The weather was great, and the race was well attended, although my age group was bereft; there was only me and J P Holloman. Stage 1, Prologue. This 3 mile TT is likely more important to race outcome than it should be. A 20 sec advantage here will frequently be insurmountable; the RR and CR time bonuses are not enough to overcome it. I chose to ride my road bike with my Reynolds MVT32 climbing wheels and I am comfortable it was a good choice. Although I beat JP by half a minute, I was not adequately warmed up; I only had 14 minutes on my rollers before the start. I need at least 30 to be fully functional. Oh well… I got away with it.
Stage 2, RR. We did 2 laps around the Sahuarita course in a combined field of 65+ (9 riders). Lap 1 was relatively uneventful; a few attacks on the uphill pitches shelled the two 75+ riders. Reg Dowdall took off as we entered the feed zone to begin lap 2 and all except JP (my competitor) managed to hang on, so now we were 6. Several attacks by Reg and Steve Worley from Boulder proved useless, and we were still 6 for the coast down Helmet Peak Rd. As we turned onto La Canada I looked back to see if JP was visible, and he was not, but our pace seemed slow enough that I was getting a bit anxious so I went up front and picked up the pace down La Canada to Duval Rd. As we turned onto Duval, I took a good look back up La Canada and JP was not be seen, so I knew my race was in the bag. The finish sprint started with Steven Worley at just under 1km to go, with Reg and Curtis on him. I did my best to respond but my sprint sucks and by the finish the gap between me and Curtis had grown to 10 sec. Reg won it and I gained another minute+ on JP.
Stage 3, CR. The action here began on lap 2 going West up the Anklam hill. Curtis Ingle was in front with me on his wheel. Reg and Steve came around at speed and I expected Curtis to jump on their wheels. Nothing! I hesitated just a sec or 2 expecting him to stand and deliver any moment. Finally, I realized he was going to let them go and I went around and began hammering up the last of the hill. One other rider, Ken Starke, tried to go with me. Reg and Steve got over the summit 30 m ahead of me and the gap immediately began growing. I got on the toptube and managed to keep the gap fairly stable down to the Speedway turn. Ken came around me just after the turn and we began alternating pulls to close the gap. The closest we got was up the Anklam hill on the next lap; it got worse after that and we rode together to the finish; 3rd for him, 1st for me.
Nice job out there, Rick.
I’ve given in to the fact that my fitness has been less than desired this season, but that hasn’t stopped me from having the busiest race season to date.
The prolouge was a bit on the warm side with a moderate W-NW wind to knock me around a bit on the downhill. I couldn’t get comfortable or produce the power I wanted on the downhill so I hung tight and tried to stay calm before the climb. As I hit the first hill a Team Winded rider came past me, which signaled to me that it was time to start making it hurt. I stayed in the saddle, in the big ring (brandishing a new 53t Rotor Q-Ring this season), and slowly started to increase my power output. Over the rollers I took the slight downhill sections to increase my speed rather than take a breather. Then the big climb approached, and I got out of the saddle to lay more power down. I quickly overtook the Team Winded rider that I’d kept in my sight after passing me, and found what I had left to finish the TT as strong as possible. Official time was an underwhelming 9:49, but given my fitness and the wind I was happy with anything under 10 minutes.
The road race was a slug fest from the start line. The first lap was frantic as the pace would go from fast to faster with the occasional immediate slow down. It was apparent that multiple factions at the front of the pack were vying for control of the pace with little resolve. As I’d done last year I spent most of the race trying to hang in and chill out for as long as possible, but the pace proved to be quite demanding no matter where I was in the group. By the final lap the pack had dwindled significantly from an inital 55 or more to under 30. I was also starting to become noticeably dehydrated, and began drinking more as time permitted. Somehow we were still hammering away. I started to begin to position myself further forward in the group (no breakaways at this point), and tried to eat a little extra for a big finish. As we rounded the corner from Duval Mine to La Canada I got out of the saddle to close a gap caused by our rubber banding around the corner, and the inside of my left leg cramped up from hip to heel. Struggling to stay in the group I tried to keep pedaling, but my leg wouldn’t have it. I quickly slipped out the back of the pack. Sitting in the saddle and drilling it proved less painful, but it was too late. I finished the rest of the race solo. I was pretty upset about not being able to finish in the pack as I’m a big fan of sprint finishes.
I have come to love the TBC circuit race. It hurts a lot, but it’s over before you know it. The pace, again, was set very high and remained very high the entire time. Laps flew by as I sat in reflecting over my underwhelming performace the previous two days. By the fourth, I’d convinced myself that I had nothing to lose, and to just focus on kicking some ass today, here and now. I started to poke and prod my way forward in the group, which proved difficult due to the size of the group. I commited to sneaking up the right side of the group whenever there was a lull in the action, and by the sixth and final lap I’d made it up to Michael Hast who was sitting quietly letting everyone else do the work. He was comfortably 3rd in the GC so I thought he might be a good wheel to follow to the line. After the final corner Hast swung from right to left and I followed him. We swiftly cleared most of the pack with 10 or 15 riders up the field. I realized Hast wasn’t going to do anything drastic so I rode off his wheel, and took a sprint clean down the (open) left side of the road to finish 9th for the day. It was a nice and reassuring finish to an otherwise frustrating weekend at the races.
I’m looking forward to finishing out the main thrust of my road season with Marana Heritage Crit and State Crit Championships. After that I’ll be training for the Whiskey Off-Road.