I’ve been writing here about the last 4 road races I’ve done down around Austin Texas. And how the Elbowz guys played nice. Yesterday, again in Lago Vista, they played nice, but the results were ugly. Here’s the deal in cycling, when the courses get harder, the better riders have a much easier time show casing their abilities, because everyone else disappears on their own. That is pretty much what happened yesterday.
We rode our bikes around in loops and every time we climbed, there were less and less people participating in the event. Such is the way on a hard course.
I tried to maximize my placing, but I’m not too big on riding for 6-10 usually. A group got away, almost instantly, that contained 3 Elbowz riders. 3 out of 6 at the start was not good. And it wasn’t even their 3 best guys, so that foretold what was going to happen later when everyone else ran out of juice.
I would have loved to be riding off the front. I was having a better day than on Saturday and the course suits me better too, so that is good. But, that wasn’t going to happen. For various reasons. One, I was sort of marked from the day before, or lifetime before. Two, I wasn’t good enough to drop everyone and ride off the front for miles and miles. And three, there was only one of me and it is pretty hard making the early split when you never know which one is going to work.
As it turned out, the front group finally got down to 4 Elbowz riders and Colton Jarisch. That is after Heath Blackgrove, Elbowz, bridged up to the break on his own. The field was self destructing about the same time. That was mainly due to the efforts of Brant Speed, 787, and Dave Wenger and his team. They were making it very hard over the top of the climb on the false flat tailwind section. Eventually Brant and Stefan Rothe rolled away on the downhill. Finally, with maybe 4 or 5 laps to go, Sean Sullivan and Joseph Schmalz, Elbowz, put in a good dig over the top of the climb and only Dave Wenger, Austin Venton and myself were left. I felt good, not really under any stress.
Sean and Joseph pulled with us until we caught Brant and Stefan, then sat. They had 4 out of 5 guys in the break, so they thought they were justified in their actions. I might call it just being lazy, but they did what they did. We were over 3 minutes back, with just two laps to go, so there was nothing that we were going to do to threaten the break. We were all, pretty dyslexic, with none of us really remembering how to race bikes properly. We were going so bad, that with one lap to go, a small group of 4 or 5 rolled up from behind. I didn’t really care. I thought I was fine and that it was going to explode on the climb the final time up.
I was right in half of those thoughts. The problem was it was it was going to explode on the climb. I turned out to be not so fine. I was actually pretty good, the problem was I cramped when Joseph put in his big dig. Dave Wenger, who had been riding crazy strong all day, especially on the climb, didn’t have any problem bridging. I got about 1/2 up and cramped in my left hamstring. I didn’t see that coming. Then my right forearm cramped too. I can’t really remember having an arm cramp during a race. I’ve had them after the race, but nothing like this. It is amazing how debilitating cramping is. It seemed like I had tons of energy, just no way to access it.
So, I was reabsorbed by Stefan and Co. I had to ride the last few hundred meters of the climb cramped, which does wonders for my legs, especially the next few days. Over the last rise, Sean Sullivan decided he had enough and left use too. That left 6 of us. We sort of rotated down the hill behind Sean. Stefan did his normal Stefan attacks, but nobody was having any of that. Finally Brant Speed put in a pretty good jump with about a mile to go and he went up the road. I did this sprint last year, nearly in the same physical state, and knew that it was too long, hard and uphill to start anywhere than at the back. It took a little finagling, but I somehow came out of the last corner, which is about 600 meters from the finish, at the end of the group. The sprint is downhill for 400 meters, then kicks up a 150 meter hill to about 50 meters false flat to the finish. My guys went way too early, so it wasn’t much of an effort to come by them as they all bogged down. So, I finished 10th. The results are below.
The race is great. I like the counter clockwise direction much better. I love bike racing on courses that make the selection. I would love to race this race with a bigger, higher quality field and witness the attrition, lap after lap.
Ben Stover, who came down with me, had to get back to Lawrence to work on Monday, so we left right after the race. It was nearly 700 miles door to door. After dropping Bill off and unpacking our bikes, it was close to 5 am before I was horizontal. I get along a lot better than I use to on less sleep, but I’m not that big on missing nearly a full night of it. I’ll catch up this week I guess. The weather here in Kansas looks pretty great for the next 3 days, 60’s and 70’s. Can’t complain too much about that.