Today did not go as planned, I didn't have any mechanicals, it simply did not work out well. I have lots of excuses for why it didn't happen but the bottom line is this: I did not have the legs. I'll probably break down the excuses later, many of which I believe are valid, but at the same time I acknowledge that I did not have in my legs what was necessary for the day.
As always start with information about the course, it was a series of rolling hills, doing 6 18 km loops (or at least supposed to). 6 turns, one long straight (~5km), two medium long straights (~3-4km) and three shorter straights (~1-2km). It was coldish (high 30s), on and off snowing, mostly cloudy, and VERY windy (started at 25 mph, picked up to 35 mph and was gusting up to 55mph). The long straight, one short and one medium had a cross wind, one medium section had a headwind, and two short sections had tail winds. Wind was direct from the West and this was on gridlike streets (only going NSEW). Racing in a 123 field, started with 30 in the field. Background: last year I got dropped on the first lap here, caught back on and then got dropped in the same spot near the end of the second lap and called it quits. My goal for this race was to see where my fitness was in the 123 field, and try and finish the race. Equipment wise I went with my heavier 60mm deep HED CX wheels (toiroidal shaped), and as somewhat of a joke, I wore my TT helmet. I figured if there was ever a day for it, this was it. I was amazed I didn't get more comments on this. I get lots of snarky comments on my Giro Reverb helmet (which is kinda air attack like), but with the TT helmet I just got dirty looks like "Who the F*** does this guy think he is?" Lighten up guys, seriously.
So the race....
Started with a netural roll out, nothing too eventful here. Get to the main course as always as soon as the pace car takes off someone attacks, but no one was worried about this guys so we just hung out and road for a while (with a strong cross wind) we caught them, there were a series of attacks many of which were brought back. Ultimately a group of 3 containing Brendan Housler, Kevin Walker and some one I don't know rolled off the front (I believe he was Canadian though). I'm not sure who decided it was a good idea to let this trio off the front, because Brendan and Kevin are two guys I would have picked on the starting line to win the race. After it rolled off the front it dangled for a good 4-5 kilos in sight looking quite catchable. Then something happened and they just dissappeared. For some reason the MVP Healthcare team seemed to be happy to let it god (despite being an elite 12 team which was tied for most teammates in the group at 4). At this point the field had shrunk a lot but we really hadn't been going THAT hard. I was kinda mistified as to why, but anyways. When everyone gave up pulling I decided that this was lame and went to the front to try and pull it back. Brendan's team Mt.Borah was doing a bit of blocking but they were being fairly classy about it (pulling back lots of breaks). There were maybe 4 of us up front doing work, and people were sucking to be honest. I couldn't see the break anymore and I was able to get on the front and high end tempo for my pull. I could tell David Richardson was annoyed so I talked to him and said "Let's gutter the field in the cross-wind and try to bridge." I rode right over the the gutter with him on my wheel and hit it just above threshold @ 240w. The field dissappeared right away and I was feeling pretty good about this.
He and I took a couple pulls, going pretty smooth and then he shouted to me as I dropped back saying "I'm getting no draft off you." No shit sherlock, I'm sorry I'm small and I aero weenied out for this wind. (Excuse #1 His w/CdA are definately better than mine! I don't think 115lb riders aero weenied out != 175lb rider not weenied out) I was pushing just below threshold on his wheel and well above taking pulls. I was simply hoping he was hurting just as bad and kept it going. Anyways I was starting to crack a bit about 10 minutes into this attempted bridge, we still couldn't see the leaders and he seemed to decide the draft he got off me wasn't worth having me, he gave a dig into a short steep little hill and I couldn't respond. For some reason I really didn't have much pop today, I had plenty of go until I tried to pop though. It was as though if I tried to dig into the anaerobic stores I was empty and I had to recover from it and got nothing in return. (Excuse #2: I have been doing a bit of calorie deficit for 3 weeks now to get down a bit before the mountain climbing race I've got next weekend. I think I may have failed to replenish glycogen stores after some hard rides this week, resulting in some lost "pop")
I decided drift back to the main group after this, no use to soldier on in nomansland just to get caught and shelled (this might have been one of my better decisions in the race). I got caught, they were rev-ing a bit to try and catch David and I so catching onto the back was a bit hard, but I managed and after some counters we settled down. Started riding a nice endurance pace. There was a point on this second lap where I was riding side by side with Lance Johnson from MVP at 140w just chilling out, drinking water and talking. It really was an endurance ride.... and then it ended.
On the third lap every hill was an acceleration (remember how I didn't have any the pop.) I was struggling but holding in, trying to be efficeint in my field positioning, moving up when I could. At one point, I'm not really sure what happened, I think they accelerated up a hill and around the corner and I was just floating on the back of the back. Not going easy but not suffering too bad, and then all of a sudden there were 5 bike lengths between me and the back. I settled down to about threshold and figured I would just catch up when they let off again.... which I did. Then the attacked again. I rode threshold a bit more, but I was hungry now. I wasn't comfortable taking my hands off the bars to eat, and eating and drilling it don't go together. I decided I would eat. I ate, settled down to keep riding. I figured I would just ride endurance pace in... or at least that was what I was telling myself. After crossing the start finish and hearing "3 laps to go" I realized that I was already running close to empty, I was way behind on calories and I have a race tomorrow. I decided it was best to save what was left, race hard tomrrow. Having a bad race today is one thing, being stubborn and making a bad one tomorrow is another.
A note on races that are this windy: borderline extremely dangerous. I saw people on shallow wheels get pushed 2-3 feet. I was very very vigilant about paying attention and was able to manage it alright (as in no worse than the worst guy on shallow wheels). It was squirrly and there were some wide-open fields. It don't think anyone crashed, but that is pretty impressive. Anyways, this is the only race I've been in where I wished that I had shallower wheels for handling purposes, and honestly that probably wouldn't have helped more. The aero helmet also generated far more side push than I expected. I was considering riding with it more often, but I don't think I will. I don't really care if people think of me as an aero quack because I'm happy to own that title. Seriously though.... crazy dirty looks, not even like picking on you just sideways glances and an evil eye.
So yeah, I'm not happy about being dropped. I haven't slept well this past week, and it was a hard training week (I've been getting 6 hours of sleep trying to get the rides in, catch up on school work and all the other stuff that needs to happen). I need to fix that and I think that if I had more sleep this past week, or it had been far less windy, or I had been more loaded up energy wise I would have been better, but coulda shoulda woulda. I didn't have it today. Eating up, sleeping and and going out again tomorrow. Hopefully it will treat me better, and I will race better. The weather forcast is at least better.