This is a training race. There are no prizes, no cash, no merchandise, no points for winning. This is just to remember how to ride in a fast pack again. The centerline rule is in effect, so don’t go over the yellow line. If your team put in some wheels and you have a flat, move over to the right and get a swap. If not, sucks to be you. Make sure your numbers are on the right side. Last lap, the full road is available for sprinting to the finish for the final 200 meters. Neutral until the first corner, and then you’re racing!
And we’re off! I’m towards the back, foolishly, and spend the first lap getting my heart rate under control and trying to move up a bit. I get to the 2/3 mark of the pack… a bit better, but still yo-yoing too much on the turns. There are some new kits to old teams… the brown Zoka is now red Cucina Fresca, and red Native Planet has turned into green and white Starbucks. My team, Wines of Washington, is still black, white, silver, and yellow… a bit too noisy for my tastes, but that’s OK.
Laps 2 and 3 are OK… my heart rate is under control and I think I’ve got gas. Last year at this time, I was dying 4 miles from the end of Lap 3. This year, no problems. We sail through, bounce about and make a left onto good road and an incline. I handle the turn nicely (a shock, as I’m still horribly at following wheels on turns), keep behind a guy as we latch back onto the pack… and I’m done.
It was a weird sensation… the legs just lost energy, and I saw the pack starting to slip away. The follow car was quite generous in giving me time to catch back on, and I knew in my head that my race was done, but didn’t want to admit it. I tried pushing to get to the downhill and catch back up, but nothing doing. OK, fine… I’ll have a slow 11-mile cooldown. Bad idea… left side starting cramping and freezing, and really, by the time I was at the 6 mile mark on the course (halfway around), I was hurting. Spun my way out of it at maybe 15 miles per hour, going very slowly up the rollers. Oof…. not an auspicious start, but hey, it’s a rolling course, and clearly, I still suck at hills. And really, gotta be in the front from the beginning!
BTW, our team plan generally works… we hid until the end, and then we bunch sprinted on the right side to the finish. Got 2nd and 3rd, although one of our guys went down hard in a 4-man crash… that sucked. 2nd doesn’t get you anything in this race, but Greg got some stitches in his knee for his effort. Ah well, that’s racing.
Next week: points matter, as we head up to Sequim for Tour de Dung!