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Willim & Mary Race Report

posted Feb 24, 2013, 7:04 AM by Chris Burns   [ updated Feb 24, 2013, 7:10 AM ]
Yet another weekend of "less than ideal" racing conditions.  Three brave (or something else) Team Integrity members ventured out into the rain and cold this weekend again.  Heather raced Womens CAT4, Chris raced Mens CAT5 and Matthew raced Collegiate C with the WVU cycling team (who also hade a sizable showing).  Rain persisted from start to finish, and despite the 55 degree forecast, the temperature hung at a chilling 38ish until about 10:30.  Following my race, I had never shivered so uncontrollably due to cold which was probably a product of crashing from exercise body temp, wet conditions, and having inadequate post race clothing.  The course was a 10 mile loop with a 1 mile lollipop sprint finish.  The only 2 hills were the "dreaded KOA kill" and the uphill sprint finish.  Both hills feigned in comparison to most of our WV bumps, a fact that both Matthew and I planned to use to our benefit.  The race was a neutral rolling start, the first I had ever encountered.  I was thankful for this because it also neutralized any clipping in problems (of which I had none, instead I had the smoothest butter clip-in ever... FIGURES!!!)  I didn't warm up at all this time, having spent most of my time looking for the wheel car, which was not labeled in any manner, and nobody seemed to know where it was.  Apparently, I was the only one who used it, or could find it. The neutral roll at the beginning of the race was about 1 mile so I used that to spin the legs and try to warm them up.  I was actually looking forward to the starting whistle, being so chilled and wanting to get my body temp up.  But, relief didn't come quickly.  It actually took about 2 laps (of 3) for the pace to pick up along with my heart rate.  The first 2 laps were at no more than conversational pace.  Lots of folks were chatting and everyone called out obstacles and cars.  Fortunately, there were a few folks that did a good job at revealing their intentions and strengths.  One dude (#1)kept jumping on the downhills and using his momentum on the hills.  Another guy (dude #2) hammered every hill and kept looking back to see who was coming.  and about 3-4 other folks watched carefully and waited patiently just 2 steps behind.  For the most part, I knew these guys were the contenders, and save for a few other guys hiding their intentions like me, I was right, they were all in line at the final stretch.  At the start of the 3rd lap, I honestly expected the flood gates of speed to open up, but they didn't.  It seemed that everyone was waiting for KOA hill, about halfway through the lap.  The pace did increase slightly, and some folks got vocal about wanting to speed things up.  Just before KOA hill, the entire race started to unfold.  Dude number 1 got out in front on the downhill and stepped on it.  Dude #2, a few others, and then myself pursued him to the base of the hill.  As soon as the hill began then the hill hammerer (dude #2) one other guy and myself destroyed the hill.  It was only about 100ft of vertical climb, but by the top we had about 100m on the rest of the peloton.  One of the other 2 riders exclaimed "it worked!" as if surprised, and we hammered on.  We kept the gap for a good 5 minutes.  Unfortunately we didn't work very well together as our strenghts were not very equally matched.  One rider would refuse to pull through when the other was pooped.  And another rider couldn't keep the pace on extended inclines.  In the end we made a valiant effort, but individual riders started closing the gap and joining us.  About 15 in all were back togheter on the final stretch and sprint.  Afterr the final loop turn dude #2 made another break, and a very good one.  I hung back for about 30 seconds as it seemed the peloton was happy to let him go.  I on the other hand was not so comfortable with his lead with about 2 miles to go.  He looked strong, was standing and hammering through every single small incline, and was gaining distance, so I decided it was time to chase.  I jumped up front and slowly but surely chugged away.  Nobody helped, though... I was pissed by the lack of effort by other folks (a.k.a. strategy).  Slowly we (I) pulled him in just before the final lurn into the lolipop and final sprint.  At that point everyone slowed, nobody wanted to be in front, nobody wanted to go first.  It felt like we slowed to 15mph, silently gesturing "after you, after you" tauntingly.  Good thing is I got some rest and was well positioned in the top 5-6.  From there the sprint began on the final descent into the final climb.  One rider, jumped on the downhill and I followed too soon.  Both he and I ran out of steam about 1/3 way up the hill.  Most everyone else sprinted past us for a glorious finish.  I happily spun across the line in 13th place.  I'm not sure who won, but it was neither dude #1 or #2.  #1 had disappeared entirely following the final KOA climb.  #2 finished ahead of me and I congratulated him on a valiant effort and learned that he was 3rd or 4th.  By the end of the race, I was probably carrying an extra 10 pounds of moisture in my clothing, the hardly drunk water bottles, and water was sloshing around inside my bike frame.  When I got home, I poured out about a quart of water from the frame.  Following this race, and after writing this up, I feel like I could really win my next race.  I am learning a ton, and am getting stronger every weekend.  But instead, I am going to upgrade to CAT4 and place myself back at the bottom of the heap. Yeah!

--Chris Burns