Nice little study break today, last day of reading period, sunny and gorgeous went out to enjoy a great bike race. Course was rolling hills. From the start we rode into a headwind, slight downhill until we made a sharp right and climbed for 2km on an average 6% grade, some rollers for a while, mixed qualities of pavement from terrible to new and perfectly smooth, then a long very shallow 1.5-2% grade for 3km with a 1/4km "Wall" which had about a 11% grade, some rollers a downhill, do it again and then after finishing the second time we turn onto a finishing road which had a nice, very steep finishing climb. (600m long, first 250m at 6%, rest of it at ~14%). I was racing the 3/4 field and was hoping for a couple upgrade pts.
My strategy of the day was to try and break things up on the longer of the days two climbs, and ride tempo off the front. That wasn't going to work though. Right as we started rolling out, someone rolled off the front to 'loosen his legs' (his words after the race not mine), the field soft-pedalled the first 5 miles gave him at least a two minute gap and then he rode tempo the rest of the race. LAME. I was at the back of the field when this had occured, and would not have let it happen if I had been up front, by the time I had gotten up front he had probably 1-2 mintues on us.
Anyways, we hit the first climb, I rode to the front. Looked at the power meter and set the tempo that I thought would put a lot of the field in pain but I knew that I could hold. 290w (~5.4 w/kg) up the climb, strung out the field a lot but no elastic snapping effects. I was hoping someone might work with me up the top, push it and try and get gaps opening with those who were hurting, we did briefly and then stopped and everything came back together. This is basically how the whole race went, very little cooperation and lots of shutting things down and soft pedalling. Very little racing to win, lots of racing to not lose.
Anyways that didn't work, I gave a little dig on the steep wall, continued pushing up top. Things strung out, but nothing really happened other than that. 2nd time up the climb things seemed to get a little more real, I sat back on the early slopes and then when I hit the front hit it harder. Averaged 300w up the climb, a group of about 5 of us had some daylight, tried to get us to work together but it wasn't happening. 2 of the guys soft-pedalled their pull, everything came back together. It was at this point I said "I'm just going to sit in, and destroy the final climb." My teammate Rob had a go with a couple others at getting a gap, I followed attacks to help him out a bit but it ended up coming back anyways. I sat in the rest of the way.
Coming into 1k to go the whole race seemed to decide they had a shot on the finish, which was idiotic cause there were only a handful of guys who could climb WELL, and they were all people I had seen at some point during that day! People I had not seen all race crowding the front. When we hit the base of that climb the caused instant problems. You should not be 5th wheel hitting a finishing climb if you know you can't climb, guys going from 5th straight out the back. Anyways there was one guy dangling off the front a bit trying to get a gap before the climb and hold it, I jumped at 300m to go. I thought the guy ahead was probably out of reach but I was sitting maybe 15th and had lots of ground and a slow climb to catch up.
It wasn't a fast climb, but I was going much faster than everyone else, and it HURT. I was in 3rd place pretty quick, and gaining on 2nd, I took a look over my shoulder and saw about 50m between me and 4th place, and it was equidistant to 2nd with about 150-200m to go. I kept going, every muscle in my body hurt and was in agony, the legs said stop but I couldn't stop yet, kept going. Gaining quickly on second... try and go harder, harder harder. The line was coming up and...... about three inches seperated me from 2nd place.
At this point someone comes up and said "WOW great climb" would had been spectating. To which I responded "Thanks, can you hold me up, I think I might fall over." He must have not thought I was serious, about 15 seconds later panting like crazy, searching for any sign of air I collapsed onto the ground. I wasn't passing out, or dead or anything like that but OUCH OUCH OUCH. 45 seconds those last 300m took, at 592w (11.1w/kg). I'm not exactly sure how much longer I could have sustained this, but the power file doesn't show any signs of decreasing, and that was totally insane and painful and insane. At the same time though, I think I found out what I'm really good at. Stupid steep, short finishing climbs.
Can't REALLY be upset with third, but letting the guy in first ride away was kinda lame. Missing out on 2nd by inches kinda sucked, and negative racing sucks. I did get 3rd though, so I'm happy with that. Next Saturday is Bristol, should be a party!