Woke at 5AM, packed it all up, hit Starbucks for their 5:30 opening, quick trip to the office for my heart-rate monitor (waste of time… I looked down at one point and saw it reading 230+), and up to Poolesville, MD, for my 2nd road race, the All American Road Race. It would be two laps of an eight-mile loop. That’s right, I got up at 5AM to ride for 39 minutes.
I got some decent warmup in this time so I felt a bit better about that, but the race was not one I much cared for. It was on narrow farm roads with a strict “yellow-line rule” (if you cross the middle you go to the back of the pack). Shoot, half the roads didn’t even have lines. Anyway, it was a really short race and passing was difficult. A single team took up half the field with no other fielding more than two riders (I was on my own). Nothing here was to my favor.
So the race begins… about thirty feet from the first turn. Luckily, nobody decided to gun it from the start so we made it through that ill-thought section unscathed. We then make our way down some seriously back roads that are a bit wet and not all too maintained.
About a mile and a half in, as I’m talking to a friend, somebody simultaneously hits some of the water (wet tires have worthless traction) and a parallel crack in the road, and they’re down. The friend I’m talking to is collected as well as another half-dozen folks or so. I think I was the last person to make it through without losing speed and looking back I could see the field was now separated. Disappointed for my friend (he was crashed out last weekend too), hope everyone is okay, but on the bright side, half of my competition is gone.
There are no breaks whatsoever the entire race so again it’s just a fast group ride with a higher likelihood of crashing. With about three miles to go, I noticed I had drifted towards the back of the pack. That sometimes simply happens if you get lazy in holding your spot. With passing being difficult and the finish being a short straight from the final remaining turn, I knew I needed to work on moving up. And I did so. I didn’t go all out to make it happen, but before I knew it I was on the front with the race winding down and a headwind absolutely pounding us. I knew I didn’t want to be there so I backed off, but everyone else was smart enough to do the same so I’m left out there to spend it all for no good reason. After a mile or so of that (.95 miles too long), there’s a move on my left. Mind you, I was riding pretty slowly hoping I’d get off the front. The group responded to the move, but I was pretty gassed from my time at the front and the speed differential was immense and I simply couldn’t spin up fast enough. I gave all I could to hang on, but it was too little. Going into the final corner I was still with the pack, but done. I had fed myself to the sharks, they happily ate, and my race was over. I wound it in for last place in the field (the people who were still around at the end of the race) for 26th out of 45 finishers (50 started), which sounds crappy, but in cycling terms it means I finished as well as everyone who wasn’t in the top 3.
Lesson learned: Don’t be on the front, in the wind, near the end of the race.
Following the race, I caught back up with my buddy who was crashed out, hooked him up with one of my spare wheels, and went off with him and his friends for a decent ride/recon of the next course I’ll race on… The Poolesville Road Race on May 11th. Should be a good one.
Lesson learned: I drank a bit too much, rode and ran a bit too hard, and didn’t get enough sleep this past week. That’s in stark contrast to how I prepped for my last race. Never again.
So while I placed better last race, I didn’t learn squat. Crap finish today, but two lessons? Possibly the better race of the two. Cycling is weird.
Now to close out the weekend with TWO weddings. Party time.