09 Aug Masters National 50-54 Road Race
It has been a few days since my return from Louisville giving me time to reflect and learn more about racing a bicycle at the top level. After packing my car on Monday evening preparing for an early start Heidi and I start our trip at 5:15 AM with hopes of beating the city traffic.
Our plan is to stop and visit the people at Clarksville Schwinn, one of my team mates past sponsors, talking to them about ButtonHole Chamois Cream. If you are anywhere in the area of Clarksville, IN. this is a must see bike shop. It has everything a racer would want and has it in stock. Bob, the owner has been doing this since the 70’s at the highest level, as this stands out when you walk through the door. Sue and Chris seem to be the two people having all the facts and answers for most questions related to our industry while making you laugh with ease. I highly recommend a visit the next time you are close to Louisville.
Upon our arrival in Louisville we check into our hotel and make a quick drive to do my pre-race ride at Cherokee Park. I know the race course well and want to see if any changes have occurred to the surface. I believe this ride was my error and the reason I felt so flat in the race, I was dehydrated. We park in the shade of a tree and the temp gauge in my car is reading 103. Only planning on doing a few easy laps not thinking much of this since I love the heat. Riding for 1 hour with only 2 minutes of hard efforts, doing an extremely easy pre-race ride for me. Returning to the car, Heidi tells me I am crazy for riding when it is this hot. We return to the Hotel and I start my fueling and re-hydrating for race day, which is Wednesday at 3:15. Race day we go to have breakfast and hear on the local news that it is recommended everyone stay indoors in your A.C. because the temps are going to be dangerously high. We are a sick bunch, us bike racers, as I make a joke about staying inside today. Arriving at the race 2 hours before my start time, I am filling bottles, telling Heidi tall bottles are for ice water and small bottles are for fuel.
25 minutes to start time I start to ride easy in the shady part of the parking area seeing all the players doing the same. 3:10 and off to the staging area. Only sitting for 5 minutes, they roll us up to the line and we start racing. My plan is to be conservative, which is not really my style, but given the temps it seems prudent. I move up into the top 10 sitting towards the front for the first lap. It is at this time the warning light starts going off, man I am not feeling very good. I laugh that weak ass thought out of my brain. Shut up and race your bike, it’s National’s it is supposed to be hard. 1 lap down 9 to go, fast pace kind of like a crit, at this time a Birmingham rider rolls off the front. Terry is a threat but we have 45 miles to race and I do not want any part of that. Thurlow is also sitting in the pack so I am content, then Gerald Finkin bridges up, now we have the 2009 2nd and 3rd place finishers up the road. My engine room is again sending signals I am not used to hearing, ideas like drop out, this sucks, so I look at my speedo and heart rate, we are not going that hard between 27-32 mph, and again have to fight these bad thoughts.
OK the feed zone perfect, I grab a bottle of water from Heidi, perfect hand up, spraying half on my head, legs and back, take a large drink and keep racing. The race stays like this until lap 5 when the Amgen boys start attacking and I am now forced to bridge to Thurlow, having a small gap and thinking, OK this is the move, we are going to catch the break and the race is on. Wrong again, the pack is out of their minds and are chasing like it is the only tactic they know. So much for that, we are now all back together and I tell myself now is the time to go, only to become a pack filler, in other words, weak between the ears. 1 minute later Thurlow attacks while we all watch him roll away. Now it is all about finishing, I hate riding like this but seems I have no option. Moving into the last lap I am starting to feel some light cramping, which never happens as early as 45 miles, HTFU I have ridden through cramps before and decide to throw an attack at the group on the flat section of the course. There is 1 podium spot left and though feeling bad, I want that spot. Looking back to check my gap I see the group strung out single file, this is not good. Back in the field with no counter attack, who are these guys that are protecting something they do not have? The counter attack would have earned someone 5th place! As we start the second to last climb. someone starts to drill it up the hill. I am 3rd wheel and we drop the group, that is now 15 guys, a chance for 5th but the body says, you’re done! The right hamstring locks up, a baseball size cramp and I am forced to pull my foot out of the pedal, no relief, I am now 1 legged and going very slow. Being passed by entire the group, I limp through the last mile finishing 19th. Not happy but that is bike racing. My error was doing my pre-race ride outside in the high temps. I should have ridden the trainer in my hotel room and I most likely would have had a normal day. My fitness is still very high winning Grays Lake and WoodDale crits, on Saturday and Sunday. Live and learn, as the body becomes older, the routines also must change. Druber writes that his car was showing 111 at race time!
A special thanks to Heidi, without her I would have dropped out of this race along with the other 40 guys who were forced to quit because of the brutal conditions. Thanks Honey.
Glencoe Grand Prix next up.