I went out this weekend and raced in the famous Copperopolis road race. The race takes place approximately in the geographical center of nowhere, the nearest town being Copperopolis about 10 miles away. The race itself starts and ends in the "town" of Milton which, as near as I can tell, consists of a Masonic lodge and nothing else. The course is a 21-mile loop consisting of a hard 3 mile climb, about 11 miles of rolling roads through some lovely cow pastures, a completely insane 3 mile descent, and some more rollers back to the start of the climb. My group was slated to do 2 laps for a total of 42 miles.
My race was pretty much over from the gun, as my group shot out of the gate at 30mph. What the heck? This is road racing, not a crit! I guess they didn't get the memo. I was slowed down a bit by the awful pavement, but by chasing at 32mph I was able to catch back up to the back of the group at the base of the big climb. Given that I'm not a stellar climber, I was predictably left behind in short order. Once I was at the top, the group was long, long gone. I praticed my time trialling around the back part of the course, holding a pretty steady 22mph on the flat sections. I can go pretty quick when the road's not going uphill! :']
I had been warned about the descent, but the reports didn't do the thing justice. 3.5 miles of rough, potholed, cracked roads so bad I had to hold my speed down to 25 or so to keep from getting thrown off the bike. Ugh, no fun! I considered simply pulling off at the start of the second lap, but I decided that I'd do the second lap and get my workout for the day in. The second time up the climb was actually a bit easier since now I knew the topology. For whatever reason, I was completely shot on the flat part of the second lap and couldn't maintain much over 15mph. I guess I wasn't eating enough, and my energy levels were getting low. On the second lap I also started having weird foot cramps, which I've never had before.
I got to the end, and I'm glad I did it. I'll go back out next year I'm sure.