So today was my first race. I'm pretty happy right now. All things considered. It was a beautiful day to race. After really crappy weather all week it was 65 degrees and sunny here today - no wind either.
I'm racing on the same team as 2Roadies. I'm still getting to know everyone. Everyone seems really cool though. My race was at 8:10am and was an hour drive away, so I had to get up at the un-Godly hour of 5 am this morning to be out the door by 5:30 to make it by 6:30. I was the 3rd car to pull into the park.
Last night I wanted to go to bed early, but kept finding one thing or another to do until it was almost 10:30. One of my cleats (Look) was wearing thin so I thought I better replace them real quick. Just take a second right? No biggie..... (insert foreshadowing here...). The new Look cleats come with a new screw that takes a smallish allen wrench. Allright! 'bout time! I can get these things really tight now.... (insert more foreshadowing...) Well, I pull off the old cleats, position the new, tighten the first two screws and crank down really good. Then start the 3rd screw..... And immediately strip the screw hole in my Specialized Carbon Comps!!!! (remove forshadowing and insert really bad word right here...) I'm staring at my shoes for a few minutes trying to figure out what to do. Finally I decide to dig out my old shoes as I just don't trust 2 screws to hold my cleat in a race. No buckles, only velcro straps - crap. Oh well. I start to put the new cleats on them, only to immediately realize that the two screws I successfully put in the first cleat are so tight it will take napalm and a jack hammer to remove them. I strip the screws trying to back them out and they don't budge. (insert 2nd really bad word here) They are, IMO, permanently fixed to the shoe. When mankind has ceased to exist, vanishes forever to oblivion, I am firmly convinced there will be nothing left but perhaps a few Mayan remains, some styrofoam food containers, and these screws imbedded into my carbon comp shoes..... I end up taking the best of the two old cleats and the one new cleat left and mounting them on my old shoes. So be it.
So, I arrive at the pre-dawn hour. Strap everything on. Warm up. They call us to the start line. I line up. Am I nervous? Of course I'm nervous. Butterflies the size of vultures are on spin cycle in my stomach. We start out. I have a hard time at first just because of nerves. The pace isn't bad though. Actually, its kind of easy. I start to relax. Hmmm, this isn't so bad. I come to our first hard right. Everyone slows way more than I would on some training rides, and I relax some more. The first lap (6.2 mile loop around the park) I spend in the middle or the front of the pack until the end, when a decent little hill pops up. I take it in too high of a gear and get dropped to the rear of the pack. Doh. I'm good on flats and downhills though, and make it it up as soon as the hill is over, and am right back in the middle of things on the beginning of the second lap. The pace isn't bad, and I'm realizing I've got a problem on that hill, so I decide to move up to the front on the downhill/flat sections to compensate for the hill. I overdo it and end up passing everyone on the left and ending up at the front of the pack. Nice. I couldn't find an opening to get right into the pack sooner. Doh #2. I ride up there for a little while and slow my pace hoping someone will come around me. It took them a while. On the hill the second time I dropped to my small ring in front (compact) and spun the hill out. I still get passed by a couple of folks but not that many. Cool. Setting up for the 3rd lap....
Suddenly, things get harder. At the time, I thought the group just simply picked up the pace and was pulling away. Crap. I'm hurting - big time. My legs are burning. My wheels feel "sludgey". My hearts coming out my throat. The main pack starts to gap me, and I can't respond. I feel like I'm in a quagmire. Damnit. The pack goes around a turn, and thats the last I see of 'em. I'm left with the straglers. Great. I quit pushing so hard and regroup. Well, obviously I'm not in contention for anything. I now just want to finish best I can. I let my heart rate drop then I take turns with the stragglers pulling. On the last lap I get my wind back a little. I thought I'd drop them on the downhills, but am actually suprised when I drop them on the uphills. Weird. I pick off a few riders on the way to the finish line (4 laps). I finish 29th out of 40'something riders. Oh well, for a first race....that's not too bad....
Later I'm hanging out, and my buddy Ryan shows up. Haven't seen him in a while (he's a NCAA champ from a few years ago, btw. Like '97'ish I think...? Didn't know until he showed up for a ride in the jersey one time....) I'm showing him my new Topolino wheels. He's checking 'em out and spins the rear wheel....it stops after half a revolution. What? We make sure the brakes centered and spin it again.... Same thing. crap. He spots it immediately. He grabs a spoke and then wiggles it - totally loose. The wheel's so badly out of true its rubbing the right brake arm. Niiiiiiice.
I'd like to blame it all on the wheel. It was rubbing some - kind of "lightly but enough to stop it. I know I'm not at the fitness level I should be at either though, so I don't know how much differently things would've turned out. Honestly I think I would've finished at least 5 spots higher I think.
Oh well, in spite of my equipment failures I had a good time. It was fun.
BTW - most of my teammates raced in a later race, including 2Roadies. I snapped a few pics. 2Roadies did pretty well. Definitely a top 10 and maybe a top 5 finish? Will leave it to his own race report, but will post a couple pics.
At the start. We're the guys in orange and blue.
the start of the race:
One of the laps. I just snapped when I saw one of our uniforms, my camera was acting up and a couple of times just wouldn't take a pic....(strike 3 on equipment failure list...)
Lastly - waaaay off topic, but what the h3ll. must be nice...