Had my first road race in two years yesterday ... Kings Valley Road Race.
I've had success there in the past with a 3rd place finish, but also got crashed out two years ago when I lost my custom Tsunami. Last week at the group ride a teammate told me If I go race, he'd go race ... so, I figured what the heck, at a minimum a good training race with some intensity.
I've actually gained a lot of fitness over the last 6 weeks gaining most of my power back (though still down on FTP and 20 minute power) and dropping my weight by 20 pounds since mid February ... weighed in at 194 pounds yesterday morning ... So, I thought I might have a chance to at least do moderately well.
Going in, I knew the only way I would do well was with a break away since the race ends with a 1.8 mile hill climb, most of which isn't too bad but the last 1k or so is really tough with grades of 8% - 9% for a about 400 meters, then levels out a bit over the last 200 meters ... And I struggle between 6% and 12% grades, over or under that and I can do OK for some reason.
I was a little stressed out beginning the race due to crashing there the last time I raced, and some of the riding was pretty sketchy, but overall made it through safe.
Knowing I needed a break, I jumped in everything that went and tried to start about 6 of my own. The one time I almost got away was on a two man break with a former winner of the race, but after about 5 minutes out front he got a flat and I was quickly reeled back in at that point.
The race had a ton of people at the start because it was a combined Masters 40/50/60 field and at the start had 80+ racers in it. I started at the front, looked back and could see the long line, so I tried to get things separated and thinned out to keep it a bit safer ... but there was a core group that just wouldn't let things go. In a lot of ways I felt like I was racing CAT 5 again, because the group would chase down EVERYTHING ... quickly, never letting anything get more than about 10-15 seconds up the road. The teams with a good climber were only there to chase down every break and sprint for the finish, which is what was accomplished in the end. Kinda sucks when you are for the most part racing solo (had one teammate, but never saw him until the end).
With all the accelerations and solo attempts, I didn't have much in my legs to accelerate at the end and finished 31st out of about 50 riders (in my field) ... but was only about 12 seconds off the winner. I had one teammate in the race who I saw at the start and at the end ... nowhere in-between. He weighs about 10 - 15 pounds more than I do and when comparing power numbers I averaged 21 more watts overall and 36 watts more on my Normalized Power ... So, I did a fair amount more work than he being stuck in the pack.
Overall ... A good race, good effort and back to TT's next week :) I have a 20K next weekend and a 40k the following weekend ... then the TTT a couple weeks after that.
Anyway ... a little road racing every now and then can be a good thing :)