I just wasn’t on for this race. My guts were in knots about it, and as a result I had almost no appetite for dinner or breakfast just prior. I knew this was going to be bad news.
Why the nerves?
This is actually only my second road race ever. Time trials, hillclimbs, cyclocross races I have heaps of experience in. Even crit racing at the track I have a fair amount of confidence in. But I’ve never raced for 62 miles. Never had to put out a race effort for longer than 2 hours. This was going to be at least 3:30, and as it turned out, it was more like 4.
I hung in the pack for about 30 minutes; about 10 miles. Everything seemed fine, and I felt good. We hit the covered bridge, I wasn’t paying attention, and as we exited the bridge, it was over. I was dropped instantly. Hanging so far in the back, I had no awareness of what was going on at the front, leaving me to react very late to everything. Huge mistake.
I spent the rest of the race solo, 52 miles into sustained winds that gusted to 35mph. It was positively awful. At times out on the open road I was barely moving. I welcomed the climbs, as slogging up the hills was far more tolerable than fighting headwind and barely winning. The worst climbs were at least 15% and I looked forward to them, so that’s where I was at. The flats were simply and hopelessly eternal.
After about 2 hours of this, I bonked big time. Between mile 30 and 45, I was in one of the worst places I’ve ever been. Total hell on earth. My head, my back, and my sit bones were killing me. I was begging for a way to quit, I just didn’t know how to do it. I hated life, I hated riding, I wanted to throw my bike in a ditch and just lay in the road.
Around mile 45 the lights came back on; I don’t know why. It could have been the caffeinated gel I popped about half an hour prior. I wailed all the way up Stage Road to the finish with great strength. It was a little confusing.
My energy output at the end was 4,000 calories.
For reference I spent 6,000 calories clearing 6 Gaps. That’s an idea of the kind of effort it took to ride alone in Saturday’s race.
The thing that pissed me off late in the race was being drafted by riders from other groups. I think it’s bullshit. These are riders who started at a different time than I did, and who should not be trying to benefit from my effort. Yeah, we’re all just trying to finish, but you shouldn’t be working with someone who is not in your starting group. Period. Mind you after I had spent almost 20 miles in a massive massive power outage.
I ended up as the last finisher in my Cat 4 group. 114 were entered, 100 started, and 8 DNF. I am more than happy with just finishing, believe me. I beat everyone who quit.
Now onto the pricing controversy.
This race cost a lot more than it did last year, and it wasn’t worth it by a long shot. A rider shouldn’t be paying $75 for just the privilege of racing. They should be subsidizing an experience, and the experience was just…whatever.
Bear in mind, this race had a multi-page feature in Bicycling magazine. It should be drawing attention like a magnet. And it did. But only from bike racers.
The pre- and post-race spread was very weak. Someone clearly has no idea how to handle this part of an event. I expected lots of vendors, lots of food, and there was almost nothing. In fact, by 5pm on race day there was zero food. Unless you were in an early finishing group, you went hungry. I walked away with literally the last remaining quart of chocolate milk, which I thought would be free, but had to pay for. It was local, so I had no problem paying.
Of course the Pepsi was free, which there seemed to be an abundance of. Brilliant.
There were five neutral pits along the route, which is great on a century ride, but here it’s overkill. This isn’t a charity ride. It’s a bike race. There was even a pit at the beginning of one of tougher dirt roads. You know – for off chance that you could predict that you were about to have a mechanical.
There were timing chips this year, which I’ve heard they didn’t have last year. Congratulations, but guess what. Races that cost less than half this much to enter have timing chips. One of the expectations of entering a race is that the event will be scored properly. I’m not paying almost double last year’s entry fee just so the event can have accurate results. Or maybe I am.
After figuring the race netted somewhere along the lines of $165,000 in registration fees, I fail to see how the race costs that much. In fact, it doesn’t. If it does, the organizer is inept. This race is clearly subsidizing the pro invitational race the following weekend, which I’ll bet few of the amateur riders will be coming back to watch.
If the pro invite is the following day, we all spend the night, hang out and watch it – in that way, it almost makes sense. But funding a race a week later – a race that I would have to drive all the way back for, paying gas, food, and another weekend of lodging – I think someone’s head is way up their ass on this one.
It’s really too bad, because racing these roads is very unique experience. But without major changes to the way this event is pulled off, I won’t be back. Right now, it’s being done a disservice.
So anyway. Rest this week. That’s all I have planned.