Chapter 1 - Deland RR
My hope is that other Cat 5s will read my race reports and learn from my mistakes and that more experienced riders will chime in with any advice.
The Deland RR was the start of my racing season. 28 miles (7 miles x 4 laps). Although I have been training diligently, I questioned my fitness level coming in. I have done very little high intensity training. I got down to the race early and warmed up on my portable trainer for a good 45 minutes trying to touch each zone. My legs are often sleepy (more on this later) and need a thorough warm up.
Lap 1 - the struggle to survive. As if I did not warm up at all, my legs are dead. I hang out at the back of the pack and learn the hard way to play the accordion. At the start/finish I had been dropped by the main group. I was about 200 meters or so behind. I dug deep and HTFU to bridge - which I accomplished. Happy to be back - not happy that my legs are uncooperative after the trainer warmup (any advice here? -- anyone else have this problem?).
Lap 2 - still hanging out at the back, but my skill at playing the accordion has improved. The accordion effect actually doesn't hurt anymore and - in a very odd sort of way - I actually enjoy sprinting back at 30+ to catch back on. Starting to get comfortable within the group and the legs are at least speaking to me.
Lap 3 - I think kensuf has the quote by his signature that says - it's called bike racing, not waiting for s*it to happen. Well, in lap 3 I was feeling increasingly stronger and getting bored. I was growing tired of waiting for s*it to happen. Half way around a group of 3 goes off the front. I see my chance and accelerate from the side of the pack and bridge in what felt like 2 seconds. Shocker! No one wants to work. I tried to guilt a junior into working and he reluctantly pulls for a bit. He pulls off and I get around him and begin pulling -- I look down and realize that I am now going about 2+ mph faster than our break group. Lesson to be learned here. No surprise, there is now no one behind me. So, I solo. There is at least one break group ahead so I am not leading the race by any means.
I come to a 90 degree turn, but - since I was in the back of the pack the first two laps - I am not certain if this is the turn. The cop is not paying attention and at the last minute he directs me immediately to my right. I come to a full stop to make the turn -- 200 meters later I am caught by the group. Lesson learned -- yet another reason to be at the front of the race.
Lap 4 - no man's land. Again, half way around the final lap another group of 3 goes off the front. This time I was too far back to react immediately. I jet up the side to the front and try to bridge. No one follows me and the group is about 90 seconds ahead. Now I am stuck. I turn around periodically and do not see anyone, but try as I might I cannot close the gap to the 3 man break. I get caught by the main group at about 100 meters and finish with the group. As a sprinter-type it would likely have made sense not to try and chase the 3 man split, but nothing ventured nothing gained, right?
Many Cat 5 lessons learned there. It was not an "A" race by any means so I am not too upset with any strategic blunders. However, I really need to cure the sleepy legs issue at the beginning. I feel stronger as the race progresses, but soon there will be a race too difficult for me to catch back on.
Sorry for the length. That is my race report. Hope this helps some Cat 5s. Chapter in about 2 weeks.