Friday, August 14, 2009

A change of pace

Late July and August left me looking for something different. I have not competed in a USCF Cat IV race in a couple of years. I did not have anything going on August 1st so I went to West Branch to compete in the State Road Race Championship.

I heard horror stories about last years death march in the heat with rolling hills but that only made it seem like more of a challenge. The goal was to see if I could hang with the young studs and maybe have a good finish. The race was 54 miles, which is long for USCF events but pretty short compared to what I normally do. I was not too worried about the distance. There was some nice rolling hills but I had trained most of the summer in the hills and RAGBRAI was pretty hilly so that did not worry me. One of my weaknesses has been constant changes in the pace from attacks. I can go steady for a long time but I struggle with quick jumps. I assumed going into the race that there would be a series of attacks as the race progressed. I just wanted to be able to hang on.

The morning of the race produced reasonable temperatures with moderate winds. I was carrying three water bottles, salt tablets and some Clif Shot Bloks so I would not need anybody to hand me up any supplies.

There were 40 riders that started as we rode into a stiff crosswind to start. The pace was moderate but nothing I couldn't handle. 5 miles into the race a rider attacked on the first nice climb and I was in position to go with him. We pushed teh pace a little until the group reeled us in. That was a nice warmup and I was feeling pretty good.

I hung out toward the front of the group most the time and was able to push a pretty good pace up a few hills to keep on the pressure. With 10 miles to go I got a twinge of a cramp. I was not taking enough sodium for the effort combinied with the heat. Fro the next 9 miles I sat towards the back and drank everything I had and pushed more salt. I finished the race without anymore cramps but was in very poor position for the late sprint and finished 11th. It seemed like my fitness for racing was as good as it ever was when I was racing regularly.

Night at the Oval:

Tuesday the 4th Greg Harper, Chad Bishop, Bob Hayes and I made the road trip to Cedar Rapids to race at Hawkeye Downs speedway. This is a great format that is run the first and third Tuesday each month during the summer. This was my second USCF race in four days. I was not looking for results just a good time, good workout, racing with the team and a check on my fitness.

We basically competed in three races. The first 11 lap race I rode at the front to make sure that no one got away without Harper's having a rider in the break. I was able to chase three different attacks down by pushing the pace at a fast steady pace. The second was a combination of a win-and-out and a miss-and-out. In this race the first rider across the line on the first lap won and got to sit out fo the rest of the race. Also the last person across the line was last and had to sit out the rest of the race. I was not able to get across the line first until the last lap. I was never last so I got to ride the most laps to finish in the middle. The third race was like the first only we rode the opposite directions. That race was non-eventful. We also did a one lap race in your hardest gear and a one lap race in your easiest gear. I felt really good the entire night and we had a great time. Over all Greg got third, Chad forth and ninth for me in the A group. Bob raced in the B group and got 8th. Next year we need to make the trip a few more times.

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