This race was brutal, absolutely brutal. I'm going to try to keep this PG, but it might not happen because 3.5 hours after finishing I'm still totally screwed up, out of hit and my legs ache.
First of the race course, I was racing collegiate A's. We were doing three 35km laps. Each lap had 3 major climbs, two cat 4's which were about one mile each at ~5% grade, then there was Black Mo a cat 2 by strava standards, 6km 6% average grade. Total of 815m of climbing per lap. The course is obviously brutal, but being a climbing race it should be suited to me.
I was very nervous on the start, my HR stayed around 160bpm to the base Black Mo, despite doing a good job pedaling easy averaging 125w. When we hit the base of the climb, a couple of the guys I knew I couldn't keep up with (remember Cameron Cogburn? Yeah I wasn't going to even try to keep up) dropped the hammer and I decided to use the Wiggins climbing method, I let 30 guys chase after them and settled down to about 10w above my previous 20min best power. It was a good move, I averaged 251w for the first climb which I did in 17:43. I picked off at least 15-20 riders and had a handful of guys on my shoulder sucking wind. Perfect, we had a group of 5 together and started rotating pulls. I pulled off once guy behind me picked up the pace. Not quite an attack, but when I filed into the back the guy in front of me lost the wheel and we were off the group. I was not happy, I should have jumped around him sooner but I didn't. I couldn't catch back on right now, so I settled down to my own pace. Still 2 laps to race!!
Pretty soon a group of four caught up to me and we started working together. It seemed pretty clear I was the strongest climber in the group. I was sitting high end tempo and guys were breathing very heavy, so I set the tempo up every climb and sat easy. Pretty soon we got word that a group of 18 had formed ahead and they were 1:50 ahead. I picked it up a bit on the climbs, hitting the two cat 4's at ~240w. After getting over those two and me letting every one else pull everywhere else the gap was down to 1 minute. At the base of black mo I dialed it back up to 240w, I felt good and thought I could hold it the whole time. I figured the other group would blow up and I'd be set since it had blown up big time the first climb, people would have a hard time with it twice. I'm not sure what happened but that didn't happen. I caught one guy, and I lost sight of guys. I eased up and let some guys catch up to me. I didn't want to just drive hard for nothing and get caught. It became pretty clear soon that my legs were toast.
I basically eased off we had a group of three and it was clear one of their legs were far more toast than me. We knew we were losing ground and just kept my upper end endurance to tempo over the climbs and into Black Mo. I knew I didn't have much left and there was a false flat up top so even if I got a gap I would likely get caught there. My decision was just to follow wheels. Not that there was much of a decision to make. I was in a special type of pain, my legs were hurting everywhere. I followed a guy from Columbia's wheels and it was all I could do, it would inch away from me and then I'd catch up. It was hard very very hard, I was digging myself into a very special very dark cave. He gestured for me to pull through, I didn't have anything left. He said something about not wanting to do cat and mouse games, I told him there was simply nothing left. He gapped me at one point pretty well, I managed to catch up. Then on the descent I was feeling better, I pulled through and we rotated a couple times and then he attacked. I tried to go and something else happened. Every muscle in both of my legs seized up and cramped hard.... very hard. I sat down and after loosening up as best I could I put out as much as I could. I was actually catching up, but he picked it up again. I didn't have it. I ended up coming across the finish line 30 seconds behind him, in 18th place.
This is when it became apparent how very very screwed up I was. I tried to get off my bike, everything cramped. My head was spinning, I felt like puking, my head and arms tingled. I sat down, it didn't go away. I needed help taking my shoes off and someone else put my tennis shoes on for me. It was good I didn't need to drive. As we drove the urge to puke picked up, I got chills and sweat. My whole upper body tingled. I managed to get some sugary foods down and it improved. I managed to shower it still improved.
4 hours later: My stomach still isn't right, my legs still ache when lying down, breathing seems hard at times, and my HR is still elevated (I've been laying down in it is at 100bpm, usually I would be at about 70bpm).
This race was a special kind of hard, I don't know whether it was that it was warmer than I've ridden in in quite a while (~70 F), or that I just went very hard. Set a new 20 min power record by 10w, up to 250w, 4.71 w/kg. NP was 203w. My threshold power was at about 200w in November, so I see a huge improvement but I'm also slightly dissapointed (despite having very little reason to be from a numbers standpoint). The group of 5 I was with initially over the top of the climb finished 6 minutes ahead of them. Maybe if I had been able to stick with them, got into that large group, eaten a bit more, ridden easier into that second climb I could have done that as well. It is all a guessing game, but I know that going up that climb the first time I felt great and I wasn't far off from it the second time up, with people to push me I might have matched it. Maybe I would have just been even worse off now though, who knows. Now I need to rest up sleep, and I have two races tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be back to normal because right now I'm very very redacted up.