Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tour de Grandview Race Report

The long and short of it is that I made a big mistake: I didn’t pre-ride the course. I had plenty of time before the masters’ race to do that, but I chose not to because I am an idiot. I am not sure how much longer I would have stayed in the race, but I do know that I was unprepared and had no chance of doing well as a result. I should say that when Andy, the race coordinator, was telling me about the race, the phrase “technical descent” received a response of, “well, that’s one of my biggest weaknesses.” I am scared of descents ordinarily so trying to race sweeping turns is completely out of my comfort zone. Knowing that, why did I sign up for this race?

Here’s why… At the Canton Crit, I time trialed the whole thing, stayed out front and just went all out the entire time. Only one women in the CAT 1,2,3’s passed me, and I passed a bunch of the 3’s in that race. I was curious how I would have done had I started at the same time. Here was an opportunity to get the chance to be at the starting line with some female PROs and some 1’s and 2’s and see where I stack up.

There were nine women in the CAT4 race. I was nervous because, well, I am always nervous before races. My dad also came down to the race, and I wanted to do well to show him kind of why I am so devoted to this new racing.

I ran into a guy I know from my Long Distance group rides, and he had done the masters’ race. He had actually crashed on one of the turns, but got up, got back in the pack, and managed to get 4th. When I told him that I hadn’t pre-ridden the course, he gave me a look that confirmed that deciding not to pre-ride was a big mistake. He gave me a brief synopsis of the course, warning me that the 3rd turn was pretty technical as was the 5th. He also said that the hill was going to get to me by the end. He had it in a nutshell before the race even started, that was EXACTLY how my race was going to go.

So, before the race, the officials segregated the 4’s from the rest of the field, and then they explained the lapped and pulled feature. I spoke up and said, “so, we are starting in the back, then are going to be penalized when we get lapped?” The official agreed that it didn’t exactly seem fair so they decided not to pull people off the course. But, we were still in the back of the pack, and that’s not a good place for me on a course I don’t know.

The race started with a whistle, and I tried to keep up, but when we got to that 3rd turn, I just wasn’t prepared, and I was OTB just like that. The turn was kind of down hill and 90 degrees so there was a lot of speed going into it, and it made me nervous. As soon as I touched my brakes, it was over. I thought I had seen three 4’s manage to stay with the pace, but I wasn’t sure. At least two of them were on the same team.

At one point, someone yelled at someone riding near me not to help me at all because she had teammates ahead. Basically, I was on my own, again. I tucked in behind people for recovery at the top of the hill a few times, but for the most part, no one in my area of the race could match me on the climb so I was almost always hauling people up the hill.

The unfortunate things was because I talked the guy out of pulling people off the course, I had no idea if I was catching 4’s ahead of me or behind me. As it turns out, all the 4’s that I believe I passed in the course of the race were 4’s I was lapping, not 4’s I was passing.

I tried to get a CAT3 woman to help me, but she basically said that I needed to learn how to take a turn before anyone was going to help me. Gee, thanks, but point taken. By the end of the race, I was taking the 5th turn going about 27-28 mph, but I was still pretty timid on the 3rd.

In total, I believe I did 13-14 laps of this course without getting lapped. If the 85 feet of elevation gain I was told was correct, that’s over 1,000 feet of elevation gain in 40 minutes averaging 19.7 mph without the benefit of working in a group. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was toast after this race. It was hot, humid, and that hill was a killer. I was happy to say goodbye to it on the final lap.

I was 4th in the CAT4 women. I know that I was ahead of a few CAT3’s, maybe two or three.

Take Aways from this race:

1. I need to have confidence in my bike – I have a very very nice road bike, it’s a great machine, and I need to trust that it will do what I ask.

2. I am strong – I once again time trialed a crit and didn’t get lapped (was close) but didn’t get lapped by a group of very strong female cyclists on this course. They were gaining the benefits of riding in a pack, getting to draft off others, and they couldn’t make up a mile on me in 40 minutes.

3. I am new to the game and need to work on my technical skills. I lost not because they are better, faster cyclists, but because they are better at the game that is crit racing.

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