Saturday, January 5, 2008

Huge, Heaping Helpings... (Leesville Gap RR) (20070701)

The hardest cycling races there are would be hilly road races. So I just
upgraded and I'm all set to race with some much faster, stronger dudes,
so what the hell, I chose a hilly road race as my first category 3 race.
Even better, in order to make it to and be ready for the 8:10am start I
had to do most of my prep the night before (a couple hours) then wake up
at 4:30am and leave the house by 5am. And I do this for fun!

And I was served huge heaping helpings of pain today. Yep. The course
meanders for 15 miles of awful pavement, a little gravel, a mild uphill
with horrendous pavement for a while, then it hits a huge climb. I'm
headed up the climb, with the lead group, feeling awful and having one
of those "gosh, I don't really know how to ride my bike" moments when I
lost contact with the leaders and started falling through the field like

Here's the best part, Jim Rusk and Maury Long, two very nice teammates,
blast past me. I yell some encouragement at them, but these guys aren't
in my race. I'm a 3 and these guys are 4s. They started 5 minutes after
me, and they're climbing super strong. Way stronger than I am.

Okay, so I need to work on my climbing...

I get over the top, hook up with a couple of fellow cat 3 racers, we
blast through a long gravel climb, and start hooking up with more and
more cat 3s. Before long, there are a lot of us, we're powering along
and we see another group of 3s. We blast up to them, integrate nicely
and start hauling some serious ass along the road. Not long after
that...lo and behold, there's the front group with my teammate John (who
made it over the climb with the front group) in it. They must have been
going extremely slowly because there's no way we should have caught
them. The fields nearly all together now, and we proceed to do pretty
much nothing for 40 miles.

Then we have a sprint in a 5 foot wide lane, with 30 guys on a dead flat
road (read as: a really lame race ending - too many people, not enough

So I finished with the main group (17th out of 55 I think), but I really
had no chance being there (the lead group should have been long gone
after the climb), and in the end the sprint was pretty lame. All in all,
my first cat 3 race was educational, but not a great racing experience.
We'll see how the next one goes.

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