3 day stage race with the 35+ 1/2/3 Ubbers. Several firsts on this one for me; First NRC stage race, first M35+ 1/2/3 stage race, and first stage race with the new team. Day by day:
RR: Great course. Plenty of climbing, some long, some short poppers, some flat, very nice having a rolling closure. I think it was around 34 miles or so per lap, and they claimed 2500 feet of climbing, but I'm guessing there was a bit more.
I think we ended up starting around 50 or so riders, nice roll out from town, make a left and game on. First lap was as expected, attacks here and there and a general clearing of wood from the field.
Second lap you could feel the pace pick up as we neared the bottom of the big climb. The real leg breaking began here, with a much harder pace than the first lap and attacks that kept lifting the speed. I misjudged an upcoming flat area, attacked, and found myself staring at one of the steeper sections. Answered the counter, and started to melt answering the counter to the counter. Small group goes by with my teammate.
I'm getting passed one at a time, manage to get my heart rate into the orange zone as we crest the climb and do one of those do or die efforts to grab the last wheel in the chase group. Things are going pretty fast, I saw 56 MPH on the descent.
The front group looks disorganized, and our group slowly reels them in until we're back together. There's 20 or so of us here, and two off the front. The next 30-40 minutes is herding cats. No organization,
Motor comes back to tells us the break is up 1:30
Things start pointing up, as does the pace. More thinning. Faster faster faster. Escapes are reeled back in. Finally we see the 1km sign and one rider manages a 2 or 3 second gap. The rest of us deal with the sprint. I don't have much left in my legs and end up 8th with my teammate 9th. After three hours the break ends up 23 seconds in front, plus time bonuses. third has 2 seconds on the 12 survivors, who come in "same time"
Next guy is well over 3 minutes back, so it's pretty clear who's going to be in contention.
BF Lesson: Long base rides come in handy at the 2.5 hour mark in a field like this.
TT- 16.5 miles, some rollers and a finishing hill. I'm in the group that's getting the one minute gaps. Ow. Ow. Ow. Pedal fast and hard. Keep the cadence above 100 and that other number at 300 or above. Don't let that number get above 167. Ouch. Pass guy. Ouch. (Grit teeth). Make turn. Sweat. Ouch ouch. I will not get passed (and didn't). Small ring. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Gasp. Gasp some more.
I got 6th. 23 seconds off 3rd, 13 seconds off 4th, and 7 seconds off 5th.
Could have knocked me over with a feather.
6th on GC now. Time gaps to 4th and 5th as noted above.
BF Lesson: "Why bother with (insert expensive technological advance here)...it's only 1 second in a mile faster"? Why indeed.
Crit: Tried and failed to break things off and move up. Cramping issues that my coach thinks we can resolve. Coasted across in 16th. Finish 6th on GC. Teams gets 8th.
Considering all the guys who finished in front of me have (at least one if not multiple) District, National, or World Championships under their belt (one guy has a Specialized bike named after him), I'm pretty happy. And surprised. I didn't even think I'd crack the top ten with the kind of firepower that showed up, and if you told me I'd even stay in the field with these guys are year ago, I would have died laughing.
Still a huge difference is abilities and experience between me and the top guys in this field...
2nd place finisher: "I've been doing TT's since I was 14."
Me: "Er, I've been doing these since I was 44."
But it's kinda cool to watch first hand.