So this is the email I just sent to my coach. The persoal references are for him, but i'm too lazy to edit them out. The road race was called "dunnigan hills" It was entirely flat except some super easy rollers and a slightly steeper one at the end. 46 miles. Cat 5 (of course). The report is super long, so if you read the whole thing, thank you. If you have anything at all to add, thanks even more.
Woke up at 6. Had a cliff bar for breakfast & some water. Got lost on the way to the race, showed up at 7, registered by 715. Did the warmup prescribed. Drank a bottle of cytomax. Went to the bathroom. I was ready to race at 8:50, but they were running late and we actually started closer to 9:15.
Mistake #1. I should have gone to the bathroom again here, or drank less. I had to pee from mile 6 until the end.
I started in the front of the pack at roll out. I wanted to stay near the front so that I could see breaks, and to avoid the beginners (like me) in the back of the pack. The price for this was that I had to pull for a bit. It was strenuous but I think I pulled a total of 5 minutes in the first 30 miles. I got to learn who the stronger guys were, and which guys (1 in particular) were incapable of riding in a straight line while pedaling.
Around mile 20 I meandered to the back of the pack. Pedaling seemed a lot easier back there, but there was constant braking and surging. It was very "accordian-ish" as opposed to the slightly harder, but more steady tempo at the front.
Miles 30-44 were one straight flat stretch of road with what felt like a headwind. I situated myself near the front, but far back enough that I didn't have to pull. I kept looking back for an attack. When the first real attack came around mile 40, I was boxed in at the moment. By the time I got free the group of 3 was 100 yards up and all out of the saddle. I had been waiting for this all day and decided to go catch them.
So I chased off after the breakaway once I had gotten free and was 100 yards back. I felt good because the rest of the peloton was trying to catch up but I was passing them all. About 30 seconds into it, the back guy of the attack falls off and I pass him. When I'm about 20 feet away from the lead 2 guys I look back and everybody's there. I learn later that I pulled the entire peloton back to the lead group. Made me look like a nice guy but that was not my intetion.
After that effort (which was dumb but i thought it was going to be my 'big moment') I was getting tired and spent some time trying to recover about 10 positions back. This is where everything starts to get bad....
So after the long straight, there's a right turn and a small hill going over a freeway. At this point there are about 2 miles left in the race. Well I tried to stay with the leaders around the corner and up the hill, but find myself in front. I don't like this at all but nobody else wants to pull so I start slowing down. When I hit about 18mph, the entire peloton passes me going about 28. I struggle to accelerate but by the time i've matched their speed, I'm fairly far back and winded. Oh, this is the point where both of my calves, and my left thigh start to cramp. All I can think is "****."
Anyway, there's like a quarter mile left so all i can do is pedal as hard as i can and hope for the best. It's straight, and flat until the last 300m or so which are a hill with maybe a 3-4% grade. Im so exerted that i can't see straight and I hear this SHHHHHPANG in front of me. I look up and at least one bike is in the air and 10 or so people are skidding around. I miss the crash and look up to see that there's NO WAY i'm going to pass anybody before the finish line. I look back and the nearest guy that's still upright is about 100m back when I'm 200m from the finish. I downshift, spin up the hill at a high rpm & call it a day. I finished 11th out of 75 (definately was 11th, I might be wrong about the 75)
The parking lot is about 2 miles from the finish line, so i pedal back at 90rpm and 130-140bpm. This is when I meet the guy who won, and learn that I pulled the peloton back to the breakaway while i was chasing it. I finish the half cytomax bottle I have left, then down a bottle of endurox and another of cytomax when i get to the car. I don't feel particulary thirsty, but i feel it's a good idea to drink as much as possible at this point.
1.Either I'm in the attack or I'm not. Once they've clearly seperated themselves by X distance (to be deterimined later. help?) I need to let them go and become part of the organization to reel them in.
2. When it's flat: If I pass someone and Im not flying past them, it really means I'm about to be pulling them wherever I'm going. The "slow pass" will only be useful during climing, or at the final sprint where all I need to be is in front for another 3 seconds. From now on, pass em like they're standing still, or don't do it at all.
3. I know hydration is good, but do I need to start tapering it off an hour before the race? I've been peeing clear since thursday, and if I need to 'go' 6 miles into a 46 mile race, something needs to change.
4. I need to build my skills on the bike. I can hold my line and stuff, but can you pair me up with one of your students so that we can take turns shoving each other and rubbing wheels? Everything with me was fine but listeing to other categories afterward I heard that there was a lot of shoving going on. Also i came VERY close to rubbing the side of some guy's back wheel with my front, and just as it was about to happen, I'm sitting there realizing that I'm totally going down because I've never had this happen before. I also know that mark (the citycycle employee) went down after rubbing Eric's wheel, so staying upright can't be easy.
5. I need to work on my aerobic & recovery systems. Laying down the power when necessary was no problem. If anything I passed people whenever there was an out of saddle roller or mini attack. My issue is that after that last attack, I couldn't recover well enough to stay with the leaders until the end.
Conclusion: If I raced more intelligently, i MAY have had the physical ability to win. I also probably would have been in that big pileup during the final sprint. Overall, I feel that I performed acceptably, and can use the knowledge from this race to improve my performance in the next one.
Alright. So there's my essay. Sorry it's so long. I hope it's helpful, and I hope I can learn from this and be a stronger and smarter rider next time.