Yesterday was the state Road Race Championships Day 2 here in Oregon. They split them up into two days, one for category racing and the other for age racing...yesterdays was age category racing. I race in the 40-49 category, which can be a very fast category since half the field are CAT 1/2's and regularly compete in those races. When they get to race in a masters race it's generally easier for them, and harder for everybody else because the distances are shorter for them and longer for us...and the pace is higher for those not used to racing in a 1/2 race.
Last week I was liking the forecast with temps int he mid 60's. The Day 1 race was hot with temps int he mid 80's and it took it's toll on lots of riders. As the week moved along the expected temps crept up and up with the forecast ending up being mid 80's again but higher humidity (it was in the upper 40% to low 50% which is very muggy for Oregon).
I knew this would take a toll on me as the race went on, but I figured I'd give it my best shot. I'm not much of a pack racer and like getting out on breaks as I'd rather die a hard death than sit in all day and finish mid pack...and every masters race I've been in has been won in a break.
Going into the day my legs felt OK, but not great. I was a few pounds lighter than Day 1 races, but I knew I was still going to struggle on the climbs as this course was tough with few/no flat sections, lots of small rollers and one short steeper climb and one longer shallower climb (both tougher than they looked on paper).
The race started and I tried to stay up front to watch for breaks. A few tried to get away during the first mile but were all brought back in. About 8 mile into the race there was an attack that was brought back and immediately followed by a counter attack. I followed both and the counterattack opened up a gap that allowed four of us to get away.
As we hit the climb a few miles down the road we had opened up about 1 minute on the field and were working well together. Near the top of the climb...BAM, one of the riders tires blew out so we were down to three riders. This in the end, likely hurt me because I didn't get as much rest during the rotation, but I pushed on and did my best to help the other two put distance on the field.
We stayed away from two laps before a small chase group of four caught us...but by this time the combination of high temps (my Garmin registered as high as 94 degrees several times), hard pulls and no break on the course...my legs were toast. I lost contact on the main climb and dropped back a bit, but kept the leaders in sight to the top of the climb, only losing about 20 seconds by that time.
When I got to the bottom of the downhill I knew my legs were toast. I couldn't get any power going and another 5 minutes or so down the road, the remnants of the main field caught up to me. I tried to latch onto that field to finish the last 16 miles of the race...but couldn't get enough accelerate over the small rollers and quickly dropped off. Crossing the finish line I gave my self a DNF...my first ever voluntary DNF!
In the end it was a good decision though. Looking at the results 1/2 the 40-49 group took a DNF...it was a HARD race.
Watching fields go by as I was packing up there was never a solid group of more than about 10 racers together...fields were shattered in every class. The eventual winner of my class was one of the guys I was out in a break with...2nd place was a guy that bridged the gap (Both CAT 1/2 racers).
I feel good about my effort because I was out front and at one point had nearly 2.5 minutes on the field...Hit my limit right at about 2 hours (45'ish miles), which is somewhat normal for me. If the race had only been 3 laps instead of 4, I could have pushed it and probably made it on the podium...but the extra lap put the nail in the coffin for me.
It was a good race overall and I'm happy with my effort...but am feeling it today.
Now it's time to train for the Individual Time Trial championships in August...lots of 2x20's and hill work on my TT bike. I really want to break 53 minutes over 40k if the weather is good, but my goal is to break 53:30 which will put me at an average speed around 28 mph...If only I could afford a new, much more aero TT bike than my old Fuji...but you race what you've got :)