesnake! Crazy…road right by it and pointed it out to the dudes I just passed.
I looked back but the three masters guys blocked my view and I couldn’t tell how far back the other group was. I had a thought of easing up and letting them catch me just before the hill and then slingshoting around them…but I didn’t have enough info to make that decision. I got to the base of the hill and stood to hammer…yup, nothing. My legs were toast. With about 500M to go, the pack stormed by in a mini sprint. I couldn’t contest. I just ran out of power. I cruised across the line as there was no one for miles behind us.
What would you do differently?:
Only thing I would or of could have done different is to let up before the line, rest/recover and let them catch me before the final climb and then attack again. I guess I also could have covered the first two that went away earlier but I honestly didn’t think they would stay away.
Nothing…loaded up and left
What limited your ability to perform faster:
Probably a little fatigued from prior weekend but that’s ok
This was a great learning experience. I’ve basically decided to take my mandatory 10 Cat 5 races and use them as experiments. See what works and what doesn’t based on my abilities. When I Cat up to 4’s soon, I’ll start looking at what my best chances are to place well and perhaps win.
Thanks to Wattie Ink, 101 Pipe & Casing, Kurt Orban Partners, Wins Wheels and all my great sponsors. I’ll still thank Ashley even though she has yet to see me do a bike race. As always, my coach Brian Stover of Accelerate 3 who is convinced I will make a great bike racer 😉