Well, against my better judgement...not that I had any to begin with...I decided to head to Hagg Lake and race in the 3rd and final Banana Belt race of the season. This week the course was going clockwise which suites my abilities a little better then counter-clockwise because most of the climbs are more gradual...though there are still two short steep climbs, which I have decided are my nemesis at this stage of the season.
I wasn't sure how I would feel today with a few bruises and road rash from my minor wipe out at yesterdays ITT...but after riding around for 30 minutes I felt fine and didn't feel any lingering effects while on the bike...so off to racing.
The race started out as usual, mostly a steady pace with people getting warm....then BAM....Zimbleman takes off about 5-10 minutes into the race. I was up front and chased after him, thus pulling the rest of the field with me. Looking back he decided not to push it any further and went back into the pack.
Not much longer after that 4 riders got off the front...Not sure when or how, but I missed that one completely. I think everybody thought it was Zimbleman with a few in tow...but it turns out it was pretty much the entire Echelon Gran Fondo/Z-Team's team. How they all got off the front with no response from the rest of the field is beyond me...but major "KUDOS" for them being able to pull it off.
With them gone, the rest of the field seemed to give up the chase...which drives me nuts. If they would just organize, get into a rotating paceline we could chase these guys down, but everybody seems like they would rather just sit in the pack and sprint for 4th, 5th, 6th or what ever is left at the end.
Not wanting to give up I spent a lot of time up front trying to pull the group back, but when there are only 4 riders or so willing to do any work it becomes pointless...regardless, I gave it my best effort while on the course.
The pace of the race was fast today...the first hour we averaged over 24 mph, which is pretty fast for such a hilly course. For the race today I averaged 278 watts with "Normalized Power" being 343 watts (for just over 1 hour and 46 minutes)...so it wasn't an easy day in the saddle.
At the beginning of the 4th lap...two guys took a flyer from the back of the pack. Turns out it was Zimbleman who had been sitting back relaxing for most of the race (and may thought he was gone) and somebody else...so that meant 6 riders up the road.
At this point I just wanted to stay with the pack and see if I could stay in it for the pack sprint.
Heading into the last steep hill....Lee Hill....I did the pack slide...and then some. By the time I crested the top I was a good 100 meters behind the pack and thought the race was over for me. But never wanting to give up I kept pushing on the downhill section before the last hill, picking up a few others who were dropped on Lee Hill and we were able to latch onto the back of the pack mid way up the last hill.
I immediately went around the pack to the front for the final downhill stretch trying to get in position for the final sprint.
Over the bridge and up the slight hill I was sitting 3rd or 4th when the sprint started. I didn't gain any ground, but didn't lose any positions at the end of the race. The last effort up Lee Hill and the chase back to the group killed my legs for the sprint...but I was able to hang on for 10th overall on the day.
In the end, I had a 19th last week and a 10th this week...which isn't too bad considering I wasn't planning on racing any of these races and I'm still way too fat to climb, especially with the little guys.
Next week, the last "As the Raven Flies" ITT for the year...then a two week break before the "Piece of Cake" road race which was to be my first road race of the season :)
Should be fun :D