I did my first road race last weekend and had a blast! For those of you familiar with the northern cal. circuit it was the Snelling RR. After doing a lot of group race simulations, group rides and practice on rollers, I felt pretty comfortable in the peloton. Moving around, staying on peoples' wheels and the tightness of the pack (laterally as well as with drafting) felt good.
I noticed some interesting things though about halfway through the race. I'm more of a sprinter based on personal experience and also what I've seen in lab and field tests. When it comes to climbing, I can go as fast as the lead women but it takes it's toll a bit more on me. I try to be towards the front at the start of the short climbs so that if I drift back during the climb, I will still be able to catch up on the downhill if necessary. I actually felt great during the first part of the race and was able to recover well enough from the climbs to not get flicked off like some others. At about the halfway mark though, there was a steep but short climb followed by a brief downhill section and then a sharp 90 degree turn. The lead riders attacked at this point and I found that I just couldn't get my legs to sprint this time. It was definitely a leg issue and not a lung issue. A few minutes later I was feeling like I had some legs back, but of course the peloton was long gone. I finished strong and was able to pass a couple of stragglers by working with another rider along the way and trading pulls.
My question is, what made my legs shut down after the halfway mark? Is it a lactate clearance issue? I was fine earlier in the race, but serious, it was like they said "no, we aren't going to sprint anymore" and it took a few minutes to recover, whereas before I was ok after maybe 30 sec. What kind of work could I be doing in order to improve on whatever the problem is? I don't think it's necessarily an endurance issue because I have no trouble riding centuries with minimal stops. It's the constant sprints or hillclimbs/recovery that kill me after about an hour.