|Sitting 8th wheel @ the RIR Crit|
I've been training about twice as much this year, as I did last winter at this time. I really wanted to be as strong this Spring as I was at the end of the season last year, in August. So my first goal was to feel strong in my first race. That mission was accomplished. I felt unbelievable all day. I kept my strategy from last year: stay in the front 1/4 of the race, and don't let any dangerous looking breaks get away. If one or two guys jump off the front, I don't usually worry about it; they don't usually get too far. But if a group of 4 or more goes...I'm going with them.
I was at the venue with plenty of time to spare. My son raced in the first group of the day, so I had about 3 hrs to get ready for my race. I set up my usual timeline: eat at 2 hrs. out, get dressed at 1 hr., hit the Sport Legs at 1 hr., small dose of caffeine at 45 min., on the trainer at 30 min., off the trainer and warming up on the road at 15 min., Hammer Gel at 15 min., then to the start line with 5 min. to go. Everything felt great. I was relaxed, my stomach wasn't nauseous, and my legs were strong. We started with a field of 50, to race around Richmond International Raceway. Once we got going, I stayed anywhere from 2nd to around 7th wheel, and I went with any jumps that I thought were trying to get away. Halfway through the race, the 2 riders in front of me crossed wheels and went down. I went over the guy in front of me, and landed on the guy in front of him. I turned around just in time to see about half the field pile up behind me. They neutralized the race immediately, as the ambulance came out on the track, and would give us a restart. Once I found my bike, I took a quick look and noticed that I had a bunch of stuff that was knocked out of whack. I twisted my right shifter back to where it should be, put my chain back on, and tried to roll my bike. No go. I noticed that my brakes were rubbing, so I opened my calipers and headed back to the start line. My wife and a friend brought my spare rear wheel, and I got that on, but then noticed that both my derailleurs were bent. Thankfully, a couple spectators lended me a hand, and held my bike while I worked on it, and helped me bend my stuff back into place. My seat was jacked. The rails wer totally bent sideways. I managed to get it back to where I could at least sit on it, but it needs to be replaced. Everything else was functional for the restart, though. I started noticing that blood was everywhere. My quick injury-check noted the following: left knee road rash, left hip scraped, left knuckles road rash and bloody, left elbow abrasions, right palm road rash, left pinky sliced, left forearm road rash. I was so pumped at the moment, though, that I wasn't really in pain. The organizers gave us the official word. We would restart with one neutral lap, then 5 laps to finish. On the restart, I found myself first wheels, which is where I didn't want to be. I waited until some others came through in the first turn, then latched on. I went with every acceleration on the remaining 5 laps, and felt great about the sprint finish. UNFORTUNATELY, I made a ridiculous mistake with my positioning and let myself get boxed in at the finish. I finished 16th, but I honestly felt like I could have won the race. The sprint was not that high-paced, and I had plenty of gas left in the tank.
Post Race Analysis:
I felt awesome on the day. I'm right on form, and it proves that my training is working. Last year, I was happy to finish wherever I could, so it's a funny feeling to be upset at finishing 16th position. I've never been able to say before, that I felt strong enough to win. Lesson learned: I won't get boxed in at the finish again. It's time to recover a bit, and get ready for the next race. I cleaned my bike up, and found that my saddle is beyond repair. Everything else is functional, and my frame is in tact. In all, I think we only lost one rider out of the group to the crash. He snapped his frame in 2, just behind the head tube. I least I wasn't that guy.