Thursday, August 22, 2013

Race #2: 3 Revelations & 1 Dumb Mistake

My second race was the Tour de Terra Cotta.

Much better… except for one little mistake…

Terra Cotta is a big citizen race near Toronto (It's OCA sanctioned but not part of the official race series.) I ended up being off the bike for two weeks while on vacation with my family, so I wasn't sure if I was up for it. But I had a pretty good week in training the week before it, so rather than bail out completely I signed up for the shorter, "Beginner" race, which was only 26km, rather than the intermediate 55k race.

Beginner is a bit of a misnomer. There were a lot of guys in that race who knew what they were doing (including a bunch of guys from one team with a bald European coach berating them at the line before the start). The average speed for the previous years ran around 38 kph, not much slower than the intermediate & elite. So though I felt a bit like I was wimping out, there was clearly gonna be a real race here.

My pal and cycling guru/DHF stalwart Michael also signed up, which was great because he's way more experienced in this sort of thing. It was great to have somebody to talk strategy with. (Of course it would have helped to actually pay attention.)

"Damn! If only we had a bald coach, too."
Revelations:
1. Starting at the front makes a big difference (that's us right on the line for the start of this one);
2. I could ride in a fast group;
3. Staying with the fast group is a lot easier than trying to catch it.

Dumb Mistake:
1. One mis-timed attack on a hill can ruin your whole race.

On lap one coming up to the first hill I was comfortably with the lead group and had a bit of a jump in my legs so I hit it fairly hard and actually found myself in front – of everybody – at the top. (Note the look of surprise on the face of tattoo-sleeve dude.) And for the first lap I stayed in among the front of the pack.
"Dude. Seriously dude. No way you beat me up that hill."

Coming up to the same hill in lap 2 I got a little over-excited and figured I could pull the same trick again. (Note to self: there are no KOM points in a 26 km race.) But I had to burn a match swinging wide to get clear of a couple of people and didn't have the same kick as the first time, and also screwed up my gearing in the approach. Basically died half-way up. By the time I managed to grind my way to the top I had lost the lead group and was on my own. If I had just stayed cool and hung with the pack on that ascent I could have worked with Michael (he came in 19th, 21 seconds back) and we probably both could have been with the lead group  at the end. Rookie mistake.

29th place! Whoo-hoo!
So I ended up in the race for the 3rd group in. Which in the end was pretty fun because it was the same six guys for half the race, trading off spots and trying to claw back on to the lead group. In the end I got some satisfaction because in the last 500m I got nicely positioned for a lead-out behind three of them, and then sprinted at 200m, taking the lead guy at the line by a bike length. That felt very cool. And was totally a result of practising sprints with the Flyers.

All in all, a big improvement from Race #1. And sure, the field was not exactly world-class, but at least I actually felt I was in the race this time.


Result overall: 29th (of 108 starters).
Age group result: 6th.

I'll take that.


Hill Photo ©Sportszone photography
Race finish photo ©John Bachmann


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