The question posed to me by Joe Savoie at the conclusion of the Twin Bing Road Race was a simple one, “What did I think of my first road race?” My response, the first 45 minutes were the most scared I’ve ever been on a bike – the constant expansion and rapid contraction of a 55 rider pack squeezed into a single lane of county road on the neutral roll-out, the 3 high speed descents that followed, the wind pushing the pack back and forth between the gutters. None of that happens in a mountain bike or cyclocross event once the holeshot is contested, and the criteriums I raced last summer had smaller fields, wider roads, and fewer gusts. I got to thinking on the drive home that these were probably also the most fear-filled 45 minutes of cycling that some of my competitors had ever experienced on a bike as they rode next to me. My sins won’t be enumerated here (no need, I’ve been over all the ones you can/can’t think of…), but let me say thank you to the “B” racers for extending some grace, giving some direction, and allowing some on-the-job training. You’ll see some major refinement before Burlington and Babcock.
Here’s what it felt like from the saddle:
- Rolled out mid-pack feeling very comfortable on the neutral ascent of the “Climbing Hill”.
- Thought the day was over after the initial accelerations, but was right back in it after the first turn.
- Hung on and stayed clean through the wicked crosswinds leading into Bronson.
- Negotiated the backside rollers efficiently and was able to move up front where Elkhorn Valley Cycling teammates Joe Savoie 3rd (EVCC p/b Monster) and Rich Anderson 7th (TT1) were doing a ton of work controlling the pace.
- Grabbed the wheels of the green and white (Central Plains Cycling) train on the Moville blacktop – oops, wasn’t supposed to do that – sat back up.
- Got popped on the big hill at the close of lap 1, chased hard, rode 2 up with Jeff Kalo (Central Plains Cycling) until help arrived in the form of another teammate, Kevin Murray (EVCC p/b Monster), along with David Randleman (Velo Veloce), Lance Moran (Central Plains Cycling), Nick Ware (Flatwater Cycling) and one other gentleman whom I’m not acquainted with.
- Attempted to be part of a seamless rotating echelon through the winds of lap 2. (**Disclaimer: haven’t had much experience in rotating through, sorry guys for any inefficiencies I contributed to!**).
- Lost some ground just beyond downtown Climbing Hill when things got heated, but made up a number of spots on the steep final pitch for 15th.
I’m at peace with my ride. There was no solid predictor of how I would fare in a road event other than hoping my fitness level would carry me through, and it seemed to. The lead group got away on the big climb – can’t honestly say if it was because they were climbing stronger, or I failed to keep the cadence high at the start of the steep section. The known growing point going in was my ability to push the big gears, and that would have helped in a couple situations. The discovered need for attention is the ability to work efficiently over the distance with a group – time to watch some Team Time Trialing like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7RJUPp6vs0&feature=related for a tutorial.
A few quick props before I close:
- Congrats to Greg Gleason (Central Plains Cycling) on the win. Greg is not only a really nice guy, he has a drive to complete a goal that puts his body into hyper drive. His team also did a very nice job of setting him up to get away.
- Thanks to my Elkhorn Valley Cycling teammates for your support and wisdom before, during, and after the race. It was great to watch Joe and Rich up front at the throttle. I was able to ride, work, and finish with Kevin – great to have you back in the fold. Gut check award goes to Colby Turpin, Sam Oakes, and Glen “Buddy” Houts – through no fault of their own, they ended up in no man’s land and did a heck of a job chasing and taking back ground. See you at the next road event recognition goes to Brandon Mullins. Primarily a mountain biker, I know he was uncertain both about entering the event and how to play his cards. He asked all the right questions and didn’t stay home on the couch in weather where it would have been easy to do so — hmmm, there are some crits coming up in Lincoln, Brandon…