40* and raining Such were the conditions I raced in today, and I felt like a drowned rat. I did decently well although I'm really frustrated right now. Allow me to explain.
The race course was 2 loops around a 13 mile course with some decent climbs and one absolute monster, so about 26 miles total. Feeling more confident after how I did in my last race, I figured I'd stir things up a bit today. The first 4 miles felt super slow considering we were only going slightly uphill, but I sat in the pack chatting for a bit. When we hit the first climb, I moved to the front of the peloton and got on the back of a really weak break that got brought back in within a minute, but I continued to stay out front a couple of seconds ahead of the rest of the riders. After a minute or two of that, I figured I'd try to start another break, and jumped hard hoping to get some guys to bridge to me. But, nobody did so I sat back and let myself get caught. I wound up sitting right at the front for the next 3-4 miles, until I saw another break forming and got myself into it. He too was pretty weak though, and he wound up dropping back. For the next few miles I stayed 10-15 seconds ahead of the peloton waiting for someone to come to me, and finally one last guy did. "Let's make this one stick!", I said. I wound up dropping him in about a minute.
So, I spent the rest of the race in a solo break. I gave myself a major gap when we hit the false flat, by the end of that 4 mile stretch I had what looked like at least 1:30 on the peloton. I'm pretty sure I widened it a bit more when I hit the first hill, since I spun up it in 53-21 (my computer didn't work so I worked with gear ratios instead). I was feeling pretty damn good, and every time I'd look over my shoulder there'd be nobody else in sight. But I still felt like a rabbit being hunted down by a pack of wolves. My team leader always says let other people do the pulling, and here I was out front almost the whole race. Because of that, I found myself feeling kind of nervous and not all that confident, and because of that I tried to push the pace quicker.
I hit the monster climb, which felt like 10% for 250-300ft elevation gain a little fried from trying to go faster than I should have. Half way up it, I looked over my shoulder and saw the peloton reaching the bottom, but at this point I was feeling so crappy I was weaving all over, I stood up a couple of times and stopped pedaling, all the things you're not supposed to do. My HR was above 190, but I did get to the top. I figured I could gain back some time since it was relatively flat up there. But, my stomach was really, really upset from the hard effort. The powergel I had before the race tasted so bad I almost puked, which in retrospect I suppose probably meant "Don't eat me!" Sour Apple- don't ever get that flavor!!!
So I found myself up at the top of this climb dry heaving and softpedaling when I should have been putting the pedal down and flying away. I wound up having to coast a few times and softpedaled for what seemed like forever, but eventually I was able to get my stomach feeling decent and I started going again. There were a few more rollers left, and the rest was downhill. The rollers I handled alright, but downhill sucks when you're alone against the pack.
I kept watching them get closer and closer to me, and I kept pedaling harder and harder to hang on just long enough to reach the finish line in front. We hit the final turn, they were right behind me. My legs were on fire, I turned the cranks harder. .25km to go, I kept a small gap. 150m left, one of them was able to bridge to me. 50m left, he was right next to me.
I spent the whole race off the front for second place.
Now some of you will probably say the lesson I should learn from this is that I should let other people for me, but you're all wrong. Well partially. If I had stayed with the pack, I probably would have won in the final sprint. Believe me, I've taken that to heart. But the real lesson I learned today is that to win, I simply have to get faster! No more of this peloton catches me at the last second BS, I'm riding them off my wheel and they're staying there!
Oh, and don't eat the sour apple power gel.