Given the weather and the fact I will be missing my teams group rides for the next three weeks, I decided to start my road race season early and raced the Banana Belt #2 race in the Masters 40+ 1/2/3's.
My original plan was to have my first road race of the season be the "Piece of Cake" since it's a flat 54 mile race instead of the very hilly Banana Belt races....especially considering how poorly I've been climbing early in the season.
I really wasn't sure what to expect speed wise considering the Masters 40+ races many times can be the 2nd fastest race of the day behind the P/1/2 races. Also this race had a nice 6% - 7% climb that went up about 200 feet or so and I knew it would be hit hard every lap....and anything over about 5% I start to struggle on...so the "Pack Slide" was my friend today.
The early part of the race was spent by everybody watching David Zimbleman since he's a freak of nature on the bike (last years 55-59 world TT champ). Every time he jumped, so did the pack...so the early part of the race was faster than the last part. Basically the field was able to keep him in check until the 3rd time up the major climb where he counter attacked just after cresting the top....opened a gap and nobody wanted to chace....so it became a race for 2nd at that point since Zimbleman opened up a 1+ minute gap within about a 1/3 of a lap and was gone.
From that point it was just a matter of staying with the pack and hoping to position myself for a good sprint at the end if my legs had anything in them.
The last lap was actually fairly slow compared to the others (aside from two hard climbs to try and break up the pack) due to the fact that the "Fast Guy" was off the front and others were saving themselves for position.
In the end with 1k to go...the attacks started to happen and I was able to stay with them getting myself in good position for the final sprint...sitting around 3rd or 4th with 200 meters to go. However, this was an uphill finish that seemed to get steeper the farther the climb went. The first 100 meters or so I held position well....then the legs went and went fast. I tried to stand up to get some extra power but that wasn't a option as my legs refused to work at that point...so back into the saddle I went pushing as hard as I could watching guys fly past me to the finish line.
In the end I was 19th place, which considering this course didn't suit my abilities at all and the fact I raced a TT yesterday.....I'll take it :)
Hopefully the weather will hold out next week so I can do the double again...but with the race going the other direction which suites my abilities a little better with a long "Downhill" run to the finish and a fast sprint finish.
Tomorrow is an off day for me so my legs get some rest :)