Today might have been the worse feeling I’ve experienced on a bicycle at the very start of a race. I’ve ridden thousands 1000’s of races. My early prediction was optimistic after the fact.
The race course wasn’t all that hard. Not really hard at all. But, it was hot. And it got hotter as the day wore on. The first lap was super fast. I didn’t really realize that until I looked at my average speed after 25 miles and it was over 28 mph. I was too busy breathing to observe most anything going on around me. I’m wondering if this is how most pack fillers feel the entire race. I was hardly even qualified for the pack filler status.
The race was obviously hard for other guys too. It was decimated at the finish. But, feeling so shitty, so early in a race, totally destroys your mental game. I was so over the red line the first lap, that I nearly pulled over and stopped at the start/finish line the first time around. Lots of guys were already gone by then.
I got better the next two laps. Better enough that I had hopes of finishing. I was riding up the climb way better than I was early, but I was in severe pain. I actually had to concentrate on breathing, like a lamaze class. I’ve never done that in my life.
I would say it was the same as if I had trained for months. Drafting didn’t really help much. On the fourth lap out of five, I was getting mildly motivated, thinking that if was going to shatter that lap on the climb and I could ride in with the gruppetto. But, my plans were foiled.
About half way there the lap, I was in pretty good position and I hit one of the thousands of reflectors and the course. I flatted my front tire, and cracked my rim (shit). Our Texas Metro/VW car was at the very back of the caravan, but I got a 2 minute wheel change from the neutral support. Tim, driving our car got me up into the cars. If I thought I was hot before riding in the field, I was sadly mistaken. It was crazy hot motor pacing. I was 30 cars back and sucking just sitting on. I slowly made my progression up through the cars until I got within 10 cars of the field.
When I decided to make my big effort to get back into the field, passing the commissaires car, I got onto the back of the field through a right hand corner, crossing a overpass. The problem here was that the some guys decided to throw themselves on the pavement. Total road blockage. I didn’t fall, I just stopped. That was pretty much the end of Steve. I chased back and got onto the tail end of the long line, but only could motivate myself for a bit before I pulled the plug. Dropped alone. I knew that wasn’t going to be good.
I rode the last 8 miles of the lap. I figured if I was less than 10 minutes back, I’d keep going. I had been told there wasn’t any groups behind. Everyone was just quitting. I figured the time cut would be a little under 30 minutes. I came to one lap to go 14 minutes back. There was no possibility that I was going to only loose 15 minutes in the next 20 + miles. I don’t usually ever quit a bicycle race. This was a special circumstance.
So, I stopped, got dressed and walked across the street and bought a huge Fosters Ale at the Beaumont Dairy and sat in the shade to watch the finish.
Three guys sprinted it out. I’m not sure the name of the guy that won. A California Giant Strawberry guy won. I heard he is 20 years old. If all that is true, that was a great result. People kept dragging in forever. It was ugly. I looked like a local Cat. 3 race finish in Kansas. Decimation.
There is something weird going on here in the air. Super pollen/allergy/Japanese radiation…….There are a lot of good guys riding really shitty and not having an explanation.
I would have done an enormous amount of damage to my legs if I would have kept riding. There are mildly destroyed now at 100 miles. It was only going to get much worse.
So, only one guy on my Texas/Metro Team finish today. There are lots of other teams in that situation I think. It is pretty demoralizing. But, I can’t dwell on it.
So, I guess I’m watching bike racing the next two days. I’m not sure that is going to go over too well. I’ll have to think about it some.